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Art Through Time: A Global View

Conflict and Resistance Compare: How and Why Do We Represent Scenes of Conflict?

The Execution of Emperor Maximilian

The Execution of Emperor Maximilian
Artist / Origin: Édouard Manet (French, 1832–1883)
Region: Europe
Date: 1868–69
Period: 1800 CE – 1900 CE
Material: Oil on canvas
Medium: Painting
Dimensions: H: 8 ft. 3 3/16 in. (2.52 m.), W: 9 ft. 10 7/8 in. (3.02 m.)
Location: Kunsthalle Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany
Credit: Courtesy of Art Resource/Photo by Erich Lessing

The Third of May, 1808

The Third of May, 1808
Artist / Origin: Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746–1828)
Region: Europe
Date: 1814
Period: 1800 CE – 1900 CE
Material: Oil on canvas
Medium: Painting
Dimensions: H: 8 ft. 4 3/8 in. (255 cm.), W: 11 ft. 3 7/8 in. (345 cm.)
Location: Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain
Credit: Courtesy of Art Resource, NY/Photo by Erich Lessing

How and why do we represent scenes of conflict?

In the Execution of Maximilian I, Manet clearly draws on the model of Goya’s earlier painting, The Third of May, 1808. Both images show the executioners at right, the executed at left. But how the scenes are rendered, the mood and tone set by each artist, are distinctly different. How and why do artists represent scenes of conflict? The answer depends on the social, political, and historical context in which the work is made, as well as on the artist’s relationship to the subject and his or her intended viewing audience.

Questions to Consider

  • Manet clearly draws on the model of Goya’s Third of May, 1808in his Execution of Emperor Maximilian. Nevertheless, the tenor of his work is quite different. Compare the mood conveyed by each work. How is each achieved visually?
  • How do you think the artist’s personal relationship to the subject matter might have influenced his rendering of the moment of conflict in each case? Would you say that one piece is more subjective than the other? Why or why not?
  • Manet’s work was created after the advent of photography, Goya’s before. What do you think each work conveys that a photograph might not have been able to achieve?

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Art Through Time: A Global View

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Produced by THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG. 2009.
  • Closed Captioning
  • ISBN: 1-57680-888-2

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