*Thanks to James Banta for the name tweak!
This is the third of the four brackets we’re using the determine the greatest artist in the history of Western art. The Renaissance and Baroque brackets were posted earlier and are below, and we’ll round it out with the Modern bracket this weekend. Then we’ll match ’em up, NCAA basketball style, and let you vote for the winners. Anyway, on to the 19th Century!
1, Edouard Manet (1832 – 1883)
There’s no obvious No. 1 seed in the 19th C., and you could make the case for half a dozen painters. I’ll go with Manet for his psychological insight, daring subject matter and influence on future generations.
2, Paul Cezanne (1839–1906)
Father of modernism?
3, Jacques-Louis David (1748 – 1825)
David is a good example of the difficulty of dividing these brackets by centuries, but because so much of his work came after 1800 (and because his fellow neo-classicists followed him) he feels more like a 19th century than a Baroque painter. But I could be wrong.
4, Claude Monet (1840 – 1926)
Monet could have been the top seed but loses points for lack of variety in his subject matter. He played it safe.
5, Edgar Degas (1834 – 1917)
Who knew all the Impressionists live so long? Anyway, Degas is another who could have been No. 1. Don’t let all the ballerinas fool you. A Cotton Office in New Orleans (above) might be the greatest work ever painted in the United States.
6, Vincent Van Gogh (1853 – 1890)
Is Van Gogh too low? Possibly. But I deduct points for having a short career, even one as brilliant’s as Van Gogh’s.
7, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780 – 1867)
8, Auguste Rodin (1840 – 1917)
Not enough sculptors in these brackets, in general.
9, J.M.W. Turner (1775 – 1851)
First abstract painter? Definitely the first non-French artist in the bracket.
10, Gustave Courbet (1819 – 1877)
11, Paul Gauguin (1848 – 1903)
12, James Whistler (1834 – 1903)
First American in this bracket
13, Eugene Delacroix (1798 – 1863)
These last four could come be any of a dozen artists. It’s a talent-rich period.
14, Georges Seurat (1859- 1891)
French artists make up 13 of the 16 in the bracket.
15, Thomas Cole (1801 – 1848)
Founder of the Hudson River School
16, Theodore Gericault (1791 – 1824)
Debated leaving him out because he had so few major works, but, man, he was good.
On the bubble: Constable, Sargent, Friedrich, Eakins, Pissarro, Cassatt, Remington, Homer