Neoclassic: Reimagining Empire
For David Roche the neoclassic covered the best items from George III to William IV in Britain and the reign of Louis XVI to Napoléon’s vision of a new French Empire.
Driven by art from Antiquity and recent finds at Pompeii and Herculaneum, architects, artists, designers, collectors and patrons started a new craze for all things ‘classical’ in the 1760s. It offered a rich and varied hunting ground, led by the British and remaining fashionable until the early nineteenth century.
Whether the art was Greek, Roman or Graeco-Roman influenced was of little importance, neoclassic in all its guises was acquired by David and developed into the most remarkable aspect of his collection. Like his eighteenth-century counterparts, David collected all types of neoclassical art, from paintings and furniture to porcelain and clocks.
In Britain, the neoclassical found a natural affinity with the Romantic movement of landscape painting as seen in the work of John Glover. Military portraits were also popular as France and Britain fought for Empire. It was the work of the French neoclassical artist Anne-Louis Girodet, however, that captured David’s imagination. He acquired three large narrative paintings, two that illustrate the ancient Greek legend of Paris, and one of dancing figures, which can be seen together in this display. Informed by the work of Jacques Louis David, Girodet represents France’s interest in heroism, duty, sacrifice and idealised beauty.
Furniture played a central role in most neoclassical interiors and the Roche collection is fortunate to have some very fine examples. Displayed is a French Imperial commode, c.1810, and a superb English Regency Breakfront cabinet, c.1815, both of which explore different aspects of neoclassicism. David also acquired a French Commode, c.1820, once owned by the Duke of Wellington – the British military figure responsible for defeating Napoléon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
Neoclassic: Reimagining Empire offers an unparalleled opportunity to see some of the finest neoclassic art in Australia.
Closes 29 June 2019
Tickets: Adult $7, Concession $5, Children under 5 free
(Ticket covers entry to The Pursuit of Pattern, Régence & Rococo and Neoclassic: Reimagining Empire)