From its founding in 1648, the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture and its successor, the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts in Paris, were devoted to the Greek model. Mythology and poetry, along with the study of sculpture, were the foundations of academic teaching there. As a result, Greek gods and heroes were reborn in innumerable works by pupils and teachers of the École. This lavishly illustrated book explores the impact of the poet Homer on four centuries of French artists through the lens of the École’s superb collections of paintings, prints, and sculptures.
The École was the most important venue for academic training of artists in Europe as well as for many nineteenth-century American artists who studied in Paris, including Thomas Eakins and John Singer Sargent. The École’s collections—which feature works by great artists who were first students and later instructors (François LeMoine, Jacques-Louis David, and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres)—were intended to enhance students’ taste through study and emulation.
With illuminating texts by prominent French scholars and a preface by George Steiner on the reception of Homer in France, The Legacy of Homer examines the historic and artistic importance of the works housed in the École and pays homage to Homer, the great source that inspired them.