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The Raft of Medusa, Théodore Géricault Enlarge

The Raft of Medusa
(Théodore Géricault, 1819, Public domain)


Seascapes are a pictorial genre and designate works which represent elements connected with the sea (lighthouse, boat, shore, beach, etc.). The painting of seascapes developed first with the Flemish and English during the 17th and 18th centuries.

The desire of the monarchs of Europe to demonstrate the strength of their naval fleets lay undoubtedly at the origin of the appearance of seascapes. Over and above political motivations, seascape painters equally like to represent the great power of the sea as compared to man. The French began to take up seascapes in the 18th century.

The genre enjoyed great success in France under the Romantic Movement. Artists then gave to the sea dramatic intensity, and contrasting light and atmospheric variations took on great importance in their paintings, clearly inspiring Impressionist painters such as Claude Monet.

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