Art: Revolutionary Olympus

In 1774 Louis XVI became King of France; in 1830, Charles X fell. The texture of French thought changed more radically in those 56 years than it ever had before, or would again. So did its cultural surface, especially in painting, which moved, as it were, from the pink thighs of Boucher's Miss O'Murphy to the martial sinews of David's Horatii and thence to the tumescent flesh of Delacroix's slave girls almost within the lifetime of one man. Yet these tremendous years of the Revolution, the Directorate and the Empire have long been the art historian's Bermuda Triangle. They are crudely...

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