Photograph of Yosemite National Park

The Human Figure: Drama and Feeling

Ary Scheffer, The Young Captive, 1832, watercolor and gouache over pencil on wove paper. The Clark, 1981.150

Following the extreme social and political disruptions of the French Revolution, trends in visual art shifted toward high emotionalism and subjective drama-qualities often classed under the rubric of Romanticism. Turbulent situations and their consequences for the individual psyche became a central concern for artists. In the exhibition, drawings by artists living in France in the first half of the nineteenth century are grouped with pastel family portraits by Elizabeth Nourse and Mary Cassatt, American artists who settled in Paris in the later nineteenth century. In all of these works, the emphasis is on figures whose physical and psychological entwinement expresses a profound emotion like fear, grief, love, or piety.