Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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The Execution of Emperor Maximilian
The Execution of Emperor Maximilian
The Third of May, 1808
The Third of May, 1808

How and why do we represent scenes of conflict?

In the Execution of Maximilian I, Manet clearly draws on the model of Goya’s earlier painting, The Third of May, 1808. Both images show the executioners at right, the executed at left. But how the scenes are rendered, the mood and tone set by each artist, are distinctly different. How and why do artists represent scenes of conflict? The answer depends on the social, political, and historical context in which the work is made, as well as on the artist’s relationship to the subject and his or her intented viewing audience.

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Questions to Consider

  • Manet clearly draws on the model of Goya’s Third of May, 1808 in his Execution of Emperor Maximilian. Nevertheless, the tenor of his work is quite different. Compare the mood conveyed by each work. How is each achieved visually?
  • How do you think the artist’s personal relationship to the subject matter might have influenced his rendering of the moment of conflict in each case? Would you say that one piece is more subjective than the other? Why or why not?
  • Manet’s work was created after the advent of photography, Goya’s before. What do you think each work conveys that a photograph might not have been able to achieve?