Poussinists and Rubenists
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Poussinist-Rubenist debate was a style war started in the 17th century art involving the work of French painter Poussin and Flemish painter Rubens. Followers of Poussin argued that line and design should dominate painting, because of its appeal to the intellect, while followers of Rubens argued that color should dominate art, because of its appeal to emotion.
The debate was provoked by the essay of French art critic Roger de Piles, "Dialogue sur le coloris" (1673), and continued until the mid nineteenth century in the Neoclassicism and Romanticism style war.
After the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture was reorganized in 1661 by Louis XIV whose aim was to control all the artistic activity in France, a controversy occurred among the members that dominated artistic attitudes for the rest of the century. This "battle of styles" was a conflict over whether Peter Paul Rubens or Nicolas Poussin was a suitable model to follow. Followers of Poussin, called "poussinistes", argued that line (disegno) should dominate art, because of its appeal to the intellect, while followers of Rubens, called "rubenistes", argued that color (colore) should dominate art, because of its appeal to emotion.
Since the onset of the Poussinist-Rubenist debate many artists worked between the two styles. In the 19th century, in the revived form of the debate, the attention and the aims of the art world became to synthesize the line of Neoclassicism with the color of Romanticism. One artist after another was claimed by critics to have achieved the synthesis, among them Théodore Chassériau, Ary Scheffer, Francesco Hayez, Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps, and Thomas Couture. William-Adolphe Bouguereau, a later academic artist, commented that the trick to being a good painter is seeing "color and line as the same thing."
Thomas Couture promoted the same idea in a book he authored on art method — arguing that whenever one said a painting had better color or better line it was nonsense, because whenever color appeared brilliant it depended on line to convey it, and vice versa; and that color was really a way to talk about the "value" of form.
The debate was revived in the early 19th century, under the movements of Neoclassicism typified by the artwork of Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, and Romanticism typified by the artwork of Eugène Delacroix. Debates also occurred over whether it was better to learn art by looking at nature, or to learn by looking at the artistic masters of the past.
- from that Wikipedia article
The Poussinistes were a group of conservative French artists during the 17th Century.
The Poussinistes defended Poussin's view that drawing appealed to the mind and was superior to color, which they believed appealed to the senses. They were opposed by the Rubénistes who believed that color, not drawing, was superior due to its being more true to nature. Drawing was, according to the Rubénistes, based on reason and only appealing to the few experts whereas color could be enjoyed by everyone. This challenged the notions of the Renaissance when only the educated were believed to appreciate art. (H. W. Janson, 584)
Jean-Antoine Watteau is considered the greatest of the Rubéniste artists. Watteau developed the new subject type that the French Academy termed as fêtes galantes. Other Rubéniste artists included François Boucher, Jean-Honoré Fragonard and Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin. The leading woman of the movement was Marie Louise Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun (Janson, 584–598).