L'art pompier  

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Innocence (1893) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau: Both young children and lambs are symbols of innocence
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Innocence (1893) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau: Both young children and lambs are symbols of innocence

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

L'art pompier, literally "Fireman Art", is a derisory late nineteenth century French term for large "official" academic art paintings of the time, especially historical or allegorical ones. It derives from the fancy helmets, with horse-hair tails, worn at the time by French firemen - now only for parades - which are fatally similar to the Roman-style helmets, called galea, most notably worn in Jacques-Louis David 's painting Oath of the Horatii. They were also worn in such works by allegorical personifications, classical warriors, or Napoleonic cavalry. It also suggests half-puns in French with Pompéin ("from Pompeii"), and pompeux ("pompous"). Pompier art was seen by those who used the term as the epitome of the values of the bourgeoisie, and as insincere and overblown.

L'art Pompier (a term supporters mostly avoid) has enjoyed something of a critical revival in the last twenty years, partly caused by the new Musée d'Orsay in Paris, where it is displayed on more equal terms with the Impressionists and Realist painters of the period.

The Manifeste Pompier (Fireman Manifesto) by Louis-Marie Lecharny, was published in Paris in 1990. He also wrote L'art Pompier (1998).

William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Paul-Jacques-Aimé Baudry, Alfred Agache, Alexandre Cabanel and Thomas Couture are among the classic Pompier artists.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "L'art pompier" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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