Professor Mansfield was making the point that Vincent, a "liberal" artist, though in favor of the French Revolution, was directing some veiled satire on the growing power of the Paris mob. Professor Mansfield made the interesting point that Vincent was more admired at this time than Jacques-Louis David, who has come to represent the Revolution in art. David was an enthusiast, after all, and perhaps, as Cassie indicated, Vincent's more critical reaction to the Revolution kept him from being straightforward.
A more compelling case for Vincent's attitude toward the Revolution was another example Professor Mansfield showed us, namely, the1795 painting at the top of this post, from the Museé des Augustins in Toulouse. Here, Vincent has portrayed Wilhelm Tell, in the famous scene in which, during a storm on Lake Lucern, he escapes from Gessler and his soldiers. (Click on the image to enlarge.)
Two years later, in 1797, Goethe made his final visit to Switzerland, when he was still thinking about writing his own Tell epic. (See my earlier posts on this subject, here and here.) In preparation for my paper on Bodmer at the German Studies Association next month, I have been reading about Henry Fuseli who was one of Bodmer's disciples in the 1750s. Goethe admired Fuseli's work, and after his visit to Switzerland with Carl August in 1779, he had written to their mutual friend Lavater, asking if Fuseli might help him prepare a "memorial" of this journey as a present for the duke. According to Goethe biographer Nicholas Boyle, Fuseli declined to cooperate. In 1797, Goethe saw Fuseli's painting of the Rütli oath, in which one sees similarities to David's later painting of the oath of the Horatii. What amazing artistic inter-connections.
Picture credit: historywiz