The Easel

23rd July 2024

Old Master Encore

Lethière dodged the worst of the French Revolution, reached the pinnacle of the French art establishment, but is now mostly forgotten. A neoclassical painter, he created huge paintings that addressed conventional classical themes of love and death. One critic thinks he shows “occasional stodginess”. So why attempt a resurrection? Is it because, as someone born into slavery, Lethière suits our identity-obsessed times? Muses the writer, perhaps his real achievement was just proximity to the ruling elite.