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During his Fauve years, Henri Matisse often painted landscapes in the south of France during the summer and worked up ideas developed there into larger compositions upon his return to Paris. In 1906, he finished the oil on canvas Le Bonheur de Vivre, or The Joy of Life, his typical important imaginary composition which gives in a concise form the spirit of Fauvism better than his any other Fauve painting. Today, this painting is in the collection of the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

A fresco The School of Athens Italian Renaissance artist Raphael painted between 1509 and 1511 as a part of his commission Pope Julius II to decorate the rooms now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. It is located in the first of the four rooms designed by Raphael, the Stanza della Segnatura which was set to be Julius' library. In particular, this fresco has come to symbolize the marriage of art, philosophy, and science that was a hallmark of the Italian Renaissance.

The painting The Apotheosis of Homer was expressly commissioned by Charles X for the ceiling at the Louvre which is now the ancient Egyptian galleries. Upon receiving the commission, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres conceived the idea for his painting quickly and he had required only an hour to establish the broad outlines of his composition in a sketch. He developed his idea in more than 100 drawings and numerous painted sketches for it that survive. His grandest expression of the classical ideal, this nearly seventeen-foot long canvas reworks Raphael's Vatican fresco, The School of Athens from 1509-1511. Apotheosis of Homer was exhibited in 1827 in the annual Salon and is now exhibited at the Louvre.

The Greek myth of Persephone, the daughter of the highest god Zeus and the goddess Demeter who in Greek myth rendered the earth fruitful, before being abducted by the god of the underworld, has great emotional power and because of that was a frequent motif in art. In 1891, the English painter and sculptor Frederic Leighton painted The Return of Persephone, which, as its name suggests, depicts Hermes helping Persephone to return to her mother Demeter after Zeus forced Hades to return Persephone. This painting is now in the Leeds Art Gallery.

The French painter, graphic artist, sculptor, and caricaturist Honoré Daumier began to create his satirical works in 1830, at the time when lithographer, caricaturist, and journalist Charles Philipon founded the satirical political journal La Caricature, in which he combined journalism and the art of caricature. In 1831, he drew a caricature of King of the French Louis Philippe as Gargantua, the namesake from Rabelais' 16th century series of novels, which tells of the adventures of two giants, Gargantua and his son Pantagruel. The caricature appeared in the December 15th, 1831 edition of La Caricature and was displayed in the window of La Caricature office in the Gallery Vero. The lithograph of this caricature is housed in the National Library in Paris.

A French painter, sculptor, printmaker, newspaper caricaturist, and political satirist Honoré Daumier lived in Paris during troubled political times (the revolutions of 1830 and 1848) and during a time of rapid industrialization and much social unrest. His interest in the French railroad system was based on the fact that this new means of transportation changed the way to move around Paris and the surrounding cities in a dramatic way. Daumier, who also struggled with unemployment at some point in his life, sympathized with the working class and saw them as fellow passengers.

Honoré Daumier's paintings were influenced by rail traveling themes and painted many images on a similar theme since the 1840s. The painting The Third-Class Carriage from 1862 is a depiction of the everyday life of the poor. This painting is one part of a three-part series of paintings by Daumier, including The First-Class Carriage and The Second-Class Carriage. The work can be viewed now at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

After moving to Nuenen in the Brabant region in 1883, Vincent van Gogh was inspired to create a portrait of the working class. On 30 April 1885, he wrote to his brother Theo:

"You see, I really have wanted to make it so people get the idea that these folk, who are eating their potatoes by the light of their little lamp, have tilled the earth themselves with these hands they are putting in the dish, and so it speaks of manual labor and - that they have thus honestly earned their food. I wanted it to give the idea of a wholly different way of life from ours - civilized people. So I certainly don't want everyone just to admire it or approve of it without knowing why."

Vincent van Gogh had planned out the painting of The Potato Eaters far in advance and had the inspiration to create a multiple-figure painting in 1883. After completing various sketches and trial paintings of the piece, he created three surviving studies of The Potato Eaters and also printed a lithograph of the work, which he sent to his brother Theo in Paris. Upon completion of The Potato Eaters in 1885, he thought it was his best work to date. But, it was not successful in his lifetime, nor was it displayed at the Salon as he had requested. Today it is considered by many to be Van Gogh's first true masterpiece and can be seen at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

One of the founders of the Barbizon School, the French painter Jean-François Mile is known for his peasant scenes. First exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1863, the painting The Man with a Hoe caused a storm of controversial interpretations at the time because of its depiction of the brutal life to which peasants were subjected. The man in the picture was considered brutish and frightening by the public and critics and the painting itself was a social protest on behalf of peasants. Millet seemed to foresee the response to his work, when he wrote, "The Man with the Hoe will get me into hot water with many people who don't like to be asked to contemplate a different world." The painting is now housed in the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

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