GRE : Reading Comprehension



All of Francoise Duparc’s surviving paintings blend portraiture and genre. Her subjects appear to be acquaintances whom she has asked to pose. She has captured both their self-consciousness and the spontaneity of their everyday activities, the depiction of which characterizes genre paintings. But, genre painting, especially when it portrayed members of the humblest classes, was never popular in eighteenth century France. The Le Nain brothers and Georges de La Tour, who also chose such themes, were largely ignored. Their present high standing is due to a different, more democratic political climate and to different aesthetic values. We no longer require artists to provide images of humanity for our moral edification but rather regard idealization as a falsification of truth. Duparc gives no improving message and discretely refrains from judging her subjects. In brief, her works neither elevate not instruct. This restraint largely explains her lack of popular success during her lifetime, even if her talent did not go completely unrecognized by her eighteenth century French contemporaries.

The difficult words in this passage are blend (combine), portraiture (art of painting of a real person), genre (style of painting scenes from real or rustic life), acquaintances (friends), spontaneity (naturalness), depiction (description), aesthetic (artistic) and edification (enlightenment).


The argument of the passage best supports which of the following contentions concerning judgments of artistic work?

(A) Aesthetic judgments can be influenced by the political beliefs of those making the judgment

(B) Judgments of the value of an artist’s work made by his or her contemporaries must be discounted before a true judgment can be made

(C) Modern aesthetic taste is once again moving in the direction of regarding idealistic painting as the most desirable form of painting

(D) In order to be highly regarded, an artist can not be solely identified with one particular kind of painting

(E) Spontaneity is the most valuable quality a portrait painter can have


After mentioning that Le Nain brothers and Georges de LA Tour, who had chosen themes involving members of the humblest classes for their paintings, were largely ignored during their period, the author states, “Their present high standing is due to a different, more democratic and political climate…..". This implies that the author believes that aesthetic judgment can be influenced by the political beliefs of those making the judgment.

So, the answer is (A).

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