Revolutions! Art and Society in France, 1770-1848 (AHV2012)

30 credits

From the arms of David’s Horatii Brothers, raised up to swear upon their swords eternal allegiance to the fatherland, to the raised arm of Delacroix’s Liberty as she leads the people of Paris forwards, revolutionary action dominated both the art and the politics of France between 1750 and 1830.  Spanning the Bourbon monarchy, the Revolution of 1789, the Directory, the Consulate, the Napoleonic Empire, the Hundred Days, the Bourbon Restoration, and the Revolution of 1830, this violent period of political and cultural upheaval witnessed extraordinary transformations in art’s purpose and audience.  These transformations included everything from the ‘death’ (and subsequent rebirth) of the French Academy and of history painting, to the growing influence of popular art and contemporary politics on academic work, to the increasing intermediality of Revolutionary expression, to a radical rethinking of portraiture. This course, whose major primary sources will be images, seeks not to trace stylistic changes in the abstract, but rather to look closely at the relationship between artistic and social change.  We will consider not only political and institutional pressures upon artists but also the ways art offered shifting constructions of gender, sexuality, race, slavery, nation, and empire during this time.