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

StaffDr Camille Mathieu - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF LevelL5
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

For the most part we will use case studies of artists, studios, and their painted production to think about the ways in which political ideology and historical circumstances can be traced in the art historical record. The module encourages students to think broadly about art—as a festival performance, as a commemorative banner for a fallen martyr, as a cheap coloured print of a headless Louis XVI—as evidence of social revolution. We will challenge the easy assumption that art simply illustrates life without commenting on it. In a period when artists were also politicians—David was on the Revolutionary Committee of Public Safety and Courbet headed up the President of the Federation of Artists in the Paris commune—cultural production becomes unescapably political.


This module aims to help you develop your skills in researching, interpreting, and analysing both primary and secondary material, with a special emphasis on the interpretation of images—painting, drawing, caricature, prints, and some architecture and sculpture. It provides you with an opportunity to explore broadly the permanence (and symbiosis!) of ideas of Revolution and Empire in Modern France, and it helps you to develop the depth of understanding you will require to study more specialised areas of history. 

ILO: Module-specific skills

    ILO: Discipline-specific skills

      ILO: Personal and key skills

        Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

        Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

        Details of learning activities and teaching methods

        CategoryHours of study timeDescription
        Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities22Lectures (11 x 2Hr)
        Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities22Seminars (11 x 2Hr)
        Guided independent study256Reading and preparation for seminars and presentations

        Formative assessment

        Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
        Essay Plan500 words1-9, 11Verbal and written

        Summative assessment (% of credit)

        CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

        Details of summative assessment

        Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
        Essay303000 words1-9, 11Verbal and written
        Group Presentation2025 Minutes1-11Verbal and written
        Exam502 hours1-9, 11Written

        Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

        Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
        Essay1000-word write up with images or notes and power point as for individual presentation, equivalent to 10 minutes of material1-9, 11Referral/Deferral period
        Group Presentation1000-word write up with images or notes and power point as for individual presentation, equivalent to 10 minutes of material1-11Referral/Deferral period
        Exam1-9, 11Referral/Deferral period

        Re-assessment notes

        The re-assessment consists of a 3,000 word essay and 2-hour exam, as in the original assessment, but replaces participation in the group presentation with a written script that could be delivered in such a presentation and which is the equivalent of 10 minutes of speech.

        Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

        Basic reading:


        Scott, Katie. The Rococo Interior. Decoration and Social Spaces in Early Eighteenth-Century Paris, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1995


        Crow, Thomas. Emulation:Making Artists for Revolutionary France. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.


        Hunt, Lynn. The Family Romance of the French Revolution. Berkeley : University of California Press, 1992.


        Grigsby, Darcy Grimaldo.  Extremities: Painting Empire in Post-Revolutionary France. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002


        Ozouf, Mona. Festivals and the French Revolution.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988.


        Ledbury, Mark, ed.  David after David: Essays on the Later Work. New Haven: Yale University Press,2002.


        Clark, Tim. Image of the People: Gustave Courbet and the 1848 Revolution. Berkeley: UC Press, 1982.

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        Key words search

        France, Ancien regime, revolution, napoleon, restoration, painting