Visual Culture in Early Modern France: Renaissance to Enlightenment
This course will examine French art and visual culture from the 16th century to the mid-18th century. Beginning with the architecture, processions, painting, prints and decorative arts of the School of Fontainebleau, the course addresses the development of the Royal Academy and its interaction with popular culture, which culminates in the display of ambitious art in the public space of the pre-revolutionary Salon exhibition. We will examine Classical triumphal processions that included the spectacle of Brazilian tribal warfare; the appreciation and collecting of intimate canvases (Poussin); the early modern state’s investment in urban renewal in Paris and cultural spectacle at Versailles; the intimate and complex objects and spaces in Rococo interiors (Watteau, Boucher) and public forms of display and art criticism (Chardin, Diderot). Among our inquiries will be Feminist court culture, the literary and material cultures of humanism, the transmission of ancient Roman antiquity, models of popular and elite culture, female portraiture and the myth of, aristocratic cultural resistance and connoisseurship, the optical and philosophical furniture of the French Enlightenment, and the emergence of modern artistic institutions (public art exhibitions, lectures, academic studio training and formal art criticism).