French Sculpture Following the Franco-Prussian War, 1870-80 investigates the role played by the trope of the 'strong woman, fallen man' in re-establishing morale among the French people following the Franco-Prussian War. The study explores how certain French sculptors - including Falguière, Mercié, Barrias, and Rodin - presented this recent history of defeat in commemorative monuments that increasingly dominated public space across France during the final decades of the nineteenth century. Though it focuses on French nationalism and the commemoration of war (or, as is the case with the French following the Franco-Prussian War, the commemoration of defeat), this volume also examines shifts in gender roles in the latter half of the nineteenth century, and the impact of military defeat on relations between the sexes. The book probes the aesthetic discourse of the period concerning the merits of traditional allegorical sculpture versus new-fangled realist sculpture in depicting modern life. Drawing on extensive archival research, Michael Dorsch gives a voice to the sculptures he discusses, restoring these often ignored works to their proper place in history.
'Dorsch's book does a great deal to shed light on the complexity of late-nineteenth-century French sculpture and its contexts, deepening the ways in which the significance of sculptors such as Mercié and Falguière should be understood.' David Getsy, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, USA
Contents: Introduction; The hermaphroditic power of Jean-Alexandre-Joseph Falguière's Allegory of Resistance; The Emperor's furrowed brow and the prostitute's imperious gaze: social degeneracy writ large; Antonin Mercié's Gloria Victis and the mollification of the French psyche; The soldier's bandaged foot: state sponsorship of the image of defeat in the 1879 concours for the monument to La Défense de Paris; Auguste Rodin's The Age of Bronze: commemoration stripped bare; Conclusion; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.