Loss in French Romantic Art, Literature, and Politics  book cover
1st Edition

Loss in French Romantic Art, Literature, and Politics

ISBN 9781032027036
Published September 30, 2021 by Routledge
278 Pages 32 Color & 57 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

An interdisciplinary examination of nineteenth-century French art pertaining to religion, exile, and the nation’s demise as a world power, this study concerns the consequences for visual culture of a series of national crises—from the assault on Catholicism and the flight of émigrés during the Revolution of 1789, to the collapse of the Empire and the dashing of hope raised by the Revolution of 1830.

The central claim is that imaginative response to these politically charged experiences of loss constitutes a major shaping force in French Romantic art, and that pursuit of this theme in light of parallel developments in literature and political debate reveals a pattern of disenchantment transmuted into cultural capital. Focusing on imagery that spoke to loss through visual and verbal idioms particular to France in the aftermath of the Revolution and Empire, the book illuminates canonical works by major figures such as Eugène Delacroix, Théodore Chassériau, and Camille Corot, as well as long-forgotten images freighted with significance for nineteenth-century viewers. A study in national bereavement—an urgent theme in the present moment—the book provides a new lens through which to view the coincidence of imagination and strife at the heart of French Romanticism.

The book will be of interest to scholars working in art history, French literature, French history, French politics, and religious studies.

Table of Contents

Introduction  1. Amid the Debris of Our Temples  2. Agony in the Garden  3. Banished  4. “He’s Not Dead!”  5. Heroism Lost  Epilogue: After the Terrible Year

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Jonathan P. Ribner is Associate Professor in the Department of History of Art & Architecture at Boston University.


"For experts, the book provides a refreshingly original synthesis from an important perspective. At the same time, individual chapters are very accessible and could serve as excellent readings in undergraduate classes, particularly because they introduce not just important paintings, but also key historical events and literary works. Classes in history or literature might also use it to place historical events or literary works in a broader context. Irrespective, however, of how the book enters into curricula, it will long serve as an essential introduction to the period for serious students of French art, literature, culture, and history."

--David O’Brien, Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide