1st Edition

Painting and Narrative in France, from Poussin to Gauguin

Edited By Peter Cooke, Nina Lübbren Copyright 2016
    218 Pages 44 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    250 Pages 44 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Before Modernism, narrative painting was one of the most acclaimed and challenging modes of picture-making in Western art, yet by the early twentieth century storytelling had all but disappeared from ambitious art. France was a key player in both the dramatic rise and the controversial demise of narrative art. This is the first book to analyse French painting in relation to narrative, from Poussin in the early seventeenth to Gauguin in the late nineteenth century. Thirteen original essays shed light on key moments and aspects of narrative and French painting through the study of artists such as Nicolas Poussin, Charles Le Brun, Jacques-Louis David, Paul Delaroche, Gustave Moreau, and Paul Gauguin. Using a range of theoretical perspectives, the authors study key issues such as temporality, theatricality, word-and-image relations, the narrative function of inanimate objects, the role played by viewers, and the ways in which visual narrative has been bound up with history painting. The book offers a fresh look at familiar material, as well as studying some little-known works of art, and reveals the centrality and complexity of narrative in French painting over the course of three centuries.


    List of Figures vii

    Notes on Contributors xii

    Acknowledgements xv

    Introduction: Narrativity and (French) Painting
    Peter Cooke and Nina Lübbren

    Section I
    Ancien Régime

    1 Units of Vision and Narrative Structures: Upon Reading Poussin’s Manna
    Claudine Mitchell

    2 Figures of Narration in the Context of a Painted Cycle: The North Bays of the Grande Galerie at Versailles
    Marianne Cojannot-Le Blanc

    3 The Crisis of Narration in Eighteenth-century French History Painting
    Susanna Caviglia

    4 Obscure, Capricious and Bizarre: Neoclassical Painting and the Choice of Subject
    Mark Ledbury

    Restoration and July Monarchy

    5 Delacroix and ‘The Work of the Reader’
    Beth S. Wright

    6 Narrative and History in Léopold Robert’s Arrival of the Harvesters in the Pontine Marshes
    Richard Wrigley

    7 Narrative Strategies in Paul Delaroche’s Assassination of the Duc de Guise
    Patricia Smyth

    Second Empire and Third Republic

    8 Eloquent Objects: Gérôme, Laurens and the Art of Inanimate Narration
    Nina Lübbren

    9 Tyrannical Inopportunity: Gustave Moreau’s Anti-narrative Strategies
    Scott C. Allan

    10 Theatricality Versus Anti-Theatricality: Narrative Techniques in French History Painting (1850−1900)
    Pierre Sérié

    11 The Conflicted Status of Narrative in the Art of Paul Gauguin
    Belinda Thomson

    Key Issues of Pictorial Narrative

    12 Narrativity, Temporality and Allegorisation, from Poussin to Moreau
    Peter Cooke

    13 Towards a Study of Narration in Painting: The Early Modern Period
    Étienne Jollet



    Peter Cooke is Senior Lecturer in French Studies at the University of Manchester, UK. His most recent book is Gustave Moreau: History Painting, Spirituality and Symbolism.

    Nina Lübbren is Art Historian and Principal Lecturer in Film Studies, and Deputy Head of Department of English, Communication, Film and Media, Anglia Ruskin University, UK.

    " As long as art is made for storytelling creatures, it is by telling good stories about it that we will understand it best, and this fine book contributes to that humanistic practice." - Andrei Pop, University of Chicago