The Museum of French Monuments 1795-1816: ‘Killing art to make history’, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Museum of French Monuments 1795-1816

‘Killing art to make history’, 1st Edition

By Alexandra Stara


200 pages

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9781138245402
pub: 2016-09-09
Hardback: 9781409437994
pub: 2013-10-18

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The first volume in two centuries on Alexandre Lenoir's Museum of French Monuments in Paris, this study presents a comprehensive picture of a seminal project of French Revolutionary cultural policy, one crucial to the development of the modern museum institution. The book offers a new critical perspective of the Museum's importance and continuing relevance to the history of material culture and collecting, through juxtaposition with its main opponent, the respected connoisseur and theorist Quatremère de Quincy. This innovative approach highlights the cultural and intellectual context of the debate, situating it in the dilemmas of emerging modernity, the idea of nationhood, and changing attitudes to art and its histories. Open only from 1795 to 1816, the Museum of French Monuments was at once popular and controversial. The salvaged sculptures and architectural fragments that formed its collection presented the first chronological panorama of French art, which drew the public; it also drew the ire of critics, who saw the Museum as an offense against the monuments' artistic integrity. Underlying this localized conflict were emerging ideas about the nature of art and its relationship to history, which still define our understanding of notions of heritage, monument, and the museum.


'… this is a splendid work: not merely a thorough case study of a pioneering institution, but a valuable contribution to a wider debate - which continues to the present day - about the collection and display of art, and how we understand the past through its material remains.' Church Monuments

'[Stara's] articulate and thoughtful book provides a welcome contribution to the study of a remarkably rich subject and makes available a detailed review of sources, images and ideas.' French History

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Introduction; A history; A visit; In search of order; Opposition; The inevitability of the museum; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Alexandra Stara is Reader in the History and Theory of Architecture at Kingston University, London, UK.

About the Series

The Histories of Material Culture and Collecting, 1700-1950

The Histories of Material Culture and Collecting provides a forum for the broad study of object acquisition and collecting practices in their global dimensions from 1700 to 1950. The series seeks to illuminate the intersections between material culture studies, art history, and the history of collecting. It takes as its starting point the idea that objects both contributed to the formation of knowledge in the past and likewise contribute to our understanding of the past today. The human relationship to objects has proven a rich field of scholarly inquiry, with much recent scholarship either anthropological or sociological rather than art historical in perspective. Underpinning this series is the idea that the physical nature of objects contributes substantially to their social meanings, and therefore that the visual, tactile, and sensual dimensions of objects are critical to their interpretation. This series therefore seeks to bridge anthropology and art history, sociology and aesthetics. It encompasses the following areas of concern: 1. Material culture in its broadest dimension, including the high arts of painting and sculpture, the decorative arts (furniture, ceramics, metalwork, etc.), and everyday objects of all kinds. 2. Collecting practices, be they institutionalized activities associated with museums, governmental authorities, and religious entities, or collecting done by individuals and social groups. 3. The role of objects in defining self, community, and difference in an increasingly international and globalized world, with cross-cultural exchange and travel the central modes of object transfer. 4. Objects as constitutive of historical narratives, be they devised by historical figures seeking to understand their past or in the form of modern scholarly narratives. The series publishes interdisciplinary and comparative research on objects that addresses one or more of these perspectives and includes monographs, thematic studies, and edited volumes of essays.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Social History