1st Edition

The Visual Culture of Violence After the French Revolution

By Lela Graybill Copyright 2016
    212 Pages
    by Routledge

    The Visual Culture of Violence after the French Revolution traces four sites of spectatorship that exemplified the visual culture of violence in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, offering a new account of the significance of violent spectacle to the birth of modernity. Considerations of the execution scaffold, salon painting, print culture and the fait divers, and waxworks displays establish the centrality of spectatorial violence to experiences of selfhood in the wake of the French Revolution. Shedding critical light on previously neglected aspects of art and visual culture of the post-Revolutionary period, The Visual Culture of Violence after the French Revolution demonstrates how violent spectacle at this moment was profoundly shaped by shifting social attitudes, contemporary political practices, and rapidly accelerated technological developments. By attending to the formal and historical specificity of violent spectacle after the Revolution, Graybill affirms the historical contingency through which the visual culture of violence in the modern era has emerged.

    The Visual Culture of Violence after the French Revolution will be broadly relevant to scholars of art, media and visual studies, and particularly to historians of the French Revolution and eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Europe. The book's concern with the representation of violence makes it of interest to scholars working in a variety of fields beyond its historical period, especially in art, literature, history, media and culture studies.

    List of Illustrations
    1 The Guillotine in Perspective
    2 The Limit Case: Philippe-Auguste Hennequin’s The Remorse of Orestes at the Salon of 1800
    3 Technologies of Witness: Violent Spectacle and the Fualdès Affair
    4 A Proximate Violence: Madame Tussaud’s Chamber of Horrors


    Lela Graybill is Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Utah, USA.

    'The Visual Culture of Violence After the French Revolution is the first to examine the French visual culture of violence from 1791 to c.1830. This book belongs to an important strain of work in the field that seeks to connect developments in academically-sanctioned salon painting to other areas of visual spectacle, ranging from waxworks to public executions, and to situate all of these forms in the context of the sweeping political, social, and technological transformations that marked this watershed period. It will be of interest primarily to art historians and historians of visual culture of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.' Laura Auricchio, New School, USA

    ' In The Visual Culture of Violence After the French Revolution, Lela Graybill offers an illuminating account of how attitudes to spectatorship, subjectivity, and violence were realigned in post-revolutionary France. Drawing on a fascinating and unexpected array of images and objects - from lithographs to history paintings, broadsides to waxworks - Graybill demonstrates that, far from disappearing in the nineteenth century, the spectacle of violence was reconfigured to new ends in the Revolution's wake. Theoretically sophisticated and packed with subtle interpretations of key works, this timely book is essential reading for anyone interested in the relationship between visual culture and the construction of the modern self.' Richard Taws, University College London, UK