Public Lectures | Melissa Hyde and Richard Taws | Sydney Intellectual History Network

Two lectures on eighteenth and nineteenth-century French art history in Sydney in June.

Painted Women in the Age of Madame de Pompadour | Melissa Hyde

François Boucher A young lady holding a pug dog (presumed portrait of Madame Boucher) mid 1740. Art Gallery of NSW.

In this lecture, Prof Melissa Hyde considers the role that cosmetics played in the court politics and social identities of women at the court of Versailles. Focusing largely on portraits of the most famous mistresses of Louis XV, Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry, Hyde will discuss ‘making up’ the face as a symbolic practice. The lecture also considers the historical irony and significance of Madame Du Barry’s eventual refusal of rouge.

For the artist, François-Hubert Drouais and Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, who portrayed Pompadour, Du Barry and Marie-Antoinette after them, the problem of depicting an unpainted, natural face through inherently artificial painterly means presented something of a paradox.

The lecture also looks at how artists grappled with that paradox and will demonstrate how the painterly performance of the natural was a perfect vehicle for portraying Du Barry’s own performance as a natural woman.

Co-presented with the Art Gallery Society New South Wales.

Date: 10th June 2014, 10.00am Coffee, 10.30am-11.30am Lecture

Venue: Domain Theatre, Art Gallery of New South Wales

Cost: $25 member/non-member $15 student

Click here for bookings and further information.


The Dauphin and His Doubles: Visualizing Royal Imposture after The French Revolution | Richard Taws

Portrait of Jean-Marie Hervagault, from Le Faux Dauphin actuellement en France, ou histoire d’un imposteur, se disant le dernier fils de Louis XVI (Paris: Lerouge, 1803)

The character of practiced cosmopolitanism during the Enlightenment often appears to amount to little more than an extension of early modern courtly internationalism infused with a new language of ideas. Further investigation reveals the desire on the part of Enlightenment cosmopolites to open borders in the name of economic, political, intellectual and artistic progress. This workshop explores cosmopolitanism in practice during the long eighteenth century in Europe and, through circulation, beyond its borders. It seeks out lived experiences of cosmopolitanism in the evidence of visual, social and textual expressions, and then asks how to interrogate this evidence. What were the opportunities through which border crossings became fixed in the minds of participants and observers? How was Enlightenment cosmopolitanism in practice inflected with different forms of sensibility?

This lecture considers the authenticating agency attributed to images of the dauphin Louis-Charles, the son and heir of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, as they circulated globally in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Louis-Charles died at the age of ten in the Temple prison in 1795, yet rumours soon spread that he had been freed in a secret royalist escape plot and continued to live somewhere, most probably in the French colonies or North America. During the course of the nineteenth century the numerous images of Louis-Charles produced before, during and after the French Revolution were invoked regularly as the primary standard of proof against which to judge the many imposters who subsequently came forward from around the world, accompanied by lurid tales of adventure, to announce themselves the “lost” dauphin.

The appropriation of eighteenth-century images of Louis-Charles by these pretenders, as well as the paintings, prints and photographs they had made of themselves, were, in a rapidly transforming media ecology, closely connected to competing claims about the utility of different media in the production of the French past.

Richard Taws teaches eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European art, with a particular interest in the visual culture of the French Revolution and its aftermath. He taught previously at McGill University, Canada, and has been a Getty Postdoctoral Fellow (2006-7) and a Member of the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (2010). He is a member of the editorial board of Art History and the current recipient of a Philip Leverhulme Prize (2013-15).

Richard’s recent research focuses on everyday, ephemeral and obsolete forms of visual culture and related issues to do with time, materiality and value in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. His first book, The Politics of the Provisional: Art and Ephemera in Revolutionary France(2013), examines how provisional images and objects made in 1790s France mediated both the Revolution’s memory and its future, with important implications for how citizens became constructed as political subjects.

Co-presented with Sydney Ideas.

Date: 10 June 2014, 6pm-7:30pm

Venue: Law LT 106, Level 1, Sydney Law School Annex, Eastern Avenue, The University of Sydney

Cost: Free event, with registration required.

Registration: Click here to register online now.