The Perfect Foil: FranCois-Andre Vincent and the Revolution in French Painting

Overview

Art history is haunted by the foil: the dark star whose diminished luster sets off another’s brilliance. Relegated to this role by modern historians of Revolutionary-era French art, François-André Vincent (1746-1816) is chiefly viewed in the reflection of his contemporary, Jacques-Louis David. The Perfect Foil frees Vincent from this distorting mirror. Offering a nuanced and historically accurate account of Vincent’s life and work, Elizabeth C. Mansfield reveals the artist’s profound influence on the visual ...

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Overview

Art history is haunted by the foil: the dark star whose diminished luster sets off another’s brilliance. Relegated to this role by modern historians of Revolutionary-era French art, François-André Vincent (1746-1816) is chiefly viewed in the reflection of his contemporary, Jacques-Louis David. The Perfect Foil frees Vincent from this distorting mirror. Offering a nuanced and historically accurate account of Vincent’s life and work, Elizabeth C. Mansfield reveals the artist’s profound influence on the visual culture of the French Revolution—and, paradoxically, on the art historical narrative that would consign him to obscurity.

The Vincent of The Perfect Foil is an artist whose life and work responded to cultural conditions—religious difference, emotional bonds, institutional pressures—only now finding their way into art historical accounts of the period. A successful academician despite his status as a member of the Protestant minority, a leading reformer of arts institutions during the Revolution, the progenitor of French Romanticism, and the husband of one of the period’s most celebrated women artists, François-André Vincent emerges in these pages as an embodiment of the ambivalences and contradictions of life in France in the wake of the Enlightenment.

By giving us a detailed and faithful portrait of this artist poised at the turning point of history, Mansfield restores a critically important body of work to its rightful place in the story of French art and reorients Revolutionary-era French art history toward a broader, more inclusive understanding of the period.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816675814
  • Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
  • Publication date: 12/21/2011
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth C. Mansfield is associate professor of art history at New York University. Her book Too Beautiful to Picture, also from Minnesota, received the College Art Association’s Charles Rufus Morey Book Award in 2008.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Preface
1. Romancing Rivalry
2. Growing Up an Artist on the Rue Neuve des Petits Champs
3. The Prix de Rome
4. The Judgment of Paris
5. Painting Women of Virtue and Women of Virtus
6. The Revolution in French Art
7. Down with the Tyrant
8. The Unfinished Masterpiece Conclusion

Acknowledgments Notes Index

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