Paris in Despair: Art and Everyday Life under Siege (1870-1871)

Paris in Despair: Art and Everyday Life under Siege (1870-1871)

by Hollis Clayson

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Overview


The siege of Paris by Prussians in the fall and winter of 1870 and 1871 turned the city upside down, radically altering its appearance, social structure, and mood. As Hollis Clayson demonstrates in Paris in Despair, the siege took an especially heavy toll on the city's artists, forcing them out of the spaces and routines of their insular prewar lives and thrusting them onto the ramparts (as many became soldiers).

But the crisis did not halt artistic production, as some have suggested. In fact, Clayson argues that the siege actually encouraged innovation, fostering changed attitudes and new approaches to representation among a wide variety of artists as they made art out of their individual experiences of adversity and change—art that has not previously been considered within the context of the siege. Clayson focuses especially on Rosa Bonheur, Edgar Degas, Jean-Alexandre-Joseph Falguière, Edouard Manet, and Henri Regnault, but she also covers a host of other artists, including Ernest Barrias, Gustave Courbet, Edouard Detaille, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Albert Robida, and James Tissot. Paris in Despair includes more than two hundred color and black-and-white images of works by these artists and others, many never before published.

Using the visual arts as an interpretive lens, Clayson illuminates the wide range of issues at play during the siege and thereafter, including questions of political and cultural identity, artistic masculinity and femininity, public versus private space, everyday life and modernity, and gender and class roles in military and civilian society. For anyone concerned with these issues, or with nineteenth-century French art in general, Paris in Despair will be a landmark work.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226109572
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 03/04/2005
Edition description: 1
Pages: 472
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Hollis Clayson is professor of art history and the Patricia Koldyke Outstanding Teaching Professor at Northwestern University. She is the author of Painted Love: Prostitution in French Art of the Impressionist Era and the coeditor of Understanding Paintings: Themes in Art Explored and Explained.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsxi
Acknowledgmentsxxix
IParis Under Siege
1The War, the Artists, and the History of Art3
2The Binant Series and the Wartime Everyday18
IITrapped: The City Transformed
3Claustrophobia: La Ville Lumiere Goes Dark51
4Everyone's a Soldier?89
5Gender and Allegory in Flux114
6The Food Crisis163
IIIThe Artists' War
Introduction: The Horizon of Response195
7Gustave Courbet Saves the Louvre199
8Edouard Manet: Restless Modernism208
9Henri Regnault: Wartime Orientalism234
10Jean-Alexandre-Joseph Falguiere: Sculpting Resistance273
11Rosa Bonheur: A Manly Animalier Soldiering On284
12Edgar Degas: Portraiture and Empathy303
IVCommemorating the Siege in the Aftermath of the Paris Commune
13La Place de la Concorde in War and Peace329
14Two Retrospective Concours343
VConclusion
15Summing Up361
Notes375
Index465

Recipe

The siege of Paris by Prussians in the fall and winter of 1870 and 1871 turned the city upside down, radically altering its appearance, social structure, and mood. As Hollis Clayson demonstrates in Paris in Despair, the siege took an especially heavy toll on the city's artists, forcing them out of the spaces and routines of their insular prewar lives and thrusting them onto the ramparts (as many became soldiers).

But the crisis did not halt artistic production, as some have suggested. In fact, Clayson argues that the siege actually encouraged innovation, fostering changed attitudes and new approaches to representation among a wide variety of artists as they made art out of their individual experiences of adversity and change—art that has not previously been considered within the context of the siege. Clayson focuses especially on Rosa Bonheur, Edgar Degas, Jean-Alexandre-Joseph Falguière, Edouard Manet, and Henri Regnault, but she also covers a host of other artists, including Ernest Barrias, Gustave Courbet, Edouard Detaille, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Albert Robida, and James Tissot. Paris in Despair includes more than two hundred color and black-and-white images of works by these artists and others, many never before published.

Using the visual arts as an interpretive lens, Clayson illuminates the wide range of issues at play during the siege and thereafter, including questions of political and cultural identity, artistic masculinity and femininity, public versus private space, everyday life and modernity, and gender and class roles in military and civilian society. For anyone concerned with these issues, or with nineteenth-century French art in general,Paris in Despair will be a landmark work.

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