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Man/Animal/Monarch/Nation: Hunting Art and Political Power in Eighteenth-Century France

Man/Animal/Monarch/Nation: Hunting Art and Political Power in Eighteenth-Century France

Friday, April 23, 2021

5:00 PM–6:00 PM
Virtual
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Florence Gould Foundation Fellow Amy Freund presents, “Man/Animal/Monarch/Nation: Hunting Art and Political Power in Eighteenth-Century France.”

This talk will analyze the royal hunt and its visual representations in eighteenth-century France, and make an argument for the political and aesthetic efficacy of hunting art in establishing the king’s authority, codifying elite masculinity, and justifying the expansion of the nation’s borders. Hunting art’s visual strategies—dependent on dogs, guns, and violence—are not particularly congruent with our understanding of Rococo aesthetics, or of the early Enlightenment. But these themes, embraced with equal enthusiasm by the monarchy and its artists, inspired an outpouring of artworks in every genre and medium between 1700 and 1750. At this crucial moment in French history, France was expanding its colonial empire, the absolute monarchy existed in tension with ambitious noble and non-noble elites, and the Enlightenment was eroding old certainties about selfhood and society. Hunting art, more convincingly than any other genre of art production, provided a visual language of personal and national sovereignty that intervened in these debates and literally naturalized claims to political authority. 

Amy Fruend is an associate professor and Kleinheinz Endowment for the Arts and Education Endowed Chair in art history at Southern Methodist University. Her first book, Portraiture and Politics in Revolutionary France (Penn State University Press, 2014), examines the uses of portraiture to reformulate personal and political identity during the French Revolution. At the Clark, she will be completing her second book, Noble Beasts: Hunters and Hunted in Eighteenth-Century French Art, which argues for the centrality of hunting art to late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century French art, and explores its impact on Enlightenment notions of the human self and political authority.

This is a prerecorded lecture that will be publicly available here starting on April 23. The lecture will be available through June 15.

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