Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship

This project, supported by the Social Science Research Council, picks up on a tension in post-Revolutionary France between an administrative desire for a unified nation and the persistence of local tradition and examines the way this tension was manifest in painting, decorative arts and visual culture. In turn, it takes on the predominance of landscape painting and asks how and why landscape came to be the most critical and innovative genre of nineteenth-century French painting. Looking at the work of the Barbizon school painters, the introduction of a topographical (rather than idealized) aesthetic indicates the growing importance of a sense of place. An emphasis on specific sites was also at work in the decoration of porcelain, and exploring connections between artists of the Barbizon school and the work done at the Sèvres porcelain manufactory broadens our picture of the entanglement between aesthetics and autochthony in the first half of the nineteenth century.