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S. Caviglia, History, painting, and the seriousness of pleasure in the age of Louis XV

S. Caviglia, History, painting, and the seriousness of pleasure in the age of Louis XV

Publié le par Marc Escola (Source : Emma Burridge)

History, painting, and the seriousness of pleasure in the age of Louis XV

By Susanna Caviglia

Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, 2020:02

ISBN: 9781789620399,

330 pages with 87 illustrations (63 black & white, 24 colour), £65.00


This book reveals the role of rococo history painting in creating a new visual language that presented peace and happiness as an individual’s natural rights in the aftermath of Louis XIV’s bellicose reign. Susanna Caviglia reinvestigates the artistic practices of painters born around 1700 (e.g. Boucher, Natoire, and Carle Vanloo) in order to highlight the cultural forces at work within their now iconic images. She thus demonstrates the seriousness underpinning the notion of pleasure embodied within these alluring works of art.

  • The first book on history painting in the age of the enlightenment
  • An innovative study of the artistic creative process from drawing to painting
  • A new understanding of the social and ideological role of painting under Louis XV


Table of Contents:

List of illustrations

Historical perspective: the peaceable kingdom of Louis XV
The painters
Toward a new artistic idiom

I. Historia in stasis
Chapter 1: The action de repos

Prolegomena to the theory and practice
Meditation, contemplation
The dynamic body suspended
Narrative disrupted
Moments in the present and the future 

Chapter 2: Corporeality and repose
Fontenelle’s ideal
Corporeal conversations 
Figures of seduction
The expression of repose
From narrative representation to figural presentation

II. The figure in artistic practice
Chapter 3: Figure/study/artwork

Copying the figure
The whole and the part
The emergence of corporeal repose
The new body language 

Chapter 4: The story beyond the figure
From study to subject
Autonomous figures in painting
Repertoires of models
Life study and historical subject

III. The fabrication of a new grand genre
Chapter 5: Before the painting

The figure: from the idea to the painting
The emergence of new creative practices
The single body and the multiplication of bodies
The figure: from reuse to quotation

Chapter 6: Epilogue: on novelty in painting
Brand new beauties
The painting of the present



Susanna Caviglia is Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Professor of Art History at Duke University. Her work focuses on early modern European art and culture with an emphasis on France and Italy. Her interests include the body in art, theory and practice of drawing, and cross-cultural relationships within the Mediterranean world. She is the author of Charles-Joseph Natoire (1700-1777) (Arthena, 2012).


The Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment series, previously known as SVEC (Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century), has published over 500 peer-reviewed scholarly volumes since 1955 as part of the Voltaire Foundation at the University of Oxford. International in focus, Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment volumes cover wide-ranging aspects of the eighteenth century and the Enlightenment, from gender studies to political theory, and from economics to visual arts and music, and are published in English or French.