Conference paper “Attacking the Enemy in Word and Image during the French Revolutionary Wars”

In November 2014, scholars from several universities in Western and Eastern Europe will meet at the University of Konstanz, Germany, to discuss the visualisation of power, resistance and punishment in early modern times.

The overall aim of our conference is to find cross-cultural links as well as sources of conflict and misunderstanding in the respective visual traditions and their socio-political contexts.

Valerie Mainz (Leeds University) is senior lecturer at the Department of History of Art and will enrich our up-coming conference with a talk on arts of the French Revolution.

Apart from late 18th century French history, Valerie is also interested in the image of the Jew in early modern times.

massacre of french king CUT 2

This contribution examines some French and British caricatures produced between 1789 and 1802 when the two countries went to war. These caricatures present differences in martial prowess, whether in terms of the virtue of the principled citizen soldier, the mock heroic failures of the counter-revolutionary army or the coarse brutishness of the enemy. The imagery does not communicate what may, or may not, have taken place between enemy soldiers on the battlefield, nor am I concerned with the question of tracing influence – the extent to which Gillray may, for instance, have set precedents for the French. Rather, by analysing the complex mediations between lived human life and the ways in which that human life is presented, represented and experienced through the medium of caricature, I consider, instead, how the verbal and the visual can be used to explore differing mind-sets and mentalities to do with opposing principles of rulership, authority and sovereignty.

massacre of french king CUT

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