Between allegory and topography: the project for a statue to Louis XVI in Brest (1785-1786) and the question of the pedestal in public statuary in Eighteenth-century France

Authors
Citation
E. Jollet, Between allegory and topography: the project for a statue to Louis XVI in Brest (1785-1786) and the question of the pedestal in public statuary in Eighteenth-century France, OX ART J, 23(2), 2000, pp. 51-77
Citations number
105
Language
INGLESE
art.tipo
Review
Categorie Soggetti
Arts & Architecture
Journal title
OXFORD ART JOURNAL
ISSN journal
0142-6540 → ACNP
Volume
23
Issue
2
Year of publication
2000
Pages
51 - 77
Database
ISI
SICI code
0142-6540(2000)23:2<51:BAATTP>2.0.ZU;2-1
Abstract
An unrealized project for a statue to Louis XVI in Brest is analysed in rel ation to established practices for French royal monuments from the seventee nth to the late eighteenth centuries. Texts by the sculptors Houdon and Goi s, and the architect Jallier de Savigny, provide detailed insight into the assumptions underpinning their different conceptions of the projected monum ent, and its relation to the city, with particular reference to the visibil ity of the monument from the harbour, an important naval base. In contrast to much earlier literature on this theme, which emphasizes the architectura l framework, and questions of urban planning, here the focus is on the stat ue, and its role in articulating various ideological tenets regarding kings hip, the symbolic exercise of power, and the monarch's relation to the nati on. The conception of such monuments is shown to have been dynamically evol ving through the century, this being centrally manifest in attitudes to the way that the pedestal expressed degrees of separation and communication be tween the figure of the monarch, the allegorical figures habitually framing the pedestal, and his spectator/subjects occupying the surrounding space. Crucial in this respect is the symbolic significance of the ground, linked to ideas of national territory, in the light of which, in the later eightee nth century, monuments were understood to enshrine a symbolic spatial synth esis. The respective roles of types of pedestal, railings, inscriptions, an d subsidiary figures is discussed, taking in sculptors' comments and respon ses to monuments. The analysis includes material from the revolutionary per iod, demonstrating how the symbolic structuring of projected monuments drew on already existing ideas and practices.