The Interiorization of Identity: The Portrait Bust and the Politics of Selfhood in Pre-Revolutionary France

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Abstract

Ronit Milano In Anne-Flore Millet’s portrait of Marie-Antoinette awaiting her execution in the Conciergerie, the queen is seated, in a nearly-monochromatic interior, in front of a grated prison-like window and next to a grisailles-painted sculptural portrait of her husband, King Louis XVI (Figure 6. 1) . Although this representational formula of a sitter next to a bust on a table was common in eighteenth-century imagery, in reality, portrait busts rarely stood on tables within French interiors. This chapter seeks to explore the motivation and aims of the artists using this formula, which communicated a familiar yet imaginary setting. The main argument is that portrait busts in pre- and early Revolutionary France functioned as reflections of certain selfhoods and that, when placed in an interior setting, the bust emblematized mental interiority.
Original languageEnglish GB
Title of host publicationDesigning the French Interior: The Modern Home and Mass Media
EditorsAnca I. Lasc, Georgina Downey , Mark Taylor
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Pages83–94
ISBN (Print)9780857857835
StatePublished - 2015

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