Lenoir, Quatremère and the hermeneutic significance of the Musée des Monuments français
This thesis proposes an interpretation of the Musée des Monuments français in Paris (1795-1816) in conjunction with Quatremère de Quincy's contemporary writings on the museum in general. The aim of this is twofold: Firstly, to identify and explore the significance of the Musée as an important instance in the history of the modern museum institution; and, secondly, to offer new insight into Quatremère's celebrated critique against the institution in general, and the Musée des Monuments in particular. Through an examination of the Musée's history and its intellectual context, alongside a detailed description of its layout/ its collections and their arrangement, informed by contemporary reports and criticism, as well as the lengthy writings of its creator and curator Alexandre Lenoir, the project's key features are identified and analysed. Subsequently, the main aim of the Musée is seen as a quest for identity and order in history, through the medium of art. Furthermore, the Musée is identified as ultimately transcending its historicist basis, through a poetic engagement with its various fragments - both literal and metaphorical. At the same time, a close reading of Quatremère's texts relating to the museum reveals that, across considerable ambiguity, the concerns which led him to address the institution in the first place also centred around the problem of history and its representation in art. Through an examination of numerous points of rapprochement, the conflict between Quatremère and the Musée des Monuments is revealed as largely circumstantial, while a final difference emerges through this reconciliation, pertaining to the Musée's ultimately poetic character.