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Title: Ideal beauty in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century French art and art criticism with special reference to the role of drapery and costume
Author: Gatty, Fiona K. A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5353 8111
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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Abstract:
Scholarly attention to late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century French art has focused on the importance that Johann Joachim Winckelmann attributed to the male nude figure in his definition of ideal beauty, and the impact of his work on debates over the 'beau idéal' in French art and art criticism. In contrast, Winckelmann's extensive interest in the detail of ancient costume, the folds of drapery, and the teleological and aesthetic significance that he ascribed to them, has been underplayed. The role played by costume and drapery as components of the 'beau idéal' in French art and aesthetics has also not been fully explored. This thesis examines the way in which costume and drapery formed an important component and embodiment of ideal beauty in the work of Winckelmann and in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century French artistic circles, providing new insights into the arguments over the meanings of Truth, Beauty and Nature in this period. The thesis proposes that ideal beauty in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth- century France was conveyed in works of art through the accurate rendering of costume and the expressive qualities of drapery in combination with the perfect form and contour of the nude body. The first part of the thesis sets up a proposition that costume and drapery formed part of the definition of ideal beauty in the work of Winckelmann. Highlighting the significance of Winckelmann's work on costume and drapery in French art theory, it demonstrates how the definition of ideal beauty in France also incorporated the accurate rendering of costume and the aesthetic impact of drapery. In demonstrating the significance of costume and drapery to both Winckelmann and French theorists it is proposed that the application of a meta-historical approach of costume and drapery to French art theory can provide new understandings and readings of the definition of ideal beauty, the hierarchy of the genres and the broader aesthetic concerns of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth- century French art. The second part of the thesis applies the proposed hermeneutic of costume and drapery to a small selection of theoretical work on the nature of ideal beauty and on a significant collection of Salon criticism. With this approach to the primary material this thesis demonstrates how French artists were able to express the 'beau idéal' within the traditional academic conventions and hierarchies, and negotiate the sense of public unease over the use of nudity in contemporary art.
Supervisor: Whiteley, Jon; Wright, Alastair Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.658465  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Art ; Painting & paintings ; Plastic arts ; Visual art and representation ; Reception of Classical antiquity ; Eighteenth-Century Britain and Europe ; Literatures of Romance languages ; French ; Winckelmann ; Ideal Beauty ; Beauty ; Costume ; Drapery ; Grace ; Costume Dictionaries ; Art Dictionaries ; Quatremere de Quincy ; Pierre Chaussard ; Emeric-David ; Salon Criticism
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