George V. Plekhanov 1905

French Drama and Painting of the 18th Century

Written: 1905
Source: Art and Society & Other Papers in Historical Materialism, 1974 Oriole Editions;
Transcribed: Harrison Fluss for, February 2008.


There is no more remarkable confirmation of that principle of historical materialism which holds that man’s consciousness is determined by his existence, than the history of primitive peoples. For proof of this thesis we need only refer to Bücher’s well-known work, Arbeit und Rhythmus. “I have reached the conclusion,” he writes, “that while in the first stages of their development labor, music and poetry were usually blended, labor was the predominant element, the others being only of secondary importance.” According to Bücherthe origin of poetry must be sought in labor.” [1] And no one familiar with the literature of the subject will accuse him of stretching the point. [2] The critical objections which have been made by specialists apply, not to his fundamental thesis, but only to certain minor details. In the main, Bücher is undoubtedly correct.

However, his conclusions refer only to the origin of poetry. What shall we say of poetry and art in general in their higher stages of social development? Is there a discernible causal relationship between existence and consciousness – between the means of production and economic relations in society, on the one hand, and art on the other; and at what stage of development will it be best discovered?

In the following pages we shall attempt to answer this question on the basis of the history of French art in the eighteenth century. Before proceeding, however, a preliminary statement should be made.

From a sociological viewpoint, the outstanding characteristic of French society in the eighteenth century was its division into classes. This condition could not fail to influence the development of art. Let us examine the theatre, for example.

On the medieval stage, in France as well as in the rest of western Europe, the so-called “farces” occupied an important position. These farces were written for, and performed by, the people; and they served always to express the views and aspirations of the masses, and – what is especially noteworthy – their dissatisfaction with the higher estates. But during the reign of Louis XIII, the decline of the farce sets in; it comes to be regarded as entertainment fit only for servants, unworthy of refined taste, “not approved by nice people,” as one French writer expressed it in 1625. [3]

Tragedy now replaces the farce. French tragedy, however, is quite remote from the views, aspirations and dissatisfactions of the masses. It is an aristocratic product, and expresses the views, tastes, and aspirations of the higher estates. We shall soon see how profoundly the entire character of tragedy was affected by its origin.

First, however, we wish to point out that in France at the time when tragedy arose, the aristocracy served no productive function; it was supported entirely by the economic activity of the third estate. Obviously, works of art originating in this aristocratic society and expressing its views and tastes could not fail to be influenced by this situation. For example, it is known that in some of their songs the inhabitants of New Zealand celebrate the cultivation of bananas. These songs are often accompanied by a dance which imitates the bodily motions of the farmer tending his plants. This illustrates clearly how man’s economic activities influence his art. It is also clear that art originating in the upper classes, who do not engage in productive work, is not directly related to economic processes.

Does this mean that in a society divided into classes, the causal connection between man’s consciousness and his existence is weakened? No, not at all; for the very division of society into classes hinges upon its economic development. And if art produced by the upper classes bears no direct relationship to the productive processes of society, that too, in the final analysis, is to be explained on economic grounds. Historical materialism holds in this case as well. However, the unmistakable causal connection between existence and consciousness-between social relationships based upon “labor” on the one hand, and art, on the other, is of course not quite so apparent here; for in such a situation there are certain intermediate stages which, by drawing upon themselves the investigator’s entire attention, usually constitute an obstacle to any true understanding of the situation.

Having thus cleared the ground, we can now take up our subject proper. First let us turn to tragedy.

Taine said that French tragedy appeared “at a period when a noble and well-regulated monarchy under Louis XIV established the empire of decorum and court-life, the ‘pomp and circumstance’ of society, and the elegant domestic phrases of aristocracy. It disappeared when the social rule of the nobility and the manners of the antechamber were swept away by the Revolution.” [4]

This is quite true. But the historical process of the origin and decay, particularly the latter, of classical French tragedy is much more complex than the famous literary critic makes it out to be.

Let us study at closer range the form and essence of this literary genre. As to form, we must first of all bear in mind the familiar unities of classic tragedy – which were later to become the subject of the controversy, immortalized in the annals of French literature, between the classicists and the romanticists. The theory of the unities had been known in France since the Renaissance; but it was not until the seventeenth century that they became the literary law and the rigid rule of “good taste.” “In 1620, when he wrote Melite,” says Lanson, “Corneille had never heard of them.” [5] In the early thirties of the seventeenth century Mairet came forward as the champion of the unities; his Sophonisbe, the first tragedy written according to the “rules,” was presented on the stage in 1634. In the controversy evoked by this play, the opponents of the unities argued very much in the manner of the romanticists. But the learned admirers of antiquity took up the cudgels in defense of the three unities and they won an unequivocal and enduring victory. To what did they owe their victory? Surely not to their erudition, which could hardly move the public; rather to the growing influence of the upper classes, who abominated the naive formlessness of the earlier drama.

“The unities,” continues Lanson, “offered an idea which appealed to honest men: an imitation exactly equivalent to reality, and yet capable of creating an illusion. Essentially they represented only as much stage convention as could not be omitted in the representation of life...Thus acceptance of the unities was actually a triumph of realism over imagination.” [6] It was in fact the crystallization of aristocratic taste, accompanied by the final establishment of the “noble and benign monarchy,” which made the victory possible. Subsequent advances in stage technique would probably have made it possible to imitate reality without adhering to the unities; but audiences came to associate the unities with a whole series of other ideas which were near and dear to them, and the theory thus attained an almost independent value which seemed to rest upon the incontestable demands of good taste. Later on, as we shall see, other social elements upheld the three unities, and hence the theory was defended even by the enemies of the aristocracy. The struggle against the unities became all but hopeless. The romanticists in their battle to abolish them needed all their wit, perseverance, and downright revolutionary ardor.

Having mentioned the subject of stage technique, we might add that the aristocratic origin of French tragedy also had influence, among other things, upon the art of the actor. We know, for example, that even today French tragic actors have a rather stilted and artificial manner, which, to one unaccustomed to it, is extremely unpleasant. No one who has seen Sarah Bernhardt will gainsay this. French dramatic artists inherit this affectedness from the time when classic tragedy held sway on the French stage. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries polite society would have been highly displeased if an actor had ventured to assume on the stage that simplicity and naturalness which go to make up the bewitching qualities of an Eleonore Duse, for example. Simplicity and naturalness are opposed to every rule of aristocratic esthetics. “The French,” writes Abbe du Bos, “do not depend upon dress alone for giving the actors of tragedy a suitable dignity and grandeur. We insist likewise upon their speaking in a tone of voice more elevated, graver, and more sustained than that which is used in common conversation. All the little negligences which custom authorizes in the pronunciation of familiar discourse, are forbidden in our tragedies. ‘Tis true this manner of reciting is more troublesome than a pronunciation bordering upon ordinary conversation; but, besides being more majestic, it is also more advantageous for the spectators, who are better enabled thereby to understand the verse... . ‘Tis requisite also, that the gestures of tragic actors be exacter and nobler, their step and gait more grave, and their countenance more serious than those of comic personages. In fine, we insist upon tragic actors giving an air of grandeur and dignity to whatsoever they do.” [7] But why were tragic actors obliged to give an air of grandeur and dignity? Because tragedy was the spiritual child of aristocracy; its characters were confined to kings, “heroes,” and exalted personages generally, whose very position, as it were, demanded that they give an air of “grandeur” and “dignity.” Even a highly talented actor could expect no applause from the audiences of that day if his histrionics lacked the conventional amount of aristocratic grandeur.

This is evidenced most clearly in French estimates of Shakespeare and even, under French influence, English estimates of the great dramatist. Hume warned against overrating Shakespeare’s genius, since disproportioned and misshapen things often appear more gigantic than they really are. Shakespeare was good enough for his own time, but he was ill-suited to a more refined audience. [8] Pope deplored Shakespeare’s having written for the populace and not for men of the world. Shakespeare would have written much better, he thought, had he enjoyed the patronage of the king and the support of the court. [9] Even Voltaire, the literary precursor of a new epoch hostile to the old order, many of whose tragedies were vehicles for his philosophic ideas, bowed to the esthetic tastes of aristocratic society. He considered Shakespeare a natural genius, but a barbarian. The following estimate of Hamlet is characteristic:

“It is a gross and barbarous piece, and would never be borne by the lowest rabble in France or Italy. [10] ... The grave-diggers make a grave for the poor girl [Ophelia] ; one asking the other whether a woman who drowns herself ought to be interred in holy ground: after which they sing ballads, worthy of their profession and their manners; at the same time, throwing out the bones and skulls of the dead upon the stage. [11]... In the first scene, for instance, the guards says: “Not a mouse stirring” Yes, sir, a soldier might make such an answer when in the barracks; but not upon the stage, before the first persons of distinction, who express themselves nobly, and before whom every one should express himself in like manner [12]... Imagine to yourself, gentle-men, Louis XIV in the gallery at Versailles, surrounded by a brilliant court; and a ragged blackguard making his way through the crowd of heroes, lofty personages, and beauties composing the court, to propose their discarding Corneille, Racine and Moliere, for a merry Andrew, that cuts jokes and is a good tumbler: How do you think such a proposal would be received?” [13]

These words provide a clue not only to the aristocratic origin of French classic drama but also to the reasons for its decline. [14]

Mannerism easily becomes affectation; and affectation precludes any serious and profound dramatic treatment. Under the influence of class prejudice, not only the treatment but even the choice of subject matter was bound to suffer. Class conceptions of suitability clipped the wings of art. In this connection the artistic requirements set by Marmontel are very typical and instructive:

“A peaceful and enlightened nation in which every one feels himself dutybound to adapt his ideas and emotions to social mores and usages, in which the rules of decorum have become a Decalogue – such a nation may admit in its literature only such characters as are ennobled by their environment and only such vices as are corrected by propriety.” [15]

Aristocratic ideals came to be the criterion in judging works of art. This is reason enough for the decline of classic tragedy. It does not explain, however, the appearance of a new dramatic genre on the French stage. In the third decade of the eighteenth century we witness the appearance of a new literary genre – the so-called comedie larmoyante, the sentimental comedy, which for a time was rather popular. If consciousness can be explained on the basis of existence, if the so-called spiritual development of man depends upon his economic development, then eighteenth century economic life must provide an explanation, among other things, of the appearance of the sentimental comedy. Does it provide an explanation? It does; and furthermore a partial analysis is already at hand. For instance, Hettner, in his history of eighteenth century literature, proves our point; he ascribes the rise of the sentimental comedy in France to the ascendancy of the bourgeoisie. [16] The ascendancy of the bourgeoisie, however, like that of any other class, can be explained only on the basis of the economic development of society; and Hettner, without intending it or even realizing it, employs the materialistic interpretation of history. Nor is Hettner an exception. Brunetiere in Les Epoques du Theatre Frangaise, further reveals the causal dependence we are seeking:

“... with the collapse of Law’s Mississippi Bubble – to go back no further – the aristocracy, as every one knows, loses ground steadily. All that a class can do to discredit, it hastens to do... . But above all, it grows poorer, while the bourgeoisie, the third estate, grows richer, assumes^ greater importance, acquires a new consciousness of its rights. Inequalities become more glaring, abuses more unendurable. Hearts ‘overflow with hatred,’ as a poet is soon to say, and ‘hunger for justice’ – or equality, to be exact... What possibility that with such a means of propaganda and action at their disposal as the theatre, they would not put it to good use? or that they would not regard as serious, even tragic, those inequalities that had been a source of amusement to the author of he Bourgeois Gentilhomme and Georges Dandin? But above all, what possibility that this bourgeoisie, already triumphant, would resign itself to seeing the center of the stage forever monopolized by emperors and kings; and that the first use to which they would put their savings would not have been to order their own portrait?” [17]

The sentimental comedy, then, portrayed the French bourgeoisie of the eighteenth century. So much is true. Indeed, it is generally known as middle-class drama. But Brunetiere’s idea, although essentially correct, is too general and therefore ambiguous. We shall attempt to develop this idea in greater detail. Brunetiere contends that the bourgeoisie would not have resigned itself to seeing the center of the stage forever monopolized by emperors and kings. From the above quotation this seems reasonable, but hardly convincing. Only a study of the psychology of certain literary figures of the time makes the matter a certainty. One of these is Beaumarchais, the gifted author of several sentimental comedies. What was his reaction to having emperors and kings forever monopolize the center of the stage?

Emphatically and passionately Beaumarchais reviled the aristocratic tradition. He ridiculed the custom of having kings and noble-men the heroes of tragedy, and the middle classes the butt of comedy. “Depict the middle classes crushed and miserable? None of that! One must show them only to scoff at them! The citizenry ridiculous and royalty unhappy – there’s the whole theatre for you!” [18]

This mordant irony from an important ideologist of the third estate confirms Brunetiere’s contention.

Beaumarchais, however, not only appeals for honesty in depicting the “crushed” bourgeoisie. He also opposes the custom of drawing upon the legends and history of antiquity for the subjects of “serious” drama. “Of what interest to me, peace-loving subject of an eighteenth century monarchy, are revolutions in Athens or Rome? What real interest can I have in the death of a Peloponnesian tyrant? Or in the sacrifice of a young princess in Aulis? There is nothing in all that that I can see, not the slightest moral applicable to me.” [19]

The choosing of legendary heroes was simply a means of expressing enthusiasm for antiquity, an enthusiasm which was the ideological reflection of a great struggle. This was the struggle between feudalism and a new rising order. The love of antiquity which marked the Renaissance continued into the age of Louis XIV, which, of course, has often been compared with the age of Augustus. But when rebellion stirred the bourgeoisie, when hatred and “longing for justice” filled their hearts and minds, their enthusiasm for legendary heroes – in former years fully shared by their cultivated representatives – seemed inopportune, and the annals of ancient history scarcely instructive. “The man of the third estate” then became the hero of middle-class drama: more or less idealized by the bourgeois ideologists of the period, the accuracy of the “portrait” naturally suffered.

To proceed: the real creator of French middle-class drama is Nivelle de la Chaussee. What do we find in his numerous works? Protests against various aspects of aristocratic psychology, attacks on aristocratic prejudices, or vices if you will. His contemporaries valued mainly the morality which pervades all of his plays; [20] even in this respect the sentimental comedy remains true to its origin.

It is commonly recognized that in endeavoring to “portray” the middle class in their dramas, the apologists of the French bourgeoisie did not show any great originality. They did not invent middle class drama; they merely imported it from England. In England this dramatic genre had developed at the end of the seventeenth century as a reaction from the extreme moral looseness which had previously ruled the stage, reflecting the moral decay of the aristocracy. The bourgeoisie, who had risen in armed rebellion against the nobility, had demanded comedy “worthy of Christians”; and henceforth preached their own morality. French literary innovators, who as a rule borrowed freely from the English everything corresponding to the attitude and sentiments of their own rebellious bourgeoisie, introduced also this feature of the middle-class drama. (As early as 1773 Louis-Sebastien Mercier pronounced the theatre “the strongest and most effective means of providing the human mind with powerful weapons, and of enlightening the whole people at a single stroke.” [21]) This is one of the secrets of their success, and it will help us to understand something which seems incomprehensible at first glance. French middle-class drama, which by the second half of the eighteenth century has apparently become well established, disappears, succumbing to classic tragedy – something one would not expect.

We are going to see presently how this strange phenomenon is to be explained; but let us first note the following: Diderot, who, as an ardent pioneer, was unrivalled in his enthusiasm for bourgeois drama (he even tried his hand at it: Le Fils Naturel 1757, and Le Fere de Famille, 1758), demanded that the drama present men not as characterizations, but as representatives of social positions. The objection was raised that social position in no way determines the man. “What,” he was asked, “is a judge as such (le juge en sot)? What is a merchant as such (le negociant en soi)?” This argument, however, was based on a complete misunderstanding of Diderot’s position. Diderot was not speaking of merchants or judges in the abstract, but of the merchant of his day, and particularly of the judge of that period. The judge of that period, in fact, furnished a good deal of illuminating and lively stage material, as the comedy, he Mariage de Figaro so delightfully proves. Diderot’s demand was simply a reflection of the revolutionary aspirations of the French bourgeoisie of that period.

Strangely enough, however, it was the revolutionary character of these aspirations that prevented middle-class drama from quite submerging classic tragedy in France. An aristocratic product, classic tragedy dominated the French stage as long as the power of the aristocracy went unchallenged – power restricted only by the feudal monarchy. (These restrictions themselves, let it be understood, were the historical fruit of a long and bitter class struggle in France.) When the bourgeoisie rebelled and challenged the power of the aristocracy, the old literary standards began to seem inadequate and the old theatre not sufficiently “instructive.” Thus there arose alongside the decaying classic tragedy the drama of the bourgeoisie. In le drame bourgeois, the “man of the middle class” sets up his morality in opposition to the utter depravity of the aristocracy. Preaching, however, could not solve the social contradictions that cried for solution in France. The problem was not the destruction of aristocratic vices but of the aristocracy itself. This was impossible, of course, without a severe struggle. Now a paterfamilias, with all his stolid respectability and middle-class morality, obviously could never serve as the prototype of the aroused and heroic fighter. The literary portrait of the middle class could not inspire valor. And the enemies of the old regime acutely felt the need for valor; they realized that the bourgeois morale of the third estate must be developed. Where could the prototypes of such heroism be found? Why, where the heroes of an earlier literary tradition had been found – in antiquity!

Thus there arose a new enthusiasm. No longer did the enemies of the aristocracy inquire, like Beaumarchais: “Of what interest to me, peace-loving subject of an eighteenth century monarchy, are revolutions in Athens or Rome?” Once again Greek and Roman history captured the interest of the public. This interest, however, was now of quite a different character. If the young bourgeois ideologists were suddenly interested in “the sacrifice of a young princess in Aulis,” it was primarily with a view to “fighting superstition”; if their attention was attracted by “the death of a Peloponnesian tyrant,” it was not so much the psychological as the political significance of the event which gave them pause. Moreover it was no longer the Age of Augustus but rather the republican heroes of Plutarch that fired their enthusiasm. Plutarch became the Bible of these young bourgeois, as testified by Madame Roland’s memoirs, for instance. And indeed it was this enthusiasm for the republican heroes in particular which revived classical interest in general. The entire body of French art of that period derived its peculiar character from the new vogue of imitating antiquity. We are going to see later what deep traces it left on the history of French painting. For the present, however, we wish merely to note that the new vogue diverted the interest of the public away from dull middle-class drama and postponed for a long time the end of classic drama.

French as well as foreign historians of literature and art have often been puzzled by the fact that the revolutionaries who fought for and in the great French revolution remained literary conservatives. [22] Why did classicism lose its hold so long after the fall of the old regime ? [23] The truth is that these innovators were conservative only superficially. For although the form of tragedy did not change, its essence did.

For example let us take Saurin’s tragedy, Spartacus, which appeared in 1760. The hero of this play is filled with longing for liberty. For the sake of his great ideal he even foregoes marrying the girl he loves; his conversation constantly revolves around freedom and love of mankind. One had to be anything but a literary conservative either to write or to applaud tragedies such as this. Into the old literary bottle had been poured a new and revolutionary wine.

Tragedies like those by Saurin and Lemierre (Cf. his Guillaume Tell) fulfill one of Diderot’s revolutionary demands: they present men not as characterizations but as representatives of social positions; and especially do they express the revolutionary social aspirations of that period. And if this new wine was poured into old bottles, it must be remembered that those bottles were an ancient legacy. The widespread enthusiasm for antiquity was a remarkable but characteristic symptom of the new social temper. Side by side with this new kind of classic tragedy there appeared the bourgeois drama, that dramatized morality, as Beaumarchais approvingly termed it. But it was too colorless, too dull, too conservative in subject matter.

Middle-class drama, despite its origin in the revolutionary temper of the French bourgeoisie, failed as an adequate medium of expression for its revolutionary aspirations. It gave a literary portrait in which certain transitory contemporary characteristics of the original were well reproduced, but when the original no longer bore these characteristics, and when these characteristics ceased to be agreeable, the public lost interest in the portrait. And that is all. Classic tragedy lived on to the time when the French bourgeoisie finally triumphed over the defenders of the old regime, and even after enthusiasm for the republican heroes of antiquity had lost every social significance. [24]

But when the time came, middle-class drama burst into new life. After some minor changes corresponding to the new social status of the bourgeoisie, it established itself definitely and securely on the French stage. Even those who refuse to recognize the close relationship between romantic drama and middle-class drama of the eighteenth century agree that the works of the younger Dumas represent the true middle-class drama of the nineteenth century.

Social psychology is expressed in the art and esthetics of a given period. But in the psychology of a society divided into classes many things are bound to seem incomprehensible and paradoxical if we ignore – as idealist historians do, despite the better legacy of the middle-class science of history – the reciprocal relationships of classes and the meaning of the class struggle.


Let us now leave the theatre and turn to another aspect of French art, namely painting.

Under the impact of social influences with which we are now familiar, the development of French painting paralleled that of French drama. Hettner’s just observation that Diderot’s sentimental comedy is nothing but genre painting transferred to the stage shows that he, too, had noted this fact. [25]

In the age of Louis XIV, when feudal monarchy reached its apex, French painting had much in common with classic tragedy. “Grandeur” and “dignity” characterized both; and painting, like drama, also chose its heroes from among the mighty of the earth. Charles Le Brun, that arbiter of artistic taste, painted only one figure, Louis XIV, whom he always arrayed in ancient costume.

His famous series “The Wars of Alexander,” which truly deserve the attention of the visitor to the Louvre, was painted after the 1667 campaign in Flanders, a campaign which brought glory to the French monarchy. [26] The series was dedicated to the roi soleil – Louis XIV. These pictures gripped the imagination of the ruling class, because they harmonized so well with the contemporary spirit, which aspired to “grandeur,” fame and victories. A. Genevay writes that Le Brun “was incontestably the greatest and most complete personification of art in his time; no one better understood-and depicted-the age in which he lived; never was an artist more deeply imbued with the majesty of his king, with the magnificence of his reign, with his every thought; Le Brun’s works were an everlasting and brilliant apotheosis.” [27] The France of that day was wholly absorbed in her king. Thus the public, standing before the pictures of Alexander, applauded their own monarch, Louis XIV.

The profound impression created at the time by Le Brun’s work is well summed up in Etienne Carnot’s glowing tribute: “Que tu brille, Le Brun, d’une lurniere pure!” But everything dies away, everything changes. He who climbs to the summit eventually descends. The decline of the French feudal monarchy commenced, as we know, during the life of Louis XIV and continued unabated down to the Revolution. The roi soleil, who was wont to say, “L’etat, c’est moil” was, in his own fashion, interested in the greatness of France. But Louis XV, who did not relinquish a single claim to the prerogatives of an absolute monarch, thought only of pleasure; and practically the entire aristocratic clique which surrounded him thought of nothing else either. The reign of Louis XV was one long insatiable hunt for pleasure, an age of merrily going to hell. And yet, gross though the pleasures of those profligate aristocrats usually were, polite society of that period was distinguished by extreme elegance and refinement of taste, which made France “the arbiter of fashion.” This elegant and refined taste was reflected in the esthetic ideals of the time. “When to the age of Louis XIV there succeeded the age of Louis XV ... artistic ideals descended from the majestic to the charming. Everywhere there prevailed a refined elegance, a delicate voluptuousness.” [28] These ideals are best expressed in the painting of Boucher.

“Voluptuousness is Boucher’s whole ideal,” we read further on in the book just quoted; “it is all the soul his painting has... . The Venus of whom he dreams and paints is a purely physical Venus.” [29] This is quite true, and his contemporaries understood Boucher only too well. In 1740 his friend Piron, addressing Madame Pompadour,

speaks for the famous painter:

I seek only, in all truth, Elegance, grace, beauty, Sweetness, charm and gaiety; In a word, only that which breathes Of playfulness and pleasure: All with not too much of liberty, Surrounded by the veil demanded By scrupulous decorum. [30]

What an excellent characterization of Boucher, whose muse was an elegant sensuality, which pervades all of his pictures. Many of them are now in the Louvre; and whoever is interested to discover the essential difference between the aristocratic monarchy of Louis XIV and that of Louis XV will do well to compare Boucher’s work with that of Le Brun; such a comparison will be far more instructive than volumes of abstract historical disquisitions. The same tremendous success met by Le Brun in his time also greeted Boucher. It has been justly remarked that young French painters of Boucher’s time who went to Rome to perfect their art went there keeping his works in their mind’s eye, and came back influenced not by the Renaissance masters but by Boucher himself. Boucher’s influence, however, did not last long. With the revolutionary movement of the French middle class, the better critics turned against him.

As early as 1753 Grimm condemns him in his Correspondance Litteraire. “Boucher is not strong in the masculine,” he says. [31] In truth, the “masculine” in Boucher’s pictures is represented principally by cupids, which, of course, had no connection whatsoever with the revolutionary aspirations of the period. Diderot, in his Salons, goes even further in attacking Boucher. “Degradation of taste, of color, of composition, of character, of expression, of design, have followed step by step the depravity of the time.” [32] According to Diderot, “Boucher ceased to be an artist the moment he was appointed court painter to the king.” [33] The cupid figures mentioned above come in for a special share of Diderot’s denunciation. The passionate Encyclopedist remarks rather unexpectedly that in the enormous collection of cupid figures there is not a single one approximating a real child, one that might “study his lessons, read, write, or press hemp.” [34] This criticism, which resembles somewhat the objections made by our own D. I. Pisarev to Evgeni Onegin, causes many modern French critics to shrug their shoulders. These gentlemen maintain that it is not proper for cupids to “press hemp”; and they are right. What they do not realize, however, is that Diderot’s naive indignation over the “little immoral satyrs” [35] gave vent to the class hatred of the then industrious bourgeoisie for the idle pleasure of the wastrel aristocracy. Moreover, even that which constituted Boucher’s unquestionable strength – his feminine – did not appeal to Diderot. “For a time he liked to paint girls. But what kind of girls? Elegant representatives of the demi-monde.” [36] These representatives of the demi-monde were in their own way very beautiful; but their beauty did not appeal to the ideologists of the third estate; it repelled them rather. This type of beauty appealed only to the aristocracy, or to those members of the third estate who were under the influence of the aristocracy and had assimilated its taste. “Here is your painter and mine,” says Diderot, speaking of Greuze, “the first among us to dare give morality to art.” [37] This approval is as characteristic of Diderot – and also of the enlightened section of the middle class [38]- as his bitter criticism of the despised Boucher.

Greuze was indeed an extremely moral painter. If the middle-class plays of Nivelle de la Chaussee, Beaumarchais, Sedaine and others were dramatized morality, Greuze’s pictures may be called painted morality. In these pictures the paterfamilias occupies the place of honor; he figures in the most varied yet always sentimental situations, and excels in all those domestic virtues so appropriate to middle-class drama. This patriarch is certainly very honorable; but he takes no political attitude. He merely stands there like a “personified reproach” before the wanton and immoral aristocracy. And that is as it should be, for his creator did not intend to go beyond a “reproach.” Greuze is far from being a revolutionary. He does not aim to destroy the old order, but merely to improve it morally. He looks upon the French clergy as the guardian of religion and morality; the French priests are the spiritual fathers of all citizens. [39]

Meanwhile the spirit of revolutionary dissatisfaction is beginning to penetrate into the world of French artists. In the fifties of the eighteenth century a student is expelled from the French academy in Rome because he refuses to fast. In 1767 another student, the architect Adrian Mouton, is similarly treated for the same offense; the sculptor Claude Monod joins Mouton and he too is expelled from the academy. Public opinion in Paris is decidedly with Mouton. He brings suit against the director of the Roman institution; the court finds the director guilty and orders him to pay 20,000 lire to Mouton.

The social temperature keeps rising; and the stronger the grip of the revolutionary spirit upon the third estate the cooler their enthusiasm for genre painting, that sentimental comedy in oils. This change of attitude among the most progressive element of the day brought about a transformation of their artistic tastes – just as it brought about a transformation of their literary tastes – and genre painting in the manner of Greuze, until recently an object of widespread enthusiasm, [40] is overshadowed by the revolutionary work of David and his school.

As a member of the Convention in later years, David told the assembly: “The sole function of the arts has been to cater to the tastes and whims of a few sybarites whose pockets are stuffed with gold; and the guild members [the name David gives to the academicians] persecute men of talent and everybody who comes to them with ideas of pure philosophy and morality.” David felt that art should serve the people and the Republic. This same David, however, was a firm adherent of classicism. His artistic activity put new life into decaying classicism, and prolonged its rule for decades. David furnishes the best proof that at the end of the eighteenth century French classicism was conservative-and, if you will, reactionary – only in form. In essence, however, it was thoroughly imbued with revolutionary spirit. [41] In this respect one of David’s most characteristic and remarkable pictures is his “Brutus.” The bodies of Brutus’s children, who have just been executed for their part in monarchistic plotting, are being borne by lictors. His wife and daughter are in tears, but he sits austere and unshaken; and one can see that for this man the good of the republic is the highest law. Brutus also is a paterfamilias. But a paterfamilias who has become a citizen. His morality is the political morality of a revolutionary. He shows us how far bourgeois France has travelled since the time when Diderot extolled Greuze because of the moral tendency of his work. [42] Exhibited in 1789, in the year of the great revolutionary earthquake, “Brutus” had an overwhelming success. It gave expression to that which had become the deepest, the most urgent need of existence, social life in France. Ernest Chesneau is quite correct in stating, in his book on French schools of painting:

David mirrored perfectly the sentiments of the nation, which applauded on seeing its own reflection; the people’s enthusiasm was enhanced as they admired the works of a man who depicted heroes whom they chose for models. Hence the facility with which there was effected in art a revolution comparable to the revolution being accomplished in social customs and in the social structure. [43]

It must not be supposed that the change introduced by David applied merely to choice of subject. If it did, we could not justifiably speak of a revolution.

No, the great wind of the approaching revolution completely swept away the old relationship of the artist to his subject. The agreeable-ness and mannerism of the old school – the Vanloos, for example – gave way to the severe simplicity of the artists of the new school. The weaknesses, too, of the new artists can be explained in terms of the attitude then prevailing. For example, David was criticized on the ground that the figures in his paintings resemble statues; and it must be admitted that this is a justifiable reproach. But David’s models were chosen from antiquity, and in modern times sculpture appears to have been the dominant art of the ancients. David was further accused of not having a great imagination; and this criticism also is justified. David himself admitted that with him reason predominated. Reason, however, predominated with every representative of the revolutionary movement of that period. And not only of that period: reason finds fertile ground, and accordingly flourishes, in every civilized country undergoing a period of development in which the social structure tends to decay, and representatives of new social trends subject the old ones to their criticism. Reason was no less developed among the French in the eighteenth century than it was among the Greeks in the time of Socrates. Not without cause did the German romanticists attack the tendency of Euripides, for instance, to philosophize. Reason is the product of the struggle of the new against the old, and at the same time it is also a weapon. Reason predominated with every great Jacobin. There is no cause for thinking that the Hamlets have a monopoly on reason. [44]

Having explained the social causes which produced the David school, it will now be easy to discuss its subsequent decay. Here again we find something which we have already found in literature. After the revolution, when the goal had been reached, the French bourgeoisie lost its enthusiasm for the republican heroes of antiquity; and it looked upon classicism, therefore, in an altogether different light. Classicism suddenly seemed cold and remote. (Exactly what it had become!) The great revolutionary spirit, which had lent such attraction to classicism, now left it, and there remained only its shell-all the surface tricks of artistic creation, now of use to no class-strange, inconvenient, and no longer appropriate to the new aspirations and esthetic tendencies produced by the new social relationships. The portrayal of ancient gods and heroes now becomes an occupation fit only for old pedants; and so it is quite natural that the younger generation of artists are not lured by it. The dissatisfaction with classicism, the striving to strike out new paths, is already noticeable in the work of David’s own pupils – Gros, for instance. Their teacher reminds them of the old ideal, but in vain; and in vain do they themselves fight their own impulses. Intellectual trends change irresistibly with the changed ways of the world. The Restoration, however, delays the triumphant march of the bourgeoisie and even threatens to halt it altogether. For this reason the bourgeoisie cannot make up its mind to part company with the “decree of Lycurgus.” This decree, which in a measure puts new life into the old political ideals, also supports them in painting. Already we find Gericault painting the future, already does romanticism knock at the door.

We are anticipating, however. At some future date we shall discuss the decay of classicism. Now we should like to outline briefly how the revolutionary catastrophe was reflected in the esthetic views of the time.


The struggle against the aristocracy, which is making its last stand, creates a loathing of aristocratic taste and tradition. We read, for instance in “La Chronique de Paris” of January, 1790: “All our social graces, our courtesy and gallantry, all our expressions of mutual esteem, devotion and submissiveness, must be thrown out of our language. These things all smack too much of the old regime.” Two years later “Les Annales Patriotiques” declares: “Manners and the rules of decorum were invented in the days of servitude; they are superstitions that must be swept away by the winds of Liberty and Equality.” The same periodical rules that “we must not raise our hats unless we feel warm, or are addressing ourselves to a gathering. The habit of greeting other persons should be given up; for this habit also dates from the time of servitude. Moreover, expressions like ‘I have the honor,’ ‘Will you do me the honor?’ and similar ones should be stricken from our vocabulary, should be forgotten. In closing a letter one should not say: ‘Your very humble servant.’ All such expressions, which have been handed down from the old regime, are not worthy of free men. One should write: ‘I am your fellow citizen’ or ‘your brother’ or ‘your comrade’ or, finally, ‘your equal’.”

Citizen Chalier dedicated to the Convention a whole treatise on manners, in which he severely condemns the old aristocratic courtesy. He maintains that too much attention to the neatness of one’s clothes is aristocratic and foolish. “And Sunday dress is a downright crime; it is theft perpetrated against the state.” According to Chalier, everyone must use the familiar form of address tu, “for by using the familiar form of address we add the finishing touch to the destruction of the insolent and tyrannous old regime.” Chalier’s treatise was manifestly effective. On November 8, 1793, the Convention ordered all public officials to use the pronoun tu in their mutual relations. I. Lebon, a member of the Convention, a confirmed democrat and fiery revolutionary, received from his mother an expensive suit of clothes as a gift. To avoid offending her he accepted the gift, but his conscience troubled him; and he wrote to his brother as follows:

“For ten nights I have hardly slept owing to this unfortunate suit of clothes. I, a philosophe, a friend of humanity, to clothe myself so richly, while thousands of my fellow-men are dying of hunger in miserable tatters. How can I, with all that splendor, enter their modest dwellings in future, to sympathize with them in their adversity? How can I plead any longer the cause of the poor? How can I protest against the thievery of the rich, when I myself imitate their luxury and their sumptuousness... These thoughts pursue me constantly.” [45]

And this is by no means an isolated instance. A suit of clothes in those days became a matter of conscience, as it was in Russia in the period of the so-called nihilism, and for similar reasons. “Le Courier de l’Egalite” of January, 1795 considered it disgraceful to have two suits of clothes while the soldiers who were defending the independence of republican France had nothing whatsoever to wear. At this time the famous “Pere Duchene” proclaims that fashion establishments should be turned into workshops, that coachmakers should make only freight wagons, goldsmiths should become locksmiths, and cafes where idlers were wont to gather should be put at the disposal of workers for their meetings. [46]

Such being the mores, it is quite easy to understand that art, too, went to extremes in its negation of every old esthetic tradition of the aristocracy.

The theatre, which, as we have seen, in the period immediately preceding the revolution served the third estate as a weapon in the struggle against the old regime, now ridicules unrestrainedly the priesthood and the aristocracy. In 1790 the play, La Liberte Conquise, ou le Despotisme Renverse (Freedom Won, or Despotism Overthrown) meets with great success. The public joins the chorus in singing: “Aristocrats, you are vanquished."47 The vanquished aristocrats, however, rush to see those tragedies which remind them of the good old days: Cinna, Athalie, etc. In November, 1790, at a presentation of Voltaire’s Brutus, the aristocratic boxes resound with “Long live the King” and the democratic galleries with “Long live the people.” In 1793 the Carmagnole is danced on the stage and the King [47] and emigres ridiculed. In the words of the de Goncourts, which provide the data for this period, the theatre is sans-culottes. The actors poke fun at the pompous manners of the actors of an earlier period; they behave quite freely; they climb in through windows instead of coming through the door, etc. The de Goncourts tell how an actor, during the presentation of Le Faux Savant, came on the stage through the chimney flue instead of through the door. If the story is not true, it surely might have been.

There is nothing surprising in the fact that the theatre was sans-culottise throughout the Revolution, since the Revolution, for a time, gave power to the sans-culottes. It is, however, important for us to ascertain the fact that the theatre, both during the Revolution as well as in the period preceding it, was an actual reflection of society, with its contradictions and the class struggle which they caused. If in the good old days, when, according to Marmontel, the rules of decorum had become a decalogue, the theatre represented the mutual relationships of individuals, now, with the sans-culottes in power, the ideal of Marie-Joseph Chenier was realized. Chenier maintained that the theatre must instill in the bourgeoisie an aversion for superstition, hatred of oppression, and love of freedom. [48]

The ideal of the period demanded of every citizen strenuous and uninterrupted labor for the common weal, so much so that his esthetic requirements could not play an important role in the totality of his intellectual demands. The citizen of that great period showed, above all, enthusiasm for the poetry of action, for the beauty of heroism in a citizen. This attitude often gave a peculiar character to the esthetic judgments of French “patriots.” The de Goncourts tell us that a member of the jury chosen to judge works of art in the 1793 Salon, a certain Fleuriot, regretted that the bas reliefs competing for the prize were not sufficiently imbued with the great principles of the Revolution. “And besides,” inquires Fleuriot, “what sort of men are these who occupy themselves with sculpture while their brothers shed their blood for our country? My opinion is that there should be no prize.” Hassenfratz, another member of the jury, said: “I am going to speak frankly: all the talent of an artist is in his heart; that which is acquired by the hand is insignificant.” To a certain Neveu, who ventured the remark that one must consider workmanship and expression (with reference to sculpture), Hassenfratz retorted: “Citizen Neveu, workmanship is nothing. We must not judge workmanship.” It was decided not to give out any prize for sculpture. [49] In the course of the debates over the paintings this same Hassenfratz demonstrated, in a most fiery manner, that the best painters were those artist citizens who were fighting at the front for liberty. In his zeal he even expressed the conviction that painting required simply a ruler and a compass. [49] During the session dealing with architecture a certain Dufourny expressed the view that monuments should be as simple as a citizen’s virtue. There was no need of superfluous ornamentation. Architecture would have to be regenerated by geometry. [50]

There is no doubt that we are here dealing with a monstrous exaggeration. We are at a point beyond reason, even for those days of extreme conclusions from once-accepted premises. And it is not difficult to ridicule such logic, as the de Goncourts do. Yet it would be absolutely incorrect to assume that the revolutionary period was therefore unfavorable to art. The esthetic requirements of the nation were not suppressed. On the contrary, the great social movement, which gave the nation a clear sense of its new dignity, also gave a tremendous impulse to the development of these requirements. One need only visit in Paris the Musee Carnavalet to be convinced of this. The collections of that interesting museum, which are dedicated to the revolutionary period, furnish definite proof that when art became sans-culottes it was not destroyed, nor did it cease to be art. All that happened was that it became permeated with a new spirit. Just as the morality of the French “patriot” of that time was primarily political morality, his art was primarily political art. This indicates that a citizen of that day-a citizen, of course, worthy of the name-was indifferent, or almost indifferent, to works of art which did not express some political idea of significance to him. [51] Let no one say that such art must be barren. That would be a mistake. The unparalleled art of the ancient Greeks was in large measure such a political art. Nor is this true of Greek art alone. French art during the age of Louis XIV likewise served political ideas, which nevertheless did not keep it from flourishing. As for French art of the revolutionary period, the sans-culottes led it in a direction which aristocratic art could not: art became the concern of the whole nation.

The numerous holidays, processions and celebrations which took place at the time furnish the surest testimony and proof of the sans-culottes esthetics. But this testimony is very often disregarded. [52]

Owing to the historical changes of that epoch, however, art for the whole nation had no firm social basis. The bloody reaction of the ninth Thermidor soon put an end to the power of the sans-culottes and opened up a new era in politics; it also introduced a new epoch in art-an epoch that gave expression to the aspirations and esthetics of the new upper class, the bourgeoisie, which had now become intrenched. We do not intend at this time to discuss this new period; it deserves a thoroughgoing investigation. But we must, however, summarize what has gone before. We shall then arrive at certain conclusions which confirm the following principles:

In the first place, the statement that art as well as literature is a reflection of life, though true enough, is vague. In order to understand exactly how art reflects life we must grasp the mechanics of the latter. Among civilized nations, however, the class struggle is one of the most important springs in life’s mechanism. When this spring has been investigated, when the class struggle is taken into consideration and its various phases studied, we shall be able, in a measure, to explain to our own satisfaction the intellectual history of a civilized society. Its intellectual development reflects the history of its classes, which in turn reflects their struggles.

In the second place, Kant states that esthetic pleasure is disinterested, and that any judgment of the beautiful into which there enters even the slightest interest is biased and not a purely esthetic judgment. [53]

This is true when applied to an individual. If, for instance, I like a picture because I can sell it advantageously, my judgment, of course, is not a purely esthetic judgment. But it is a different matter if the question is approached from a social viewpoint. Investigation of the development of art among primitive peoples has shown that social man first approaches things and phenomena from the point of view of utility, and only later does his reaction to some of them become esthetic. [54] This places the history of art in a new light. Not every useful object, of course, seems beautiful to social man. But there is no doubt that only that which is useful will seem to him beautiful; in other words, only that which may be of importance to him in his struggle for existence, against nature, or against another social man. This does not mean that a social man’s utilitarian view is identical with his esthetic view. By no means! Utility is perceived by reason; beauty by intuition. The sphere of the first is interest; of the second, instinct. Furthermore – and we must keep this in mind – the sphere of intuition is far larger than that of reason. Thus when social man uses that which seems to him beautiful, he is almost never aware of its utility, which is nevertheless connected with his idea of the object. [55] In the majority of cases the utility can only be discovered with the help of scientific analysis. The most important characteristic of esthetic pleasure is its indirectness. And yet there is utility in the beautiful. It lies, however, at the basis of esthetic enjoyment (we are here dealing not with individuals but with social man); otherwise the object would not seem beautiful.

The objection may be made that the color of an object pleases an individual regardless of whether the object is significant in his struggle for existence. Without going into any detailed analysis, I shall only call attention to Fechner’s remark: “The color red pleases us, let us say, when we see it in the cheeks of a young and beautiful woman. But what impression would the same color create if we saw it, not in her cheeks, but on her nose?”

We observe here a sound analogy to morals. That which social man finds useful is far from being moral. But only that which is useful to his development is morally significant to him. Man does not exist for morality, but morality for man.

Similarly we can say that man does not exist for beauty, but beauty for man. This is utilitarianism in the wider sense, however-that is, in the sense of the useful, not to individual, but to society – tribe, race or class.

But for the very reason that we consider not the individual, but society (tribe, race, class) we also find place for Kant’s view. Without a doubt, esthetic judgment takes for granted the absence of each and every utilitarian consideration of the individual expressing such judgment. And in this instance we have a complete analogy to moral judgments. If I regard a given action as moral because it is useful to me, I have no moral instinct. [56]


1. Karl Bucher: Arbeit und Rhythmus, Leipzig: Teubner: 1899 (2nd ed.).

2. Referring to early decorative art, Moritz Homes states that it could have developed only on the basis of industrial activity, and that in those communities where industrial activity is unknown, e.g., the Vedas in Ceylon, no decorative art has arisen. Cf. Urgeschichte der bildenden Kunst in Europa, p. 38, Vienna: Holtzhausen: 1898. Thus, his conclusion fully concurs with that of Biicher, quoted above.

3. Cf. L. Petit de Julleville: La Comed’ie et les Moeurs en France au Moyen Age, p. 344, Paris: Cerf: 1886.

4. H. Taine: “The Philosophy of Art” in Lectures on Art, translated by John Durand, First Series, p. 32, New York: Holt: 1896. – Ed.

5. Gustave Lanson: Histoire de la Litterattire Francaise, p. 420, Paris: Ha-chette: 1912 (19th. ed.) – Ed.

6. ibid., pp. 421-4-22. – Ed.

7. Jean-Baptiste du Bos: Critical Reflections on Poetry, Painting and Music, translated by Thomas Nugent, Vol. I, pp. 341-342, London: Nourse: 1748. – Ed.

8. David Hume: History of England, Appendix to the Reign of James I, Edinburgh, 1754. Hume thinks “there may remain a suspicion that we overrate, if possible, the greatness of the genius [of Shakespeare], in the same manner^ as bodies often appear more gigantic on account of their being dis-proportioned and misshapen.” He considers him, as Voltaire did, a prodigy, given the time when he lived and his total want of “any instruction”; but “if represented as a poet capable of furnishing a proper entertainment to a refined or intelligent audience, we must abate much of this eulogy.” – Ed.

9. Alexander Pope: Works, edited by J. Warton, Vol. X, p. 398, “Preface to the Works of Shakespeare,” London, 1822. Pope deplored that Shakespeare had composed his plays in view of “the people and writ, at first, without the patronage from the better sort,” and further on he adds: “Yet it must be observed, that when his performances had merited the protection of his prince, and when the encouragement of the court had succeeded to that of the town, the works of his riper years are manifestly raised above those of his former.” – Ed.

10. Voltaire: “Ancient and Modern Tragedy” in Works, Vol. XIX, Part I, pp. 115-141, Akron, Ohio: St Hubert Guild: 1901. Plekhanov does not quote the latter part of this sentence. – Ed.

11. Voltaire: A Letter from M de Voltaire to the French Academy, read on the festival of St Louis, August 25, 1776. Translated into English in “Le Magazin du Monde,” Paris, November, 1776, pp. 81-91, 153-156. Quotation from p. 85. – Ed.

12. ibid., p. 90. – Ed.

13. ibid., p. 156. – Ed.

14. We note in passing that it was this view of Voltaire’s that repelled Lessing, the consistent ideologist of the German middle class, as shown by Franz Mehring in his Lessing-Legende.

15. Jean-Frangois Marmontel: “Essai sur le Gout” and “Reflexions sur la Tragedie” in Oeuvres Completes, Vol. IV, Part I, pp. 3-47, and Vol. VII, Part I, pp. 333-352, Paris: Berlin: 1819. – Ed.

16. Hermann Hettner: Literaturgeschichte des tachtzehnten Jahrhunderts, 3 vols, in 5, Braunschweig, 1862-1872.

17. Ferdinand Brunetiere: Les Epoques du Theatre Franqais. p. 287, Paris: Hachette: 1906 (6th. ed.) – Ed.

18. P. A. C. de Beaumarchais: “Lettre Moderee sur la Chute et la Critique du Barbier de Seville” in Oewvres Completes, Vol. I, p. 365, Paris: Colin. 1809. – Ed.

19. P. A. C. de Beaumarchais: “Essai sur le Genre Dramatique Serieux” in cp. cit., pp. 17-18. Which brings to mind this line from J. J. Rousseau: Nouvelle Hiloise, Second Part, Letter XVII: “... will someone tell me what is the earthly good of the tragedies of Corneille, and what is the importance of Sertorius or Pompey to the people of Paris?” – Ed.

20. D’Alembert says the following of Nivelle de la Chaussee: “In his literary activity as well as in his private life he held to the rule that the man whose wishes and aspirations correspond to his means possesses wisdom.” This is an apology for steadiness, temperance, and thrift.

21. Louis-Sebastien Mercier: Du Thidtre ou Nowvel Essai sur I’Art Dramati-que, Amsterdam: Van Harrevelt: 1773.

22. Cf. Karl Marx: The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, pp. 13-14, New York: International Publishers: 1936, particularly the following lines (quoted from Emile Burns’s translation in Handbook of Marxism, pp. 116-117): “The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like an incubus on the brain of the living. And just when they seem engaged in revolutionising themselves and things, in creating something entirely new, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service and borrow from them names, battle slogans and costumes in order to present the new scene of world history in this time-honoured disguise and this borrowed language. Thus Luther donned the mask of the Apostle Paul, the Revolution of 1789-1814 draped itself alternately as the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, etc.” – Ed.

23. See e.g., Louis Gonse: La Sculpture et Ita Gravure en France au XIX Steele, p. 4, Paris, 1892. Gonse considers it a very interesting aspect. See also Haton Springer: Geschichte der bildenden Kilnste im neunzehnsten Jahrhundert, p.206, Leipzig, 1858: “The Great Revolution in France, which in every other respect exerted such immense influence, hardly, if at all, touched art.”

24. “The decree of Lycurgus, who hardly gave them a thought, protected the unities,” writes Petit de Julleville in Le Theatre en France, p. 334. One could not put it better. But the bourgeois ideologists saw no reactionary threat in this decree. They looked upon it as revolutionary middle class virtue vertu).

25. See footnote 16.

26. The successful siege of Tournay lasted only two days-the siege of Armen-tieres, Fumes, and Courtrai also only a short time. Lille was taken in nine days. Cf. Henry Jouin: Charles Le Brun et les Arts sous Louis XIV, Paris: Imprimerie Nationale: 1889.

27. A. Genevay: Le Style Louis XIV. Charles Le Brun, Decorateur, pp. 1-2, Paris: Rouan: 1886 (Bibliotheque de l’Art).

28. Edmond and Jules de Goncourt: L’Art du Dix Huilieme Siecle, Vol. I, pp. 135-136, Paris: A. Quantin: 1880 (3rd. ed.)

29. ibid., p. 145.

30. Paul Mantz: Francois Boucher. Lemoyne et Natoire, p. 109, Paris: A, Quantin: 1880. Quoted from Alexis Piron: Oeuvres Completes, Vol. VIII, p. 160, Paris, 1776. – Ed.

31. Cf. F. M. Grimm and Denis Diderot: Correspondance Litteraire, Vol. I, p. 357, Paris: Gamier: 1877-1882. Grimm says that Boucher’s “color is never male”; and later, Vol. IX, p. 59: “He used to be called the painter of the graces, but his graces were mannered... . One could have called him the Fontenelle of painting: Boucher had Fontenelle’s sumptuousness, affectation, preciosity, and factitious grace.”

32. Denis Diderot: “Salon de 1765-Boucher” in Oeuvres, Vol. VIII, p. 114, Paris, 1821. – Ed.

33. ibid., p. 115. – Ed.

34. ibid., p. 116. – Ed.

35. ibid., p. 116. – Ed.

36. ibid., p. 116. – Ed.

37. ibid., p. 243. – Ed.

38. Edmond and Jules de Goncourt: op. cit., Vol. I, p. 293.

39. Cf. Greuze: Lettre a MM les Cures in “Journal de Paris,” #339, pp. 141-143, Paris, December 5, 1786. – Ed.

40. Greuze’s “Pere de Famille” was exhibited in 1775, and his “Accordee de Village” in 1761.

41. Andre Fontainas: Histoire de la Peinture Tranqaise au XIX Sifole, pp. 12-13, Paris: Mercure de France: 1906 (3rd. ed.)

42. “Brutus” is now in the Louvre.

43. Ernest Chesneau: Les Chefs d’Ecole, p. 18, Paris: Didier: 1864 (new ed.) – Ed.

44. Hence many cogent objections could be made against the view expressed by Turgenev in his famous essay “Hamlet and Don Quixote.” [Available in the English translation of William A. Drake in M. J. Benardete and Angel Flores: The Anatomy of Don Quixote, pp. 98-120, Ithaca, N. Y.: The Dragon Press: 1932. Cf. Pavel I. Novitsky: Cervantes and “Don Quixote,” particularly pp. 19 ff., New York: Critics Group: 1936. – Ed.]

45. Edmond and Jules de Goncourt: Histoire de la Societe Francaise pendant la Revolution, pp. 354-355, Paris: Charpentier: 1880 (new ed.) – Ed.

46. ibid., p. 353. – Ed.

47. ibid., pp. 167-168. – Ed.

48. Marie-Joseph Chenier: “Epitre Dedicatoire a la Nation Frangaise” in Oeuvres, Vol. I, pp. 183-190, Paris: Guillaume: 1826. – Ed.

49. Goncourt: op. cit., pp. 346-347. – Ed.

50. ibid., p. 348. – Ed.

51. ibid., p. 349. – Ed.

52. The word “political” is here used in its broadest sense, as when we say that every class struggle is a political struggle.

53. Cf. Maurice Dreyfous: Les Arts et les Artistes pendant la Periode Re-volutionaire (1789-1795), Chapter VII “L’Art des Corteges,” pp. 408 ff., Paris: Paclot: 1906.

54. Immanuel Kant: “Kritik der Urtheilskraft” in Werke, Vol. IV, Leipzig: Modes & Baumann: 1836-1839. – Ed.

55. “... All objects of ornamentation originally had a utilitarian function... . Among Indians it is observable that the useful and the ornamental coexist harmoniously, and we have every reason to assume that the former are of earlier origin.” Karl von den Steinen: Unter den Naturvolkern Central-Brasiliens, p. 174, Berlin: D. Reimer: 1894.

56. By “object” we mean not only material things but also natural phenomena, human emotions and human relationships.