Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
The Art of Pleasing the Eye: Portraits by Nicolas de Largillierre and Spectatorship with Taste for Colour in the Early Eighteenth Century
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Culture and Aesthetics.
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study examines the interaction between portraits by the exponent of French colourist painting Nicolas de Largillierre (1656–1745) and elite spectatorship in the early eighteenth century as enactment of the idea of painting as an art of pleasing the eye. As developed in the theory of art of Roger de Piles (1635–1709), the idea of painting as an art of pleasing the eye coexisted with the classicist view, which in turn emphasised the potential of painting to communicate discursive meanings and hence to engage the mind. The idea of painting as an art of pleasing the eye was associated with a taste that valued the pictorial effects of painting and related to the ideal of honnêteté, which expanded on the art of pleasing in polite society by means of external appearances as a sign of social distinction.

The aim of the study is to explore how portraits by Nicolas de Largillierre address the spectator and how such paintings might have come to have meaning for spectators in the early eighteenth century. To do this, the study takes a performative approach and defines meaning as a product of the interplay of pictorial effects and spectatorial response, progressing from the initial encounter throughout the sustained exploration of the paintings. Building on close analyses of selected paintings and readings of texts that bear on issues of pictorial imitation, spectatorship and social interaction, the study brings into focus the interplay of cognitive and sensory activities, including verbal articulation and bodily movement, which come into play in the production of meanings through the act of spectatorial experience. The study also emphasises the interplay of the mimetic and the material aspects of the paintings as an important bearer of meanings and identifies several interrelated sites of tension in which the pictorial effectiveness of the portraits resides.

The study concludes by suggesting that to infer such meanings, the spectator should be prepared to respond to the address of the paintings actively, by engaging the mind, the senses and the body. Such an interpretation of the interaction between portrait paintings and spectators proposes a complex view of the ways in which artistic and spectatorial practices in the early eighteenth century might have interacted to create meanings while reproducing at the same time social and aesthetic conventions and ideals, such as the art of pleasing the eye.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Culture and Aesthetics, Stockholm University , 2015. , 202 p.
Keyword [en]
spectatorship, pleasure, meaning, body and mind, senses, illusion, imagination, touch, colour, attention, attraction, detail, display, portraiture, art theory, amateur, conversation, honnêteté, performativity, Nicolas de Largillierre, Roger de Piles
National Category
Art History
Research subject
Art History
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-123716ISBN: 978-91-7649-314-4OAI: diva2:876205
Public defence
2016-01-15, Auditorium 215, Humanistvillan, Frescativägen 24, Stockholm, 13:00 (Swedish)

Fulltexten går inte att ladda ned eller att skriva ut pga upphovsrättslliga skäl. Går endast att läsa på skärmen.

Available from: 2015-12-17 Created: 2015-12-02 Last updated: 2015-12-22Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

The Art of Pleasing the Eye(6897 kB)172 downloads
File information
File name FULLTEXT01.pdfFile size 6897 kBChecksum SHA-512
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Roussinova, Roussina
By organisation
Department of Culture and Aesthetics
Art History

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
Total: 172 downloads
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Total: 799 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link