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since 11/08/2005


Essays 04/04/2006

Art as a political tool in revolutionary France

Essays How was art used to establish and maintain political authority in revolutionary France? Just a few years before the outbreak of the French Revolution, Diderot had played a key role in the writing and editing of the Encyclopedie. Contained inside its many pages could be found comments by the Enlightened thinkers on how education should be used "to mould desirable citizens" and how art itself was a form of education. Diderot himself believed in the "artist's duty" of using his art to perpetuate the memory of noble deeds, vindicate virtue while stigmatising vice and strike fear into the hearts of tyrants. However, within the broad title of 'art' fall many sub divisions ranging from paintings to songs, drama to novels. The Enlightened thinkers believed that all kinds were valuable tools of education since they could be easily diffused throughout the nation as a whole through word of mouth or the rising number of pamphlets that began to appear within France towards the end of the eighteenth century. However, the fine arts - the visual arts on canvas and in stone - were deemed to be of an importance so great that no self-respecting political authority could dare to govern without them. They "could convey its message to the human heart much more directly than language ever could…" - a comment on the philosophes theories of the ears being closed unless opened by an interest while the eyes always remained open. Furthermore, The visual arts were "better weapons for spreading ideas ...

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