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The Hurt(ful) BodyPerforming and Beholding Pain, 1600-1800$
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Tomas Macsotay, Cornelis van der Haven, and Karel Vanhaesebrouck

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781784995164

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781784995164.001.0001

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Epicurean tastes: towards a French eighteenth-century criticism of the image of pain

Epicurean tastes: towards a French eighteenth-century criticism of the image of pain

(p.138) 6 Epicurean tastes: towards a French eighteenth-century criticism of the image of pain
The Hurt(ful) Body

Tomas Macsotay

Manchester University Press

This chapter argues that eighteenth-century French painting reserved a special type of image criticism for the scene of horror, taking a close look at works by prominent members of the Paris Académie Royale, in particular Fragonard’s Corésus et Callirhoe (1765). As these analyses will show, painting in France was responding to the retreat of a Christological, redemptive or punitive rationale for showing violence. Through writings by Dubos and Falconet, but also Diderot’s comments on Corésus et Callirhoe, this chapter argues that these new images of hurt allow new forms of distanced and unstable viewing. These depend on an epicurean form of reasoning that interconnects religious practice, fear, lust and disillusionment. The critical beholder who traverses these epicurean states of mind ends up calling into question the reality of the image beyond the drives of the appetites and anxieties of the beholder. This epicurean-inspired criticism of the image of pain opens up an opportunity for audiences to watch themselves act out a connection with the hurt body, but they also expose the image’s falseness, leaving the victim ‘unredeemed’.

Keywords:   French painting; Epicureanism; Aesthetics; Audience; Académie Royale

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