Louis XVIII's Cult[ural] Politics, 1815-1820 *

By Larkin, T. Lawrence | Aurora, The Journal of the History of Art, Annual 2004 | Go to article overview

Louis XVIII's Cult[ural] Politics, 1815-1820 *


Larkin, T. Lawrence, Aurora, The Journal of the History of Art


In the course of the last ten years or so, our knowledge of visual culture produced in France during the Bourbon Restoration (1814/1815-1830) has increased considerably, thanks to the ground-breaking efforts of several scholars. (1) Of these contributions, Carol Duncan's analysis of the origins and public reception of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres' monumental altarpiece for the provosts of Montauban cathedral, The Vow of Louis XIII (Salon of 1824), is surely one of the most original and convincing. (2) Duncan argues that the meaning of Ingres' picture, which shows a seventeenth-century Bourbon monarch swearing an oath of fidelity to the Virgin in return for an end to political and religious strife, is indelibly bound up with the contentious debate between right-wing royalists and leftist constitutionalists over the proper role of the Roman Catholic Church in Restoration government and society. She concludes that while the painting brilliantly fulfilled the artist's ambition to attain official success at the Salon and the patrons' desire to curry favor with the ultra-royalist Paris government, a public raised on revolutionary principles would have viewed the painting as symptomatic of a more dangerous desire to return to the old order.

Here I am less concerned with the way a single artist or work of art may be said to have negotiated this difficult ideological terrain than Louis XVIII's direct initiatives in shaping the terrain itself. Louis XVIII was much more shrewd in his political outlook and initiatives than his younger brother and successor, Charles X. Whereas Louis XVIII used the Catholic Church to achieve a political end, only Charles X allowed it to dictate public policy. It follows that official culture of the earlier reign took a different turn as well. Indeed, I suggest that Louis XVIII effectively manipulated the cult of his deceased brother and sister-in-law, Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, in order to contain ultra-royalist threats to the new pseudo-constitutional regime. To explicate this hypothesis, I will begin with a brief overview of the political climate in France from 1815 to 1820, the period of Louis XVIII's greatest influence over the reactionary right, followed by an analysis of his official arts policy, especially the problematics of promoting a public identity based on a heritage of Bourbon suffering.

"King Voltaire" Against the Ultras. French politics between the Second Restoration of Louis XVIII to the throne in July 1815 and the assassination of the Duc de Berry in February 1820 may be characterized as a continuous struggle between two factions in the court and legislature: a bitterly reactionary "ultra-royalist" Right, composed of aristocrats and clerics who had survived the purges of the French Revolution, and a more liberal Left, an unlikely amalgam of Bonapartists, republicans, and constitutional monarchists. United in their hostility to the reforms of the Revolutionary and Imperial periods, the "Ultras" sought to resurrect the pre-1789 status quo, to impose an absolutist regime on France which would put an end to what they perceived to be the twin evils of the Enlightenment: a disavowal of religious faith and a distrust of those in positions of power. For their part, the liberals were held together by a desire to establish a representative form of government and a distrust of the Bourbons for autocratic measures imposed during the late 1780s and the violent "White Terror" which had convulsed the south of France in 1815. (3) It was Louis XVIII's great skill as a manipulator of these opposed factions which put the state on a bumpy course toward "moderate" monarchy.

If historians have come to see the former Comte de Provence as a shrewd strategist lying in wait while the heads of his brother and sister-in-law dropped into the executioner's basket, they have not yet fully appreciated his astuteness in managing various cliques within the government when he finally did come to power. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Louis XVIII's Cult[ural] Politics, 1815-1820 *
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.