Journal Article

Abraham Bosse and the Language of Artisans: Genre and Perspective in the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture, 1648–1670

Shella McTighe

in Oxford Art Journal

Volume 21, issue 1, pages 1-26
Published in print January 1998 | ISSN: 0142-6540
Published online January 1998 | e-ISSN: 1741-7287 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxartj/21.1.1
Abraham Bosse and the Language of Artisans: Genre and Perspective in the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture, 1648–1670

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The printmaker Abraham Bosse is best knomn today for his genre scenes such as La Galerie du Palais of c. 1642, in which contemporary Parisians browse among the books and small luxuries on sale under the arcades of the Palais Royal (Fig. 1). The print displays Bosse's elegant realism in etching, as well as his characteristic blending of the fashionable and the didactic, the frivolous and the sober. As a specialist in such genre prints, he was indeed a marginal figure in the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture when it was founded in 1648. But Bosse's expulsion from the Académie in 1661 has rightly been seen as central to the institution's early history. Curiously, the literature on Bosse usually deals with his misadventures in the Académie and his own art in quite separate categories. I would like to reconnect the isolated compartments into which his battle with the early Académie, his perspective theory and practice, and his genre art have been placed. A common thread runs through these areas of Bosse's activities: all of them converge on the issue of how the crafted image stands in relation to the written word. In the largest sense, the Bosse affair demonstrates how languages, both visual and verbal, underwent profound transformation at the outset of the Ancien Régime.

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Subjects: Art Forms ; Art Styles ; Art Subjects and Themes ; History of Art ; Theory of Art

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