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Broken Tablets: The Cult of the Law in French Art from David to Delacroix

Ribner, Jonathan P.

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ISBN 10: 0520077490 / ISBN 13: 9780520077492
Published by Univ of California Pr, Ewing, New Jersey, U.S.A., 1993

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Quality Hardback : hard cover edition in Very Good condition, some slight wear to edges, as normal for age of book; and in a Good Dust Jacket with some egdewear and slight chipping. Excellent read. A good book to enjoy and keep on hand. Or would make a great GIFT IDEA for the fan / reader in your life. From the introduction: More than two decades before the drafting of France's first constitution, Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote of the difficulty of creating durable laws. The founders of nations, he argued, imputed durability to their laws by claiming a divine source for them. But only an individual of extraordinary genius - a Moses, for example - can produce laws that lend credence to this mythic pedigree: "The great soul of the legislator is the true miracle that substantiates his mission." Rousseau's thoughts resonate like prophecy in light of the rapid collapse of France's early constitutions and the regimes that produced them. His lofty association of law with religion, moreover, foreshadows the veneration of the law during the Revolution. When the nation was invested with legislative power, the law葉hat ancient social concept and fundamental instrument of power - was perceived in a thrillingly unfamiliar light. It became the focus of a veritable cult, given characteristic expression in 1791 by Gilbert Romme (1750-1795), the patriotic founder of the Tennis Court Society (originally called the Society of Friends of the Law), who declared, "Law is the religion of the state, which must also have its ministers, its apostles, its altars, and its schools." Two centuries later, such passionate devotion to the law seems as remote as the joy that accompanied the destruction of the Bastille. But from 1789 to 1848預 period that saw the introduction of constitutional, parliamentary government and the adoption of the Code Napoléon様aw and lawgiving were imbued with evocative power, expressed in art and poetry as well as in political discourse. This book examines the representation of law and the legislator during the troubled beginnings of constitutional government in France. I argue that each of France's early constitutional regimes had recourse to imagery suggesting the divine origin or sacred character of its laws; this imagery changed to reflect the way these regimes sought to establish their legitimacy; and the legitimating discourse itself was subject to subversion and co-option by opponents of these regimes. I hope to shed light on a quest for authority and legitimacy that reached from the public realm of constitutional law, national politics, and propaganda to the private world of the self-aggrandizing artist and poet. etc. Bookseller Inventory # 5021706

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Broken Tablets: The Cult of the Law in ...

Publisher: Univ of California Pr, Ewing, New Jersey, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 1993

Edition: NIS.

About this title


In this first study of art, law, and the legislator, Jonathan Ribner provides a revealing look at French art from 1789 to 1848, the period in which constitutional law was established in France. Drawing on several disciplines, he discusses how each of the early constitutional regimes in France used imagery suggesting the divine origin and sacred character of its laws.

Primarily a study of art and politics, Broken Tablets discusses painting, sculpture, prints, and medals (many reproduced here for the first time), as well as contemporary literature, including the poetry of Alfred de Vigny, Alphonse de Lamartine, and Victor Hugo. Ribner assesses the ways in which legislation imagery became an instrument of political propaganda, and he clearly illuminates the cult of the law as it became personalized under Napoleon, monarchist under the Restoration, and defensive under Louis-Phillipe.

From the Inside Flap:

"Nothing less than a total rewriting of the grand history of French painting . . . from a series of fascinating new angles."—Robert Rosenblum, New York University

"This is interdisciplinary scholarship at its best."—Frank Paul Bowman

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