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Memorialising the sovereign: Use of allegory in the reign of Louis XIV

By on May 13, 2023 in Baroque art, History of ideas, Paragone | 0 comments

As we saw in a previous article, the prologue of Baroque French operas provided a suitable format for celebrating the sovereign and perpetuating its glory. The effectiveness of this form of power representation relied on visual spectacle to support the narrative of the king’s exploits. In the long term, however, as a performing art, opera’s potential to praise the king’s government and contribute to his subjects’ collective memory was limited compared with the visual arts, epic poetry, or architecture.  All arts were thus evaluated in terms of their ability to glorify the king and generate an enduring image of his acts of government. In practice, the aim was to reconcile two difficult-to-harmonise requirements. On the one hand, the pretension of artists and thinkers close to the king was to exalt the dimension of his politico-military enterprises, for which no...