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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...

Staging of the Paragone debate within a French Baroque opera.

By on Mar 18, 2023 in History of ideas, Music, Painting, Paragone, Poetry | 2 comments

At the end of the XVIth century, a group of Florentine writers and musicians gathered under the auspices of Count Bardi to recover the ancient splendour of classical Greek drama. They specifically sought to integrate verse into a new musical style based on recitative, combining speech and song into musical cadences. Bardi and his friends may not have been fully aware of it, but they were inventing opera. Exactly one century later, another son of Florence would ironically be called upon to lay the foundations of quintessentially French opera. It was the composer Jean-Baptiste Lully, born in 1632 as Giovanni Battista Lulli, who, in collaboration with the playwright Philippe Quinault, created the template for all subsequent tragédies lyriques, as this form of musical theatre was named, until the arrival of Jean Philippe Rameau in 1733. The new musical genre born with the opera Cadmus et...

The parallel between the arts & the birth of art criticism

By on Jun 19, 2021 in History of ideas, Mimesis, Painting, Paragone, Philosophy, Poetry | 0 comments

E spesso ne la fronte il cor si legge. Petrarca   In our previous article, we introduced the Paragone, also known as the parallel between the arts, by comparing painting and sculpture in the Renaissance. This essay will illuminate the rich critical tradition that explored the relationship between literature and the visual arts and revisit some of their Renaissance referents.  Through the Paragone controversy, intellectuals sought to establish common links between the various arts and crafts by focusing on their specific means and purposes. In doing so, thinkers would often refer to the precept ut pictura poesis (“as is painting, so is poetry”), first coined by Horatio to exemplify the similarities between poetry and painting but later used in academic circles to explore the existence of equivalent connections between the other arts. This claim suggested that in all...