Art History: Monkeys & Mechanical Arts
Monkeys & Mechanical Arts:
The Goncourt Brothers and the 19th-Century Etching Revival
Presenter: Rachel Skokowski
This paper examines the etchings of novelists and art critics Jules and Edmond de Goncourt in the context of the 1860s etching revival in France. Exploring the Goncourts’ prints in dialogue with their artist novel Manette Salomon (1867), I investigate how the brothers use the trope of the singerie, or the depiction of the artist as monkey, to probe tensions surrounding “mechanical” arts in the nineteenth century. Contrary to the rhetoric of the etching revival, which pitted etching against art forms such as lithography and photography, I argue that the Goncourts instead reclaim etching’s mechanical qualities, proposing an alternative vision of artistic labor.
Rachel Skokowski is the Curatorial Assistant for European Art at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. She completed her PhD as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford in 2019, where her research focused on the relationship between literature and printmaking in 19th-century France. She is currently preparing a monograph based on her thesis for Oxford University Press.
This event will be held online via Zoom.
Upcoming seminars this semester:
Anna Arabindan-Kesson, “Black Bodies, White Gold: Cotton, Race and Representation in the United States”
Lorraine Kypiotis, “Lucien Henry, Alexander Murray and the Australian Ethos” Raha Shahidi, “Boucher and the Moliere Illustrations”
Nina Stromqvist, “The Border, taking the ancient Nordic tradition of allemansrätten or ‘everyman’s right’ as a conceptual proposition”
Mimi Kelly, “New Refractions of Self: Social Media and the Digital Woman”
Diana Reynolds, “Religious Foundations as Second Voices: The Victoria Contemporary Figurative Artist, 1848-1870”