"La morale en peinture": Bourgeois and feminist discourses in the paintings of Jean-Baptiste Greuze
Doctor of Philosophy thesis
By focusing on how bourgeois and feminist discourses intersect in the moralistic paintings of Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725--1805), I argue that Greuze's images manifest a thrust toward liberation from the ideological constraints of Father's Law and toward the advent of feminized ontology. Through the analysis of L'Accordee de village and La Malediction paternelle, I claim that the deconstruction of patriarchy and the return of the feminine are catalyzed in bourgeois economy by the monetary system. To support the significance of Greuze in the development of Realism, not only in art but also in literature, I posit Greuze as the precursor of Balzac. Informing my discussion by Jean-Joseph Goux's theory of the homology between the referential status of the sign, the Father, and the fiduciary system, I argue that Balzac's Realism, illustrating the milieu of commercial capitalism of the nineteenth century, exacerbate the loss of moral superiority of the paterfamilias. Although Greuze's work is profoundly embedded in the patriarchal ethic, the analysis of La Paresseuse italienne and La Mere bien-aimee provides evidence of the painters (not intended) feminist vision.
Romance literature; Art history; Philosophy