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Order and pleasure in the lithographic work of Nicolas-Toussaint Charlet (1792-1845)

Walker, S.L.; (2012) Order and pleasure in the lithographic work of Nicolas-Toussaint Charlet (1792-1845). Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis considers the numerous ways in which ideas of order and disorder pervade the lithographic practice of Nicolas-Toussaint Charlet. Charlet and many in his contemporary audiences had lived through the First Republic, the Napoleonic wars, the civil conflict that followed the Bourbon Restoration and the July Revolution of 1830 as well as ongoing political strife. It has often been assumed that Charlet’s work addressed a politically motivated, popular audience. However, sale catalogues provide evidence that contemporary collectors sought to accumulate his lithographs and other collectable works enmasse. This thesis proposes that the pleasure of constructing and dismantling systems of order within the lithographic oeuvre was central to Charlet’s appeal during his lifetime and the decades after his death. Therefore, rather than functioning to motivate political change, the lithographs allow politically charged concepts of order, such as military order and revolutionary upheaval to be transferred from violent, lived experience to the restrained consumption of the printed sequence. Key to my arguments is that the body of Charlet’s lithographic work functions to occlude the traumatic aspects of conflict, transferring the memory of war to a playful engagement with the lithographic sequence and surface and rendering military imagery domestic and reassuring. Despite considerable empirical work and social historical analysis, there has been relatively little theorisation of Charlet’s lithographic practice. With a few notable exceptions, scholars have tended to view him as the producer of an unproblematic Napoleonic myth. I will interrogate the questions of order and disorder in Charlet’s lithography using theoretical models drawn from gender studies, psychoanalysis, linguistics and literary theory. I will suggest that by studying the lithographic oeuvre en-masse, the dynamic of order and disorder becomes observable and with it, a more ambivalent polical agenda can be discerned.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Order and pleasure in the lithographic work of Nicolas-Toussaint Charlet (1792-1845)
Language:English
Additional information:Permission for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > History of Art

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