Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



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Historians should not limit themselves to studying political, economical, and social aspects of the American and French Revolutions, but should observe cultural factors, such as art, as well. Though wary of art as potentially corrupting, revolutionaries in both cultures employed it as propaganda, though focusing on different genres. In America, where formal art had not advanced either technically or in popularity, artistic propaganda was primarily exhibited through political cartoons, though a few examples of propagandistic portraiture do exist. Here, tradesmen, not trained artists, produced art. Contrarily, while there was an equally productive culture of political cartooning and pornography in France, the greatest achievements in artistic propaganda here appear through historical and allegorical painting. Jacques Louis David acted as the most prominent revolutionary artist of the time in France. This thesis argues that in both America and France, artists and politicians united to spread revolutionary ideals and influence the populace through artistic propaganda that spanned a variety of genres from painting to pornography.


Art Practice | European History | Other American Studies | Social History | United States History