Book Hill Talks - France Alive: A History Told Through Great Works of Art

Georgetown Library

Book Hill Talks - France Alive: A History Told Through Great Works of Art

Wednesday, March 15, 2017, 7 p.m.

Lecture N° 5 From 17th to 19th Century:  Understanding French Political History, Royals, Revolution, and Republic Through One Enduring Symbol: The Woman.

Guest Speaker - Vanessa Badré
 

The woman has long been a symbol of the French nation, but how have the representations of female figures throughout the centuries expressed the French ideas of nation, kingdom, and eventually liberty and republic  .

Before becoming a republic, France was a kingdom, already embodied in a feminine   personification.  But as the kingdom was lost to the violence of the Revolution, one image remained the same: the allegory of the young woman.  The same young woman, vigorous and beautiful, reigns as the personification of the new revolutionary nation.  In the Ancien régime, she was named France.  During the Revolution and under the Republic, she was called Liberty and Marianne.  Whether she appears with her uncovered breast, or her heroic  helmet or Phrygian hat, this woman presents an enduring silhouette.  How did one symbol become such an important piece of national and iconographic heritage?  What is the meaning behind her enduring power?  What is the message that each government or movement was trying to convey through this symbolism?