The Neoclassical Belisarius and the Napoleonic Code: The Dilemma of Corporeal Kingship and Republic in the Revolutionary Politics of Jacques Louis David, Jean-François Marmontel and Stephanie-Felicité Genlis

By Sharon Worley.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The theme of Belisarius was one of the most
important in late 18th century France. Neoclassical
artists Jacques Louis David, Francois Gerard and Jean
Francois Peyron all painted the subject,
while Marmontel(1767) and Stephanie-Felicite Genlis (1808)
wrote major literary dramas that coincided
with shifts in French government from the reign of Louis XV
to Napoleon’s empire. This
paper examines the genres of Neoclassical painting and
drama as forums for promoting legislative
reforms in French government (culminating in the Early
French Republic and later Napoleonic Code)
where drama formed an important arena in political
persuasion and debate. After leading a succussful
campaign against the barbarians in Italy for the Byzantine
emperor Justinian, Belisarius, is accused
of treason, and reduced to life as a blind beggar. The plot
was used as a pretext in art and drama for an extended
metaphor and definition of the Enlightened despot and a
socratic dialectic on the concept of democratic reforms.

Keywords: Theater, Enlightenment, Neoclassicism, Voltaire, Marmontel, Jacques Louis David, Stephanie Genlis, Drama, Louis XV, Louis XVI, Napoleon, French Revolution, Francois Gerard

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.31-48. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.818MB).

Dr. Sharon Worley

Full-Time Adjunct Instructor, Art and English Department, Houston Community College, Kingwood, Texas, USA

I received my Ph.D. in Aesthetics-Humanities from the University of Texas at Dallas (2007) and my MA in Art History from Tufts University (1991). I teach English, Art History and Humanities at colleges in Houston, TX, including the University of Houston, Downtown, the University of St. Thomas and Houston Community College. I am the former curator of the Cape Ann Historical Museum in Gloucester, MA (1993-2000). My area of research is political propaganda, women, literature and art in the 18th and 19th centuries.


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