|Titre :||From Experience to Representation: Horses in Depictions of Eighteenth - Century French Hunting|
|fait partie de :|
|Auteurs :||Catherine Girard, Auteur|
|Type de document :||document vidéo|
|Année de publication :||2018|
|Format :||20 min.|
EquivocArt ; Chasse À Courre ; Époque Moderne (XVIe-XVIIIe) ; France
Published in 1733, François Robichon de la Guérinière’s École de cavalerie rapidly became one of the most influential equestrian treatises in Europe. Written by the ‘écuyer ordinaire’ of the Riding Hall at the Tuileries and held in high esteem by Louis XV, this treatise effected a transformation of the relation between horses and riders. Arguing for a more natural, elegant, and lighter style, it proposed to shape the horse’s behavior and skills through a kinder, more empathic dressage. Promoting what Walter Liedtke called an ‘art of persuasion’ rather than disciplinary methods, de la Guérinière thus described how to train horses through an intimate understanding of their interiority.
The same year, French artist Jean-Baptiste Oudry (1686–1755) received a major royal commission for a series of tapestries chronicling Louis XV’s deer hunts. In a painted sketch, now at the château of Fontainebleau, that he made in 1738 for the Hunts of Louis XV tapestry series, Oudry depicted himself at work—pencil holder in hand, a sheet of blue paper on his lap—in the margin of a busy composition filled with dogs and hunters on horseback rushing a stag at bay in the distance. With this inserted self-portrait, Oudry indicated that he was a regular of the royal hunts, which he
followed with his own carriage, a privilege that had emanated from the king. As the only figure without a horse, however, he sat on a rocky ground, physically removing himself from the tumult of the scene, marking his difference, his social and physical distance from the royal hunters that he trailed, observed, and drew.
Through a close study of the drawings and painted sketches that Oudry made for the Hunts of Louis XV tapestry series in the 1730s, this paper analyzes the place of horses in French royal venery, a highly ritualized technique of hunting on horseback with dogs. It asks a neglected question in the study of these pictures: How do experience and representation relate to each other? As an exceptional but distant witness who experienced the royal hunts of the French king up-close, Oudry contended with the depiction of the hunt’s most gruesome moments—the kill and the ritual carving of the animal—which proliferated in eighteenth-century French painting. This intensification of the visual production coincided with the so-called rococo moment and the growing passion for deer hunting of Louis XV, the penultimate king of ancien régime France. This rich and ambiguous visual material has largely escaped being addressed in seminal publications on the Salon, on gender and sexuality, and on decorative arts, to name a few, that have invigorated the study of eighteenth-century French art in the last decades. This paper attends to this blind spot by examining Oudry’s representations of the relations between humans, horses, dogs, and stags during different moments of the hunt, such as the pursuit, the hallali, the kill, and the curée.
By examining Oudry’s visual records of Louis XV’s hunts in conjunction with de la Guérinière’s ideas, this paper examines critically the relation between experience and representation in eighteenth-century art in general, and in depictions of hunting in particular. How did profound transformations in dressage affect the use of horses in French royal venery? How did Oudry account for the new understanding of the horse’s natural movement? How was this approach to dressage translated into the expression of power and social hierarchies in hunting practices and their images? What will emerge in the paper is a complex intermingling of up-close observation – Oudry, after all, drew an anatomically correct horse for the first plate of Buffon’s Histoire naturelle – and codified poses carefully achieved with dressage and disseminated in the plates of treatises and in equestrian portraits. The horse’s new interiority thus creates a pictorial locus where the tensions between propriety and violence, between power and submission, and between humans and animals can be projected.
|En ligne :||oui|
|En ligne :||https://vimeo.com/277071015|