Exhibition | Images and Revolts in Book and Prints
Now on view at the Bibliothèque Mazarine:
Images and Revolts in Book and Prints, 14th–Mid-18th Century
Images & Révoltes dans le livre et l’estampe, 14e–milieu du 18e siècle
Bibliothèque Mazarine, Paris, 14 December 2016 — 17 March 2017
Curated by Tiphaine Gaumy
Since the late Middle Ages, revolts and uprisings have marked European history. For a long time, historians believed that due to the extent of illiteracy, opponents had very few means of self-expression. However, the increase and widespread appearance of contesting images during periods of insurgency provides evidence of a visual and popular culture existing long before the French Revolution. Significant examples can be observed during the Bohemian Hussite movement in the 15th century or during the Peasants War in the Holy Roman Empire (1525).
An iconography of revolts emerged and spread, especially on ephemeral and scarcely preserved materials, but also in manuscripts, and very soon on new media. Opponents expressed their discontent through pamphlets and prints. In response, authorities tried to contain the dissemination of seditious images and to display, through other images, their own legitimacy and authority. This visual production raises many questions. How did rebels influence their creation? How did technical innovations (printing) or spiritual ones (reformation, iconoclasm…) determine their spread, form and content? Can historians trust them?
The exhibition features a broad variety of images, from rebellions of Flemish cities in the 14th century, to peasants revolts and religious troubles of the 15th and 16th centuries, uprisings and revolutions in the mid-17th century (in France, Portugal, Naples, the British Isles), and Jansenist protests in the 18th century. They form an unknown and astonishing visual legacy and a key testimony to understanding the political culture of Europe.
An exhibition organised by the Bibliothèque Mazarine, in collaboration with the ANR project Culture des révoltes et révolutions.
Stéphane Haffemayer, Alain Hugon, Yann Sordet, and Christophe Vellet, eds., Images & Révoltes dans le livre et l’estampe, XIVe–milieu du XVIIIe siècle (Paris: Bibliothèque Mazarine & Editions des Cendres, 2016), 315 pages, ISBN: 979 1090853 096, 38€.