Journal18, #3 Lifelike (Spring 2017)

Posted in journal articles by Editor on March 28, 2017

The third issue of J18 is now available.

Journal18, Issue #3: Lifelike (Spring 2017) 
Issue Editors: Noémie Etienne and Meredith Martin

During the eighteenth century, a range of artistic productions sought to simulate motion and life in new ways. At the same time, individuals became ever more preoccupied with performing or embodying static works of art. Echoing contemporary discussions in artistic and literary discourses around vraisemblance and verisimilitude, as well as mimesis and imitation, these preoccupations also tapped in to larger social and intellectual debates about matter, mankind, and machines at a global level.

This issue of Journal18 explores these fundamental tensions between art and life, movement and permanence that obsessed the worlds of art, science, and entertainment during the eighteenth century. What was considered ‘lifelike’ in this period? How did artworks—among them taxidermy tableaux, moving statues, nautilus cups, and automaton clocks—engage with this notion and participate in redefining it? What was at stake in staging a convincing simulation of life, and what purpose—political, pedagogical, or otherwise—did it serve? What role did ephemeral performances or spectacles play in generating such illusions and in shaping their significance? And how might we interpret these acts historically today?

In addition to full-length articles, we have assembled a series of shorter essays on the theme of ‘Waxworks’. More than any other material in the eighteenth century, wax seems to have provoked debates about the permeable boundaries between illusion and imitation, art and science, absence and presence. At the same time, objects made of wax—from La Specola’s famous anatomical Venus to busts portraying victims of the French Revolution modeled from life by Marie Tussaud—have the potential to disrupt traditional categories and hierarchies of art history, which is perhaps one reason why wax has emerged in recent years as such an exciting and provocative field of study.


• Valérie Kobi, Staging Life: Natural History Tableaux in Eighteenth-Century Europe
• Amelia Rauser, Vitalist Statues and the Belly Pad of 1793
• Eugenia Zuroski, Nautilus Cups and Unstill Life
• Lihong Liu, Pyrotechnic Profusion: Fireworks, Spectacles, and Automata in Time


• David Mark Mitchell, Vividness without Vitality: The Specola Venus’s Intersecting Afterlives
• Robert Wellington, Antoine Benoist’s Wax Portraits of Louis XIV
• Charles Kang, Anatomy of the Bel Effet: Wax between Science and Art
• Paris Amanda Spies-Gans, ‘The Fullest Imitation of Life’: Reconsidering Marie Tussaud, Artist-Historian of the French Revolution

Cover image: Detail of stuffed Starling, Oriole and Bird’s Skeleton from Goethe’s Collection, before 1790 (Goethe-Nationalmuseum, Weimar ©Klassik Stiftung Weimar/Thomas Korn)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: