Enfilade

New Book | The Sun King at Sea

Posted in books by Editor on March 3, 2022

From The Getty:

Meredith Martin and Gillian Weiss, The Sun King at Sea: Maritime Art and Galley Slavery in Louis XIV’s France (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2022), 256 pages, ISBN 978-1606067307, $60.

This richly illustrated volume, the first devoted to maritime art and galley slavery in early modern France, shows how royal propagandists used the image and labor of enslaved Muslims to glorify Louis XIV.

Mediterranean maritime art and the forced labor on which it depended were fundamental to the politics and propaganda of France’s King Louis XIV (r. 1643–1715). Yet most studies of French art in this period focus on Paris and Versailles, overlooking the presence or portrayal of galley slaves on the kingdom’s coasts. By examining a wide range of artistic productions—ship design, artillery sculpture, medals, paintings, and prints—Meredith Martin and Gillian Weiss uncover a vital aspect of royal representation and unsettle a standard picture of art and power in early modern France.

With an abundant selection of startling images, many never before published, The Sun King at Sea emphasizes the role of esclaves turcs (enslaved Turks)—rowers who were captured or purchased from Islamic lands—in building and decorating ships and other art objects that circulated on land and by sea to glorify the Crown. Challenging the notion that human bondage vanished from continental France, this cross-disciplinary volume invites a reassessment of servitude as a visible condition, mode of representation, and symbol of sovereignty during Louis XIV’s reign.

Meredith Martin is associate professor at New York University. She is an art historian specializing in French art, architecture, empire, and intercultural exchange from the late seventeenth to early nineteenth centuries. Gillian Weiss is professor at Case Western Reserve University. She is a historian specializing in early modern France, its relations with the Islamic world, and Mediterranean slavery.

C O N T E N T S

Acknowledgments
Author’s Note
Abbreviations

Introduction
1  Turks at Work: Building the Marseille Arsenal
2  Port to Palace: Mediterranean Dominance at Paris and Versailles
3  Civility and Barbarism: Enslaved Turks in Maritime Ceremonies and Manuals
4  Spectacles of Suffering: Galley Slaves and Plague
Epilogue

Illustration Credits
About the Authors
Index

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