Jules Michelet

Writing Art and History in Nineteenth-Century France

By (author) Michèle Hannoosh

Hardback - £75.95

Publication date:

25 July 2019

Length of book:

248 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271083568

Jules Michelet, one of France’s most influential historians and a founder of modern historical practice, was a passionate viewer and relentless interpreter of the visual arts. In this book, Michèle Hannoosh examines the crucial role that art writing played in Michelet’s work and shows how it decisively influenced his theory of history and his view of the practice of the historian.

The visual arts were at the very center of Michelet’s conception of historiography. He filled his private notes, public lectures, and printed books with discussions of artworks, which, for him, embodied the character of particular historical moments. Michelet believed that painting, sculpture, architecture, and engraving bore witness to histories that frequently went untold; that they expressed key ideas standing behind events; and that they articulated concepts that would come to fruition only later.

This groundbreaking reevaluation of Michelet’s approach to history elucidates how writing about art provided a model for the historian’s relation to, and interpretation of, the past, and thus for a new type of historiography—one that acknowledges and enacts the historian’s own implication in the history he or she tells.

“In this book Hannoosh reveals a brilliant mind using art to invent a way of writing history, inspiring the discipline of art history itself, inspiring us to continue to build the ‘cathedral of knowledge’ as both meticulous scholarship and profound love of art.”

—Beth S. Wright, Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide