A study that explores the complex relationship between nationalism, traditionalism and the critique of modern culture in France in the decades preceding the First World War.
Coinciding with the explosive challenge to established forms and subject matter in the visual arts promoted by avant-garde circles in Paris, conservatives attempted to reassert values ostensibly rooted in the character and culturalgenealogy of the French nation. This anti-modernist reaction was promoted by nationalist critics and political theorists who sought to salvage French culture as part of a broader project that challenged liberal democratic institutions put in place under the Third Republic. Neil McWilliam's study analyses the various fronts on which this attempted cultural counter-revolution was pursued—from art production and art criticism to the ways in which different histories produced during the period attempted to define what was distinctively French about the nation's art, from the middle ages to the modern period.
Neil McWilliam is Professor of History of art at the Duke University, North Carolina. He is the author of A Bibliography of Salon Criticism in Paris from the July Monarchy to the Second Republic, 1831-1851 (1991), Monumental Intolerance. Jean Baffier, A Nationalist Sculptor in fin-de-siècle France (2000), and co-editor, with June Hargrove, of Nationalism and French Visual Culture, 1879-1914 (2005).