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L’écriture des ruines au XVIIIe siècle: vestiges et vertige
Vol. XII/2010/2, pp. 269-278
Keywords: ruin, 18th-century painting, sublime, Diderot, Hubert Robert
In this paper, we examine some texts on 18th-century French art, devoted to the motives of ruins, with a special emphasis on Diderot’s Salons. If the interest in ruin is ancient, the aesthetics - or rather the poetics - of ruins, in the strictest of senses, was born in the 18th century in France. In accordance to this, we consider whether it is plausible to analyse the writing of ruins as more than a discourse of clichés. As an architectural object and a literary subject, the ruin in particular suggests the associations that are part of the register of clichés. The pictorial ruin differs from the ruin in nature (architectural ruin) which serves as model for it as well. The pictorial ruin is the object of description and meditation: the ruin in the literary text, on which we will focus. In this article, we will concentrate on its status as an aesthetic object in the Age of Enlightenment.