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Portraiture, revolutionary, identity and subjucation: Anne-Louis Girodet’s citizen Belley Musto, Sylvia S. 1993

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PORTRAITURE, REVOLUTIONARY IDENTITY AND SUBJUGATION:ANNE-LOUIS GIRODET'S CITIZEN BELLEYbySYLVIA SYNNOVE MUSTOB.A., The University of British Columbia, 1991A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESDepartment of Fine ArtsArt History ProgrammeWe accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIASeptember 1993° Sylvia Synnove Musto, 1993In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)Department of The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDateDE-6 (2/88)ABSTRACTDuring the French Revolution, portraiture played animportant role in the forging of identities for the new rulingclass. In my thesis I will examine a portrait painted in 1797by Anne-Louis Girodet of Jean-Baptiste Belley, a black whoheld a position as deputy to the French National Assembly forthe colony of Saint Domingue, between the years 1794 to 1797.Slavery was abolished in France in 1794. Girodet'sportrait of Jean-Baptiste Belley has been seen by bothcontemporary and later critics as a celebration of theabolition of slavery, and as symbolizing the FrenchRevolution's ideals of liberty and equality. However, theportrait also highlights the underlying controversy which theRevolutionaries faced: how to reconcile the Declaration of theRights of Man with the firmly stated commitment of theRevolutionary government to uphold a colonial empire.The French had declared the abolition of slavery becausethey needed the slaves to form an army for the defense of thecolony of Saint Domingue, which was threatened by militaryattacks from the British and the Spanish. Hence, with theabolition of slavery, there was created a new black militaryruling class in Saint Domingue. Considering the powerfulposition of the blacks in Saint Domingue, there were fears inFrance that the colony, with the support of the British, mightdeclare its independence.With the changing status of blacks, from slaves to Frenchifcitizens and soldiers, and with the growing uncertainty aboutFrench rule in Saint Domingue, Girodet was faced with the taskof creating the image of a new black citizen, and of mediatingthat image in terms of the anti-Jacobin, conservative mood ofthe Directory, and in terms of the threat embodied in theblack military leaders.In Girodet's portrait, Belley is included in a FrenchRevolutionary elite; he is represented as a reassuring, non-threatening representative of the colonies. However, Girodetalso conveys Belley's position as an outsider, whosemarginality and difference is epitomized in the portraititself. I will argue in my thesis that Girodet's portrait ofBelley represents and defines a racial hierarchy which couldjustify the continuation of colonialism and the subordinationof blacks, and I will try to show how Girodet represents thishierarchy by a subtle manipulation of the imagery, rhetoricand myth which had been used to define power during the FrenchRevolution.litTABLE OF CONTENTSPAGEABSTRACT ^  iiTABLE OF CONTENTS ^  ivLIST OF FIGURES ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ^  viiINTRODUCTION  1CHAPTER ONE^Ironies of the Abolitionist Movement;Abbe Raynal and Abbe Gregoire ^ 9Racial Theory and Racial Prejudice in the18th Century ^  17The Abolition of Slavery in 1794 ^ 28The New Directory and the Black Jacobinsin Saint Domingue  35CHAPTER TWO^Representations of Revolutionary Virtuein France ^  41The Imaging of the Colonial Deputy ^ 50Directorial Return to Order ^ 57The Portrait of Belley and DirectorialFashion ^  63CHAPTER THREE^Raynal; French Power and FrenchCivilization  69Girodet, David, and RevolutionaryRadicalism ^  75Conclusion  79FIGURES ^  83BIBLIOGRAPHY 101LIST OF FIGURESFIGURE^ PAGE1. Anne-Louis Girodet Trioson. Portrait of Jean-Baptiste Belley. 1797. Oil on canvas. 63x45".Musee Nationale du Chateau de Versailles ^ 832. Frontispiece for Volume IV of G.T. Raynal, Histoirephilosophique et politique des Europeens dans les deux Indes. 1774. "Allegory of Nature." Lineengraving by Charles Gaucher after Charles Eisen.140x9Omm.  ^843. Frontispiece for Volume X of G.T. Raynal, Histoire philosophique et politique des Europeens des deuxIndes. 1780. "Esclaves conduits par des marchands."Line engraving by Nicolas de Launay after Jean-Michelle jeune. 148x91 mm. ^4. Frontispiece for B. Frossard, La Cause des esclaves negres. 1789. "Soyez libres et citoyens." Lineengraving by Charles Boilly after Pierre Rouvier.140x95 mm.  5. Illustration after emancipation in 1794, proclaimingracial equality. Hennin Collection. Biblioth8queNationale, Paris . ^6. "Toussaint L'Ouverture." Engraving. Musee de laMarine. ^  887. "Lieutenant Governor, 1796. Toussaint L'Ouverture." ^ 898. Mme. Labille-Guiard. Portrait of Robespierre. Circa1791. Private Collection. ^  909. Honorê Gabriel Mirabeau. 1790. Anon. Oil on canvas.London, The Duke of Hamilton.  9110. Jean-Louis Laneuville. Portrait of Bertrand Bar6re de Vieuzac. 1792. Bremen, Kunsthalle. ^ 9211. "La trinitê rêpublicaine. Barras, Reubell, et laRevelliere-Lepaux." Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris. .. 93V85868712. "Barras in the Costume of a Director. Year VII(1799)." Drawn by H. Le Dru. Bibliotheque Nationale,Paris. Collection of Prints. ^  9413. Jacques-Louis David. Portrait of M. Seriziat.1795. ^  9514. "Le Rez-de-chaussee du Theatre Montansier au Palais-Royal." Aquarelle by Boyer. Bibliotheque Nationale,Paris ^  9615. "Les Croyables. Au tripot." Circa 1800. Etching.277x332. Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris. ^ 9716. Joseph Boiston. Brutus. 1792. Marble. 86 cm.Tours, Musee des Beaux-Arts. ^  9817. Jacques-Louis David. The Oath of the Horatii. 1785.Oil on canvas. 330x445. Louvre, Paris. ^ 9918. Jacques-Louis David. Lictors Returning to Brutus theBodies of His Sons. 1789. Oil on canvas. 325x423.Louvre, Paris. ^  100ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI would like to thank my thesis advisor, Dr. MaureenRyan, and my second reader, Dr. John O'Brian for theirguidance and assistance during the preparation of this theses.In addition, I would like to thank my fellow students and myfamily for their continuing support and encouragementthroughout my project.viiINTRODUCTIONDuring the French Revolution, portraiture played animportant role in the forging of identities for what in effectwas the new ruling class, creating images of the Revolutionaryleaders as men of authority, guided by virtue and reason andhence justified in their seizure of power after the demise ofthe King and the ancien regime. But portraiture could alsoserve to qualify power. It is in this light that my thesiswill examine a portrait painted in 1797 by Anne-Louis Girodetof Jean-Baptiste Belley (Fig. 1), a black who held theposition of deputy to the French National Assembly for thecolony of Saint Domingue l from 1794 to 1797. 2Jean-Baptiste Belley was a freed slave who had been bornin the French colony of Senegal, at Gore. Before his electionto the National Assembly, he had served as a captain andcommander in the French Revolutionary Army in Saint Domingue. 3Belley was one of the deputies representing Saint Domingue atthe session of the National Convention on February 4th, 1794,'France was Europe's chief supplier of colonial produce.The prosperity of Bordeaux and Nantes derived from colonialcommerce; with 465 000 slaves, Saint Domingue was the largestand most productive colony in the Caribbean in 1789. SeeRobin Blackburn, The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery: 1776-1848 (London, New York: Verso, 1988) 163.2Hugh Honour, The Image of the Black in Western Art. IV. From the American Revolution to World War I. 1. Slaves andLiberators (Cambridge, Massachussetts: Harvard UniversityPress, 1989) 104, 106.3Honour, 104; Blackburn, 224.I2when slavery was abolished in the French colonies 4 . Girodetpainted the portrait in 1797, 5 shortly after Belley had losthis seat in the Assembly, and it was exhibited in 1797 at theExposition de L'Elysee, where it seems to have been entitledsimply Portrait de négre. 5 The portrait was shown at theSalon in 1798, 7 at which time it was entitled Portrait du C. Belley, ex-representant des colonies, the 'C' standing forCitoyen. 8 The bust which Belley leans on in the portraitrepresents Abbe Guillaume-Thomas Raynal, who was famous forhis stance as an abolitionist, and for his publicationHistoire philosophique et politique des etablissements et du commerce des Europeens dans les deux Indes, first published in4Blackburn, 224.5It is not known whom the portrait of Belley wasoriginally commissioned for. Honour, in The Image of the Black in Western Art, writes that "Nothing is known of thecircumstances in which the portrait was painted, whether itwas commissioned by Belley himself or conceived by Girodet asa semiallegorical image of blacks freed from slavery as aresult of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution."Honour, 106.6Honour, 106.7Girodet submitted two portraits to the Salon of 1798,the portrait of Belley, and a portrait titled Jeune Trioson.Initially, both seem to have been rejected, for reasons thatare unclear. See Honour, 106. A letter of Aug. , 6th, 1798,signed by A-L. Girodet "ancien pensionnaire a l'Ecole des artsa Rome," registered a protest regarding the exclusion of theworks. See Girodet 1767-1824. Exposition du deuxieme centenarie (Paris: Musee de Montargis, 1967) 20.8Honour, 106.31770.The portrait of Belley has been seen by modern criticssuch as Hugh Honour, as a celebration of the abolition ofslavery in the French colonies, and as symbolizing the FrenchRevolutionary ideals of liberty and equality. Thus Honourwrites in The Image of the Black in Western Art,Girodet fixed the moment when, during a brief inclusionof Saint Domingue in the 'Republique Une et Indivisible'a Black could acquire a kind of French naturalization inart, far from any exoticism, in a political,philosophical, and exclusively secular climate of ideas.'Certainly Salon critics who reviewed the portrait in 1798 sawthe painting as an illustration of the progress the FrenchRevolution had brought to the situation of the black colonialpopulation. One critic wrote. . . Debout, un homme de couleur, ex-representant descolonies, s'appuie contre un piedestal sur quel le bustede Raynal en marbre blanc s'eleve . . . C'est un destableaux les plus scavamment (sic) peints que jeconnaisse; je conseille a plusieurs artistes d'interrogerce tableau, it fera leur desespoir ou leur genie. J'iraisouvent rever devant ce portrait. Que d'objets sublimes;Raynal; la liberte des negres et le pinceau de Girodet.'And another reviewer of the Salon of 1798 arguedC'est une idee heureuse d'avoir place ce representantappuie contre le piedestal qui porte le buste de Raynal,l'eloquent avocat des hommes du couleur. S'il eutembrasse cette image, sa cree (sic), on eut pu intituler'Honour, 110.1°Collection de pieces sur les beaux-arts (1673-1808) dite Collection Deloynes, vol. 20 (Paris: Bibliotheque National,1980) 539-540. The Deloynes Collection provides an archive ofSalon criticism.ce tableau hommage de la reconnaissance."What these Salon evaluations reveal is that the portraitof Belley could be read in terms of a French national,Revolutionary identity which encompassed, unproblematically,the nation's former black slaves.However, as will emerge in my examination of Belley'sportrait, there were profound contradictions around Frenchcolonialism and the movement for the abolition of slavery,contradictions which were part of the controversy which facedthe French Revolution itself: how to justify a regime whichproclaimed universal human rights, while it at the same timeset itself up as the guardian of private property. TheRevolutionary leaders, following 1789, faced a contradictionin that they had proclaimed universal liberty, but wereunwilling to grant it when it was perceived to threaten theinterests of the ruling classes. This contradiction wasexpressed by the deputy to the National Assembly, HonoreGabriel Mirabeau, who wrote in his publication, Courriêre de Provence," concerning the 1789 Declaration of the Rights ofMan:A simple declaration of the rights of man, applicable toall people and all ages of history, to every moral andgeographical point on the surface of the globe, was no"Collection Deloynes, vol. 20, 538-539."Courriere de Provence was published in 1789, 1790, and1791. Antonia Vallentin, Voice of the Revolution (London:Hamish Hamilton, 1948) 529.45doubt a great and splendid concept; but it seems thatbefore thinking in such generous terms of the code thatshould be applied to other nations, it might have been agood idea if the basis of our own had been . . . agreedupon . . . Every step the Assembly takes in expoundingthe rights of man, we shall see, will result in it beingstruck by the abuses that could ensue if these rights were made available to the people; and often prudencewill result in these abuses being greatly exaggerated.Hence we find these numerous restrictions . . . added toeach of the articles of the Declaration--restrictions. . . which replace rights with obligations andsubstitute fetters for liberty, conditions which . . .will result in man being tied down by details of stateadministration instead of being left to enjoy his naturalliberty (underlining mine). nAs I will be arguing in this thesis, similarcontradictions also play a role in Girodet's portait ofCitizen Belley. Specifically, the portrait highlights theunderlying controversy facing Revolutionary France: how toreconcile the Declaration of the Rights of Man with the firmlystated commitment of the Revolutionary government to uphold acolonial empire, particularly in view of emerging BlackJacobinism and black aspirations to power and control in thecolony of Saint Domingue.This controversial aspect of the image was in fact hintedat by a third Salon critic who, commenting on Girodet'sportrait, remarked on the juxtaposition of the white marblehead of Raynal with the dark figure of Belley. This criticcomplained:nAlbert Soboul, The French Revolution, 1787-1799; Fromthe Storming of the Bastille to Napoleon (New York: VintageBooks 1975) 178.6La translation du noir au blanc n'est pas menage; itaurait fallu ramener l'oeil par gradation, ce qui auraitajoute plus d'harmonie a ce portrait."Such formal criticism, by drawing attention to what the criticperceived as a disharmonious "translation from black towhite," conjures up associations with incompatibility andopposition, which in turn disrupt the image of Revolutionaryunity and equality between the French and the black citizenryof its colonies.Due to the abolition of slavery and the ensuing changingrelationship between France and Saint Domingue, Girodet, inthe portrait of the black deputy Jean-Baptiste Belley, wasfaced with the task of mediating colonial and racialdiscourses, as well as Revolutionary ideology. The resultwas, as I will be contending, an image where the emphasis issubtly shifted away from power, to stress instead areassurance in regard to the protection and safeguarding ofFrench imperial and colonial interests.Edward Said writes about the creation of the discourse ofthe 'Other' in Orientalism, that "Orientalism is not a fact ofnature; it is made," 15 and he defines this discourse of the'Other' in relation to the society which produces it:. . . Orientalism is not a mere political subject matteror field that is reflected passively by culture,"Collection Deloynes, vol. 20, 541-542.IsEdward Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 1979)5.7scholarship, or institutions . . . It is rather adistribution of geopolitical awareness into aesthetic,scholarly, economic . . . texts; it is an elaboration . . . of a whole series of "interests" which . . . it notonly creates but also maintains; it is, rather thanexpresses, a certain will or intention to understand, insome cases to control, manipulate, even to incorporate,what is a manifestly different (or alternative and novel)world. Indeed, my real argument is that Orientalism is--and does not simply represent--a considerable dimensionof modern political-intellectual culture, and as such hasless to do with the Orient than it does with "our"world.'In the same way, the portrait of Belley, as a portrait ofa colonial black deputy, forms a part of the attempts by theparticipants in the French Revolution to define and create anew, colonial subject, in order to "control, manipulate andincorporate what is a manifestly different world." And, justas "Orientalism has less to do with the Orient than it doeswith 'our' world," Belley's portrait also forms a part of theprocess of the French Revolution coming to terms with theinherent contradictions between the professed Revolutionarycommitment to liberty and equality, and the commitment topreserve the hegemony and power of France over its overseascolonies. It is against this background that Belley'sportrait would have constituted meaning for its viewers in1797 and 1798.As Belley's portrait has not yet been analysed in itshistorical context, it is the purpose of my paper to establishhow the portrait addressed and negotiated contemporary'Said, 12.discourses around colonialism, emancipation, and theories ofrace, to produce a vision of a political contribution toRevolutionary France by its colonial population, acontribution which would accord with and support Frenchcolonial policy. In short, and in opposition to earlierreadings," what my thesis argues is that Girodet's portraitof Belley represents and defines a racial hierarchy whichcould justify the continuation of colonialism and thecontinued subordination of blacks. Girodet represents thishierarchy through his allusions in the portrait to 18thcentury conceptions and prejudices pertaining to 'race,' andby a subtle manipulation of the imagery, rhetoric and mythwhich had been used to define power during the FrenchRevolution.8"In addition to Hugh Honour, whom I have already cited,historians such as George Levitine and George Bernier havediscussed this image without, to my mind, an adequateassessment of French Revolutionary ideology.9CHAPTER ONEI Ironies of the Abolitionist Movement; Abbe Raynal andAbbe Gregoire Abbe Guillaume-Thomas Raynal, whose bust Belley leans onin the portrait, had first published his Histoire philosophique et politique in 1770. This work had beenimmensely popular, and had gone through thirty editions before1787." The work was conceived as a historical andgeographical study, and as a celebration of the Frenchcolonial empire, which is born out by the fact that Raynal wasconnected to the Colonial Bureau, and for a time received asubsidy from that office.” However, the Histoire philosophique et politique, came, especially during the FrenchRevolution, mainly to be celebrated as a humanitarian,abolitionist document. The fame of the work rested on the fewanti-slavery passages which it contained, in one of whichRaynal claimed:. . . there is no reason of state that can authorizeslavery . . . Whoever justifies so odious a system,deserves the utmost contempt from a philosopher . . . Hewho supports the system of slavery, is the enemy of the18Daniel Whitman, "Slavery and the Rights of Frenchmen:Views of Montesquieu, Rousseau and Raynal," French Colonial Studies, Number 1 (Spring 1977): 25."Blackburn, 170.10whole human race. 2°Calling on sovereigns of Europe to uphold the cause ofhumanity, Raynal warned against the inevitability of slaveuprisings:If then, European nations, interest alone can exert itsinfluence over you, listen to me once more: Your slavesstand in no need of your generosity . . . in order tobreak the sacrilegious yoke which oppresses them. Naturespeaks a more powerful language than philosophy orinterest . . . (there are) indications of the impendingstorm; and the negroes only want a chief, sufficientlycourageous, to lead them on to vengeance and slaughter.Where is this great man to be found, whom Nature,perhaps, owes to the honour of the human species? Whereis this new Spartacus? . . . Then will the black code beno more; and the white code will be dreadful . .Yet, in view of Raynal's close connections to the FrenchColonial Bureau, the abolitionist sentiments ascribed to himneed to be questioned. Indeed, in a later pamphlet for thegovernment, Administration sur la colonie de Saint Domingue,of 1785, Raynal revealed an altogether different attitudetoward the concept of universal freedom and universal rights.In this work, Raynal maintained that the Africans lacked theability to manage freedom, and argued that until thereappeared among them a Montesquieu, they would be better off aslabourers for the whites in the overseas colonies than stayingin their own countries in Africa where they would be the20Raynal, Guillaume-Thomas, Philosophical and Political History of the Settlements and Trade of the Europeans in the East and West Indies (Glasgow: Mackenzie, 1811) 311, 312.21Raynal, 316.11victims of robbery and ferocity. 22 Raynal also wrote thatblack Africans benefited from being transported from the harshclimate of Africa to what he described as the more temperateAntilles. 23 In a particularly revealing passage, RaynalstatedSans doute it seroit beau de n'aller chercher ces hommesstupides et feroces que pour les eclairer sur leursdroits, sur leurs intèréts et de les rendre a la natureplus libres et plus heureux . . . Il semble que (laphilosophie et l'humanite) pourroient nous pardonneregalement d'aller prendre sur l'autel du despotisme lesplus absurdes de ses victimes renaissantes pour en fairedes laboureurs. 24In this text Raynal condones slavery--although in a'humanitarian' gesture he goes on to demand that the BlackCode, a law from 1685 which legalized slavery and declared theslaves to be the property of their owners, 25 be applied toprotect the nation's slaves. 26The shift in Raynal's position in this 1785 pamphlet hasbeen explained by the fact that the earlier work, Histoire philosophiaue et politique, was written as a collaboration,and that the anti-slavery passages were possibly not written22Whitman, 29.23Whitman, 29.24Raynal, cited in Whitman, 29.25William Cohen, The French Encounter with Africans. WhiteResponse to Blacks, 1530-1880 (Bloomington: Indiana UniversityPress, 1980) 52.26Whitman, 28.12by Raynal himself, but by aids or subsequent editors."However, Michêle Duchet, in her Anthropologie et histoire au siècle des lumieres, has shown that Raynal used governmentalmemoranda and correspondence as sources for his Histoire politique et philosophique, and that his work thereforeconstituted a reiteration of government policy on thequestions of colonial administration and slavery. 28 Alreadyby the 1760s and the 1770s the French government and theColonial Bureau had become aware of the fact that the harshconditions imposed on French slaves had caused widespreaddesertion among them." The Colonial Bureau had concludedthat the colonies needed to be defended against the Frenchplanters themselves, and that the system of slavery had to bereformed to avert an economic collapse." Therefore, in theinterest of colonial productivity, the planters had beenexhorted by enlightened administrators to adopt a virtuousconduct toward their slaves. P. Poivre, intendent for Ilesdes France, wrote as early as 1767:. . . la vertu seule assure la conservation des etreslibres et raisonnables. Elle peut seule fonder dessocietes durables . . . Les maitres sensibles au cri"Whitman, 29."Michele Duchet, Anthropologie et histoire au siècle des lumieres. Buffon, Voltaire, Rousseau, Helvetius, Diderot (Paris: Francois Maspero, 1971) 130."Duchet, 147."Duchet, 150.13tendre et puissant de l'humanite outrage, goateront leplaisir delicieux d'adoucir le sort de leurs malheureuxesclaves. . . 31A governmental memomorandum of 1776, which had advocated amore lenient treatment of black slaves, had argued thatLe negre bien traite, bien nourri, travaillerait mieux,vivrait plus longtemps, et la fecondite des femmessuffirait pour remplacer ceux qui mourraient . . . Il estd'autant plus interessant d'eclairer le proprietaire acet egard, gue l'espêce s'epuise et viendrainsensiblement a manquer tandis qu'elle pourrait sesoutenir, se multiplier meme dans nos Iles par sa seulereproduction. 32Against this background the construction of Raynal as theliberator of French slaves emerges as both arbitrary and self-serving.Anti-slavery opinion became organized in France 1788,with the founding of the Societe des amis des noirs. However,those sympathetic to abolition also saw themselves asrepresentatives of national interests, and the first concernof the members of the Amis des noirs was French nationalauthority and the integrity of the nation, including itscolonial empire. 33 Even after the Declaration of the Rightsof Man, adopted by the National Assembly on the 26th of August1789, 34 French economic interests were considered before the31Poivre, quoted in Duchet, 149.32Duchet, 153.33Blackburn, 169-70.34Soboul, 176.14question of the liberation of the nation's slaves. TheMarquis de Condorcet, who was one of the founding members ofthe Amis des noirs, 35 wrote in Journal de Paris on December28th, 1789:Nous esperons que l'Assemblee nationale, qui a decretetous les hommes libres et egaux en droits, ne souffrirapas plus longtemps l'achat et la vente d'aucun individude l'espece humaine. Nous croyons que l'on pourrait parla suite abolir entierement l'esclavage et supprimer desa present la traite sans ruiner les colonies . . . 36(emphasis mine)The Amis des noirs had begun as an anti-slaveryorganization, but the emphasis of the group soon began tocentre instead on the issue of civil rights for the freemulattoes or crens de couleur. The Amis des noirs argued forthe rights of the free crens de couleur, as a first step in agradual process that would, it was believed, eventually leadto the emancipation of the slaves. Rights given to this groupwere to initiate a process which would ultimately enable theblack slaves to assume the responsibilities of freedom. 37One of the most outspoken members of the Amis des noirs was Abbe Henri Gregoire, bishop and politician and a member ofthe French National Assembly. But Abbe Gregoire's writing andspeeches at the time of the French Revolution also reflected35Blackburn, 170.36Condorcet, quoted in Elisabeth and Robert Badinter,Condorcet (1743-1794). Un Intellectuel en politique (Paris:Artheme Fayard, 1988) 294.37Blackburn, 169-70.15the pragmatic strategy of gradual emancipation, to the extentthat he not only favoured the granting of civil and politicalrights to the free wens de couleur as a first step toward theaboliton of slavery, but justified his support of this measureby referring to the usefulness of the free dens de couleur asallies of the whites in helping to control the slaves in thecolonies. In 1789, in a memoir to the Revolutionary NationalAssembly, Abbe Gregoire referred to this issue:Et quels sont ces hommes que le mepris consume? Laplupart ont acquis leur liberte a titre honorable, lesuns par de sages economies, d'autres l'ont obtenu de leurmaitres, dont ils avaient captive l'estime. Citoyenslaborieux, ils font fleurir les plantations, it y a parmieux de grands proprietaires, ils augmentent la masse desrichesses coloniales, et partant concourent a laprosperite de l'etat. Personne n'est plus agile pourgravir les mornes, et ramener les nagres marroons; ilssont un stir appui contre l'insurrection des esclaves38 Les gens de couleur faisant seuls la sOrete dela colonie contre les revoltes et le marronnage, it estau moins três impolitique de leur Oter la considerationnecessaire pour contenir les esclaves. Loin donc que leprejuge qui pese sur les sang-mele soit utile a lacolonie, it faut au contraire leur donner du relief,cimenter l'union entre eux et les blancs, et leursefforts combines maintiendront plus efficacement lasubordination."And Gregoire continues, now mentioning the remaining blackpopulation,J'observe d'abord que la traite, deja plus difficile, nepeut plus se soutenir longtemps. La population africaines'epuise annuellement par des exportations nombreuses. . . les amis des noirs . . . meditent d'amener'Frank Paul Bowman, L'Abbe Gregoire, eveque des lumieres (Paris: Editions France-Empire, 1988) 54."Bowman, 61.16graduellement les esclaves a la liberte; leurs effortsseront couronnes du succes. Encore quelques annees, etdans nos annales it restera seulement le souvenir d'unforfait dont une posterite plus sage rougira pour lesgenerations anterieures."Hence, in the name of national stability in 1789, AbbeGregoire proposed civil rights for the free gens de couleur,while only alluding to a gradual abolition of slavery, andadvocating humanitarian alleviation of the condition of theslaves until the opportune moment when they could be giventheir freedom:Une consequence rigoreuse de ce qui precede, c'est que larejection des gens de couleur menace l'etat d'unesecousse capable de l'ebranler; si au contraire vouscomblez l'intervalle qui les separe des blancs, sirapprochant les esprits, vous cimentez l'attachementmutuel de ces deux classes, leur reunion presente unemasse de forces plus efficace pour contenir les esclaves,dont sans doute on allegera les peines, et sur le sort desquels it sera permis de s'attendrir, jusqu'au moment opportun pour les affranchir.'" (underlining mine)Two engravings from Raynal's Histoire politique et Dhilosophique, "Allegory of Nature," 1774, and "Esclavesconduits par des marchands," 1780 (Figs. 2 and 3), exemplifythese attitudes toward slavery in the latter part of the 18thcentury. The engraving "Allegory of Nature" is accompanied bya description which states:Nature, represented by a woman, nurses at the same timeand with the same interest a white child and a blackchild. She looks compassionately on Negro slaves seen inthe distance working in sugar mills where they are"Bowman, 62.41Bowman, 64.17mistreated by those who govern them. 42Hence this image calls up the present cruelty of slavery, butwith hopes for the future in the figure of Nature suckling herblack and white children alike. In the engraving "Esclavesconduits par des marchands," the merchant driving shackledslaves is depicted in archaic dress. Therefore the imageremoves the question of slavery from the immediate present.The suggestion is, then, that slavery belongs to an archaic,'uncivilized' past, and will, with the passage of time,constitute only, as Gregoire put it, "le souvenir d'un forfaitdont une posterite plus sage rougira pour les generationsanterieures."II Racial Theory and Racial Prejudice in the 18thCenturyThis fundamentally conservative attitude toward slaveryand emancipation which persisted even after the Declaration ofthe Rights of Man in France in 1789, was in part made possibleby the creation of prejudiced and stereotypical views ofblacks which had been formed in the 18th century by writerssuch as Abbe Prevost, Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon,Francois-Marie Arouet Voltaire, and Dominque Harcourt Lamiral.Abbe Prevost, in Histoire generale des voyages, originallypublished in 1745-1747 and republished in a cheaper edition in42Cited in Honour, 54-55.181746-1787, wrote that "The Negroes in general are given overto incontinence," and that "Since they are naturally sly andviolent they cannot live in peace with each other."" Buffon,in his L'Histoire naturelle, published between 1749-1788,described Africans as "idle and inactive, having passion onlyfor women and lacking any sense of imagination or innovation;"according to Buffon, "Africans become debauched at an earlyage, and exhaust themselves with too frequent sexualintercourse. 1,44 Voltaire, in "Essai sur les Moeurs," of 1756,wrote concerning the intelligence of blacks that while it maynot be of another kind of ours, it is far inferior. Theyare not capable of great attention, they reason little,and do not seem made for either the advantages ordisadvantages of our philosophy."Dominque Harcourt Lamiral, deputy for the French colony ofSenegal in the National Assembly, writing in 1789, describedthe blacks as deprived by nature "of all moral character;they only have instincts . . • pi 46 A Supplement, published in1780, to Diderot's and d'Alembert's Encyclopedia of 1751-1766,which included an entry on "Afrique," expressed most clearlythe prevailing stereotypical attitudes toward Africans andtheir institutions:"Prevost, quoted in Cohen, 66."Buffon, quoted in Cohen, 67."Voltaire, quoted in Cohen, 85."Lamiral, quoted in Cohen, 69.19The government is nearly everywhere bizarre, despotic,and totally dependent on the passions and whims of thesovereign. These peoples have, so to speak, only ideasfrom one day to the next, their laws have no principles. . . no consistency other than that of lazy and blindhabit. They are blamed for ferociousness, cruelty,perfidy, cowardice, laziness. This accusation is but tootrue. 47Hence the popular literature of the time suggested, again andagain, that the societies of black Africans, as observed byWestern writers and travellers, lacked systematic organizationand firm laws.However, it was the new 18th century natural scienceswhich provided the most serious and lasting foundation for ahierarchical ordering of the human 'races.' Eighteenth-century scientific thought and research into the human bodyhad already come to provide, in the decades preceding theFrench Revolution, the tools for both qualifying humanequality and for postulating a hierarchical order fordifferent 'races' of humankind. As Tzvetan Todorov haspointed out, when traditional social hierarchies areoverturned as a result of democratic movements, anddiscrimination hence cannot be carried out on the basis ofestablished ideological systems, physical, and 'racial'47 "Afrique," Encyclopedie, Supplement, I (Amsterdam, 1780)194, quoted in Cohen, 68. This supplement was a cleverattempt to trade on the popularity of the Encyclopedie, butexcept for sharing two collaborators, d'Alembert andMarmontel, it had little in common with its predecessors. SeeCohen, 308.20differences come to form the basis for discrimination." Withlate 18th century humanist ideology, which claimed that allhuman beings were created equal, the traditional, popularracist arguments were not any longer a sufficient base fordiscrimination, and there arose the need to establish 'racial'differences in a 'scientific' way. This became possiblebecause of a new confidence and trust in the abilities ofscience to discover 'truths' about human nature, origins andevolution. With the development of the natural sciences, asErnst Cassirer has noted, there emerged alongside the "'truth'of revelation, a new, independent 'truth' of nature, which wasbelieved to be revealed, not in God's words, but in hisworks."" Thus anthropological research from the 1770s onwardcould proceed on the presumption that race questions wereempirical issues, issues in which anatomical data andphysiology were presumed to be decisive, taking precedenceover all philosophical, ethical, and theological tenets."Such scientific enquiry of the period was in particular"Tzvetan Todorov, "'Race,' Writing, and Culture,""Race," Writing and Difference, ed. Henry Louis Gates (Chicagoand London: The University of Chicago Press, 1985) 372."Ernst Cassirer, The Philosophy of the Enlightenment,transl. Fritz C.A. Koelln and James P. Pettergrove(Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1951) 42."Phillip L. Sloan, "The Idea of Racial Degeneracy inBuffon's 'Histoire Naturelle'", Racism in the EighteenthCentury, ed. Harold E. Pagliaro (Cleveland and London: ThePress of Case Western Reserve University, 1973) 310.21concerned with the human anatomy. 51 The question ofintelligence was becoming more important, as 'natural reason'was increasingly conceived to be a prerequisite for politicalrights, and the human skull became an important focus forproviding an 'objective' measure for intelligence. 52Craniologists analysed the size and the shape of the skulls ofmen and women, whites and blacks, hoping to find answers tothe much debated question whether or not the intellectualcapacities of women and 'primitive' peoples were equivalent tothose of European men. 53 For instance, the Dutch anatomistPetrus Camper had compared facial angles of whites and blacks,and had shown that there were clear differences, a findingwhich could then be interpreted to assert that differentcranial structures could have an influence on moral andintellectual faculties."The 18th century had in particular witnessed anintensification in the research into the origins of the human51Londa Schiebinger, "The Anatomy of Difference: Race andSex in Eighteenth-century Science," Eighteenth-centuryStudies, vol. 23 (1990): 388-389.52Londa Schiebinger, "Skeletons in the Closet: The FirstIllustrations of the Female Skeleton in Eighteenth-CenturyAnatomy," The Making of the Modern Body; Sexuality andSociety in the Nineteenth Century, eds. Thomas Laqueur andCatharine Gallagher (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: Universityof California Press, 1987) 64.53Schiebinger, "Skeletons in the Closet" 64."George Stocking, "French Anthropology in 1800," Isis 55(1964): 142.22'races.' Scientific interest in finding a historical andnaturalistic explanation for the origins of the different'races' coincided with the need to find a theory which wouldjustify European domination over the rest of humankind.However, the superiority of Europeans in comparison with otherpeoples had to be established without overtly contradictingthe new humanistic tenets, as well as the teaching of theChurch, that all human beings were created equal." The newtheory which achieved this was formulated by Buffon in hisL'Histoire naturelle (1749-1788). Buffon developed ahypothesis which integrated the traditional thesis on amonogenist, single origin of humankind and subsequenthistorical diversification of the 'races' due to environmentaldeterminism, with an epigenetic, biological theory ofdevelopment through which it could be asserted that humans andother organisms had actually been created as different duringhistorical time." According to Buffon, the gradual butcumulative influence of geography, environment, and food,"Sloan, 295-296."Buffon's theory was largely based on the research of hiscontemporary and fellow scientist, Pierre de Maupertius. Thekey ingredients of Maupertius' synthesis, combining a returnto a mechanistically conceived epigenetic theory ofdevelopment, a particulate theory of inheritance, the relianceon semi-Newtonian concepts of force and attraction and the newtwist given to classical environmentalism in explaining racialorigin, can all be seen to reappear with modification inBuffon's analysis of the questions of generation and origin ofraces in L'Histoire naturelle of 1749. See Sloan, 298-302.23operating on the hereditary material transmitted from onegeneration to another was a possible explanation for theorigin of the different 'races' from a common historicalroot.' Buffon posited that humankind, although originallydescended from one common source," had, as the earth'spopulation had grown and spread to other continents, undergonechanges brought on by geographical, environmental, andnutritional factors." Buffon's principles thus supplied afoundation upon which it could be subsequently argued that thedifferent human 'races' were the products of the impersonalforces of nature, not of original Divine Creation, and thatdue to biological, although not 'original,' differences, thereexisted 'natural' hierarchies among them."Buffon's theory also posited a geographical hierarchy asa way of classifying and analyzing races; the peoples wholived in the most temperate areas, at a certain distance from'Sloan, 300."Buffon's theory was monogenist, postulating a unitaryorigin for all human 'races' in opposition to the otherprevailing theory, the polygenist theory, according to whichthe 'races' had originated separately. Both theories could beconstrued to 'prove' the superiority of the white 'race' andthe inferiority of the blacks--the polygenist theory byarguing that the blacks were from the beginning created asdifferent, and the monogenist theory by arguing that blacks,although originally created the same as whites, haddegenerated from the ideal norm. See Cohen, 13, 86."Sloan, 307."Sloan, 307.24the equator, like Europeans, Turks, Greeks, and Persians, wereargued to represent the ideal of the human race:Le climat le plus tempere est depuis le 40e degreejusqu'au 50e . . . c'est aussi sous cette zone que setrouvent les hommes les plus beaux et les mieux faits;c'est sous ce climat qu'on doit prendre le mod6le oul'unite a laquelle it faut rapporter toutes les autresnuances de couleur et de beaute. 61According to Buffon, peoples living north and south of theseareas had degenerated from the ideal norm, and he compared theachievements of these peoples with the achievements of the'great civilized nations' in a negative manner:Comparez en effet la Nature brute a la Nature cultivee;comparez les petites nations sauvages de l'Amerique avecnos grands peuples civilises; comparez meme celles del'Afrique . . . voyez en meme temps l'etat des terres queces nations habitent, vous jugerez aisement du peu duvaleur de ces hommes par le peu d'impression que leursmains ont faites sur leur sol; soit stupidite, soitparesse, ces hommes a demi brutes, les nations nonpolicees, grandes ou petites, ne font que peser sur leglobe, sans soulager la Terre, l'affamer sans lafeconder, detruire sans edifier, font user sans rienrenouveler. 62Significantly, however, Buffon's theory, according towhich changes had become hereditary over time, also stressedthat it would be possible for the 'degenerated races' toreturn to the original, ideal condition of humankind. Heargued that degenerated races could be restored to the purityof the original type by being transplanted to the more"suffon, cited in Duchet, 255.'Buffon, quoted by Sloan, 319.25temperate zones." Hence it was Buffon's theory, as much aseconomic exigency, which would have formed the basis forRaynal's contention, in his pamphlet of 1785, that blackswould benefit by being transported from the harsh climate ofAfrica to the more temperate Antilles."Central to Buffon's argument was the stress on the slow,imperceptible nature of the evolution of the 'races':Ces changements ne se font que lentement,imperceptiblement . . . le grand ouvrier de la nature estle Temps . . 65Thus the monogenist, environmentalist, and epigenetic theorywould also have formed a base for the concept of gradual emancipation formulated by French abolitionists such as AbbeRaynal and Abbe Gregoire.Equally important to the way in which Buffon's 'science'was used for social and political theories was that thenatural historian also emphasized the importance of customsand traditons, "les moeurs," as an important factor in shapingthe human races," thus linking the concepts of racialevolution and culture. Buffon's observations on environmentand culture were also echoed by Abbe Gregoire, who wrote in"Sloan, 308."Whitman, 29."Buffon, cited by Sloan, 305."Duchet, 257.261780:What likeness can be found between whites, enlightened bytruths of Christianity . . . enriched by the discoveriesand information of all ages, and stimulated by everyspecies of encouragement, and blacks, deprived of allthese advantages and devoted to oppression and misery. 67The idea of the evolution of civilization was especially takenup by the founder member of the Societe des amis des noirs,the Marquis de Condorcet, who believed that emancipation ofslaves marked an important step in the progress of humancivilization." But Condorcet also, akin to Raynal andGregoire, stressed the necessity for gradual change in thestatus of French slaves, and emphasized that such slaves wouldneed a lengthy period of tutelage before they could exercisethe responsibility of freedom." In particular, Condorcetstressed that as slavery was such an intolerable injury tohuman nature, emancipation should be approached carefully."He therefore echoed Buffon's concept of cultural and socialenvironment as influential in the evolution of the human'races'; the inhuman environment of slavery would have robbedthe slaves of a 'civilizing' influence, and would hence havemade them unfit for the exercise of freedom if it were granted67Gregoire, cited in Cohen, 75."Keith Baker ed., Condorcet; Selected Writings (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1976) 211."Blackburn, 171."Blackburn, 171.27them too suddenly. Condorcet believed in a hierarchy ofcultures, and claimed in his Esquisses d'un tableau historiquedes progres de l'esprit humain (written in prison in 1793, andpublished in 1796): "All peoples whose history is recordedfall somewhere between our present degree of civilization andthat which we still see among savage tribes." 71 But he alsoheld that all nations, through education and progess, wouldeventually reach the level achieved by the most enlightenednations, (for Condorcet, represented by the French and theAnglo-Americans) because Europeans would convey to the rest ofthe world "the example of liberty, the Enlightenment, andreason of Europe." 72 As these arguments testify, the notionof gradual change in the situation of the colonial blacks--aswell as their continued subordination--could,unproblematically, be incorporated into the Enlightenmentideology of universal human progress.Buffon's theories thus helped to reconcile thecontradiction between Revolutionary egalitarian rhetoric andthe French desire for continuous colonial domination. Thesetheories, not surprisingly, would have allowed Europeans tocontinue their exploitation of the colonies for an unlimitedtime in the future, under the justification that theyfulfilled a civilizing mission in the name of progress for the71Condorcet, cited in Baker, 214.72Cohen, 177.28dominated 'races.' 'Emancipation,' as the enlightenedphilosophes would have seen it, is illustrated in theengraving "Soyez libres et citoyens," (Fig. 4) in BenjaminFrossard's La Cause des esclaves nêgres, of l789." In thisimage, halfnaked 74 black men and women, shown as subjectsreceiving the gift of freedom, kneeling before a crownedallegorical personification of France, seem to testify to thecontinued willingness of the blacks to subordinate themselvesto French power and French guidance.III The Abolition of Slavery in 1794 In 1789, the National Assembly consisted of about onethousand members, of whom one-hundred and fifty were owners ofcolonial property; the number of those whose interests werelinked to colonial commerce and administration would have beeneven higher. 75 The National Assembly was a bourgeois bodywith a significant proportion of its property-owning members"Benjamin Frossard advocated the abolition of the slavetrade as a practical first step toward the gradual eliminationof slavery, and his La Cause des esclaves negres constitutedan appeal to conscience and reason; however, as Honour notes,his book met with little success, judging from its rarity. SeeHonour, 80.74 Nakedness was associated with a low level ofcivilization; Buffon wrote about the early inhabitants of theearth that they were naked in body and soul. Buffon: 1788-1988 (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1988) 275."Blackburn, 167.29benefiting from colonial production and trade. 76 Moreover,the voices of the Amis des noirs were being silenced by theestablishment of a special committee created in 1790 to dealwith colonial issues." In view of the 'extreme delicacy' ofthese issues, the method of election had ensured that nosupporters of the Amis des noirs had been elected to thecommittee. mThe Committee on the Colonies consisted of colonialdeputies and proprietors and of deputies from the maritimecentres--in other words it was made of individuals who hadinterests in the French overseas holdings." The committee'srecommendation in March 1790, introduced by Antoine Barnave, amember of the National Assembly, was clearly pro-slavery:The National Assembly does not make any innovation in anyof the branches of commerce between France and thecolonies . . . it puts the colonists and their propertyunder the safeguard of the nation and declares guilty oftreason whoever seeks to foment risings against them."Even the Jacobin deputies were not specificallyinterested in Abolition. As Robin Blackburn has noted, theissue of civil rights for the free crens de couleur in thecolonies was raised by Jacobin deputies in the NationalmBlackburn, 167."Blackburn, 175.mBlackburn, 178."Blackburn, 178."Barnave, cited in Blackburn, 179.30Assembly mainly in order to put to the test the principles ofthe Declaration of the Rights of Man." In May 1791, alimited decree granting civil rights to free Bens de couleurwho were born to free parents, was passed by the Assembly. 82Yet even this limited decree, which would in any case onlyhave affected a small number of individuals in Saint Domingue,was itself rescinded in September of the same year by AntoineBarnave, because of pressure from colonial deputies andcolonial interests."Hence the 1794 declaration of abolition of slavery inFrance and its colonies was neither due to the efforts of theabolition movement, nor to the Revolutionary ideals of libertyand equality. In fact, France was, in the end, forced togrant the abolition of slavery because of slave rebellions,begun in 1791 in Saint Domingue, and because of threats to theFrench colony from Spanish Saint Domingue" and from theBritish, as well as threats from counter-Revolutionary forces,consisting of mulatto and white planters, within SaintDomingue itself.""Blackburn, 188."Blackburn, 188."Blackburn, 190."The eastern half of Saint Domingue was occupied by theSpanish, and the western half by the French. See Blackburn,205."Blackburn, 203, 215.31The history of Saint Domingue during the Revolutionaryperiod is important in the context of an analysis of Girodet'sportrait of Belley. On January 31st, 1793, France haddeclared war on Britain and Spain, who were threatening theRevolutionary regime in France as well as in its overseasdominions. By 1793, rebellious slaves in Saint Domingue hadbecome organized and armed; Toussaint L'Ouverture," a formerslave, had taken command and had allied his slave army withthe Spanish, who had colonized the eastern half of theisland." In July 1793, Spanish forces had advanced across abroad front in the North, reaching deep into Frenchterritory. 88 The French Commissioner in Saint Domingue, LègèrFelicite Sonthonax, lacked the troops to defend SaintDomingue, and he realized that he had to depend on the blackrebels and the slave population for the defence of the island,or risk losing the colony to the Spanish and the British. Inorder to secure the support of the slaves and to persuadeToussaint L'Ouverture's rebel army to join the FrenchRepublican forces, the Commissioner unilaterally announced theabolition of slavery on August 29th, 1793." Lèger Sonthonax"Spelled variously as L'Ouverture or Ouverture."Blackburn, 205."Blackburn, 216."Blackburn, 216-17.32was a committed Republican and a Jacobin," and his decisionto emancipate the slaves was in accord with the enlightenedideals of the French Revolution. However, Sonthonax' choiceof timing for emancipation underlines, as well, his concernfor the upholding and defense of the 'indivisible' FrenchRepublic.The delegation from Saint Domingue which appeared beforethe National Assembly in Paris on February 4th, 1794, todemand ratification of Sonthonax's decree," consisted of awhite colonial, a mulatto and a black--Jean-Baptiste Belley.The white delegate made a passionate speech defending thegeneral liberty which had been decreed in Saint Domingue, andpointed to the opportunity for a Revolutionary counter-offensive which would be possible with the aid of the freedslaves." The British were an imminent threat to the colony,and the Assembly knew that a large British fleet had recentlybeen dispatched to the West Indies. In a state ofrevolutionary fervour, the Assembly supported the Frenchcommissioner's decree and itself declared the abolition ofslavery in the French colonies." The motion was carried by90C.L.R. James, The Black Jacobins (London: Allison andBusby,^1980)^181."Blackburn, 224."Blackburn, 224."Blackburn, 224.33acclamation, and the Jacobin deputy Georges-Jacques Dantonproclaimed in a speech to the Assembly:Representatives of the French people, until now we havedecreed liberty as egotists for ourselves. But today weproclaim universal liberty . . . Today the Englishman isdead . . . Pitt and his plots are done for! France,until now cheated of the glory, repossesses it before theeyes of an astonished Europe, and assumes thepreponderance which must be assured her by herprinciples, her energy, her land and her population!Activity, energy, generosity, but generosity guided bythe flame of reason and regulated by the compass ofprinciples and thus assured forever of the recognition ofposterity."Emancipation, declared during a time of Revolutionaryfervour, came to acquire the significance of a symbolic act,embodying the Enlightenment spirit of the French Revolution"and defining and legitimizing a new France. The Declarationof Emancipation also took place at a time of deeply feltpopular hostility toward the excesses of private property, atime when the crucial support of the colonial slave system,namely the respect for the slaveholders' property, was beingundermined by Revolutionary rhetoric." However, the mainimpetus in the Declaration of Emancipation was the need toensure victory over Spain and England in Saint Domingue, so asto keep the colony in French hands." In fact, the"Danton, cited in Blackburn, 225."Blackburn, 261."Blackburn, 223."Blackburn, 258.34proclamation of the abolition of slavery was seen as tooprecipitious by many who supported abolition but believed thatemancipation should be a gradual process. Abbe Gregoire, forexample, called the decree a "disastrous measure . . . withthe effect in politics of a volcanic eruption in the physicalworld."" His statement effectively underlined the'scientific' underpinning of racial theory by recalling theearlier cautions of the abolitionists who had articulateddoubts about the capabilities of the black slaves to assumethe sudden responsibilities of freedom.Significantly, too, despite the political situation andthe threat to the colonies, blacks could still be imaged assubordinated to white rule. An engraving commemoratingAbolition in 1794, inscribed with the words of Voltaire: "Allmortals are equal; it is not birth but virtue that makes thedifference,"" (Fig. 5) demonstrates this point. Thisillustration commemorating emancipation shows an allegoricalrepresentation of Reason measuring two men of equal height,one black and one white, and declaring them as equals 100however, the Frenchman is represented in uniform, in contrastwith his half-naked black 'equal.' Thus in this image poweris shown as being in the hands of the French, and the"Honour, 83."It is not clear how widely this image was circulated.1"Cohen, 142.35engraving illustrates an attempt, in 1794, to reconcile theidea of the liberation of slaves with the continuingsubordination and exploitation of blacks as plantation labour.IV The New Directory and the Black Jacobins in Saint Domingue The period of the Directory saw a call for nationalreconciliation, and for a return to order. The Directorywhich took power in France in 1795 after the fall of theRevolutionary government, was a comparatively conservativebody, concerned with the privileging and safeguarding ofproperty in reaction to the upheavals during the earlierRevolutionary years. Property rights which had been limitedby the Jacobin government in 1793, 101 were assured in theDirectorial Declaration of Rights of Year III (1795), whichstated thatProperty comprises the right to enjoy and dispose ofone's goods, revenues and the fruits of one's labour and1°1In September 1793, the Sans-Culotte section had askedthe National Convention to decree that a maximum should bepassed for personal fortunes, and that any one individualshould not be allowed to hold more than one maximum.Robespierre, in his speech on a new Declaration of Rights inApril 1793, had stated that property was not a natural humanright but a right defined by law: "Property is the right ofeach citizen to enjoy and dispose of that portion of thepossessions of a society which is guaranteed to him by law."Laws of October 1793 and January 1794 ensured that inheritancewould be equally divided. In June 1793 it was stipulated thatproperty must be made available to those who did not own any,and that emigre land was to be sold off in small lots. A lawof June 1793 authorized the free sharing out of common landsto every citizen in the commune. See Soboul, 395.36industry . . . The cultivation of the soil, allproduction, every means of work, and the whole socialorder rests upon the maintenance of property. 102As Soboul notes, this was the equivalent to sanctioning thefull exercise of economic freedom.' The right to vote wasrestricted to those who paid taxes, and to become an elector,one had to fulfil certain property requirements. 104 Boissyd'Anglas, in his preamble to the draft of the new Constitutionof 1795, expounded the tenets of the new order and emphasizedthat absolute equality was a misleading ideal:Finally, you must guarantee the property of the wealthy. . . civic equality is the sum total of what rationalman may demand . . . absolute equality is a chimera: itsexistence would posit a complete equality inintelligence, virtue, physical strength, education andfortune in all men . . . If you grant unreservedpolitical rights to men without property, and if thesemen ever find themselves seated among the legislators,then they will rouse up agitations . . . without fearingtheir consequences; they will establish . . . harmfultaxes on commerce and agriculture . . . In the end, theywill precipitate us into violent convulsions from whichwe have barely emerged."One of the main tasks facing the Directory was therebuilding of the economy. Central to this was the bringingabout of a revival of colonial production and trade after theyears of rebellion and warfare which had devastated Saint"Soboul, 468."Soboul, 468.1"Soboul, 468."Boissy d'Anglas, quoted in Soboul, 454.37Domingue since 1791. 106 The policy of the Directoryregarding the colonies was one of assimilation;"" however,French domination in Saint Domingue had eroded with theRevolution and with the freeing of former slaves.Several developments are important here. Soon after theabolition of slavery in 1794, Toussaint L'Ouverture joined theFrench Republican Government of Saint Domingue and supportedits fight against the Spanish and the British. 108 WithL'Ouverture's help, the Government had managed to repulse theSpanish, and to hold the British at bay. 108 In April 1796,L'Ouverture was proclaimed Lieutenant Governor of the Colonyof Saint Domingue by Governor Etienne Laveaux, who spoke ofhim as "this black Spartacus, the Negro who Raynal prophesiedwould avenge his race." 1" L'Ouverture then proceeded toestablish his own position of power by eliminating Frenchcolonial authority; he suggested that both the Governor,1"International trade had suffered, and French exportshad been reduced by half since 1789. Saint Domingue hadpractically ceased to export sugarcane, and the Frenchcommercial fleet had been reduced to two hundred ships fromthe two thousand before the Revolution. See Georges SoriaGrande histoire de la Revolution francaise, vol. 3 (Paris:Bordas, 1988) 1438.107Jean-Pierre Biondi, 16 Pluviose An II; les colonies dela Revolution (Paris: Edition Deno81, 1989) 135.1"Blackburn, 221.1"Blackburn, 221, 228.1"Wenda Parkinson, 'This Gilded African.' Toussaint L'Ouverture (London: Quartet Books, 1978) 102.38Laveaux, and the Commissioner, Sonthonax, become deputies forSaint Domingue to the Paris National Convention. 111 Afterhaving been elected, Laveaux departed for France in October1796, and the reluctant Sonthonax was forced by L'Ouverture todepart in August 1797 ,112 leaving Toussaint L'Ouverture themost powerful leader in Saint Domingue. At this timeL'Ouverture also began peace negotiations with the Britishwithout consulting the French authorities." 3 The FrenchDirectorial government was by now suspicious of L'Ouverture,and afraid that he might declare Saint Domingueindependent. 114 There had been reports in France that thecolony was in a state of anarchy, 115 and spokesmen for thecolonial planters in the National Convention called for therestitution of order in Saint Domingue; -5 the deputyVillaret-Joyeuse demanded a military regime as the only onethat could save Saint Domingue, and "save the unhappy whitesfrom the daggers of the Negroes. 0.17 Villaret-Joyeuse wasjoined by Viennot Vaublanc, the chief spokesman for colonial"Biondi, 139.112Parkinson, 106, 108.112Blackburn, 238.114James, 193.115Blackburn, 238.116James, 194.117James, 192.39planters in the National Convention, in a demand that thecolony be put under siege until the peace. 118 In response,Toussaint L'Ouverture sent a letter to the Directory inNovember 1797, where he declared the loyalty of SaintDomingue's black population toward France, but where he alsowarned the French government against the re-institution ofslavery. In this letter L'Ouverture emphasized black militarypower--however, he also referred to the avowed principles andideals of the French Revolution, which had given SaintDomingue's blacks the right to assert their claim to controlin the new political order. . . But no, the same hand which has broken our chainswill not enslave us anew. France will not revoke herprinciples . . . she will not permit her sublime moralityto be perverted, those principles which do her mosthonour to be destroyed . . . But if, to re-establishslavery in San Domingo, this was done, then I declare toyou it would be to attempt the impossible: we have knownhow to face dangers to obtain our liberty, we shall knowhow to brave death to maintain it. 119L'Ouverture, having assumed the position as the chiefspokesman for Saint Domingue, concluded the peace negotiationswith the British in July and August 1798. At this time theBritish invited L'Ouverture to establish an independentkingdom in Saint Domingue, and the British press hinted thatL'Ouverture was about to desert France. 120118James, 193.119Toussaint L'Ouverture, cited in James, 197.InBlackburn, 239.40Following the military involvement of the colonial blackson the side of the French against England and Spain, a newimage of blacks as competent and self-confident leaders andsoldiers had thus begun to emerge. This can be seen in twoengravings figuring Toussaint L'Ouverture (Figs. 6 and 7). Inthe image in Figure 6 there is a sense of authority in theblack general's manner of surveying the two workers in frontof him, and the image can therefore be read as alluding to thepower which the general exercises over the workers. However,and particularly in view of the proud and defiant postures andfacial expressions of the workers who seem to face the generalas their equal, this image can also be seen to allude to theshared determination of Saint Domingue's former black slavesto defend their freedom. This feeling of determination touphold a newly won freedom is rendered especially poignant bythe prominent, long sabre which L'Ouverture holds in his handin both illustrations. This type of image connected with theemerging perception in France that the new status of SaintDomingues' freed black slaves, or the new Black Jacobins asthey were called, could constitute a threat to French powerand sovereignty.41CHAPTER TWOI Representations of Revolutionary Virtue in France With the changing status of blacks, from slaves to Frenchcitizens and soldiers, and with the growing uncertainty aboutthe French situation in Saint Domingue and fears that thecolony might separate, Girodet was faced, in the portrait ofBelley, with a complex set of tasks. Girodet had to redefinethe image of blacks as constituted in contemporary travelliterature and illustrations, and create the image of a newblack citizen and political leader. He had to mediate thatnew image in terms of the threat of colonial independence, interms of the avowed commitment of the French Revolution toequality, and in terms of the anti-Jacobin conservativepolitical mood of the Directory.Because Belley had been a soldier in the French army inSaint Domingue, he would have been associated with ToussaintL'Ouverture's military, and he would therefore also have beenseen as a potential 'Black Jacobin.' In order to understandhow Belley's status as a French citizen and soldier and as adeputy for Saint Domingue was undermined by Girodet, I want tocompare the portrait of Belley with portraits representingFrench Jacobin deputies, like Maximilien Robespierre,portrayed in 1791 by Mme. Labille-Guiard (Fig. 8), HonoreGabriel Mirabeau, portrayed in 1790 by an anonymous artist42(Fig. 9), and Bertrand Bar6re de Vieuzac, portrayed in 1793 byJean-Louis Laneuville (Fig. 10).After the fall of King Louis XVI and with him of theancien regime, the idea of a severe, uncompromising civicvirtue had become the single most important foundation for thenew Revolutionary leaders to justify their power. During theancien regime, the King had been seen as the incarnation ofpower, which was believed to have emanated from God and becomematerialized in the Kings body. But with the Revolution andthe overthrow of the concept of the sacral body and the sacralstate, power, as Dorinda Outram has noted, came to beconceived as a more abstract entity. 121 Hence, with the endof the ancien regime and with the creation of newRevolutionary institutions, the creation of discourses ofvalidation for the new state and its leaders was anecessity. 122 These discourses were centered around idealsof the law as an expression of the general will; the nationwas declared to be sovereign and all the citizens, whether inperson or through their representatives would have a right tocontribute to the formation of the state. 123 However, assovereignty in the form of the general will could not be121Dorinda Outram, The Body and the French Revolution. Sex, Class and Political Culture (New Haven and London: YaleUniversity Press, 1989) 74.1220utram, 29.inSoboul, 177.43represented, it was constituted as being embodied inindividual virtue as a constitutive element of the newstate. 124 Therefore the French Jacobins had representedthemselves, and had been represented in portraiture, asrational, restrained leaders of the French people, and asphysical incarnations of virtue and of the general will.Dorinda Outram has examined the process of the creationof a Revolutionary identity and she has in particularemphasized the agency and the intentions of theRevolutionaries themselves. 125 Critiquing Michel Foucault,Outram writes in The Body and the French Revolution. Sex, Class and Political Culture that Focault's'political bodies' act as symbols of social and politicalorders, exhibiting sites for displays of state force.The body is seen in his account from the outside. Theindividual's construction of selfconsciousness does notappear as an issue. 126And Outram writes further:To see bodies as symbols, metaphors and locations for theexhibition of power, and to ignore the extent to whichthey afford lived experience to their possessors, or areindeed created by those possessors . . . represents aprofoundly coercive understanding of the physicalexperience."'Outram notes that the French Revolutionaries constructed for"Outram, 76.1250utram, 20.1260utram, 18."Outram, 20.44themselves identities of Stoic masculinity, with the aim ofprojecting a sense of inner self-sovereignty and control overindividual passions and desires. 128 Through representingthemselves as being in control of their own passions, theRevolutionaries thus distanced themselves from the rule of theancien regime and aristocracy, which were seen to have allowedindividual passions to take precedence over governmentinterest. 129 Furthermore, this expression of control wouldalso have served to distance the Revolutionaries from theviolence of the Revolution.Revolutionary portraiture strove to represent the newleaders of the French people in a manner which would indicatethat the deputies had internalized virtue, reason and control.That such inner character could be read from the exteriorappearance of the physical body was supported by the newempiricism of the 18th century. In 18th century empiricalscience, the traditional binary concept ame-corps, which haddesignated a division between soul and body, came to besubstituted by the concept moral-physique which denoted theunity of the physical and the moral in the human body. no1280utram, 72.1290utram, 74.13°Sergio Moravia, "'Moral'-'physique': genesis andevolution of a 'rapport'", Enlightenment Studies in Honour of Lester G. Crocker, eds. Alfred J. Bingham and Virgil W.Topazio (Oxford: The Voltaire Foundation at the TaylorInstitution, 1979) 164-7.45Baron d'Holbach wrote in Systeme de la nature of 1770:On a visiblement abuse de la distinction que l'on a faitsi souvent de l'homme physique et de l'homme moral.L'homme est un etre purement physique; l'homme moraln'est que cet etre physique considers sous un certainpoint de vue, c'est-a-dire, relativement a quelques-unesde ses facons d'agir dues a son organisationparticuliere. niAnother writer, Benjamin Maublanc, professor at the École centrale, wrote in Considerations sur l'homme, published inParis in 1797:existe effectivement une relation si exacte entre lesdiverses operations dont nous sommes susceptibles, quenos facultes morales sont entierement subordonnees a nosfacultes physiques. Un homme aura toujours dans l'espritplus ou moins de vivacite, a proportion qu'il se trouveradans le jeu de ses organes plus ou moins de regularite etd'energie. 132And a third writer, Antoine Joseph Pernety, in his work of1776-1777, La Connoissance de l'homme moral par celle de l'homme physique, wrote that morality could actually berecognized from an individual's outward, physicalcharacteristics:Ce que nous venons de dire, semble ne regarder que lephysique de l'homme; mais le moral y est tellement hequ'ils sont inseparables: aussi le moral n'est pas moinsreconnoissable par les signes physiques exterieures. 133The theory that character traits could be read from anindividual's outer appearance, bearing, and behaviour was mostI'D'Holbach, quoted by Moravia, 167.'Maublanc, quoted in Moravia, 168.133Pernety, quoted by Moravia, 165.46prominently expressed by the Swiss physiognomist Johann KasparLavater in his work Physiognomische Fragmente zur Beforderunqder Menschenkenntniss and Menschenliebe, written in 1775-1778,and translated into French in 1781-1803. Lavater stressed theimportance of seeing in the outward body and countenance ofindividuals the manifestations of their inner characteristics,and he wrote:All bodies which we survey appear to sight under certainforms and superficies. We behold these outlines tracedwhich are the result of their organization. 134and further. there must be a certain native analogy between theexternal varieties of the countenance and form, and theinternal varieties of the mind. Shall it be denied thatthis acknowledged internal variety among all men is notthe cause of the external variety of their forms andcountenances? Shall it be affirmed that the mind doesnot influence the body, the body does not influence themind? After repeated observation that an active andvivid eye and an active and acute wit are frequentlyfound in the same person, shall it be supposed that thereis no relation between the active eye and the activemind? 135In the beginning of the French Revolution, the theoriesof Lavater had been especially influential, incitingportraitists to concentrate their attention on physical134Johann Caspar Lavater, Essays on Physiognomy, for thePromotion of the Knowledge and the Love of Mankind, vol. 1,transl. Thomas Holcroft (London: G.G.Y. and J. Robinson,MDCCLXXXIX) 12.135Lavater, 22.47appearance as an expressions of the character of themodel. 136 Hence Robespierre, Mirabeau and de Vieuzac are notportrayed, as had been traditionally the custom, insurroundings which would have reflected on their socialposition, their tastes or their occupations; rather, it istheir individual characters, of benefit to the Revolution,which are stressed through a system of physical or bodilysigns. 137In the portrait of Maximilien Robespierre, the sitter'sinner character is implied in the pose and bearing of thedeputy: Robespierre is portrayed standing straight andupright, in a stance that serves to signify his steadfastnessand self-control in face of the Revolutionary challenge, and,not unsignificantly, there is a sense of restraint in the handresting calmly on the hilt of the sword. Robespierre was wellknown for identifying himself with Jean-Jacques Rousseau andwith Rousseauean virtue, fle and his portrait also emphasisesthis link: Robespierre's gaze confronts the viewer with itsopenness, as if to signify honesty and trust, and the figure136Philippe Bordes and Regis Michel, eds., Aux Armes et aux arts! Les arts de la Revolution 1789-1799 (Paris: EditionsAdam Biro, 1988) 121.13'Bordes and Michel, 121.138Carol Blum, "Rousseau's concept of 'virtue' and theFrench Revolution," Enlightenment Studies in Honour of LesterG. Crocker, eds. Alfred J. Bingham and Virgil W. Topazio(Oxford: The Voltaire Foundation, 1979) 30.48in its simple garments is delineated clearly, as if evoking aRousseauean discourse of truth and transparency. 139Revolutionary virtue was also frequently conveyed throughallusions to antiquity, particularly through a perceivedidentification with classical Stoicism and with RomanRepublican heroes and great men. 140 Mirabeau soughtidentification with the Roman consul Brutus, who hadsacrificed the lives of his sons for the good of thestate. 141 Thus in the portrait of Mirabeau, a continuity isestablished between the French deputy and classical Republicanmorality in the reference to Brutus in the bust represented toMirabeau's right, and in David's painting Lictors Bringingback to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons, of 1789, in the139Bordes and Michel relate the clarity of Revolutionaryportraiture to the Rousseauean discourse on virtue. Bordes andMichel, 121.140Robert Herbert discusses the relation of the FrenchRevolution to antiquity: "The very meaning of 'revolution,'borrowed from astronomy earlier in the eighteenth century, isthe return to a position already established by the cyclicalimpulsion of history. The French believed . . . that historyhad turned full circle and that ancient prerogatives ofliberty, immutable rights and basic forms of socialorganisation first established in Graeco-Roman times, werebeing reconstituted in the present. This is why there was a'new classicism' in art, this is why an utterly new style,unconnected with the past, is unthinkable for the Revolution,which instead boasted of 'regeneration,' of 'reform' and ofrebirth'. Robert Herbert, "Neo-Classicism and the FrenchRevolution," The Age of Neo-Classicism (The Arts Council ofGreat Britain, 1972) lxxiii.141Robert Herbert, David, Voltaire, Brutus and the French Revolution. An Essay in Art and Politics (New York: The VikingPress, 1973) 74.49background.In turn, in the image of Barere de Vieuzac who was amember of the Committee of Public Safety in 1793 and 1794 142 ,the Revolutionary virtue of the deputy is established by areference to the new law, the embodiment of an abstract 'moralright,' which was defined in opposition to the arbitrary rightof kings. De Vieuzac is portrayed as addressing the NationalAssembly and holding in his hand legal documents, pertainingto the trial of Louis XVI.' 43 In addition, the member of theCommittee for Public Safety is portrayed against an emptybackground which serves to isolate him from the reality of theproceedings of the National Assembly as a whole. 144 Thestress is therefore on his personal qualities as aresponsible, law-abiding Revolutionary citizen as much as onhis institutional and political role. Indeed, the emphasis onhis isolation and on his enunciation of the new law suggestthe feeling of the deputy as the personification andembodiment of the morality and justice of the Revolutionitself.142Soboul, 304-5, 420.143Barere was one of the deputies who voted for theexecution of the King, and the documents in his hand pertainto the legal order of the King's execution. See FrenchPainting 1774-1830: The Age of Revolution (Exhibitionsponsored by the Detroit Institute of Arts, The MetropolitanMuseum of Art, New York, and the Reunion des Musees Nationaux,Paris, 1975) 524.144Bordes and Michel, 121.50Thus distinguished in the portraits, the French deputiesconvey a sense of reassurance, virtue, and control, calculatedto distance them from the violence of the Revolution, and tojustify their claim to the leadership of the nation.II The Imaging of the Colonial DeputyWhen Belley lost his seat in the National Assembly in May1797, he was replaced by another black deputy from SaintDomingue, Etienne Mentor. 145 Mentor's politics weredifferent from those of Belley. In 1793, he had supported thewhites in the colony in their power struggle against SaintDomingue's mulattoes. 146 When Mentor succeeded Belley in theCouncil of Five Hundred, he denounced Toussaint L'Ouverture,the black Saint Dominguean general who had played such acrucial role in the events leading up to the declaration ofthe abolition of slavery. At this time of conservativereaction, when a collaborationist like Mentor had been electedto represent Saint Domingue, the exhibiting at the Salon of aportrait of Jean-Baptiste Belley would have represented adisturbing reminder of the emotionally charged moment in theNational Assembly in 1794, when slavery had been abolished inthe French colonies and when blacks for the first time hadgained the right to political representation--a moment when145Honour, 106.146Honour, 109.51the ideals proclaimed by the French Revolution had trulyseemed to have become reality. At a time when France wasretreating from the rhetoric of Revolutionary equality, andwhen Toussaint L'Ouverture was suspected of plans to declareSaint Domingue independent, 147 Girodet, exhibiting at theSalon before a newly conservative French public, was thusfaced with a complex challenge: while keeping in mind Belley'sstatus as a potential future leader in Saint Domingue, Girodetwould have had to downplay the threat of subversion whichwould have been associated with the former soldier and BlackJacobin, while at the same time recognizing Belley's positionof power.At one level, Girodet's portrait relates to establishedimages of French Revolutionary authority--appropriate to thedepiction of an ex-deputy. Girodet represents Belleysympathetically, as a tall, slender man of confidentdemeanour, his gaze serious and thoughtful, his face linedwith age and experience, and his body leaning in a gentlemanlypose against the bust of Raynal. Belley, according to hisformer official position as a deputy in the NationalConvention, wears the signs of his rank: the tricolor sasharound his waist and the tricolor plumes in his hat. 148Indeed, the dignity accorded this representation is underlined147James, 193.148Honour, 106. See also Bordes and Michel, 79.52by the fact that the portrait is three quarter length, whenhabitually portraits of blacks had been confined to heads andbusts .149As in the portraits of the French Jacobins, Robespierre,Mirabeau, and de Vieuzac, morality and virtue are emphasised.Girodet was well aquainted with the ideas of Johann CasparLavater, 15° and he was interested in strong moralcharacterization, which he seems to have considered theprimary aim of the portraitist. 151 Girodet himself wrotethatThe painter, ingenious disciple of the learned Lavater,also observes the countenance, the colour, the shape ofthe face. He distinguishes the stupid man from a coxcomb,a fool from a wise man . . . The painter lifts up theimpenetrable veil of the hearts . . . and discovers theweaknesses, the defects, the serene countenance of avirtuous man . . . genius often sparkles without beauty,grace reveals itself in incorrect features . . .Michelangelo was ugly . . . but this ugliness was theugliness of a great man . . . 152Interpreted in the sense of Lavater's theory, 153149Honour, 110.15°George Levitine, Girodet-Trioson: An Iconographical Study (New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1978)65.151Levitine, 304-5.152Girodet, quoted in Levitine, 304. Levitine's referenceis Girodet-Trioson, Oeuvres posthumes, ed. P.A. Coupin (Paris:Renouard, 1829) vol. 1, 393-4. I have been unable to locatethis work.153 In his sympathetic depiction of Belley's face it isevident that Girodet did not share the racial prejudice foundin Lavater, who wrote in Essays on Physiognomy: "Calm reason53Belley's calm face and sympathetic features call up theartist's reference to "the serene countenance of a virtuousman." They express thoughtfulness and an intelligentawareness: Belley seems to be contemplating the future and thetasks awaiting him in Saint Domingue, possibly alluded to inthe landscape and the ocean constituting the background in theportrait.But in further comparing Belley's image with theportraits of the French Jacobins, it is evident that whileBelley is portrayed as incarnating virtue and dignity like theFrench deputies, he is also shown as lacking their heroism,their energy, and their power. In reference to Lavater'snotion of the correspondence between an "active and vivid eyeand the active and vivid mind," or of outer vivacity asdenoting inner energy, Belley's placid countenance and leaningpose seem rather to convey a sense of exaggerated relaxation,even lethargy. This contrasts with the representation of theFrench deputies. In the portrait of Mirabeau, a sense ofdetermination is conveyed in the hand clenched over therevolts at the supposition that Newton or Leibniz ever couldhave the countenance and appearance of an idiot, incapable ofa firm step, a meditating eye; of comprehending the leastdifficult of abstract propositions, and of expressing himselfso as to be understood; that one of these in the brain of aLaplander conceived his theodicea; and that the other in thehead of an Esquimaux, who wants the power to number fartherthan six and affirms all beyond to be innumerable, haddissected the rays of light, and weighed worlds." Lavater,24.54documents on the desk, and a feeling of energy is suggested inthe swift movement of the body. Likewise, the portrait ofBarere de Vieuzac conveys Revolutionary determination in thetaut pose, in the way the sitter's gaze confronts the viewer,and in the way his hand clasps the documents of the law.Belley is portrayed in a sensuous, Praxitelean l" pose,with a stress on masculine sexuality; the emphasis on thegenital area is further enhanced by the position of the righthand, sharply outlined against the yellow chamois of thebreeches. This mode of representation could be interpretedsimply as denoting masculine virility. 155 However, in thecontext of 18th century racial stereotyping, this manner ofrepresentation could also have called up the sexual proclivitytypically (and problematically) ascribed to blacks; indeed, inthe context of the constitution of Revolutionary identities,which had emphasized restraint and control over passions, thestress on sexuality could also have carried connotations ofexcess. Moreover, the emphasis on sexuality, in conjunctionwith Belley's relaxed and even aristocratic bearing, couldalso have evoked associations to the perceived sexual freedom154Robert Rosenblum refers to Belley's pose in Girodet'sportrait as 'Praxitelean.' Robert Rosenblum and H.W. Janson,19th Century Art (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1984) 65.155This reading is not to exlude the homoerotic aspect ofthe image. However, an interpretaton along those lines wouldinvolve a different study, which is presently beyond the scopeof this paper.55of ancien regime royalty and aristocracy. Such associationswould have had important implications during the Revolutionand during the Directory. Dorinda Outram has noted thatmonarchies were seen as having been corrupted by the feminine,and that, in the last quarter of the 18th century the ancien regime was understood to have been dominated by women who,through their sexuality, had ruled over Kings, and hence overthe conduct of governments:36 Boudoir politics, theexchange of political gifts for sexual favours, were seen bothas a cause of the weaknesses of the old regime, and as ajustification for the Revolution itself.' 7 To the degreethat power in the old Regime was ascribed to women, theRevolution was committed to an anti-feminist rhetoric, andJacobin male politicians could find in this rhetoric an escapefrom the guilt arising from the destruction of the Frenchmonarchy; what looked like a sacrilegious act had in fact beena crusade for virtue and a purging of the female from the bodypolitics:36 The production of male political embodiment, inthe sense of Stoic, masculine control, (which can be seen inthe representations of the French Jacobin deputies describedabove), was to be read as a process of exclusion of anddifferentiation from the feminine--from the 'unnatural fury156Outram, 125.1670utram, 125.158Outram, 125.56and physical violence' of the women of the Revolution, andalso, significantly, from 'feminine' unrestrained,uncontrollable sexuality.'" This differentiation of themasculine from the feminine had also been made possiblethrough 'scientific' research, which had postulated thebiological incommensurability between the sexes ;160 and thiskind of differentiation, incidentally, formed part of thelarger movement for the creation of a separate identity forthe white European male, differentiating him, not only fromwomen, but from blacks and all other men and women. 161Belley is thus represented in the portrait as both159Outram, 126-28.160Thomas Laqueur writes that in the context of the socialupheavals of the 18th century, and the question of womens'political rights, there had emerged a new science onsexuality. In pre-Enlightenment times, sexuality had beenseen as a social category, but during the 18th centurysexuality came to be seen in an ontological light. The pre-Enligthenment metaphysics of hierarchy in the representationof women in relation to men had, in the 18th century, beenreplaced by an anatomy and physiology of incommensurability;biological difference, instead of similarity, was nowstressed. Thomas Laqueur, Making Sex. Body and Gender fromthe Greeks to Freud (Cambridge, Massachussetts: HarvardUniversity Press, 1990) 6-8.161Schiebinger, in "The Anatomy of Difference: Race, andSex in Eighteenth-Century Science," 387-405, has shown hownotable 18th century researchers in anatomy focused theirresearch on the bodies of European women and black men, as apart of a general trend to establish significant differencesbetween European men and all other men and women. Thismovement coincided with the period of the great socialupheavals of the French Revolution, when the French malebourgeoisie, while proclaiming universal rights and equality,assumed power for itself but denied it to women, to blacks andthe poor.57possessing and lacking the qualities needed for politicalleadership. The deputy from Saint Domingue is portrayed aspossessing Revolutionary virtue and dignity--reassuringqualities for an ex-representative who is presumably returningto political life in the colony. But the image also impliesthat in the black deputy the instinctual and the sensual stillpersist, in a way that threatens Stoic, heroic and controlledmasculinity. Indeed, as a public portrait of a FrenchRevolutionary deputy, Girodet's emphasis on sensuality wouldhave been especially striking in the aftermath of the Jacobincult of virtue and restraint, emerging as it did at a timewhen the Directorial leaders stressed authority and control asa part of the new policy of enforcing a return to order. 162III Directorial Return to OrderBy 1798, the observation by Boissy d'Anglas in 1795, that"absolute equality was a chimera," had become accepted as areality in political and national life. The period of theDirectory no longer insisted on absolute equality, but only onequality before the law. 163 The ideology of liberal162Soria, in Grande histoire de la Revolution francaise,vol. 3, 1429, writes about the changing politics during theDirectorial period: "Or la singularite de la Directoire est demettre en lumi6re le caract6re autoritaire de la Republiquebourgeoise, et de ne pas occulter les mesures socio-economiques prolongeant la Revolution."163Soboul, 468.58capitalism had replaced the ideals of the early Revolution,and social and political hierarchies were being reinstated.Importantly, the Revolutionary slogan of 'Liberte, egalite,fraternite' had been changed to 'Liberte, egalite, propriete,'as an engraving representing the three Directorial leaders of1797, Barras, Reubell, and Revelliêre-Lepaux (Fig. 11) makesclear. 164 The three leaders stand under a headgear whichappears as a cross between a helmet and a liberty cap, andwhich bears the inscription 'Liberte, egalite, propriete.'The Revolutionary leaders' self-identification withvirtue, Stoicism and with the Republican heroes of antiquitywas comparatively shortlived and these practices becamerapidly attenuated after the collapse of Jacobin rule in1794. 165 Revolutionary virtue had lost its importance as ajustification for power, and the idea of virtue as inherent inthe political leaders themselves had come to be abandoned. 166Dorinda Outram suggests that Revolutionary Stoicism collapsedbecause the middle class conquest of and redefinition of thepublic realm had been so complete; by 1799 there was no longer164As noted above, the new Directorial legislationpromoted economic freedom and unlimited property rights. SeeSoboul, especially 467-469.1650utram, 87.166 'Virtue' was still important, and private portraiturecontinued to adhere to Lavater's notions of inner character asvisible in outward appearance. However, in French politicallife, the demand that power be justified by virtue began to bereplaced by the concept of power as inherent in a hierarchy.59a need for roles which linked virtue inexorably to thecreation of the just state, because individuals were no longerfaced with the extreme political situations of theRevolution. 167 Extending the argument, the impression ofvirtue inscribed onto Belley's facial features would no longerhave carried its earlier moral weight and its connotations ofa new kind of justification for Revolutionary power; insteadsuch virtue would have aligned Belley in 1797 with aRevolutionary idealism, that was already passé. Yet, in thecontext of French colonial history, 'virtue' had carried otherconnotations as well. As I noted previously, the enlightenedFrench administrators had stressed virtue as a desireablecharacteristic in French colonial planters, as an importantfactor in managing the colonial labour force. Consequently,the black leader, inscribed with virtue and reason, is, in asimilar fashion, expected to rule over his new black subjectswith virtue and compassion--in other words, he is to continuethe tradition of an 'enlightened' French colonial policy.Following 1795, the Directorial leaders no longer sawthemselves as embodiments of the general will, but as thechosen representatives of the people, and as forming a new1670utram writes that through changes in the nature of thestate itself, the belief that power was located in thesymbolic bodies of individuals, whether monarchs or theirmiddle class successors, began to be abandoned, and theinstitutions of government began to foreshadow the impersonal,unethical states which were to emerge in the 19th century.Outram, 87.60governing class, apart from the people. 1" As a result, theimagery of political power changed and Directorial deputies tothe National Convention were increasingly represented asmembers of an established ruling class. New hierarchies weredefined within the ruling groups, and denoted by the visibledisplay of rank through official uniforms. 1" An engravingof 1799 of one of the Directorial leaders, Paul Barras,"Barras in the costume of a Director," stands as an example(Fig. 12); here the emphasis on the costume and its details iscalculated to distinguish an official position within apolitical hierarchy. In contrast, the representation ofBelley, who also had held an official position in theDirectory, differs significantly: Belley's tricolor sash andplume, which should have denoted his rank, as well as hispower, are represented less as official attributes, than assensuous objects; the intricately folded silk of the sash, andthe sensuously rendered feathery plumes draw attention to168Bryant T. Ragan and Elizabeth A. Williams eds.,Recreating Authority in Revolutionary France (New Brunswick,New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1992) 76-78.169Lynn Hunt has shown how the search for appropriateRevolutionary costume incorporated the ambiguities ofRevolutionary politics. Hunt discusses how earlyRevolutionary design of official custom, meant to establish anew egalitarian, national identity, also came to respond tothe need to produce new political differentiations andhierarchies during the later Revolutionary years and duringthe Directory. See Lynn Hunt, Politics, Culture, and Class inthe French Revolution (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University ofCalifornia Press, 1984) 74-86.61their material, decorative qualities rather than to theirofficial signification. The allusion therefore is that thesensuous aspects of the elegant trappings of Belley's newposition compete with the deeper implications involved inFrench citizenship and representation.Yet, just as the French deputies had constructed theiridentities as the new citizens of France, the former slavesand black Republicans of Saint Domingue were also activelyconstructing their own, Revolutionary identities. C.L.R.James, in The Black Jacobins, writes that the blacks in SaintDomingue were filled with an immense pride at being citizensof the French Republic, 'one and indivisible,' which hadbrought liberty and equality into the world; ToussaintL'Ouverture was known for his French Revolutionary patriotism,and always addressed his countrymen as 'Citoyen.' 17°Such Revolutionary identity is, however, in the contextof Paris of the Directorial period, subtly negotiated in thetitle of Girodet's portrait of Belley. It is interesting torecall that the original title of the portrait, when it hadbeen exhibited at the Elysee Palace in 1797, had been simplyPortrait de nêgre. 171 Although the circumstances around thechange in title, from Portrait de negre to C. Belley, between1797 and 1798, are not known, the fact that the title wasimJames, 154.111Honour, 106.62changed indicates, in itself, the importance attached to it.The title Portrait de négre clearly defines Belley in terms ofrace, not political status. But the reference to 'citoyen'carried subtle associations as well. The use of the title'citoyen' had diminished during the Directory. Since 1795after the fall of the Terror when the Thermidoreans had takenpower and Jacobinism had been outlawed, the use of theRevolutionary title 'citoyen' had gradually begun to bereplaced within the upper social groups, by the traditionalappellation 'monsieur.' 172 Hence the term 'citoyen,' whenused in 1798, would have drawn particular attention to itselfand to its meaning. While ostensibly alluding toRevolutionary equality, the term 'citoyen' effectively calledattention to the very recent origin of citizenship for formerblack slaves, thereby underlining the recent politicaldevelopments in Saint Domingue which such status hadfacilitated. At the same time, the reference to Revolutionarycitizenship could also have served as a reminder that Belleyand the people of Saint Domingue had obligations as newcitizens of France, in particular to defend and uphold theinterests of the nation.Thus Girodet, in the portrait of Belley, managed toundermine Belley's position by a skilful manipulation of theRevolutionary attributes of power. The reference to virtue172Soria, vol. 3, 1352.63would, in the colonial context, have referred to colonialobedience and control, rather than to Revolutionary ideals;the sensuousness in the rendering of the official signs ofBelley's status would have lessened their authoritarianimpact; and the reference to citizenship was double-edged,evoking the problematic of current Saint Dominguean politicsthat threatened France.IV The Portrait of Belley and Directorial FashionBelley's attire in the portrait seems to accord with theappearance expected of a dignified French citizen during theDirectorial period, as can be seen in a comparison withDavid's portrait of Monsieur Seriziat, of 1795 (Fig. 13). Theblack deputy's appearance is restrained, and there seems to beno apparent artifice nor luxury. However, Belley's attireseems just a touch too new and brightly coloured, the watch athis waist is a fraction too polished, and the chamois of thetrousers is too clinging, too velvety and just a shade tooyellow. In addition to the sensuous rendering of the drapedsash and the feathers in the hat, there is a brightness in thecolours and textures in Belley's clothes, which serves toconjure up a sense of luxury, and which contrasts with thedeeply serious facial features and expression of the formerdeputy. Moreover, Girodet, while portraying Belley as aRepublican citizen, has included an earring. Body ornament,64which during the Revolutionary years was seen as denotingartifice, display and disguise, reminiscent of the ancienregime, was not permitted in the dress of a French citizen,striving for an impression of authenticity andtransparency. 173 During the Revolution, dress practices likemake-up, jewellery, and artificial hair, which had been commonto both sexes before 1789, had begun to be confined to women,hence sharpening the differentiation of the male heroicRevolutionary citizen from the feminine. 174 As ornament, theearring would not have belonged with the official image of aFrench citizen, a deputy to the National Convention.These subtle allusions to excess would have recalled theinclinations during the Directory to luxury and frivolity indress and manners among the new bourgeoisie. With the new'democracy,' class boundaries had become blurred, and the newbourgeoisie strove to adopt the freer manners and elegantdress of their former superiors. 175 This new freedom, afterthe constraints of the Terror, had been epitomized in therevealing clothing of fashionable bourgeois women, ironicallytermed the merveilleuses, and in the flamboyant manner of1730utram, 156.1740utram, 155-6.175This group was separate from the bourgeoise of theancien regime, and consisted largely of individuals who hadcreated their wealth by acquiring nationalized property and byfurnishing the military. See Soria, vol. 3, 1483.65dress of their masculine counterparts, the incroyables (Fig.14). 176 The freer styles common among women includedfashions a l'antique, which had originated in ideals ofRevolutionary simplicity as opposed to ancien regime opulence,but had evolved as well into a parody of antique dressingfollowing 1795. The new fashions among men comprised tightbreeches, long jackets, high collars--and also earrings,'"as an engraving, "Les Croyables. Au Tripot," of circa 1800,shows (Fig. 14). But the society of the merveilleuses and theincroyables was not only distinguished by their extravagantdress; it was also associated with sexual licentiousness andprostitution, and was as such frequently caricatured in printsand paintings of the late 1790s. 178My argument here is that there is a special irony inGirodet's imaging of Belley's dress and pose. In order toconvey the sense of Belley's 'otherness,' Girodet, howeversubtly, inscribed him with exactly the same qualities which,176For a general discussion of costume and dress duringthe Revolutionary years, see Douglas A. Russell, Costume History and Style (New Yersey: Prentice-Hall, 1983) especiallypages 314-316. In this context, it would be important to beable to assess precisely the significance of the emergence ofthe merveilleux and the incroyables. However, in-depth workhas not yet been done on this aspect of Directorial society.177French Caricature and the French Revolution, 1789-1799 (Los Angeles: The Grunwald Centre for the Graphic Arts,University of California, 1988) 265.178French Caricature and the French Revolution, 1789-1799,264-5.66during the Directorial period, distinguished the newlydemocratized 'upstart' French bourgeoisie: sensuality and thetaste for luxuries. Belley would therefore have beenassociated with a group of French individuals who were deemedas aspiring to, yet not having attained, a mastery of socialcodes.In other words Girodet, in order to represent Belley asan outsider, had shown him as only being able to imitate, notbe, a 'real' French, Republican leader. Homi Bhabha haswritten in "On Mimicry and Man; the Ambivalence of ColonialDiscourse":It is as if the very emergence of the 'colonial' isdependent for its representation upon some strategiclimitation or prohibition within the authoritativediscourse itself. The success of colonial appropriationdepends on a proliferation of inappropriate objects thatensure strategic failure, so that mimicry is at onceresemblance and menace.'"In Belley's portrait, the 'inappropriate objects'--thesensuous emphasis incscribed onto Belley's body, the just atouch too brightly coloured new clothes, the earring--whileensuring the 'failure' of the appropriation of the colonial,also constitute the menace, a menace however, which lies notin 'otherness,' but in 'sameness'. As the newly confident andself-conscious Saint Dominguean black French citizens were in179Homi Bhabha, "On Mimicry and Man; the Ambivalence ofColonial Discourse," October. The First Decade, 1976-1986,eds. Annette Michelson et al. (Cambridge, Massachussetts: TheMIT Press, 1987) 319.67the process of assuming a power for which, in the eyes of theFrench, they were not deemed to be prepared, the black deputyis imaged as being in the danger of sliding into theexaggerated 'freedom' of dress and manners, displayed by theDirectorial 'upstart' bourgeoisie.But there is also in the portait a sense of differenceand 'otherness' which can be seen to be epitomized in theattention Girodet gives to Belley's earring. The goldenearring can, as I have shown, be seen at one level as a partof the 'excess' manifested in Belley's elegant clothing; atanother level, however, it can be seen as alluding to racialand cultural 'otherness.' Georges Levitine's interpretationof Belley's portait is helpful in this context. Levitine hasinterpreted the image as characterizing Girodet's "new idea ofpoeticized masculine portraiture, with its mood of melancholyisolation and lyrical echoing of nascent Romanticism. 11180Belley's earring, as alluding to his not too distant past inAfrica, and to his early days of slavery, would have played animportant role here in conjuring up Romantic notions of theexotic 'Other,' while simultaneously emphasizing a feeling ofcultural difference and of distance from EuropeanEnlightenment and Reason. The earring then, can be seen toaddress and evoke a notion of the 'primitive past' in whichthe non-European 'races' were still seen to exist. Belley is180Levitine, 316.68therefore associated, not only with the qualities of excessamong the aristocracy of the ancien regime and the newDirectorial bourgeoisie, but also with a realm of 'otherness--both of which would have served to qualify his suitability forRevolutionary leadership in 1797.69CHAPTER THREEI Raynal; French Power and French CivilizationRaynal's name is inscribed prominently on the bust besideBelley, therefore alluding to his important role in theportrait. As Raynal had died in 1796, or one year beforeGirodet painted the image of the former representative forSaint Domingue, the significance of the portrait can be seenas a eulogy to Raynal, as much as a portrait of the blackdeputy. That is, Girodet's painting of C. Belley serves tocelebrate Raynal's role in the emancipation of French slaves,with Raynal standing as a symbol for French Revolutionaryideals. However, Raynal is represented not only as theliberator of the blacks but also as their protector. SinceL'Ouverture's rise to power in 1796-1797, a major fear inParis had been that L'Ouverture's possible declaration ofindependence could, in view of his close ties with theBritish, lead to eventual British control over SaintDomingue. 181 But the British had not abolished the slavetrade, and they had upheld slavery in their colonies. Hencethe representation of Raynal' bust next to Belley isparticularly important. In order to remain free, it isimplied, Saint Domingue's blacks have to remain under Frenchprotection and under continued allegiance to France. Raynal's181Blackburn, 239.70bust thus signifies for a French audience in Paris thecontinued willingness of the overseas colony to lean onFrance, just as Belley in the portrait leans on Raynal.Raynal's bust also stands as a reminder of Frenchauthority, justified by French civilization. The antique bustdraws attention to civilization as an extended process, as anancient heritage created over the centuries. The bust seemsto point to time as the creator of civilizations, henceechoing Buffon, who had posited that the non-European 'races'could achieve European levels of evolution, but that thisdevelopment would have to take place over an extended period.In this respect, Raynal's representation as an antique bustwith unseeing eyes implies timeless truths which Francepossesses, and which legitimize French guardianship over thecolonies. The portrait suggests that sudden revolution andemancipation will not bring Belley and his people to Europeanlevels of development and civilization; rather, just likeEuropeans before them have done, Belley and Saint Domingueansmust first go through a long, slow 'civilizing' process. Aspart of this development, French civilization is to betransmitted through Raynal's guidance and Belley's sense ofresponsibility, beyond the ocean in the background, to benefitthe colonies: hence, Belley seems to be thoughtfully gazinginto a distant future, contemplating the gradual evolution ofhis people.71Imagery from classical Roman antiquity had been a centralelement in Revolutionary ideology. 182 Busts of JuniusBrutus, such as J. Boiston's Brutus of 1792 (Fig. 16), whichwas placed in the National Assembly in 1792, had dominatedpublic spaces during the early Revolutionary years, 1" andthe Brutus cult had continued throughout the Revolution.However, during the Directorial period, the interest in RomanRepublican antiquity and the emphasis on stern Revolutionarymorality were waning. 184 At the times when the Brutus imagewas still displayed, its meaning and symbolism had changed.In 1796 when the Pope, after Napoleon's Italian conquests, hadbeen forced to sign an armistice with France, war reparationshad included the Brutus bust from the Capitoline in Rome.'"The Capitoline Brutus took a central place in the last greatfestival of the French Revolution, in July 1798, when theItalian art treasures, received as war indemnity, were paraded182Thomas Crow, "The Oath of the Horatii in 1785.Painting and Pre-Revolutionary Radicalism in France," ArtHistory I, 4 (1987) 448.183Robert Herbert, David, Voltaire, Brutus and the FrenchRevolution, 90.184Robert Rosenblum, Transformations in Late Eighteenth-Century Art (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton UniversityPress, 1967) 89.1"Herbert, David, Voltaire, Brutus and the FrenchRevolution, 118.72through Paris. 186 Significant to the political mood of theDirectory was the fact that this last festival commemoratedthe fall of Robespierre and of the Reign of Terror in1794. 187 Moreover, the Capitoline bust was accompanied inthe parade by the motto "Rome is no longer Rome. She belongsto Paris. 51188 Hence the reference to Republican virtue, withwhich the Brutus figure had originally been associated, hadbeen eschewed in favour of a reference to French imperialpower. In this context of French conquest in Europe and thepolitical situation in the colonies, Raynal, and the referenceto Roman antiquity, take on a particular meaning. Thus,although the two Salon critics whom I quoted at the beginningof my paper, saw Raynal as the liberator of French slaves andas an embodiment of Revolutionary ideals, the significance ofthis sculptural form in the portrait must also be seen aspertaining to the new French imperial power--a power thatcould repress, not only Revolutionary passions, but alsoRevolutionary ideals.With this in mind the white marble bust, prominentlyplaced in the upper left hand corner of the picture and186Herbert, David,Revolution, 118.187Herbert, David,Revolution, 118.1"Herbert, David,Revolution, 118.Voltaire, Brutus and the FrenchVoltaire, Brutus and the FrenchVoltaire, Brutus and the French73elevated above Belley, can be seen to contrast with, and rivalin its impact the dark figure of the former deputy.Underlying such pictorial status given to Raynal is that theSalon critic who had referred to a problematic, unharmonious "translation from black to white" in Belley's portrait, alsohad alluded to the lack of strength in the representation ofBelley's head. . . aussi a-t-il mis une grande intelligence dans lacomposition, la tete a beaucoup moins de force189.^.This critic in 1798 drew attention to the juxtaposing of thetwo heads in the painting and to the difference in scale. 1"This comment raises an important point about Girodet's image.Unlike Mirabeau who, in the anonymous portrait of 1790 isfigured in a dominant position and is not overshadowed by thebust of Brutus, Raynal's prominent presence does not allowBelley to stand alone; independent agency is submitted totutorship and control. In Mirabeau's portrait antiquity isseen as an inspiration to political liberty, whereas inBelley's portrait the sculptural form and its antique modeserve to suppress and qualify these ideals.189Collection Deloynes, vol. 20, 541-542.190The difference in the size of the two heads would alsohave called up 18th century studies which had compared skullsizes and assumed that a bigger skull indicated a superiorintellect. See Shiebinger, "Skeletons in the Closet: TheFirst Illustrations of the Female Skeleton in Eighteenth-Century Anatomy," 43, 64.74During the last years of the 18th century, the cult ofantiquity had shifted from Roman themes to an emphasis on whatwas known as the more refined 'Greek' style. 191 Girodet'sportrayal of Belley in a relaxed Praxitelean pose, reminiscentof classical Greek antiquity and of the adulation of the idealmale form, would have served to differentiate him from thecontrolled, Revolutionary masculinity and Stoicism of theRepublican 'Roman' citizen, alluded to in the antique bust ofRaynal. Robert Rosenblum has noted that during the time ofthe Revolution, the classical world was moulded to meetdifferent demands, and that artists of the period reliedheavily on artistic historicism. 192 Within this context theseeming 'eclecticism' in Girodet's image in which a sternRoman bust is juxtaposed to the 'Praxitelean' Greek pose ofBelley, is not, I would argue, accidental. Girodet was wellversed in the traditions of antiquity, 192 and his use of aclassical vocabulary must be seen against the background of aspecific political situation. The opposing of two traditionsof antiquity, the Republican Roman in the head of Raynal, withthe 'refined' Greek in the body of Belley inscribes a sense ofpolitical difference which would have been meaningful in thecontext of Revolutionary France; the Roman theme would have191Rosenblum, 182-3.192Rosenblum, 10, 34.193Levitine, 9.75signified active, Republican politics, while the Greekreference would have signified an area of aestheticconnotations, not so directly connected with political life.And this subtle sense of aesthetic distancing from the currentpolitical situation would have been, furthermore, enhanced bythe representation of the idealized landscape in thebackground, a landscape which, through its archaic,'classicizing' character, would have overshadowed the realoppression inherent in France's imperial overseas expansion.II Girodet, David, and Revolutionary RadicalismIn this context of the discourses around antiquity, it isimportant to note Girodet's well known rivalry with Jaqcues-Louis David. Girodet, who had worked in David's studio andhad assisted in David's history paintings, had endeavoured toestablish himself as an artist independent of the Davidianschool. 194 Unlike David, Girodet was no revolutionary.Girodet came from a family strongly attached to a monarchicalmilieu and he had lost his feudal rights during theRevolution. 195 He had spent the years 1790-95 in Italy,where he had tried to distance himself from political eventsin the Revolutionary years, and on his return to France he hadparticipated in the general reaction which followed the years194Levitine, 95, 106.195Levitine, 25, 97.76of the Terror.'" The portrait of Belley, with its referenceto antiquity, can therefore also be seen as Girodet's answerto David's Revolutionary cult of a heroic Roman past.The lack of harmony in the "translation from black towhite," which an anonymous Salon critic, cited at thebeginning of this study, had complained about, can be relatedto the "awkwardness" which critics had seen in David'spainting The Oath of the Horatii (Fig. 17), of 1785. 1"Crow, in his analysis of David's Oath of the Horatii, and of18th century critical responses to the painting, assessesDavid's refusal to blend ('fondre') and merge objects in hispaintings. As Crow notes, 'fondre' signifies thesubordination of a world of distinct objects to a unifiedprocess of seeing, and he quotes an anonymous Salon critic whowrote in 1787c'est par l'opposition des objects entr'eux pluteit quepar ce que les peintres appellent la magie du clair-oscurqu'il cherche a produire des effets. 1"Crow argues that the word to attend to in this passage is'opposition,' and that the objects in the world David conjuresup appear as opposite, separate, equivalent, without the"connecting glue of 'clair-oscur.'" 1" And writing about the196Levitine, 97-100."'Crow, 459.198Crow, 461.199Crow, 460-461.77visual expression of a new, revolutionary order in David's TheLictors Returning to Brutus the Bodies of his Sons (Fig. 19),he adds:David can be said to have made dissonance anddiscontinuity into elementary constituent elements ofpicture making. And this is entirely appropriate to asubject which concerns political and emotional conflictswhich admit of no immediate resolution . . . 'un nouvelordre nait de l'exces du desordre meme. '200Although David's art of the 1780s had dealt with "politicaland emotional conflicts which admit of no immediateresolution," his cult of antiquity had nevertheless indicatedheroic, Republican ideals, and a faith in superior morality asbeing the catalyst for change and for the emergence of a morejust and reasonable society. In the Oath of the Horatii andin The Lictors Bringing Back to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons,as Crow has demonstrated, David had celebrated a new honestyand clarity signified by the 'awkwardness' in therepresentation of the figures and the composition, and thusgiven form to a critique of ancien regime sensibilities andrefined tastes, and indirectly of the old political regime.Crow's concept of the lack of 'glue' which could bind thepicture together is enlightening in the context of thedisharmonious "translation between black and white" inGirodet's portrait of Belley. In Girodet's portrait, too, theunmodulated transition from black to white can be seen to2"Crow, 466.78signify an attempt to express in a visual language a newpolitical climate and a feeling of the controversies whichFrance was faced with in the Revolutionary situation.However, in opposition to David's radicalism, Girodet, in thecontext of Directorial reaction to the 'excesses' of theRevolution, can be seen to emphasize instead the difference,the chasm between oppositional elements, and to point out,almost cynically, how unrealistic it was to believe that a neworder could be born, in just one Revolutionary decade, fromthe disorder of the old. In this reading, the unharmonious"translation between black and white" constitutes in Girodet'spainting a barrier, a sign of distance, and a sign of thenecessity to slow down the too sudden breakdown of differencein status between the French and the former slaves of thecolonies.79CONCLUSIONGirodet's portrait of Citizen Belley emerges as a sign ofthe French desire to retrieve a form of power over SaintDomingue for France at a time when such authority was seen tobe slipping away. The image of Belley, as a representation ofa new identity for blacks, could serve to secure Frenchinterests in the colony by the co-optation into Frenchimperialist ideology of those individuals whom France nowneeded to use in order to secure colonial domination.In the new political context in Saint Domingue afterabolition, the French could no longer exercise power over theblack population through the earlier system of slavery.However, France could assert its dominance and right toleadership by subscribing to a 'racial' hierarchy supported by18th century racial theories, and through the claim to be inpossession of a superior civilization.As I have been arguing, the power which Belley's statusshould have conferred on him is curtailed and qualified inGirodet's portrait. To follow Homi Bhabha, and to relate hisgeneral insights in "The Other Question: Difference,Discrimination and the Discourse of Colonialism," to therepresentation of Belley, the 'narrative' of colonialdiscourse inscribed onto the body of the colonized individualerases the cultural originality of the colonized and functions80as a means of surveillance and control. 201 Belley's identityand experience as a black Saint Dominguean soldier andpotential Revolutionary are erased, and he is represented as acolonial subject, whose French citizenship serves to subduerather than liberate, leading him to support the very powerwith which he is subjugated. 202 In Girodet's portrait ofBelley, French civilization is inscribed onto the body of theblack deputy, but in such a way as to convey the message thatthe essence of that civilization is still lacking. Theportrait implies that Belley is at the same time included andexcluded in a French Revolutionary elite; he is represented asa reassuring, non-threatening and responsible representativeof the colonies, while his difference and distance from 'real'French civilization is stressed. In this context it isimportant to recall--and to elaborate on--Dorinda Outram'sanalysis of the agency of the subject in the constituting ofself-identity. The subject has, as Outram notes, an importantrole in the constituting of self-identity. However, it mustalso be remembered that such self-identities are created2°1Homi Bhabha, "The Other Question: Difference,Discrimination and the Discourse of Colonialism," Out There. Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures, eds. RussellFerguson et al. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press,1990) 73.2°2Bhabha analyses in the depth the colonial relationshipand shows how the colonized subject actually supports thecontinuation of colonial power. Bhabha, "The Other Question.Difference, Discrimination and the Discourse of Colonialism,"76.81within the confines of contemporary ideologies and that theycan--as Belley's portrait shows--be manipulated and distortedto serve the various interests embedded in these ideologies.Belley's portrait does not only stand as a reassuranceregarding French domination over its colonial empire. Theportrait also conveys a sense of reassurance in regard to thequestion of Revolutionary and Enlightenment ethics. Theuniversality of Enlightenment ideology and ideals was notquestioned in the 18th century--it was assumed by proponentsthat the non-European 'races' would 'evolve,' and wouldeventually take their place as equals alongside Europeanpeoples. What was questioned in the period, however, was themoral commitment of the French Revolution and of its politicalleaders to work toward true equality. The question whichMirabeau had already raised concerning the 1789 Declaration ofthe Rights of Man, and which had subsequently hauntedRevolutionary politicians, was: did the French live up to theRevolution's ideals of liberte, egalit6, fraternite?Girodet's portrait of Citizen Belley, in the skilfullymanipulated representation of the black deputy from SaintDomingue, provided, in 1797, a reassuring answer to thatquestion. The portrait, in its composition and details,articulated a justification for French imperial and colonialpower--a justification which was, ironically, based inarguments provided by Enlightenment 'science' and 'reason.'82The problem of what Benedict Anderson has called "the innerincompatibility of empire and nation, " 203 and which involvedthe clash of French imperialism and Saint Domingue'saspiration to greater independence and self rule, is solved inthe portrait of Belley by a reference to racial and culturalevolution, and to the slow pace of human progress.Belley's portrait represents an attempt to close outconcepts of black independence and black supremacy in 1797.The portrait celebrates French civilization and its authority,and the prominent bust of Raynal serves as a reminder of thenecessity of a period of French tutelage as a precondition forblack liberty and rule. Thus Girodet's portrait of CitizenBelley is as much a portrait of French imperial expansion andits justification, as a portrait of French Revolutionaryideals and of the black deputy from Saint Domingue.203Benedict Anderson's phrase, quoted by Homi Bhabha in"Of Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse,"320.83Fig. 1 Anne Louis Girodet Trioson. Portrait of Jean-Baptiste Belley. 1797. Oil on canvas. 63x45".Musee Nationale du Château de Versailles.Fig. 2^Frontispiece for Volume IV of G.T. Raynal,Histoire philosophiaue et politicTue des Euroveens dans les deux Indes. 1774. "Allegory of Nature."Line engraving by Charles Gaucher after CharlesEisen. 140x9Omm.8485•r,T'etZ\t7Fig. 3^Frontispiece for Volume X of G. T. Raynal, Histoire •hiloso hi e et oliti e des Euro eens des deuxIndes. 1780. "Esclaves conduits par des marchands."Line engraving by Nicolas de Launay after Jean-Michelle jeune. 148x91 mm.86Fig. 4^Frontispiece for B. Frossard, La Cause des esclaves nêgres. 1789. "Soyez libres et citoyens." Lineengraving by Charles Boilly after Pierre Rouvier.140x95 mm.•87I ,!ft„,,^6 il;d r.,(., I„A.di, )4,^[CO , JoFig. 5^Illustration after emancipation in 1794, proclaimingracial equality. Hennin Collection. BibliothêqueNationale, Paris.88Fig. 6^"Toussaint L'Ouverture." Engraving. Musee de laMarine.89Fig. 7^"Lieutenant Governor, 1796. Toussaint L'Ouverture."90Fig. 8^Mme. Labille-Guiard. Portrait of Robespierre. Circa1791. Private Collection.91Fig. 9^Honore Gabriel Mirabeau. 1790. Anon. Oil oncanvas. London, The Duke of Hamilton.92Fig. 10 Jean-Louis Laneuville. Portrait of Bertrand Bar6re de Vieuzac. 1792. Bremen, Kunsthalle...'-,fRi1 TEli A It A S , It E NS -^L , f./ft, Z.,'A/11 ///i/:'// ( ///' —„. - ._ItE1"133Lift'AINE(1//l. , el:VI/41W e/74'..,REVE 1.1.1FRE -I,F:PANato ettr, tic la^rir1. 1:7e/ le'//://93Fig. 11 "La trinitê republicaine. Earras, Reubell, et laRêvelliêre-Lepaux." Bibliothêque Nationale, Paris.Fig. 12 "Barras in the Costume of a Director. Year VII(1799)." Drawn by H. Le Dru. BibliothèqueNationale, Paris. Collection of Prints.9495Fig. 13 Jacques-Louis David. Portrait of M. Seriziat. 1795.96Fig. 14 "Le Rez-de-chaussee du The&tre Montansier au Palais-Royal." Aquarelle by Boyer. Biblioth6que Nationale,Paris.an, Ir■ral97Fig. 15 "Les Croyables. Au tripot." Circa 1800. Etching.277x332. Bibliothêque Nationale, Paris.98Fig. 16 Joseph Boiston. Brutus. 1792. Marble. 86 cm.Tours, Musee des Beaux-Arts.99Fig. 17 Jacques-Louis David. The Oath of the Horatii. 1785.Oil on canvas. 330x445. Louvre, Paris.100Fig. 18 Jacques-Louis David. Lictors Returning to Brutus theBodies of His Sons. 1789. Oil on canvas. 325x423.Louvre, Paris.BIBLIOGRAPHYAlexis, Stephen. Black Liberator: The Life of Toussaint L'Ouverture. Transl. William Stirling. London: ErnestBenn Limited, 1949.Badinter, Elisabeth and Robert Badinter.^Condorcet (1743-1794). Un Intellectuel en politique. Paris: ArthemeFayard, 1988.Baker, Keith Michael, ed. 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