- Purchase/rental options available:
This essay explores Mme Geoffrin's commission of two paintings from Carle Van Loo: the Conversation espagnole (1754) and Lecture espagnole (c. 1755). It argues that the "Spanish" theme needs to be understood with reference to the French discourse on galanterie and to aristocratic spectacle. It also explores the significance of the choice of Mme de Lafayette's novel, Zayde (1671), as the reading matter in the Lecture. The central contention is that Van Loo's paintings evoked the seventeenth-century heyday of galanterie, in which women were thought to have enjoyed far greater cultural authority than they did in Geoffrin's own day.