Accepted Paper:

Images to take home: From self-educated art practice to artistic sponsorship and commissioned work  


Claire Brizon (IKG Université de Berne)

Paper short abstract:

Images from the 18th century are not only sources for historians and art historians, its could also be sources for the ethnologists. Therefore, in this paper, with three case study, I aim to show how images, from the 18th century, are also of importance in the field of Ethnology.

Paper long abstract:

During the 18th Switzerland has no colony, no direct access to the sea and no international scientific navigation. Thus, there is not an official literature of expeditions, as in France with Antoine Bruny d'Entrecasteaux or in Great-Britain with James Cook. Nevertheless, Swiss people travelled all around the world - for their own business, serving foreign armies or diplomatic parties - producing images which describe the world, before the invention of photography.

Indeed, archives and museums in Switzerland have preserved sketches, diaries, aquarelles and paintings, from the 18th century, which describe nature, people, traditions and encounters. Who produced these images and in what contexts? And why would we integrate them as a scientific visual source for Ethnography while their producers were not professional artists but only travelers?

I distinct three types of images that I will organize in three parts: one from mandated draftsman with the illustrated diary of Christoph Van Graffenried, one from local artists sponsorship by swiss people with Polier paintings collection and at last one other from self-educated artist with the production of François Aimé Louis Dumoulin.

I aim to show, that these productions can be a visual source for Ethnography. While no other possibility existed to capture images, these productions are the reflection of the scientific culture of the images along the 18th century. Therefore, I argue it is of importance in the building of the Objectivity along the 18th century.

Panel P002
Art as Ethnography/Ethnography as Art