Art as Passion in Anatole France's Le Lys rouge

At first glance, Anatole France’s Le Lys rouge (1894) is a straightforward love story capitalizing on a fin-de-siècle vogue for medieval Italian art. Closer study, however, reveals a mordant satire of contemporaries’ æsthetic pronouncements. A regular guest on the salon circuit, France was a privileged witness to contemporary taste and a powerful arbiter of aesthetic trends. Although Le Lys rouge is a work of fiction, his careful descriptions of fin-de-siècle taste and his sly references to real-life writers, artists, and collectors influenced his readers, while providing twenty-first century scholars with a valuable appreciation of late nineteenth-century French attitudes to art. (EE)

Emery, Elizabeth.
Volume 2007 Spring-Summer; 35(3-4): 641-52.