Wall As Mythic Encyclopédie : Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique & Enlightenment Articulation of Identities

Gina Badger

The colonial encounter is first and foremost the encounter with the body of the other.  How that alien body is to be perceived, known, mastered or possessed is played out within a dynamic of knowledge/power relations which admits no reciprocity.  On one level, what is enacted is a violent history of colonial possession and cultural dispossession – real power over real bodies.  On another level, this encounter will be endlessly elaborated within a shadow world of representations – a question of imaginary power over imaginary bodies.

-Solomon-Godeau, 1989. 

As boundaries and surfaces, walls are authoritative and privileged structures that direct and contain movement, and that also serve as receptacles for the projection and articulation of identities.  The surfaces of domestic space surround and encircle people in the course of our daily lives.  They greet us upon waking, they witness intimacy and arguments and meals.  If only they could talk! As far back as the second century BCE, with the popularization of Second Style wall painting in Rome, the decoration of people’s homes has served to display social status.  When people entertain in their homes, the appearance and character of their personal spaces do speak for them, and become intimately linked with their identities.  This linking of identity with domestic surfaces is not a purely stylistic or aesthetic process.

Narratives of cultural inheritance, class status, and gender identities can all be articulated through the space of a wall.  This paper will engage early nineteenth century panoramic wallpaper designed by Jean-Gabriel Charvet and produced by Joseph Dufour et Cie., Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique, as a particularly potent demonstration of the richness and political complexity of walls.  I will argue that this wildly popular wall decoration was deployed as a tool in the articulation of aristocratic Enlightenment identities.  Further, I will illustrate how the narratives depicted on the walls of upper middle class homes contributed to a particularly insidious and long-ranging form of racialized violence, exercised on the very peoples represented in the wallpaper’s design.

In 1806, Joseph Dufour released Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique, an astonishingly lush and detailed panoramic wallpaper that was the first of its kind in France.  Dufour had published a prospectus two years earlier in which “some of the ideals of the Enlightenment such as human equality, overcoming ignorance through popular education, and scientific progress” were cited as motivations for creating the paper [1]. Dufour and his team, notably Jean-Gabriel Charvet, were part of a large-scale movement in Europe to pursue and promote the empirical scientific methods of discovery, observation, and classification.  Several large-scale archiving and classifying projects were underway in France in the mid-to-late eighteenth century, including Denis Diderot‟s Encyclopédie and the Compte de Buffon‟s Natural History [2]. Dufour and Charvet\s didactic wallpaper Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique can be seen as a large-scale pictorial addition to this growing collection of encyclopaedias.  It depicts a vast collection of flora, the general landscape, and – most importantly to our present investigation – the population that supposedly corresponded to the region called the “South Pacific.”

The accuracy of Dufour and Charvet’s representation was compromised for a number of reasons.

Like so many European artists who took the South Pacific and its peoples as their primary subject matter, Charvet did not actually spend any time in that region.  Beginning in 1773, he spent four years on business in Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, during which time he “is known to have produced many studies of exotic native flora and fauna as well as landscapes” [3]. It is likely that he used much of this material, along with many secondary and tertiary sources, in order to develop the ambitious and intricate composition of Les Sauvages, which presumably skewed the accuracy of its representation.  These sources consisted of the many texts and images produced by people who actually sailed on European colonial ships and sought to provide first-hand retellings of their experiences and findings, as well as those who never left Europe but were inspired by the fantastic stories and images that they saw [4].

In accordance with the fashion for Neoclassical style, Charvet chose to represent his scene in a distinctly classicizing manner.  His cast of characters is seen in classical dress, features, and posture, and is virtually indistinguishable from contemporaneous representations of the Classical period.  Catherine Clifton-Mogg, in her introduction to The Neoclassical Source Book, informs us that the Neoclassical style, current in some form between the early eighteenth and late nineteenth centuries, “covered all the arts, including music, as well as architecture and design.  It was not simply an artistic and architectural movement… but a set of ideals that coloured everything from politics to family life” [5]. Charvet’s use of the Neoclassical style visually links the peoples depicted to the age of Classical Antiquity, placing them at an early point along a linear progression of “becoming civilized.” It also links the inhabitants of the South Pacific to the world of European representation and cultural production, rendering them in a stylized and consumable manner.  We will come back to the Neoclassical style and its implications later on, when we discuss the genesis of “civilized” and “savage” identities in the European imagination.  For now, suffice it to say that the actual similarities between South Pacific dress and attitudes probably had a lot less in common with the idealized tropes of classical painting and sculpture than Charvet would have had us believe.

The accuracy of Charvet‟s representations of “the South Seas” is additionally compromised because the vast archipelago includes several distinct countries, each with a unique history, ecology, and culture.

In his technical article “An Insider Story: Dufour & Charvet‟s wallpaper of the South Seas,” Roger Collins informs us that the wallpaper illustrates several scenes from Tahiti, including one that depicts a group of musicians, dancers, and dignitaries, as well as “scenes from the New Hebrides (the island-volcano of Tanna in full and billowing eruption), Tonga (a wrestling contest) and Hawaii (the death of Captain Cook from John Webber‟s reconstruction of the scene)” [6].  With the eye of a trained historian, it may be possible to distinguish the different locations depicted in Les Sauvages, but the public that purchased the wallpaper simply ended up with a cut-and-paste, generalized and simplified version of what “the South Seas” looked like.  This form of narrative, with its obvious temporo-spatial inaccuracies, is not of necessity a fault.  It exhibits an understanding of history that is not confined to linear time and could represent, under certain circumstances, a productive historical methodology.  However, this type of narrative has a more direct link to European practices of racialization and mythmaking than with the objective classification of knowledge that Charvet and his team claimed to be pursuing.

This last characteristic puts the narrative effects of Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique in line with those of mythic speech, which both art historian Abigail Solomon-Godeau and anthropologist Gananath Obeyesekere maintain as an integral part of European cultural practices.  Solomon-Godeau insists that mythic speech “is not only about mystification, it is also, and more crucially, a productive discourse – a set of beliefs, attitudes, utterances, texts and artifacts that are themselves constitutive of social reality” [7]. Attempts to classify knowledge in an objective and faithful manner, including both the encyclopédie projects and Les Sauvages, are inevitably skewed by ideology, which becomes problematic when they are accorded the authority of truth.  If they are instead considered forms of mythic speech, they become important cultural objects, ripe for scrutiny and critical consideration.  While Les Sauvages cannot serve as an accurate representation of the reality of the South Pacific in the eighteenth century, it can serve as an example of European mythic speech and its articulation of racialized identities, both the “civilized” identities of its white creators and patrons, and the “savage” identities of the people it represented.

“Civilized” Identities: Discontents, Domestic Space, Social Status

Certain Europeans of the Enlightenment period, as we have already seen, had a particular zeal for the pursuit of empirical science.  The period is normally associated with the rapid development of knowledge, the rise of modern democratic values, and technological development.  It encompassed, in Europe, a “revolutionary fervour”8 that was perhaps at its most potent during revolutionary France.  This period also had a seriously nasty side, characterized by a range of overtly and insidiously violent practices, notably the development and enforcement of scientific racism, the pursuit of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, and various internationally implemented colonial projects.   It is beyond the scope of this paper to reconstruct the intricacies of this culturally and politically multifarious era.  Instead, I will draw out three driving forces in Enlightenment France in order to inform an investigation of the topic at hand – the relationship between Enlightenment self-identification and Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique.

The first of these motivating forces is a distinctively modern disenchantment with the trappings of corrupted and dysfunctional modern life.  The second force to be examined is the “discovery” of the South Pacific, first by Captain Samuel Wallis (1766-68), and with Captain James Cook close on his sails. The third is the popular rediscovery of Classical Antiquity, catalyzed partly by archaeological digs in Italy, and the subsequent idealization of this period as the birthplace and high point of Western civilization. As we investigate these forces, we will begin to see the expression of certain paradoxes of European self-identification in the creation and consumption of Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique.

While many of the Enlightenment\s social, scientific, and political developments were popularly celebrated, there were certainly people who weren’t pleased with the changes.  Those who didn‟t find blissful productivity and gratification in the industrial era‟s workweek, who didn‟t want to live in cities, or who didn‟t share democratic ideals, were among those who found themselves on the margins of Enlightenment society.  A desire to escape the trappings of modern life became a commonly articulated sentiment amongst this population.  Within the French art world, the most well known example of disenchantment with the state of modern life can be found later in the nineteenth century in the mythologized figure of Paul Gauguin. In “Going Native,” her rigorously critical re-examination of Paul Gauguin and his work, Solomon-Godeau describes the aspects of modern life from which Gauguin is said to have fled: “bourgeois life and respectability, the wear and tear of life in the cash nexus, a wife and children, materialism, civilization.‟  But no less mythically important than the things escaped are the things sought – the earthly paradise, its plenitude, its pleasure, its alluring and compliant female bodies” [9]. The alienated male figure, disenchanted with modern industrial and urban life, had already become a part of European mythic speech by the time of the Cook voyages, and pasting Les Sauvages on one’s wall could create a space to symbolically escape and critique European civilization without even leaving one’s own living room.

The strategic consumption and display of literature and cultural productions, such as Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique, allowed members of the Enlightenment aristocracy to show off their knowledge of current world developments.  Les Sauvages, proudly displayed on the walls of the well-heeled beneficiaries of European civilization, was a celebration of the colonial project – of its geographical and human conquests – and was a sure sign of financial and cultural wealth.  Europeans avidly followed the developments and discoveries of Cook’s voyages, largely through the pictorial works of his ships‟ official artists.  Cook was seen as a “gentleman explorer,” a rational and humanist agent in the elevated quest for knowledge and the advancement and promotion of civilization, and remains to this day an enthusiastically mythologized figure Gananath Obeyesekere’s The Apotheosis of Captain Cook: European Mythmaking in the Pacific focuses on the dual Hawaiian and European mythologizing of Cook.  Obeyeskere‟s text outlines the processes by which Europeans canonized Cook as “the most moderate, humane, and gentle circumnavigator that ever went out on discoveries” [10]. Intrinsic to the myth of Cook as gentle civilizer is the belief that the European colonial project was a generous and philanthropic one.  Cook is seen as “the civilizer, bringing a new vision of the world to the savage lands of the South Seas” [11]. This myth, as an extension of larger discourses of truth, progress, and development, allowed the European aristocracy to identify with important values of their time.  These values were reified in comparison to what was seen as a disorganized, primitive, and brutish lifestyle in the South Seas.  The racialized others represented in Les Sauvages are not quite savage, but bear the traces of colonial contact, as if to demonstrate that they needed the benevolent civilizing force.  Les Sauvages, then, served not only as a visual contrast to white European self-identification, but as proof of a hierarchy of civilization.

In her recent book Geometries of Silence: Three Approaches to Neoclassical Art, Anna Ottani-Cavina describes the catalyzing function of the many archaeological digs in late eighteenth century Italy with respect to a growing European obsession with and devotion to the values of Classical Antiquity. As a result of these digs, the architectural and pictorial forms of Antiquity “took concrete form and become so palpable and so present that they threw the terms of the relationship with the ancient world into disarray” [12]. The enthusiasm for classical models quickly spread from the sites of these digs to Britain and France, and the Neoclassical style became the unofficial aesthetic-ethic model for the Enlightenment. European attraction to Classical ideals at a time of great social and political upheaval might be understood as a yearning for stability, and it is all tangled up in the aforementioned discontents and disenchantments with modern life.  Ottani-Cavina describes the process of European “rediscovery” of the Ancient world that accompanied architectural digs of Pompeii and Herculaneum, as well as the restoration of ruins that had sat in clear view of Italian cities for centuries without so much as a second glance: “Seeing is to be understood as a creative exercise regarding a reality that suddenly stands in sharp relief when placed in relationship with an idea: an idea that has something to do with origins and the past, flight and homecoming, and a paradise lost and idealized” [13]. Europeans of the Enlightenment era were eager to claim descent from this great and idealized civilization, and to fantasize about the discovery of a present, exotic earthly paradise [14].

In her discussion of late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century aristocratic homes in Italy, Ottani-Cavina describes the convention of individually painted murals that required patron and painter to spend months “living and working together on a project in which the home was envisaged as an instrument of social promotion and the emblem of a new culture” [15]. With these murals, Italian patrons of the Enlightenment era hoped to distinguish themselves from the previous and recently unfashionable Rococo movement, then associated with pre-Enlightenment scientific naïveté.  They also hoped to link themselves, in form as well as content, to their Ancient Roman predecessors, with their taste for large wall paintings heavy with pictorial illusion.  Second Style Roman mural painters and their patrons “wanted to dissolve a room‟s confining walls and replace them with the illusion of an imaginary three-dimensional world” [16]. Second Style wall paintings, particularly popular as interior décor between 80-15 BCE, often depicted some version of a utopia, expressed for example through imaginings of characters from Greek mythology or elaborate gardenscapes (Fig. 2).  The Neoclassical style of Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique can again be understood as an articulation of paradoxes within European self-identification.  The Neoclassical style of the Dufour and Charvet wallpaper, along with its subject matter (a faraway landscape and its “savage” inhabitants), provides an escape or a place of rest, in fantasy at least, from the trappings of modern society.  At the same moment, the possession and display of the wallpaper acts as a powerful symbol of social status, thereby affirming the hierarchical power systems that were a defining characteristic of that same society.

“Savage” Identities: Classicized and Classified

We have already seen how European investments in a linear understanding of history and in the development of civilization were challenged by new knowledge from both archaeological digs in Italy and the discoveries of the colonial project as carried out by Cook and his ilk.  Enlightenment Europe was presented with the massive challenge of fitting this new evidence into their existing understanding of the outside world, which had previously been informed by fantasy and speculation.  In Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique, we can see an example of one solution to this challenge.  In simple terms, this panoramic wallpaper classifies and classicizes the inhabitants, the flora, and the landscape of the South Pacific according to contemporary European perspectives.  The practice of hierarchically classifying everything – knowledge, flora and fauna, the “races” of humankind – was refined with the advent of empirical science in eighteenth century Europe, but it had been current since at least Medieval times [17]. References to Classical Antiquity, “a paradise lost and idealized,” and the desire for its revival, were equally important features of the Enlightenment ethos. Ottani-Cavina says that by the late eighteenth century, the “habit of seeing the world through the filter of antiquity, of mixing antiquity with real life – or indeed, of modelling life on antiquity – had in fact become a collective necessity” [18]. The complex and paradoxical feelings that Enlightenment Europeans had towards the inhabitants of the South Pacific are implicated in the actions of classifying and classicizing.

Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique is an excellent illustration of the connection, in the European imagination, between the aesthetics and values associated with Antiquity and the reality of the contemporary islands of the South Pacific.  A distinctly Enlightenment conception of historical time, in which a singular, linear narrative of civilization beginning with ancient Greece and Rome and ending up with modern Europe, demanded that all other societies be placed at some point along the same trajectory.  In Dufour’s own words, these peoples of the South Pacific were “merely essaying the first steps of their intelligence” [19]. Their society was understood to occupy a lower position on the hierarchical scale of civilization, and became associated with the uncorrupted forms of civilization attributed to classical Antiquity.  As Margaret Hodgen tells us, this view was supported by early anthropologists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, who alternately romanticized, ridiculed and pitied this supposedly infantile form of civilization [20].

Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique was designed to fill the entire wall on which it was pasted, just as if it had been painted right onto the surface. In its full length, it measures between 10.5-10.8m.21   The top half of the wallpaper is largely occupied by blue sky, tall trees, and mountains, and could be trimmed to fit into any room.  The wallpaper is composed of 20 separate panels, each measuring approximately 54cm x 251.4cm. This brilliantly colored wallpaper, stretched clear from the floor to the ceiling, must have seemed a window into another world.  Despite the wallpaper’s impressive scale, the figures in the foreground would have been significantly smaller than life-size.  Taking up about a quarter of the wallpaper’s height, they would not have stood much taller than 30cm.  This decision of scale would have been made for technical reasons – in order to fit in all of the narrative detail that Charvet wanted to represent – but it would have had the significant effect of dwarfing the figures, making them less real, less threatening, than they might have been otherwise.  Charvet‟s figures have the physical stature of children, which conveniently supports the “infantile civilization” thesis, while the figures of mythic Greek characters from the Dionysiac Mysteries frieze are depicted in reverential life-size.

At this point, a further examination of the imagery of Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique will be helpful in illustrating how the practice of classifying was crucial to the construction of “savage identities” in the European popular imagination.  Charvet‟s compositional choices are indicative of dominant European impressions of life in the South Pacific and play into the creation of “savage” identities.

Charvet‟s representation of nature in the South Pacific is lush but ordered, depicted in rich colour and with much fanning and blooming grace, and this “nature” is what forms the compositional frame of Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique (see fig. 2).  In the extreme foreground, we see gently undulating banks and hills, grasses, flowering shrubs and tree roots.  From this base, tall trees cut vertically into the length of the panorama to section off its six major compositions.  Forming the background of the entire composition is a landscape composed of distant, unthreatening forest, a complacently smoking volcano, and plenty of serenely clouded blue sky.  Though the foliage and landscape are decidedly “tropical” or “exotic,” they are also tame and friendly.  This particular incarnation of nature is meant to be palatable, a representation of paradise.  The framing of Les Sauvages with foliage and landscape is an assertion of an imposed basic association between the peoples depicted and a gentle and welcoming “nature.”

The foreground of Les Sauvages is occupied by various scenes depicting the peoples of the South Seas in leisurely activities: men wrestling, women dancing, and their respective spectators; two or three heterosexual couples who appear to be courting; people strolling, conversing, lounging, and lost in thought.  There are several small children and domesticated dogs.  This depiction of “savage pastimes” has an uncanny resemblance to an idealized version of Ancient Greek public space, ruled by the ideals of democracy, the social pursuit of knowledge through discourse, and active, productive leisure.  The distinctly classicizing dress and attitudes of the figures greatly add to the impression of an idealized Arcadian setting.  It is easy to see how the draped robes and headdress of the Polynesian warriors would have reminded Europeans of Antique costumes, and Charvet matches this aesthetic similarity with postures that are typical of neoclassical figures.

In his text Cannibal Talk, as in The Apotheosis of Captain Cook, Gananath Obeyesekere examines enduring myths regarding the South Pacific – in the former, he focuses on the myth of cannibalism and savagery in the South Pacific.  Obeyesekere‟s understanding of how European vision imposed certain values and assumptions onto the peoples of the South Pacific is invaluable to our discussion of the formation of “savage” identities, even though he focuses on the “ignoble savage,” while we have been exploring the representation of the “noble savage.”  Obeyesekere understands the concepts of strangeness, otherness, and monstrosity to be important features of cultural belief in many cultures, not only European ones.  “Rarely, however, did these monsters represent unknown people living in strange places” [22], as in European Medieval travel literature that “peopled the vaguely known world of Asia with strange monsters and wild men” [23]. Obeyesekere describes how the voyages of discovery that began in the sixteenth century catalyzed a crisis in European conceptions of otherness, as well as the “Medieval Christian notion of the great chain of being, wherein all humans were descended from Adam and Eve and every other being and thing was rigidly and hierarchically ordained” [24].

“The opening up of the world through the voyages of discovery forced Europeans into actual confrontation with strange beings, and to the realization that the world they had peopled with monsters did not match with reality” [25] This process of confrontation intensified as popular knowledge of the voyages increased, largely due to mythologies surrounding celebrity explorers like Cook.  Europeans responded to this crisis by slotting these “strange beings” into their hierarchical and linear understanding of civilization, which meant that the peoples of the South Pacific got to be “noble savages” – peoples capable of becoming civilized, though not quite there yet.  Further, it was commonly felt that Europeans should be responsible for bringing civilization to these peoples, an idea that was articulated by Rudyard Kipling in 1899 as the “white man‟s burden.”

This desire to domesticate and civilize is embodied in the mythic figure of Captain James Cook, as described earlier.  Obeyesekere describes how Cook‟s persona of the civilizer was expressed in a series of symbolic actions carried out wherever and whenever his ships pulled into new shores.  His ships, “self-consciously recognized as Noah‟s Ark” [26] were filled with an assortment of domestic animals and seeds of English garden plants.  Cook would ceremoniously set animals loose and plant gardens along with flags, symbolic domestications that were part of an intended process of actually domesticating the “savage” land through concerted dominance and violence [27]. In light of these processes of actual and symbolic domestication, the inclusion of domesticated dogs in the imagery of Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique can be understood as yet another imposition of European superiority and dominance.

If the peoples of the South Pacific were understood to be “merely essaying the first steps of their intelligence,” and were identified with nature in the European imagination, it can be no surprise that Charvet chose to depict the strongest signs of civilization (at least as the Europeans understood it) in the background of his educational composition.  Work, industry, construction, and battle are all backgrounded with relation to the leisurely activities of the figures in the foreground.  It is in this more distant and less emphasized strata of activity that we see clusters of buildings, European ships and native boats, crowds of warriors, and people performing domestic tasks (see figs. 5 and 6).  These compositional choices seem to imply that through contact with European civilization, signalled by the representation of European ships, the now-distant occupations of civilization proper could at last be foregrounded for these peoples.

 Back to the wall, back to the encyclopédie, back to the present

The critical interrogation of myth, as Abigail Solomon-Godeau has it, is an important part of art historical analysis because it allows us to clearly see the products of mythic speech.  Through our interrogation of Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique, we have seen how several mythic narratives came together to powerfully reflect the processes of European self-identification as “civilized” and “civilizer,” and European imposition of racialized “savage” identities upon the peoples of the South Pacific.  We have seen how an investment in Enlightenment values and cultural practices, specifically the pursuit of empirical knowledge, the idealization of classical Antiquity, and the colonial and civilizing project, motivated the production of Les Sauvages.  Identification with these values was further aided by the contrast between the “civilized” whiteness of the European aristocracy and the “savage” otherness of the racialized peoples represented on the wallpaper.  We have also seen how the display and consumption of the wallpaper by an aristocratic patronage constituted an articulation of social status, while paradoxically providing a space to symbolically escape the less desirable aspects of modern European life.  The fact that the display and consumption of Les Sauvages occurred in domestic space only reinforced its function in the formation of contrasting racialized identities.

As far as “savage” identities are concerned, we have seen how European practices of classicizing and classifying affected Dufour and Charvet’s production of the wallpaper.  We have seen how some of their

stylistic and technical decisions helped to reinforce the myth of South-Seas-as-paradise and enforce the identity of “noble savage” on its inhabitants.  Here, factors such as the application of Neoclassical style, scale, framing, and composition helped to reinforce the belief that the civilization found in the various islands of the South Pacific was inferior to that of European civilization.  Along with claims to inferiority, however, the South Pacific was also perceived to be an earthly paradise and was associated with an idealized past.  This paradox is a well-known feature of Orientalist, primitivist discourses, many of which still enjoy a “shadow life” under the guise of aesthetic celebrations of “the East.”  In a recent exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery in New Zealand entitled Chic Colonials (August 2003-July 2004), Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique played a part in the celebration of colonial aesthetic taste and cultural production.  And, in their online store, de Gournay wallpaper manufacturers invite customers to create their “very own exotic Oriental interior” [28], citing the Dufour and Charvet wallpaper as one of the original examples of this type of décor.  It is clear that the insidious violence of enforcing racialized identities remains a legitimate practice, and is still being played out on living room walls.

The ever-present subtext of white representations of racialized others is the desperate need to craft content for whiteness through comparison.  For white culture and identity, the stakes of representing otherness are incredibly high.  Without that tradition of representation, how would whiteness define itself?  Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique is but one example of how representations of racialized savages served as a foil in white identity formation.  If whiteness has traditionally constituted itself only in relation to, and at the expense of, racialized others, how can it begin to take on particular values and histories of its own?  The white inheritors of colonial spoils must acknowledge our “generational responsibility”29 as inheritors of this incredible privilege, and of the violent means that secured it.  Whiteness already has this content – both the privilege and the legacy of violence.  It is even publicly recognized, to a certain extent, all too often in the form of guilt and paralysis.  The question, then, is how to move beyond a position of self-reflexive criticism into new processes of co-constituton with racialized others that are not marked by gross discrepancies in agency.  We can begin, perhaps, by responding to Bell Hook’s assertion:

This is an intervention. A message from that space in the margin that is a site of creativity of power,

that inclusive space where we recover ourselves, where we move in solidarity to erase the

colonizer/colonized (Hooks in Rendall et al, 208).

1. Susie Bioletti et al, “Paper Conservation: Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique,” National Gallery of Australia. <http://www.nga.gov.au/conservation/Paper/LesSauv.cfm>.
2. Fred S. Kleiner et al, “The Enlightenment and its Legacy: Neoclassicism Through the Mid-Nineteeth Century,” in Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: The Western Perspective Belmont, California: Thompson Wadsworth, 2003, p. 678.
3. Bioletti et al., < http://www.nga.gov.au/conservation/Paper/LesSauv.cfm>.
4. For a thorough discussion of specific sources used by Charvet for Les Sauvages, see Roger Collins, “An Inside Story: Dufour & Charvet‟s wallpaper of the South Seas,” Bonzah: Bulletin of New Zealand Art History, volume 9 (1985), p. 7-11.
5. Caroline Clifton-Mogg, The Neoclasical Source Book, New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1991, p. 1.
6. Collins, p. 7.
7. Abigail Solomon-Godeau, “Going Native,” Art in America, vol. 77 (July 1989), p. 119.
8. Clifton-Mogg, p. 2.
9. Solomon-Godeau, p. 120.
10. Fanny Burney, as quoted by Gananath Obeyesekere, The Apotheosis of Captain Cook: European Myth Making in the Pacific. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press; Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1992, p. 14.
11. Ibid., p. 12.
12. Anna Ottani-Cavina, Geometries of Silence: Three Approaches to Neoclassical Art, Trans. Alastair McEwen. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.
13. Ottani-Cavina, p. 3.
14. Though, as Margaret Hodgen reminds us, there is no such thing as one ancient civilization.  The diverse cultures that are usually lumped into the categories “Classical,” “antique,” and “ancient” in fact diverge a great deal from one another.  Margaret Hodgen, Early Anthropology in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1964, p.355.
15. Ottani-Cavina, p. 56.
16. Kleiner et al, p. 187.
17. As in, for example, the fantastic bestiaries of the Middle Ages.  These early projects of classification were not based on the same principles of empirical observation as later projects such as the encyclopédie projects that emerged in the eighteenth century by the likes of Diderot and Compte de Buffon.
18. Ottani-Cavina, p. 42.
19. Collins, p. 7.
20. Margaret Hodgen, p. 365-367.
21. My observations of the wallpaper come from an excellent online version of all 20 panels.  Panels 1-10 can be viewed, with a useful zoom function, on the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco‟s online gallery.  From the museum’s website at <http://www.thinker.org/gallery/index.asp>, perform a search for “Charvet” in nineteenth century art.
22. Gananath Obeyesekere, Cannibal Talk: the Man-eating Myth and Human Sacrifice in the South Seas. Berkley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2005, p. 11.
23. Ibid., p. 11.
24. Ibid., p. 12.
25. Ibid., p. 12.
26. Obeyesekere (1992), p. 12.
27. Ibid., p. 12.
28. De Gournay, “Further Information: History of Chinoiserie,”  Handpainted Wallpaper, Fabric and Porcelain. <http://www.degournay.com>.
29 . I’ve borrowed this term from Liese van der Watt, who uses it in the context of Post-Apartheid South Africa.  Liese van der Watt, “Witnessing Trauma in Post-Apartheid Africa: The Question of Generational Responsibility,” African Arts, vol. 38, issue 3 (Autumn 2006), p. 26-35, p. 93.