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Književnost i kultura / Roxanne Barbara Doer - La Rousse and the Artist: Tracy Chevalier’s Liberation through Images anrd Colours

University of Zadar; [email protected]
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  • Political Science


Art and Subversion No. 1 - Year 3 12/2012 - LC.1 ISSN 1847-7755 1 La Rousse and the Artist: Tracy Chevalier’s Liberation through Images and Colours Roxanne Barbara Doerr Art has always held an ambiguous position in human society: on the one hand it has been exploited for promotional use and revered as a stand-in for the entity it represents; on the other hand, its ability to question dogmatic authorities by appealing to an individual’s innermost instincts and thoughts has made it a threatening and seditious force to be reckoned with. As a result, numerous studies on the impact of art and visions on society, authority, and our perception of reality have emerged and taken many forms of interdisciplinary inquiry (such as “literature and the visual arts”, “culture studies”, “cross-cultural image studies” or “law and imagery”, to mention a few). As a confirmation of this, the subversive power of art, in the form of suppressed colours and controversial portraits, is at the heart of Tracy Chevalier’s novel The Virgin Blue (1997). In fact, in Chevalier’s novels art is perceived as “a powerful source both of instability and stability, for it can and often does subvert or otherwise alter our commitments, and thereby our deeply entrenched ways of seeing and organizing the world. And while this can produce conflicts, it can also resolve them” (Novitz 13). The protagonists’ lives are dominated by a strong patriarchal society that suppresses the voices of those who do not pertain to politically privileged categories. Art therefore is the force that leads such characters to leave the paths that had been assigned to them by custom and seek out their own future. The plot of The Virgin Blue is divided into two alternating parallel storylines set in the 16th century and contemporary France. In the former storyline, Isabelle Du Moulin is continuously denigrated by the Calvinist society she lives in because of her resemblance to the Virgin and compelled to hide her religious

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