Allegory and Exoticism: Balzac’s Allusion to La Liberté guidant le peuple in La Fille aux yeux d’or

In this article, I argue that an allusion to Delacroix’s La Liberté guidant le peuple (1830) has been overlooked in Balzac’s short novel, La Fille aux yeux d’or (1834–1835) as the marquise stands bare-breasted over a dying woman. Whether or not Balzac’s reference is intentional, the chronology of events and Balzac’s admiration of Delacroix make such an allusion possible, while key visual and thematic elements further link the two representations. Balzac’s use of allegory in La Fille aux yeux d’or rehearses Delacroix’s highly controversial portrayal of Liberté as a sexualized, corporeal woman rather than a lofty, aesthetic ideal. Balzac uses this image, I argue, as a means to further criticize the rampant materialism of the July Monarchy even though the main action of the novel takes place during the Hundred Days. (al)

Linton, Anne
Volume 2010-11 Fall-Winter; 39(1-2): 46-61