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Nineteenth-Century Contexts Vol. 32, No. 1, March 2010, pp.


Becoming Cosmopolitan: Viewing and Reviewing the 1855 Exposition Universelle in Paris
Margueritte Murphy
Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York

mmurphy@hws.edu MargueritteMurphy 0 100000March 2010 32 2010 & Francis Original Article 0890-5495 Francis Contexts Nineteenth-CenturyLtd 10.1080/08905491003704038 GNCC_A_470925.sgm Taylor and (print)/1477-2663 (online)

Ajoutons que Paris est le sjour dune colonie nombreuse dtrangers quy appellent les affaires, le plaisir, ltude, etc. que par ses collections, ses muses, ses bibliothques, il se prte plus quaucune autre capitale aux travaux densemble sur lindustrie, les sciences et les arts; que par lurbanit de ses murs, par son hospitalit envers les trangers, notre capitale a vritablement un caractre cosmopolite.1 Prince Napolon, Rapport sur lexposition universelle de 1855 (139)

In this passage from his report to Napolon III on the Exposition universelle of 1855, Prince Napolon points to the cosmopolitan character of Paris as a reason for its suitability for future grandiose international exhibitions. There is, perhaps, a tension in his description between two facets of cosmopolitanism: cosmopolitanism as urbane detachment and cosmopolitanism as openness towards strangers. This difference is not necessarily one between the bad and good faces of the cosmopolitan, since detachment is integral to critique. The positive quality of detachment is an argument made by Amanda Anderson in The Powers of Distance: Cosmopolitanism and the Cultivation of Detachment where she folds cosmopolitanism into a larger ideal of critical distance in Victorian aesthetic and intellectual projects about which many writers conveyed a complex ambivalence. One aim of her approach is to trace the dialectic between detachment and engagement for the Victorians, and defend the progressive potentialities of systemic critique about which much skepticism has arisen in the last twenty years of literary and cultural studies (31). In a similar vein, Rebecca L. Walkowitz proposes critical cosmopolitanism for the Modernists who display an aversion to heroic tones of appropriation and progress, and a suspicion of epistemological privilege, views from above or from the center that assume a consistent distinction between who is seeing and what is seen (2). Her focus is more insistently on the aesthetic than Andersons, for she argues that early Modernist innovations of style made possible the
ISSN 08905495 (print)/ISSN 14772663 (online) 2010 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/08905491003704038


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critical consciousness of late twentieth-century texts by writers like Salman Rushdie, W.G. Sebald, and Kazuo Ishiguro (she devotes a chapter to each in her book) and goes so far as to locate a connection between the fin-de-sicle cosmopolitanism of aesthetes, dandies, and flneurs and the new analysis of perception and alternative tones of political consciousness of early Modernism that led to such new narrative practices. The focus of this paper is critical cosmopolitanism on the other side of the channel, specifically Charles Baudelaires idea of the cosmopolitan critic in his review of the Beaux-Arts Exhibit at the Exposition universelle of 1855 in Paris. Like Walkowitz, I am concerned with aesthetic questions, specifically with the idea or ideal of a cosmopolitan criticism of visual art. But like Anderson, I am interested in sorting an imperialist cosmopolitanism from a cosmopolitan critique of imperialism, or, in her words: While cosmopolitanism can in certain key instances be shown to support nationalism and imperialism, and while its own elitist and narrowly European forms must be acknowledged, it still often gives voice, within the Victorian context, to a reflective interrogation of cultural norms. (21) Such a reflective interrogation of cultural norms is at the heart of Charles Baudelaires ideal of the cosmopolitan critic; indeed, his critique of the aesthetic doctrine dominant in most coverage of the Beaux-Arts Exhibit is at once caustic and profound. But I will also emphasize the degree to which, in Baudelaires cosmopolitanism, openness to the unfamiliar, here the exhibited object that serves as an entry-point into its entire original culture, is key and a move beyond the moment of critique that opens up not only the possibility of new conceptions of beauty, but also of a new definition of the universal. With the Crimean War underway, 1855 was perhaps not the most opportune moment to celebrate the accord among nations and peaceful competition that the Exposition universelle in Paris would showcase. The Exposition universelle drew millions of cultural tourists to Paris; the official report by Prince Napolon records 5,162,330 visitors (87). Yet unease with the incongruity of an international exhibition, in which countries, colonies, principalities, duchies and territories from Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America, and Australia were represented, during a time of war pervaded government accounts and provided fodder for a lampooning press (Figure 1). The Exposition universelle itself was framed as a peace-making mechanism: on le voit, renversant la vieille maxime: Si vis pacem para bellum, un gnie tout moderne, en temps de guerre prparait la paix2 (qtd. from La Patrie, 31 December 1854, in Le Travail universel, xv). Thus the ideal of a cosmopolitan order, modeled by the Exposition itself, formed part of the official rhetoric and gave ethical and political weight to the event. Both the ideal of cosmopolitanism itself and such festivals promoting communion and understanding among peoples have been described as antidotes to war since antiquity. The Cynics of the fourth century BC first coined the expression cosmopolitan, citizen of the cosmos, meant to be paradoxical (Appiah xiv), but this ideal was also used to urge unity among the city-states (Calhoun, Class Consciousness 871). In 1856, the art critic, E. J. Delcluze, looked back to the Greek city-states for forerunners of the universal exhibitions in the Olympic and other games, paradoxically in this account both to train warriors and to avoid war:
Figure 1 Cham (Amde Charles Henri de No), Croquis par Cham, Le Carivari, 1855. Reproduced with the permission of the Bibliothque nationale de France.

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Figure 1 Cham (Amde Charles Henri de No), Croquis par Cham, Le Charivari, 1855. Reproduced with the permission of the Bibliothque nationale de France.

Ces jeux, ds leur origine, eurent pour objet de rendre les habitants des diverses parties de la Grce aptes combattre pour dfendre le pays. Mais cette intention, dj si gnreuse, sen joignit une dont la porte morale tait de la plus haute importance. Les fondateurs de ces jeux voulurent que toutes les peuplades dont lensemble constituait la Grce, concourussent laccomplissement de ces solennits ; et en effet lide de ces ftes, fortement imprime dans lesprit des Grecs par les traditions religieuses et un long usage, sy est conserve pendant un grand nombre de sicles. Or le but moral de ces runions poques fixes, soit Olympie ou Corinthe, tait dadoucir les murs des diverses peuplades hellniques si disposes se faire des guerres outrance, en les amenant peu peu se voir, participer aux mmes ftes, et enfin abjurer les haines froces qui les divisaient. Tel fut le premier effort tent pour prparer les hommes recevoir les bienfaits dune civilisation plus humaine et plus douce.3 (v)

Thus, according to Delcluze, the games had another purpose seemingly at odds with the militarist one: to foster peace and mutual understanding by bringing diverse peoples together to share in the festivities. He notes the tradition of respecting a general truce during the time devoted to the games (vi) and laments how the centuries have


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shown that such hopes for an end to war through shared festivities were again and again shattered (vviii). The Exposition universelle, like the early Greek games, was designed to gird the competitive loins of the nation, to encourage innovation and emulation in manufacturing. At the same time, the Exposition literally put on display the idea of peaceful and orderly competition. While the potential for encouraging international accord was apparent to writers like Delcluze and trumpeted by official government organs, nationalism eclipsed internationalism for most observers. In fact, the Exposition universelle for many, including the government, provided a forum for the vaunting of national pride and claims of superiority within an international framework, an especially clear enactment of the tensions between the spirit of international communion and the fierceness of nineteenthcentury nationalist sentiment. It was Frances first international exhibition, and France prided itself on its innovation vis--vis the 1851 Crystal Palace in London of erecting a separate pavilion for the display of art. Coverage of the Exposition universelle dominated the press for months, and the fine arts exhibition was separately reviewed by numerous newspapers and journals. Thus with separate pavilions for Industry and the Fine Arts, the Exposition universelle promoted competition in both the economic and aesthetic realms; in the latter, French preeminence was assumed and repeatedly asserted, and even in manufacturing French taste was acknowledged as a competitive advantage.4 The number of French artists included in the Beaux-Arts Exhibition alone seems testament to an undisguised chauvinism: 1,072 out of 2,175 total (Rapport 466). But other decisions about the conception of the Exhibition also had an impact on how it was reviewed. As Patricia Mainardi observes, the decision to make the Beaux-Arts Exhibition into a retrospective, with special exhibitions for artists like Ingres and Delacroix who represented distinct directions in French art, was far-reaching in its implications, for, unlike previous regimes, that of the Second Empire no longer wished to set the direction of art, but was content merely to ratify existing popular choices (47). The Eclecticism of Victor Cousin, both as an overarching philosophy of art and the distinctive feature of French art, was adopted as the officially sanctioned approach to the Beaux-Arts Exhibition. Hence, as Thophile Gautier argued in Le Moniteur Universel, the official government newspaper, French art as eclectic is universal and thus superior to the art of other nations (Mainardi 6970). The notion of the retrospective, of course, involved reading art historically, and here again, in Mainardis analysis, Cousins philosophy was broadly influential. Cousin associates a single idea with a national or ethnic people in his understanding of historical trends; Gautier established this as the framework for evaluating the different national styles, proposing England as the representative of Individuality, Belgium of Facility (savoir-faire), Germany of Intellectualism and France of Eclecticism. Other critics followed suit (Mainardi 70). For instance, Edmond and Jules de Goncourt, in a concluding overview of the Exhibition, declare: Embrassons de lil le gnie national des races, et, pleurant la tristesse de tant de dcadences, pesons luvre de paix des peuples,5 sounding the chords of both ethnic nationalism and peaceful productivity (181). France is le Portique o se disputent les systmes, latelier o les procds slaborent; elle est la

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grande nation de lart,6 a claim of Frances role and genius as arbiter of theories (189). Of course, the arrangement of the arts exhibition according to country with a like ordering in the livret or catalogue to the Exhibition powerfully encouraged a sense that national character was dominant in arts expressiveness. With special exhibition space assigned to Frances most renowned painters and the overall retrospective framework, a dominant question in much of the coverage of the Beaux-Arts Exhibition was the state of contemporary French art in light of its history during the past half century, and its competing schools. Even Maxime du Camp, leftist critic and a prolific travel-writerin 1855 already author of Souvenirs et Paysages dOrient (Smyrne, Ephse, Magnsie, Constantinople, Scio) (1848), gypte, Nubie, Palestine, Syrie (1852), and Le Nil (gypte et Nubie) (1854)confines his overview of painting in the introduction to Les Beaux-Arts lExposition universelle de 1855 to French art with the exception of a British artist, John Sell Cotman. This focus on French art, however, does not preclude a critical perspective. Du Camp sees Cotman as a model for French landscape painters since he is essentiellement moderne et vivant in Du Camps words (16). For Du Camp, the exhibition is an occasion to critique the direction of French art since the 1789 Revolution, to chastise its tendency to look backwards, the cause of its present mediocrity in his view (2). He explicitly ties the progress of art to moments of revolution, but berates artists for missing the opportunity to participate in the freedom of a forward-looking society. A Republican, he urges art that would celebrate the people and contemporary life; instead of the emblems, apotheoses, allegories, hunts, nymphs, and Pans that appear in the Htel de Ville, he would have preferred en dcorant la maison commune, de peindre les hauts faits de ce peuple de Paris qui a dj accompli de si grandes choses, sans compter celles quil accomplira encore. Paris, ce cur et ce cerveau de la France et du monde entier, mritait mieux que ces inutilits dont on a rempli son propre palais7 (27). In other words, French painting is not living up to the promise of the French people. Indeed, in his critique of history painting in France, he calls for more attention to the people who are la nation, qui a sans cesse sauv la patrie que les chefs sobstinent souvent perdre8 as opposed to kings and other powerful figures (410). As he mentions the conquest of Algeria among those vnements hroques accomplis par cette glorieuse lgion quon appelle la France,9 events ripe for celebration by French painters, he is hardly a critic of imperialism; his sympathy here is with the French people, not colonized subalterns (411). Thus this much traveled critic brings a fully francophile lens to the first international exhibition of painting and laces his coverage with encomiums to the French nation. The one critic covering this international exhibition who took cosmopolitanism seriously was Baudelaire. Baudelaire had long questioned both nationalism and the dominant aesthetic systems of his time. Although the Exposition universelle of 1855 offered the occasion for his articulation of the figure of the cosmopolitan critic and provided vivid evidence of the relativity of beauty, his embrace of the cosmopolitan dates back, at least, to Le Salon de 1846. A young critic, at the time only 25, he would rally French youth against the militarist nationalism of the work of Horace Vernet, which he deems eminently French. He critiques Vernets paintings on the grounds of both aesthetics, or style, and subject matter in the strongest terms: Je hais cet homme


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parce que ses tableaux ne sont point de la peinture, mais une masturbation agile et frquente, une irritation de lpiderme franais.10 He accounts for Vernets popularity in that il vous raconte votre gloire, et cest la grande affaire.Eh! quimporte au voyageur enthousiaste, lesprit cosmopolite qui prfre le beau la gloire? (470)11 Here his invocation of the cosmopolitan is tied to his abhorrence of unthinking nationalism. In 1855 Baudelaire acknowledges what is essentially the program of the Exposition universellethe comparison of nations and their products, while interrogating the idea of the universal: Il est peu doccupations aussi intressantes, aussi attachantes, aussi pleines de surprises et de rvlations pour un critique, pour un rveur dont lesprit est tourn la gnralisation aussi bien qu ltude des dtails, et, pour mieux dire encore, lide dordre et de hirarchie universelle, que la comparaison des nations et de leurs produits respectifs (575).12 References to the universal, of course, were part and parcel of the process of definition of this spectacle, the Universal Exhibition.13 In his report to the Emperor Napoleon III, Prince Napoleon, who oversaw the planning and execution of the entire exhibition, takes universal quite simply to refer to the gathering of peoples and their products from around the globe (133). Gautier, as mentioned earlier, employs universal to suggest a single aesthetic standard and the theory of eclecticism based in the art of France. In contrast, Baudelaire defines the universal as a culturally relative aesthetic, and pointedly rejects claims of national supremacy:
Quand je dis hirarchie, je ne veux pas affirmer la suprmatie de telle nation sur telle autre. Quoiquil y ait dans la nature des plantes plus ou moins saintes, des formes plus ou moins spirituelles, des animaux plus ou moins sacrs, et quil soit lgitime de conclure, daprs les instigations de limmense analogie universelle, que certaines nationsvastes animaux dont lorganisme est adquat leur milieu,aient t prpares et duques par la Providence pour un but dtermin, but plus ou moins lev, plus ou moins rapproch du ciel,je ne veux pas faire ici autre chose quaffirmer leur gale utilit aux yeux de CELUI qui est indfinissable, et le miraculeux secours quelles se prtent dans lharmonie de lunivers. (575)14

From this broad vision of natural harmony, he goes on to express the stimulation that he has felt as a spectator, using words like surprises and revelations. He characterizes himself as a critic who is a rveur, one prone to dream of a universal order and harmony, which would seem to prepare the way for a grand utopian scheme, but later in the essay, he utterly disavows any such aim, citing his own failures at creating enduring systems in the past and the inevitability of some surprise or unexpected disruption to the system: Et toujours un produit spontan, inattendu, de la vitalit universelle venait donner un dmenti ma science enfantine et vieillotte, fille dplorable de lutopie. Javais beau dplacer ou tendre le critrium, il tait toujours en retard sur lhomme universel, et courait sans cesse aprs le beau multiforme et versicolore, qui se meut dans les spirales infinies de la vie (577-78).15 Thus he will not stipulate the hierarchy of this universal order, deferring before the all-seeing eye who judges all equally useful, no matter what their place in the order; two pages later it is a vitalit that is universal, and lhomme universel is part of an everchanging beauty of many forms

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and colors, linked to the infinite spirals of life. As Claude Pichois notes, analogie universelle is a Fourierist term, but in 1855, Baudelaire adheres to no utopian or mystical system (1386, n 3). In the context of the opening paragraph of his essay on the occasion of the Exposition universelle, he clearly is employing this language to dislodge universal from the more obvious, state-sanctioned meaning of the world-wide reach of an exhibition that shows off the ability of the French to dominate in art and goods on a world stage. Not only will Baudelaire not construct his own system of universal beauty, but he attacks current aesthetic systems, especially latent neoclassicism, for blindness to the true universal. Baudelaires foil to his cosmopolitan critic is the contemporary neoclassicist and the inadequacy of the aesthetic of absolute beauty to account for the beauties on display:16
[Q]ue ferait, que dirait un Winckelmann moderne (nous en sommes pleins, la nation en regorge, les paresseux en raffolent), que dirait-il en face dun produit chinois, produit trange, bizarre, contourn dans sa forme, intense par sa couleur, et quelquefois dlicat jusqu lvanouissement? Cependant cest un chantillon de la beaut universelle; mais il faut, pour quil soit compris, que le critique, le spectateur opre en lui-mme une transformation qui tient du mystre, et que, par un phnomne de la volont agissant sur limagination, il apprenne de lui-mme participer au milieu qui a donn naissance cette floraison insolite. Peu dhommes ont,au complet,cette grce divine du cosmopolitisme; mais tous peuvent lacqurir des degrs divers. Les mieux dous cet gard sont ces voyageurs solitaires qui ont vcu pendant des annes au fond des bois, au milieu des vertigineuses prairies, sans autre compagnon que leur fusil, contemplant, dissquant, crivant. Aucun voile scolaire, aucun paradoxe universitaire, aucune utopie pdagogique, ne se sont interposs entre eux et la complexe vrit. Ils savent ladmirable, limmortel, linvitable rapport entre la forme et la fonction. Ils ne critiquent pas, ceux-l: ils contemplent, ils tudient. (576)17

It is significant to the form of relationship between the spectator and object that Baudelaire describes his ideal cosmopolite not as an urbane dandy, but rather as a solitary wanderer in the wilderness. This quality underscores an openness to the object of contemplation and a lack of the self-regard, the expectation of being the object of others glances, associated with the dandy. These characteristics set the stage for the transformation of subjectivity enacted through such contemplation and study. The object that Baudelaire chooses as an example is also significant since, of the thirty art critics who covered the Exposition universelle, only Baudelaire and Gautier discussed the Chinese art. Gautier denigrates the Chinese aesthetic as ideal ugliness in contrast with Greek ideal beauty, making Baudelaire the only critic to discern beauty in the Chinese works.18 For Baudelaire, the Chinese object as a specimen of universal beauty demonstrates that such beauty is not uniform, but multiform (123). For Baudelaire the truly cosmopolitan critic would see freshlycontemplate, studyand avoid judging works according to pre-existing academic systems that blind the critic to their complex truth, including the functionality of the objects form. In other words, in a move away from a doctrine of formal autonomy, Baudelaire represents the relationship between form and function as part of the objects aesthetic impact, a perception of the embeddedness of the object within its


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original cultural context and the contribution of that embedding to the objects beauty. Gautiers more extensive treatment of the Chinese works offers an instructive contrast. When Gautiers article first appeared in LArtiste, in the October 7, 1855 issue, it was entitled LArt chinois (Chinese Art); when it was reprinted in Gautiers 1857 collection of his reviews of the Exposition universelle of 1855, Les Beaux-Arts en Europe (The Fine Arts in Europe), published by Michel Lvy, Frres, the title had been changed to Collection chinoise (The Chinese Collection). This minor change of title may well be significant for Gautiers tone is derisive when he speaks of Chinese art while he greatly admires Chinese objectsthe porcelain, furniture, and other luxury goods that are ordinarily found on the industrial side of the exposition. He begins his article with the usual tired stereotypes of the Chinese as an ancient, but immobile people: Ils ont tout invent et nont rien perfectionn; ils connaissaient la boussole, la poudre, limprimerie, le gaz, bien avant que le reste du monde se doutt de ces prcieuses dcouvertes (130).19 Such a remark owes something to the general temper of exhibition coverage, since the exhibition is meant to measure and compare progress and so the relevance of technology and inventions that were not exploited, symptoms, perhaps, of the immobility that he deems a national trait. In describing the Chinese genius, Gautier employs some of the same vocabulary as Baudelaire, but the inflection is entirely different:
Ils ont un gnie bizarre, maniaque et patient, qui ne ressemble au gnie daucun peuple, et qui, au lieu de spanouir comme une fleur, se tortille comme une racine de mandragore. Nuls pour la beaut srieuse, ils excellent dans la curiosit; sils nont rien envoyer aux muses, en revanche ils peuvent remplir toutes les boutiques de bric--brac de crations baroques et difformes, du caprice le plus rare. Vous avez sans doute vu ce nain de la rivire des Perles quon avait enferm dans une potiche pour quil sy rabougrit dune faon curieuse; cest limage la plus juste du gnie chinois. (131)20

Thus for Gautier the bizarre implies deformity, stunted growth, and the production of shop goods, not art. He contrasts their aesthetic vision directly with that of classical Greece: Les autres nations, commencer par les Grecs, qui lont atteint, cherchent le beau idal; les Chinois cherchent le laid idal; ils pensent que lart doit sloigner autant que possible de la nature, inutile selon eux reprsenter, puisque loriginal et la copie feraient double emploi (1312).21 Gautiers move here is revealing: ideal beauty is ultimately representational, legitimized by the doctrine of mimesis, and thus a more natural flowering, while the Chinese pursue an anti-mimetic aesthetic, symptomatic of a deformed genius that produces curiosities. He assumes here a close relationship between nature and beauty, and that this relationship is universally recognized. For him Chinese art and artifacts reflect a particular genius, consistent with his association of a single idea with a specific nation or people. But he does not suggest that the Chinese view nature differently from the West. Rather their genius subverts or distorts the relationship between art and nature and thus produces deformed and stunted products. He mocks Chinese painting both in terms of compositionfaire tenir dans le mme cadre des objets que la perspective spareand use of color Une tigre bleu-de-ciel, un lion vert-pomme, sont bien plus curieux que sils taient

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tout btement colories de leurs nuances naturelles (132). He concludes: le laid est infini et ses combinaisons monstrueuses offrent la fantaisie des champs illimits (132).22 Of course, in hindsight, we discern here the features of modernist painting that emerge later in the century, influenced by the art of Japan and other exotic cultures: the non-naturalistic, arbitrary use of color, the telescoping of objects within the picture plane, and the crucial anti-representational turn. His tone changes when he describes Chinese luxury goods, la partie vraiment srieuse de la collection compose des objets les plus rares et les plus prcieux en maux, bronzes, porcelaines, laques, cabinets et meubles de toutes sortes (136).23 The materials, the work, and the provenanceimperial palacesall add value to these objects. He explicitly contrasts Chinese anti-mimetic painting with the art of ornament where whimsy is to be applauded: dans larabesque pure, dans lornement capricieuse du bronze, de la porcelaine, du bois, de la laque et des pierres dures, les Chinois sont des maitres inimitables, et lon ne peut quadmirer les mille produits de leur imagination inpuisablement fertile (137).24 His use of the word arabesque is telling for he adopts Orientalist lenses fashioned by Western perspectives on the Islamic world to stimulate interest in these objects and the world he suggests they intimate. For example, the beauty of Chinese characters and their use in ornamentation reminds him of the Alhambra (133), and he imagines apartments for Chinese women aussi ferms aux Europens que les harems des pachas dAsie (134).25 Indeed, the general idea of mystery, of a hidden world, and of this exposition as the exposure of what is normally veiled or forbidden to Western eyes is a leitmotif throughout the review, which begins with the visitor passing by the faux-Chinese guard, deux bronzes de Jules Cordier, un mandarin et son pouse, purs types de lempire du Milieu qui grimacent avec un srieux jovial sur leurs pidouches (130)26 and ends, not surprisingly, with the assertion that this merveilleuse collection vous fait franchir pour quelques instants la muraille de la Chine (142).27 In contrast with Gautiers presentation of this exhibit as a sneak peek into the world of imperial China, Baudelaire theorizes that for any understanding of the object, itself a specimen of universal beauty, a more profound change in the spectator is required: a transformation dependent on the imaginationthat is, the imagining of the locale that produced this art or artifact. Thus Baudelaire invokes a cosmopolitanism rooted in a local (foreign) imaginary. Further, the Chinese object is a product of a strange efflorescence, tropes which suggest a natural process. But, in contrast with Gautiers mimetic ideal, Baudelaires view of the relationship between art and nature emphasizes analogous harmonic systems rather than representation, and thus redefines the aesthetic worth of these productions within a different ontology, a different sense of the interconnection between art and nature, and of natural processes tout court. Understanding Chinese art is just one window into understanding universal beauty which, he implies, is not fully knowable because of its infinite potential configurations or correspondences among sensorial instantiations. Thus Baudelaire posits in the object the capacity to elicit its own original environment under the gaze of the receptive and imaginative spectator. The Chinese product is also the occasion and inspiration for Baudelaires new aesthetic: The beau est


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toujours bizarre28 (578). This bizarrerie itself is dpendante des milieux, des climats, des murs, de la race, de la religion et du temprament de lartiste (5789);29 thus the bizarre is not simply the exotic, in other words, the effect of foreignness, but depends on it own cultural context for its effect. That is, as there are many diverse beauties, so there are many bizarreries, and they are bizarre through their relationship with their own context. It is a cosmopolitanism that would be firmly non-eurocentric, by recognizing that the bizarre itself is locally meaningful, not the effect of distance from the dominant home culture. Critical Cosmopolitanisms In Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers, Kwame Anthony Appiah uses Sir Richard Francis Burton as an example of one who had extensive and intimate experience of other cultures, yet held many of the standard Victorian views on racial hierarchies. Appiah comments: Burton is a standing refutation, then, to those who imagine that prejudice derives only from ignorance, that intimacy must breed amity. You can be genuinely engaged with the ways of other societies without approving, let alone adopting, them. (8) In other words, mere exposure to other cultures does not necessarily dispel prejudice, and we may take Gautiers coverage of the Chinese collection as a case in point. Baudelaire himself calls Gautier cosmopolitan elsewhere: [S]on esprit est un miroir cosmopolite de beaut (Thophile Gautier [I], 108).30 But, in light of his remarks on the Chinese art, we may judge this as a cosmopolitanism so steeped in the dominant racial and national prejudices of his day that he is unable to grasp a non-European aesthetic or discern beauty outside a narrow Western paradigm. In contrast, Baudelaire does not only react positively to art that departs from Western representational norms, but would elaborate a theory of culturally relative beauty, partly in reaction to the constraints of such norms, but also to limn what excites him about such art. Baudelaires openness to new aesthetics is a harbinger of later radical changes in Western art, influenced by Asian (Impressionism) and African (Cubism) aesthetics. But, does the ideal sketched by Baudelaire, that of a cosmopolitan critic, live up to the program of critical cosmopolitanism that has emerged in recent years? That is, does this ideal work as an intervention against nationalism, provincialism, and xenophobia in the nineteenth century? Walter Mignolo offers a particularly robust version of critical cosmopolitanism grounded in a broad historical perspective. Coloniality is central to his analysis, for he sees an image of the West consolidated as a result of the colonization of the Americas and later of Asia and Africa; it is a geopolitical image that exhibits chronological movement. He sketches three macronarratives that emerge from this image: the origin of the West in Greece with a movement northward over time; the origin of the Western modernity in the Renaissance, spread through capitalism and the Atlantic commercial circuit; and the origin of Western modernity in Northern Europe in the Enlightenment and the French Revolution (722). The cosmopolitanism associated with these narratives falls into two categories in Mignolos scheme: managerial

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cosmopolitanism by which he means global designs, for instance, Christianity, nineteenth-century imperialism, and contemporary neoliberal globalization, and emancipatory cosmopolitanism with Francisco de Vitorias writings on the rights of the people in the sixteenth century, and Kants and Marxs writings on cosmopolitanism as examples (7223; 72830). The second category arises in reaction to the first as complement or dissent. Even as critique or dissent, however, such emancipatory cosmopolitan projects are framed within the ideology of the dominant global designs. Thus they do not function fully as a critical cosmopolitanism in Mignolos view; he locates critical cosmopolitanism within coloniality, but from the exterior of modernity, that is, from the perspective of the subaltern. Although Mignolo is less interested in the first narrative in his analysis, descent from the Greeks, this macro-narrative is a prominent one at the time of the Exposition universelle. The persistence of a neoclassical aesthetic or reliance on Greek models of beauty, apparent both in a negative form in Baudelaires attack on these latter-day Winckelmanns and in the positive form of Gautiers critique of Chinese art against a classical ideal, implies a continued reliance on classical art as universal standard. At stake, of course, is the nature of a universal sensibility to beauty. Delcluzes location of the idea of festivities promoting international harmony in the ancient Greek games likewise relies on this historical trajectory, although his ethnographic inflectionthe Greeks as a group of warring tribeswould seem to undercut the notion of a single timeless aesthetic discovered and shared by the Greeks. Certainly Mignolos other macronarratives are extant in nineteenth-century colonialism and imperialism celebrated in the exhibition space devoted to Frances colonies, for instance, at the Exposition universelle, and in the rhetoric of equality and the rights of man, now bound up ironically with political imperialism as the Napoleonic tradition of spreading rights (albeit through conquest) is a legacy that Napoleon the Third would embrace rhetorically, if not in fact. In the aesthetic realm, as noted earlier, political exigencies influenced the conception of and layout of the Beaux-Arts Exhibition and awareness of official political ideologies, like Eclecticism, an approach with egalitarian pretentions, influenced its coverage and thus judgments of taste. Baudelaires own difficulties with publication are an example of the politicized atmosphere of criticism and the consequences to those who step outside the bounds of the politically acceptable. Indeed, Le Pays which published Baudelaires first and third review of the Beaux-Arts exhibition rejected the second on Ingres because of his acerbic critique of The Apotheosis of Napoleon I and his philosophy of art (Mainardi 77; Pichois 1366). Baudelaire did publish the article in a little review, Le Portefeuille, but was not hired by any other journal as a regular critic. As Mainardi remarks, in a year in which virtually every art critic in Paris managed to sign onto a journal for a lucrative six-month stint of weekly review of the Exposition, Baudelaire, the most brilliant critic of the period, found himself excluded and unemployable. No wonder, then, that others were more discreet (77). Baudelaires targets included not only poor works by the most revered artist of the day,31 but in the first essay, the blindness of academic criticism, including that informed by contemporary aesthetic philosophy (ces modernes professeurs-jurs


M. Murphy

desthtique 577), nationalist hubris, and the ideology of progress and its serial version of history. Concerning this latter theme, he asserts the dire epistemological effects of the idea of progress: Ce fanal obscur, invention du philosophisme actuel, brevet sans garantie de la Nature ou de tous les objets de la connaissance; la libert svanouit, le chtiment disparait (580).32 In other words, the assumption that the West is more advanced because of technological innovation, the results of industrialization, is widely accepted, but false, and leads to complacency in everyman who is assured of his superiority and ignorant of the consequences of his complicity in this civilization. For Baudelaire, the art exhibition, with contemporary art from Italy, Spain, and Germany that does not measure up to past works from those countries, is evidence of the fallacies of the ideology of progress. Such remarks underscore the need for a nonwestern perspective, even though it may be mediated through the aesthetic. It is not only the tired formulas of academic taste that he rejects, but the very epistemology underlying European notions of civilization. In Mignolos account, Baudelaires ideal of the cosmopolitan critic would not satisfy the requirements of a critical cosmopolitanism because the critic does not inhabit a position of exteriority, the position of the colonized. This argument, however, serves to essentialize identity. Baudelaires cosmopolitan critic would change identity.33 Baudelaire imagines the experience of the intelligent and alert traveler as one in which the other culture slowly penetrates until quelques milliers dides et de sensations enrichiront son dictionnaire de mortel, et mme il est possible que, dpassant la mesure et transformant la justice en rvolte, il fasse comme le Sicambre converti, quil brule ce quil avait ador, et quil adore ce quil avait brul (577).34 In other words, Baudelaire limns the utter transformation into the sensibility of the other such that the travelers original culture becomes anathema to him. While most accounts of cosmopolitanism would not require such a complete transformation of sensibility, the starkness of his rejection of the home culture is clear evidence of a strong critique of national or provincial sensibilities and the epistemic orders to which they are attached. The power of critique from within the dominant culture, of course, is the intimacy with which the critic knows the hegemonic culture, the inside knowledge. Indeed, one might return to Andersons argument for a detached cosmopolitanism as integral to critique, and so the cosmopolitan is by definition detached to some degree from the home culture, whether that of the imperial nation or the colonized, to consider Mignolos ideal. I would not want to argue the advantage of one position over another, but simply that critical cosmopolitanism is possible both within and at the borders of the dominant culture.35 One might ask whether the aesthetic is the place to begin to form such a cosmopolitan sensibility, and Baudelaire does make it clear that it is the exceptional individual who is able to experience the other culture in this way, through observation of the cultural artifact, and thus not every visitor to the Exposition universelle would have this experience. But he does value a direct, unmediated reception of the strange or unknown, and so implies that such an experience is open to anyone willing to be open to it. Transforming cultural sensibilities may well be a necessary step in building an

Nineteenth-Century Contexts 43

ethical cosmopolitanism that avoids imposing the cultural norms of the dominant home culture. In 1857, Gautier himself perceived a cosmopolitan effect on art as a result of the Exposition universelle:
The Universal Exposition of 1855 has provided us some elements of diversity. The nationalities of art have been introduced and, after the first astonishment, have quietly studied each other. Everyone has tried to adopt the style of his neighbor and we will recognize in more than one eminent work some traces of foreign influence. These cosmopolitan mixtures have produced some combinations and results difficult to classify in the ancient categories. (qtd by Mainardi 118)

This version of a cosmopolitan influence is certainly weak in comparison with the transformation of subjectivity desired by Baudelaire, although the unsettling of categories clearly fits within his program. We do know, however, that the impact of the Beaux-Arts exhibition was weak in another way: it was much less popular than the Palais de lIndustrie. Prince Napolons report records 4,180,117 visitors to the Exposition de lIndustrie, 935,601 to the Exposition des Beaux-Arts, and 46,612 to the Muse chinois (483). In the end, it was the products of different countries that proved most fascinating to the public. Whether such observation led to a greater understanding of other cultures or to a truly cosmopolitan sensibility is yet another topic. Notes






[1] Let us add that Paris is the abode of a large colony of foreigners called there by business, pleasure, study, etc., that through its collections, museums, libraries, it lends itself more than any other capital to synthetic studies of industry, the sciences and the arts; that through the urbanity of its manners, through its hospitality towards foreigners, our capital truly has a cosmopolitan character. (my translation) [2] We see, reversing the old maxim: If you want peace, prepare for war, an entirely modern spirit, in time of war peace prepared. [3] These games, since their origin, were intended to render the inhabitants of the various parts of Greece fit for combat to defend their country. But, to this purpose, already so noble, was joined one of highest moral import. The founders of these games wanted all the tribes that together made up Greece to take part in these solemnities; and in effect the idea of these festivals, strongly imprinted on the spirit of the Greeks through religious traditions and through custom, was thereby retained for many centuries. Now the moral aim of these periodic assemblies, whether at Olympia or at Corinth, was to soften the manners of the various Hellenic tribes, so inclined to wage all-out war, by leading them little by little to visit one another, to participate in the same festivals, and finally to give up the fierce hatreds that divided them. Such was the first attempt to prepare men to accept the benefits of a more humane and peaceful civilization. [4] This claim of the superiority of French taste and art and its evidence in manufactured goods, especially luxury items, is already widespread in the coverage of the earlier industrial expositions of the July Monarchy (Murphy). [5] Let us take in visually the national genius of races, and, lamenting the dreariness of so much in decline, let us weigh the work of the peace of peoples. [6] the Portico where systems are debated, the studio where methods are worked out; she is the great nation of art.


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[7] in decorating the town hall [literally the common house], to paint the lofty deeds of this Parisian people who have already accomplished such great things, without counting those that it will yet accomplish. Paris, this heart and brain of France and of the entire world, deserves more than these useless things that fill its own palace. [8] the people who are the nation that has ceaselessly saved the fatherland that the leaders often persist in losing. [9] heroic events achieved by this glorious legion called France. [10] I hate this man because his pictures have nothing whatever to do with painting (I would prefer to call them a kind of brisk and frequent masturbation in paint, a kind of itching on the French skin) (Mayne 94). All translations of Baudelaires The Salon of 1846 and The Exposition universelle of 1855 are by Jonathan Mayne unless otherwise noted. All other translations are my own. [11] he is the chronicler of your National glory, and that is the great thing. But what, I ask you, can that matter to the enthusiastic traveler, to the cosmopolitan spirit who prefers beauty to glory? (Mayne 94). [12] There can be few occupations so interesting, so attractive, so full of surprises and revelations for a critic, a dreamer whose mind is given to generalization as well as to the study of details or, to put it even better, to the idea of an universal order and hierarchyas a comparison of the nations and their respective products (Mayne 121). [13] Baudelaire published three essays on the Exposition universelle, later collected in Curiosits esthtiques. The first and third appeared in Le Pays of May 26 and June 3, 1855; the second, critical of the art of Ingres, was rejected by Le Pays and appeared instead in Le Portefeuille of August 12, 1855 (Claude Pichois, notes, 1366). [14] When I say hierarchy, I have no wish to assert the supremacy of any one nation over another. Although Nature contains certain plants which are more or less holy, certain forms more or less spiritual, certain animals more or less sacred; and although, following the promptings of the immense universal analogy, it is legitimate for us to conclude that certain nations (vast animals, whose organisms are adequate to their surroundings) have been prepared and educated by Providence for a determined goala goal more or less lofty, more or less near to Heaven;nevertheless all I wish to do here is to assert their equal utility in the eyes of Him who is indefinable, and the miraculous way in which they come to one anothers aid in the harmony of the universe (Mayne 121). [15] But always some spontaneous, unexpected product of universal vitality would come to give the lie to my childish and superannuated wisdomthat lamentable child of Utopia! (Mayne 123). [16] This section contrasting Gautiers review of the Chinese exhibit with Baudelaires has appeared previously in The Critic as Cosmopolite: Baudelaires International Sensibility and the Transformation of Viewer Subjectivity, in Art and Life in Aestheticism: De-Humanizing and Re-Humanizing Art, the Artist, and the Artistic Receptor, edited by Kelly Comfort (Basingstoke, UK and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008) 2541; see 2730. [17] Let him [the reader] imagine a modern Winckelmann (we are full of them; the nation overflows with them; they are the idols of the lazy). What would he say, if faced with a product of Chinasomething weird, strange, distorted in form, intense in color and sometimes delicate to the point of evanescence? And yet such a thing is a specimen of universal beauty; but in order for it to be understood, it is necessary for the critic, for the spectator, to work a transformation in himself which partakes of the nature of a mysteryit is necessary for him, by means of a phenomenon of the will acting upon the imagination, to learn of himself to participate in the surroundings which have given birth to this singular flowering. Few men have the divine grace of cosmopolitanism in its entirety; but all can acquire it in different degrees. The best endowed in this respect are those solitary wanderers who have lived for years in the heart of forests, in the midst of illimitable prairies, with no other companion but their gun contemplating, dissecting, writing. No scholastic veil, no university paradox, no academic
8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17.

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utopia has intervened between them and the complex truth. They know the admirable, eternal and inevitable relationship between form and function. Such people do not criticize; they contemplate, they study (Mayne 12122). The Chinese museum in the Palais des Beaux-Arts consisted of a collection brought back by Montigni, former consul at Shanghai and Ning-Po, according to Pichois who cites an article by Yoshio Ab in Le Monde, 28 November 1968 (notes, 2, 1368). They have invented everything and perfected nothing; they understood the compass, gunpowder, printing, gas, long before the rest of the world had any idea of these precious discoveries. They have a bizarre, eccentric and patient genius, unlike that of any other people, and which instead of opening like a flower, writhes like a mandrake root. Lacking interest in serious beauty, they excel in curiosities; if they have nothing to send to museums, they can, on the other hand, fill all the bric-a-brac shops with baroque and deformed creations, of the most whimsical sort. You have no doubt seen this dwarf of the River of Pearls enclosed in a porcelain vase so that his growth is curiously stunted; this is the most apt image of the Chinese genius. Other nations, beginning with the Greeks, who attained it, seek ideal beauty; the Chinese seek ideal ugliness; they think that art should be as distant as possible from nature, that it is useless to represent, since the original and the copy do the same thing. to put in the same frame objects that perspective separates and use of colorA sky-blue tiger, an apple-green lion, are much more singular than if they were simply painted in their natural hues. He concludes: the ugly is infinite and its monstrous combinations offer to the fancy unlimited possibilities. the truly serious part of the collection composed of the most rare and precious objects in enamel, bronze, porcelain, lacquer, of cabinets, and furniture of all sorts. for pure arabesque, for whimsical ornamentation in bronze, porcelain, wood, lacquer and hard stones, the Chinese are inimitable masters, and one can only admire the thousand products of their inexhaustibly fertile imagination. as closed to Europeans as the harems of the pashas of Asia. two bronzes by Jules Cordier, a mandarin and his wife, perfect types of the Middle Empire that grimace with a jovial gravity on their pedestals. wonderful collection takes you across the Great Wall of China for a few moments. The beautiful is always bizarre (my translation). depend[ent] upon the environment, the climate, the manners, the race, the religion and the temperament of the artist (Mayne 124). [H]is wit is a cosmopolitan mirror of beauty (my translation). The point that Baudelaire goes on to make is that Gautiers witty mirror reflects the Middle Ages and the Renaissance as well as ancient Greece, and so his sensibility is at once classical and romantic. In the Awards Ceremony of the Exposition, Ingres was named Grand Officier of the Lgion dhonneur, an honor which effectively recognized him as the greatest living artist (Mainardi 1123). This modern lantern throws a stream of darkness upon all the objects of knowledge; liberty melts away, discipline vanishes (Mayne 126). This idea of the chameleon nature of the cosmopolitan reappears in Le Peintre de la vie moderne; Baudelaire describes Constantin Guys as par nature, trs voyageur et trs cosmopolite (689) (naturally, very much a traveller and very cosmopolitan), and a kalidoscope dou de conscience, qui, chacun de ses mouvements, reprsente la vie multiple et la grce mouvante de tous les lments de la vie un moi insatiable de non-moi, qui, chaque instant, le rend et lexprime en images plus vivantes que la vie elle-mme, toujours instable et fugitive (692) (kaleidoscope endowed with consciousness, who, in each of his movements, represents the multiple life and the moving grace of all the elements of life a self insatiable of the non-self, who, at every instant renders it and expresses it in images more alive than life itself, always unstable and fugitive.)








[25] [26]
25. 26.

[27] [28] [29]

27. 28. 29.






M. Murphy

[34] several thousands of ideas and sensations will enrich his earthly dictionary, and it is even possible that, going a step too far and transforming justice into revolt, he will do like the converted Sicambrian and burn what he had formerly adoredand adore what he had formerly burnt (Mayne 123). [35] Mignolo speaks of border thinking, critical and dialogic, from the perspective of those local histories that had to deal all along with global designs (744).

Works Cited
Anderson, Amanda. The Powers of Distance: Cosmopolitanism and the Cultivation of Detachment. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2001. Appiah, Kwame Anthony. Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. New York: Norton, 2006. Baudelaire, Charles. uvres Compltes. Ed. Claude Pichois. Vol 2. Paris: Pliade-Gallimard, 1975. . Art in Paris 18451862: Salons and Other Exhibitions Reviewed by Charles Baudelaire. Trans. Jonathan Mayne. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UPPhaidon, 1965. Bonaparte, Prince Napolon. Rapport sur lExposition universelle de 1855 prsent lEmpereur par S.A.I. le prince Napolon. Paris: Imprimerie impriale, 1857. Calhoun, Craig. The Class Consciousness of Frequent Travelers: Toward a Critique of Actually Existing Cosmopolitanism. South Atlantic Quarterly 101.4 (2002): 869897. Delcluze, Etienne J. Les Beaux-Arts dans les deux mondes en 1855. Paris: Charpentier, 1856. Du Camp, Maxime. Les Beaux-Arts lExposition universelle de 1855. Paris: Librairie nouvelle, 1855. Gautier, Thophile. Les Beaux-Arts en Europe. Paris: Michel Lvy Frres, 1857. Goncourt, Edmond and Jules de. tudes dArt: Le Salon de 1852La Peinture lExposition de 1855. Paris: Librairie des Bibliophiles, 1893. Mainardi, Patricia. Art and Politics of the Second Empire: The Universal Expositions of 1855 and 1867. New Haven and London: Yale UP, 1987. Mignolo, Walter D. The Many Faces of Cosmo-polis: Border Thinking and Critical Cosmopolitanism. Public Culture 12.3 (2000): 721748. Murphy, Margueritte. Commodity Aesthetics: The Industrial Exhibitions of Paris, 18341844, Reviewed. Forthcoming in Journal of European Studies. Le Travail universel. Revue complte des uvres de lart et de lindustrie, exposes Paris en 1855. Paris: Au Bureau de la Patrie, 1856. Walkowitz, Rebecca L. Cosmopolitan Style: Modernism beyond the Nation. New York: Columbia UP, 2006.

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