Saint Geneviève, iconoclasm and the transformation of signs in revolutionary Paris

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Colleges, School and Institutes


The definition of ‘iconoclasm’ used throughout this book takes the word to mean ‘image breaking’. But in this essay it is argued that in order to understand such behaviour, it is also necessary to also explore the comparable treatment of objects that are not readily categorisable as images. This essay discusses the roles played in late eighteenth-century Parisians’ lives by the relics and reliquary of the patron saint of the capital, Sainte Geneviève, and by images associated closely with those objects. It is shown that to discuss only ‘iconoclasm’ relating to the saint would involve underplaying the important functions that images of her had in contemporaries’ lives.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStriking Images, Iconoclasms Past and Present
EditorsStacy Boldrick, Leslie Brubaker, Richard Clay
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2013