HomeArt and friendship in the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe

HomeArt and friendship in the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe

Art and friendship in the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe

Art et amitié aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles en Europe

*  *  *

Published on Friday, December 17, 2021


À la suite de la pandémie qui nous a chacun isolés, des revues telles que le Courrier international et Philosophie magazine consacraient leur numéro de cet été à l’amitié. Nous souhaitons, à travers cette journée d’étude, interroger cette notion d’actualité au prisme d’une histoire sociale et culturelle de l’art. Comment les artistes des XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles vivaient-ils et concevaient-ils l’amitié ?


Date and place

14th of June 2022, Salle Vasari, National Institute of Art History (INHA), 6 rue des Petits Champs, 75002 Paris.


Following the pandemic which isolated all of us, magazines such as Courrier international and Philosophie magazine have dedicated their publication to friendship. This workshop intends on discussing this topical notion through the prism of cultural and social history in art. How did 17th– and 18th-century artists live and conceive friendship?

In her recent publication L’Amitié en France aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles : Histoire d’un sentiment[1],  Aurélie Prévost reminds us that the term friendship for Modernists entails a large polysemy. It can refer to a feeling of benevolence, erotic love, harmony, or even a filial, marital, charitable, or religious affection. Furetière in his Dictionnaire even applies it to meat. He states: ‘qu’une viande n’a point d’amitié, pour dire, qu’elle est dure, infipide, ou degouftante[2] [A piece of meat is said to lack friendship when it is hard, flavourless or disgusting].

Friendship is at the origin of many texts and maxims which constitute today our cultural heritage. Descartes, Kant, the Marquise de Sablé, Spinoza, Jean de La Fontaine, and the philosophers of the Enlightenment have all treated the notion of friendship in literature and philosophy. It can be passionate, like the one maintained by La Boétie and Montaigne, immortalized by the quote ‘Parce que c’était lui, parce que c’était moi [Because it was him, because it was me]’, or experienced as a betrayal like the one that tore Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and D’Alembert when they were writing the Encyclopédie.

What about the art sector? What sort of relationship, whether friendships or rivalries, did 17th– and 18th-century painters, sculptors, architects, engravers, goldsmiths, miniaturists, medalists, and weavers have? What consequences did these have on their contemporary productions? Is it possible to map out united networks of artists through the link of friendship and joint creations?

Many artists made friendship the main subject of their work. Rembrandt van Rijn[3] depicted the story of David and Jonathan from the Book of Samuel in the 17th century. Arnold Houbraken, a Dutch engraver, depicted a personification of friendship[4] at the start of the 18th century. In France, in 1753, Jean-Baptiste Pigalle produced an allegory of friendship to mark the evolution of the relationship between Louis XV and the Marquise de Pompadour and to emphasize that she remained a beloved friend of the king after having been his mistress[5]. The painter François Boucher produced l’École de l’amitié[6] in 1760. One must also question the importance of portraits of friends and the character of these friendships. These can be between a painter and his patrons such as Antoine Watteau and Jean de Julienne[7] or between artists such as Jean-Honoré Fragonard and Marguerite Gérard[8].

How to make visible the feeling of friendship in a visual art piece? Is it possible to ‘read’ the emotions uniting loved ones through the medium of painting, engraving, or sculpting? How do gazes, gestures, and attitudes express this feeling? What visual devices does the artist use to convey this feeling of sincerity, trust, and commitment?

With this in mind, this workshop intends on exploring a wide variety of themes, such as:

  • The cultural history of friendship/friendships
  • Sociability (on the individual scale)
  • Networks (on the collective scale)
  • Quarrels and rivalries, even lawsuits created by a deteriorating friendship
  • Friendships leading to artistic collaborations
  • The representation of friendship in religious iconography
  • Portraits of friends or patrons, conversation pieces, genre scenes, and allegories
  • Patterns, symbols, gestures, and positions associated with the representation of friendship
  • Objects representing friendship
  • Letters of artists
  • and the fringes of friendship: hidden or forbidden love experienced through a friendship displayed in the eyes of all.


Abstracts should be sent (up to 500 words, either in French or English, presenting a study-case or a general discussion) to the following e-mail addresses: asso.grham@gmail.com and charlotte_rousset@hotmail.com, along with a C.V

by the 31st of March 2022.

This workshop is organized by GRHAM and Charlotte Rousset (doctoral candidate at Lille University, laboratory IRHiS).

Selection committee

  • Florence Fesneau,
  • Maxime METRAUX,
  • Barbara JOUVES-Hahn,
  • Marine ROBERTON,
  • Maël TAUZIEDE-espariat,
  • Moïra DATO. Alysée Le Druillenec

Selective bibliography

Alberti, Alessia, Rovetta, Alessandro, Salsi, Claudio, D’après Michelangelo, Venise, Marsilio, 2015.

Cazes, Hélène (dir.), Topiques, Études Satoriennes – Topique de l’amitié dans les littératures françaises d’Ancien régime, Victoria, SATOR, 2015, vol. 1.

Chapman, H. Perry, Jorink, Eric, Lehmann, Ann-Sophie, Ars Amicitiae: The Art of Friendship in the Early Modern Netherlands, Boston, Brill, 2020.

Chittister, Joan, The Friendship of Women. The Hidden Tradition of the Bible, Saint-Laurent, Bellarmin, 2007.

Florensky, Pavel, L’Amitié, Paris, Éditions Mimésis, 2018.

Fripp, Jessica L., Portraiture and Friendship in Enlightenment France, Newark, University of Delaware Press, 2020.

Goedt, Michel de, L’Amitié divine à l’école de Thérèse d’Avila, Toulouse, Éditions du Carmel, 2012.

Heacock, Anthony, Jonathan loved David. Many love in the Bible and the hermeneutic of sex, Sheffield, Sheffield Phoenix press, 2011.

Hoare, Alexandra, Salvator Rosa, Friendship and the Free artist in Seventeenth-Century Italy, London, Turnhout, Harvey Miller, Brepols, 2018.

Nardelli, Jean-Fabrice, Classical and Byzantine Monographs – Le motif de la paire d’amis héroïque à prolongements homophiles. Perspectives odysséennes et proche orientales, Amsterdam, Hakkert, 2004, n° 56.

Olyan, Saul, Friendship in the Hebrew Bible, Yale, Yale University press, 2017.

Petit, Jean-François, Saint Augustin et l’amitié, Paris, Desclée de Brouwer, 2007.

Prévost, Aurélie, L’Amitié en France aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles : Histoire d’un sentiment, Louvain-La-Neuve, UCL, Presses Universitaires de Louvain, 2017.

Rievaulx, Aelred de, Briey, Gaëtane de, L’Amitié spirituelle, Paris, Les Éditions du Cerf, 2019.

Schnackenburg, Bernhard, Jan Lievens: Friend and Rival of the Young Rembrandt: With a Catalogue raisonné of his Early Leiden Work 1623-1632Petersberg, Michael Imhof Verlag, 2016. 

Vesely, Patricia, Friendship and Virtue Ethics in the Book of Job, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2019.

Williams, Hannah, Académie Royale: A History in Portraits, Farnham, Ashgate, 2015.


[1] Prévost, Aurélie, L’Amitié en France aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles : Histoire d’un sentiment, Louvain-La-Neuve, UCL, Presses Universitaires de Louvain, 2017, p. 17.

[2] Furetière, Antoine, « Amitié », Dictionnaire universel, La Haye et Rotterdam, Arnout & Reinier Leers, 1690.

[3] La Réconciliation de David et d’Absalon ou Les dieux de David et Jonathan, 1642, Huile sur bois, 73 x 61,5 cm, Saint-Pétersbourg, musée de l’Ermitage.

[4] Arnold Houbraken, Personnification de l’amitié, v. 1710-1715, gravure sur bois, 18, 2 x 9,4 cm, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum.

[5] Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, L’Amitié sous les traits de Madame de Pompadour, 1753, marbre, Paris, musée du Louvre.

[6] François Boucher, L’École de l’Amitié, 1760,  huile sur toile, 112,5 x 146 cm, collection particulière.

[7] As illustrated by the work of François de Troy representing a portrait of Jean de Julienne holding a pencil holder and a portrait of his friend Watteau (1722, huile sur toile, 92,5 x 73 cm, Valenciennes, musée des Beaux-arts).

[8] Marguerite Gérard is portrayed several times by her brother-in-law Jean-Honoré Fragonard. He represents her at least twice (Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Portrait de Marguerite Gérard, v. 1778, dessin, plume, encre et lavis, 18,2 x 12,6 cm, Besançon, musée des Beaux-arts et d’Archéologie et Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Portrait de la belle-sœur du peintre, 2ème moitié du XVIIIe siècle, pierre noire, 12,6 cm de diamètre, Paris, département des Arts graphiques du musée du Louvre).



  • 2 rue Vivienne
    Paris, France (75002)

Event attendance modalities

Full on-site event


  • Thursday, March 31, 2022

Attached files


  • amitié, artiste, atelier, peinture


  • Florence Fesneau
    courriel : florence [dot] fesneau1 [at] gmail [dot] com

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Florence Fesneau
    courriel : florence [dot] fesneau1 [at] gmail [dot] com


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Art and friendship in the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Friday, December 17, 2021, https://doi.org/10.58079/17x4

Archive this announcement

  • Google Agenda
  • iCal
Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search