Sunday, 7 October 2012

Acting the King: Power and Illusion of the Baroque

Louis XIV as Apollo, Grotto at Versailles. Photo source: Web Gallery of Art
Louis XIV turned the ceremonial rituals of kingship into ballet, every gesture studied to be as graceful and as pregnant with meaning as possible; even his bodily functions had to be treated as if they were an entertaining performance, but nobody laughed. Individuals like Louis XIV and Elizabeth were skilled performance artists able to bring off the parts of pseudo-deities they created and costumed and choreographed to hedge themselves with divinity, which worked its charm only for as long as the supporting cast was persuaded it had a vested interest in suspending disbelief.