S. Hollis ClaysonChercheuse invitée

Avril - Mai 2018

S. Hollis Clayson, a historian of 19th-century art, is Professor of Art History and Bergen Evans Professor in the Humanities at Northwestern University, USA, and Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes académiques.  She studies Paris-based art practices and those of the transatlantic world. Her books include Painted Love: Prostitution in French Art of the Impressionist Era (1991), Paris in Despair: Art and Everyday Life Under Siege (1870-71) (2002), and Is Paris Still the Capital of the Nineteenth Century? Essays on Art and Modernity, 1850-1900 (2016), co-edited with André Dombrowski. Paris Illuminated: Essays on Art and Lighting in the Belle Époque is forthcoming (U of Chicago Press). In 2013-14, she was the Samuel H. Kress Professor, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, where she will be a Paul Mellon Visiting Senior Fellow in fall 2017. She was the Kirk Varnedoe Visiting Professor at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, in fall 2015.



  • Le Fonds Eiffel, Musée d’Orsay (Amélie Granet, Catalogue sommaire illustré du fonds Eiffel, 1989).
  • Records and archives, La Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (SETE).
  • Photographic holdings, Musée Carnavalet and BHVP, Paris.
  • Secondary sources (selected)
  • Marc Armengaud, Paris La Nuit: Chroniques Nocturnes. Paris: Picard & Pavillon de l’Arsenal, 2013. 
  • Roland Barthes, La Tour Eiffel, 1964.
  • Simone Delattre, Les douze heures noires: La nuit à Paris au XIXe siècle, 2003.
  • Christopher Dewdney, Acquainted with the Night: Excursions Through the World After Dark, 2004.
  • Siegfried Giedion, Building in France, Building in Iron, Building in Ferro-Concrete, 1928/1995.

Projet de recherche

La Tour Eiffel – the 300-meter open-work iron tower, tallest structure on earth, erected in Paris in 1889 for the Exposition Universelle marking the centenary of the French Republic – continues to pose questions about its function and meaning, despite its global fame and the abundant scholarship it has inspired.  In 1964, Roland Barthes claimed, “There is virtually no Parisian glance it fails to touch at some time of day. … The Tower is also present to the entire world.”  My project is inspired by his assessment of the Tower’s twofold visibility.  It will consider a component of what I argue is the Tower’s inescapability: the connection between its lights, both spectacular and day-to-day, and its multi-faceted prominence. The lighting matters, I argue, because the Tower’s visibility and renown depended (and still depends) upon its radiance in the dark. But – in recognition of Barthes’ second point – the prestige and allure of the Tower had connotative force: they registered where it could not be experienced firsthand.