Anna Ficek, M.A.
City University of New York (january - march 2022)
PhD project : From Allegory to Revolution: The Inca Empire in the French Imagination during the Long Eighteenth Century
Agnieszka Anna Ficek is a PhD candidate in the Art History department at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. Her research focuses on the confluences of art, science, literature, and colonial fantasy in eighteenth-century France and Latin America. Her research has been supported by the Social Sciences Research Council, the John Carter Brown Library, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Most recently, she was the recipient of SECAC’s William R. Levin Award for Art Historical Research, for her forthcoming essay; “Colonial Pantomime: Queen Maria I of Portugal’s Human Cabinet of Curiosities.” Her research has appeared in academic journals such as Studies of Eighteenth-Century Culture and The Eighteenth-Century: Theory and Interpretation. She has presented her work at conferences and workshops at various universities and instituions such as the University of Edinburgh, the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum, and Harvard University.
Focusing on popular French representations of the Inca Empire from the mid-eighteenth to mid-nineteenth centuries, Agnieszka’s project — From Allegory to Revolution: the Inca Empire in the Eighteenth-Century French Imagination — seeks to reexamine artistic and geographic taxonomies inherent in current understandings of eighteenth-century art history. By closely examining the multiple illustrations that adorned Peruvian-themed French eighteenth-century literature, this study not only explores print imagery in a literary context, but probes the impact of representations of South American indigenes in fine and decorative arts. In doing so, this project enriches present understandings of the political functions of exoticisms in ancien régime France and the ‘Noble Savage’ trope in French critiques of absolutism by parsing colonial fantasies that morphed in concert with the political climate. Through this investigation, Agnieszka interrogates the construct of the ‘Inca Princess’ became a nexus for French projections of the exotic and the erotic. By highlighting artistic and cultural connections between France and Latin America in a period of political turmoil, this dissertation maps a network of cross-cultural, interdisciplinary and transatlantic connections.