2013 Roy Porter lecture: The Rise and Fall of the French Smile
Tuesday 21 May 2013, 18.30-19.30
In 1787, the painter Élisabeth-Louise Vigée de Lebrun presented
a self-portrait at the Paris Salon. She was harshly attacked by
critics for one feature of the portrait: in smiling, she showed her
white teeth. Quite why the kind of smile so familiar in our day
could provoke outrage will be investigated in this talk. In fact,
eighteenth-century Paris was unique in Europe in seeing the
emergence of such a smile. Partly this was due to the emergence of
modern dentistry, partly to from a wave of sensibility and
sentimentality that swept the country. By 1789, a smile revolution
seemed to be taking place in France.
This speech-to-text transcribed talk will highlight the
emergence of this modern smile – but it will also examine the
reasons for its sharp decline in the years following 1789. It would
really not be until the twentieth century that, as a result of
scientific dentistry, snap photography and Hollywood icons that the
modern smile was born.
Speaker: Prof. Colin Jones, FBA,
Professor of History, Queen Mary University of
This event is FREE.
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Bookings are limited to two per person. Any
additional bookings will be cancelled.
This event will have live speech-to-text transcription
for deaf, deafened and hard-of-hearing visitors. If you would like
to make use of this transcription, you can book
in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find out more about accessibility at Wellcome Collection.