art for art's sake—the belief that formal, aesthetic beauty is the sole purpose of a work of art. An important manifesto of this theory appeared in the preface of his novel Mademoiselle de Maupin (1835). Gautier was a painter before he turned to writing. His theory of plasticity, that words should be used as the painter and sculptor use their tools, is illustrated in his volumes of poems Voyage en Espagne (1845) and Emaux et camées [enamels and cameos] (1852). His other works include the poem La Comédie de la mort (1838), the novel Le Capitaine Fracasse (1863), and L'Histoire de l'art dramatique en France (1858–59). He prepared the way for the Parnassians and symbolists in their reaction against romanticism.
See studies by A. B. Smith (1977), R. Shell (1982), and K. Bulgin (1988).
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