Schmitter, Representation and the Body of Power (as note 2), p. 411.


Louis Marin, Portrait of the King, Basingstoke 1988, p. 8.


Thus the king belongs simultaneously to two different spheres: the first is the sphere of timely presence as attributed to his individual person; the second designates the mystical dignity and justice bestowed to his office and the institution of kingship. His two bodies enabled the monarch to mediate between the profane sphere of society and the transcendent sphere which represented the divine legitimacy of the social order. Only because the mythical body of the king was situated outside of society in the realm of divine glory was it possible that the people could project the imaginary unity of the body politic on his earthly individual existence. In this understanding, the king’s body could guarantee the identity of the body politic, since it was his body that represented the mythical community between the kingdom and its subjects.

In summary, the concept of sovereignty relies predominantly on two conditions: first, the holder of sovereignty «is superior to all authorities under its purview» and, second, this supreme authority must be derived «from some mutually acknowledged source of legitimacy» [7]. Starting from the assumption that «state power requires recognition to exist» [8] one has to ask how this recognition, the acknowledgement of legitimacy, is achieved. In the case of Louis XIV, the legitimacy of absolute state power, as represented by the king’s body, was derived from a divine mandate while still needing the recognition from his subjects. Amy Schmitter points out that the «pictorial representations» of the king had significant impact on the constitution and execution of absolute state power which was ultimately located in the king’s body.

In the following, I will show that the concept of representation is essential for understanding the difference between the model of sovereignty and the image of the sovereign - not only understood as mental concepts but also with respect to their material realisations. My subsequent arguments are based on the assumption that the concept of representation is not simply a means of making visible or making present, but rather a concept of non-identity: «Representation is at once the action of putting before one’s eyes the quality of being a sign or a person that holds the place of another, an image, a political body, (...).» [9]

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