Cite as: Rupert Gaderer, ‘Strategies of Tension: A. Boissier’s Les amants électrisés par l’amour (1797)’, in Tension/​Spannung, ed. by Christoph F. E. Holzhey, Cultural Inquiry, 1 (Vienna: Turia + Kant, 2010), pp. 93–108 <>

Strategies of TensionA. Boissier’s Les amants électrisés par l’amour (1797)Rupert Gaderer


The article analyses A. Boissier’s image Les Amants électrisés par l’amour in view of the larger question of how something is able to arouse interest on first sight, but also in repeat encounters. Highlighting the engraving’s didactic iconography, the article shows how it revolves around the solution to a riddle and uses a typical design of the Enlightenment to show the uncovering of a deception. As such, the engraving is part of a long tradition of showing (supposedly) supernatural events, more specifically the tradition of Magia naturalis. At the same time, the image contains dissonances and can be seen to simulate suspense through dichotomies that can be identified as antagonistic historical concepts. The article furthermore discusses the amalgamation of love and electricity in contemporary discourses and addresses the temporal dimension of the engraving, which constructs itself out of an absence, out of something yet unseen.

tension, electricity, love, history of science, enlightenment