New Book | Magnificent Entertainments

Posted in books by Editor on November 4, 2013

From Yale UP:

Melanie Doderer-Winkler, Magnificent Entertainments: Temporary Architecture for Georgian Festivals (London: The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2013), 270 pages, ISBN: 978-0300186420, $75.

9780300186420A thoroughly original study of ephemeral architecture and design, Magnificent Entertainments examines the spectacular displays created for large-scale public celebrations in the Georgian period. The book focuses on a number of specific events—including royal weddings, coronations, battle victories, and birthday fêtes—that employed elaborate decorative measures to outshine the typical festivities of the day. Some of these elements, ranging from floral displays and scenery to music and light shows, transformed existing venues into unfamiliar marvels; other times, completely new settings were devised for short-lived occasions.

Drawing on primary sources such as commemorative prints, newspaper accounts, and diary entries, the book investigates just how essential these fanciful designs were in creating events with lasting impact and popular appeal. The author also delves into the various materials used for construction and embellishment: applications of sugar, sand, marble dust, or chalk lent luster and color to surfaces, while stand-alone firework temples and temporary reception rooms were often crafted of little more than wood, canvas, paint, and paste.

Melanie Doderer-Winkler is an art historian and former furniture specialist at Christie’s, London. She writes and lectures about the splendour and pageantry of eighteenth-century entertaining.

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