Exhibition | Birth of Design, Furniture Masterpieces, 1650–1789

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on October 29, 2014


André-Charles Boulle, Louis XIV’s commode; made of resinous wood, ebony veneer, tortoiseshell and bronze inlay, gilt bronze, griotte marble; Paris, 1708, H. 88 x 131 x 65 cm (Versailles, National Museum of the Palaces of Versailles and Trianon; Inv. VMB 14279.1) 

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From the Château de Versailles:

Eighteenth Century, Birth of Design, Furniture Masterpieces, 1650–1789
18e, aux sources du design, chefs-d’œuvre du mobilier 1650 à 1790
Château de Versailles, 28 October 2014 — 22 February 2015

From 28 October 2014 to 22 February 2015, the Palace of Versailles is hosting the exhibition 18th Century, Birth of Design, Furniture Masterpieces from 1650 to 1790 in the Africa and Crimea Rooms. The exhibition offers a glimpse of the ingenuity of a bygone era viewed from a present-day perspective and showcases the innovative and avant-garde nature of the shapes, techniques, decorations, and materials used in 18th-century furniture. The exhibition includes around 100 major works from collections at the Palace of Versailles, the Louvre Museum, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, the Palace of Fontainbleau, and the Getty Museum, alongside works from private collections which will be on show to the public for the first time. Cabinets, desks, writing tables, commodes, and console tables, but also sofas, armchairs, folding chairs, and seating chairs will testify to the revolution that the 18th century brought about in the history of furniture, a reflection of the evolving tastes of a society enamoured by modernity and wanting to live in comfort and luxury.

Jacques Gondoin and François II Foliot, Chair from the Pavillon du Rocher at the Petit Trianon; carved, gilded beech; 1781, 89 x 56 x 56 cm (Versailles, National Museum of the Palaces of Versailles and Trianon, Inv. V 5358)

Jacques Gondoin and François II Foliot, Chair from the Pavillon du Rocher at the Petit Trianon; carved, gilded beech; 1781, 89 x 56 x 56 cm (Versailles, National Museum of the Palaces of Versailles and Trianon, Inv. V 5358)

Concept of Design

In 1712, Shaftesbury introduced the term and concept of design to art theory. It contains the dual meaning of ‘plan’ and ‘intention’ and unifies the processes of conceiving and shaping a work. For the first time, furniture was planned with forethought, created with specific intention and shaped for both functionality and comfort. 18th-century furniture was produced according to design sources, both in its overall conception and its quest for harmony between form and function.

The Transformation of Furniture

The quest for the ideal shape and form hit its peak in the 18th century, when the shape of furniture began to change. Inventiveness and creativity abounded and new outlines began to take shape, from console tables to commodes to secretary and armoire desks. Rigid outlines began to soften, then morphed into rounded curves, subsequently giving way to curved legs—sometimes four, six or even eight of them. Furniture became multi-purpose and featured mechanisms that allowed it to transform into something else.

Boldness of Materials and Colours

The same quest characterised the use of materials: furniture was covered with exotic woods, lacquers, varnishes, tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl, bronze, brass, lead, porcelain, straw, steel and stone marquetry. Cloth, bulrush and copper began to be used in chairs. Long before the garish colours afforded by plastic in the 20th and 21st centuries, the 18th century saw the birth of furniture in red, daffodil yellow, turquoise blue, apple green, partially gilded or silvered, etc. At the same time, other colour palettes were limited to the black and gold of lacquer and bronze, and patterns were reduced to natural ones made out of quality materials such as mahogany.

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The catalogue is available in both French and English:

18th Century, Birth of Design, Furniture Masterpieces, 1650–1790 (Dijon: Éditions Faton, 2014), 280 pages, ISBN 978-2878441949 (English) / 978-2878441901 (French), 42€.

D8CECD6E-6A77-817F-9E0F-3A1AD567A06EFileThe sole purpose of this book, published to tie in with the magnificent exhibition at the Palace of Versailles, is to lay bare the incredible inventiveness of the century of Enlightenment, a century in which, for the first time, furniture became an art. Architects, artists and dealers as well as ordinary craftsmen set about organising furniture and elaborating it as never before.

The eighteenth century was to turn three everyday acts—sitting, sitting at table, storing things—into an art. Furniture changed its skin and shape. For the first time, it explored new materials, sought out new forms. It broke free of architecture, but went on playing with some of its styles. It became movable and occasional, and the notion of comfort came into being. Furniture found its identity in everyday actions to which it was closely linked. The connection between the individual and furniture became obvious. From its disposition to its ingenuity, and through the matchless quality of its incomparable workmanship, furniture in the eighteenth century came to be an integral part of daily life and fashion, quick to respond to changing moods and styles. Having thus secured both a new status and recognition, it became for ever a distinct element in the intellectual process of creation.

Daniel Alcoufe, conservateur général honoraire
Gérard Mabille, conservateur général honoraire
Yves Carlier, conservateur en chef au Musée national des châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon
Patrik Hourcade, photographe et designer
Patrick Lemasson, conservateur en chef au Musée du Petit Palais

Call for Papers | Charles de La Fosse and the Arts in France, ca. 1700

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on October 29, 2014

As noted at Le Blog de L’ApAhAu:

Charles de La Fosse et les arts en France autour de 1700
Château de Versailles, 18–19 May 2015

Proposals due by 15 December 2014

Charles de la Fosse Clitia changed in sunflower 1688< Oil on painting. H. 128; L. 156 cm Versailles, châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon; MV 7256

Charles de la Fosse, Clitia Changed into a Sunflower, 1688, 128 x 156 cm (Versailles: Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon)

En complément de l’exposition Charles de La Fosse qui se tiendra au Château de Versailles du 23 février au 24 mai 2015, l’établissement public du château, du musée et du domaine national de Versailles et le centre recherche du Château de Versailles organisent un colloque sur l’artiste, les lundi 18 et mardi 19 mai 2015.

L’exposition, organisée en cinq grandes sections (les commandes pour les maisons royales ; La Fosse dessinateur ; la tradition académique ; le triomphe du coloris ; un précurseur du XVIIIe siècle) sera en effet de l’occasion de faire le point sur un artiste majeur de la seconde moitié du règne de Louis XIV.

Le colloque voudrait être à la fois un approfondissement et un élargissement du propos de l’exposition et permettre de mieux situer La Fosse dans les enjeux de la pratique artistique autour de 1700. Il s’articulera donc en quatre grandes sections, chacune avec plusieurs thématiques possibles (indiquées ici à titre d’exemple), qui pourront accueillir entre trois et cinq communications d’environ 20/25 minutes:
• L’art de La Fosse (la question du dessin; les artistes contemporains élèves ou collaborateurs de La Fosse)
• Le grand décor au temps de La Fosse (quadratura et plafond; le grand décor religieux)
• La mythologie vue par La Fosse et ses contemporains (Apollon- Soleil; Clytie et les fleurs; les amours des dieux)
• La Fosse et le rayonnement des capitales artistiques (Venise à Paris; le séjour Londres; le cercle Crozat)

Toute personne qui souhaiterait présenter une communication doit envoyer un synopsis de celle-ci en 300–500 mots pourvu d’un titre, avec un curriculum vitae d’une page avant le 15 décembre 2015 à
beatrice.sarrazin@chateauversailles.fr et olivier.bonfait@u-bourgogne.fr. Les réponses seront données autour du 10 janvier. Le colloque devrait pouvoir être publié.

Direction scientifique
Béatrice Sarrazin (Conservateur général au Château de Versailles et de Trianon) et Olivier Bonfait (professeur à l’Université de Bourgogne)

Comité scientifique
Olivier Bonfait (professeur à l’Université de Bourgogne), Adeline Collange-Perugi (conservateur au musée des beaux-arts de Nantes), Clémentine Gustin-Gomez (historienne de l’art), Béatrice Sarrazin (Conservateur général au Château de Versailles et de Trianon).

Call for Papers | After Print: Manuscripts in the Eighteenth Century

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on October 29, 2014

While this conference falls outside of art history, some readers may find it useful, and it got me thinking, by way of analogy, about the relationship between printed texts and manuscripts, on the one hand, and prints and drawings on the other. Might there be a productive way of thinking about all four together? If someone has just written a brilliant book, dissertation, or article on the topic, I would be glad to learn about it. CH

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From the ASECS listserv:

After Print: Manuscripts in the Eighteenth Century
The University of California, Santa Barbara, 24 April 2015

Proposals due by 15 December 2014

Co-sponsored by the Mellon Fellowship in Critical Bibliography at Rare Book School and the UCSB Early Modern Center

This one-day conference at UCSB will bring together junior and senior scholars to explore the continued vitality of manuscript publication and circulation in the eighteenth century. Scholars now often take for granted that the eighteenth century constituted an established ‘print culture’, whether that culture was inherent in the technology or forged by its users. By the age of Addison and Pope, this narrative contends, the spread of print and lapse of licensing had rendered superfluous a manuscript world of scurrilous libels, courtly poetry, and weekly newsletters. But a growing body of research is arguing for the ongoing importance of manuscript production and publication into the Romantic period, and for a critical stance that questions the solidity of the print-manuscript binary. In texts from diaries and journals to notes, letters, sheet music, scientific observations, and hybrid multimedia documents, scholars are turning their attention to the manuscript traditions and innovations that were also central to eighteenth-century literature. And they are drawing connections to our own moment of protracted media shift, focusing on aggregative, iterative steps rather than a single ‘revolution’.

After Print will join this exciting subfield by exploring a range of manuscript practices in the long eighteenth century. Margaret Ezell, distinguished professor of English and Sara and John Lindsay Chair of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University—whose works Social Authorship and the Advent of Print (1999) and The Patriarch’s Wife: Literary Evidence and the History of the Family (1987) have been foundational to the field—will deliver the keynote lecture on Friday evening. Proposals are solicited for papers on any aspect of eighteenth-century studies related to the theme; in particular, proposals are welcomed from junior scholars (graduate students, postdocs, and untenured faculty) for a special panel on new methods. Limited travel support for junior scholars may be available. Please send paper proposals by December 15 to Rachael Scarborough King (Asst. Prof. of English, UCSB), rking@english.ucsb.edu.

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