New Book | The Architecture of Percier and Fontaine

Posted in books by InternRW on September 7, 2016

Coming this fall from Routledge:

Iris Moon, The Architecture of Percier and Fontaine and the Struggle for Sovereignty in Revolutionary France (New York: Routledge, 2016), 260 pages, ISBN: 978-1472480163, $150.

9781472480163French architects Charles Percier (1764–1838) and Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine (1762–1853) became the most celebrated decorators of the French Revolution and achieved success as the official architects of Napoleon Bonaparte. This book explores how Percier and Fontaine created the Empire style and a system of decoration that engaged with the difficult politics of the period. Taking seriously the architects’ achievements in interior decoration, furnishings, theater designs, and publications during the early and most active period of their collaborative practice, their integral role in reestablishing the luxury market in Paris after the Terror, cultivating the taste of a new clientele, and creating sites of power through their interior decorations are explored. From meeting rooms designed to resemble military encampments to gilded imperial thrones that replaced Bourbon fleur-de-lys with Napoleonic bees, the architects moved beyond a Neoclassical idiom in order to transform the symbols of monarchy and revolution into an imperial ideology defined by a contradictory aesthetics. At the heart of Percier and Fontaine’s decorative work and central to grasping the politics of the Empire style is a dialectical tension between the search for a monumental architecture of permanence and the reliance upon portable, collapsible, and mobile forms. Percier, Fontaine and the Politics of the Empire Style will contribute new interdisciplinary perspectives on the relationship of the decorative arts and architecture with the political culture of post-revolutionary France and how interior decoration engendered a new awareness of time, memory, and identity.

Iris Moon is a visiting assistant professor in the School of Architecture at Pratt Institute. She specializes in eighteenth and nineteenth-century European art, architecture, and the decorative arts.

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List of Illustrations

Introduction: Finding Revolutionary Architecture in the Decorative Arts

1  Visionary Friendship at the End of the Ancien Régime
Clean Sheets and Water Magic
Architects in Training
Roman Fever
Solo Missions
An Etruscan Friendship

2  Propulsion and Residue: Constructing the Revolutionary Interior
Rome à Rebours
Staging Antiquity and Austerity
Revolutionary Rearrangements
Seek, Record, Destroy
The Eternal Return of Luxury

3  The Recueil de décorations intérieures: Furnishing a New Order
Paper Studios
Furnishing Techniques
Strategies of Redaction
Consuming Desires
Writing Against Fashion
Between the Lines
Empire Styles

4  The Platinum Cabinet: Luxury in Times of Uncertainty
Pastoral Pastimes
Incorruptible Precision
Fast Times in Consulate Paris
Haunting Season

5  Tent and Throne: Architecture in a State of Emergency
Après Coup
Fantasies of the Ideal Villa
A Permanent Work in Progress
Little Pleasures
The Moving Bivouac
Political Theology
Divorcing the Past

Coda: Revolutionary Atonement

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