New Book | Fancy in Eighteenth-Century European Visual Culture

Posted in books by Editor on April 18, 2020

From the Oxford University Studies in The Enlightenment series:

Melissa Percival and Muriel Adrien, eds., Fancy in Eighteenth-Century European Visual Culture (Liverpool: Voltaire Foundation in association with Liverpool University Press, 2020), 325 pages, ISBN: 978-1789620030, £65 / $100.

Fancy in the eighteenth century was part of a rich semantic network, connecting wit, whimsicality, erotic desire, spontaneity, deviation from norms and triviality. It was also a contentious term, signifying excess, oddness and irrationality, liable to offend taste, reason and morals. This collection of essays foregrounds fancy—and its close synonym, caprice—as a distinct strand of the imagination in the period. As a prevalent, coherent and enduring concept in aesthetics and visual culture, it deserves a more prominent place in scholarly understanding than it has hitherto occupied. Fancy is here understood as a type of creative output that deviated from rules and relished artistic freedom. It was also a mode of audience response, entailing a high degree of imaginative engagement with playful, quirky artworks, generating pleasure, desire, or anxiety. Emphasizing commonalities between visual productions in different media from diverse locations, the authors interrogate and celebrate the expressive freedom of fancy in European visual culture. Topics include: the seductive fictions of the fancy picture, Fragonard and galanterie, fancy in drawing manuals, pattern books and popular prints, fans and fancy goods, chinoiserie, excess and virtuality in garden design, Canaletto’s British capricci, urban design in Madrid, and Goya’s Caprichos.

Melissa Percival is Professor of French, Art History, and Visual Culture at the University of Exeter. She has published widely on theories of facial expression, fantasy figures, and portraits, with particular reference to eighteenth-century France; these include a monograph on Fragonard’s fantasy figures. Muriel Adrien is Associate Professor of art history and visual culture within the English Department at the University of Toulouse. She has published numerous articles on 18th- and 19th-century British and American art, especially as related to scientific contexts. She is chief editor of the online scholarly journal Miranda.


List of figure

• Melissa Percival, Introduction
• Emmanuel Faure-Carricaburu, The Fantasy Figures of Jean-Baptiste Santerre and the Limits of Generic Frameworks of Interpretation
• Christophe Guillouet, The Parisian World of Printmaking at the Heart of the Invention of a Genre? Poilly, Courtin, and Bonnart’s Fantaisies, 1713–28
• John Chu, Windows of Opportunity: The French Fantasy Figure and the Spirit of Enterprise in Early-Eighteenth-Century Europe
• Martin Postle, Modelling for the Fancy Picture in Eighteenth-Century England
• Bénédicte Miyamoto, The Influence of Drawing Manuals on the British Practice and Reception of Fancy Pictures
• Guillaume Faroult, A Galant Fantasy: Fragonard’s Fantasy Figures and The Music Lesson in Relation to Van Dyck, Watteau, and Carle Vanloo
• Pierre-Henri Biger, Fans, Fantasy, and Fancy
• Melissa Percival, Fancy as a Mode of Consumption
• Vanessa Alayrac-Fielding, ‘A Butterfly Supporting an Elephant’: Chinoiserie, Fantaisie, and ‘the Luxuriance of Fancy’
• Laurent Châtel , The Garden as Capriccio: The Hortulan Pleasures of Imagination and Virtuality
• Béatrice Laurent, Grand Tour Capricci
• Xavier Cervantes, Venetian Reminiscences and Cultural Hybridity in Canaletto’s English-period Capricci and Vedute
• Adrián Fernández Almoguera, From the Private Cabinet to the Suburban Villa: Caprices and Fantasies in Eighteenth-Century Madrid
• Andrew Schulz, Satire and Fantasy in Goya’s Caprichos
• Alice Labourg, ‘Fancy Paints with Hues Unreal’: Pictorial Fantasy and Literary Creation in Ann Radcliffe’s Gothic Novels

List of Contributors

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