New Book | Luxury after the Terror

Posted in books by Editor on April 2, 2022

From Penn State UP:

Iris Moon, Luxury after the Terror (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2022), 272 pages, ISBN: 978-0271091617, $105. Also available as an ebook.

When Louis XVI was guillotined on January 21, 1793, vast networks of production that had provided splendor and sophistication to the royal court were severed. Although the king’s royal possessions—from drapery and tableware to clocks and furniture suites—were scattered and destroyed, many of the artists who made them found ways to survive. This book explores the fabrication, circulation, and survival of French luxury after the death of the king.

Spanning the final years of the ancien régime from the 1790s to the first two decades of the nineteenth century, this richly illustrated book positions luxury within the turbulent politics of dispersal, disinheritance, and dispossession. Exploring exceptional works created from silver, silk, wood, and porcelain as well as unrealized architectural projects, Iris Moon presents new perspectives on the changing meanings of luxury in the revolutionary and Napoleonic periods, a time when artists were forced into hiding, exile, or emigration. Moon draws on her expertise as a curator to revise conventional accounts of the so-called Louis XVI style, arguing that it was only after the revolutionary auctions liquidated the king’s collections that their provenance accrued deeper cultural meanings as objects with both a royal imprimatur and a threatening reactionary potential.

Lively and accessible, this thought-provoking study will be of interest to curators, art historians, scholars, and students of the decorative arts as well as specialists in the French Revolution.

Iris Moon is Assistant Curator in the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the author of The Architecture of Percier and Fontaine and the Struggle for Sovereignty in Revolutionary France. She teaches at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.


List of Illustrations

1  Death and Dispersal: The 1793–94 Revolutionary Auctions at Versailles
2  Henry Auguste: Precious Metals in the Age of Terror
3  Jean-Démosthène Dugourc: Political Fantasies of the Arabasque
4  Aubert-Henri-Joseph Parent: Carving in Exile
5  Alexandre Brongniart: Fragile Terrains


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: