The Rococo Interior

Decoration and Social Spaces in Early Eighteenth-Century Paris

Katie Scott

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This lavishly illustrated book offers a comprehensive and stimulating account of the forms and functions of interior decoration in Parisian domestic architecture during the first half of the eighteenth century—the period generally known as the rococo. It charts the rapid and sometimes dramatic changes in both the style and the imagery of the period and explores in detail the relations between social status and the consumption and display of decoration in Parisian houses.

The book is divided into three parts. In the first, Katie Scott examines the technologies developed for the manufacture of decorative materials, the guilds and academies that governed their production, and the organizational arrangements that coordinated their deployment on site. In the second part, she investigates the use of decoration both as embellishment and as acknowledgment of the prestige of the patron or client, and she traces the ways in which decoration came to represent and describe certain kinds of noble status. In the final part, Scott looks at how rococo decoration articulated the shifting ideological positions of its patrons. By focusing on the genres of the grotesque, the pastoral, and the mythological, she is able to shed light on the nobility's changing relationship with absolutism. She also considers how the nobility—and its enthusiasm for the rococo—was affected by pressures from "below," pressures such as competition from "new money" and the increasingly aggressive commercial culture it apparently entailed, the expanding scope of the printing press, and the rise of public exhibitions.

Katie Scott is lecturer in the history of art at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London.

"This scholarly and thoughtful exploration investigates all parts of design, architecture, and thought. . . . More a social than an aesthetic exploration, this will find a place among expansive historical and design collections."—Booklist

"A work of dazzling scholarship. . . . Scott goes beyond the assembly of facts to consider the meanings which may have lain behind Rococo decoration and furniture. . . . Her fascinating work successfully crosses the boundaries of social, financial and administrative history court politics, literature, sculpture, furniture, architecture and interior design, craftsmanship, and the unique Parisian guild system."—David Watkin, Antique International

"This carefully balanced, first-rate study never loses sight of the work of art. Superb black-and-white and color illustrations."—Choice

"This erudite book is immensely interesting."—Sarah Medlam, Furniture History Society Newsletter

"[A] lucidly argued and significant new study"—Rochelle Ziskin, Journal of Society of Architectural Historians

"A huge scholarly accomplishment, most impressive in both its scope and method."—Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, Art Bulletin

"This rich collection of material should inspire fruitful debate on issues of method and interpretation in the interdisciplinary study of eighteenth-century visual culture."—Mimi Hellman, Eighteenth-Century Studies

Winner of the 1996 Outstanding Academic Book Award given by Choice Magazine
ISBN: 9780300045826
Publication Date: January 24, 1996
352 pages, 9 1/2 x 11
256 b/w + 40 color illus.
Becoming Property

Art, Theory, and Law in Early Modern France

Katie Scott

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