The Arts of Industry in the Age of Enlightenment

Celina Fox

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During the 18th century, the arts of industry encompassed both liberal and mechanical realms—not simply the representation of work in the fine art of painting, but the skills involved in the processes of industry itself. Drawing on a wealth of primary sources, Celina Fox argues that mechanics and artisans used four principal means to describe and rationalize their work: drawing, model-making, societies, and publications. These four channels, which form the four central themes of this engrossing book, provided the basis for experimentation and invention, for explanation and classification, for validation and authorization, and for promotion and celebration, thus bringing them into the public domain and achieving progress as a true part of the Enlightenment.

Celina Fox is an independent scholar and journalist, formerly assistant director at the Museum of London.

"Celina Fox's brilliant and beautifully illustrated opus The Arts of Industry in the Age of Enlightenment restores the connection between drawing and technology originally embedded in the very word 'art', before the Romantics turned it into a mystical effusion of genius." — Simon Schama, Financial Times

‘Fox has now assembled her research in a large and extremely impressive book…. this book covers a very broad territory.’ — Charles Saumarez Smith, Financial Times

‘The illustrations are so exceptional that if this was all Miss Fox’s book was about, it would be valuable…Miss Fox’s book is also a wake-up call to teach every child how to design their way towards a better future – by drawing.’ — Philippa Stockley, Country Life

“A well-researched and definitive account.”--Library Journal


‘Copiously illustrated and lavishly produced, The Arts of Industry is a notable contribution to the interdisciplinary studies of this area that have appeared increasingly in recent years, drawing attention to aspects of British history, skills and art that have been too long overlooked.’ — Jenny Uglow, The Guardian

‘In her extensive survey Celina Fox recreates the world of artisans and mechanics, surveyors and engineers, entrepreneurs and consumers in order to discover the character of industrial progress…The Arts of Industry is handsomely produced to the high standard set by the Yale University Press.’ Newsletter of the William Shipley Group for RSA History

‘The world of work is not distant from that of the arts, but, instead, integral to it. That is the major theme of this most interesting book…Throughout, this volume is of great interest. Illuminated by numerous, well chosen illustrations, it is one of the more original works to appear in art history in recent years.’ — Jeremy Black, The Art Newspaper

'Extraordinary... a rich and readable history.' — Tony McIntyre, Building Design

'This is an important book; it alters your idea of what Georgian art might be.' — Martin Gayford, World of Interiors

'A beautifully produced study (Yale has designed yet another visually stunning book)…Compenidous, rich and enormously illuminating account.'  — John Brewer, Burlington Magazine

“Fox’s study of the 18th century is thorough and impressive." — Choice

"Fox's inclusive conspectus succeeds in delivering a swelling narrative of interlinked theory, practical endeavour and social advance not only in Britain but throughout Europe and Russia... It is a formidable contribution not only to the histories of art and industry, but also to the history of thought itself."—Andrew Wilton, Apollo Magazine

"Celina Fox has produced a vast, encyclopaedic account of developments in art and science, ranging over several centuries…The volume is well illustrated, with copious notes, and will be a valuable reference book."—Patricia Andrew, The Art Book

"This fascinating and original book breaks away from the Left-wing politics of earlier historians of the subject (none as well-informed) and provides a spirited perspective that is entirely new, exciting and grounded in the material rather than anachronistic prejudice."—Brian Sewell, Evening Standard

"Handsomely presented, and on the whole well illustrated…a formidable contribution not only to the histories of art and industry, but also to the history of thought itself."—Andrew Wilton, Apollo

"This book is to be welcomed for the new lines of enquiry it reveals, and it opens out a subject too long hidden in local archives."—Pat Hardy, The British Art Journal Vol.11 No.1

“Celina Fox’s account has amplified and enriched an accepted view of the British Enlightenment.”—Robert Thorne, Construction History Vol.25

"[A] remarkable book . . . an original account of the representation of the mechanical arts by both 'liberal' and 'mechanical' artists that is of extraodinary scope and depth. Fox makes an important contribution to literature in the history of science and technology that highlights the interaction between artisans and scholars in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. . . . Such a short review cannot do justice to the richness of the visual and verbal feast Fox sets before the reader, studded as it is with fascinating nuggets of information and visual discoveries."—Pamela H. Smith, Technology and Culture

Winner of the 2011 Historians of British Art Books Prize in the Pre-1800 category
ISBN: 9780300160420
Publication Date: March 2, 2010
576 pages, 7 3/4 x 11
200 b/w + 60 color illus.