Magnificent Entertainments

Temporary Architecture for Georgian Festivals

Melanie Doderer-Winkler

View Inside Price: $50.00


December 10, 2013
270 pages, 9 x 11
133 color + 100 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300186420
Cloth

Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

A thoroughly original study of ephemeral architecture and design, Magnificent Entertainments examines the spectacular displays created for large-scale public and private celebrations in the Georgian period. The book focuses on a number of specific occasions - including elegant country fêtes, lavish galas, royal events and historical commemorations - that employed elaborate decorative measures to outshine all other attractions and diversions. It explores the role of leading architects Robert Adam and William Chambers as well as members of the Royal Academy of Arts in creating exceptional party settings for royalty and aristocracy, and adapting well-known public venues for one-night extravaganzas.
The author delves into the materials used for construction and embellishment throughout the period: artful applications of dyed sugar, sand, marble dust or chalk lent lustre and colour to tables and floors, whilst painted scenery and transparencies created from thousands of variegated lamps transformed existing venues into unfamiliar marvels. Spectacular stand-alone firework temples and temporary reception rooms were often crafted of little more than wood, canvas and paint.
Drawing on primary sources including personal letters, diary entries, bills and newspaper accounts, this book investigates how successful these fanciful designs were in creating fleeting moments of delight with lasting impact and popular appeal.

Melanie Doderer-Winkler is an art historian and former furniture specialist at Christie’s, London. She writes and lectures about the splendour and pageantry of eighteenth-century entertaining.

“This is an engaging and scholarly publication [and] a wonderful source for understanding the ephemeral architecture and decorative arts of the 18th and 19th centuries. Fittingly, this handsome volume contains delightful images ad is magnificently produced.”—John J O’Connell, Irish Arts Review
'[This] impressive doctoral thesis turned fascinating narrative shows us how many different forms the human desire to celebrate took in the eighteenth century – and how irresistible conspicuous consumption has always been. Melanie Doderer-Winkler’s exhaustively detailed tome documents the myriad skills of hundreds of designers, artists, craftsmen and labourers at the service of the rich and the high born for parties, ceremonies, parades, pageants and processions – the secular rituals that bind these excessive communities.'—Marina Vaizey, V&A Magazine

'Unlike the ballroom floors embellished with chalk designs that were gradually danced away during an evening, the pleasure of this book lies in it being a lasting record of the evanescent entertainments that so delighted Georgian sensibilities.'—Christies’s International Magazine

 

'Magnificent Entertainments is the first book dedicated to this interesting subject and it is meticulously researched and illustrated with hundreds of rare, contemporary views depicting long-vanished triumphs.'—Tim Knox, Country Life

'Doderer-Winkler offers the first complete, fully illustrated study of public and private celebrations--both major and minor--in Georgian England. It includes country fetes, lavish galas, royal events, and historical commemorations.'—T.J. McCormick, CHOICE
"Clear the decks for Melanie Doderer-Winkler's sumptuous Magnificent Entertainments, an immaculately researched, written and illustrated blockbuster in the temporary pavilions, ballrooms, feasts and fantasties that Georgian foppery so delighted in."—Nicky Haslam, The Spectator

‘Doderer-Winkler’s great achievement as an archaeologist of the ephemeral is to bring such events to vivid life from the claims of prints and press releases, eyewitness accounts – and, critically, the bill.’—Christopher Woodward, World of Interiors Magazine

“Lavish illustrations, including original design drawings, conjure up the scale and luxury of these transient masterpieces.”—The Lady