Cover image for Luxury After the Terror By Iris Moon

Luxury After the Terror

Iris Moon

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$104.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-09161-7

Available as an e-book

272 pages
8" × 10"
30 color/65 b&w illustrations
2022

Luxury After the Terror

Iris Moon

Luxury After the Terror brings a criticality, a poetics, and a politics to this material that is truly exciting to see. Offering a vital new reading of the place of the decorative arts in the wake of revolution and reorienting our understanding of the period toward a range of captivating and unfamiliar objects, this meticulously researched and brilliantly argued book is an exhilarating rethinking of the field.”

 

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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.

Luxury After the Terror brings a criticality, a poetics, and a politics to this material that is truly exciting to see. Offering a vital new reading of the place of the decorative arts in the wake of revolution and reorienting our understanding of the period toward a range of captivating and unfamiliar objects, this meticulously researched and brilliantly argued book is an exhilarating rethinking of the field.”
“In Luxury After the Terror, Moon demonstrates the fascinating and subtle ways in which the decorative arts were shaped by the contradictory politics of the French Revolution. She measures this influence less in terms of iconography and the new emblems such as Phrygian bonnets and tricolour cockades that came to adorn many surfaces; rather, she reflects on the expressive limits and materiality of different genres of cultural production, from wallpaper and assignat banknotes (including a remarkable prototype stitched on silk), to lime-wood carving and hard-paste porcelain. Her analysis balances a meticulous attention to the physical properties and aesthetics of objects from across the 1790s with a refreshing willingness to speculate about how they articulated collective fantasies and anxieties.”

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

Acknowledgements

Introduction

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

Coda

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Download a PDF sample chapter here: Introduction