From French Royalty to Empire - Art and Decorative Elegance

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From French Royalty to Empire - Art and Decorative Elegance

<p>When Louis XIV made Versailles the Royal residence of France in 1682, he established an elegance in the decorative style that was copied all over Europe. Despite the French Revolution, French style

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When Louis XIV made Versailles the Royal residence of France in 1682, he established an elegance in the decorative style that was copied all over Europe. Despite the French Revolution, French style stayed in focus into the Empire period of Napoleon. And throughout, there were great artisans and artists such as Watteau, Chardin, Boucher, Fragonard, Vigee Le Brun and Ingres creating amazing paintings that we still recognise today. In this series of 3 talks we will explore the objects that created those lavish interiors, and the artists that recorded French aristocratic Society, especially their Monarchs.


COURSE OUTLINE

  • The Court of Louis XIV at Versailles: King Louis XIV managed his image as carefully as any self-branded celebrity today. How did he use the artisans and artists of the day through his patronage to enhance and dazzle his image as Sun-King and how did he make Versailles the representation of himself to be envied and copied by monarchs all over Europe.
  • The Rococo Extravagance and Play of Louis XVI & Marie Antoinette: King Louis XVI and his Queen Marie Antoinette were the epitome of 18th century frivolity and play with artists creating portraits to reflect their extravagance but also to make political statements. Artists such as Watteau, Chardin, Boucher, Fragonard, & Vigee Le Brun recorded the Court at play with games such as Blind Man’s Bluff. The arts of beautiful clocks, incredible silver with themes of nature and fine porcelain also reflected the developing ideals of the Enlightenment.
  • The Magnificence of Empire – Napoleon & Josephine: In order to re-inforce his acquired position of leader of France and Emperor, Napoleon employed many similar tactics in his use of the arts as had previous French monarchs. Through her taste and society connections, Josephine was the style-maker behind the scenes, creating magnificence to impress. Empire style included furniture & furnishings, porcelain and magnificent silver and gold items, adorned with Napoleon’s bees and Josephine’s swans to emphasize their ownership of their acquired Empire. Their portraits similarly express their power and position.


PLANNED LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Develop an understanding of how the style and elegance of French Decorative Arts were used to establish Social order at Court.
  2. Engage with the social & historical influences on the French arts within the period.
  3. Recognise the names of a number of French artists and artisans and their purpose behind creating the magnificent artistic objects.