Edited by Charissa Bremer-David
With contributions by Charissa Bremer-David, Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, Joan DeJean, Mimi Hellman, and Peter Björn Kerber
Luxury items from centuries past are most often seen within museum settings, devoid of their original contexts and connotations. This groundbreaking book seeks to reimagine objects from eighteenth-century Paris within their original context, showing how they were used in the daily routines of elite members of society. Against the background of the reign of Louis XV (r. 1723–1774), the chapters move chronologically from morning to night, covering such topics as temporal literacy and technological advances in timekeeping; innovations in domestic architecture and design for privacy; fashion and self-identity as expressed in the ritual of the morning toilette; reading and discussion of literary texts as influences on the collecting of art; and sociability and politesse during nocturnal entertainments.
The book reflects current scholarship in social history and material culture, but rather than being an exploration of the vernacular, it investigates the emergence of the luxury trade in eighteenth-century Paris, whose products survive in great quantity due to their superior materials and craftsmanship. The essays reveal many of the considerations—practical, social, and aesthetic—that inspired their production. By connecting the purposes, function, and beauty of these works of art, the volume makes a fascinating and important contribution to the study and enjoyment of a great period in French culture. The publication coincided with the exhibition Paris: Life & Luxury that was on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum April 26 through August 7, 2011 and at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, September 18 through December 10, 2011.
Charissa Bremer-David is curator in the Department of Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the J. Paul Getty Museum.
“Paris: Life and Luxury has the outward attributes of a small coffee-table book, but this belies its contents which make a serious contribution to scholarship.”
“Superbly and exquisitely illustrated. . . . For those who did not have the opportunity to visit the exhibition, reading the book will be the next best thing: Que la fête commence!”
—New Perspectives on the Eighteenth Century