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The Rococo Interior: Decoration and Social Spaces in Early Eighteenth-Century Paris Hardcover – January 24, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

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The term noblesse oblige has never been so well defined as in Scott's in-depth examination of the rococo period, the first half of the eighteenth century. That 1 percent of France's 26 million citizens could have such an influence not only on decoration and the arts but also on conduct in society is documented in detail and in both black-and-white and color photographs. This scholarly and thoughtful (and occasionally pedantic) exploration investigates all parts of design, architecture, and thought: the manufacture of goods, such as wallpaper and carved woodwork; the artisans' practice in guilds and abbeys; the signs of status; the influence of the king through the Palace of Versailles; and the rise of yet another privileged class and reactions against rococo. More a social than an aesthetic exploration, this will find a place among expansive historical and design collections. Barbara Jacobs

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (January 24, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300045824
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300045826
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 9.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,296,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Thomas J. Hickey on September 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rather heavy on the pedantics, and too light on the aesthetics

This book reads like a pedantic Ph.D. dissertation, or rather like three such dissertations sewn together into one bookbinding.

Part I is an economic and technology history of eighteenth-century decorative-arts production. It is an unlikely reason why anyone would purchase this high-gloss, coffee-table-style, oversized book.

Part II is a sociology of the layout and design of the Parisian noble's hôtel. It seems unlikely that these sociological considerations applied exclusively to the rococo period and not also to the ancien régime society of the preceding baroque and succeeding neoclassical styles.

Part III sets forth the historical thesis that political change in the form of the decline of monarchial absolutism reduced the status of the rococo style from noble status to commercially common, and thus brought about its eclipse. I find this an unsatisfactory explanation for the ascendancy of the neoclassical style.

Overall I found the book a disappointment. It shows little appreciation for the aesthetics of the style, which is quite charming. It has remarkably little color photography, and certainly too many black-and-white photos for such a book with a $90 price tag and only 318 pages.

Nonetheless I read the whole book more than once, and found some interesting historical material. I think that the title may be misleading. The book is a social and cultural history.

I refer readers interested in a better visual and aesthetic presentation of rococo interiors to Furniture: From Rococo to Art Deco (Evergreen Series). The latter has more than two and a third as many pages, at least a dozen times as many color photos including not just furniture but the room decorations as well, and about a fifth of the price.
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