Etched frontispiece from Le Sopha: conte moral (Paris: edition of 1774), private collection.

David Pullins will deliver a Françoise and Georges Selz Lecture on Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century French Decorative Arts and Culture on Tuesday, February 18, at 6 pm. His talk is entitled “The Sofa: Furnishing Moral Tales in Eighteenth-Century French Painting.”

The success of Crébillon fils’s exoticist novel The Sofa: A Moral Tale (1742) suggests the blend of celebrity and infamy that marked this relatively new French furniture form inspired by traditional Ottoman culture. Pullins’s talk explores the link between the sofa and its often opulent upholstery to the rise new domestic spaces and new forms of bodily comportment, while tracing the representational innovations that sofas prompted in images such as François Boucher’s Lady on her Daybed (1743) and Blonde Odalisque (1752), Gabriel de Saint-Aubin’s Private Academy (c.1755), and the contemporary genre subjects and tableaux de mode popularized by Nicolas Lancret and Jean-François de Troy.


David Pullins is an Assistant Curator at The Frick Collection. He received his MA from the Courtauld Institute of Art and PhD from Harvard University with a dissertation that addressed the training and workshop practices of eighteenth-century French painters but which took many methodological cues from the study of the decorative arts. His research has been supported by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Dumbarton Oaks, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA). He has published in The Burlington Magazine, Journal of Art Historiography, Master Drawings, Oxford Art Journal, Print Quarterly, Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, as well as exhibition catalogs and edited volumes including Renoir: Between Bohemia and Bourgeoisie: The Early Years (Kunstmuseum, Basel: 2011) and Histories of Ornament. From Global to Local, edited by Gülru Necipoğlu and Alina Payne (Princeton University Press: 2016).


This event will be livestreamed. Please check back the day of the event for a link to the video. To watch videos of past events please visit our YouTube page.