Sylvain Cordier will be coming to speak in the François and George Selz Lectures on Eighteenth- and Nineteenth- Century French Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture on Tuesday, October 25, 2011, on “Bellangé, Ebénistes à Paris: A History of Taste in Early Nineteenth-Century France.”

Sylvain Cordier is an independent scholar from Paris, France. He received his Ph.D. from the Université Paris-Sorbonne, where he has also taught as a Lecturer in Art History. He has been a research fellow at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, the Centre André Chastel in Paris, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He is currently working on a book on nineteenth-century century French decorative arts, to be published in 2012 by the Editions Mare et Martin, Paris.

Dr. Cordier’s talk will examine the Bellangé family, prominent ébénistes whose workshops, spanning two generations, offer a valuable window onto the changing fashions, styles, and conditions of furniture production in Paris from the pre-revolutionary period to the Second Empire. By examining the complex rules and traditions according to which the Bellangé crafted official objects for a variety of regimes—from one revolution to the next—the lecture reveals continuities and disjunctions in protocols and tastes between 1790 and 1840. Pierre-Antoine Bellangé (1757-1827), an exemplar of the Empire style, filled prestigious state commissions in both France and America, including an order from President Monroe to furnish the drawing room of the newly restored White House in Washington, D.C. His son and successor, Louis-Alexandre (1797-1861), exemplified the eclecticism and historicism of the July Monarchy in work embracing neo-gothic, neo-Renaissance, and Louis XIV-revival styles. By contrast, Pierre-Antoine’s younger brother Louis-François (1759-1827) saw himself not as a fashionable cabinetmaker but as an original craftsman offering luxury furniture to a clientele of visiting British aristocrats after the fall of Napoleon. His production was characterized by precious materials and the revival of eighteenth-century aesthetics, an approach continued by his son Alexandre until 1863. As a single family comprising diverse artisans, the Bellangé family illustrates how one Parisian workshop contributed to the history of taste, style, and interior decoration.

Please RSVP and join us in the Lecture Hall at 38 West 86th Street, between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West, at 5:45pm for a reception before the talk.