The Arts of Design in France, 1780-1815: Interiors, Objects, and Fashion between the Revolution and the First Empire

The course explores the artistic developments that affected interiors, furnishings, and fashion in a dramatic period of change that ushered in modern Europe. After surveying the situation in France during the years before the storming of the Bastille, we will examine various cultural and aesthetic currents including neoclassicism, historicism, and exoticism. Rather than treating the period as a single unit, as is often the case, we will treat the decade leading up to the Revolution, the Revolution itself, the Directoire and Consulat, and the Empire as distinct periods dominated by discrete political events and power shifts. In each of these periods, we will focus on the work of leading designers and architects and their collaborative relationships with their patrons. We will also consider new types of consumers who emerged during this time of social upheaval, eager to show off their recently acquired wealth by commissioning and purchasing high-end goods in the latest styles. Recent research has spurred a growing interest in this tumultuous and highly influential twenty-five-year span, and course readings from secondary as well as primary sources will allow us to connect both the taste and methods of fabrication at the turn of the nineteenth century with the present day. As both professors are currently conducting research projects on this period, new aspects and discoveries in one of the most lively and dramatic eras for fashion, furniture, and object design will be presented for discussion. Classes will be complemented by field trips in NYC. 3 credits. Based on research project, the course can satisfy the pre-1800 requirement.