Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the Eighteenth Century

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Overview


During the reigns of Louis XV (1723-74) and Louis XVI (1774-92) fashion and furniture merged ideals of beauty and pleasure through their forms and embellishments. With their fragile surfaces and delicate proportions, tables, chairs, and other pieces of furniture enhanced the elite's indulgence in leisurely pursuits, fostering highly complex standards of etiquette and performance. Men and women restated the splendor of the Rococo and Neoclassical interiors of the period in their opulent costumes. For the ...
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Overview


During the reigns of Louis XV (1723-74) and Louis XVI (1774-92) fashion and furniture merged ideals of beauty and pleasure through their forms and embellishments. With their fragile surfaces and delicate proportions, tables, chairs, and other pieces of furniture enhanced the elite's indulgence in leisurely pursuits, fostering highly complex standards of etiquette and performance. Men and women restated the splendor of the Rococo and Neoclassical interiors of the period in their opulent costumes. For the eighteenth-century libertine and femme du monde, a refined elegance and delicate voluptuousness infused their world with a mood of amorous delight.

Dangerous Liaisons takes its theme from this era, when trifling in love propelled the energies of elite men and women, providing almost daily stimulating encounters, and when, as has been written, "morality lost but society gained." In Choderlos de Laclos's novel of the same name, Ceacile, a young girl, is praised by her tutor in the worldly arts: "She is really delightful! She has neither character nor principles ... everything about her indicates the keenest sensations." Valmont, her seducer, notes the following morning, "Nothing could have been more amusing." Valmont has won a game in the contest of lovemaking.

The beautifully photographed and handsomely reproduced images on the following pages bring these amorous adventures to life. The vignettes, staged for the widely praised exhibition "Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the Eighteenth Century," held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2004, feature eighteenth-century costumes in the Museum's spectacular French period rooms, The Wrightsman Galleries. The artfully composed scenes include: a woman sitting for her portrait while her husband flirts with her friend; a man being granted an audience with a woman in a peignoir who is having her hair dressed; a vendor embracing the wife of an old man, his back turned, examining a table for sale; a girl receiving more than a harp lesson from her teacher, while her oblivious chaperone reads an erotic novel; a woman giving up her garter as a memento of a very private dinner. The entertaining and knowledgeable texts set the scenes perfectly.  [This book was originally published in 2006 and has gone out of print. This edition is a print-on-demand version of the original book.]

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Originally intended to accompany an acclaimed exhibition at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2004, this beautifully and thoughtfully illustrated (68 color photographs) work has been compiled by two of that museum's curators. Consisting of mostly photographs of the exhibition's installations in the museum's French period rooms and brief essays and catalog entries, it seeks to interrelate French fashions with the decorative and fine arts to suggest that aesthetics, as well as ideas of seduction, mattered to the 18th-century French nobility who commissioned the lavish clothing and luxurious interiors. Included are nine dramatic vignettes conceptualized and staged by artist, opera designer, and creative consultant Patrick Kinmonth; an essay by Mimi Hellman (art history, Skidmore Coll.); and catalog entries arranged by period room by the editors. The book strives for comprehensiveness in spite of its concise, coffee-table-like presentation and lack of footnotes. While not a substitute for other sources on the museum's collections and despite its predominantly visual nature, this veritable feast for the eyes and titillation of the mind belongs in most large public, some academic, and many special libraries. Cheryl Ann Lajos, Free Lib. of Philadelphia Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300107142
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Publication date: 5/15/2006
  • Series: Metropolitan Museum of Art Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 9.52 (w) x 12.06 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author


Harold Koda is Curator in Charge and Andrew Bolton is Associate Curator of The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Mimi Hellman is Assistant Professor of Art History at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York.
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2012

    It never happened!

    I never got the book. I received an e-mail from Barnes and Noble telling me the book
    was no longer available and could not be back order so they cancelled it from my order. I'm a little confused why you sent me this review request.

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  • Posted April 9, 2012

    B&N Doesn't Know What They Are Doing

    This book is unavailable. B&N has it listed on their website. I have ordered it multiple times and they cancel the order each time. They have explained that the book is unavailable - but, apparently, they are too stupid to remove it as a direct order from the website. EVEN THOUGH I HAVE DISCUSSED IT WITH "CUSTOMER SERVICE." ARE YOU LISTENING B&N? I think you owe me this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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