In Pursuit of Refinement: Charlestonians Abroad, 1740-1860

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Charleston has a history rich in culture and tradition, full of distinctive character and noble allure. By the eve of the American Revolution the South Carolina Lowcountry was the wealthiest area in British North America. Charleston so epitomized the gentle character of European aristocracy that in 1773 Bostonian Josiah Quincy had cause to exclaim, "In grandeur, splendour of building, decorations ... and indeed almost everything, Charleston far surpasses all I ever saw or ...
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Overview

Charleston has a history rich in culture and tradition, full of distinctive character and noble allure. By the eve of the American Revolution the South Carolina Lowcountry was the wealthiest area in British North America. Charleston so epitomized the gentle character of European aristocracy that in 1773 Bostonian Josiah Quincy had cause to exclaim, "In grandeur, splendour of building, decorations ... and indeed almost everything, Charleston far surpasses all I ever saw or expected in America."

Long after America severed political ties with England, Charlestonians remained uniquely drawn to European society. In Pursuit of Refinement is the first major study of this subject, exploring Charleston's special fascination with European culture. This fully illustrated catalogue accompanies an important exhibition of more than 140 objects, many of which have never been exhibited, organized by the Gibbes Museum of Art and the Historic Charleston Foundation. The book, like the exhibit, focuses on the portraits, paintings, decorative arts, and other artifacts that document the allure that England and continental Europe held for Charlestonians. Works by Thomas Gainsborough and George Romney and from the European periods of Benjamin West and John Singleton Copley lead the list of important commissions.

In Pursuit of Refinement delves into the issues surrounding this pinnacle of American patronage and the interaction that existed between Charleston and Europe through the antebellum period.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Accompanies an exhibition at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, South Carolina showing April to July 1999. The 140 pieces document the continued fascination with European culture after the US cut political ties with Britain. They include on portraits, paintings, decorative arts, and other artifacts among which are work of Thomas Gainsborough, George Romney and from Benjamin West and John Singleton Coply during their European periods. Most of the reproductions and photographs are in color. Paper edition (unseen) $29.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknew.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570033155
  • Publisher: University of South Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/1999
  • Pages: 350
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 10.60 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Supporters
Lenders
Committees and Boards
Preface
Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Introduction 1
"To Blend Pleasure with Knowledge": The Cultural Odyssey of Charlestonians Abroad 9
Reflections of Refinement: Portraits of Charlestonians at Home and Abroad 23
"Picture Mania": Collectors and Collecting in Charleston 39
Buying British: Merchants, Taste, and Charleston Consumerism 55
John Izard Middleton: "Talent Enough to Be One of the First Men in America" 65
Contributors 87
Catalogue of the Exhibition 91
General Bibliography 335
Index 339
Staff 349
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