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An Illustrated History of Interior Decoration

From Pompeii to Art Nouveau

Mario Praz, William Weaver

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A complete survey of domestic interiors portrayed in art from the ancient world to the late nineteenth century


The appeal of this extraordinary book lies in its rapt obsession with the details of the domestic interior, borne out in a wonderfully rich collection of pictures. These charming paintings and water-colours, mostly dating from 1770 to 1860 and coming from all over Europe, Russia and America, record with faithful accuracy the shape of a room, the pattern of a carpet, the furniture, pictures, fabrics and wall coverings, the hang of the curtains and the fall of the light they admit.

The pictures find their place in a complete survey of domestic – and some more palatial – interiors portrayed in art from the ancient world to the late 19th century, and including works by Vermeer, Hogarth, Dürer, Degas and Vuillard.

The text goes beyond scholarly commentary to present an evolving picture of men and women in relation to domestic surroundings, full of human interest, wit and wide-ranging cultural references.

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'Magnificent … scholarly yet accessible … a seductive page-turner'
Financial Times

'Gorgeous is the only word for this book. Sweetly written, richly coloured, stuffed to bursting and lavishly packed'
Sir Hugh Casson, Observer

'Has lost none of its charm … a delightful combination of knowledgeable opinion, gossipy scene-setting and detailed description'
House & Garden

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 30.3 x 23.0 cm

Extent: 396 pp

Illustrations: 400

Publication date: 26 July 1982

ISBN: 9780500233580

Contents List

Introduction • Illustrations and Commentary: Greek and Roman Furnishings; The Medieval House; Late Medieval Interiors; Late Gothic Interiors; 15th-Century Italian Interiors; Interiors in the Paintings of Vittore Carpaccio; Interiors in Florentine Renaissance Painting; The Scholar’s Cell; 16th-Century Interiors in the Engravings of van der Straet; 17th-Century Flemish Interiors in the Paintings of Frans Franken; Dutch Interiors in 17th-Century Emblem Books; Opulent Flemish Interiors in the Paintings of van Bassen; Louis XIII Inter ior s in the Eng ravings of Abraham Bosse; Inter ior s in 17th-Centur y Dutc h Painting; Wunderkammer n and Patrician Galleries; English Interiors of the 18th Century; Gothic Taste in 18th-Century England; Louis XV Interiors: Innovations in Furniture and the Distribution of Apartments; The Classical Influence and the Development of the Louis XVI Style; An Interest in Humble Interiors and Precious Furniture; Early Neoclassical Interiors; Interiors by Percier and Fontaine: The Inspiration of Herculaneum; The Receuil of Percier and Fontaine: The ‘Bible of Empire Style’; Archaeological Trends in England: Interiors and Furniture by Thomas Hope; Empire Interiors; Watercolor Interiors by Garnerey; Empire Interiors in Naples; From Empire to Biedermeier; The Timelessness of Humble Interiors; The Biedermeier Stimmung in the Paintings of Georg Friedrich Kersting; Interior Views as Portraits of Famous Persons; The Bonapartes in Exile – The Round Table of Queen Hortense; Early 19th-century Florentine Interiors; Biedermeier Interiors of the Bourbons in Naples; Biedermeier Interiors at the Court of Marie-Louise at Parma; Bourgeois Interiors and the Sense of Intimacy; 19th-century kitchens; American and English Interiors of the early 19th century; Russian Interiors, 1820s–1850s; Danish Interiors of c.1830; Cafés, Osterie and Gathering Places; Artists’ Studios; The Chigi Album; Dutch Interiors, 1830–1840; The Album of Queen Sophia of Holland; Innovations: The Pouf; Character of the Furnishing–Character of the Owner; Children and Flowers; Around the Table; The World Outside; Influence of the Great Exhibition of 1851; Residences of Foreigners in Italy; Watercolour Interiors by Fernand Pelez; Exaltation of the Stuffed Chair; The Style Louis XVI–Impératrice; The Château de Ferrières of the Baron de Rothschild; The Twilight of the Biedermeier Spirit; The Styleless Interior; The Clutter of Bric-a-Brac and Junk: The Makart-Bukett; The Japanese Vogue and the Ecelecticism of the 19th Century; The Intimism of Interiors by Vuillard; Art Nouveau Interiors

About the Author

Mario Praz was Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Rome from 1934 to 1966, and Professor Emeritus until his death in 1982.

List of Contributors

William Weaver