The eighteenth century was a period of great inventiveness and originality in French decorative arts, and its crowning achievement was the creation and decoration of the domestic interior. Styles such as the Regency, rococo, neoclassical revival and style etrusque transformed the appearance of the great houses of France and were widely copied throughout Europe. Using the craftsmen and skills originally brought into France from Italy and the Low Countries to serve the Sun King, French aristocrats and financiers created in their Paris Hotels and country chateaux interiors of an unprecedented elegance and sophistication. The same can be said of the works of art with which they furnished these rooms - decorated furniture, gilt-bronzes, silver, the finest porcelain, of which ne was finer than Sevres, tapestries and carpets, and beautiful silks. This book discusses the creation and contents of many such interiors, including some that have never been photographed before. Using contemporary inventories, letters and journals it brings to life the tastes and preoccupations of their creators, both in their public lives and more private moments. It also explores the wider context of the different styles of decoration, the effect upon them of changes in etiquette and social behaviour, and the effect they had in turn upon the function and arrangement of rooms within the French interior.
John Whitehead is a frequent exhibitor at international art and antiques fairs, and serves on the committee of the French Porcelain Society. He is a well-known authority on eighteenth-century decorative arts and interior decoration, and has previously written, with Dr Oliver Impey, on the use of Japanese lacquer on French furniture, and with Sir Francis Watson on the porcelain collection of the Grand Dauphin.