Book Review: Rococo – The Continuing Curve, 1730-2008

by John Werry on July 30, 2008

rocococurve Book Review: Rococo   The Continuing Curve, 1730 2008

I picked up a copy of Rococo The Continuing Curve and thought I’d pass on some thoughts about it, which you should realize come from the mind of an antique furniture collector who only dabbles very slightly (currently) in other items of decorative art.  You’ll understand why I mention that in a minute.

The table of contents:

  1. Forward – Paul Warwick Thompson
  2. The Continuing Curve – Penelope Hunter-Stiebel
  3. Rococo Redux: From the Style Moderne of the Eighteenth Century to Art Nouveau – Melissa Lee Hyde
  4. Juste-Aurele Meissonnier and His Patrons – Peter Fuhring
  5. Ornament of Bizarre Imagination: Rococo Prints and Drawings from Cooper-Hewitt’s Leon Decloux Collection – Gail S. Davidson
  6. Louis XV Style – Penelope Hunter-Stiebel
  7. Eighteenth-Century Nancy: The Good King and the Blacksmith – Penelope Hunter-Stiebel
  8. Radiating Rococo: The Dissemination of Style through Migrating Designers, Craftsmaen, and Objects in the Eighteenth Century – Sarah D. Coffin
  9. German Rococo: From Cuvillies in Munich to Nahl in Potsdam – Ulrich Leben
  10. Rococo in Holland: The assimilation of a Foreign Style – Reinier Baarsen
  11. Emulation and Subversion: Nineteenth-Century Rococo Revivals in the Graphic Arts – Gail S. Davidson
  12. The Rococo Revival in English and American Nineteenth-century Silver – Sarah D. Coffin
  13. “Equal to Any in the World”: Rococo-revival Furniture in America – Jason Busch
  14. Art Nouveau – Penelope Hunter-Stiebel
  15. The Modern Curve: Form, Structure, and Image in the Twentieth Century and Beyond – Ellen Lupton
  16. Endnotes, Bibliography, Acknowledgments Photographic Credits, Selected INdex of Names

rococopages Book Review: Rococo   The Continuing Curve, 1730 2008

This book is very comprehensive in discussing Rococo as is evidenced by the date range in the title, the spectrum of the items covered, and the global reach of the chapters.

For me, I am left wanting for a few dozen more pages in Jason Busch’s American Furniture section, which is only 12 pages long.  There are a few John Henry Belter pieces as well as furniture by Charles White (which I will address in a later post), and Julius Dessoir.

There are a series of “probably pieces”: one each of “probably Boston”, “Paris or NY”, “probably United States”, and “Probably NY”. For me it seems somewhat odd that a book of this stature has so many “probablies” in it, but their inclusion is probably more for demonstration of form than for identification of maker.

There are images from advertisements or catalog covers for George Henkels, Prudent Mallard, and Charles White but nothing that will provide clues for furniture identification.

The Louis XV chapter has a fair amount of 18th century French furniture and the book as a whole has extensive coverage of 18th century decorative arts in general.  This blog focuses on the Victorian era and the book is a nice reminder that Rococo was not invented by Belter.

If your are interested in the origins and progression of Rococo, then there is probably no finer book.  If you are an admirer of the full menu of decorative arts (sconces, candelbra, paintings, etchings, snuffboxes….), specifically in the Rococo style, then it is all in there for you.  If you are looking for a 19th century Rococo furniture reference book, then this isn’t it.

Amazon.com has copies, here.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Woodwright July 31, 2008 at 12:52 am

Thanks for the review. I probably won’t mail order it, but will keep an eye out for it in bookstores to check it out. I mail ordered a book many years ago about Rococo furniture – thinking – I love Rococo. But it was a different Rococo than I was expecting – 18th Century – not the 19th Century Rococo revival that interests me most. woodwright

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