France

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This image features monkeys with sheet music, playing instruments and drinking wine. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Monkey Business, French Style
Monkeys have been a symbol in world cultures for thousands of years, representing qualities ranging from fertility, to evil, lust and wisdom. The negative image that the monkey had in Western culture gradually changed in the 17th century when monkeys were used as symbols to satirize human behavior in Flemish genre painting. This visual art...
Image features three artists at work in a large studio space.
Men at Work
  In the rear of a large atelier of the French Academy in Rome, three students (called pensionnaires) are at work. One, by the window, labors over a drawing; a second stands near a bas-relief, and a third, seated, bends over a work in progress. The remainder of the space is filled with studio equipment:...
Image features a print showing an allegorical figure of winter, a be-robed and bearded muscular old man, standing, leaning to his right, warming himself above the fire in a container at his feet. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Sculptures Fit for a King
The book, Recueil des figures, groupes, thermes, fontaines, vases, et autres ornemens tels qu’ils se voyent a present dans le Château et Parc de Versailles / / gravé d’apres les originaux par Simon Thomassin, graveur du Roy provides a comprehensive catalogue of the sculptures within the gardens at the Palace of  Versailles. Authored and published...
Image festures porcelain etui in the form of a naturalistic asparagus tip with hinged lid at base. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Asparagus to Go
Trompe-l’oeil ceramics such as this porcelain étui modelled after an asparagus tip were all the rage in Europe and England during the 18th century. Etuis are small ornamental personal cases that were used to carry toiletry items or sewing tools, and would have been used primarily by women. Other examples of trompe-l’oeil ceramics included tureens...
Image featues a shaped inkstand with inset inkpot and sander, each with a circular lid; green and ochre decoration of flowers, foliage, and figure. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
A Natural Treasure
Made of faience, a type of tin-glazed earthenware produced in France, this brightly colored inkstand held a pot for ink, a sander, pens, and various writing accouterments. Initially derived from Middle Eastern regions before the 9th century, faience developed in France during the 16th century; the French producers were largely influenced by Italian makers of...
Image features a French Romanesque church, drawn in graphite, with touches of watercolor to indicate the colors of rooftops, trees, etc. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Legacy of Beauty
Stanford White’s architectural legacy of beauty and sophistication is celebrated throughout New York City. Inspired by European architecture, White was a founder of the City Beautiful movement that spread across the country at the end of the nineteenth century. In 1878, as a young artist, White had traveled throughout Normandy and Belgium by train in...
Image features gilt bronze furniture mount in the form of a lyre made up of foliage and centered by a torch. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Shiny, Sturdy and Sophisticated
Gilt bronze furniture mounts have long been an element of decoration in French interiors. In addition to their use as ornament, they were highly functional. Their gilded surfaces added value and appeal to what would typically be a basic utilitarian purpose: protection for furniture. The mounts were generally fixed to the edges, corners, and feet...
Image features circular gilt bronze clock mounted on head of seated figure of Pu Tai Ho-Shang (Chinese god of contentment) in white porcelain, the whole on a scrolling Rococo style footed base. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
A Search for Contentment in France
This clock does not merely depict a portly man enjoying a good laugh. The soft-paste porcelain figure portrays Pu-Tai Ho Shang, a Chinese folklore deity. “Pu-Tai” means cloth sack, and the figure is usually shown with one; here, the sack supports the seated figure’s left arm. The jolly but poor deity uses the small sack...
Image features an aerial perspective of a of the Palace of Versailles and a rectangular housing at the upper left, adjacent to the Palace Grounds. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Monumentality in Social Housing
Ricardo Bofill’s architectural design, Aerial Perspective of the Lake, the Arcades, the Viaduct, and the Temple Housing Complex for St. Quentin-en-Yvelines (1981) displays the architect’s concept sketch for a monumental housing project to be constructed in the outskirts of Paris.[1] While the idea of constructing mass social housing in suburban Paris dates back to the...