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The Sofa: Staging Bodies in Eighteenth-Century Paris

  • Wednesday, May 17 at 11:30 a.m.

  • $50 On-site • $25 Online

  • On-site • 54 W. Chicago Ave

  • In English

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Sofas were a new and frequently scintillating novelty in eighteenth-century France, the object of attention by libertine writers and moralists, from the designers of fashion plate to the country’s leading painters and draftsmen.

This talk will explore how sofas took fashionable Paris by storm from the 1720s through 1760s and how this three-dimensional, function furniture framed its users in ways that were seen as foreign, provocative, and outright erotic. A consideration of how they were written about in popular novellas and art criticism as well as how they were represented in two dimensions offer clues about how a very familiar, everyday object in our time was rife imagination and intrigue in eighteenth-century France. It also points to how living bodies were, in effect, transformed into works of art when they were framed by the eighteenth-century sofas’ plush cushions and curvaceous backs.

Lecture conducted in English.

David Pullins (BA, Columbia University; MA, The Courtauld Institute of Art; PhD, Harvard University) is Associate Curator in the Department of European Paintings, where he is responsible for seventeenth- and eighteenth-century French, Italian and Spanish works of art. Previously an Assistant Curator at The Frick Collection, he has published in The Burlington Magazine, Journal of Art Historiography, Master Drawings, Oxford Art Journal, Print Quarterly, Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, as well as exhibition catalogs and edited volumes, including Renoir: Between Bohemia and Bourgeoisie: The Early Years (Kunstmuseum, Basel: 2011), Histories of Ornament. From Global to Local, eds. Gülru Necipoğlu and Alina Payne (Princeton University Press: 2016) and La Chine rêvée de François Boucher (RMN: 2019). His research has been supported by Sir John Soane’s Museum, Dumbarton Oaks, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) at the National Gallery of Art and the Bibliotheca Hertziana, Rome.

*Free Admission for students with IDs on-site / .edu addresses online. High school, college, or university.

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