Sheltering Art

Collecting and Social Identity in Early Eighteenth-Century Paris

By (author) Rochelle Ziskin

Hardback - £65.95

Publication date:

16 August 2012

Length of book:

392 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271037851

The turn of the eighteenth century was a period of transition in France, a time when new but contested concepts of modernity emerged in virtually every cultural realm. The rigidity of the state’s consolidation of the arts in the late seventeenth century yielded to a more vibrant and diverse cultural life, and Paris became, once again, the social and artistic capital of the wealthiest nation in Europe. In Sheltering Art, Rochelle Ziskin explores private art collecting, a primary facet of that newly decentralized artistic realm and one increasingly embraced by an expanding social elite as the century wore on. During the key period when Paris reclaimed its role as the nexus of cultural and social life, two rival circles of art collectors—with dissonant goals and disparate conceptions of modernity—competed for preeminence. Sheltering Art focuses on these collectors, their motivations for collecting art, and the natures of their collections. An ambitious study, it employs extensive archival research in its examination of the ideologies associated with different strategies of collecting in eighteenth-century Paris and how art collecting was inextricably linked to the shaping of social identities.

“Rochelle Ziskin’s learned study brings to vibrant life the extensive social and political networks out of which two major early eighteenth-century Parisian art collections grew, and it reveals how the practices that built each collection were decisively shaped by the ideals of these overlapping networks—as well as by the conflicts that sometimes divided them. In this way, Ziskin elegantly enriches our understanding of what was at stake in the subtle distinctions that characterized the varieties of contemporary elite taste, and she significantly enlarges our knowledge of the intricate cultural politics of Louis XV’s Regency.”

—Richard Wittman, University of California, Santa Barbara