Love, Courtship and the Intellectual Salon PDF Print E-mail

Paris Art Studies January 2013


Love, Courtship and the intellectual Salon

in French art of the 18th century:

1715-1770 with Chris Boïcos


Course Schedule. Coffee and tea are served at gallery sessions between 1:30 and 2pm.


Mo. 28 Jan. 2pm – 3:30 pm – Gallery slide lecture – Women of the Court, women of Paris – Love, Marriage and the intellectual Salon in the Age of Enlightenment.

Mo. 4  Feb. 2pm – 3:30 pm – Visit to the Hôtel de Soubise – Apartments of the Princesse de Soubise - paintings by Boucher, Tremolières, and Natoire’s cycle of “Psyche and Love”.

Meet courtyard of the Archives Nationales, 60 rue des Francs-Bourgeois 75003 (Metros: Hôtel de Ville and Rambuteau)


The Reign of Louis XV 1724 - 1774

1724 - The court returns to Versailles.

1725 - The king marries the Polish princess Marie Lezczinska.

1726 - Cardinal Fleury named Prime Minister. Opening of a period of stability in home and foreign affairs.

1733-36 - War of the Polish succession.

1738 - First balanced state budget in decades.

1741 - Beginning of war of the Austrian Succession.

1743 - Death of Fleury.

1746 - Madame de Pompadour becomes official mistress of the king.

1748 - Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle ends war. Montesquieu publishes L'esprit des lois.

1751 - Beginning of the publication of the Encyclopédie.

1756 - Beginning of Seven Years war in alliance with Austria against Prussia and England.

1757 - Damiens attempts to assassinate the king who is growing increasingly unpopular.

1758 - Choiseul named Prime minister. Next dozen years prosperous and stable.

1763 - End of war. France loses Canada and India to England.

1764 - Jesuits expelled from France. Death of Madame de Pompadour.

1765 - Death of the Dauphin.

1769 - Madame du Barry becomes the official royal mistress.

1770 - Choiseul fired. New Dauphin marries Austrian princess Marie-Antoinette.

1774 - Death of Louis XV. He is succeeded by his grandson, Louis XVI.


The Arts:

After Watteau’s death in 1721 the fête galante continues be very popular and becomes the key subject of his former assistants, Nicolas Lancret (1690-1743) and Jean Baptiste Pater (1695-1756). The older painter Jean François de Troy (1679-1752) who specializes in mythological and religious compositions also takes up the subject with success. Love, nature, courtship and femininity become the foundations of the style that will in the 1720’s be labeled “le style rocaille” or the Rococo style.

Architecture and principally decoration become light and refined favoring undulating curves and floral motifs over the vocabulary of classicism and geometry. This is the great period of private and aristocratic rather than royal architecture and notably the hôtels particuliers of the Faubourg Saint-Germain in Paris.


Enlightenment figures:

The Court:

Queen Marie Leczinska (1703-1768) wife of Louis XV

Anne de Mailly-Nesle, duchesse de Châteauroux  (1717-1744) mistress of Louis XV

Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, marquise de Pompadour (1721-1764) mistress of Louis XV


Claudine Alexandrine Guérin de Tencin (1682 – 1749)

Marie Thérèse Rodet Geoffrin (1699 - 1777)

Marie Anne de Vichy-Chamrond, marquise du Deffand (1697-1780)

Louise d’Epinay (1726-1783) patron of Jean Jacques Rousseau

Philosophers, writers, scientists:

Jean le Rond d’Alembert (1749-55) Mathematician and co-director of the Encyclopedia

Emilie du Châtelet (1706-1749) Voltaire’s mistress, mathematician , physician and translator of Newton

Denis Diderot (1713-1784) philosopher, art critic, art agent for Catherine II of Russia and co-director of the Encyclopaedia
Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) Swiss philosopher, writer, memorialist, precursor of the Romantic sensibility

Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet) 1694 – 1778.  Playwright, novelist, historian, satirist


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