Furnishing Britain : Gothic as a national aesthetic, 1740–1840
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Furniture history is often considered a niche subject removed from the main discipline of art history, and one that has little to do with the output of painters, sculptors and architects. This thesis, however, connects the key intellectual, artistic and architectural debates surfacing in ‘the arts’ between 1740 and 1840 with the design of British furniture. Despite the expanding corpus of scholarly monographs and articles dealing with individual cabinet-makers, furniture making in geographic areas and periods of time, little attention has been paid to exploring Gothic furniture made between 1740 and 1840. Indeed, no body of research on ‘mainstream’ Gothic furniture made at this time has been published. No sustained attempt has been made to trace its stylistic evolution, establish stylistic phases, or to place this development within the context of contemporary architectural practice and historiography — except for the study of A.W.N. Pugin’s ‘Reformed Gothic’. Neither have furniture historians been willing to explore the aesthetic’s connection with the intellectual and sentimental position of ‘the Gothic’ in the period. This thesis addresses these shortcomings and is the first to bridge the historiographic, cultural and architectural concerns of the time with the stylistic, constructional and material characteristics of Gothic furniture. It argues that it, like architecture, was charged with social and political meanings that included national identity in the eighteenth century — around a century before Charles Barry and A.W.N. Pugin designed the Palace of Westminster and prominently associated the Gothic legacy with Britishness.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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Embargo Date: Electronic copy of vol. 1 restricted until 6th November 2017. Electronic copy of vol. 2. restricted indefinitely
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations
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