Thesis ID: CBB615588841

To Scale: Manufacturing Grandeur in the Age of Louis XIV (2021)


Sarah Grandin (Author)
Lajer-Burcharth, Ewa (Advisor)

Harvard University
Lajer-Burcharth, Ewa
Publication date: 2021
Language: English

Publication Date: 2021
Physical Details: 476

This dissertation proposes that during the reign of Louis XIV (1661−1715), art’s physical extent was fashioned to embody the ethos of absolute rule, which was defined by its relatively limitless and pervasive nature. To make this argument, I examine four artisanal enterprises unprecedented in their scale, size, and scope: the Savonnerie carpets woven for the Grande Galerie du Louvre, royal gardens, the print volumes known as the Cabinet du Roi, and the Romain du Roi typeface. Drawing upon administrative records, workshop inventories, artisanal treatises, preparatory sketches, period representations of making, and surviving objects, I demonstrate that scalar regularity emerged as the royal administration’s paramount aesthetic concern. Uniformity was meant, paradoxically, to convey Louis XIV’s exceptionalism: his territorial mastery, his sovereignty, and even his modernity. And yet, while the King’s powers were, in theory, absolute, the scaling of objects encountered limits at every turn. By comparing ideal visions to the objects themselves, my research uncovers the rift between scalar ambition and the intractable constraints of the early modern workshop, all of which precipitated a shift in the role of the artisan. At the same time as practitioners adapted their working methods to fulfill a mandate of standardization, they also sought to assert the enduring value of their unique, embodied set of skills.

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Authors & Contributors
Perez, Stanis
Stroup, Alice
Bettoni, Barbara
Guerrini, Anita
Hahn, Roger
Hofmann, Catherine
Der Globusfreund: Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift für Globen- und Instrumentenkunde
Ambix: Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
Annals of Science: The History of Science and Technology
Archive for History of Exact Sciences
Histoire & Mesure
Lund Humphries
McGill-Queen's University Press
Pennsylvania State University Press
Voltaire Foundation
Courts and courtiers
Scientific apparatus and instruments
Visual representation; visual communication
Court sponsored science; patronage
Louis XIV, King of France
Coronelli, Marco Vincenzo
Colbert, Jean Baptiste
d'Elissagaray, Bernard Renau
Fontaney, Jean de
Rousseau, Henri de Montbazon
Time Periods
17th century
18th century
16th century
19th century
Choson dynasty (Korea, 1392-1910)
Académie des Sciences, Paris
Jesuits (Society of Jesus)
Académie Royale des Sciences (France)
Paris. Jardin Royal des Plantes

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