Synopses & Reviews
This book sets out to investigate the wealth of the artistic production that developed in Central Europe (Austria and Bohemia in particular) in the first half of the 19th century, when Biedermeier appeared as an original attempt to give rise to a "universal" stylistic expression. Its simplicity of line, rigorous and simple although not lacking in elegance and refinement, the appearance of the first craft productions based on standard models and its unquestionable modernity all make Biedermeier the first example of design, the undisputed point of breakdown between Classicism and Modernism. Indeed, it is considered on the most fascinating genres of the 19th century.
The volume offers a 360° view of Central European production using more than 300 objects of extraordinary originality, quality and workmanship from the National Gallery and Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts of Prague and from major Bohemian museums. Paintings, furnishings, sculptures, drawings, graphic works, artistic craftsmanship, jewels, ceramics and glassware that decorated the homes of gentry and bourgeois, miniatures, daguerreotypes... Remarkable pieces such as the refined lady's desk, designed and constructed in the workshop of the most important creator of Biedermeier furniture, the Viennese Josef Danhauser (1780- 1829), and a beautiful lyre- shaped secrétaire with walnut veneer and musical motif carvings that overcome the ostentation of Empire style.
A wave of revolutionary ideals, the collapse of Napoleon's imperial dreams and the changes wrought by the Restoration all contributed to the birth in Europe of new models of social behaviour accompanied by a taste in art something other than the empire style with its echoes of the classical period. Attention turned instead to the intimate, domestic sphere, to the everyday events in the world of the middle class and to a sentimental and slightly melancholic vision of nature. In Central Europe and especially Austria, Bohemia, Hungary and northern Germany, this milieu came to be defined as "Biedermeier." More than an artistic style, Biedermeier was a way of life which had a profound influence on all the arts in Europe from 1815 to 1848--although with distinct regional variations, for example, in Russia, Scandinavia, France of Charles X and Louis Philippe, Italy of Carlo Alberto of Savoy and in Victorian England. It was especially influential in the areas of furniture design and the decorative arts. This book, with its up-to-date critical and historical reading of Biedermeier, offers an extraordinarily rich repertoire of paintings, glassware, ceramics, textiles and jewellery. It also includes an annotated bibliography providing an overview of the Biedermeier phenomenon, a phenomenon which stands at the root of an emerging middle-class culture in Europe as well as of international modernism.