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Unlikely citizens? The manufacturers of Sevres porcelain and the French Revolution.

Richardson, E.J.; (2007) Unlikely citizens? The manufacturers of Sevres porcelain and the French Revolution. Doctoral thesis , University of London. Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis aims to reintegrates the history of the manufactory of Sevres porcelain with that of the French Revolution, in the hope of better understanding them both. Realistically the two cannot be detached, though accounts of this decade in the manufactory's existence often belie this by omitting the events of the period from their narrative. Yet the revolution did not happen at arms-length from the manufactory but in and around it and, as I will argue, the Sevrian's relationship with events was two-way, involved and dynamic. Thus as well as exploring the impact that the revolution had on the manufactory (precipitating the collapse of the luxury industries and prompting the emigration of their primarily aristocratic clientele), I will examine the strategies deployed by Sevres' administration to cope with and adapt to changed circumstances. I will also argue that, despite their pedigree as employees of a manufacture royale, Sevres' workforce met the challenges of the period pro-actively, embracing the revolution in words and actions that will be analysed here. Sevres' production of (and the market for) revolutionary porcelain will also be discussed at length. Yet all this precludes that the manufactory survived in the first place, which could not have been assumed. Aside from the financial difficulties the revolution caused them, the intensely hostile climate to all things regal, all things luxurious and privileged could presuppose their swift demise. As such, the manufactory's negotiation of the period is remarkable, and their continued existence under a regime that publicly aspired to Spartan values and aesthetics not untouched by paradox. Why revolutionary governments representing values diametrically opposed to those embodied by Sevres nevertheless exempted it from annihilation will be questioned. Similarly, the reasons they subsequently supported the manufactory, whose products maintained many of their trademark characteristics and were of little practical use to them, will be investigated.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Unlikely citizens? The manufacturers of Sevres porcelain and the French Revolution.
Identifier: PQ ETD:592345
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by Proquest Third party copyright material has been removed from the e-thesis.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History of Art
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1445032
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