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Design and the Decorative Arts by Michael Snodin

Product Code: 0810966190
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Publisher: V&a Publications (October 4, 2004)    ISBN: 0810966190

This volume tells the story of design and the decorative arts in Britain during the reign of Queen Victoria. With an empire that embraced a fifth of the earth's land surface and a quarter of its people, Britain was the workshop of the world. London was rivalled only by Paris as a focus for international interest in design and the decorative arts and British products could be found across the globe, from museums and palaces to the living rooms of ordinary people. Victorian self-confidence seemed boundless, but optimism about the human capacity to transform the material world was matched by a spiritual disquiet that found powerful expression in design and the decorative arts. Victorians despaired at the endless production of mass produced material goods as well as the social conditions in which they were produced. Yet in their efforts to confront these problems, they produced some the masterpieces of Victorian design. Lavishly illustrated and unmatched in its coverage, this book explores design and the decorative arts from a number of points of view. It assesses their place in the wider history of Victorian Britain. It examines style, the question of how things looked. It asks who led taste; who decided what was to be considered beautiful, fashionable and desirable. It looks at how fashionable things – from houses to clothing – were used. It asks what was new, examining new products and innovations in the ways they were made. Together, the chapters provide a fascinating picture of design and the decorative arts in Victorian Britain.

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