Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the Eighteenth Century
Harold Koda, Andrew Bolton
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Dangerous Liaisons takes its theme from this era, when trifling in love propelled the energies of elite men and women, providing almost daily stimulating encounters, and when, as has been written, "morality lost but society gained." In Choderlos de Laclos's novel of the same name, Ceacile, a young girl, is praised by her tutor in the worldly arts: "She is really delightful! She has neither character nor principles ... everything about her indicates the keenest sensations." Valmont, her seducer, notes the following morning, "Nothing could have been more amusing." Valmont has won a game in the contest of lovemaking.
The beautifully photographed and handsomely reproduced images on the following pages bring these amorous adventures to life. The vignettes, staged for the widely praised exhibition "Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the Eighteenth Century," held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2004, feature eighteenth-century costumes in the Museum's spectacular French period rooms, The Wrightsman Galleries. The artfully composed scenes include: a woman sitting for her portrait while her husband flirts with her friend; a man being granted an audience with a woman in a peignoir who is having her hair dressed; a vendor embracing the wife of an old man, his back turned, examining a table for sale; a girl receiving more than a harp lesson from her teacher, while her oblivious chaperone reads an erotic novel; a woman giving up her garter as a memento of a very private dinner. The entertaining and knowledgeable texts set the scenes perfectly. [This book was originally published in 2006 and has gone out of print. This edition is a print-on-demand version of the original book.]