Let Them Eat Brioche
By Marc Bascou, Michèle Bimbenet-Privat and Martin Chapman
Prestel Publishing, $39.95, 175 pages
The rich are not like you and me, but the royalty of the ancien régime were in a league all their own. That is abundantly clear in this volume of sumptuous art objects that were commissioned, exchanged and collected by rulers from the Sun King to Marie-Antoinette. Based on a 2012-2013 exhibition held at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, these royal treasures on loan from the Musée du Louvre in Paris illustrate the very highest degree of luxury in design, craftsmanship and materials. Here are examples of exquisite Gobelins tapestry, bejeweled snuff boxes, Sèvres porcelain, and the Gemmes de la Couronne, a collection of hard stone vases assembled by Louis XIV and considered the most highly prized works of art of their time. The book mirrors the high quality of the pieces it illustrates with single-page photographs of the objets that are complemented by a brief description of the work. Informative essays on the histories of the opulent pieces in the collection, created in specialist workshops under royal patronage, accompany each chapter. For those interested in the history and culture of this period in European history, this is very good example of a well-designed art publication.
Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen