Thursday Seminar: "Porcelain: Another Kind of Classical Education"


Thursday, February 21, 2019, 6:00pm to 7:30pm


Gould Hall, I Tatti

Speaker: Suzanne Marchand (I Tatti / Louisiana State University)

For a very long time, I have been wondering how it was that Europeans—and not just scholarly Europeans--learned to ‘see’ classical antiquity in the modern period. Until relatively recently, I assumed they learned mostly through books or in museums, art academies, and schools.  This paper, however, takes an experimental approach by venturing into the marketplace for semi-luxury goods, and especially the products of the German porcelain industry, and asking what this world of purchasable arts might tell us about the formation of a  set of visual points of reference and aesthetic values for Germans and other Europeans between about 1750 and 1820.  The final section of the paper discusses the role of the later nineteenth-century market in eroding neoclassical ideals, and leaving them to the tender mercies of fascist appropriators.  There are many terrific images, quite a number of them amusing.

Suzanne Marchand is LSU Systems Boyd Professor of European Intellectual History at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. Marchand obtained her BA from UC Berkeley in 1984, and her PhD from the University of Chicago in 1992. She served as assistant and then associate professor at Princeton University before moving to LSU in 1999.  She is the author of Down from Olympus: Archaeology and Philhellenism in Germany, 1750-1870 (Princeton University Press, 1996) and German Orientalism in the Age of Empire: Race, Religion, and Scholarship (Cambridge University Press, 2009). She is also the co-author of two textbooks: Worlds Together, Worlds Apart (W.W. Norton, 5th ed., 2017) and Many Europes (McGraw Hill, 2013). In 2013, she was appointed LSU Systems Boyd Professor, LSU’s highest honor.