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Building reputationsArchitecture and the artisan, 1750-1830$
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Conor Lucey

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526119940

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526119940.001.0001

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Decorating houses: style, taste and the business of decoration

Decorating houses: style, taste and the business of decoration

(p.122) 3 Decorating houses: style, taste and the business of decoration
Building reputations

Conor Lucey

Manchester University Press

Reflecting on the separation of house building and house decorating in the historiography of the eighteenth-century town house, this chapter explores the role of the building artisan in determining the form and appearance of the urban domestic interior. Of particular importance here is the business of decoration: the impact of decorators, such as decorative plasterers and timber joiners, as speculative builders and property developers; and the standardization of interior decoration in the form of pre-fabricated ornament. Key topics include the dissemination of architectural tastes through the agency of immigrant artisan populations; the role of books and magazines in shaping vocabularies of decorative taste; and the creative adaptation from printed sources. Focusing on the artisan’s negotiation and interpretation of the neo-classical (or ‘Adam’) style, this chapter also considers how degrees of separation from the source of that ornamental language fostered distinct dialects in towns and cities across Britain, Ireland and North America. Collectively, the topics of chapter make a case for the artisan as a key agent of fashionable taste in elite real estate markets.

Keywords:   decoration, interior, neoclassical, ornament, taste

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