The Spiritual Rococo: Decor and Divinity from the Salons of Paris to the Missions of Patagonia

The Spiritual Rococo: Decor and Divinity from the Salons of Paris to the Missions of Patagonia

A groundbreaking approach to Rococo religious decor and spirituality in Europe and South America, The Spiritual Rococo addresses three basic conundrums that impede our understanding of eighteenth-century aesthetics and culture. Why did the Rococo, ostensibly the least spiritual style in the pre-Modern canon, transform into one of the world's most important modes for adorning sacred spaces? And why is Rococo still treated as a decadent nemesis of the Enlightenment when the two had fundamental characteristics in common? This book seeks to answer these questions by treating Rococo as a global phenomenon for the first time and by exploring its moral and spiritual dimensions through the lens of populist French religious literature of the day-a body of work the author calls the 'Spiritual Rococo' and which has never been applied directly to the arts. The book traces Rococo's development from France through Central Europe, Portugal, Brazil, and South America by following a chain of interlocking case studies, whether artistic, literary, or ideological, and it also considers the parallel diffusion of the literature of the Spiritual Rococo in these same regions, placing particular emphasis on unpublished primary sources such as inventories. One of the ultimate goals of this study is to move beyond the cliche of Rococo's frivolity and acknowledge its essential modernity. Thoroughly interdisciplinary, The Spiritual Rococo not only integrates different art historical fields in novel ways but also interacts with church and social history, literary and post-colonial studies, and anthropology, opening up new horizons in these fields.
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