Call for Papers: Workshops and Manufactures in the Years between the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Empire

Institut national d’histoire de l’art and Centre allemand d’histoire de l’art, Paris, 13–14 June 2014

Proposals due by 30 September 2013

The twenty-five years between the assembly of the États généraux and the end of the Napoleonic Empire saw political, social, cultural and economic changes that created a context of instability for the luxury industries and fine arts in France. Workshops and manufacturers were confronted with material and logistical challenges. The shortage of materials, the collapse of the financial system and the loss of a significant number of skilled workmen to the army, had a direct impact on French productivity. In spite of these difficult conditions, the insecurity and instability of social upheaval and war in this period, creativity and the invention of new trends and fashions were by no means halted in Paris. New markets quickly offered plenty of opportunities for inventive craftsmen to extend and diversify their activities.

Up until now the revolutionary period has mainly been considered as a period of disruption, especially in the field of luxury industries, which were considered to be at odds with the values of the new emerging social system. It is now possible to show that contrary to this general assumption, continuity can be found in this pivotal period between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The quick re-awakening of the production of luxury goods followed the establishment of the Directoire and its flowering during the Napoleonic years is proof of great flexibility and adjustment to social change and the new paradigms of labor. A number of questions emerge from these observations: what events and changes confronted former royal and later national manufacturers, famous workshops and regional producers in the years between the Ancien Régime and the Bourbon Restoration? In what ways were artists and artisans able to adapt or resign themselves to the new challenges? But also – to what extent did these events stimulate new modes of creativity and production which would have an impact on the development of industrialization in France?

This symposium aims to shed light on a pivotal period in the history of material culture and the decorative arts in France. One of its goals is to provide a better understanding of and insight into what exactly happened during these years and into the impact of the transformation of every aspect of civil and industrial life on Parisian and regional production in this period, which is generally recognized as one of cataclysmic change. Organized as an interdisciplinary event, this symposium will study the period from the point of view of art, social, economic and technological histories. Its main objectives are to define and shed light on the specific characteristics of the period and its production, in order to generate new insights and conclusions which complement the field’s well-established stylistic analyses, while also providing new tools for the broader analysis of objects.

Contributions of 20 minutes should approach the following pivotal points:

The Organization of Production: Actors and places of production – The management of workshops before and after the abolition of the guilds in 1791 – The institutional and legal context for production – Creators and makers in different trades linked to the luxury industries – Supply and suppliers of materials – Competition between national and private industries.

Forms and Materials: Tools, techniques and materials – Fashion and trends – The relation of stylistic evolution and industrialization- Professional schools and academic institutions for the industries – Iconographies and style for manufactured goods – Know-how and the evolution of style

Distribution: Industrial exhibitions from 1798 onwards – Methods of distribution – Producers of manufactured goods – Commercial networks – Press and publicity – Franchising and dealers – Places of sale – Diplomatic gifts – Commercial challenge and competition

Papers may be given in French or English language. Proposals for papers of one A-4 side length and a short biography in French or English should be sent to the following address before Monday, September 30th 2013: [email protected].