Goût grec

Greek taste(French: Goût grec) is the term applied to the earliest expression of the neoclassical style in France, it refers specifically to the decorative arts and architecture of the mid-1750s to the late 1760s. The style was more fanciful than historically accurate though the first archaeological surveys of Greece had begun to appear at this time. It was characterized by severe rectilinear and trabeated forms with a somewhat crude Greek detailing incorporating bold pilasters, Ionic scrolls, Greek key and scroll frets and guilloche. The style’s origin may be found in the suite of furniture designed by Louis-Joseph Le Lorrain for the Parisian financier Ange-Laurent de La Live de Jully (now in the Musée Condé, Chantilly). In comparison to the prevailing Rococo style the austerity of these pieces is stark, and found praise from the contemporary authority on Greek antiquity, the Comte de Caylus. Also influential were the engravings of the architect Jean-François de Neufforge, the architecture of Charles De Wailly, and the designs of Philippe de La Guêpière. The goût grec was a style of avant-garde circles in upper-class Paris, but was ignored at the court at Versailles, where a more conservative, stiffened Louis XV and modified “Transitional” style obtained.

The very first example of “Greek taste” is considered to be Laliva de Julli’s cabinet in Paris, created in 1756 by de Shedeuville together with other authors. Only furniture has survived from it, which already has all the signs of the coming classicism: antique garlands, patterns from meanders, etc.

The goût grec was short-lived and replaced quickly with the delicate, linear (or insipid, according to preference) goût étrusque and goût arabesque, neo-“Etruscan” and “arabesque” fashions with closer parallels in contemporary British Adam style of the 70s and 80s.

The awakening of interest in ancient art is associated with several reasons. First, it is fatigue from what surrounded people. Interiors in the so-called. the rococo style was beautiful, elegant, luxurious, but there were already too many of them, and they seemed monotonous (to understand this, it is enough to scroll through two volumes of G. Frédé Blondel’s grand work “De la distribution des maisons de plaisance et de la decoration des edifices en general “in 1737). I wanted novelty. In addition, in the enlightened part of the French society appeared apologists of reason who could not accept the fashionable innovations of contemporary architects for their pretentiousness and illogicality. The architect J. Boffrand, calling the dominant style of his time “bad fashion”, in 1745, attacked her almost with curses: “Fashion is a tyrant of taste … Fashion has modified the shapes and outlines of all parts of buildings and used an unclear mixture of curves and straight lines without discrimination , … they are used on business or not! ” But Boffran can be reproached for the fact that he himself followed this fashion. More consistent in his actions was J. Fr. Blondel, who early began to promote rational architecture, that is, following Vitruvius, the architecture is logical and reasonable, in which all components were an integral part of the whole and had proportions, determined by their function.

Finally, the third reason – the emergence of new information about the ancient cities, previously not known or not available to Europeans. In the 1750-60’s. in Europe the descriptions of Palmyra, Baalbek and Athens with magnificent engraved illustrations and detailed measurements were published.

But first of all we should talk about Pompeii and Herculaneum, excavations of which in the 1740s-50s. intensified. They could give not only an idea of the dwellings of the wealthy Romans (before this knowledge was hypothetical, and the reconstruction of the antique houses, made by A. Palladio , was mostly the fruit of his imagination), but in them large quantities of interior decoration items, not previously known. Thus, in the description of the antiquities of Herculaneum in 1754, readers could find not only information, but also to see images of the theater, “a certain public building, considered a city forum, and two temples”, tombs, antique lamps, vases, tripods, a table on one leg and previously unknown statue of Nonnius Balbus ( Nonnius Balbus ). All these news made an explosion of enthusiasm. Architects rushed to design houses at the taste of the Greeks, and modern artists, furniture makers, bronzers and others presented to the market numerous works in the newest taste, which were considered real Greek only because they differed in strict geometric shapes and the presence of decorative motifs taken in the arsenal of ancient masters.

At the same time, a “Greek theory” about the superiority of Greece over Rome began to form in Europe. One of the theoreticians of neoclassicism, MA Logje, reported on this occasion in 1755: “The Tuscan and composite orders are nothing more than borrowing and they differ from the preceding (Doric, Ionic and Corinthian – auth.) Only by chance style. The Tuscan order is just a rough Doric, and the composite one is a rather pleasant mixture of Ionic and Corinthian. So, architecture is a little obliged to the Romans, and is solely obliged to the Greeks by all that it has a valuable and thorough “. P. J. Mariette, more categorical in his attitude towards the Romans, considered them generally colonialists of the Greeks and Etruscans who had mastered the rules of their predecessors and brought art to extreme luxury. It came to the point that by overthrowing former authorities, the new Europeans dared to criticize even Palladio! R. Sayer lamented in the preface to his “Ruins of Athens” (1759) that even the best commentators of Vitruvius, the only authority, “are absolutely inaccurate and contradictory and deviate from his design in architecture” and “now you rarely see a song worthy of it name “. In the light of new discoveries, it seemed that it was sufficient to discard all Roman luxury and grandeur, stop using composite and Tusk warrants, drop columns from pedestals to the ground and plant triangular pediments on them, as the Greek architecture would be restored.

Decor in Greek taste
F. M. Grimm in 1763 already stated that “now everyone is doing a la Greek . Decor of facades and interiors, furniture, fabrics, ornaments – everything is now Greek in Paris. From architecture, fashion has moved to fashion benches; Our ladies are combed in Greek, our gentlemen will consider themselves disgraced if they do not have a snuffbox in Greek taste. ”

In architecture
Numerous examples of architecture in Greek can be found in the multivolume work of J. Fr. Nephorzha, whose publication began in 1757, and samples of the situation – in the first ravages of J. Sh. Delafoss.

An example of the new taste was the facade of the Madeleine Church in Paris, compiled by the architect Contan d’Ivri in 1761 under the influence of the palladium reconstruction of the Temple of the Sun. The author himself proudly wrote about his creation that the portico of the temple of Greek architecture “can become very new in France”. Due to economic difficulties, construction was delayed, and the Revolution suspended it. The temple was completed only in the XIX century. a completely different architect. But even the unrealized project influenced the further European architecture.

Under his influence, in particular, created a portico of the Trinity Cathedral of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra and even a later portico of the Dutch church on Nevsky Prospekt.

Works of art
The public’s taste changed before our eyes. What was fashionable today, the day after tomorrow seemed obsolete.

Catherine II , having ordered in the late 1760’s. in Paris, a luxurious silver set (later she gave it to Gregory Orlov , now he is known as the “Orlov”, the remaining items are in the State Hermitage) and soon received sketches, was forced to demand changes. We learn about this from the reply of the master Roatier for April 7, 1770: “… since EI V. wants to give up all kinds of figures and cartels, we will do our best to replace them with antique ornaments and following the best taste , according to the wishes; it also reduces the price, and this can be achieved in two ways, since all the figures contribute only to an increase in costs, but do not add anything to the merit of the thing … “(quoted from a document from the RGIA, original in French).

Decorative elements
The most characteristic elements of the new trend in art were meander , antique wreaths and garlands, “towels” and goat heads, which were decorated with furniture and a very fashionable object – the censer (or aroma vase). And many newly built buildings were literally covered with medallions with antique profiles. We find them even on buildings that are not connected with a new taste. For example, on the facades of the Stroganov Palace on Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg.

Interior and furniture
In general, new works were created in contrast to the old ones. So, the furniture in rococo style differed plasticity, it was difficult to understand where the armrest begins, the leg. The furniture in the new taste had already strict geometric shapes and seemed assembled from the designer. In finishing the old interiors, executed with extreme grace, the motifs of the curl (rokail and cartels) prevailed. New interiors differed from their former with their lapidary forms, and architectural elements included architectural details: heavy consoles, sandricks. The walls themselves in many cases remained absolutely smooth.

The new fashion brought a great variety to the art and, consequently, to the material environment of man, since it was a time of experiments on an antique theme. Precise information about how the monuments of antiquity looked, still was not enough, besides the imagination of artists did not want to be limited only to the proposed samples. Therefore, in order to replace the monotonous furnaces in the form of a shell, stove-columns, ovens, obelisks, pyramids and even furnace-tombs have come. The same monotonous cantilever clock in wooden cases with gold-plated bronze pads was replaced by sculptural clocks in the form of antique figures. There appeared clock-rotators in the form of an antique urn with a snake wrapping around it, serving simultaneously as a clock hand. Hours were made in the guise of a column, park pavilion, etc.

At first, objects in the “picturesque” and the newest or “Greek” tastes co-existed on an equal footing both in the interiors and in the ravines. This is how they are presented in “3me Volume de l’oeuvre de J. Ch. Delafosse »1760-ies. Gradually the new became habitual, then the only possible, and once the fashionable was gone.

Source From Wikipedia