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Stephen T. Clarke, Harley Preston and Lin Barton

English family of silversmiths, industrialists, collectors, and patrons, of French origin. The family originated from the town of St Pierre on the Ile d’Oléron off La Rochelle. They arrived in London a few years after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, and between 1708 and 1780 three generations of Courtauld silversmiths were registered at the Goldsmiths’ Company. Augustine Courtauld (c.1686–c. 1751) was apprenticed to Simon Pantin in 1701 and, after becoming a freeman of the Goldsmiths’ Company in 1708, he started a business as a plateworker in Church Court, off St Martin’s Lane in London. The majority of his work is of high quality, for example a silver tea-table (1742; St Petersburg, Hermitage) and the state salt of the Corporation of the City of London (1730; London, Mansion House). Augustine’s brother Pierre Courtauld (1690–1729) registered a mark in 1721...

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John Wilton-Ely

Term coined in the 1880s to denote the last stage of the classical tradition in architecture, sculpture, painting and the decorative arts. Neo-classicism was the successor to Rococo in the second half of the 18th century and was itself superseded by various historicist styles in the first half of the 19th century. It formed an integral part of Enlightenment, the in its radical questioning of received notions of human endeavour. It was also deeply involved with the emergence of new historical attitudes towards the past—non-Classical as well as Classical—that were stimulated by an unprecedented range of archaeological discoveries, extending from southern Italy and the eastern Mediterranean to Egypt and the Near East, during the second half of the 18th century. The new awareness of the plurality of historical styles prompted the search for consciously new and contemporary forms of expression. This concept of modernity set Neo-classicism apart from past revivals of antiquity, to which it was, nevertheless, closely related. Almost paradoxically, the quest for a timeless mode of expression (the ‘true style’, as it was then called) involved strongly divergent approaches towards design that were strikingly focused on the Greco-Roman debate. On the one hand, there was a commitment to a radical severity of expression, associated with the Platonic Ideal, as well as to such criteria as the functional and the primitive, which were particularly identified with early Greek art and architecture. On the other hand, there were highly innovative exercises in eclecticism, inspired by late Imperial Rome, as well as subsequent periods of stylistic experiment with Mannerism and the Italian Baroque....

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Harley Preston and Lin Barton

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