Les escaliers d’honneur dans l’Europe des cours (1670-1760). Architecture et décor d’une pièce d’apparat

Work published with the financial support of the CRCV.

Matthieu Lett, Les escaliers d’honneur dans l’Europe des cours (1670-1760). Architecture et décor d’une pièce d’apparat, Genève: Droz, collection “Ars Longa”, July 2023, 480 p., 183 black & white illustrations, index, €42 (ISBN: 978-2-600-06381-4).


Between the 1670s and 1760s, grand staircases became the expression par excellence of pomp in princely residences in Europe. They were the embodiment of their patron’s rank and ambition. From Versailles to Caserta, many such constructions were undertaken, in a diplomatic context marked by the political rebalancing brought about by the rise to power of France under Louis XIV then the subsequent wars of succession in Spain (1701-1713), Poland (1733-1738) and Austria (1740-1748). Drawing on an original corpus of some thirty staircases built for sovereign princes in Spain, Great Britain, Italy, France and especially in the Holy Roman Empire, this publication seeks to better understand the constraints and challenges implicit in their production, based partly on unpublished sources. For the first time, staircases are examined from not only an architectural and decorative perspective but also from a European perspective, shedding new light on the one-upping of extravagance between courts in the modern period.

Matthieu Lett is a lecturer on art history in the modern period at the université de Bourgogne. He is an expert in the artistic production of the European princely courts in the 17th and 18th centuries.

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