Casanova: The Seduction of Europe - the exhibition catalogue from Museum of Fine Arts/Kimbell Art Museum available to buy at Museum Bookstore

Casanova: The Seduction of Europe

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'one of the best art books of the year' - The Modern Art Notes podcast

A recreation of the seductive visual world of eighteenth-century Europe through the life of one of its most notorious figures

In 18th-century Europe, while the old order revelled in the luxurious excesses of the Rococo style and the Enlightenment sowed the seeds of revolution, the shapeshifting libertine Giacomo Casanova seduced his way across the continent. Although notorious for the scores of amorous conquests he recorded in his remarkably frank memoirs, Casanova was just as practiced at charming his way into the most elite social circles, through an inimitable mix of literary ambition, improvisational genius and outright fraud. In his travels across Europe and through every level of society from the theatrical demimonde to royal courts, he was also seduced by the visual splendours he encountered.

This volume accompanies the first major art exhibition outside Europe to lavishly recreate Casanova’s visual world, from his birthplace of Venice, city of masquerades, to the cultural capitals of Paris and London and the outposts of Eastern Europe. Summoning up the people he met and the cityscapes, highways, salons, theatres, masked balls, boudoirs, gambling halls and dining rooms he frequented, it provides a survey of important works of 18th-century European art by masters such as Canaletto, Fragonard, Boucher, Houdon and Hogarth, along with exquisite decorative arts objects.

Twelve essays by prominent scholars illuminate multiple facets of Casanova’s world as reflected in the arts of his time, providing a fascinating grand tour of Europe conducted by a quintessential figure of the 18th century as well as a splendid visual display of the spirit of the age.

  • Author: Frederick Ilchman
  • Hardcover: 344 pages | 180 colour illustrations
  • Date published: August 2017
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-0878468423
  • Product Dimensions: 24.8 x 19.0 cm

'For all his boasts of seduction, what Casanova really wanted was to be known as a man of taste and intellect. He had, after all, translated the Iliad, hung out with Rousseau, and debated the merits of macaronic poets with Voltaire, had even--what could be more delicious?--been consulted by Mozart's librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte, on Don Giovanni.... It is the cultured, peregrinating Casanova, and not the rogue, who inspired Casanova: The Seduction of Europe' - The Magazine Antiques 

'utterly delightful... simply thrilling.... We go from Venice to Paris to London to Dresden with splendid works of art, but we also go from the bedroom to the theater to the gambling room to the dining room to the literary salon' - Dallas Morning News

' of the flat out best art books of the year..' - Modern Art Notes