The huguenots 1680-1760
The huguenots 1680-1760
Fearing prosecution after the 1685 revocation of the edict of nantes, Large Numbers of the french protestant community, known as the huguenots, left the country. The huguenots 1680-1760 They took with them THE skills they had developed in a range of artistic disciplines and spread them across Europe and the world.
The revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV sent shock waves through the Huguenot community of France. Prevented from worshipping freely, at the end of the 1600s Huguenots fled the country in droves. A good number of them were craftsmen, and the host countries – primarily the Protestant Low Countries, Prussia, Switzerland, and Britain – gained from their skills. Many Huguenots also benefited from opportunities further afield: Dutch colonists encouraged travel to the Cape, where several families had success in viticulture; while British colonial interests afforded travel to the early American colonies, where immigrants set up a number of communities.
In the previous century monarchs had used foreign craftsmen to furnish their palaces in the latest fashions. The concept of using talent from abroad was therefore not a new one. The difference now lay in sheer volume. More than 200,000 Huguenots left France, seeking employment abroad.
In a climate of social change, they were not working exclusively for the elite but also contributing to the production of domestic wares for middle-class households.
A man of influence
Daniel Marot had a considerable impact across all the decorative arts. An architect and designer, he made engravings of designs by Jean Berain before leaving France to work for William of Orange, first in the Low Countries, then in England. He published many designs of his own for ornaments, furniture, and textiles, which were copied and reinterpreted by many contemporary craftsmen. Marot excelled at integrating form and ornament in his designs in a style that was primarily Classical.
Weavers and silversmiths
Most of the Huguenots who came to England ended up in London. Spitalfields, an area known for producing silk, attracted weavers on a large scale and soon became the centre of the silk industry, earning the name of “weaver town”. Among the immigrants was James Leman, who stood out as an accomplished designer as well as a manufacturer, a rarity at the time. His designs were bold, often abstract, incorporating motifs ranging from stylized flowers to accurate botanical drawings, and from Classical architectural forms to elaborate Chinoiserie.
Around Soho, other Huguenots were making a name for themselves in silverware, among them Paul Crespin and Nicholas Sprimont. They produced pieces in unmistakable Rococo style, often with elaborate scrolling ornament and asymmetrical motifs, and created several outstanding items for Frederick, Prince of Wales, among other wealthy patrons. In 1746 Sprimont set up the Chelsea Porcelain factory, where the influence of his work with silver can be seen on early pieces.
But it is Paul de Lamerie who stands out as the genius of the age, becoming the leading exponent of silverware in the Rococo style. Lamerie emigrated to the Low Countries at the end of the 1600s and followed William of Orange to England when he became king. He trained under one of the most accomplished London goldsmiths of the time, Pierre Platel, creating exquisite, well-proportioned pieces in the Regence style. His work reflected the high style that was fashionable in France, and he excelled at producing pieces that combined form with often dense relief ornament. At the peak of his career, Lamerie had an impressive list of clients among London’s nobility and wealthy middle classes.