The appeal of this extraordinary book lies in its rapt obsession with the details of the domestic interior, borne out in a wonderfully rich collection of pictures. These charming paintings and watercolors, mostly dating from 1770 to 1860 and coming from all over Europe, Russia, and America, record with faithful accuracy the shape of a room, the pattern of a carpet, the furniture, pictures, fabrics, and wall coverings, the hang of the curtains and the fall of the light they admit.
The pictures find their place in a complete survey of domestic—and some more palatial—interiors portrayed in art from the ancient world to the late nineteenth century, and including works by Vermeer, Hogarth, Durer, Degas, and Vuillard. The text goes beyond scholarly commentary to present an evolving picture of men and women in relation to domestic surroundings, full of human interest, wit, and wide-ranging cultural references.
Mario Praz (1896–1982) was Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Rome. The most celebrated of his many other books is The Romantic Agony.
Illustrated is an understatement; Praz uses 400 pieces of art to present his 1982 history of furniture and decorations from olden days to modern times. An unusual but interesting history of the subject.
— Library Journal
A legend…a richness of literary and cultural detail.
A lush, captivating book, overflowing with sumptuous illustrations.
— Chicago Tribune
A most wondrous treasure trove…The entertaining and scholarly…its interest is almost inexhaustible.
— House & Garden
Delightful yet erudite…perhaps the most charming lesson on interiors ever written.
— Washington Post
The true subject is not interior decoration but ruminations and memories, the visions and fancies, prompted by paintings of interiors.
— New York Review of Books
The sweep and quality of [Praz’s] mind raises this book far above the level of most others on this well-explored topic.
— New York Post
Mario Praz (1896-1982) was Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Rome. The most celebrated of his many other books is The Romantic Agony.