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Rural England's Great Rebuilding of 1570-1640, first identified by W.G. Hoskins in 1953, has been vigorously debated ever since. Some critics have re-dated it on a regional basis. Still more have seen Great Rebuildings around every corner, causing them to dismiss Hoskins's thesis. In this first full-length study of the rebuilding phenomenon, Colin Platt, an accomplished architectural and social historian, addresses these issues and presents a persuasive fresh assessment of the legacy of this revolution in housing design. Although accepting Hoskins's definition of a first Great Rebuilding, starting with the 1570s and ending in the devastations of the Civil War, the author argues convincingly for a more influential "second" Great Rebuilding after peace had returned.; In examining architectural change both in the buildings themselves and through the writings of discerning contemporaries, today's family house, whether in town or country, is shown to owe almost nothing to the Middle Ages. Instead, its origins lie in the increasingly sophisticated world of the Tudor and Jacobean courts, in the refined taste of returned travellers, and in a growing popular demand for personal privacy, unobtainable in houses of medieval plan.; This fascinating and challenging study of changing tastes marks an important contribution to our understanding of Tudor and Stuart society and as such will not only be welcomed by students and historians of early modern England but by the interested general reader.
A sweeping, beautifully written history of artistic patronage from 1000 to the present day by a Wolfson Prize-winning historian.

‘Marks of Opulence’ is a magisterial survey of European art and artistic patronage from 1000 until the birth of modernism. Tracing the history from the discovery of silver in the Harz mountains, through the catastrophic effects of plague in the 14th-century, to the studied magnificence of papal and royal courts in the 16th- and 17th-centuries, Platt shows how the great and the good have always used art to bolster political power.

Arguing that the acquisitive instinct – felt by all of us in different ways – is central to the history of Western art, Platt traces how art began to move out of the palaces of the aristocracy into the homes of merchants, bankers and industrialists. From the mid 19th-century onwards, and in the pre-war Belle Époque in particular, it was the immensely wealthy 'robber barons' and their widows – in London and Paris, in Berlin and Vienna, in Moscow and Barcelona, in Philadelphia and New York – who collected the work of the most innovative artists and broke the hold of the Academies on Western art.

Professor Platt's ambitious sweep through a thousand years of artistic endeavour in the West argues throughout that a superfluity of money is the chief driver of high achievement in the arts, and for the transforming power of great riches.

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