Transporting the Viewer

The elaboration and extraodinarily fine detailing on this Renaissance traveling chest, seen in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, makes the piece almost grander than a building many times its size. Detailing like this has the ability to create fantasy worlds even when the furniture is a minor item in a larger collection (this would likely have appeared in a large salon). I would argue that the architectural detailing is what makes the chest so engaging, as we are tempted to imagine ourselves behind every mysterious window pane. While textural detailing like scrolls and flourishes in furniture can bring pleasure to a viewer, such details highlight the fact that the piece is as ‘object’ in the sense that it is ‘other’ and foreign to us. Detailing that relates to our conceptions of space, on the other hand, helps the piece exceed the designation of ‘furniture,’ and through our own imagination can become ‘environment.’

Ironic, isn’t it, that a piece meant to be transported itself more often transports us?




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