Biedermeier: The Invention of Simplicity
Hans Ottomeyer, Klaus Albrecht Schroder, Laurie WintersISBN: 377571796X;
Gottlieb Biedermeier, a teasing middle-class papa best known for his appearances in a Munich satirical weekly, came to fame in the 1840s. A "god-loving everyman," he represented the typical German citizen, more interested in a comfortable home and a convivial family than political activism. The poets who created him, needling the bourgeoisie and signing their own work "Biedermeier," weren't thinking about the elegant housewares that now bear their pseudonym, varied by a letter. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, their alter ego had retroactively given his name to the aesthetics and philosophies of the period his attitudes suited so well, from 1815 to 1835. Biedermeier arts and crafts were orderly, frugal and simplistic. They tended to pare forms to their essentials, merging the useful with the beautiful. Eighteenth-century gilding and frills were stripped away in favor of the natural beauty of materials and shapes. What began as an intellectual critique soon developed into...
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