Year of Publication

2014

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Fine Arts

Department

Art and Visual Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Anna Brzyski

Second Advisor

Dr. Andrew Maske

Abstract

Alexandre Brongniart was known for his work as an important geologist and as an administrator at the Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory, but his roles as art historian and museologist are overlooked. Brongniart created a holistic methodology taken directly from science and applied it to ceramic art of all cultures and eras. He had a uniquely modern perspective on time, world culture, and archeology. Brongniart wrote about the art of Asia and the Americas on an equal status with that of the Classical West at least fifty years before it became a mainstream idea. Brongniart integrated scientific principle and practice into the structure of the Sèvres Museum and a comprehensive set of books which includes Traité de Mineralogie avec des Applications aux Arts, Traité des Arts Ceramiques, and Description Methodique du Musée Ceramique de la Manufacture Royale de Porcelain de Sèvres. Numerous historians were influenced by Brongniart’s work, including Samuel Birch and Albert Jacquemart. Notably, the art historian Gottfried Semper refocused his ideas for Style in the Technical and Tectonic Arts after seeing the completed works of Brongniart. Although contemporary historians credit Semper with the development of a scientific approach to art history, Semper himself frequently acknowledged the importance of Brongniart’s work.

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