Going for gold: Trump, Louis XIV and interior design

Robert Wellington (Lecturer of Art History and Visual Culture at Australian National University) has a piece on the topic.

US President Trump has replaced the crimson curtains in White House with golden ones. Then there are articles which mention Trump’s interest in anything golden and its usage in his interior design. Some have compared this to Louis XIV.

Wellington adds some perspective:

Putting questions of taste and period style aside, it is worth considering the comparisons made between Trump and Louis XIV. Trump’s opponents are keen to point to his taste as evidence of an unscrupulous and self-serving man with despotic tendencies.

Popular wisdom holds that there is a direct link between the grandiose decoration of French Royal palaces and the 1789 French Revolution; Versailles has come to represent a gilded style of tyrannical opulence for the privileged few at the cost of the many.

Scholars of Louis XIV France tell another story. Louis XIV’s enterprising minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert sought to boost the French economy by supporting luxury industries, creating new manufactories for all the things that wealthy people wanted to buy: mirrors, tapestries and furniture; silks and lace for fashionable clothes.

Heavy embargoes were placed on imports, and the French elite were forced to buy local. Versailles became a showcase for these magnificent luxury products, and it worked!

That Paris is still considered the capital of fashion, and French decorative arts still copied by Trump, and many others besides, attests to the enduring success of Colbert’s plan.

Trump’s call for a protectionist economy in America in his election campaign and inauguration speech is perhaps the closest comparison we could make between him and Louis XIV.

If he is inspired by the Sun King (and he has made no public admission to this) he would do well to look to leading contemporary artists and designers for inspiration on how to become a world leader in matters of style.



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