Art: ELEGANT LINES FROM AN ELEGANT AGE

IN retrospect, 18th century France seems to have been minueting straight for the guillotine. Its art, with the emphasis on immediate sensual pleasure expressed in delicately tinted surfaces, often lacked the suggestion of tragedy that carries art beyond the incidental and transitory.

But to contemporaries, the 18th century was the Age of Elegance, one of those brief moments in history when man can abandon himself to the art of living. Warmed by the afterglow of France's great Sun King, Louis XIV, the Versailles court lived a lavish life. Its taste and style were enviously mimicked in the other courts of Europe and...

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