Daniel Cottier: Designer, Decorator, Dealer. By Petra ten-Doesschate Chu, Max Donnelly, Andrew Montana, Suzanne Veldink. Hardback, 256 pp., 200 colour and b/w illustrations. (London, Paul Mellon Centre, 25th May 2021), £40, ISBN: 9781913107185.
This book follows the phenomenal rise of Daniel Cottier (1838–1891) from an apprentice coach painter in Glasgow to the founder of Cottier & Co., a fine and decorative arts business with branches in London, New York, Sydney and Melbourne. This gifted designer and brilliant art entrepreneur keenly spotted one of the key aspects of late nineteenth-century bourgeois culture – its focus on family, home and church – and seized the artistic and commercial opportunities of the building and decorating boom that it brought about. Cottier was a proponent of the Aesthetic movement, an international trend in the history of culture, art and design from the mid-1860s to the late 1890s: he understood the era’s desire for beauty and realised the economic possibilities of its commoditisation. Beyond biography, therefore, this book illuminates a significant event of late nineteenth-century cultural history – Aestheticism’s cult of beauty meeting with the bourgeoisie’s financial ability to possess it.
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