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date: 21 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

It is not a coincidence that the development of the baroque aesthetic occurred at the same time that France was experiencing its first sustained intellectual and artistic engagement with India. As the accounts of travelers such as François Bernier and Jean-Baptiste Tavernier illustrate, the seventeenth-century aesthetic in France bears the traces of this Indian encounter. By engaging with Mughal India and transmitting their experiences through art and written accounts, early modern Europeans promoted a fusion of cultures, not an ideology, whereby Western culture imposed its aesthetic on a less “civilized” Eastern world. Our understanding of the baroque can be enriched by a new contextualization that privileges conversation and global networks over the traditional compartmentalization according to national origins or periodization. What we now identify as baroque, a taste for complexity, for randomness and diversity, is not a purely European aesthetic.

Keywords: François Bernier, indiennes (textile), Mughal, orientalism, taste

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