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James 'Athenian' Stuart, 1713-1788

Tripod perfume burner for Kedleston Hall
James Stuart, about 1760

Tripod perfume burner for Kedleston Hall James Stuart, about 1760 (click image for larger version)

'Artists who aim at perfection must…approach the Fountain-Head of their art'
James 'Athenian' Stuart

James 'Athenian' Stuart is a compelling figure in the history of British design. Widely recognised for his central role in pioneering Neo-Classicism, Stuart developed his influential career across various fields: interior decoration, sculpture, furnishing, metalwork and architecture.

The creation of the 'Greek Style' and its impact on British design in the late 18th century is largely due to Stuart's landmark publication Antiquities of Athens. This influential book, first published 1762, was the first accurate record of Classical Greek architecture and served as a principal source book for architects and designers well into the 19th century.

The exhibition held in March - June 2007 at the V&A was the first comprehensive retrospective of Stuart's work. It presented him as an architect, artist and taste-maker, setting his work in the context of 18th century design culture.

The exhibition was organised by the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design and Culture, New York in cooperation with the V&A.