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"True worth is highly shown in liveing well": Architectural patronage in eighteenth-century Virginia. (Volumes I and II)

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Title: "True worth is highly shown in liveing well": Architectural patronage in eighteenth-century Virginia. (Volumes I and II)
Author(s): Mooney, Barbara Burlison
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Betts, Richard J.
Department / Program: Art History
Discipline: Art History
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): History, United States Fine Arts Architecture
Abstract: Scholars increasingly have come to understand the mansions of eighteenth-century Virginia, not only as emblematic of the social, political, and economic status of the men who first built and owned them, but as tools of social and political control. Furthermore, this use of architecture as a means of preserving power has been identified with a distinct group of individuals known as the great planters, or the native elite. Underlying these perceptions are two assumptions: first, that the owners of mansions were a homogenous group sharing the same characteristics and motivations; and second, that the owners were able to influence architecture.This thesis tests these assumptions by asking: what kind of person built a large and formal residence in eighteenth-century Virginia; and to what extent was that person responsible for determining the stylistic qualities of his house. Focusing on 25 case studies, the thesis compares the demographic, educational, political, and economic attributes of architectural patrons, their role in the building process, and their sources of architectural knowledge.Evidence from these 25 examples indicates that the ability and desire to erect a pretentious dwelling was not limited to the great planters or the native elite. Education and cultural literacy, however, did set patrons apart. While the mansions can be associated with men holding high political office and great wealth, construction of such a dwelling did not function as the means of attaining political or economic power. Architectural patrons participated in all aspects of the building process: obtaining materials, procuring labor, and design. This was due, in part, to necessity, but it was also the result of the patrons' access to sources of architectural knowledge that distinguished them from the larger population.Rather than serving as tools of social and political control, Virginia colonial mansions represent similar cultural and aesthetic values of individuals who were ultimately responsible for imparting those values to their mansions.
Issue Date: 1991
Type: Text
Language: English
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/20394
Rights Information: Copyright 1991 Mooney, Barbara Burlison
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog: AAI9136678
OCLC Identifier: (UMI)AAI9136678
 

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