(Church of S.Gregorio Armeno - Balustrade)

The 18th century was characterized by profound political transformations which brought about a social and economic expansion thath the city had not experienced for centuries. This is evident in the evolution of life and culture and thus in the original works of art and those transformed at that time.
In 1707 the Spanish domination ended and the period of Austrian rule began. The change of rulers brought about an unhoped for artistic renewal. The Austrians proved liberal and were supporters of anti-Baronique movement. They reformed the courts and attempted to eradicate corruption from the public administration and reduce the abuse of power of the barons, and they supported anti-curialism. Abowe all, they created a climate of liberty and equality for women.
Private initiative was encouraged. This tended to favour the middle classes who were thus able to patronize artisans and craftsmen with their demand for refined and elegant "comfortable" furniture to be placed in interiors conceived as jewel boxes for precious gems. Thus the dark colours were replaced by pastels and lacquers, gold by silver and white, shadow by light and pomp by intimacy.
The climate of experimantation in decoration permitted the creation of "goose neck" staircases, large majolica floors and the figurines and statuettes for the crib which are unique in the history of rococo--this at a time when the taste of the rest of Europe had not yet evolved beyond the Baroque style.

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