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The Rudiments of Genteel Behaviour

The Rudiments of Genteel Behaviour


Here reprinted in facsimile, this extremely rare text of 1737, by the French dancer and dancing master Francois Nivellon, is remarkably direct, precise and informative. Exactly how you should doff your hat and “retire gracefully from a room” and execute a curtsey are explained both in theory and practice, and in both text and engraving. The book provides an invaluable insight into eighteenth-century manners. 

This ‘courtesy book’ is fascinating for art historians and social historians. For art historians it provides a precious key to the interpretation of gesture and posture in Rococo painting. Museum curators will be able to train resting actors to do historical enactments properly. All students of the Golden Age of Elegance will find many hidden niceties revealed in this hitherto almost unobtainable and almost inaccessible book.

  • François Nivelon

    By François Nivelon
    Notes by Hugh Belsey and Paul Holberton


    April 2003

    72 pages, paperback

    279 x 115 mm, 12 original engravings, 10 b/w
    ISBN: 978 1 903470 10 7

  • About the author

    Hugh Belsey was formerly curator of Gainsborough’s House, Sudbury, which recently acquired one of the eight or nine copies known.

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