This article attempts to discover possible reasons for the emergence of the boudoir in eighteenth-century France. It acknowledges that there was a general increase in the desire for privacy, but seeks to determine why a space designed specifically for primarily female occupation should have appeared. Drawing particularly on the work of feminist historians, it seeks to situate the development of the boudoir in specific attitudes toward women at the time. While noting that the boudoir later became associated with illicit sexual liaisons, it suggests that the original reasons behind its development were more complex than might have been imagined to date. It charts the appearance of the term boudoir and the boudoir's apparently later arrival as a physical entity and raises questions as to why this particular name was used and what activities might originally have been envisaged for the room. The general aim is to situate the discussion of a concrete architectural entity in the context of a wider sphere to suggest that the boudoir emerged not simply as a result of changing style or architectural innovation, but as an intervention in a wider historical process.
- Copyright 1994 The Society of Architectural Historians