IN THE SECOND section, entitled ‘Competing models of sociability’, the dynamics of transfers and oppositions between continental (especially French) and British social practices, which influences the evolution of forms and networks of sociability, is revealed. British society, through processes of imitation, hybridisation, rejection and redefinition, developed a new model of urban sociability.
The Académie Royale de Peinture, founded in Paris in 1648, acted as a model for the London Academy, created 120 years later, more particularly in the way both institutions dealt with the non-professional world of ‘amateurs’ in France and connoisseurs in England. The relation of artist members with cognoscenti is first defined by the founding texts of both academies. In chapter 5 Elisabeth Martichou examines how such a different approach is also reflected in art theory on both sides of the Channel.
Anglo-French links and rivalry also stepped onto the Masonic stage and informed the structures of British Masonic sociability. While Scotland is said to have been at the origin of some of the forms of French Masonic rituals, they were then transferred back across the Channel to England by English observers of the French practices. However, Pierre-Yves Beaurepaire shows in chapter 6 that the English Masons were not ready to give up their national obedience to the French. And some French Masons (in Brest or Strasbourg) decided to keep part of their allegiance with London, thus demonstrating the varieties and limits of strictly national practices of sociability.
His rejection of the continental models of sociability (which he scrutinised in famous cities like Montpellier, Nice, Pisa or Rome) led Tobias Smollett to suggest a different model of British sociability and to adopt a revised opinion on his native country. In chapter 7 Annick Cossic-Péricarpin uses Smollett's medical treatise, An Essay on the External Use of Water (1752), and his travel book, Travels through France and Italy (1766), to challenge the model of sociability that the British had recently forged. To the French model of heterosociability Smollett opposed his own model of British sociability, which extolled the virtues of homosociality, of masculinity, akin to the sociability of the ‘rude people’ described by the Scottish philosopher Adam Ferguson in his 1767 Essay on the History of Civil Society.