Linda S. Ferber, The Coast and the Sea: Marine and Maritime Art in America (New York and London: New-York Historical Society in association with D. Giles Limited, 2014), 104 pages, ISBN 978-1907804311, $30 / £20.
Reviewed for Enﬁlade by Judith H. Bonner
The New-York Historical Society, that city’s oldest museum, is celebrating its recent reopening after its lengthy renovation with a traveling exhibition and accompanying catalogue by Linda S. Ferber.1 The exhibition features more than 60 artworks and artifacts, primarily paintings, including portraits, genre scenes, and marine and maritime scenes. Overall, the images document the development of the New York area with its harbor and its close relationship with the Atlantic Ocean, the great maritime highway for trade and immigration.
Works selected for the exhibition have their origins in the eighteenth century, beginning in 1728 and ending in 1904. Maritime-related artifacts include a vintage spyglass, scrimshaw, snuff boxes, and an 1816 silver presentation soup tureen commemorating acts of bravery during the War of 1812. The provenance of each artwork documents the development of the New-York Historical Society, as well as the city’s art collectors, their tastes, and their interests.
The exhibition features work by artists whose names are familiar, as well as those who are unfamiliar. The painters include Thomas Birch, Thomas Buttersworth, Carlton Theodore Chapman, Thomas Cole, Jasper Francis Cropsey, Julian Oliver Davidson, Mauritz Frederick Hendrick De Haas, James Guy Evans, Robert Havell Jr., John Frederick Kensett, Rembrandt Peale, Francis Augustus Silva, and John Vanderlyn.
Several artists had nautical experience that informed their art in subject, rigging, and construction of the vessels. Buttersworth served in the British navy, while De Haas held an artist’s commission in the Dutch navy. James Guy Evans possibly served in the American navy. Chapman ran away to sea as a teenager; and Davidson sailed the globe, making sketches that provided visual sources for many years. Evident in these artists’ works is their understanding of the action of waves and atmospheric effects over the seas at different times of the day or season.
The marine subjects include frigates engaged in famous sea battles, working vessels and bustling port scenes, marine recreation scenes, portraits of heroic sea captains, and pioneering merchants. Marine scenes focus on recreation, shipwrecks, disasters, and military encounters, particularly those in the War of 1812 and Civil War. The exhibition spreads its reach down the East Coast, swinging farther south to the Battle of Mobile Bay in the Gulf of Mexico and the Battle of Port Hudson up the Mississippi River about 100 miles above New Orleans.
Portraitists range from eighteenth-century painter John Wollaston to early nineteenth-century painters John Vanderlyn and Rembrandt Peale, the latter of whom executed a portrait of naval hero Commodore Stephen Decatur in dress uniform and set against a dramatic stormy sky. Wollaston’s circa-1750 portrait of wealthy colonial merchant-shipbuilder Captain John Waddell, who owned a fleet of ships, sets the stage for the succession of ships’ portraits seen throughout the catalogue. Early portraits include personages having distinguished careers or an association with maritime enterprises. The sitter is often shown near an open window through which one views a conventionalized seascape or harbor scene with masted vessels. Other sitters are shown with maps, globes, compass, a spyglass, or other maritime instruments.
The catalogue is well researched and documented with a select bibliography. Explanations of the marine scenes are succinct yet vivid; the prose is fluid and often poetic. Ferber distinguishes between marine scenes—which focus on the pure seascape, its coast and environs—and maritime paintings. The latter, Ferber explains, emphasize human activity and other enterprises on shore or at sea. Her knowledge of nautical terminology and national history is evident throughout. She traces visual conventions from their development in seventeenth-century Holland, their passage into the British school of marine painting, and subsequent introduction into English colonies in the New World.
Ferber consistently places artworks within a broader historical context and, when appropriate, within a cultural narrative. Brief biographical sketches of artists trace their artistic development within the maritime tradition. Ferber discusses allegorical themes in paintings, as well as the effect that nostalgic longing for historically simpler times had upon the proliferation and re-creation of popular scenes celebrating heroic national victories and spirited naval encounters.
The book invites readers to the repeated examination of the images, some of which, like those illustrating the America’s Cup, are iconic. Truly memorable is a painting by Howard Pyle, A Privateersman Ashore (1893), shown in historically correct clothing and accouterments. The privateer stands near the Battery and Castle Clinton at the time of the War of 1812, posed and preening, with smoke from his cigar curling upward from the corner of his mouth as townspeople in the distance look toward him with disdain. The latter is a comment about the disapprobation citizens held for such freebooters, who preyed upon British ships.
Closing this maritime jaunt through history are two paintings. The first, by Andrew Meyer, shows President Grover Cleveland reviewing a naval parade in New York Harbor as the setting for opening ceremonies of Chicago’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, with the Statue of Liberty clearly visible, as though she also stands in review of the parade. Lastly, in 1904 Chapman portrays the Great East River Bridge (now Brooklyn Bridge) over the East River, celebrating New York’s location on the rim of the Atlantic, the gateway to America.
1. Venues for exhibition include: The Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach, Florida (25 January — 9 March 2014); The Baker Museum of Art, Naples, Florida (19 April — 6 July 2014); Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine (January — May 2015); The Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury, Connecticut (6 June — 13 September 2015); and The New York State Museum, Albany, New York (24 October 2015 — 22 February 2016).
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Judith H. Bonner is Senior Curator and Curator of Art at The Historic New Orleans Collection.
The eighteenth century in The Burlington:
The Burlington Magazine 156 (July 2014)
A R T I C L E S
• Conor Lucey, “Bas-reliefs after Angelica Kauffman,” pp. 440–44.
Plaster reliefs for interiors in Ireland based on designs of the 1770s by Angelica Kaufmann.
• Paul Hetherington and Jane Bradney, “The Architect and the Philhellene: Newly Discovered Designs by John Nash for Frederick North’s London House,” pp. 445–52.
John Nash’s designs (c.1813) for Frederick North’s unrealised house on what is now Waterloo Place, London, are published here for the first time.
R E V I E W S
• Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, Review of Elizabeth McKellar, Landscapes of London: The City, the Country, and the Suburbs, 1660–1840 (Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2013), pp. 467–68.
• Xavier F. Salomon, Review of Denis Tod, Giambattista Crosato: Pittore del Rococò Europeo (Scripta Edizioni, 2013), pp. 468–69.
• Philippe Malgouyres, Review of Anne-Lise Desmas, Le Ciseau et la Tiare: Les Sculpteurs dans la Rome des Papes, 1724–1758 (Collection de l’Ecole Française de Rome, 2012), p. 469.
• Richard Edgcumbe, Review of Charles Truman, The Wallace Collection: Catalogue of Gold Boxes (Wallace Collection, 2013), p. 470.
The eighteenth century in the Journal of the History of Collections (though other pieces for periods both earlier and later will likely also be of interest) . . .
Journal of the History of Collections 26 (July 2014)
A R T I C L E S
Alexander Echlin, “Dynasty, Archaeology and Conservation: The Bourbon Rediscovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum in Eighteenth-Century Naples,” pp. 145–59 (first published online 1 April 2014).
The rediscovery of the ancient sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum in the eighteenth century attracted a huge response from contemporary commentators. Many of these, as well as almost all subsequent judgements from historians, are very critical of the Bourbon excavators. Charles, King of Naples, and his team of antiquaries have been depicted as charlatans, treating ancient artefacts and the sites poorly, interested in them only in so far as they glorified their kingdom. In this article it is argued that, with an understanding of contemporary approaches to antiquity and conservation, this verdict on the Bourbons seems unduly harsh. Their archaeological methods and treatment of classical art were typical for the eighteenth century and were, in some ways, progressive. In support of this harsh judgement of Charles, Winckelmann has been portrayed as a savage critic of the excavations; in reality he was kinder to the Bourbons than historians have believed.
Julia Lenaghan, “The Cast Collection of John Sanders, Architect, at the Royal Academy, ” pp. 193–205 (first published online 4 November 2013).
John Sanders (1768–1826) was an architect and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. He was the first student and a life-long friend of Sir John Soane. In 1817 in retirement he travelled to the Continent, where he studied and recorded with academic zeal the architectural monuments of the classical world which had so influenced his mentor and his world. In Rome he amassed a comprehensive and original collection of plaster casts of ‘architectural’ details. This collection was purchased by the Royal Academy in 1830, and much of it remains today part of the permanent collection of the Academy. This article presents the history and use of this early, non-figural, collection of plaster casts.
Paulo Oliveira Ramos, “The Royal Decree of 1721 and the Ephemeral Archaeological Collection of the Royal Academy of Portuguese History,” pp. 223–27 (first published online 22 January 2014).
In the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755, the palace of the Dukes of Braganza collapsed and its priceless treasures were lost forever. Although the content of its archaeological collection—said to constitute the first Portuguese museum of archaeology—is almost impossible to recover in detail today, the process behind its formation can be glimpsed in the documentary record. Two main aspects have emerged in the course of the present research: on the one hand, the relevance of the Royal Decree of 1721 as a crucial moment in the history of heritage preservation in Portugal and in Europe—and also as the inspiration for the archaeological collection; and, on the other hand, the antiquarian commitment of the Marquis of Abrantes.
Stephen Clarke, “Rosamond’s Bower, The Pryor’s Bank, and the Long Shadow of Strawberry Hill,” pp. 287–306 (first published online 4 March 2014).
The influence of Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill is traced in the little-known collections created in the 1830s and early 1840s at Rosamond’s Bower by the writer and antiquary Thomas Crofton Croker (joint author of the Gooseberry Hall satire of the Strawberry Hill sale of 1842) and by Thomas Baylis and Lechmere Whitmore at The Pryor’s Bank, both at Fulham. They were active purchasers at the sale (particularly Baylis), and Walpole’s Description of Strawberry Hill is a continuing presence behind Croker’s accounts of both collections. Both houses were social spaces, presented for antiquarian display, and in the case of The Pryor’s Bank in particular that display was played out in entertainments and Dickensian amateur theatricals. An under-explored element in this combination of collecting, antiquarianism, and jocularity is the Noviomagian Society, an antiquarian dining club of which Croker was a founder and which has connections to both houses.
R E V I E W S
• Jeremy Coote, Review of Holophusicon: The Leverian Museum – An Eighteenth-Century English Institution of Science, Curiosity, and Art,” pp. 317–18 (first published online 18 April 2014).
• Jörg Zutter, Review of Houghton Revisited: The Walpole Masterpieces from Catherine the Great’s Hermitage, pp. 319–21 (first published online 11 June 2014).
• Arthur MacGregor, Review of Natural Histories: Extraordinary Rare Book Selections from the American Museum of Natural History Library, pp. 322–23 (first published online 8 May 2014).
• Peter Mason, Review of Historias Naturales: Un Proyecto de Miguel Ángel Blanco, pp. 323–24 (first published online 16 May 2014).
• Charles Sebag-Montefiore, Review of Provenance: An Alternate History of Art, pp. 324–25 (first published online 18 April 2014).
The 4th issue of the CODART eZine focuses on the eighteenth-century:
CODART eZine 4 (Summer 2014)
• Tom van der Molen, “Editor’s Note: Eighteenth-Century Art”
• Gerdien Verschoor, “Welcome: CODART Director Dies under Avalanche of Books”
• Virginie D’haene, “Bruges Artists Abroad: Neoclassicist Drawings in the Printroom of the Groeningemuseum”
• Stefaan Hautekeete, “A Cabinet of the Most Delightful Drawings: Eighteenth-Century Netherlandish Drawings from the Collection of Jean de Grez, To Be Exhibited at the Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten van België (Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Belgium) in 2016”
• René Dessing, “Historic Country Houses in the Netherlands”
• Silke Gatenbröcker, “Duke Anton Ulrich of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel: One of the First Collectors of Dutch Paintings outside the Netherlands”
• Jacek Tylicki, “Collecting at the Court of Poland-Lithuania and the Activities of King Stanislaus II August”
• Curator’s Interview: Paul Knolle interviewed by Andrea Rousová
• Friends: Brian Capstick interviewed by Gerdien Verschoor
• Rebecca Long, “CODART ZEVENTIEN Congress Review”
CODART—the international council for curators of Dutch and Flemish art—aims to further the study, care, accessibility and display of art from the Low Countries in museums around the globe. It serves as a platform for exchange and cooperation between curators from different parts of the world, with different levels of experience, and from different types and sizes of institutions. Our organization stimulates international inter-museum cooperation through a variety of activities, including congresses, focus meetings, publications and our website. By these means CODART strives to solidify the cultural ties between the Netherlands and Flanders, and to make the artistic heritage of these countries accessible to the international art-loving public.
The eighteenth century in The Burlington:
The Burlington Magazine 156 (June 2014)
A R T I C L E S
• Meredith M. Hale, “Amsterdam Broadsheets as Sources for a Painted Screen in Mexico City, c. 1700,” pp. 356–64.
European print sources for a twelve-panel screen made in Mexico City (c. 1697–1701).
• Alvar González-Palacios, “Giardini and Passarini: Facts and Hypotheses,” pp. 365–75.
New documents on the gold- and silversmith Giovanni Giardini (1646–1721).
• Koenraad Brosens and Guy Delmarcel, “Raphael’s Acts of the Apostles: Italians in the Service of the Habsburg Monarchy and the Leyniers Tapestry Workshop, 1725–55,” pp. 376–81.
A seven-part series of tapestries made by Daniel Leyniers (1752–54) in the Villa Hugel, Essen, based on Raphael’s Acts of the Apostles (woven 1516–21).
R E V I E W S
• Simon Jervis, Review of the exhibition William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain, pp. 391–94.
• Christopher Baker, Review of Christopher Rowell, ed., Ham House: 400 Years of Collecting and Patronage (The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the National Trust, 2013), pp. 398–99.
• Kate Retford, Review of the exhibition catalogue Moira Goff et al, Georgians Revealed: Life, Style, and the Making of Modern Britain (British Library, 2013), p. 401.
• David Pullins, Review of the exhibition From Watteau to Fragonard: Les Fêtes Galantes, pp. 408–10.
• Philippe Bordes, Review of the exhibition Le Goût de Diderot, pp. 413–15.
The (long) eighteenth century in The Burlington:
The Burlington Magazine 156 (March 2014)
A R T I C L E S
• François Marandet, “The Pool of Bethesda by Louis Chéron: A Modello Discovered at the Wellcome Library, London,” pp. 162–63.
An oil-sketch by Louis Chéron in the Wellcome Library, London, is identified as a study for the large painting of the Pool of Bethesda (1683) in S. Pantaleone, Venice.
• Massimo Favilla and Ruggero Rugolo, “A Portrait of a Baby Girl by Lorenzo Tiepolo,” pp. 164–69.
An attribution to Lorenzo Tiepolo of a Portrait of a Baby Girl in a High Chair (c.1770–76).
R E V I E W S
• Jocelyn Anderson, Review of Geoffrey Tyack, ed., John Nash: Architect of the Picturesque (English Heritage, 2013), pp. 175–76.
• Uta Christina Koch, Review of the exhibition Fragonard: Poetry and Passion / Poesie und Leidenschaft, pp. 194–95.
• Francis Russell, Review of the exhibition Pietro Bellotti: Another Canaletto, pp. 198–99.
London’s View: A Festival of Art History (7–9 February 2014) is the latest example of events that slip by me. For anyone interested, the good news is that events were filmed and could be available online in the near future. Plans are also underway for 2015. Here’s the coverage from Apollo Magazine’s blog, The Muse Room. -CH
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Digby Warde-Aldam, “Great View: The UK’s First Art History Festival,” The Muse Room from Apollo Magazine (19 February 2014).
The venue is a large room in London’s Institut français, its windows looking out over the crazed Victorian skyline of South Kensington. French academic Frédéric Ogée looks slightly taken aback by the crowd, a mix of all ages that has just filled up every available seat—indeed, staff are starting to turn away latecomers to the lecture he is about to give, a fascinating half-hour examination of ‘Englishness’ in English art. At the end of the talk, Ogée is forced to cut short the barrage of questions from the audience in order to clear the room for the next speaker on the bill of the Institut’s View Festival.
The public interest in the talk shouldn’t really be surprising. The View, which had its first edition this month, is Britain’s first art history festival—which, taking into account the fact that the UK has festivals dedicated to everything from Heavy Metal to knitting comes as something of a surprise. Given London’s position as a global art capital, it seems bizarre that nothing like this has ever taken place in the city before. . .
The full review is available here»
From the latest issue of the Oxford Art Journal:
• Tim Ingold, “Lines in Time / Review of Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grafton, Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline (2010),” Oxford Art Journal 36 (December 2013): 463–64.
• Mechthild Fend, “Allegory and Fantasy: Portraiture Beyond Resemblance / Review of Sarah Betzer, Ingres and the Studio: Women, Painting, and History (2012) and Melissa Percival, Fragonard and the Fantasy Figure: Painting and Imagination (2012),” Oxford Art Journal 36 (December 2013): 465–67
• Richard Taws, “Ruins and Reputations / Review of Nina Dubin, Futures and Ruins: Eighteenth-Century Paris and the Art of Hubert Robert (2010) and Elizabeth Mansfield, The Perfect Foil: François-André Vincent and the Revolution in French Painting (2012),” Oxford Art Journal 36 (December 2013): 467–70.
Recent reviews at BSECS:
Nelson, Navy, Nation: The story of the Royal Navy and the British people, 1688–1815
Location: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
Event Date: December 2013
Reviewed By: Evan Wilson, University of Oxford
This new gallery shows there’s more to the eighteenth-century Navy than Nelson, but his fans will still get their fix.
KPM. Gestalten, Benutzen, Sammeln / Creating, Using, Collecting: 250 Jahre Porzellan aus der Königlichen Manufaktur Berlin
Location: Schloss Charlottenburg
Event Date: November 2013
Reviewed By: Caroline Cannon-Brookes
Berlin celebrates the 250th anniversary of its Royal Porcelain Manufactory.
David d’Angers: Making the Modern Monument
Location: The Frick Collection, New York City
Event Date: November 2013
Reviewed By: Lucy Gellman, Florence B. Selden Fellow, Yale University Art Gallery
A welcome, if somewhat underwhelming, stateside debut for the ‘other’ David.
While the manuscripts included in this exhibition date from the Middle Ages, there is material pertinent to eighteenth-century collectors, as noted below. And to everyone celebrating Hanukkah (which, of course, most unusually coincides this year with the American Thanksgiving), a very happy holiday! -CH
Piet van Boxel and Sabine Arndt, eds. Crossing Borders: Hebrew Manuscripts as a Meeting-place of Cultures, exhibition catalogue (Oxford: Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, 2010), 128 pages, ISBN: 978-1851243136, £25.
Exhibition schedule: Jewish Museum, New York, 14 September 2012 — 3 February 2013
Reviewed by Barbara Drake Boehm and Melanie Holcomb; posted 20 November 2013.
Illuminated manuscripts offer the best-surviving evidence of Jewish artistic production in the Middle Ages, bearing witness to the tastes of their Jewish patrons, the skills of Jewish scribes, and the aesthetic acuity of Jewish readers and viewers. Jews did not live in isolation, and the artists responsible for the decoration of their books—who were not necessarily Jewish but may have been—both drew from and contributed to the artistic conventions of the dominant culture. ‘Crossing Borders: Manuscripts from the Bodleian Libraries’, an exhibition held at the Jewish Museum in New York in 2012–13 and online via the Jewish museum website, provided an opportunity not only to see important, often beautiful examples of rarely shown Hebrew manuscripts, but also to explore the fascinating, complex intellectual and cultural relations between Jews and non-Jews of medieval Europe.
The full review is available here» (CAA membership required)
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From the exhibition website:
Jan Jiri Baltzer (1738–99), Posthumous Portrait of David Ben Abraham Oppenheimer, Chief Rabbi of Prague, 1773
Engraving after Johann Kleinhard, 7 3/4 x 4 3/8 in. (19.5 x 11.1 cm), The Jewish Museum, New York Gift of Dr. Harry G. Friedman, F 4143
The collection of Rabbi David Oppenheimer (1664–1736) is his most significant legacy. His more than 780 manuscripts and 4,200 printed books in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Aramaic form perhaps the most important private Jewish library ever assembled. For most of his life he was unable to enjoy this treasure, keeping the works at his father-in-law’s home in Hanover to avoid the censorship imposed on Hebrew texts in Prague. After his death, the collection was inherited by a succession of relatives. It was appraised by the Jewish luminary Moses Mendelssohn and ultimately acquired by the Bodleian in 1829.
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A recently discovered Passover Haggadah commissioned in 1726 by one of David Oppenheimer’s relatives sold, incidentally, last week (22 November 2013) for £210,000.