The Burlington Magazine, March 2014

Posted in journal articles, reviews by Editor on April 1, 2014

The (long) eighteenth century in The Burlington:

The Burlington Magazine 156 (March 2014)

coverA 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. 16263.

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).


• 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.

View: A Festival of Art History

Posted in conferences (to attend), journal articles, reviews by Editor on February 21, 2014

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).

logoThe 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»

Oxford Art Journal, December 2013

Posted in books, journal articles, reviews by Editor on December 14, 2013

From the latest issue of the Oxford Art Journal:

3.cover• 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 Posted at BSECS

Posted in books, reviews by Editor on December 12, 2013

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.

Read full review…

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.

Read full review…

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.

Read full review…

Reviewed | Crossing Borders: Hebrew Manuscripts

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions, reviews by Editor on November 27, 2013

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

From caa.reviews:

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.

9781851243136_p0_v1_s600Illuminated 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

FULL-bodleian_62-000_rabbi-oppenheimer_F4143The 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.

The Burlington Magazine, October 2013

Posted in journal articles, reviews by Editor on October 26, 2013

The eighteenth century in The Burlington:

The Burlington Magazine 155 (October 2013)

1327_201310_1A R T I C L E S

• Simon Lee, “A Newly Discovered Portrait of Napoleon by Jacques-Louis David,” pp. 687–92.

Discusses the various versions of David’s portrait of the emperor, including a previously unknown example.


• François Marandet, Review of Karen Chastagnol, Nicolas Colombel, 1644–1717 (Editions Nicolas Chaudun, 2012), p. 711.

Painting in France at the end of Louis XIV’s reign has for many years been regarded as the precursor of the Rococo era. Charles de La Fosse’s aimables figures anticipate Antoine Watteau’s world of the fêtes galantes, who himself was the precursor of the peintre des grâces François Boucher. One of the merits of the exhibition devoted to Nicolas Colombel recently at the Musées des Beaux-Arts, Rouen (closed 24th February), was to demonstrate that the story of history painting c. 1700 was much more complex. Karen Chastagnol, curator of the exhibition, rightly insists on the direct link between early eighteenth-century French artists and the art of Poussin: as well as François Verdier, René-Antoine Houasse and Daniel Sarrabat, to which could be added the names of Sébastien II Leclerc of Henri de Favanne. . .

• Willibald Sauerländer, Review of Guilhem Scherf and Séverine Darroussat, Jean-Jacques Rousseau et son image sculptée, 1778–1798 (Paris: Varia, 2012), pp. 711–12.

The iconography of the grands hommes des Lumières has become a fashionable topic. In 1994 Guilhem Scherf wrote an important essay on the iconographie sculptée of Voltaire; now he has added a substantial text on Jean-Jacques Rousseau et la Révolution: Les avatars d’une representation sculptée. . .

• Robin Middleton, Review of John Martin Robinson, James Wyatt, 1746–1813: Architect to George II (London: The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2012), pp. 712–13.

The range and diversity of James Wyatt’s designing, the sheer number of buildings with which he was involved (the Catalogue of Works lists 283 sites) makes any attempt to chart his career a task of the utmost difficulty. Anthony Dale’s pioneering but nonetheless solid account of Wyatt’s career is, however, quite overtaken by John Martin Robinson’s new book. Dates and attributions are sharpened. The nature of the ordnance work is fully revealed — all quite decent. But the most significant revelations are contained in the chapter on Wyatt’s activity as an industrial and furniture designer. . .

• Ann Massing, Review of Noémie Etienne, La Restauration des peintures à Paris, 1750–1815: Pratiques et discours sur la matérialité des œuvres d’art (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2012), p. 713.

The period before and after the French Revolution in Paris was one of enormous change and, due to the French centralised administration, the French National Archives and the AMN (Archives des musées nationaux) are a fertile source of information for one of the most interesting periods of the history of painting restoration — when the King’s painters became professional art restorers. Noémie Etienne’s book contributes much to our knowledge of this fascinating period. Her archival research encompasses not only the rich resources in Paris, but also those in Rome, Venice, Madrid, Antwerp and Brussels. Her approach is mainly based on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century written sources, and the wealth of information she has culled is presented not as a chronological series of events but by theme. . .

• Shearer West, Review of Marcia Pointon, Portrayal and the Search for Identity (London: Reaktion, 2013), p. 714.

Marcia Pointon has a distinguished record of scholarly publication about portraiture, since Hanging the Head (1993) revolutionised and enlivened a historiography that had somewhat fallen in the doldrums. There are few historians of British art who have not been inspired by her nimble imagination, unexpected visual analysis and deep intellectual engagement with her textual and visual sources past and present. Her latest collection of essays on portraiture will not disappoint her admirers, although the more dazzling parts of her analysis are intertwined with sections that have the flavour of a work in progress . . .

• Rüdiger Joppien, Review of Olivier Lefeuvre, Philippe-Jacques de Loutherbourg (Paris: Athena, 2012), pp. 714–15.

. . . The catalogue raisonné is of exceptional value, and lies at the very heart of the book, . . . [which] gives a splendid account of Loutherbourg’s career as a painter, as well as a thoroughly documented, reliable idea of his artistic output. That this monograph could be published so fully and handsomely is due to the assistance of the Athena publishing house. Its appearance coincided with the retrospective exhibition devoted to the artist at the Musée de Beaux-Arts in Strausbourg (17th November 2012 to 18th February 2013), which the author organized. Both the book and the exhibition are indicative of the esteem in which France still holds the artist, even though he worked less than ten years in Paris and almost forty years in London.

Review | A Selection of Digital Humanities Projects

Posted in journal articles, resources, reviews by Editor on September 25, 2013

The current issue of Renaissance Quarterly includes Michael Ullyot’s assessment of five digital resources, several of which are relevant to eighteenth-century studies:

Michael Ullyot, “Review Essay: Digital Humanities Projects,” Renaissance Quarterly 66 (Fall 2013): 93747.

673531.cover“Are databases the defining genre of the twenty-first century? This question was at the core of a debate in 2007 over the nature of the Walt Whitman Archive in PMLA (Publications of the Modern Language Association of America). With digital resources now firmly established as an essential scholarly research tool, the question remains: what status do we afford databases relative to other forms of publication, like editions or monographs? The question is pertinent not just to tenure and promotion decisions, as the MLA Committee on Information Technology recently advocated, but more fundamentally to the circulation and provocation of ideas.1 If databases help us to interact with texts and cultural objects differently, enabling us to interpret them in ways we
could not otherwise do, how do they differ from monographs or journal articles? . . .” (937)

1. “Guidelines for Evaluating Work in Digital Humanities and Digital Media.” http://www.mla.org/guidelines_evaluation_digital; accessed 17 January 2013.

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· Mapping the Republic of Letters, which draws on the University of Oxford’s Electronic Enlightenment data, a collection containing over 50,000 letters.

· The Map of Early Modern London, a digital atlas of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century London (Ullyot references, in passing, Locating London’s Past, which is based on John Rocque’s 1746 map).

· 1641 Depositions Project, which collects 8,000 manuscript accounts of the 1641 Irish rebellion of Catholic gentry against Protestant settlers from England and Scotland.

· The Medici Archive Project, which aims to catalog the Medici Archival Collection (Mediceo del Principato), a collection of over four million letters written between 1537 and 1743. To date, approximately 10 percent of the archive is included within the database, though Ullyot explains a number of new, “promising” features aimed at making the platform more efficient and more interactive.

· Early English Books Online, a collection of texts published between 1473 and 1700. “What makes EEBO truly innovative and interesting is the Text Creation Partnership (TCP), under which the University of Michigan and Oxford University began in 1999 to convert these PDFs [created from microfilm copies of the books] into fully searchable texts. The TCP has focused on transcribing all 70,000 of the unique monographs in EEBO’s collection. These transcriptions are cross-linked to the page images they are taken from, so they are fully integrated into EEBO. At present, only members of the TCP consortium of libraries are able to access this resource, but it will ultimately pass into the public domain [starting in 2015 and finishing up in 2020]” (945).

Recent TLS Reviews

Posted in books, reviews by Editor on August 21, 2013

The eighteenth century in The Times Literary Supplement (16 & 23 August 2013). . .

Paula Findlen, “Man of the Museum: Review of Michael Hunter, Alison Walker, and Arthur MacGregor, eds., From Books to Bezoars: Sir Hans Sloane and His Collections (British Library, 2012),” p. 27.

The story of the founding of the British Museum has been told many times. Less often discussed is the man behind the museum. Who was Hans Sloane, and how did he become Britain’s greatest collector? The twenty essays in Alison Walker, Arthur MacGregor and Michael Hunter’s From Books to Bezoars, written by leading scholars and curators and accompanied by a modern transcription of Thomas Birch’s Memoirs relating to the life of Sir Hans Sloane, offer us a preliminary answer. They are the result of recent efforts to reconstruct Sloane’s collections from surviving materials in the main repositories established (or partly established) by his bequest: the British Museum, the British Library, and the Museum of Natural History. . .

The contributors to From Books to Bezoars repeatedly invite us to return to Sloane’s lists and catalogues as a guide through the original collection. They urge us to pull out the drawers of his cabinets, contemplating his collections of shoes, weapons, musical instruments, tobacco pipes and pouches, and many other things such as a Caribbean dugout canoe. . .

In the past two decades, museums and libraries have become ever more conscious of the importance of reconstructing their pasts. This volume cannot answer all our questions about why and how Hans Sloane built his collection, or how an eighteenth-century public embraced and satirized it, but it paints a vivid picture of the man. It also lays the groundwork for a new history of the origins of the British Museum, and prompts us to consider how that history might inform the presentation of its artefacts.

The full review is available here (subscription required)

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Jennifer Potter, “Before Arcadia: Review of Gordon Campbell, The Hermit in the Garden: From Imperial Rome to Ornamental Gnome (Oxford University Press, 2013),” p. 31.

Ornamental hermits, like garden gnomes, are great dividers of taste. Dorothy and William Wordsworth sneered at the “distressingly puerile” theatrics of an Ossian-inspired hermitage in the rugged landscapes of Perthshire. Horace Walpole, despite his architectural predilection for Strawberry Hill Gothic, poked fun at the notion of setting aside a quarter of one’s garden in which to be melancholy. Even Gordon Campbell, in The Hermit in the Garden, describes his subject as “Pythonesque.” Yet the story of how Georgian Britain peopled its gardens with real, imaginary and occasionally stuffed hermits of a secular rather than religious nature is one he rightly wills us to take seriously.

As defined by Campbell, the British craze for keeping a pet hermit in your garden began at Richmond with William Kent’s ornamental hermitages for Queen Caroline, consort to George II (first a ruined hermitage, begun in 1730, and then a druidic Merlin’s cave). It ended a century later with the death of George IV, although a venal, fortune-telling hermit lingered on in London’s pleasure gardens at Vauxhall. Casting his eye beyond Britain’s shores, Campbell looks first for origins and antecedents, principally religious garden hermits in Renaissance Italy, northern France, Spain and Bohemia; and garden retreats of Europe’s rulers, starting with Emperor Hadrian’s island pavilion at his magnificent villa complex near Rome, the Villa Adriana, where so much of garden history began. While the Reformation swept away England’s religious hermits for three centuries or more, secular hermits emerged with the transitional figure of Thomas Bushell, a mining engineer and one-time secretary to Francis Bacon. . .

The full review is available here (subscription required)

Eighteenth-Century Studies 46 (Summer 2013)

Posted in books, journal articles, reviews by Editor on July 18, 2013

Eighteenth-Century Studies 46 (Summer 2013)


ecs.46.4_frontPatrick C. Fleming, “The Rise of the Moral Tale: Children’s Literature, the Novel, and The Governess,” pp. 463–77.
Sarah Fielding’s The Governess has been called the first children’s novel. But by conflating two separate genres, critics risk oversimplifying both the novel and children’s literature. This article brings together children’s literature studies and novel studies in order to address the narrative form of The Governess, and to suggest that the term “moral tale” better captures the complex origins of the eighteenth-century children’s novel.

Mark Koch, ” ‘A Spectacle Pleasing to God and Man': Sympathy and the Show of Charity in the Restoration Spittle Sermons,” pp. 479–97.
In the 1670s the long-standing Spittle sermons became almost exclusively charity sermons, many of which argued that almsdeeds are accompanied with a sensual pleasure and articulated principles of sympathetic response involving an affective theatricality. This paper considers the place of these sermons and their ancillary children’s processions in the London public sphere, how they worked as spectacle to evoke pity from spectators, and how, despite the Latitudinarian tendency toward rationalism, they often contained elements of what was deemed an empirically nebulous “show” or “fiction.”

Catherine Packham, “Cicero’s Ears, or Eloquence in the Age of Politeness: Oratory, Moderation, and the Sublime in Enlightenment Scotland,” pp. 499–512.
This paper argues that Hume’s essay, “Of Eloquence,” should be read as part of a Scottish Enlightenment attempt to accommodate the sublime to commercial modernity. Hume inherits the sublime of ancient oratory not as a matter for narrow stylistic regulation—to be rejected in a new age of politeness, as some have argued—but as a moral problem at the heart of modern subjectivity. Hume looks to taste to regulate and contain the sublime, but it is Adam Smith who solves the problem of the sublime by recouping its excess as a mark of the possibilities for virtue in the modern age.

Lisa T. Sarasohn, ” ‘That Nauseous Venomous Insect': Bedbugs in Early Modern England,” pp. 513–30.
Bedbugs were perceived as a new entry in the rich range of vermin that plagued eighteenth-century England, and the way they were viewed and treated reveals much about the mentality, prejudices, assumptions and aspirations of society at that time. Their presence increasingly elicited repugnance and even hysteria. The reaction to bedbugs during the eighteenth century serves as an indicator of modernity and emerging attitudes towards the body, class, nature and science.

Ryan Whyte, “Exhibiting Enlightenment: Chardin as tapissier,” pp. 531–54.
This essay addresses the work of Jean-Baptiste Chardin as tapissier to show his design of the Salon du Louvre functioned as an ideological system that derived meaning from Enlightenment discourses of epistemology and taxonomy. First, this essay explores how the Salon design answered the Académie’s need to represent its structure to the Salon public, and to guide the public in judging the individual works comprising it. Second, this essay examines points of contact between Chardin, the Académie, Carl Linnaeus and the authors of the Encyclopédie of Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert as intellectual context for the Salon design.

Abigail Zitin, “Thinking Like an Artist: Hogarth, Diderot, and the Aesthetics of Technique,” pp. 555–70.
In The Analysis of Beauty, William Hogarth advocated an unusual kind of formalism based in artistic practice: not form distilled into a rule for judgment but rather derived from the artist’s techniques for perception and composition. Denis Diderot, too, embraced an aesthetics of technique, particularly in the Paradoxe sur le comédien, in which he contends that what appears impassioned in an affecting dramatic performance is in fact calculated. Diderot, however, had the extra burden of reconciling the ideal of illusion with his demystification of the practitioner’s perspective, a reconciliation he could only conceive as a paradox.


Mark K. Fulk “Travel And/As Enigma: Review of Ian Warrell, ed., Turner Inspired in the Light of Claude (National Gallery Company, 2012) and Yaël Schlick, Feminism and the Politics of Travel After the Enlightenment (Bucknell University Press, 2012),” pp. 571–73.
Recent work on travel by scholars Nicola Watson (The Literary Tourist: Readers and Places in Romantic and Victorian Britain [2008]), Zoë Kinsley (Women Writing the Home Tour, 1682–1812 [2008]), and Ann C. Colley (Victorians in the Mountains [2010]) has added markedly to our understanding of British travel in the latter eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries through its foregrounding of issues of class, gender, and the changing understanding of landscape aesthetics and theories of the sublime. The books in this review supplement this discussion by their emphasis on Anglo-French experiences of travel in the period. . .

Jennifer Milam, “Review of Michael Yonan, Empress Maria Theresa and the Politics of Habsburg Imperial Art (The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2011),” pp. 575–77.
. . . Thanks to Yonan’s interpretive approach, Empress Maria Theresa and the Politics of Habsburg Imperial Art is a ground-breaking study in the history of Austrian art and architecture. His book is a substantial contribution to the study of women as powerful agents in the production and reception of visual culture in European court circles during the eighteenth century. Moreover, Yonan’s wide-ranging choice of material—portraiture, decorative objects, architecture, interior decoration, and garden sculpture—provides the reader with a comprehensive understanding of Maria Theresa’s individualized approach to the representation of her personal authority in the visual arts. This is complemented by a number of quality illustrations that allow readers to consider the details of many works that are rarely discussed in depth. . .

Mark K. Fulk, “Review of Adrian J. Wallbank, Dialogue, Didacticism and the Genres of Dispute: Literary Dialogue in an Age of Revolution (Pickering and Chatto, 2012),” pp. 578–79.
In his postscript, Adrian J. Wallbank explains that his project was meant to “open up multiple avenues for further research . . . into this seriously neglected literary genre” of the written dialogue, gesturing toward the beginnings of a history of “dialogic didacticism” in the Romantic era (217). The book meets these expectations well by revealing in elaborate detail this overlooked genre, and suggesting ways that Wallbank’s readings can help complement our approach to already canonical markers of the period. . .

Recent TLS Reviews (5 July 2013)

Posted in books, exhibitions, reviews by Editor on July 16, 2013

The eighteenth century in The Times Literary Supplement (5 July 2013). . .

Angus Trumble, “Six Half-Lengths: Review of James Stourton and Charles Sebag-Montefiore, The British as Art Collectors, From the Tudors to the Present (Scala, 2012),” TLS (5 July 2013), pp. 3-4.

14095. . . The British as Art Collectors, liberally and beautifully illustrated, sets out the history of the art-collecting impulse in Britain from the beginning of the sixteenth century to the present. Shaping it into four densely packed, chronological sections, James Stourton and Charles Sebag-Montefiore deal, first, with “Royalty” (in other words, collecting at Court, above all the assembly and dispersal of the superb collection of King Charles I at Whitehall); “Aristocracy” (the principally eighteenth-century Whig Grand Tour and country-house phenomena which Quatremère de Quincy had in mind); “Plutocracy” (the transitional period brought about by the displacement effects of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars); and, finally, “Democracy” (which concerns the arrival of the public art museum in the early nineteenth century, its proliferation, and the gradual institutionalization, professionalization and broadening of the collecting impulse into our time).

But this is an over-simplification, for the history of collecting is really the history of individual shoppers, and, occasionally, partnerships or syndicates such as that of the coal and canal magnate the third Duke of Bridgewater, with budgets ranging from the merely large to the positively obscene, and not necessarily husbanded with corresponding degrees of wisdom. It is also the history of sweatypalmed acquisitiveness, of rapacious greed, and also of processes of dissolution and loss – an invariably human story in which mostly anonymous crate-makers, removalists and shipping agents must figure prominently, while debt, disease, dispossession and death often interrupted grand schemes. . .

Perhaps the principal pleasure of The British as Art Collectors . .  is the intelligence and effectiveness with which a mass of contemporary illustrative material is marshalled to open a window onto cultural worlds. If at times the text is weighed down by lengthy descriptions of who owned what when, there is also a wealth of information, current and historical, in purely visual form. . .

The full review is available here (subscription required)

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Albert Rivero, “Truths to Life: Review of John Bender, Ends of Enlightenment (Stanford University Press, 2012),” TLS (5 July 2013), p. 12.

080474212XThe publication of Imagining the Penitentiary in 1987 established John Bender as a compelling critic of eighteenth-century British literature and culture. That book, written in imitation of Michel Foucault, connected novels by Daniel Defoe and Henry Fielding to the panoptic model of incarceration that was then emerging. Since then, Bender has published a number of important and groundbreaking essays, ranging widely and often brilliantly over various topics and disciplines. Ends of Enlightenment gathers ten of those essays, grouped under three headings (Enlightenment Knowledge, Enlightenment Novels and Enlightenment Frameworks), with a framing introduction elucidating their common themes and concepts. . .

Novelistic realism has a dark ideological side, but not all essays here cast a suspicious eye on Enlightenment. In its ideal quest for universal and objective knowledge, available in conversation and in print to men and women from every walk of life (Jürgen Habermas’s “public sphere,” a construct Bender invokes frequently), the Enlightenment had many salutary effects. Some of these, in fragmentary and surprising ways – Bender regards the democratically composed Wikipedia as today’s version of Diderot and d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie – are still very much with us.

It is in fact the sceptical David Hume who has displaced Foucault as Bender’s principal point of reference, and who inspires the modes of inquiry and ordering knowledge in Ends of Enlightenment. . .

The full review is available here (subscription required)

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James Hall, “Fade to Grey: Review of the exhibition Paper Palaces: The Topham Collection as a Source for British Neo-Classicism, Eton College Library,” TLS (5 July 2013), pp. 17-18.

. . . Expertly curated by Lucy Gwynn and Adriano Aymonino, Paper Palaces explores the influence exerted on architect-designers by illustrations of antique decorative painting commissioned by Richard Topham (1671-1730), Old Etonian antiquary and MP for Windsor. . .

The exhibition suggests Topham was rather more single-minded and original than Pope would have us believe, even if he did use agents in Italy to amass his roughly 2500 documentary drawings of Roman antiquities. Topham’s was the largest and most systematic collection of its kind in England, unique in being organized by location like a tourist guidebook, with every drawing clearly indexed in his own
hand. . .


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