Conference | Sir Richard Wallace and His Age

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on May 26, 2018

Alexandre Desgoffe, Works of Art from the Collection of Sir Richard Wallace, 1880
(Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe)

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

From the registration page:

Sir Richard Wallace and His Age: Connoisseurs, Collectors, and Philanthropists
The Wallace Collection, London, 15–16 November 2018

This year the Wallace Collection is celebrating the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Sir Richard Wallace. Taking Sir Richard Wallace and his collection as its starting point, our two-day international conference will look at aspects of collecting and collections in London and Paris in the wake of the upheavals of the Franco-Prussian War and the Commune in 1870–71, considering essentially the period between 1870 and 1900. The first day of the conference will consider the impact on the Anglo-French art market of the political and social upheavals in France in 1870–71, including the dispersal of collections and the movement of collectors, as well as the curatorship of private art collections. The second day will focus on two themes: the subject of the morning session will be loans to exhibitions from distinguished collections and the motivations that drove them; the afternoon will showcase works of art in the Wallace Collection acquired by Sir Richard Wallace.

T H U R S D A Y ,  1 5  N O V E M B E R  2 0 1 8

9.30  Registration and coffee

10.00  Xavier Bray (Director, The Wallace Collection), Welcome and introduction

10.15  Suzanne Higgott (Curator, The Wallace Collection), Setting the scene, or Why Sir Richard Wallace subscribed towards the proposed submarine tunnel between England and France in 1872

10.30  Olivier Hurstel (Curatorial Fellow, European Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Philadelphia Museum of Art), Hertford-Wallace properties in Paris based on the information available in the French archives

10.40  Morning Session
Chair: Adriana Turpin (IESA International)
• Robert Tombs (Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge), The Rise and Fall of the New Babylon
• Thomas Stammers (Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Durham), Salvage and speculation: The London art market after the Franco-Prussian War (provisional title)
• Anthony Geraghty (Department of History of Art, University of York), An Imperial Collection in Exile: The Empress Eugénie in Farnborough, 1880–1920
• Mathieu Deldicque (Conservateur du Patrimoine, Musée Condé, Chantilly), ‘Wishing to preserve the complete estate of Chantilly for France’: The duc d’Aumale and the settlement of Chantilly on the Institut de France

12.30  Lunch break

13.45  Afternoon Session
Chair: Alastair Laing (Curator Emeritus of Pictures and Sculpture, The National Trust)
• Suzanne Higgott (Curator, The Wallace Collection), Sir Richard Wallace as the custodian of his collection
• Joseph Friedman (Honorary Visiting Fellow of the Department of History of Art, University of York, and Senior Research Fellow in the History of Art and Architecture, University of Buckingham), ‘Inhabited Museums’: London’s treasure houses in the age of Sir Richard Wallace
• Helen Jones (Research Librarian, Wallace Collection Library), More than mere ornaments: Female visitors to Richard Wallace’s art collection
• Mathieu Deldicque (Conservateur du Patrimoine, Musée Condé, Chantilly), The picture hang devised by Henri d’Orleans, duc d’Aumale, at Chantilly
• Natalie Zimmer (Curatorial Assistant, The Wallace Collection), Captured for eternity: Visual recording of collections in the nineteenth century
• Olivier Hurstel ( Curatorial Fellow, European Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Philadelphia Museum of Art), Edouard Lièvre (1828–1886), From art books editor to designer: On the importance of art books in shaping taste in the nineteenth century (provisional title)
• Silvia Davoli (Research Curator Strawberry Hill, The Horace Walpole Collection), Richard Wallace and the acquisition of the Nieuwerkerke and Both de Tauzia collections: The Parisian network (provisional title)

16.40  Discussion

F R I D A Y ,  1 6  N O V E M B E R  2 0 1 8

9.45  Registration and coffee

10.15  Morning Session
• Lindsay Macnaughton (PhD researcher, Durham University/The Bowes Museum), Displaying philanthropy and patriotism: The Wallaces in focus
• Suzanne Higgott (Curator, The Wallace Collection), Good intentions, mixed motives: Sir Richard Wallace’s loan exhibition at the Bethnal Green Museum, 1872–75
• Kathryn Jones (Senior Curator of Decorative Arts, Royal Collection Trust), ‘Successful designs ought not to be restricted to the palaces’: Victoria, Albert and the exhibitions
• Eloise Donelly (AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Candidate, University of Cambridge and the British Museum), ‘The Expansion of Art’: The English Rothschilds and loan exhibitions, 1850–97
• Suzanne Higgott (Curator, The Wallace Collection), From loans to legacy: The transformation of the Wallace Collection from a private collection into a national museum

12.30  Lunch break

13.45  Afternoon Session
• Helen Jacobsen (Senior Curator, The Wallace Collection), Sir Richard Wallace: Shaping a national collection
• Suzanne Higgott and Tobias Capwell (Curators, The Wallace Collection), Two paintings by Blaise-Alexandre Desgoffe of works of art and arms and armour in Sir Richard Wallace’s collection
• Tobias Capwell (Curator, The Wallace Collection), Armour and the man: Three triumphs of Sir Richard Wallace, collector of arms
• Speaker to be announced, Fragonard’s A Boy as Pierrot
• Ada de Wit (Assistant Curator, The Wallace Collection), Collecting the World: An Asante trophy head and Chinese Imperial wine cups
• Stephen Duffy (formerly Senior Curator, The Wallace Collection), Sir Richard Wallace and contemporary painting
• Jeremy Warren (Honorary Curator of Sculpture, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford and Sculpture Research Curator, The National Trust), Sir Richard Wallace and small bronze sculptures

16.35  Discussion

17.30  Round-table discussion with Xavier Bray (Director, The Wallace Collection), Christian Levett (Private Collector), Olivier Gabet (Director, Musée des Arts décoratifs, Paris), Ian Wardropper (Director, The Frick Collection, New York), and Emilie E.S. Gordenker (Director, Mauritshaus, The Hague)

18.30  Drinks reception in the Porphyry Court at the Wallace Collection

Symposium | Silver in Georgian Ireland

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on May 25, 2018

From the Irish Georgian Society:

Silver in Georgian Ireland
National Museum of Ireland, Dublin, 30 May 2018

Organized by Alison FitzGerald, Emmeline Henderson, and William Laffan

The Irish Georgian Society, Maynooth University, and the National Museum of Ireland are partnering to deliver a symposium on Wednesday, 30th May 2018 focusing on silver in Georgian Ireland. The symposium will showcase new research by established and emerging scholars and examine the circumstances in which silver objects were made, used, valued, and displayed in Georgian Ireland.

The symposium will appeal to both a specialist audience and the general public. It seeks to offer a variety of engaging perspectives on one of Dublin’s foremost artisanal trades during a period when new commodities, novel technologies, and fashionable imports were transforming the market for luxury goods. The programme of talks will be complemented by a tour of the National Museum of Ireland’s silver galleries, an unrivalled display of Irish silver from the period, which will allow both experienced and novice silver scholars the opportunity to consider the artefact evidence at first hand.

2018 marks the 21st anniversary of the opening of the silver galleries at the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks. It thus represents a timely moment to reflect on one of the highlights of the decorative arts collection, which has not been explored before in the context of such a focused study day. The inclusion of speakers from the United Kingdom and Europe allows for a nuanced view of silver in Georgian Ireland, considering how the movement of people, patterns, and plate in the early modern world affected what was crafted and coveted in Irish towns and cities.

Silver in Georgian Ireland has been made possible through sponsorship from an anonymous donor, Ecclesiastical Insurance, Paul Mellon Centre for the Studies in British Art, and Weldon of Dublin. The symposium has been convened by Dr Alison FitzGerald, Lecturer, Maynooth University, who is responsible for providing the academic programming; Emmeline Henderson, IGS Assistant Director and Conservation Manager; and William Laffan, IGS Committee Member. The symposium forms an action of the Irish Georgian Society’s Conservation Education Programme, which is supported by Merrion Property Group and Heather and John Picerne.


9.30  Registration

10.00  Welcome from Audrey Whitty (Keeper of the Art and Industrial Division, Decorative Arts and History, National Museum of Ireland)

10.10  Session One
Chair: David Fleming (Irish Georgian Society Committee Member and Lecturer, Department of History, University of Limerick)
• Alison FitzGerald (Lecturer, Department of History, Maynooth University), Changed Utterly? Continuity and Change in Dublin’s Silver Trade during the Long Eighteenth Century
• Toby Barnard (Emeritus Fellow in History, University of Oxford), ‘Making the Grand Figure’: The Social Currency of Silverware in Georgian Ireland
• John Bowen (Master Warden, The Company of Goldsmiths of Dublin), Smaller Cities: Irish Provincial Silver in the Georgian Era

11.40  Coffee Break

12.05  Session Two
Chair: Donough Cahill, Irish Georgian Society, Executive Director
• Damian Collins (Postgraduate student, Department of History, Maynooth University), ‘The Metal Stamp’d by Honest Fame’: The Production and Consumption of Gold and Silver Boxes in Georgian Dublin
• Bert De Munck (Department of History, Centre for Urban History, University of Antwerp), Marks of Craftsmanship? An Historical View on the Politics of Branding and Hallmarks

1.20  Lunch and Tour of the NMI silver galleries with Michael Kenny (Former curator in the NMI’s Art and Industrial Division)

2.50  Session Three
Chair: Alison FitzGerald (Lecturer, Department of History, Maynooth University)
• Thomas Sinsteden (Independent Scholar), Plate Inventories as Evidence: The Dukes’ of Ormonde Plate
• Jessica Cunningham (Independent Scholar), ‘Taken or Destroy’d’: The Household Silver of Castlecomer House, 1798
• Zara Power (Independent Scholar), The Magnetism of Fine Gems: Jewellery in Eighteenth-Century Ireland
• Tessa Murdoch (Deputy Keeper, Department of Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics and Glass, V&A), Elite Gift Exchange: A Case Study of Emily Lennox’s Christening Bowl

5.00  Closing Remarks by Emmeline Henderson (Irish Georgian Society, Assistant Director and Conservation Manager)

Exhibition | Canova’s George Washington

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on May 24, 2018

In February, we noted the exhibition (which opened yesterday), but the original posting did not include details for the catalogue, which is now available from Giles Ltd and Artbooks.com:

Xavier Salomon with Guido Beltramini and Mario Guderzo, Canova’s George Washington (London: Giles, 2018), 188 pages, ISBN: 9781911282174, $45.

In 1816, the North Carolina State House in Raleigh commissioned a full-length statue of George Washington to stand in the hall of the State Senate. Thomas Jefferson, believing that no American sculptor was up to the task, recommended Antonio Canova (1757–1822), then one of Europe’s most celebrated artists. The first and only work Canova created for America, the statue depicted the nation’s first president in ancient Roman garb, per Jefferson’s urging, drafting his farewell address to the states. It was unveiled to great acclaim in 1821, and people traveled from far and wide to see it. Tragically, only a decade later, a fire swept through the State House, reducing the statue to just a few charred fragments.

Canova’s George Washington examines the history of the artist’s lost masterpiece, probably the least well known of his public monuments. It brings together for the first time Canova’s full-sized preparatory plaster model (which has never left Italy), four preparatory sketches for the sculpture, and related engravings and drawings. The exhibition also includes Thomas Lawrence’s 1816 oil portrait of Canova, which, like the model and several sketches, will be on loan from the Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova in Possagno, Italy, the birthplace of the artist.

Exhibition | The Art of Iron

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on May 24, 2018
Florist’s Sign and Bracket, 18th century, France, wrought iron and rolled iron, cut, polychromed, and gilded; fastened with rivets and rings. Sign: 28 × 21 × 5 inches (71.5 × 52.6 × 12.5 cm), bracket: 33 × 52 × 2 inches (84 × 132.5 × 6 cm) (Rouen: Musée Le Secq des Tournelles, inv. LS 2011.0.199)

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Some of the objects included in the exhibition opening soon at The Clark were also included in the 2015 exhibition at The Barnes Foundation. From the press release (8 May 2018). . .

The Art of Iron: Objects from the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles, Rouen, Normandy
The Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA, 9 June — 16 September 2018

Curated by Kathleen Morris

The Clark Art Institute is the exclusive venue for the exhibition The Art of Iron: Objects from the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles, Rouen, Normandy. The exhibition presents thirty-six historic objects in an installation celebrating the craft and beauty of wrought iron. Salvaged by the founders of the Musée Le Secq during the second half of the nineteenth century, when wrought iron was being rapidly discarded and replaced with modern materials, these pieces tell stories of preindustrial times.

The Musée Le Secq des Tournelles’s celebrated collection originated with Jean-Louis-Henri Le Secq Destournelles (1818–1882), a painter who studied in Paris and Rome and became one of the first photographers in France. In the 1850s while photographically documenting various French monuments for a government project, he developed an appreciation for the ironwork adorning towns and ancient cathedrals. This inspired him to begin his own collection, much of which contained objects he salvaged as buildings were renovated or torn down. His son Henri (1854–1925, who changed the spelling of his last name to des Tournelles), continued to add to the collection, and in 1900 he loaned nearly a thousand objects to the Paris Universal Exhibition before donating the collection to the city of Rouen.

“We are so pleased to bring this wonderful collection of decorative arts to the Clark,” said Olivier Meslay, the Felda and Dena Hardymon Director of the Clark. “While wrought iron has long been an intrinsic part of the architecture of most European capitals, the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles collection encourages us to consider this work for its beauty—and to appreciate the exceptional ingenuity of the blacksmiths and ironworkers who took a humble material and elevated it to an art form. The Musée Le Secq is a colleague museum in the French American Museum Exchange (FRAME), a consortium of thirty-one major museums in France and North America that promotes cultural exchange through museum collaborations, and we are eager to share this wonderful collection with our visitors.”

The Art of Iron features a myriad of signs, masterful locks and lockboxes, a variety of utilitarian household objects, and architectural grilles, gates, and balcony railings. The objects are at once strange and familiar, inviting the viewer to marvel at the creative inventiveness and technical skill of their makers as well as reflect on earlier ways of life.

The works included in the exhibition represent a variety of the methods used in creating objects from iron. Much of the work is the result of a blacksmith working at his forge to bend, twist, and hammer rods of wrought iron into shape. Sheets of rolled iron were cut to shape and could be decorated by embossing designs from the back and by chiseling on the surface. Small objects might have been hammered or cast in molds and then welded into place. Many objects incorporate all of these techniques.

“The first time I visited the Musée Le Secq, the collection and its display took my breath away,” said Kathleen Morris, the Sylvia and Leonard Marx Director of Exhibitions and Curator of Decorative Arts at the Clark. “The opportunity to work with this collection has been incredible, compelling me to look closely at the extraordinary craftsmanship and design of these handmade creations. The sophistication and skill on display in these objects is phenomenal—and our dynamic installation will both captivate and delight our visitors.”


Shop, inn, and tavern signs make up an important part of the collection of the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles. Prior to widespread literacy, in an era before buildings were given numbered addresses, businesses depended on pictorial signs for identification and advertising. The Art of Iron contains fifteen signs representing a variety of business from taverns and inns to drapers, florists, and fishmongers. In many cases these signs hung on equally elaborate and well-crafted wrought iron brackets, which are also included in the exhibition.

Henri Le Secq des Tournelles salvaged many such signs, but he was more concerned with preserving them than with documenting their original locations. However, the location of some shops, such as one advertising a draper, is known. A sign known as “The Dry Tree” once stood on the Parisian street that still carries the name of its shop, rue de l’Arbre-Sec (Street of the Dry Tree). Drapers, or cloth merchants, often used the tree as a symbol of their business, evoking legends from the ancient Near East, a source of luxury fabrics. “The Dry Tree” refers to a specific tree that stood alone in a vast desert and was said to grow on the exact spot where Alexander the Great and Darius fought a great battle in the fourth century BCE. Marco Polo reported having seen this legendary tree during his travels.

A lighted bat-shaped sign that once hung outside the entrance to a cabaret or tavern is a remarkable example of nineteenth-century French ironwork. The bat is a clever reference to the nocturnal nature of this business and suggests a dim and mildly dangerous atmosphere within. The light cavity was later fitted with a lightbulb and electrical wiring—probably in the early twentieth century.

Grilles, Gates, and Balconies

Ironsmiths did not necessarily design the objects they created. In particular, wrought-iron grilles, gates, and railings for buildings were often conceived by architects, and in many cases the smith was probably working from a pre-existing drawing. This in no way diminishes the technical and creative skill of ironsmiths, who often infused their works with individual flourishes. The contrast between the strength of the material and the airy, often delicate lines and scrolls that form the composition gives these objects a presence that hovers between the sculptural and the graphic.

The Art of Iron contains many examples of these architectural elements that served a multitude of practical purposes. Window and transom (over-door) grilles, as well as door and balcony railings, allow light and air circulation while offering security against intrusion or protection from falls. An eighteenth-century Italian grille is one of many objects in the exhibition that includes this elaborate scrollwork.

A magnificent eighteenth-century French round grille, finished on both sides, features the symmetrical monogram GBM surrounded by an elaborate array of scrolls and volutes. It was originally installed in a building on the rue des Vergeaux in Amiens, France, perhaps to echo the spectacular rose windows of a nearby cathedral.

Locks and Lockboxes

Before the advent of banks, personal wealth was largely represented by items such as jewels, property deeds, and objects made of silver or gold. Safekeeping these items with locks or lockboxes was essential to financial security. These utilitarian objects, as well as their keys, were often highly decorated.

An eighteenth-century German strongbox and key is a spectacular example of the locksmith’s skill. The keyhole on the front of this chest is a decoy. The real keyhole is on the top of the box, concealed under the body of the double-headed eagle. Pushing on the eagle’s right talon releases a hinge and reveals the keyhole. The locking mechanism is visible on the underside of the box’s lid. The lock’s functional parts, including eighteen sliding bolts, are embellished with decorative flowers, leaves, and scrolls.

A French safe door (1823), signed by a maker named Poifol, is fitted with a complicated mechanism made of wrought iron and brass, including a mounted English pistol by the manufacturer Wilson. Attempts to tamper with the lock caused the gun to discharge, acting as an alarm system.

Household Objects

The durability of wrought iron made it a common material for many household objects, from cooking and kitchen utensils to wares for the bedroom and garden.

Before the invention of modern stoves, food was prepared over open fires in large kitchen fireplaces using cooking pots and pothooks. The ratchets on the pothook could be adjusted to hold the pot nearer to or further from the flame. Cast-iron pots were essential items in any kitchen and were often given as wedding gifts.

In contrast to the unadorned cooking pot, coffee and spice mills were specialty items sometimes elaborately decorated. The Musée Le Secq des Tournelles has extensive holdings of early spice and coffee grinders, including an eighteenth-century mill crafted by Benoit Tivelier the Elder included in the exhibition. The mill was made in the city of Saint-Étienne, France, a center of production for grinders.

The Art of Iron is co-organized by the Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, and the Réunion des Musées Métropolitains, Rouen, Normandy. Generous contributors to the exhibition include Sylvia and Leonard Marx and the Selz Foundation, with additional support from Richard and Carol Seltzer.

Kathleen Morris, with contributions by Alexandra Bosc and Anne-Charlotte Cathelineau, The Art of Iron: Objects from the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles, Rouen, Normandy (Williamstown: The Clark Art Institute, 2018), 112 pages, ISBN: 978-0300237047, $35.

Published by the Clark and distributed by Yale University Press, the catalogue for the exhibition combines stunning photography with fresh and engaging scholarship. An essay by Kathleen M. Morris offers a contemporary perspective on these extraordinary works of art, while current and former curators of the Musée Le Secq provide fascinating insights into the magnificent holdings of the museum’s renowned collection.

The Clark Acquires Lethière’s ‘Brutus Condemning His Sons’

Posted in museums by Editor on May 24, 2018

Guillaume Guillon Lethière, Brutus Condemning His Sons to Death, 1788, oil on canvas, 23 × 39 inches
(Williamstown: The Clark Art Institute)

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Press release (22 May 2018) from The Clark:

The Clark Art Institute today announced the recent acquisition of Brutus Condemning His Sons to Death, an important early work by neoclassical French artist Guillaume Guillon Lethière (1760–1832), marking a significant addition to its permanent collection.

Completed in 1788 when Lethière was at the French Academy in Rome, and subsequently displayed at the Salons of 1795 and 1801, the painting depicts a dramatic scene featuring the decapitation of one of the sons of Lucius Junius Brutus. Brutus led the 509 BC revolt to overthrow the last king of Rome and establish the Roman Republic, swearing a sacred oath before its citizens that Rome would never again be subject to the rule of a king. When his two sons were later discovered to be among the conspirators attempting to restore the monarchy, Brutus demonstrated his commitment to the Republic by ordering and then witnessing the execution of his own children. Painted before the onslaught of the French Revolution, Lethière’s composition is eerily prescient in its moralizing message and its brutal iconography. Brutus’s willingness to prioritize the interests of his country above his own made him an exemplar of Republican duty and stoicism. The tale inspired Voltaire and other leaders of the French Enlightenment to establish Brutus as a foundational hero of the French Republic. Brutus Condemning His Sons to Death is the first of two paintings on the subject executed by Lethière. The second version is in the collection of the Musée du Louvre, Paris.

“We are truly thrilled to add this magnificent painting to our permanent collection,” said Olivier Meslay, the Hardymon Director of the Clark. “This is Guillaume Guillon Lethière’s masterpiece, and it is a transformative moment for our collection. Brutus Condemning His Sons to Death is important both for its masterful execution and for its place in the canon of world and art history. It is an iconic and prophetic painting that struck a chord with the French public at a moment when history’s role in understanding and interpreting contemporary issues was perhaps never more instructive or imperative.”

The painting has been in private hands for more than two centuries. A preparatory drawing by Lethière (ca. 1788) and a stipple engraving dated 1794 by Pierre Charles Coqueret (Paris 1761–1832) after Lethière’s painting were also acquired. The purchase, made at auction, was approved by the Clark’s Board of Trustees according to the Institute’s acquisitions policies, and funded through a special art acquisition fund.

Noted scholar Henry Louis Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, said of the acquisition, “I was delighted to hear that the Clark has acquired an important painting by Guillaume Guillon Lethière, who is widely recognized as the first major French artist of African descent. His celebration as an artist of great skill and significance is long past due.” Gates edits The Image of the Black in Western Art (Harvard University Press and the W. E. B. Du Bois Research Institute at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research) along with David Bindman, professor emeritus of art history at University College London. The landmark research project and publication series is devoted to the systematic investigation of how people of African descent have been perceived and represented in art. A synopsis of Lethière’s career is featured in Vol. 3.3 of the publication.

“The significance of this painting cannot be overstated,” said Esther Bell, the Clark’s Robert and Martha Berman Lipp Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture. “Completed early in Lethière’s career, this is an icon of French painting and French history. By 1788, the twenty-eight-year-old Lethière was already in full command of his talent. Lethiere likely could not have imagined it at the time, but his painting would be publicly exhibited during the height of the French Revolution, and would inspire his contemporaries to contemplate the democratic principles at the heart of their tumultuous society. Like his contemporary, Jacques-Louis David, Lethière played a critical role in promoting the artistic tenets of the Enlightenment.”

Bell led the Clark’s effort in pursuing the acquisition of the Lethière painting and related works on paper.

“It is an exhilarating moment for the Clark,” Bell noted. “I look forward to installing the Lethière in our galleries and sharing the story of this painting and this important artist with our visitors.”

While the unlined painting is “in remarkably good condition,” Bell said the objects will undergo examination and conservation before going on view in the Clark’s galleries later this year.

Future programmatic plans include an exhibition related to Lethière’s work and an introductory lecture by Bell when the painting goes on view in the Clark’s galleries.

About Guillaume Guillon Lethière

The life and career of Guillaume Guillon Lethière (1760–1832) are extraordinary. Born in the French colony of Guadeloupe, he was the son of Pierre Guillon, a French government official, and Marie-Françoise Pepayë, an emancipated African slave. He was called “Le Thière,” a reference to his status as his father’s third illegitimate child. Lethière moved to France with his father at the age of fourteen, studying with Jean-Baptiste Descamps in Rouen for three years before entering the studio of Gabriel-François Doyen at the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in Paris. He submitted works for the Prix de Rome in 1784 and 1786 and secured a Roman pension in 1786.

Lethière remained in Rome until 1791 before returning to Paris, where he opened a studio that competed with that of Jacques-Louis David. His ethnicity caused Lethière’s contemporaries to refer to him as a “man of color” and “l’Americain.” Napoleon’s brother Lucien Bonaparte was his close supporter, and he was rumored to have fathered an illegitimate child with Lethière’s wife while on a group trip to Spain in 1801. On his return to Paris, Lethière killed a soldier during a dispute, and as a result, his studio was closed by government officials. Despite this, Lucien Bonaparte interceded on the artist’s behalf, helping him to secure an appointment as the Director of the Académie de France in Rome at the Villa Medici. Pensionnaires at the academy during Lethière’s tenure as director from 1807–1814 included Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Merry-Joseph Blondel, and David d’Angers, among others. During this time, Ingres sketched Lethière (Morgan Library & Museum) as well as members of his family, as evidenced in the beautiful sheet, Madame Guillaume Guillon Lethière and her son Lucien Lethière (Metropolitan Museum of Art).

With the Bourbon Restoration, Lethière lost his position as director in Rome and returned to Paris, where he took on private students. After initially being rejected—likely on the basis of either his race or his political alignments—Lethière was admitted to the Institut de France in 1818. He was awarded the Légion d’honneur in the same year. In 1819, he became a professor at the École des Beaux-Arts, where he worked until his death. His studio included several students from Guadeloupe, notably Jean-Baptiste Gibert and Benjamin Rolland. Despite living the majority of his life in France, Lethière’s strong identification with his place of birth never diminished.

In 1822 Lethière sent a monumental canvas measuring thirteen by ten feet, Oath of the Ancestors, as a gift to the Haitian people commemorating the nation’s independence and resistance to colonization. The painting represents the alliance of a black officer and a slave leader standing under God; it hung in the cathedral of Port-au-Prince until it was moved to the presidential residence. Although the painting sustained significant damage as a result of the 2010 Haitian earthquake, it has since been restored and is one of Haiti’s most celebrated cultural assets. Lethière signed this work with his name and dual-national identities, noting both his birthplace as Guadeloupe and his then-current residence in Paris.

Lethière, along with Jacques-Louis David and Jean Germain Drouais, ranks as one of the most important neoclassical artists of the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-centuries.

About the Acquisition

The Clark’s acquisition includes three works:

Guillaume Guillon Lethière (Sainte-Anne, Guadeloupe 1760–1832 Paris)
Brutus Condemning His Sons to Death, 1788
Oil on canvas
23 × 39 inches (59.4 × 99.1 cm)

Guillaume Guillon Lethière (Sainte-Anne, Guadeloupe 1760–1832 Paris)
Brutus Condemning His Sons to Death, c. 1788
Black chalk, brush with brown and gray washes
14 × 24.5 inches

Pierre Charles Coqueret (Paris 1761–1832) after Guillaume Lethière
Brutus Condemning His Sons to Death
Stipple engraving on laid paper, 1794
Image: 22.5 × 39 inches, Sheet: 27 × 42.5 inches

Raymond collection, 1801
Private collection, Paris, from whom acquired by the present owner

New Book | Jacques-François Blondel, architecte des Lumières

Posted in books by Editor on May 24, 2018

From Classiques Garnier:

Aurélien Davrius, Jacques-François Blondel, architecte des Lumières (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2018), 955 pages, ISBN: 978-2406072843, 84€.

Jacques-François Blondel (1705–1774) est célèbre pour ses écrits et son enseignement qui servirent dans la formation des élèves architectes à l’École des beaux-arts pendant le xixe siècle et au début du xxe siècle. Cet ouvrage retrace la vie d’un professeur de talent qui forma toute une génération d’architectes européens.



I. Du Cabinet à l’école des Arts, les Débuts d’une Carrière
• Les origines rouennaises de la famille Blondel
• Se faire un prénom
• Premier mariage et amitiés (1729)
• Au service du bonheur privé: Le traité De la distribution des Maisons de Plaisance (1737–1738)
• Les édifices privés
• La plume, le burin et l’équerre: Les débuts d’une carrière d’auteur
• 1737–1754, « L’École des Arts », ou les choix de l’enseignement
• Les décors éphémères
• Blondel dans L’Encyclopédie (1748–1757)
• Une anthologie à la mesure de Blondel: L’Architecture françoise (1752–1756)
• 1754–1755, de l’École des Arts à l’Académie royale d’architecture
• Une campagne contre le rocaille

II. Dans le Grand Atelier Royal du Louvre
• Premiers pas à l’Académie et premières commandes
• « Un nouvel hymen pour pouvoir mettre à couvert mon mobilier »
• Projet d’une Académie des beaux-arts à Moscou (1758)
Parva sed apta, ou une rare collaboration entre belles-lettres et architecture au xviiie siècle: Jacques-François Blondel, Jean-François de Bastide et Élie-Catherine Fréron
• Première commande officielle: Le « Manuscrit de Blois » (1760)
• Les édifices sacrés: Blondel théoricien du « gothique des Lumières »
• Les édifices publics: Commandes et plans de prestige
• La place d’Armes de Metz: Le chef-d’œuvre de Blondel
• Le projet d’embellissements de Strasbourg
• 1762–1774, Blondel professeur royal, une décennie entre succès et inimitiés
• Mort de Blondel

III.  Legs Blondélien et élèves
• Le Cours d’architecture: Son opus magnum
L’homme du monde éclairé par les arts (1774): L’œuvre ultime
• Un francophile chez les Anglais: Le cas de William Chambers
• Les principaux élèves du « fameux Blondel »


Exhibition | Dibujos de Luis Luis Paret (1746–1799)

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on May 23, 2018

Opening this week at the National Library of Spain:

Dibujos de Luis Paret (1746–1799)
Biblioteca Nacional de España, Madrid, 25 May — 16 September 2018

Curated by Alejandro Martínez Pérez

Luis Paret, Thalia, 1794, pencil, pen and ink, with white highlights and golden pigment (Madrid: BNE).

Luis Paret y Alcázar was one of the most important Spanish artists of the eighteenth century. This exhibition shows his numerous drawings, prints, and paintings. Known as the ‘Spanish Watteau’, Paret was isolated from the academic art theory after an unfortunate incident with the Prince don Luis. This event led him to exile, and many historians judge that this was the reason why he was distanced from the Spanish art of his time. His nonconformity with other artists of his time is most likely the result of his culture and great humanistic education. Paret has been recognized as the best representation of Spanish Rococo and the second most important Spanish painter of the eighteenth century, after Goya. The exhibition focuses on the multidisciplinary character of the artist including his drawings, paintings, prints, but also showing him as a great translator and calligrapher.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Luis Paret y Alcázar es una de las figuras más interesantes del arte español del siglo XVIII. Artista erudito de azarosa biografía, ha sido aislado del discurso teórico del arte español de su tiempo debido a un eslogan —el «Watteau espagnol»— que se repite constantemente y le señala como el más genuino representante del rococó en España, y segundo pintor más importante del siglo XVIII… después de Goya, ¡claro está!

El episodio que le llevó al exilio, consecuencia directa de su relación con el infante don Luis, ha servido como causa en las consideraciones de muchos historiadores sobre la distancia de Paret con respecto al arte español de su tiempo. La expulsión de la patria, y el consiguiente distanciamiento de la corte, justificarían la pérdida de la oportunidad de hacer carrera al servicio del rey y de triunfar en la Academia de San Fernando, donde se había formado. Sin embargo, su heterodoxia respecto a otros artistas contemporáneos se debe a su formación y cultura.

La imagen, proyectada por Ceán Bermúdez, de un artista con una gran formación humanística ayudó a trazar ese halo de heterodoxia que le rodea. Por ello, para comprender mejor su singularidad, conocer sus modelos y desentrañar cómo se fraguó su personalidad artística, hemos querido adentrarnos en el corpus de dibujos de Luis Paret y analizar el contenido de su biblioteca, con el fin de averiguar el porqué de ese distanciamiento del arte académico.

Con este telón de fondo historiográfico planteamos la exposición, un repaso completo a su trayectoria a través de dibujos y estampas, pinturas y libros, prestando atención a las múltiples facetas de dibujante, pintor, grabador, traductor, calígrafo, etcétera, en las que se manifestó su creatividad e ingenio.

Alejandro Martínez Pérez se doctoró en Historia del Arte por la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid con una tesis dedicada a la cultura artística de Luis Paret y Alcázar. Recientemente ha publicado los libros Historia de las Artes entre los Antiguos de J. J. Winckelmann (2014), a partir del manuscrito de Diego Antonio Rejón de Silva de 1784, y Patrimonio en conflicto. Memoria del botín napoleónico recuperado (1815–1819) (con Esperanza Navarrete, 2015). Es autor además de diversos artículos en revistas especializadas y estudios sobre el arte y la historia cultural española de la segunda mitad del siglo XVIII.

An accompanying catalogue raisonné is published by CEEH:

Alejandro Martinez Perez, Dibujos de Luis Paret (1746–1799) (Madrid: Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica, 2018), 352 pages, ISBN: 9788415245773, 38€ / $68.

Este catálogo razonado reúne un corpus de 165 dibujos ordenados cronológicamente que permiten conocer tanto los procesos creativos de Paret como los temas y motivaciones que le animaron a lo largo de su carrera. Se incluyen también como anexos la identificación del contenido de la biblioteca del artista, una relación de estampas autógrafas y otra de obras desaparecidas sólo conocidas a partir de grabados. Este volumen constituye además el catálogo de la exposición del mismo título celebrada en la Biblioteca Nacional de España.

Exhibition | Artists at Work

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on May 22, 2018

Carlo Labruzzi, The Colosseum seen from the Palatine Hill, Rome, graphite, pen and brown and grey ink, watercolour

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Now on view at The Courtauld:

Artists at Work
The Courtauld Gallery, London, 3 May — 15 July 2018

Curated by Deanna Petherbridge with Anita Viola Sganzerla

With drawings ranging from Tiepolo and Ingres to Schiele and Lovis Corinth, this exhibition explores the rich subject of the artist at work, illustrating the variety of ways in which artists have represented themselves and others making art through a selection of drawings from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries, drawn primarily from the Katrin Bellinger Collection. Whether in their studios or art academies, out and about sketching a landscape or recording their own likeness in a mirror, artists have long taken pleasure in representing themselves at work. When immersed in the act of drawing or painting, artists are often shown with their backs turned to the spectator. We, therefore, are invited to look over their shoulders and share in the moment of creation.

Depictions of the artist in the studio are expressions of creative concentration and introspection and, like self-portraits, offer a chance to reflect on artistic practice and identity. The care consistently taken in recording the studio apparatus of easels and palettes, or assistants grinding pigments, indicates their significance for practitioners. Yet, the studio, as well as being the everyday workshop of dirty brushes and sculptural debris, is also the realm of allegory and myth where artists create or dream.

Deanna Petherbridge and Anita Viola Sganzerla, edited by Ketty Gottardo and Rachel Sloan, Artists at Work (London: Paul Holberton, 2018), 64 pages, ISBN: 978-1911300441, £17.

Additional information is available from Anita Sganzerla’s blog posting for the Tavolozza Foundation.

New Book | Windsor Castle: A Thousand Years of a Royal Palace

Posted in books by Editor on May 22, 2018

I’m a few days late with this, and I realize some of you may be Windsored out by this point. But for anyone inspired by Saturday’s events, the late eighteenth century was a significant period for the Castle, and the alterations by George IV are, of course, even more important. CH

Published by the Royal Collection Trust and distributed by The University of Chicago Press:

Steven Brindle, with contributions by Eleanor Hoare, Brian Kerr, Charlotte Manley, Jonathan Marsden, Claire Rider, Jane Roberts, Nigel Saul, Tim Tatton-Brown, Simon Thurley, and Michael Turner, Windsor Castle: A Thousand Years of a Royal Palace (London: Royal Collection Trust, 2018), 560 pages, ISBN: 978-1909741249, £95.

As England’s largest castle and premier royal residence, Windsor Castle is of outstanding importance: historically, architecturally, artistically and in the life of the nation. This authoritative history, the first to be published in 100 years, will draw upon new research and primary sources to present a general account of Windsor Castle and its immediate environs from around AD 700 to the present day, setting this iconic building against the background of wider social, political and cultural events in the life of the monarchy and the nation.

The book is richly illustrated with historical drawings, watercolours and photographs from the Royal Collection and elsewhere, and includes newly commissioned photography and 3D reconstructions of the Castle at key points in its development, showing how this historic site has changed and evolved over 13 centuries.

Steven Brindle is an architectural historian with English Heritage. He has been involved in the investigation of the architectural history of Windsor Castle since the beginning of the restoration programme following the disastrous fire of 1992.

Bedford Square Festival, 2018

Posted in lectures (to attend), on site by Editor on May 19, 2018

From the Paul Mellon Centre:

Bedford Square Festival: Share the Square
London, 4–7 July 2018

The Paul Mellon Centre is proud to be taking part in the Bedford Square Festival for the second year. Weaving together literature, art, architecture, history, film, theatre, and education, Share the Square is composed of more than forty free events taking place between July 4 and 7.

As its title suggests, this year’s theme aims to encourage greater engagement within the local community of Bloomsbury and beyond, with a focus on inspiring new creative collaborations between institutions, businesses, and individuals in this pocket of London. Bedford Square’s beautifully preserved Georgian buildings and garden are not usually open to the public, but this annual festival represents a chance for the Square’s residents to throw open their doors, revealing a fascinating enclave that is full of artistic and scientific knowledge, beautiful spaces, amazing stories and remarkable histories.

The Paul Mellon Centre will host over 15 events during the four-day festival. A full list is available here.