In Memoriam | Mary D. Sheriff (1950–2016)

Posted in Member News by Editor on October 20, 2016


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Mary D. Sheriff, internationally celebrated art historian and beloved teacher, died on October 19, 2016 at the age of 66. She specialized in eighteenth-century French art and transformed the field by re-evaluating rococo painting, introducing feminist perspectives, and examining European art in a global context. She published widely on artists such as Fragonard and Vigée-Lebrun, as well as on questions of art and gender. She taught at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill since 1983, was a former chair of the Art Department, and was named W.R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor in 2005. She was also a central figure in eighteenth-century scholarship as an editor of the journal Eighteenth Century Studies and as a founding member of the Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art group. Her scholarly achievements were recognized through numerous visiting professorships, invitations to lecture around the globe, awards, and fellowships from, among others, the Guggenheim Foundation and the NEH. She also made a great impact on the field with her teaching. Both undergraduate and graduate students revered her, and she trained many doctoral students, who follow her example of commitment to excellent teaching and scholarship. In addition to her professional work, she was also an avid traveler, bird watcher, and scuba diver. She and her husband Keith Luria were devoted to each other and shared these professional and non-professional passions.

Mary Sheriff was born on September 19, 1950 in Plainfield, NJ to Robert William Sheriff and June Leaf. She was educated at Bucknell University and the University of Delaware. She is survived by her husband Keith Luria of Chapel Hill, NC and her father Robert Sheriff of Tarpon Springs, FL. In lieu of flowers, those wishing to honor her memory can make donations to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network or the Duke Homecare and Hospice of Durham, NC. A memorial will be held in her honor in the spring.


Seminar | Hannah Wirta Kinney on Copies of Antiquities

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on October 20, 2016

From the seminar flyer:

Hannah Wirta Kinney | Commissioning Faithful Copies
of Antiquities in Eighteenth-Century Florence

The Wallace Collection, London, 31 October 2016

In Some Observations Made in Travelling through France, Italy, Etc Edward Wright concluded his account of the famous antiquities of the Tribuna of the Uffizi by describing bronze copies of its four most important statues, which were on display in the Duke of Marlborough’s Blenheim Palace. Visiting Florence in 1720, Wright had assisted the Lord Chancellor Thomas Parker to purchase bronze copies of the same famous antiquities. The casts’ maker, Pietro Cipriani, promised that they would “at least equal [Massimiliano Soldani Benzi’s for Marlborough], and be the most exact that ever were made.” In correspondence with their patrons, both sculptors suggested that the exactness of their copies resulted from the moulds they used to cast them, which had been taken directly from the original marble. But the authorization to make and thus acquire a faithful copy of a Medici-owned sculpture was carefully controlled. Permission to copy came from Tuscan Grand Duke Cosimo III himself. The mould thus became the material proof of the copy’s close relationship to the original, and therefore of the copy’s value. It was also, importantly, the meeting point between the interests of the artist, the commissioner, and the owner of the original.

During the age of the Grand Tour collectors desired copies of the renowned works in Italian collections, but the authorization to make a copy was carefully controlled by the original’s owner. A copy of a well-regarded original could be read not only as evidence that the purchaser was aesthetically discerning, but, further, that he had the diplomatic connections that would allow it to be made. Conversely, for Tuscan Grand Duke Cosimo III, the ritual of the request for a copy, like the praises of his statues that echoed in the halls of his galleries, reinforced his claims of political relevance in a moment of weakening power. This paper explores how ‘faithful’ copies materialized and displayed political relationships in the eighteenth century. The larger goal is to invert the standard narrative of the Grand Tour, to look at artistic production, rather than just at consumption, as a process of identity formation.

Seminars in the History of Collecting
Hannah Wirta Kinney (DPhil candidate, University of Oxford)
Commissioning Faithful Copies of Antiquities in Eighteenth-Century Florence
Monday, 31 October 2016, 5.30pm
Lecture Theatre, The Wallace Collection

Admission is free and booking is not required. More information and details of the seminar series can be found here.

Call for Papers | European Court Culture and Greenwich Palace

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on October 19, 2016

From the CFP:

European Court Culture and Greenwich Palace, 1500–1750
National Maritime Museum and the Queen’s House, Greenwich, 20–22 April 2017

Proposals due by 1 December 2016

Royal Museums Greenwich and the Society for Court Studies are pleased to announce this call for papers, for a major international conference to mark the 400th anniversary year of the Queen’s House, Greenwich. Designed by Inigo Jones in 1616 and completed in 1639, this royal villa is an acknowledged masterpiece of British architecture and the only remaining building of the sixteenth and seventeenth-century palace complex. Today the Queen’s House lies at the centre of the World Heritage Site of Maritime Greenwich, which also includes the Royal Observatory and the Old Royal Naval College (previously Greenwich Hospital). The site as a whole is often celebrated as quintessentially ‘British’—historically, culturally and artistically. Yet the sequence of queens associated with the Queen’s House and Greenwich more generally reflect a wider orientation towards Europe—from Anne of Denmark, who commissioned the House, to Henrietta Maria of France, Catherine of Braganza and Mary of Modena—in addition to Greenwich’s transformation under the patronage of Tudor and Stuart monarchs. Located on the River Thames at the gateway to London and to England, royal residences at Greenwich served an important function in the early modern period as a cultural link with the continent, and in particular, with England’s nearest neighbours in the Low Countries and France. After major refurbishment, the Queen’s House reopens in October 2016 with new displays that focus on a number of important themes to historians of art, architecture and culture, and strong links to politics, diplomacy, war and royal and maritime culture.

Some of the themes that might be considered (but are not limited to) include
• Royal portraiture, in particular the representation of queens regnant and consorts
• ‘Princely magnificence’ and the design of royal spaces (such as the division between a King’s and Queen’s sides)
• Dynastic links between the houses of Stuart, Orange, Bourbon, Wittelsbach (Palatinate), and Portugal
• The history of Greenwich Palace as a royal residence and centre of power and culture
• The Queen’s House and Greenwich Palace situated in a wider royal and architectural context
• Connections between court life in Greenwich and the development of the navy (as represented by Thornhill’s allegorical paintings in the Painted Hall, and James, Duke of York, as Lord High Admiral, etc.)
• Fashions and artistic influences from overseas, notably Dutch, Flemish or French artists, architects and royal spaces (Inigo Jones, Orazio Gentileschi and James Thornhill), usage of allegory and mythology in royal/naval settings
• other areas patronized by the court, such as maritime exploration, scientific advances, prints, as represented by the Royal Observatory Greenwich

The conference will be held 20–22 April 2017 in the National Maritime Museum and the Queen’s House. Keynote speakers will include Dr Simon Thurley. We invite the submission of abstracts (300 to 400 words) for twenty-minute papers. The deadline for submissions is 1 December 2016. Please direct queries, if any, to Janet Dickinson: janet.dickinson@conted.ox.ac.uk and proposals and a brief biography to research@rmg.co.uk.

Conference Organisers
Janet Dickinson (University of Oxford), Christine Riding (Royal Museums Greenwich), and Jonathan Spangler (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Exhibition | Thomas Gainsborough: Methods of Making

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on October 18, 2016


Thomas Gainsborough, Wooded Landscape with Old Peasant and Donkeys outside a Barn, ca. 1755–57, oil on canvas 49.5 x 59.7 cm (Gainsborough’s House, accepted by HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to Gainsborough’s House in 2015).

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From Gainsborough’s House:

Thomas Gainsborough: Methods of Making
Gainsborough’s House, Sudbury, Suffolk, 22 October 2016 — 19 February 2017

This exhibition marks the culmination of a conservation research project, generously funded by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and carried out in partnership with the University of Cambridge’s Hamilton Kerr Institute. Focusing on a single painting from the Gainsborough’s House collection, it sheds new light on the artist’s early painting technique and methods of working.

The painting in question was allocated to Gainsborough’s House in 2015 through the government’s Acceptance in Lieu scheme. Titled Wooded Landscape with Old Peasant and Donkeys outside a Barn, it has long been recognized as a significant work from Gainsborough’s Suffolk period, demonstrating his growing interest in the sentimental depiction of simple country folk. The identity of the principal subject is unknown, although an additional figure study by Gainsborough appears to represent the same man. Traditionally known as A Suffolk Costermonger, this mysterious character was reputedly well known in the Ipswich area.

A central part of the project has been the conservation and technical examination of the painting, carried out by Kari Rayner. Through the removal of yellowed varnish and overpaint, details previously obscured have been made visible. As part of her research, Kari has also created a partial reconstruction, revealing how Gainsborough’s canvas was prepared and how the paint was applied. The opportunity to view this reconstruction alongside the original painting affords a rare glimpse into the artist’s working methods.

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From the accompanying pamphlet detailing Rayner’s reconstruction:

Reconstruction by Kari Rayner, after Thomas Gainsborough, Wooded Landscape with Old Peasant and Donkeys outside a Barn.

Reconstruction by Kari Rayner, after Thomas Gainsborough, Wooded Landscape with Old Peasant and Donkeys outside a Barn, 2016.

The purpose of this reconstruction, carried out by Kari Rayner at the Hamilton Kerr institute, was to gain firsthand experience emulating Gainsborough’s painting technique. This type of study results in an increased understanding of the material aspects of a work of art and can provide unforeseen insights into the artist’s processes, interests, and influences. Unlike a replica, which reproduces a work in full, a reconstruction leaves the canvas support, priming, and underlayers of paint exposed so that the method of creation is visible to the viewer. This particular painting was an ideal candidate for reconstruction due to its excellent condition: treatment in the spring of 2016 ensured that discoloured varnish and past restorations did not significantly affect the appearance of the work.

During the process of reproducing Peasant and Donkeys, the painting’s minutest details were scrutinized. it soon became apparent that this was a highly experimental work in Gainsborough’s Suffolk period. He was clearly learning during the process of its execution, adjusting colours and tonal relationships as he painted. playing with the recession of space and varying the level of detail, he expertly guides the viewer’s eye through the work: his development of the composition is truly visionary. The observation of such details, facilitated by the creation of this reproduction, has led to an increased appreciation of Gainsborough’s skill as an artist at this formative early stage in his career.




Exhibition | French Drawings from the Time of Gainsborough

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on October 18, 2016

From Gainsborough’s House:

French Drawings from the Time of Gainsborough
Gainsborough’s House, Sudbury, Suffolk, 22 October 2016 — 19 February 2017

Curated by Christoph Vogtherr

Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Tete de Jeune Fille

Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Tête de Jeune Fille

This exhibition brings together over 40 drawings from public and private collections, many being on public display for the first time. French Drawings from the Time of Gainsborough covers the period between the Régence (1715 and 1723) and the Revolution (1789–99), when French drawing was the undisputed reference point for the quality and the teaching of drawing in Europe. Curated by the French eighteenth-century specialist Christoph Vogtherr, Director of the Hamburger Kunsthalle, the exhibition features the great artistic personalities of the age such as Françoise Boucher (1703–70), Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806), and Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684–1721), and through their work explores the function and development of drawing in France during the period.

Gainsborough was deeply influenced by French drawing and received training from Hubert-François Gravelot (1699–1773) when he was in London in the 1740s. As Christoph Vogtherr notes in the exhibition catalogue:
“Artists in England closely observed the French situation, often with a fair degree of envy. Important commissions in England, mainly private, were given to Italian—and increasingly also French—painters, and English collectors bought French works. The market for engravings was largely shaped by French engravers until well into the second half of the eighteenth century.”

The selection of works on display, which include figure studies, landscapes and genre scenes, are particularly close to Gainsborough’s own works on paper that are held in our permanent collection. This exhibition is an opportunity to see some of the finest examples of French drawings exhibited for the first time and gives a greater understanding of drawing in the age of Thomas Gainsborough (1727–88).



New Book | Le Comte de Caylus et Edme Bouchardon

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on October 17, 2016

In noting the Bouchardon exhibition at the Louvre this fall, I omitted this publication from Somogy, which accompanies the show (along with an exhibition catalogue and a catalogue raisonné). CH

Marc  Fumaroli, Le Comte de Caylus et Edme Bouchardon: Deux réformateurs du goût sous Louis XV (Paris: Somogy, 2016), 96 pages, ISBN: 978-2757211861, 7€.

fumaroli_caylus_et_bouchardon_vignetteTout semblait éloigner, dans l’ordre social et dans ses apparences, le grand seigneur Anne Claude de Caylus, né sur les marches du trône, et le roturier de province, né dans une obscure famille de sculpteurs champenois, Edme Bourchardon, sinon leur foi ardente et commune dans la supériorité des Anciens et un zèle commun et acharné à remonter la pente du déclin. (…) La rencontre en janvier 1733 entre Caylus l’amateur savant et réformateur et Bouchardon, jeune sculpteur déjà célèbre à Rome et en Europe comme la réincarnation française des sculpteurs grecs Polyclète et Polygnote, infléchit leurs deux carrières alliées dans le grand dessein de faire revivre en France et ensuite en Europe le pur goût grec et « à la grecque ». (…) Un peu forcé, comme l’avait été le retour de Poussin à Paris en 1640, le voyage Rome-Paris de Bouchardon, en 1732–33, ramena en France le nouvel archétype du grand artiste « à l’antique », pierre angulaire éventuelle de la reconstruction de l’Académie royale et d’une restauration de son système éducatif, accusé d’avoir dégénéré les intentions de ses fondateurs.

Marc Fumaroli, né en 1932, historien de la littérature et des arts de l’Ancien Régime français, est membre de l’Académie française, professeur émérite au Collège de France, président honoraire de la Société des Amis du Louvre. Il est l’auteur de L’École du silence, le sentiment des images au XVIIe siècle (Paris, Flammarion, 1994), de Peinture et pouvoirs, de Rome à Paris aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (Dijon, Faton, 2007), et de Paris – New York et retour, voyage dans les arts et les images (Paris, Fayard, 2009, et Flammarion, 2011, quatrième édition). Il prépare une ample biographie du comte de Caylus en son siècle, un essai sur la réception du Traité du Sublime de Tacite à Winckelmann, de Kant à Adorno, et un recueil d’articles sur l’art français sous la monarchie à paraître aux éditions Gallimard.




New Book | Of Arms and Artists

Posted in books by Editor on October 16, 2016

From Bloomsbury Press:

Paul Staiti, Of Arms and Artists: The American Revolution through Painters’ Eyes (London: Bloomsbury Press, 2016), 400 pages, ISBN: 978-1632864659, $30.

9781632864659The images accompanying the founding of the United States—of honored Founders, dramatic battle scenes, and seminal moments—gave visual shape to Revolutionary events and symbolized an entirely new concept of leadership and government. Since then they have endured as indispensable icons, serving as historical documents and timeless reminders of the nation’s unprecedented beginnings.

As Paul Staiti reveals in Of Arms and Artists, the lives of the five great American artists of the Revolutionary period—Charles Willson Peale, John Singleton Copley, John Trumbull, Benjamin West, and Gilbert Stuart—were every bit as eventful as those of the Founders with whom they continually interacted, and their works contributed mightily to America’s founding spirit. Living in a time of breathtaking change, each in his own way came to grips with the history being made by turning to brushes and canvases, the results often eliciting awe and praise, and sometimes scorn. Ever since the passing of the last eyewitnesses to the Revolution, their imagery has connected Americans to 1776, allowing us to interpret and reinterpret the nation’s beginning generation after generation. The collective stories of these five artists open a fresh window on the Revolutionary era, making more human the figures we have long honored as our Founders, and deepening our understanding of the whirlwind out of which the United States emerged.

Paul Staiti teaches at Mount Holyoke College and is the author of several books and essays on American artists. He has co-curated exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The recipient of three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a two-time Senior Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Staiti has spoken internationally on the intersection of American art and history. He lives in South Hadley, Massachusetts.




New Book | A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley

Posted in books by Editor on October 16, 2016

From W. W. Norton:

Jane Kamensky, A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2016), 544 pages, ISBN: 978-0393240016, $35.

9780393240016_300Boston in the 1740s: a bustling port at the edge of the British empire. A boy comes of age in a small wooden house along the Long Wharf, which juts into the harbor, as though reaching for London thousands of miles across the ocean. Sometime in his childhood, he learns to draw. That boy was John Singleton Copley, who became, by the 1760s, colonial America’s premier painter. His brush captured the faces of his neighbors—ordinary men like Paul Revere, John Hancock, and Samuel Adams—who would become the revolutionary heroes of a new United States. Today, in museums across America, Copley’s brilliant portraits evoke patriotic fervor and rebellious optimism.

The artist, however, did not share his subjects’ politics. Copley’s nation was Britain; his capital, London. When rebellion sundered Britain’s empire, both kin and calling determined the painter’s allegiances. He sought the largest canvas for his talents and the safest home for his family. So, by the time the United States declared its independence, Copley and his kin were in London. He painted America’s revolution from a far shore, as Britain’s American War.

An intimate portrait of the artist and his extraordinary times, Jane Kamensky’s A Revolution in Color masterfully reveals the world of the American Revolution, a place in time riven by divided loyalties and tangled sympathies. Much like the world in which he lived, Copley’s life and career were marked by spectacular rises and devastating falls. But though his ambivalence cost him dearly, the painter’s achievements in both Britain and America made him a towering figure of both nations’ artistic legacies.

Jane Kamensky is a a professor of history at Harvard University and the faculty director of the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Her many books include The Exchange Artist, a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize.




New Book | Irish Fine Art in the Early Modern Period

Posted in books by Editor on October 14, 2016

From Irish Academic Press:

Jane Fenlon, Ruth Kenny, Caroline Pegum, Brendan Rooney, eds., Irish Fine Art in the Early Modern Period: New Perspectives on Artistic Practice, 1620–1820 (Newbridge: Irish Academic Press, 2016), 276 pages, hardback ISBN: 978-1911024262, paperback ISBN: 978-1911024354, €30 / €85.

iap-irish-fine-art-cvr-screenThis richly illustrated book presents the latest research into Irish fine art from the 17th and 18th centuries. It is comprised of a rich selection of case studies into artistic practice that showcase the burgeoning nature of fine art media in Ireland, the quality of production, and the breadth of patronage. Investigating these signifiers of a ‘cultured’ lifestyle—their production, consumption, appreciation, display, and discourse—provides fascinating insights into the sensibility of Ireland’s minority-rule elites, and the practitioners it fostered.

Featuring contributions from emergent and established art historians, Irish Fine Art in the Early Modern Period takes its subject matter beyond the realms of academic journals, exhibitions and conferences, and presents it within a lavishly designed and vital publication that presents substantial new insights into Ireland’s artistic and social history.

Jane Fenlon is the author/editor of several books and essays on the subject of seventeenth-century Irish art and architecture, including The Ormonde Picture Collection and Clanricard’s Castle (2012). Her most recent work includes essays in Art and Architecture in Ireland, Vol. II (2014)  and in the forthcoming Cambridge History of Ireland, Vol. II ( 2017).

Ruth Kenny is a freelance curator and art historian; she is currently curator of an exhibition on the Society of Artists for the Irish Georgian Society and teaches at the School of Art History and Cultural Policy, University College Dublin.

Caroline Pegum is an historian of British and Irish art in the late Stuart period and is currently researching a catalogue raisonné of the Irish-born portraitist Charles Jervas (1669–1739) for publication by the Walpole Society.

Brendan Rooney is Curator of Irish Art at the National Gallery of Ireland, and author/editor of numerous works on Irish art, including Thomas Roberts: Landscape and Patronage in Eighteenth-Century Ireland (2009) and Creating History: Stories of Ireland in Art (2016).

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1  Fintan Cullen, ‘Parliament as Theatre: Francis Wheatley’s The Irish House of Commons Revisited’
2  William Laffan, ‘Theft, Concealment and Exposure: Nathaniel Hone’s The Spartan Boy
3  Siobhan McDermott, ‘Commerce, Conquest and Change: Thomas Hickey’s John Mowbray, Calcutta Merchant, attended by a Banian and a Messenger
4  Jacqueline Riding, ‘Artistic Connections between Dublin and London in the Early-Georgian Period: James Latham and Joseph Highmore’
5  M.G. Sullivan, ‘The “Strange and Unaccountable” John Van Nost: The Making of a Sculptural Career in Eighteenth-Century Ireland’
6  Mary Jane Boland, ‘An Irish Teniers? The Development of Paintings of Everyday Life in Ireland, c.1780–1810’
7  Jane Fenlon, ‘The Portrait Collection in the Great Hall of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin’
8  Nicola Figgis, ‘The Contribution of Foreign Artists to Cultural Life in Eighteenth-Century Dublin’
9  Elaine Hoysted, ‘Visualising the Privileged Status of Motherhood: The Commemoration of Women in Irish Funerary Monuments, c.1600–1650’


New Book | The Dublin Civic Portrait Collection

Posted in books by Editor on October 14, 2016

From Four Courts Press:

Mary Clark, The Dublin Civic Portrait Collection: Patronage, Politics, and Patriotism, 1603–2013 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2016), 238 pages, ISBN: 978-1846825842, €40 / $65.

coverBeginning in the early 17th century and continuing to the present day, the city of Dublin has built up a portrait collection that is unique on the island of Ireland in terms of range and diversity and is brilliantly expressive of the political aspirations and realities that have informed its creation. The collection contains sixty-six works in oil-on-canvas and eight statues in bronze and marble. These can be placed in three principal categories: royal personages; lord lieutenants of Ireland; and lord mayors and aldermen of Dublin. It includes works by Irish artists Thomas Hickey, Hugh Douglas Hamilton, Martin Cregan, Stephen Catterson Smith, Dermod O’Brien, Robert Ballagh and Carey Clarke and by leading English portraitists including Sir Joshua Reynolds, George Romney, Sir William Beechey, and Sir Thomas Lawrence.

This book contains a catalogue of the entire collection with an introduction placing it within the broader context of civic imagery and regalia, giving due regard to ceremony, heraldry, dress and accoutrements of office. The Dublin collection is placed within its historical context to show how developments in Dublin and in Ireland as a whole influenced its formation. This lavishly illustrated book illuminates the complex relationship between politics, pageantry, art and history in the Irish capital over a sustained period of 400 years.

Mary Clark is the Dublin City Archivist and curator of the Dublin Civic Portrait Collection.