Searching for Wrecked Slaving Ships

Posted in the 18th century in the news by Editor on August 21, 2017

The House of Slaves (Maison des Esclaves) with the narrow door, the Point-of-no-return, through which slaves were loaded onto ships bound for the Americas, visible in the center. The building opened as a museum in 1962. Photo by Robin Elaine (3 September 2004), Wikimedia Commons.

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As reported by AFP, via Art Daily (20 August 2017). . .

Staring out to sea [off the coast of Dakar] on a flawlessly sunny day, underwater archaeologist Ibrahima Thiaw visualises three shipwrecks once packed with slaves that now lie somewhere beneath Senegal’s Atlantic waves. He wants more than anything to find them.

Thiaw has spent years scouring the seabed off the island of Gorée, once a west African slaving post, never losing hope of locating the elusive vessels with a small group of graduate students from Dakar’s Cheikh Anta Diop University. Gorée was the largest slave-trading centre on the African coast between the 15th and 19th century, according to the UN’s cultural agency UNESCO, and Thiaw believes his mission has a moral purpose: to heal the open wounds that slavery has left on the continent.

“This is not just for the fun of research or scholarship. It touches us and our humanity and I think that slavery in its afterlife still has huge scars on our modern society,” he said, pulling on a wetsuit and rubber boots for the day’s first dive.

Thiaw believes his native Senegal, with its own long and violent history of trade in human flesh, could tell the world more about how modern capitalism was founded on violence inflicted on African bodies. . . .

Thiaw, who originates from a rural area of Senegal but went on to study in the United States [earning a PhD from Rice University], had become known for his research into slaves’ living conditions on Goree island when he was approached three years ago by the US National Park Service and National Museum of African American History and Culture to find a west African base for their ‘Slave Wrecks Project‘. . . .

The trio of wrecks Thiaw seeks—the Nanette, the Bonne Amitie, and the Racehorse—all disappeared off Gorée in the 18th century, taking with them crucial evidence of how enslaved Africans were carried across the harrowing Middle Passage. . . .

The full article is available here»

Kevin Sieff reported on the project for The Washington Post (20 August 2017), available here»

Excavating the VOC ‘Rooswijk’, a 1740 Shipwreck

Posted in on site, the 18th century in the news by Editor on August 21, 2017

Pewter tankard found in the wreck of the Rooswijk, which sank in 1740
© Historic England/RCE

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As reported by AFP, via Art Daily (20 August 2017) . . .

Maritime archaeologists said Friday they have begun excavating the wreck of a Dutch ship that sank off the English coast in 1740, recovering leather shoes, silver and the bones of its lost crew. The Rooswijk, a Dutch East India Company ship, was on its way to what is now Jakarta when it went down with around 300 people and a large cargo of silver ingots and coinage aboard.

Following its discovery in 2005, most of the precious goods were removed, but a full excavation is now underway due to concerns it could be destroyed by shifting sands and currents.

Remains of some of the sailors who perished have been found preserved on the seabed 26 metres (85 feet) down, along with more coins, leather shoes, an oil lamp, glass bottles, pewter jugs and spoons, and ornately carved knife handles.

“It’s a snapshot of a moment in time,” said Alison James, a maritime archaeologist at Historic England, while one her colleagues said it was like “an underwater Pompeii.” . . .

The project is the largest of its scale on a ship from the Dutch East India Company [the VOC], which lost a total of 250 vessels to shipwreck—of which only a third have been located.

Reporting by Sarah Gibbens for National Geographic is available here»



Print Quarterly, September 2017

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions, journal articles, reviews by Editor on August 20, 2017

The eighteenth century in the current issue of Print Quarterly:

John Baptist Jackson, Lamentation over the Body of Christ, ca. 1740–44, woodcut with embossing (London: The British Museum).

Print Quarterly 34.3 (September 2017)

• Evelyn Wöldicke, “John Baptist Jackson’s Woodcuts and the Question of Embossing,” pp. 298–310.
• Freyda Spira, “Micrographic Allegories by Johann Michael Püchler and Matthias Buchinger,” pp. 310–16.

• Adriano Aymonino, Review of the exhibition catalogue, Maria Rosaria Nappi, ed., Immagini per il Grand Tour: L’attività della Stamperia Reale Borbonica (Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 2015), pp. 328–31.
• Rolf Reichardt, Review of Philippe de Carbonnières, La Grande Aarmée de papier: Caricatures napoléoniennes (Presses Universitaires de Rouen et du Havre, 2015), pp. 331–33.
• Perrin Stein, Review of Kristel Smentek, Mariette and the Science of the Connoisseur in Eighteenth-Century Europe (Ashgate, 2014), pp. 340–44.







Exhibition | Witches: Metamorphosis of Goya

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on August 19, 2017

Press release (via Art Daily) for the exhibition:

Denise de la Rue, Witches: Metamorphosis of Goya / Brujas: Metamorfosis de Goya
Lázaro Galdiano Museum, Madrid, 21 June — 31 October 2017

Curated by Carmen Espinosa and Flavia Hohenlohe

Denise de la Rue, ‘Maribel Verdú y Goya’, a partir de ‘El Aquelarre’ de Francisco de Goya (1798), 2017.

Witches, an exhibition by Mexican artist Denise de la Rue, curated by Carmen Espinosa and Flavia Hohenlohe at the Lázaro Galdiano Museum in Madrid, is the second component of her series Angels and Witches: Goya, Metamorphose, a study of Francisco de Goya’s paintings through a reinterpretation of the old master’s work. De la Rue has created a series of photographs juxtaposing iconic Spanish actresses with the painter’s work, analysing the dichotomies and similarities between these characters whilst engaging with historical and relevant sites such as the Museum. Taking elements of the actor profession that coincide with the characteristics of angels and witches such as mysticism, magic, life, death and the power of creation, transformation and destruction, De la Rue has created a dialogue between the actresses and Goya’s paintings. The essence of this series is the interest of the artist in researching the capability of women to transform and empower themselves, which historically has been seen as threatening to the conservative preconception of patriarchal societies.

Denise de la Rue, a partir de ‘Vuelo de Brujas’ de Francisco de Goya (Prado, 1798), 2017.

As a starting point to create Witches, a new body or work, De la Rue has taken Goya’s Vuelo de Brujas (Witches’ Flight), Prado Museum; El Aquelarre (Witches’ Sabbath) and Las Brujas (The Witches), both at the Lázaro Galdiano Museum; Hechizado a la Fuerza (The Forcibly Bewitched), National Gallery London; La Cocina de las Brujas (The Witches’ Kitchen), untraced; and Don Juan y el Comendador (Don Juan and the Commander), untraced. The series was commissioned by the Dukes of Osuna between 1797 and 1798 for the Alameda Palace in Madrid, best known as El Capricho.

Two of these pieces, Las Brujas and El Aquelarre, are part of the Museum’s permanent collection and will be displayed alongside De la Rue’s work, creating a conversation between the old master and the contemporary artist. The extravagance of these two pieces also draws special attention. Here the unreal becomes visible, riding between the terrifying and the ironic. Both paintings appear to be inspired by eighteenth-century texts as well as popular tradition, a key focus in De la Rue’s research. The exhibition of Witches is a unique opportunity not only to see two of Goya’s original paintings of witches together but to appreciate the full series through De la Rue’s work.

Two of the original paintings have been lost, and De la Rue has recaptured them by retrieving historic files that include details of the works. Using photography technology, the artist has reconstructed the works and reunited them in the same space for the first time since the pieces left the Dukes of Osuna’s hands.

In addition to the photographs, the Museum will present De la Rue’s video dedicated to the painting Las Brujas in which the actress Bárbara Lennie dances to the poem “Pequeño vals Vienés” (“Little Venice Waltz”) by Federico Garcia Lorca interpreted by flamenco singer Enrique Morente.

The first component of the exhibition Angels and Witches Goya, Metamorphose was the chapter of Angels at the Royal Chapel of San Antonio de la Florida in Madrid where Goya remains rest, as well as where some of his most recognised frescos are. The exhibition opened in February and was a highlight of the Madrid cultural calendar. Having the two exhibitions of Angels and Witches in dialogue with Goya’s work in these unique venues is a rare opportunity to see and understand Goya’s interest in witchcraft and the holy, revised by photography and a contemporary perspective.

Video from the previous installation Ángelas:






Conference | Digital Art History: Practice and Potential

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on August 19, 2017

From the Paul Mellon Centre:

Digital Art History: Practice and Potential
Paul Mellon Centre and the Courtald Institute of Art, London, 11 October 2017

Organized by Hana Leaper, Sophie Hatchwell, and Fern Insh

The first conference of the Early Career Researchers in British Art Network in partnership with The Courtauld Institute of Art’s Digital Art History Research Group (#DAHRG) and the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art

This conference, organised under the auspices of the Early Career Researchers in British Art Network, and Digital Art History Research Group (#DAHRG), provides a platform for Early Career Researchers engaged or interested in digital art history to showcase their work, develop skills, and think broadly about how digitisation can innovate, challenge convention, and inform art-historical practice.

In recent years, academics and institutions engaged in the Digital Humanities have brought together new technologies with historical research and scholarship. As a result, departments and institutions dedicated to the study of the Digital Humanities are becoming increasingly commonplace. Concurrently, art historians have sought to define what Digital Art History is, with eminent scholars such as Johanna Drucker and Diane M. Zorich interrogating its place within disciplinary practice and theory and many conferences and publications devoted to specifically defining what Digital Art History means. By inviting an emergent generation of scholars together, this conference intends to move beyond defining Digital Art History. Instead, we consider how digital technology integrates with and enhances art historical methodologies and theories in today’s digital world.

Convened by Dr Hana Leaper (Paul Mellon Centre), Dr Sophie Hatchwell (University of Bristol), and Dr Fern Insh (Courtauld Institute of Art)


9.30  Registration and introduction at the Paul Mellon Centre

10.00  Panel 1 | Practice: Exploring the Nexus of Digital Technologies and Art Historical Research
• Élodie Gössant, Reconstructing a Lost Country House: The Case of Erlestoke Park (Wiltshire)
• Phillippa Plock and Colette Warbrick, Digital/ized Art History at Waddesdon Manor
• Shu-Chi Shen, Revisualising, Reconstruction and Recreation: The Case Study on a Digital Exhibition in the National Palace Museum

11.30  Break

12.00  Panel 2 | Potential: Evolution and Synthesis of Art Historical Methodologies
• Nirmalie Alexandra Mulloli and Christina Bartosch, Exhibitions of Modern European Art, 1905–15: Building Metadata to Reveal Artist Exhibition Strategies and Advance Theoretical Possibilities of Exhibition Spaces
• Ricarda Brosch and Adam Knight, The Quantitative Turn: Big Data Ethics in Digital Art History
• Rosário Salema de Carvalho and Inês Aguiar, Match! Image recognition issues on Az Infinitum: Azulejo Indexation and Referencing System

1.30  Lunch

1.30  Workshop Session
• Fern Insh, App Building for History and Heritage

3.30  Break

4.00  Roundtable Discussion
• Early Career Researchers’ Role in Developing Digital Practice

6.00  Lecture, at the Courtauld Institute of Art
• Emma Stanford, The Art of Losing: A Wishlist for Responsible Digitization

7.15  Reception

Abstracts are available here»






Symposium | Art of Power: The 3rd Earl of Bute, Politics, and Collecting

Posted in conferences (to attend), exhibitions by Editor on August 18, 2017

From the symposium flyer:

Art of Power: The 3rd Earl of Bute, Politics, and Collecting in Enlightenment Britain
The Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow and Mount Stuart, Isle of Bute, 2–4 October 2017

In 2017, the Mount Stuart Trust and The Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow, are hosting a major exhibition merging art, biography, politics, and cultural history. Art of Power: Masterpieces from the Bute Collection uncovers the fascinating Enlightenment figure, John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute (1713–1792), and his collection of rarely-seen masterpieces. A three-day interdisciplinary symposium inspired by themes of the exhibition will explore the dynamic interplay between art, politics, and collecting so evident in the life of the 3rd Earl of Bute. In sessions open to the public, papers will be delivered on day one in Glasgow. Days two and three will take place at Mount Stuart (with only a very limited number of spaces) and will include tours of the house, archives, and collection highlights.

Confirmed Speakers
Desmond Shawe-Taylor (Royal Collection), Rosie Razzall (Royal Collection), Anne T. Woollett (J. Paul Getty Museum), Anthony Lewis (Glasgow Museums), Wayne E. Franits (Syracuse University), Graham Rowe (University of Derby), Heiner Krellig (independent), Janet Stiles Tyson (Birkbeck), Oliver Cox (Oxford), Peter Black (Hunterian), Mungo Campbell (Hunterian), and Caitlin Blackwell (Mount Stuart)




Exhibition | In Her Majesty’s Hands: Medals of Maria Theresa

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on August 17, 2017

Matthäus Donner / Andreas Vestner, Maria Theresa Box Medal (Schraubmedaille) containing hand-coloured drawings; silver, hand-coloured drawing on paper inside the medal (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Coin Collection, inv.no. 5955/1914B).

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Press release (via Art Daily) for the exhibition now on view at the KHM:

In Her Majesty’s Hands: Medals of Maria Theresa
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, 28 March 2017 — 18 February 2018

Curated by Anna Fabiankowitsch and Heinz Winter

The Kunsthistorisches Museum’s Coin Collection holds both the largest and by far the most important collection of coins minted under Maria Theresa; it is the best place, and now is the best time, to host an exhibition that presents the monarch’s life in medals to celebrate what would have been her 300th birthday.

The exhibition focuses on the most important topoi in Maria Theresa’s private and public life. It presents her in the company of her large family, running the gamut of events from dynastic marriages to heart-breaking calamities. It showcases her role as a ruler forced to fight several wars for her inheritance and, together with her son and co-regent Joseph II, as a pioneering social reformer. The artefacts on show also illustrate the extent of Maria Theresa’s realm, which comprised many different ethnicities and cultures.

All these topoi are reflected in medals that emblematise historical events with the help of allegories. Maria Theresa was already widely glorified and celebrated during her lifetime, but the exhibition also documents how she was portrayed by her enemies. So-called satirical medals, which were passed around in private, turned Maria Theresa into an object of derision.

The exhibition focuses, too, on the historical background of medal production to illustrate the requisite technical skills, expenditure, and effort; introduce the most important protagonists; and document the range, purview, and media-value of Maria Theresa’s medals.

Maria Theresa (1717–1780) became a legend during her lifetime, and few female rulers were depicted more frequently or diversely. Her many likenesses—among them portraits, engravings, medals, and medallions—were designed to preserve her memory for posterity, turning her into an 18th-century media-star.

Medals played a central role in this propaganda effort controlled by the imperial court. Among the period’s foremost artistic mass media, medals were minted under the aegis of the court, and they continue to reflect the ruler’s political aims and the way she saw herself. Over three hundred different medals were produced during Maria Theresa’s reign to commemorate or celebrate either members of the imperial family or political events, both national and international.

Medals functioned as a way to commemorate important events of her reign, and as they were minted in large numbers, the material is noted for its longevity and their handy format made it easy to disseminate them, they were regarded as a historical record that would last forever. Contemporaries called these miniature memorials show- or commemorative coins, and they evolved into much sought-after and frequently exchanged collectors’ pieces. The monarch presented them as signs of imperial favour, in recognition of the recipient’s merits or achievements, or to strengthen diplomatic ties, and the majority of the medals produced in Vienna were destined for the court—ending up in Her Majesty’s hands.

Zuhanden Ihrer Majestät: Medaillen Maria Theresias (Vienna: Kunst Historisches Museum, 2017), 100 pages, 15€.

Curator Anna Fabiankowitsch during preparations for the exhibition
Photo by Lukas Beck


New Book | Maria Theresa and the Arts

Posted in books by Editor on August 16, 2017

From Hirmer:

Stella Rollig and Georg Lechner, eds., Maria Theresa and the Arts (Munich: Hirmer Velag, 2017), 232 pages, ISBN: 978 37774 29236, £38.

With contributions by A. Gamerith, S. Grabner, M. Hohn, R. Johannsen, G. Lechner, M. Pötzl-Malikova, S. Rollig, B. Schmidt, K. Schmitz-von Ledebur, S. Schuster-Hofstätter

The 300th birthday of Empress Maria Theresia provides an opportunity to examine her outstanding interest in the fine arts. At the invitation of the reforming monarch a large number of painters, sculptors and other artists in Austria and abroad found a wealth of work opportunities. Correspondingly, this era has left its mark on the countries of the former Habsburg monarchy to this day. Maria Theresia pursued an individual approach with regard to cultural policy. She was interested in reform not only in education, but also in the field of art. She commissioned contemporary artists and helped portrait painting to a new upswing, leading not least to the international consolidation of the newly formed House of Habsburg-Lorraine. This was the function also fulfilled by the allegorical paintings and ceiling frescoes for which impressive cartoons have survived. Landscape painting was highly esteemed, and finally outstanding masterpieces were produced in sculpture and three-dimensional works, for example by Balthasar Ferdinand Moll and Franz Xaver Messerschmidt.


Exhibition | Living Rooms: The Period Room Initiative

Posted in exhibitions by internjmb on August 14, 2017

Providence Parlour, ca. 1760–70; painted pine
(Minneapolis Institute of Art)

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I’m glad to note that former Enfilade intern Mattie Koppendrayer contributed portions of the research for the room on ‘Science and Sociability’. Along with these fascinating installations of Mia’s period rooms, the museum’s eighteenth-century offerings for the fall will include the exhibition Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe, which recently closed at The Getty and opens in Minneapolis on September 10. CH

Now on view at Mia:

With Living Rooms, a multi-year initiative, Mia is reinvigorating its period rooms for today’s visitors, placing the past in dialogue with the present, while simultaneously broadening the conversation to include other histories—of marginalized people, of the senses, and even of time itself.

Just Imported: Global Trade in 1700s New England
Minneapolis Institute of Art, 22 April 2017 — 15 April 2018

The Providence Parlor once occupied prime real estate on a wharf in 1700s Providence, Rhode Island. Its owners, brothers Joseph and William Russell, operated a prosperous merchant business that imported and exported goods by sea. Their store, The Sign of the Golden Eagle, offered a resplendent selection of imported fabrics, exotic spices, fine housewares, and hogsheads of rum, among other goods. Their market was the world, and the world, their market, made possible by trade winds, war profiteering, and the labor of enslaved people. With their wealth, the Russell Brothers built the first three-story home in Providence, with views of the harbor. Originally installed at Mia in 1923, the parlor, along with its original inhabitants and harborside location, is brought back to life through a naturalistic soundscape, multi-sensory discovery cabinet of mercantile curios, and animated shadow puppets.

Read more here»

Charleston Drawing Room, ca. 1772; cyprus
(Minneapolis Institute of Art)

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The Many Voices of Colonial America
Minneapolis Institute of Art, 22 April 2017 — 15 April 2018

The Charleston Dining and Drawing Rooms came from the 1772 home of Colonel John Stuart, who served as Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Britain’s southern colonies and was also an owner of enslaved Africans. For over 80 years, the rooms have been interpreted as late-1700s interiors featuring high-style Chippendale and Federal-style American and English furniture and objects. This new temporary exhibition replaces a stylistic approach by reinserting African and Native American presence in these spaces. In the Charleston Drawing Room, Cherokee art of the Colonial era and contemporary Cherokee art that responds to this moment of history reveal stories of diplomatic relations and travel between the Cherokee Nation and the British Crown. In the Charleston Dining Room, West African and African American objects tell important stories of Charleston’s dependence on enslaved West Africans’ indigenous knowledge of rice cultivation for commercial gain and as a source of nourishment during this time—foreshadowing the legacy of African cuisine in contemporary America.

Read more here»

In addition, see this Mia blog posting by Alex Bortolot (Content Strategist at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and a specialist in the arts of Africa), “Who Is an American? Here’s one way museums can ask—and answer,” available here»

Grand Salon from the Hôtel de la Bouëxière, 1733–37; painted and gilt wood, plaster, marble and iron
(Minneapolis Institute of Art)

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Up All Night in the 18th Century
Minneapolis Institute of Art, 22 April 2017 — 15 April 2018

In the 1700s, European cities witnessed a gradual but profound shift in daily life: people stayed up later and partied harder into the night. Many of their nocturnal soirees were private affairs, hosted in elite homes by invitation only. The Grand Salon from the Hôtel de la Bouëxière will be prepped for one of these exclusive parties with a games table for card-playing (the night-loving aristocrat’s favorite diversion), candlesticks, and the required stimulants: coffee and chocolate. Of course, staying up late meant burning the midnight oil, so artificial lighting with candles and fire increased in importance during this time. New lighting in the Salon will simulate the effects of flickering flames, revealing the warm glow of gilded paneling and metalwork in a ‘nighttime’ setting.

Read more here»

Additional information on the Grand Salon is available here»

Georgian Drawing Room, ca. 1740; painted pine
(Minneapolis Institute of Art)

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Science and Sociability in 1700s England
Minneapolis Institute of Art, 22 April 2017 — 15 April 2018

In 1700s England, the home was a place where genteel men and women studied and conversed about natural history; only later did science move exclusively to the laboratory, where it became a predominantly male profession. This temporary exhibition presents Mia’s British rooms as places for the pursuit of science. Women often engaged with scientific discoveries and cultivated observational skills through embroidery and drawing—common pursuits for women of leisure. The c. 1730 Queen Anne Room will feature works on paper and textiles made by women. The adjoining c. 1740 Georgian Drawing Room will be arranged for a ‘scientific party’ where curious men and women socialized amidst telescopes, microscopes, an electrostatic generator—an experimental instrument that generated an electric charge—and, of course, tea.

Read more here»

In addition, see this Mia blog posting by Nicole LaBouff (Assistant Curator, Textiles Department of Decorative Arts, Textiles and Sculpture), “Science Is for Lovers: Why the planet needs scientists and passionate amateurs to work together,” available here»

and this posting by Peter Heering (Professor of Physics at the Europa Universität Flensburg in Germany and the former president of the International History, Philosophy, and Science Teaching Group), “Social Science: How to recreate an Enlightenment-era ‘science party,” available here»






Exhibition | Piranesi: Rome in Ruins

Posted in exhibitions by internjmb on August 14, 2017

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, View of the Remains of the Dining Room of Nero’s Golden House, commonly called the Temple of Peace, 1756–78; etching (Minneapolis: Minneapolis Institute of Art, Gift of Ruth and Bruce Dayton 2007.49.2.2).

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Now on view at Mia:

Piranesi: Rome in Ruins
Minneapolis Institute of Art, 20 May 2017 — 14 January 2018

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778) takes us on a ramble through the ruins of ancient Rome. His etchings of the remains of a great civilization couple his archaeological interest in detail with his flair for dramatic effect. This intimate exhibition invites you to reflect on a quiet world of grand desolation. Seen through the lens of the mid-1700s, the ruins suggest romance, mystery, melancholy, awesome possibility, and loss.