Exhibition | Canova and the Dance

Posted in exhibitions by InternRW on August 24, 2016

Opening in October at the Bode-Museum:

Canova and the Dance / Canova und der Tanz
Bode-Museum, Berlin, 21 October 2016 — 22 January 2017


Antonio Canova, Dancer with Cymbals (Tänzerin), marble, 1809/1812 (Berlin: Bode-Museum; photo by Andreas Praefcke, Wikimedia Commons, 2007)

Dancer with Cymbals by Antonio Canova (1757–1822) numbers among the most significant and popular of the Bode-Museum’s works of art. The most important sculptor of Italian Neoclassicism was to explore the theme of dance three times in life-size sculptures. On the occasion of the special exhibition, Canova and the Dance, the Berlin dancer is to be joined by her counterparts: Dancer with Hands on Hips, created for Napoleon’s first wife Josephine and held at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, and Dancer with Finger on Chin, the model of which is kept at the Museo Canova in Passagno (the sculptor’s place of birth). Additionally, Hebe—a work from the Alte Nationalgalerie acquired for the Berlin collections in 1825—will for the first time be displayed alongside the Dancers. Artistically, Hebe is considered a precursor to Canova’s Dancers, and is the second major work by the Italian sculptor held by the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. The exhibition gives centre stage to these fascinating marble sculptures, along with a work known as the Berlin Dancer from the Antikensammlung (Collection of Classical Antiquities). Sculptures like this were to serve as a source of inspiration for Canova during the composition of the Dancer in the Bode-Museum’s collection. A key aspect of the exhibition is the way in which Canova, a master of materiality, applied himself to exploring one of his favourite themes—dance—through design sketches, then paintings and models, and finally in the completed marble artwork.

Canova and the Dance is a project undertaken in partnership with two museums in Veneto: the Museo Canova in Passagno and the Museo Civico in Bassano del Grappa—which in 2011 began work on reconstructing the plaster model of the Berlin Dancer (made in Passagno and damaged during World War I), featuring it as part of an exhibition entitled Canova e la danza. The model will now appear in a more advanced state of completion at the Bode-Museum. Paintings both in oil and tempera, created by Canova for his private home, drawings, illustrations, and sculptures—many of which have never previously been exhibited in Germany—will form a display around Canova’s unique suite of Dancers, tracing a visual account of the sensuousness and movement at play in the great Italian sculptor’s work.

New Book | Ancients and Moderns in Europe

Posted in books by Editor on August 24, 2016

From the Voltaire Foundation:

Paddy Bullard and Alexis Tadié, eds., Ancients and Moderns in Europe: Comparative Perspectives (Oxford: Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, 2016), 328 pages, ISBN: 978-0729411776, £60 / €74 / $85.

The Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes, or Battle of the Books as it was known in England, famously pitted the Ancients on the one side and the Moderns on the other. This book presents a new intellectual history of the dispute, in which authors explore its manifestations across Europe in the arts and sciences, from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. By paying close attention to local institutional contexts for the Querelle, contributors yield a complex picture of the larger debate. In intellectual life, authors uncover how the debate affected the publication of antiquarian scholarship, and how it became part of discussions in London coffee houses and the periodical press. Authors also position the Low Countries as the true pivot for a modernistic realignment of intellectual method, with concomitant rather than centralised developments in England and France. The volume is particularly concerned with the realisation of the Querelle in the realm of artistic and technical practice. Marrying modern approaches with ancient sympathies was fraught with difficulties, as contributors attest in analyses on musical writing, painting and the querelle du coloris, architectural practice and medical rhetorics. Tracing the deeper cultural resonances of the dispute, authors conclude by revealing how it fostered a new tendency to cultural self-reflection throughout Europe. Together, these contributions demonstrate how the Querelle acted as a leading principle for the configuration of knowledge across the arts and sciences throughout the early modern period, and also emphasise the links between historical debates and our contemporary understanding of what it means to be ‘modern’.

Paddy Bullard is Associate Professor of English literature and book history at the University of Reading. He has published books on Burke and Swift, and his research encompasses material culture studies, intellectual history and political thought.
Alexis Tadié is Professor of English literature, University of Paris-Sorbonne and Senior Research Fellow at the Institut Universitaire de France. He works on eighteenth-century literature and intellectual history, and has published books on Bacon, Locke, and Sterne.

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Paddy Bullard and Alexis Tadié, Introduction

I | Ancient Knowledge and Modern Mediations
1  Vittoria Feola, The Ancients with the Moderns: Oxford’s Approaches to Publishing Ancient Science
2  Alexis Tadié, Ancients, Moderns, and the Language of Criticism
3  Stéphane Van Damme, Digging Authority: Archaeological Controversies and the Recognition of the Metropolitan Past in Early Eighteenth-Century Paris

II | Logic and Criticism across Borders
4  Martine Pécharman, From Lockean Logic to Cartesian(ised) Logic: The Case of Locke’s Essay and Its Contemporary Controversial Reception
5  Marcus Walsh, Scholarly Documentation in the Enlightenment: Validation and Interpretation
6  Karen Collis, Reading the Ancients at the Turn of the Century: The Third Earl of Shaftesbury (1671–1713) and Jean Le Clerc (1657–1736)

III | Conversing with the Ancients: Arts and Practices
7  Théodora Psychoyou, Ancients and Moderns, Italians and French: The Seventeenth-Century Quarrel over Music, Its Status, and Transformations
8  Elisabeth Lavezzi, Painting and the Tripartite Model in Charles Perrault’s Parallèle des Anciens et des Modernes
9  Paddy Bullard, John Evelyn as Modern Architect and Ancient Gardener: ‘Lessons of Perpetual Practice’
10 Sylvie Kleiman-Lafon, Ancient Medicine, Modern Quackery: Bernard Mandeville and the Rhetoric of Healing

IV | The Persistence of the Quarrel
11 Amedeo Quondam, Petrarch and the Invention of Synchrony
12 Karin Kukkonen, Samuel Richardson among the Ancients and Moderns
13 Ourida Mostefai, Finding Ancient Men in Modern Times: Anachronism and the Critique of Modernity in Rousseau
14 Ritchie Robertson, Ancients, Moderns, and the Future: The Querelle in Germany from Winckelmann to Schiller

Biographies of contributors

Sean Moore Appointed Editor of ECS

Posted in resources by Editor on August 23, 2016

Over the weekend (20 August 2016), the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies announced the appointment of the next editor of ECS. Starting next summer, Sean Moore will succeed Steven Pincus, who has filled the position since July 2012.

Sean Moore (University of New Hampshire) has been appointed as the next Editor of Eighteenth-Century Studies for a five-year term beginning July 1, 2017.

Sean Moore is Associate Professor of English at the University of New Hampshire, where he served as Director of the UNH Honors Program from 2011 to 2014. He has been a member of ASECS for 17 years, served for many years as the Chair of the Irish Studies Caucus of ASECS and as the North American Correspondent for the Eighteenth-Century Ireland Society, and has given papers at ASECS panels sponsored by the SHARP caucus and Race and Empire caucus. His first monograph, Swift, the Book, and the Irish Financial Revolution, won the Murphy Prize for Distinguished First Book from the American Conference for Irish Studies, and he edited a special issue of Eighteenth-Century Studies on the Irish Enlightenment in 2012. His new work, “Slavery and the Making of the Early American Library,” is in a transatlantic and early American direction, focusing on how slave capitalism financed the transatlantic book trade in British texts. He has been the recipient of fellowships from the NEH, American Antiquarian Society, Newport Mansions, New England Regional Fellowship Consortium, Library Company of Philadelphia/Historical Society of Pennsylvania, John Carter Brown Library, Folger Library, and Fulbright Scholarship Board.

Exhibition | Shakespeare in Soane’s Architectural Imagination

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by InternRW on August 22, 2016

Press release for the exhibition on view now at Sir John Soane’s Museum:

‘The Cloud-Capped Towers’: Shakespeare in Soane’s Architectural Imagination
Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, 21 April – 8 October 2016

Curated by Alison Shell


Louis-François Roubiliac, Bust of William Shakespeare (modern replica), 1742 (London: The Garrick Club).

A new exhibition coinciding with the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare will open at Sir John Soane’s Museum on 21st April. ‘The Cloud-Capped Towers’: Shakespeare in Soane’s Architectural Imagination focuses on Soane’s extensive Shakespeare collections, including his ownership of the first four Folios of Shakespeare’s collected works, the way Soane and his family participated in the eighteenth-century Shakespearean revival, and the influence of the Bard on Soane’s architecture. Guest-curated by Dr Alison Shell of UCL, the exhibition will largely consist of Soane’s own collection, supplemented by important loans from The Garrick Club. Whilst Soane’s fascination with Shakespeare is evident throughout his house-museum, this is the first time the elements have been drawn together to provide a cohesive study of the way Shakespeare influenced Soane. It is also a rare opportunity to see Shakespeare’s first our Folios displayed together in one exhibition.

Works in architecture of Robert and James Adam

Robert Adam, Adam’s interior of the Drury Lane Theatre from Works in Architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1779.

The first room of the exhibition introduces the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, setting it in the context of the 200th anniversary celebrations in 1816, and discusses the intersection between literature and architecture with a particular focus on David Garrick, the celebrated actor-manager of the Drury Lane Theatre who was so instrumental in the popularisation of Shakespeare in Georgian London.

The Garrick Club has loaned two paintings: David Garrick between the Muses of Tragedy and Comedy, after Sir Joshua Reynolds, and John Philip Kemble as Hamlet, from the studio of Sir Thomas Lawrence. These are instantly recognisable portraits of two of the greatest actors of the eighteenth century, famed for their interpretations of Shakespeare. The Adam brothers’ designs for Drury Lane Theatre will also be on display, as well as a rare coloured edition of The Works in Architecture of Robert and James Adam.

The second room in the gallery goes on to consider Shakespeare in Soane’s architectural imagination. In 1788–89 ‘The Shakespeare Gallery’, only the second purpose-built art gallery in England, was built in Pall Mall to designs by George Dance the Younger, Soane’s first architectural teacher and mentor. These in turn influenced Soane’s later designs for the Dulwich Picture Gallery—itself the first public art gallery in Britain.

The exhibition closes with a selection of Soane’s large-scale Royal Academy lecture drawings, allowing access to these appealing and striking images which can usually be viewed only by appointment.

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Catalogue available through Sir John Soane’s Museum:

Frances Sands, Alison Shell, Stephanie Coane, and Emmeline Leary, ‘The Cloud-Capped Towers’: Shakespeare in Soane’s Architectural Imagination (London: Sir John Soane’s Museum, 2016), 48 pages, ISBN: 978-0993204128, £10.

The Cloud-Capped Towers BookThis book of essays, ‘The cloud-capped towers:’ Shakespeare in Soane’s Architectural Imagination, is published to coincide with an exhibition with the same title to be shown at Sir John Soane’s Museum in 2016 as part of the nationwide commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the death of the great English playwright William Shakespeare.

Sir John Soane (1753–1837) was a highly literary architect, who appears to have valued Shakespeare for the architectural pictures he conjured up, and also as a moral teacher. He had a deep knowledge of Shakespeare’s work, quoting (and misquoting) it often, notably in his Royal Academy lectures. His fascination with Shakespeare is evident both in his library and in the Shakespearian references throughout his house-museum, the most obvious being the Shakespeare Recess, a shrine to the Bard on the staircase.

The four essays in this volume look at the influence of Shakespeare on Soane’s architecture, against the wider background of the eighteenth-century Shakespearean revival; at Soane as a ‘bardolator’ and bibliophile; and at contemporary performance and theatre-going, with a particular focus on the plays seen by Soane and his wife Eliza. The essays are illustrated by a number of illustrations in full colour, the majority drawn from Soane’s own collection.

Frances Sands is Curator of Drawings and Books at Sir John Soane’s Museum. Alison Shell is a professor in the Department of English, University College London. Emmeline Leary is an independent scholar. Stephanie Coane is Senior Librarian is Senior Librarian, College Library, Eton College and Honorary Librarian to Sir John Soane’s Museum.









Display | Handel’s Performers

Posted in exhibitions by InternRW on August 22, 2016
Johannes Verelst, Portrait of Anna Maria Strada (detail), ca. 1732, oil on canvas
(London: The Foundling Museum)

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Press release for the display now on view now at The Foundling Museum:

Handel’s Performers
The Foundling Museum, London, 13 November 2015 — 30 October 2016

George Frideric Handel worked with many singers, often composing or adapting music for a particular performer. This new display of portraits and documents in the Handel Gallery brings together celebrities of the day, along with some lesser-known singers who brought Handel’s music to the public in the eighteenth century.

In particular, the display focuses on two celebrities, Anastasia Robinson and Senesino, who were among the highest paid singers at the time, showcasing music, documents and images relating to them. ‘Mrs Robinson’, as she was known, was secretly married to the Earl of Peterborough, but they did not acknowledge the marriage until shortly before the Earl’s death, and she was publicly assumed to be his mistress. She sang in over twenty Handel operas, and Handel composed or adapted music especially for her voice. Francesco Bernardi adopted the stage name ‘Senesino’ from Siena, his birthplace, and was recruited by Handel from Dresden to join his opera company. Senesino became the leading castrato singer in London in the 1720s, creating the title role in Handel’s opera Giulio Cesare in 1724 and singing major roles in seventeen operas by Handel, despite a sometimes stormy relationship with the composer.

Another of the portraits on show is of Anna Maria Strada, one of Handel’s leading sopranos. The oil painting by Johann Verelst, shows the singer holding an aria headed ‘Sung by Signora Strada’, which she had made famous. This sheet music is part of the Gerald Coke Handel Collection. Contemporary accounts write of Strada being unattractive in appearance and she was known to be nicknamed ‘The Pig’. However, in this portrait, the artist has done his best to make the singer attractive.

The display also includes a portrait by Thomas Frye of Richard Leveridge, a singer and composer who made famous the song The roast beef of old England. Leveridge is holding the music to ‘Ghosts of every occupation’, which he sang for many years in the popular pantomime The Necromancer. In between engagements Richard Leveridge ran a coffee shop in Tavistock Street near Covent Garden.

Another singer included is Gustavus Waltz, in a portrait by by Johann Maurice Hauck. Waltz, like Handel, was a German who became a British citizen, and was reported to have been Handel’s cook as well as a bass singer. He created roles in several Handel operas and sang in the benefit performance of Handel’s Messiah at the Foundling Hospital in 1754. Next to Waltz is displayed a print of John Hebden, who played in the orchestra for the Foundling Hospital’s benefit performances of Messiah in 1754 and 1758.

Other singers represented who were in London during Handel’s life time are the Italian castrati Carlo Broschi (‘Farinelli’) and Giovanni Carestini, and the English singer Kitty Clive, who sang in the first London performance of Messiah in 1743. Farinelli sang with the Opera of the Nobility, a company set up to rival Handel’s opera company in the 1730s, while Carestini sang for Handel in his operas and oratorios.






Conference | Capability Brown: Perception and Response

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on August 21, 2016


Programme for the conference:

Capability Brown: Perception and Response in a Global Context
University of Bath, 9–11 September 2016

Capability Brown changed the face of 18th-century England. Yet he left little written explanation of his work. Much must be inferred from his surviving landscapes and by seeing his work in the wider context of the naturalistic style that developed in Europe and further afield. This major conference, organised by the Cultural Landscapes and Historic Gardens Committee of ICOMOS-UK (International Council on Monuments and Sites UK), will be one of the highlights of the first-ever national Capability Brown Festival, providing an international dimension to complement the UK’s national festival of events, openings, exhibitions and publications.

Over a three-day conference in the historic city of Bath (one of the UK’s World Heritage Sites), world-renowned researchers and practitioners will present Brown’s work in a global context and explore the ways in which it has been interpreted over the last 250 years. The conference will include evening receptions at Prior Park, the Brown designed valley garden with its iconic Palladian bridge overlooking the city, and at the Bath Assembly Rooms. There will also be a tour of Brown’s landscape at Croome Court, recently restored by the National Trust. Conference papers will be published for delegates in a special edition of Garden History.

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F R I D A Y ,  9  S E P T E M B E R  2 0 1 6

10:00  Registration

11:00  Session I | Brown in Great Britain
• Welcome by David Thackray OBE (President of ICOMOS-UK)
• Address by His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO (Patron, ICOMOS-UK)
• Introduction by Marion Harney (University of Bath)
• Keynote Talk: Brown and Neo-Classicism, John Dixon Hunt (University of Pennsylvania)
• Lancelot Brown’s Design of the Waters at Blenheim, Hal Moggridge OBE VMH (Past President of the Landscape Institute, Consulting Landscape Architect at Blenheim, 1981–2001)

12.40  Lunch

14:00  Session I | Brown in Great Britain, continued
• Shrubbery to Grove and Flower Garden to Meadow, Mark Laird (Historic Landscape Consultant)
• Brown at Burghley: Aestheticising the Medieval Past, Megan Aldrich (Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London)

15:00  Afternoon Break

15:30  Session 2 | Brown as Perceived Abroad, part A
• The Limits of Brown’s Landscape: Translations of the Landscape Garden into Ireland, Finola O’Kane Crimmins (University College Dublin)
• Models in this Art: Tracing the Brownian Landscape Tradition in America, Therese O’Malley (Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC)

18.30  Reception at Prior Park (depart at 17:45)

S A T U R D A Y ,  1 0  S E P T E M B E R  2 0 1 6

9:30  Session 3 | Brown as Perceived Abroad, part B
• Introduction by Michael Symes (Garden Historian)
• Brown Invisible in France? The French Perception and Reception of Gardens in Eighteenth Century Britain, Laurent Châtel (Université Paris-Sorbonne) and Monique Mosser (Garden Historian)
• The English Garden in the Low Countries and the Principauté of Liège, Nathalie de Harlez de Deulin (Université de Liège)
• Thomas Whately, Catherine the Great, and the Brownian Tradition in Russia, Boris Sokolov (Russian State University for the Humanities)
• Capability Brown’s Design for Schönenberg at Laeken near Brussels, 1782, Wim Oers (Catholic University of Leuven)
• Hungarian Garden Tourists in Search of Brown’s Legacy, Kristor Fatsar (Writtle College, University of Essex)
• Brown’s Impact on Garden Design in Hungary, Gábor Alfödy (Landscape Architect and Garden Historian)

13:10  Lunch

14:25  Session 4 | Echoes of Brown
• Introduction by Peter Goodchild (Director of The Garden and Landscape Heritage Trust, UK)
• George Parkyn’s “Entwürfe…” Published in Leipzig in 1796 and 1805, Eva Ruoff (Aalto University)
• The Early Landscape Garden in Germany, Marcus Köhler (Technische Universtaet Dresden)
• Beauty in Simplicity: An Exploration of the Design Principles of Capability Brown, Matthew Tickner (Director, Cookson & Tickner Ltd) and Will Cookson (Landscape Architect, Cookson & Tickner Ltd)
• Misconceptions, John Phibbs (Principal, Debois Landscape Survey Group)
• Why Celebrate Capability Brown?, Oliver Cox (University of Oxford)

18.00  Civic Reception in the Assembly Rooms, with Address from Dame Helen Ghosh (Director-General of the National Trust)

S U N D A Y ,  1 1  S E P T E M B E R  2 0 1 6

9:00  Session 5 | Reflections on Brown’s Legacy
• Introduction by Steven Brown (Chair of the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee of Cultural Landscapes)
• Reflections and Future Directions, Michael Symes (Garden Historian)

10:00  Coffee

10:30  Depart in coaches for Croome Court, Worcestershire

12:30  Site Visit to Croome Court

16:00  Depart Croome Court to return to Bath


Exhibition | Noble Prospects: Capability Brown and Yorkshire

Posted in books, exhibitions by Editor on August 21, 2016

195 (1)

Now on view at The Mercer Art Gallery, with more information from the Capability Brown Festival:

Noble Prospects: Capability Brown and the Yorkshire Landscape
The Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, 25 June — 11 September 2016

The great landscape gardener Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (1716–1783) changed the face of eighteenth-century English parkland, creating a magical world of woods, water and swathes of green that lives on until this day in Yorkshire. This Mercer Art Gallery exhibition is the first ever dedicated to the Yorkshire landscapes of this legendary designer to mark the 300th anniversary of his birth, devised in partnership with the Yorkshire Gardens Trust.

Installation view of the exhibition “Noble Prospects: Capability Brown and the Yorkshire Landscape,” The Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, 2016. Photo by Simon Miles.

Installation view of the exhibition “Noble Prospects: Capability Brown and the Yorkshire Landscape,” The Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, 2016. Photo by Simon Miles.

Capability Brown is the creator of some of Yorkshire’s most admired landscapes, which include Burton Constable, Harewood, Roche Abbey, Scampston, Sledmere and Temple Newsam. This unique exhibition brings together an intriguing collection of artworks, which reveal more about the designer and his designs. Drawn largely from Yorkshire collections the show features portraits of Capability Brown and his Yorkshire clients, original plans, drawings and documents by Brown, paintings of his creations as well as works of art that inspired his landscapes.

Capability Brown was the leading landscape designer of the second-half of the eighteenth century and there are thought to be 20 sites in Yorkshire associated with him. He rejected the very formal geometric French style of gardening and concentrated on echoing the natural undulations of the English landscape in his plans. The landscape garden is recognised as one of Britain’s greatest artistic achievements and the designs of Brown and his contemporaries have influenced gardens across the world.

Noble Prospects: Capability Brown and the Yorkshire Landscape is supported by The Landscape Agency, Saffery Champness, Savills, Coutts, Harrogate Borough Council, The Capability Brown Festival 2016, Art Fund, Natural England, The Calmcott Trust, The Friends of the Mercer Art Gallery, Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, Historic Houses Associations Yorkshire Friends, Mr and Mrs J. Samuel and private donors. The Yorkshire Gardens Trust, an educational charity founded in 1996, works to help conserve, protect and promote Yorkshire’s rich heritage of parks, gardens and designed landscapes.

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From the Yorkshire Gardens Trust:

Karen Lynch, Noble Prospects: Capability Brown and the Yorkshire Landscape (Yorkshire Gardens Trust, 2016), 72 pages, £12.

Noble Prospects ExhibitionThe development of a new natural style of laying out parks in the eighteenth century is acknowledged to be one of the greatest artistic achievements in British history. One man’s name is indelibly linked with the profession of landscape gardening: Lancelot Brown. Achieving great renown in his own lifetime he became universally known by his affectionate nickname ‘Capability’, and whilst fashions in design have come and gone, his fame remains great three hundred years after his birth. This new publication celebrates Capability Brown’s work in Yorkshire and is the culmination of two years of research to identify just what Brown did in this vast county. It features contemporary views by artists such as J.M.W. Turner and Paul Sandby as well as works by amateur artists who admired the landscapes they visited. Also illustrated are designs by Brown and portraits of the man and his Yorkshire clients. Stunning newly commissioned photography by artist Simon Warner shows the parks as they look today.







Exhibition | French Portrait Drawings

Posted in exhibitions by InternRW on August 20, 2016

Opening in September at The British Museum (from the press release). . .

French Portrait Drawings: From Clouet to Courbet 
The British Museum, London, 8 September 2016 – 29 January 2017

Jean Michel Moreau le Jeune, Portrait of the Artist's Daughter at the Age of Two, ca. 1772; black and red chalk heightened with white on buff paper (London: The British Museum).

Jean Michel Moreau le Jeune, Portrait of the Artist’s Daughter at the Age of Two, ca. 1772; black and red chalk heightened with white on buff paper (London: The British Museum).

This exhibition will showcase The British Museum’s remarkable holdings of French portrait drawings, chosen to illustrate the development of this medium from the Renaissance until the 19th century. Throughout its history, the drawn portrait has been a more informal medium, created for circulation among friends and relations of the sitter, rather than the wider public intended for the official painted portrait. Artists turned to chalk or watercolour to depict members of their own families and throughout the display there is experimentation and innovation: drawings were cheaper to produce than an oil painting or sculpture and allowed the artist greater freedom for creativity.

Portraits on paper will be displayed alongside examples in other more formal media, including medals, enamels and an onyx cameo. The exhibition will open with drawings by Francois Clouet, which offer an intimate picture of the French Renaissance court, and close with Toulouse Lautrec’s vivid portraits of the Parisian demi-monde, offering visitors the chance to see some of the Museum’s well-known portraits along with some which have never been exhibited before.



Exhibition | Benjamin Franklin: Portraits by Duplessis

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on August 19, 2016

Press release (11 August 2016) from The Met:

Benjamin Franklin: Portraits by Duplessis
The Metroplitan Museum of Art, New York, 22 August — 28 November 2016

Curated by Katharine Baetjer

Joseph Siffred Duplessis, Portrait of Benjamin Franklin (The 'Fur Collar' Portrait), 1778, oil on canvas; Oval, 72.4 × 58.4 cm (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 32.100.132).

Joseph Siffred Duplessis, Portrait of Benjamin Franklin (The ‘Fur Collar’ Portrait), 1778, oil on canvas; oval, 72.4 × 58.4 cm (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 32.100.132).

Several works depicting the brilliant writer, inventor, politician, patriot, and statesman Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790), who has been the subject of hundreds of portraits, will go on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in a focused exhibition opening on August 22. The most famous of these was painted by Joseph Siffred Duplessis (1725–1802), Louis XVI’s official portraitist, after Franklin arrived in Paris in 1776 to seek French support for the American war of independence. Portraying Franklin in a red coat with a fur collar, and with an astonishingly elaborate frame decorated with his attributes, the oval painting was greatly admired and Duplessis exhibited it at the 1779 Paris Salon.

The painting, which has been in The Met collection for 85 years, will be a focal point of the installation Benjamin Franklin: Portraits by Duplessis, along with the preliminary pastel portrait of Franklin, probably a life study by Duplessis. The pastel, which is rarely exhibited and will be on loan from the New York Public Library, shows Franklin in the same pose as the painting but wearing a gray, collarless jacket and waistcoat. The image will be familiar to many: it is the same likeness that is replicated on the current one-hundred-dollar bill. The installation will also explore the processes of image transfer and replication in the 18th century.

Franklin arrived in Paris on December 21, 1776, as a commissioner of the American Continental Congress, and lived in nearby Passy until he returned to America in 1785. He promoted the treaty of alliance between the fledgling nation and the government of Louis XVI that was signed on February 6, 1778. The American Revolutionary War was an enormously popular cause in France, where the elderly statesman’s simplicity of dress and manner were admired. The ‘Fur Collar Portrait’, or ‘VIR Portrait’, by Duplessis was commissioned by the entrepreneur Jacques Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont. The oval canvas, exhibited in the frame in which it is still displayed, became the object of extravagant praise. Versions from the artist’s workshop and by other hands were in demand and the portrait was replicated dozens of times. A fine replica by or after Duplessis, also belonging to The Met, is so close in design that the contours must have been transferred from the 1778 picture.

Franklin understood the importance of circulating his image and gave sittings to some half-dozen French artists, but he did not enjoy doing so. He did not wish to sit for the same painter twice, sending away in later years those who applied to him for an original and suggesting that they instead commission a copy. An X-radiograph of the ‘Fur Collar Portrait’ reveals that Franklin’s coat was originally much simpler, with small buttons and a narrow collar. In this connection, the exhibition will draw attention to the Duplessis pastel portrait of Franklin that was given to the New York Public Library in 1896. For more than a century, the pastel has been conscientiously protected from damage due to overexposure to light and thus has rarely been exhibited. The pastel had been assigned to the early 1780s, but technical examination reveals that it dates to 1777 or early 1778 and is preliminary to the ‘Fur Collar Portrait’—its design precisely matches the composition revealed in the painting’s X-radiograph. Pastel is a portable medium, and Duplessis probably took his pastel crayons to Passy to set down the direct likeness of Franklin.

Benjamin Franklin: Portraits by Duplessis is organized by Katharine Baetjer, Curator in Department of European Paintings at The Met.


Exhibition | Chinese Opera Costumes of the 18th and 19th Centuries

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on August 19, 2016

Press release (17 May 2016) from The Met:

From the Imperial Theater: Chinese Opera Costumes of the 18th and 19th Centuries
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
first rotation: 15 June 2016 — 8 January 2017 / second rotation: 14 January — 9 October 2017

Curated by Pengliang Lu and Denise Patry Leidy


Theatrical robe with phoenix and floral patterns (detail), Qing dynasty (1644–1911), 19th century; silk thread embroidery on silk satin; 50 × 96 inches (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art).

Drawn entirely from The Met collection, From the Imperial Theater: Chinese Opera Costumes of the 18th and 19th Centuries will examine these luxury textiles from artistic and technical points of view. The exhibition will be organized in two rotations. The first will focus on costumes used in dramas based on historical events, and the second will feature costumes from plays derived from legends and myths. The presentation will showcase eight robes, each of which was created for a specific role—court lady, official, general, monk, nun, and immortal. A set of album leaves faithfully depicting theatrical characters wearing such robes will also be displayed.

The 18th and 19th centuries witnessed a flowering of Chinese drama. Under the patronage of the Qing court (1644–1911), performances—including the ‘Peking Opera’—filled the Forbidden City in Beijing. A form of traditional Chinese theater, Peking Opera was developed fully by the mid-19th century, and because of the form’s minimal stage settings and the importance of exaggerated gestures and movements, costume played an unusually significant role. The exhibition will include superb examples with interior markings indicating their use in court productions.

The exhibition is curated by Pengliang Lu, Henry A. Kissinger Curatorial Fellow, and Denise Patry Leidy, Brooke Russell Astor Curator of Chinese Art, both in the Museum’s Department of Asian Art.




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