Enfilade

HBA 2020 Book Prizes Announced

Posted in books by Editor on January 22, 2020

From the most recent issue of the HBA Newsletter, edited by Caitlin Silberman. Congratulations to this year’s winners! CH

The Historians of British Art Book Prize Committee for 2020 is pleased to announce the Book Award winners for publications from 2018. The winners were chosen from a nominating list of seventy books from thirty different presses. Awards are granted in four different categories. This year’s committee of readers consisted of Matthew Reeve, Stacey Sloboda, Eric Stryker, and Alison Syme.

Before 1600
• John Blair, Building Anglo-Saxon England (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018).

Before 1600 (highly commended)
• Sonja Drimmer, The Art of Allusion: Illuminators and the Making of English Literature, 1403–1476 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018).

Between 1600 and 1800
• Cheryl Finley, Committed to Memory: The Art of the Slave Ship Icon (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018).

After 1800
• Deborah Sugg Ryan, Ideal Homes, 1918–39: Domestic Design and Suburban Modernism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2018).

Multi-Authored Book
• Steven Brindle, et al., Windsor Castle: A Thousand Years of a Royal Palace (London: Royal Collection Trust, 2018).

Short List for the Period between 1600 and 1800
• Jocelyn Anderson, Touring and Publicizing England’s Country Houses in the Long Eighteenth Century (London: Bloomsbury, 2018).
• Jill Francis, Gardens and Gardening in Early Modern England and Wales (New Haven and London: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art for Yale University Press, 2018).
• Conor Lucey, Building Reputations: Architecture and the Artisan, 1750–1830 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2018).
• Clare Taylor, The Design, Production, and Reception of Eighteenth-Century Wallpaper in Britain (London: Routledge, 2018).

 

Getty Acquires Wright’s ‘Two Boys with a Bladder’

Posted in Uncategorized by Editor on January 22, 2020

Press release (17 January 2020) from The Getty, following the announcement of its intentions last June:

Joseph Wright of Derby, Two Boys with a Bladder, ca.1769–70 (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum).

The J. Paul Getty Museum announced today that the acquisition of Two Boys with a Bladder will proceed, following the granting of an export license by the Arts Council of England.

“We are very pleased that an export license for Two Boys with a Bladder by Joseph Wright of Derby has been granted. This important work has not been on public view since the 18th century and is therefore virtually unknown to scholars,” said Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “We look forward to sharing this spectacular painting with our visitors and scholars in the context of our other 18th-century collections. Two Boys with a Bladder counts among Joseph Wright of Derby’s most accomplished nocturnal subjects and reflects the experimental interest of artists and scientists of the Enlightenment. It joins two other works by the artist at the Getty.”

The recently rediscovered painting depicts two young boys, boldly lit by a concealed candle, inflating a pig’s bladder. In the 18th century, animal bladders served as toys, either inflated and tossed like balloons or filled with dried peas and shaken like rattles. While bladders appeared frequently in 17th-century Dutch painting they were depicted less frequently in 18th-century Britain. It was a motif that Wright made his own; the elaborate costumes that the boys wear are of the artist’s own invention, in the style of British ‘fancy pictures’. The dramatic pictorial effect created by the concentrated candle light within a dark interior setting was in vogue in much of Europe in the late 16th and 17th centuries, but it was not until the 18th century that English artists picked up the theme, Wright being among the first to do so.

The previously unpublished masterpiece is Wright’s earliest known treatment of the subject. Unseen in public since the 18th century, the painting forms part of a sequence of dramatic nocturnal paintings that includes The Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump (1768, National Gallery, London) and An Academy by Lamplight (1770, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven). It was painted as a pendant to Two Girls Dressing a Kitten by Candlelight, which is now at Kenwood House in London.

Two Boys with a Bladder is a remarkable discovery that sheds new light on Wright’s work at the most important moment of his career,” said Davide Gasparotto, senior curator of paintings at the Getty Museum. “It is a compelling example from his most important and successful genre, candlelight paintings. Moreover, Wright’s innovative experimentation with the use of metal foil embodies a sense of technical and scientific exploration that typifies the intellectual milieu of the midlands on the eve of the industrial revolution. It is a major addition to the Getty’s holdings of art from the English golden age.”

Exhibition | In Profile: A Look at Silhouettes

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on January 21, 2020

Kara Walker, Maquette for The ‘Katastwóf Karavan’, 2017, painted laser-cut stainless steel
(Private collection)

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Now on view at the New-York Historical Society:

In Profile: A Look at Silhouettes
New-York Historical Society, 7 January — 5 April 2020

Curated by Roberta Olson

This winter, the New-York Historical Society presents an exhibition and a special installation that take a fresh look at traditions of remembrance. The exhibition In Profile: A Look at Silhouettes traces the development of the late 18th- and 19th-century art form and how artists are reinventing the silhouette today. The special installation Life Cut Short: Hamilton’s Hair and the Art of Mourning Jewelry displays jewelry featuring human hair that was used as tokens of affection or memorials to lost loved ones.

Thomas Bluget de Valdenuit (1763–1846) and Charles Balthazar Julien Févret de Saint-Mémin (1770–1852), Silhouette portrait of an unidentified woman, 1795, black ink, gouache, and graphite on paper laid on thin card (New-York Historical Society, Purchase, The Louis Durr Fund, 1945.344).

“New-York Historical is taking a deep dive into our expansive collection to explore 19th-century traditions of portraiture and remembrance,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “The art of silhouettes has long been popular, and this exhibition traces both its history and how gifted, contemporary artists are currently revitalizing the art form. Mourning jewelry may have fallen out of fashion, but this installation showcases how it was once the height of elegance.”

The art of silhouettes—at first, black profiles either cut from paper or painted—emerged as a popular form of portraiture in 19th-century America when there were few trained portrait painters. Drawn mostly from New-York Historical’s significant collection, In Profile: A Look at Silhouettes traces the development of this popular art form and explores its contemporary revival. The exhibition showcases works by professional practitioners, like master of the genre Augustin Edouart, Charles Willson Peale, and Moses Williams—a Peale family slave who earned his freedom and worked producing silhouettes at the Peale Museum. Also featured are self-trained artists such as the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen and Martha Anne Honeywell—a woman born without arms and only three toes, who created intricate paper cut-outs, needlework, and penmanship in works that played with contradictions between ability and disability. Contemporary works by Béatrice Coron, James Prosek, Kumi Yamashita, and Kara Walker, who uses silhouettes to investigate the legacy of slavery, reveal the art form’s powerful reemergence.

Roberta J. M. Olson is curator of drawings at the New-York Historical Society and professor emeritus of art history at Wheaton College in Massachusetts. She is the author of Fire and Ice: A History of Comets in Art.

Exhibition | Life Cut Short

Posted in books, exhibitions by Editor on January 21, 2020

Mourning ring containing lock of Alexander Hamilton’s hair presented to Nathaniel Pendleton by Elizabeth Hamilton, 1805, gold and hair
(New-York Historical Society, Gift of Mr. B. Pendleton Rogers, 1961.5a)

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From the press release for the exhibition now on view at the New-York Historical Society:

Life Cut Short: Hamilton’s Hair and the Art of Mourning Jewelry
New-York Historical Society, 20 December 2019 — 10 May 2020

Curated by Debra Schmidt Bach

This special installation looks at the history of hair and other mourning jewelry through a display of approximately 30 bracelets, earrings, brooches, and other accessories drawn from New-York Historical’s collection by Curator of Decorative Arts Dr. Debra Schmidt Bach. Because hair decomposes slowly, miniatures and other jewelry decorated with hair became symbolic of mourning. These personal mementos provided solace while also being fashionable and socially appropriate. The objects on display illustrate the fascinating history of hair jewelry, with a particular focus on its manufacture and use in New York.

John Ramage, Back of a miniature case containing a portrait of Elizabeth Pintard (1765–1838), 1787, watercolor on ivory, gold, hair (New-York Historical Society, Gift of George Hancock Servoss, 1906.3).

Highlights of the installation are a gold mourning ring containing a lock of founding father Alexander Hamilton’s hair, clipped by his wife, Elizabeth, as a keepsake while he was on his deathbed; and a Tiffany & Co. mourning bracelet featuring hair, gold, silver, and diamonds (ca. 1854), one of many mourning items sold by the famed New York City jeweler. Also on display is artist and naturalist John James Audubon’s facial hair, given to New-York Historical by his widow, Lucy Bakewell Audubon.

Miniaturist John Ramage’s hair-working tools and ivory sample cards with selections of hair designs point to the rising popularity of mourning jewelry in late 18th-century America. Active in New York from 1777 to 1794, Ramage created many miniatures that incorporated ‘hair painting’ or curled or woven locks of hair secured under glass within elaborate gold cases. Also featured in the display are period advertisements, instruction and etiquette books, and illustrations of hair-braiding patterns.

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In connection with the exhibition, the museum also notes this book, though it’s something else altogether:

Robert McCracken Peck, with photographs by Rosamond Purcell, Specimens of Hair: The Curious Collection of Peter A. Browne (New York: Blast Boosk, 2018), 176 pages, ISBN: 978-0922233496, $40.

To a nineteenth-century amateur naturalist named Peter A. Browne, hair was of paramount importance: he believed it was the single physical attribute that could unravel the mystery of human evolution. Thirty years before Charles Darwin revolutionized understanding of the descent of man, Browne vigorously collected for study what he called the ‘pile’ (from the Latin word for hair, pilus) of as wide a variety of humans (and animals) as possible in his quest to account for the differences and similarities between groups of humans. The result of his diligent, obsessive work is a fastidious, artfully assembled twelve-volume archive of mammalian diversity. Browne’s growing quest for knowledge became an all-consuming specimen-collecting passion. By the time of his death in 1860, Browne had assembled samples from innumerable wild and domestic animals, as well as the largest known study collection of human hair. He obtained hair from people from all parts of the globe and all walks of life: artists, scientists, abolitionist ministers, doctors, writers, politicians, financiers, military leaders, and even prisoners, sideshow performers, and lunatics. His crowning achievement was a gathering of hair from thirteen of the first fourteen presidents of the United States. The pages of his albums, some spare, some ornately decorated, many printed ducit amor patriae―’led by love of country’―are distinctly idiosyncratic, captivating, and powerfully evocative of a vanished world. Browne’s albums have been sequestered in the archives of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia to which Brown bequeathed them, narrowly escaping destruction in the 1970s. They are a unique manifestation of the avid collecting instinct in nineteenth-century scientific endeavors to explain the mysteries of the natural world.

Robert McCracken Peck is a naturalist, writer, and historian with a special interest in the intersection of science, history, and art. As Senior Fellow of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (now part of Drexel University), he has chronicled historical and contemporary scientific research expeditions. Among Peck’s most recent books are The Natural History of Edward Lear and A ­Glorious Enterprise: The Academy of Natural Sciences of ­Philadelphia, co-authored with Patricia Stroud.

 

Lecture | Michelle Erickson on the Art and Politics of Clay

Posted in lectures (to attend), today in light of the 18th century by Editor on January 19, 2020

Tuesday evening at BGC:

Michelle Erickson, Making History: The Art and Politics of Clay
Bard Graduate Center, New York, 21 January 2020

Michelle Erickson, Patriot Jug, 2018, creamware (wheel thrown and lathe turned earthenware, modeled and press molded spout and handle extruded through a custom cut brass die), 9.5 × 9.5 inches (Photo by Robert Hunter).

Michelle Erickson will present at the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Seminar on New York and American Material Culture on Tuesday, January 21, at 6pm. Her talk is entitled “Making History: The Art and Politics of Clay.”

Erickson will discuss her practice as a studio potter in the fields of contemporary art, historical archaeology, and studio ceramics. Her oeuvre is renowned for its historical depth, technological virtuosity, and incisive commentary. She will explain how her work gives dynamic relevance to the legacy of ceramics as a form of social expression, referencing how makers and users have deployed ceramics to advocate for political change and social justice as well as to document epic events in human experience.

Michelle Erickson has a BFA from the College of William and Mary and is an independent ceramic artist and scholar. Internationally recognized for her mastery of techniques used during the American colonial era, her work reinvents historical ceramics to construct contemporary social, political, and environmental critiques. Her pieces are in the collections of major museums in the United States and Britain, including the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City, the Seattle Art Museum, the Potteries Museums in Stoke-on-Trent, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. She has lectured and demonstrated at these institutions as well as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Profiles of Erickson’s erudite artistry appear in numerous national and international publications. Her interdisciplinary studies of seventeenth- and eighteenth- century ceramic techniques, grounded in historical research and object-making, have been featured in such journals as the Chipstone Foundation’s Ceramics in America. Erickson also has designed and produced ceramics for many museums, institutions, and collectors as well as major motion pictures such as The Patriot (2002) and HBO’s series John Adams (2008).

The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation Seminar in New York and American Material Culture fosters thought-provoking discussions of current research on New York and American Material Culture. Talks by leading scholars draw upon a wide array of material evidence, including artifacts of daily life and ranging from decorative arts, prints, and photographs to architecture, interiors, and urban design. A key aspect of the series is the broad spectrum of disciplinary frameworks at play, including history, art history, anthropology, and archaeology as well as specialized studies of race, ethnicity, gender, class, region, and nationhood.

This event will be livestreamed. Please check back the day of the event for a link to the video. To watch videos of past events please visit our YouTube page.

New Book | My Dearest Heart: The Artist Mary Beale

Posted in books by Editor on January 18, 2020

Distributed in the USA and Canada by The University of Chicago Press:

Penelope Hunting, My Dearest Heart: The Artist Mary Beale (1633–1699) (London: Unicorn Publishing, 2020), 208 pages, ISBN: 9781912690084, £25 / $35.

Mary Beale (1633–1699) was one of the earliest professional women artists in Britain. Her successful career as a Baroque-era portrait artist was documented by her husband, Charles, whose almanacs provide a unique record of Beale’s patrons, painting technique, and family affairs. Her portraits of politicians, clergy, aristocracy, and intellectuals reflect the vibrant literary, scientific, and political scene of the seventeenth century.

Beale is recognized as a feminist icon for her success in the male-driven world of portrait painting, and in addition to being a professional artist, she was also as a poet and author. Her book Discourse on Friendship, published in 1667, argued for the equality of husband and wife in marriage—a radical concept at that time. My Dearest Heart, the first biography of Mary Beale, features more than 120 color illustrations of her ground-breaking artistry.

Penelope Hunting is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, chairman of the London Topographical Society, and a trustee of the Heatherley School of Fine Art in Chelsea. She is the author of many books, including History of the Royal Society of Medicine and, most recently, Riot and Revolution: Sir Robert Geffery 1613–1704.

New Book | Looking at Jewelry

Posted in books by Editor on January 17, 2020

From The Getty:

Susanne Gänsicke and Yvonne J. Markowitz, Looking at Jewelry: A Guide to Terms, Styles, and Techniques (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2019), 132 pages, ISBN: 978-1606065990, $20.

The fascination with personal adornment is universal. It is a preoccupation that is primal, instinctive, and uniquely human. Jewelry encompasses a seemingly endless number of ornaments produced across time and in all cultures. The range of materials and techniques used in its construction is extraordinary, even revolutionary, with new substances and methods of fabrication added with every generation. In any given society, master artisans have devoted their time, energy, and talent to the fine art of jewelry making, creating some of the most spectacular objects known to humankind.

This volume, geared toward jewelry makers, scholars, scientists, students, and fashionistas alike, begins with a lively introduction that offers a cultural history of jewelry and its production. The main text provides information on the most common, iconic, and culturally significant forms of jewelry and also covers materials, techniques, and manufacturing processes. Containing more than eighty color illustrations, this guide will be invaluable to all those wishing to increase their understanding and enjoyment of the art of jewelry.

Susanne Gänsicke is senior conservator and head of antiquities conservation at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Yvonne J . Markowitz is the Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator Emerita of Jewelry at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Call for Papers | Props: Staging Objects on the ‘Stage of Art’

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on January 17, 2020

From the posting at ArtHist.net, which includes the German version:

Props: Staging Objects on the ‘Stage of Art’
Requisiten: Die Inszenierung von Objekten auf der ‚Bühne der Kunst‘
Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main, 9–10 October 2020

Organized by Joanna Olchawa and Julia Saviello

Proposals due by 29 February 2020

Not every object used on a stage is a prop. In his acclaimed study The Stage Life of Props of 2003 Andrew Sofer includes under this term only independent, physical and inanimate objects that are visibly manipulated by an actress or actor over the course of a performance. In this stricter definition of the concept of props the moment of movement plays a central role: objects themselves are not equipped with the potential to move, but they become props as soon as they are integrated into intentional and meaningful representative actions. This definition not only highlights the specific nature of props, but also and above all the way in which props are handled by human actors, which is in turn determined by the connotations and specific construction (functional or otherwise) of each object.

The conference is dedicated to the props that have been used on the various ‘stages’ of the visual arts from the Middle Ages to the present. Not only used in the theatre, objects have been staged in the most diverse ways and semantically enriched in Christian liturgy, military triumphal processions and court ceremonies, to name but a few examples. By describing the picture as a window opening on a ‘historia’, i.e. a scene composed of several figures in different postures and movements, Leon Battista Alberti has assimilated the image space to a stage area, thereby stressing for the first time the parallels between pictorial representations and performances in theatre. Following this, a widening of the view from real to fictional space seems appropriate, in which significant objects can also become props.

The focus of theatre studies so far has been on existing objects, such as rings, skulls and fans, or artefacts made especially for a theatre production, such as masks, sugar jars or knives with retractable blades. In addition to such objects, which partly have already been the subject of art historical studies, ‘props’ from the above-mentioned contexts, from private collections or artists’ studios and comparable contexts can also be discussed during the conference. In addition to the staging of such objects in real and fictional spaces, the places where they are stored and presented will also be considered (armories, cabinets of wonder and prop rooms). The methodological approaches to the exploration of props in their relevance to art history or art-historical object studies can also be addressed, such as the theory of affordances and the actor-network theory, both of focus on the specific nature of the objects, or gender-theoretical and transcultural approaches from which new impulses for the analysis of the multi-layered interaction of humans and objects have emerged.

We look forward to receiving your proposals in German or English. Please submit an abstract of approximately 300 words and a short biography by 29th February 2020 to olchawa@kunst.uni-frankfurt.de and saviello@kunst.uni-frankfurt.de. You will receive a notification by 15th March 2020. The conference will take place on 9th and 10th October 2020. Travel and accommodation costs will be covered thanks to the generous support of the ‘FONTE Stiftung zur Förderung geisteswissenschaftlichen Nachwuchses’. A publication of the conference proceedings is planned.

New Book | Artifacts: How We Think and Write about Found Objects

Posted in books by Editor on January 16, 2020

From Johns Hopkins UP:

Crystal B. Lake, Artifacts: How We Think and Write about Found Objects (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020), 272 pages, ISBN: 978-1421436500, $35.

A literary history of the old, broken, rusty, dusty, and moldy stuff that people dug up in England during the long eighteenth century.

In the eighteenth century, antiquaries—wary of the biases of philosophers, scientists, politicians, and historians—used old objects to establish what they claimed was a true account of history. But just what could these small, fragmentary, frequently unidentifiable things, whose origins were unknown and whose worth or meaning was not self-evident, tell people about the past?

In Artifacts, Crystal B. Lake unearths the four kinds of old objects that were most frequently found and cataloged in Enlightenment-era England: coins, manuscripts, weapons, and grave goods. Following these prized objects as they made their way into popular culture, Lake develops new interpretations of works by Joseph Addison, John Dryden, Horace Walpole, Jonathan Swift, Tobias Smollett, Lord Byron, and Percy Bysshe Shelley, among others. Rereading these authors with the artifact in mind uncovers previously unrecognized allusions that unravel works we thought we knew well.

In this new history of antiquarianism and, by extension, historiography, Lake reveals that artifacts rarely acted as agents of fact, as those who studied them would have claimed. Instead, she explains, artifacts are objects unlike any other. Fragmented and from another time or place, artifacts invite us to fill in their shapes and complete their histories with our imaginations. Composed of body as well as spirit and located in the present as well as the past, artifacts inspire speculative reconstructions that frequently contradict one another. Lake’s history and theory of the artifact will be of particular importance to scholars of material culture and forms. This fascinating book provides curious readers with new ways of evaluating the relationships that exist between texts and objects.

Crystal B. Lake is a professor of English language and literatures at Wright State University. She is the cofounder and coeditor of The Rambling.

C O N T E N T S

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments

Prologue: Things Speaking for Themselves

Part I  Terms and Contexts
1  Leaving Room to Guess
2  Ten Thousand Gimcracks

Part II  Case Studies
3  Coins: The Most Vocal Monuments
4  Manuscripts: Burnt to a Crust
5  Weapons: A Wilderness of Arms
6  Grave Goods: The Kings’ Four Bodies

Afterword: The Artifactual Form

Notes
Works Cited
Index

Exhibition | Piranesi Drawings: Visions of Antiquity

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on January 16, 2020

Opening next month at The British Museum, with a catalogue from Thames & Hudson:

Piranesi Drawings: Visions of Antiquity
The British Museum, London, 20 February — 9 August 2020

Curated by Sarah Vowles

Celebrating the 300th anniversary of the birth of Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778), Piranesi Drawings: Visions of Antiquity explores the artist’s celebrated skill as a draftsman. The Venetian-born artist is best known for his dramatic etchings of the architecture and antiquities of his adopted home city of Rome and for his extraordinary flights of spatial fancy, such as Le Carceri (‘Prisons’). This exhibition, however, presents the Museum’s complete collection of Piranesi’s drawings, exploring the formidable quality of his pen and chalk studies and tracking his artistic evolution.

Sarah Vowles is the Hamish Swanston Curator of Italian and French Prints and Drawings at the British Museum. Hugo Chapman is the Simon Sainsbury Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum.

Sarah Vowles, with an introduction by Hugo Chapman, Piranesi Drawings: Visions of Antiquity
(London: Thames & Hudson, 2020), 144 pages, ISBN: 978-0500480618, £20 / $30.