Call for Papers | HECAA at 30

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on February 8, 2023

Banner from the conference website, featuring a detail of an 18th-century desk.

More information is available from the conference website:

HECAA at 30: Environments, Materials, and Futures in the Eighteenth Century
Boston, Cambridge, and Providence, 12–14 October 2023

Proposals due by 1 April 2023

The Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art and Architecture are delighted to announce that the Call for Papers for HECAA@30: Environments, Materials, and Futures in the Eighteenth Century is now available. Please visit the conference website for a list of open sessions and details. Applications for participation are due to session chairs by 1 April 2023.

This in-person conference will take place in Boston, Cambridge, and Providence from 12–14 October 2023, with morning plenary sessions followed by gallery sessions, tours, and architectural site visits each afternoon.

On the land of the Massachusett and neighboring Wampanoag and Nipmuc peoples, Boston developed in the eighteenth century as a major colonized and colonizing site. Its status today as a cultural and intellectual hub is shaped by that context, making it a critical location to trace the cultural legacies of racism and social injustice between the eighteenth century and today. For whom is ‘eighteenth-century art and architecture’ a useful category? What eighteenth-century materials, spaces, and images offer tools or concepts for shaping our collective futures? In considering these questions, we aim to expand HECAA’s traditional focus on Western European art and architecture and specifically encourage proposals from scholars working on Asia, Africa and the African diaspora, Indigenous cultures, and the Islamic world.

We welcome proposals for contributions to panels, gallery sessions, roundtables, and workshops. Scholars at any career stage, and all geographic and material specializations, are encouraged to apply. We look forward to seeing you in Boston!

Image: Desk and Bookcase, mid 18th century. Puebla, Mexico (MFA Boston, Henry H. and Zoe Oliver Sherman Fund, 2015.3131).

Exhibition | Prussian Palaces, Colonial Histories

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on February 7, 2023

Opening this summer at Charlottenburg Palace:

Prussian Palaces, Colonial Histories: Biographies and Collections
Schlösser. Preußen. Kolonial. Biografien und Sammlungen
Schloss Charlottenburg, Berlin, 4 July — 31 October 2023

Painting of two boys: one White and one Black

Antoine Pesne, Portrait of Prince Frederick Ludwig or Prince Frederick William of Prussia in a Garden Cart with Friedrich Ludwig (?) (Berlin: Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten; photo by Jörg P. Anders).

The former palaces and gardens of the Hohenzollern dynasty make Germany’s colonial past visible and tangible today. Attesting to this history is an 18th-century portrait of a young Black boy, possibly Fredrick Ludwig (1708 – date of death unknown), whose father was brought to the Berlin royal court through the slave trade. Another example is provided by the glass beads produced on Peacock Island that were used to purchase slaves and colonial trading goods. With a special exhibition at Charlottenburg Palace, the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg (SPSG) is facing the colonial histories of its collections.

Colonial practises and structures can be traced throughout earlier centuries, before German colonialism of the 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as afterwards. In this light, the special exhibition is looking to explore the connection between Germany’s longer colonial history and how they persist today. Based on the scant information that has been preserved over time, the special exhibition attempts to reconstruct the biographies of people after they were forcibly brought to Berlin and Potsdam. These biographies highlight both the ways they were able to socially assimilate and how they resisted the conditions of their lives at court. In addition, the exhibition examines non-European works in the collections that have long been interpreted within strictly European frameworks. As a result, these works were culturally re-appropriated and alienated from their original uses.

The exhibition themes were developed together with various experts in a joint process over the course of five workshops. This special exhibition is part of the annual theme for 2023: “Elector—Emperor—Colonies.” Thus, the SPSG is taking an important step in its ongoing work on this theme that will continue beyond the coming year. This exhibition is supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media under a resolution passed by the German Parliament.

Exhibition | Enslavement: Voices from the Archives

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on February 7, 2023

From Lambeth Palace:

Enslavement: Voices from the Archives
Lambeth Palace Library, London, 12 January — 31 March 2023

This exhibition accompanies the Church Commissioners’ public report on historic links between Queen Anne’s Bounty (one of the predecessors of the Church Commissioners’ endowment) and transatlantic chattel slavery. [See the press release below.]

Handwritten document in brown ink

Petition from Esther Smith, an enslaved woman, to Archbishop Secker, 19 July 1760 (Lambeth Palace, MS 1123/2 item 177).

Letters, books, and documents from our collections are displayed to show some of the links between the Church of England and transatlantic slavery. Amongst these are rare documents from enslaved people, contrasting views on the rights of enslaved people from within the Church, and from missionaries working in the Caribbean and the Americas. These documents also present the arguments put forward using the Church’s teaching at the time both for and against the abolition of slavery.

The role of the Church of England in the transatlantic slavery economy was complex and varied. Missionaries sent to work in the Caribbean and the Americas documented the harsh conditions of daily life on the plantations. Enslaved people were not allowed basic Christian rights such as baptism and marriage in case these rights damaged the property and legal rights of the owners. Some voices were raised against enslavement including Revd Morgan Godwyn, an Anglican missionary to Virginia and Barbados. He wrote in 1680 appealing to the Archbishop of Canterbury to allow Anglican priests to baptise enslaved people.

As a result of the transatlantic slavery economy, enslavement, and disease, Indigenous populations were virtually wiped out. It is believed that of the 12 million Africans enslaved and transported to the Caribbean and Americas between 1500 and 1900, only around 10 million reached their destination. The effects and legacy of slavery are visible to this day.

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MS 1123/2 item 177 — Petition from Esther Smith, an enslaved woman, to Archbishop Secker, 19 July 1760, pictured above.

This petition was written on behalf of Esther Smith. She was born in New York and brought to England by one of her enslavers. The letter documents the number of times she had been bought and sold in her life. In this petition, she is asking to be baptised so that she could,

“[…] attend the Service of Almighty God on the Lordsday, as she always had been accustomed theretofore to do at every opportunity.”

Esther’s enslaver opposed her baptism. Further correspondence contained within the archives provides a raw account of Esther’s desperation and fears. She tried to obtain baptism at St Alphage’s church in Greenwich, London, and fought to avoid being sent to the West Indies, as confirmed by letters from the church’s vicar Revd Samuel Squire and a Methodist prison visitor Silas Told. Archbishop Secker eventually sought advice from Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke, who confirmed that “a slave brought to England is still a slave” and baptism would not change this status. Whether Esther succeeded in her efforts remains unknown.

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From the press release (16 June 2022) . . .

Church Commissioners’ research identifies historic links to transatlantic chattel slavery 

The Church Commissioners for England has learned from research it commissioned that Queen Anne’s Bounty, a predecessor fund of the Church Commissioners’ £10.1 billion endowment, had links with transatlantic chattel slavery.  The Church Commissioners is deeply sorry for its predecessor fund’s links with transatlantic chattel slavery.

In the 18th century, Queen Anne’s Bounty invested significant amounts of its funds in the South Sea Company, a company that traded in enslaved people.  It also received numerous benefactions, many of which are likely to have come from individuals linked to, or who profited from, transatlantic chattel slavery or the plantation economy.

The Church Commissioners in 2019 decided to conduct research into the source of its endowment fund to gain an improved understanding of its history. It worked with forensic accountants to review early ledgers and other original source documents from Queen Anne’s Bounty. That research is now complete, and a final report of the findings will be published later this year. The Church Commissioners is forming a group to consider the research and how to respond to these findings. Further information will be shared in due course. . . .

Exhibition | Crafting Freedom: Thomas W. Commeraw

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions, lectures (to attend) by Editor on February 6, 2023

Detail of a stoneware jug with ornament and lettering in blue glaze, 'COMMERAWS STONEWARE. . .'

Thomas W. Commeraw, Jug, detail, ca. 1797–1819, salt-glazed stoneware, cobalt oxide, 12 inches (30 cm) high
(New-York Historical Society, purchased from Elie Nadelman, 1937.820).

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From the press release (6 October 2022) for the exhibition:

Crafting Freedom: The Life and Legacy of Free Black Potter Thomas W. Commeraw
New-York Historical Society, 27 January — 28 May 2023
Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, 24 June — 24 September 2023

Curated by Margi Hofer, Mark Shapiro, and Allison Robinson, with Leslie M. Harris

The New-York Historical Society presents Crafting Freedom: The Life and Legacy of Free Black Potter Thomas W. Commeraw, the first exhibition to bring overdue attention to Thomas W. Commeraw, a successful Black craftsman who was long assumed to be white. Formerly enslaved, Commeraw rose to prominence as a free Black entrepreneur, owning and operating a successful pottery in the city. Over a period of two decades, he amassed property, engaged in debates over state and national politics, and participated in New York City’s free Black community. The exhibition explores Commeraw’s multi-faceted history as a craftsman, business owner, family man, and citizen through approximately 40 pieces of stoneware produced by Commeraw and his competitors between the late 1790s and 1819, in the largest presentation of his work to date. Alongside these pieces are the primary documents that enabled historians to reconstruct the arc of his professional career and personal life, and through them convey a deeper understanding of free Black society in New York in the years between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

Stoneware jug with ornament and lettering in blue glaze, 'COMMERAWS STONEWARE. . .'

Thomas W. Commeraw, Jug, ca. 1797–1819, salt-glazed stoneware, cobalt oxide, 12 inches (30 cm) high, (New-York Historical Society, purchased from Elie Nadelman, 1937.820).

Crafting Freedom continues the tradition at New-York Historical of presenting groundbreaking exhibitions that reveal the complex dimensions of race in the early years of New York City and our nation,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of New-York Historical. “Through this exhibition of Thomas W. Commeraw and his work, we gain an in-depth understanding of a Black artisan’s life in New York, while also seeing how our understanding of history continues to evolve to give us greater insight into issues that affect our society today. This exhibition will transform our visitors’ perspective on New York’s free Black community, challenging long-held myths about post-revolutionary race relations in northern states.”

“This exhibition illuminates the story of a man who was emancipated as a child, went on to own and operate his own business, and advocated for the rights of full citizenship for his fellow Black Americans,” said Margi Hofer, New-York Historical’s vice president and museum director, who co-curated the exhibition. “While Commeraw’s distinctive pottery has been admired and collected for over a century, his true story has been obscured for far too long. It is incredibly meaningful that we are able to bring to light a true portrait of the man, both as a citizen and as a craftsman.”

The New York City directories first list Thomas “Commerau” working as a potter in 1795, living near Pot Baker’s Hill in the vicinity of today’s City Hall. By 1797, he had established his own workshop at Corlears Hook on the East River. There, he produced vessels in the local tradition, often decorated with distinctive flourishes of swags, tassels, and bowknot motifs filled with vivid cobalt. Stoneware vessels were essential kitchenware in that era and stored everything from milk, butter, salted meat, and preserves, to molasses, cider, and beer. Commeraw also manufactured oyster jars for the city’s oystermen, who were predominantly from the free Black community. His crocks and jugs traveled on ships to ports along the eastern seaboard and as far afield as Guyana and Norway. Most of the Commeraw vessels that survive today are boldly stamped with his name and the location of his pottery at Manhattan’s Corlears Hook. In addition to signaling pride in his work, Commeraw’s prominent branding helped him attract and retain customers.

In addition to revealing Commeraw’s successes and struggles as a pottery owner in a city riven by racism, the exhibition explores his commitment to securing a better future for the Black community through his work with abolitionist, political, religious, and mutual aid organizations. In 1790, the majority of Black New Yorkers were enslaved. By 1810, 6 out of 7 were free. Businessmen like Commeraw faced daunting challenges, not just raising capital but building civic and religious organizations to support the Black community. Free Black men had voted in New York since the Revolution, but in 1811, the state legislature passed a law to suppress Black voters, requiring them to submit a Certificate of Freedom that included a sworn statement from a third party attesting to the voter’s free status and residency and to pay a filing fee. A highlight of the exhibition is the 1813 Certificate of Freedom held by New-York Historical’s Patricia D. Klingenstein Library that bears Commeraw’s confident signature as witness. It is the only confirmed manuscript in his hand. The exhibition also examines how Black New Yorkers responded to economic and political oppression by developing a lively cultural and artistic community.

The final chapter in Commeraw’s story concerns his effort to promote the emigration of Black settlers to Sierra Leone, as the prospect of full citizenship for Black New Yorkers dimmed. Commeraw traveled there with his extended family in 1820 on the first voyage of the American Colonization Society. He arrived full of optimism and plans to found a Black republic; instead, he experienced unimaginable hardship and tragedy. What began as a venture for political rights ended as a struggle for survival. Many of the settlers died of malaria, including Commeraw’s wife and niece. He returned to the U.S. in 1822 and died the following year in Baltimore. The exhibition closes with a coda that describes future generations of the Commeraw family carrying forward the potter’s entrepreneurial energy and political engagement.

Additionally, Queens-based ceramic artist and activist Sana Musasama has created a new work that reflects on Commeraw’s life as a New York potter, his transatlantic odyssey of two centuries ago, and her own artistic journey. Passages will be installed in New-York Historical’s grand lobby, the Robert H. and Clarice Smith Gallery, to introduce the exhibition and encourage visitors to contemplate how Commeraw’s story continues to resonate today.

Crafting Freedom is co-curated by New-York Historical’s Vice President and Museum Director Margi Hofer, potter and Commeraw researcher Mark Shapiro, and Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Women’s History and Public History Allison Robinson. Leslie M. Harris, professor of history and African American studies at Northwestern University, served as scholarly advisor. The exhibition next travels to the Fenimore Art Museum, where it will be on view from June 24 until September 24, 2023.

Major support for Crafting Freedom: The Life and Legacy of Free Black Potter Thomas W. Commeraw is provided by the Decorative Arts Trust and Emily and James Satloff.

Leslie Harris in Conversation with David Rubenstein, The Shadow of Slavery and the History of African Americans in New York City, from the Settling of New Amsterdam to the Civil War
New-York Historical Society, 10 April 2023

Detail of a newspaper from 20 August 1814, notice to "The People of Color throughout the city and county of New-York" with name of "THOS. W. COMMERAW."

“Test of Patriotism,” Commercial Advertister (20 August 1814)
(Patricia D. Klingenstein Library, New York Historical Society)

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A. Brandt Zipp, Commeraw’s Stoneware: The Life and Work of the First African-American Pottery Owner (Sparks, Maryland: Crocker Farm, 2022), 311 pages, ISBN: ‎979-8218002909, $95.

Book cover.Presented here for the first time in two centuries is the lost story of New York City potter Thomas W. Commeraw, a key early African American figure whose identity slipped through the fingers of history. Rediscovered by the author in the first years of this century, Commeraw stands as one of the most fascinating of all historic American decorative artists: an abolitionist, activist, highly influential craftsman and, ultimately, the hopeful founder of a new African republic. Topics include: Commeraw’s fascinating life story, from childhood to death; a comprehensive discussion and illustration of Commeraw’s pottery, made from the mid-1790s to late 1810s; Commeraw’s abolitionism, political activism, and role as an important local free black figure; a thorough history of New York City stoneware; an in-depth breakdown of the work of other New York City stoneware manufacturers including Clarkson Crolius Sr., John Remmey III, and David Morgan; and Commeraw’s harrowing experiences on the west coast of Africa.

Brandt Zipp is a founding partner of Crocker Farm, Inc., the nation’s premier auction house specializing in historic American utilitarian ceramics. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, Brandt’s research regularly breaks important new ground, no greater example being his serendipitous discovery of Thomas Commeraw’s heritage. Commeraw’s Stoneware represents the culmination of almost two decades of research, writing, and lecturing.

Lecture Series | Catholic Chapels in N. England / Adam and Chippendale

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on February 5, 2023

Upcoming lectures from the York Georgian Society:

Jan Graffius | From Borneo to York: The 18th-Century Chapels at Stonyhurst and the Bar Convent
York Medical Society, Saturday, 11 February 2023, 2.30pm

Interior view of a private chapel with green walls.

Bar Convent Chapel, completed in 1769. Established in 1686, the Convent of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin at Micklegate Bar in York is the oldest surviving convent in England.

This talk will examine the history and contents of two extraordinary 18th-century chapels in the North of England. Both chapels were hidden from view, but both reflected very different aspects of English Catholicism. The 1713 Stonyhurst Shireburn inventory lists luxury artefacts from China along with those of the European baroque, salvaged medieval material culture, and the latest English Georgian fashions, all demonstrating a confident seigneurial Catholicism in a deeply rural setting. The flamboyant but hidden 1769 Bar Convent chapel of Mother Ann Aspinal and its associated 16th- and 17th-century relics and vestments speaks of a different community—religious sisters and recusant schoolgirls—navigating the political challenges associated with an all-female community in a volatile urban setting.

Jan Graffius is Curator of Collections and Historic Libraries at Stonyhurst College.

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Kerry Bristol | Robert Adam and Thomas Chippendale at Nostell: A Matter of Equals?
York Medical Society, Saturday, 11 March 2023, 2.30pm

Painting of two men standing at a table.

Unknown British artist, A Cabinet Maker’s Office, ca. 1770, oil on canvas, 53 × 70 cm (London: V&A, P.1-1961).

Nostell, the ancestral home of the Winn family near Wakefield, has long been recognised as an important commission for both Robert Adam and Thomas Chippendale, one indicative of a close friendship between architect and patron and suggestive of a special relationship between the Otley-born cabinetmaker and a family who reputedly promoted his interests early in his career. Based on a fresh reading of the Nostell archive, this lecture will investigate the nature of the business relationship between Adam and Chippendale and query how and where they worked together at Nostell and when they worked independently of each other. Did the late 18th-century architect always have the upper hand, or could those who furnished a house exert more control?

Kerry Bristol is Senior Lecturer in the School of Fine Art at the University of Leeds.

Podcast | 18th-Century Dining with Ivan Day

Posted in resources by Editor on February 5, 2023

From Spotify:

Neil Buttery and Ivan Day, “18th-Century Dining with Ivan Day,” The British Food History Podcast, Season 5 (22 January 2023), 43 minutes.

Martha Bradley, The British Housewife (1760). From Ivan Day’s Instagram account.

For this episode, Neil’s guest is esteemed food historian Ivan Day. Ivan is a social historian of food culture and a professional chef and confectioner. He has contributed to dozens of TV and radio programmes over the years. He is the author of numerous books and papers on the history of food, and he has curated major exhibitions on food history in the UK, US, and Europe. This special episode compliments Neil’s upcoming book, a biography the 18th-century cookery writer Elizabeth Raffald. Ivan kindly invited Neil into his home to talk about all things 18th-century dining: ostentatious coronation feasts; the rise of female food writers, including Elizabeth Raffald; market gardens; the presentation of food at the table; jelly; flummery moulds; authenticity; and the practicalities of spit roasting—how crockery, cutlery and, well, the whole dining experience changed going into and out of the 18th century.

Information on Day’s courses for October, November, and December, offered through The School of Artisan Food, is available here»

Forthcoming from Pen and Sword History:

Neil Buttery, Before Mrs Beeton: Elizabeth Raffald, England’s Most Influential Housekeeper (Barnsley: Pen and Sword History, 2023), 224 pages, ISBN: 978-1399084475, £20 / $40.

Exhibition | Flora Danica: The World’s Wildest Dinnerware

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on February 5, 2023

From the Royal Danish Collection:

Flora Danica: The World’s Wildest Dinnerware / Verdens Vildeste Stel
Library Hall, Koldinghus, Kolding, 7 October 2022, ongoing

With 1,530 intact pieces, the Flora Danica dinnerware is not only the best-preserved luxurious porcelain service from the 18th century but also undoubtedly the world’s wildest dinnerware in terms of splendour, storytelling, and decorations. This grand exhibition of the Flora Danica dinnerware at Koldinghus offers a close look at the magnificent set and tells the story of the fascinating ideas and myths associated with it and their connections to national and international politics. With its numerous pieces and painstaking reproductions of wild Danish botany on fragile white porcelain, the service offers an important key to understanding Denmark during the Enlightenment. Like the Danish crown jewels, the dinnerware is still in use today for very special occasions in the Royal House.

The Origins of Flora Danica

The exhibition explores the origins of this historic porcelain service, which is inextricably linked with Flora Danica, the world’s most ambitious reference work on wild plants, which took more than 122 years to complete and features beautiful copperplate prints and precise descriptions of more than 3,240 plant species. The goal of the project was to collect knowledge and facilitate the use of wild plants, lending lustre to the absolute monarchy. Around 1789, it was decided to transplant this prestigious project to precious porcelain. No specific information has been preserved about when this wild idea first arose, who came up with the almost absurd notion of decorating porcelain with wild plants, or for whom this lavish service was intended. Indeed, our knowledge about the early chapters in the story of this magnificent service is as limited as the myths about it are numerous!

Wild Rumours and International Drama

Flower Basket from the Flora Danica set (Photo by Iben Kaufmann).

Even while the service was in production, rumours abounded about the purpose of this lavish dinnerware decorated with wild plants. Rumor spread like wildfire throughout Europe, and there was persistent speculation that it was intended for the Russian Empress Catherine the Great, a porcelain enthusiast. Indeed, the Flora Danica service may have been intended for her, as a diplomatic gift in a time of international tension. Or perhaps, the dinnerware with the wild plants were created for the table of the Danish king as a wild act of political nudging to promote a particular policy.

At the time, the dramatic state of international politics was easily matched by the drama surrounding the political direction of the monarchy in the Danish realm, where a fierce political battle was playing out between pro- and anti-reformists. The exact role and position of the Flora Danica service in the cross-fire of reforms, diplomacy, and wild rumour remain a mystery to this day. Around 1879, that mystery put forth an outstanding flower in the form of this stunning service, unparalleled in scale and wondrous decorations.

Poisonous Mushrooms and Sophisticated Advertising

Each of the many pieces of the Flora Danica service features images from one of the copperplate prints from the reference work, carefully reproduced in full scale. Tureens, wine coolers, and plates are covered in wild flora: from humble algae on Norwegian rocks to poisonous mushrooms in Danish forests and long grasses on the moors of Holstein.

While the copperplate images were easily transferred to the larger pieces, such as tureens and serving dishes, the porcelain painters needed all their skill and ingenuity when it came to the smaller pieces. Long stalks were cut, grasses were laid horizontally, and leaves were twisted to fit the floral decorations onto round and curvy small dishes, custard cups, and salt cellars. The mantra was accuracy above all else, with correct representations taking precedence over beauty. Thus, despite its impressive volume and splendour, the service was mainly conceived as PR for the underlying publication. In fact, it is so inextricably linked to the reference work that the service should not be seen as an independent artistic achievement by the Royal Danish Porcelain Factory but rather as a sophisticated advertising stunt.

The World’s Wildest Dinnerware

Since the large exhibition about the Flora Danica dinnerware in 1990 at Christiansborg Palace, it has not been possible to stage a comprehensive presentation of this wild service, which is almost as storied as it is voluminous. The upcoming exhibition will shed light on the wild myths surrounding the service and offer the audience an up-close look at the unusual decorations and the use of the historical service, which was first used in 1803 at the birthday banquet for Christian VII. Since then, it has been used on very special occasions in the Royal House. Most recently, it was in use at the golden jubilee of HM Queen Margrethe II in January 2022. No other Danish service can boast as long a legacy or a presence at such historic banquets as the Flora Danica service, which remains the world’s wildest dinnerware—in terms of history, storytelling, and decoration.

The exhibition is made possible by loans of items from the State Inventory and contributions from Royal Copenhagen and Georg Jensen Damask. It opened at Koldinghus on 7 October 2022 and will be followed up by events and communication initiatives to shed light on the history, use, and continued relevance of the porcelain service.

Jesper Munk Andersen, Flora Danica: The World’s Wildest Dinnerware (Copenhagen: Kongernes Samling / The Royal Danish Collection, 2022), 104 pages, ISBN: 978-8789542256. Also available in Danish.

More information is available here»

At Sotheby’s | From the Collection of Jacques Garcia

Posted in Art Market, on site by Editor on February 4, 2023

Salon-Tapisseries in the Château du Champ de Bataille
(Photo from Sotheby’s)

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Auction puffery is always interesting. The press release (via Art Daily) for the sale explains that Garcia’s “perfect knowledge of history is treasured by some of the greatest museums and institutions . . . [including] Versailles” and declares that the sale will “present the most important group of Sèvres ever to appear on the market.” We’re likely to hear a lot about it between now and May. –CH

At Auction: Jacques Garcia, Intemporel, Sale PF2361
Sotheby’s, Paris, 16 May 2023 (works on view in Paris, 11–15 May 2023)

Enfilade at Château du Champ-de-Bataille (Photo from Sotheby’s).

“The power of exceptional residences lies in the unforgettable feeling that stays with those who have visited them. As with all of Jacques Garcia’s creations, Champ de Bataille is one such memorable place. This setting leaves an indelible mark from the first visit, from the initial shock of its beauty to the awe when you realise the mammoth effort that has gone into its construction and renovation. Nowhere is Garcia’s mastery of atmosphere more evident.”  –Mario Tavella, Président of Sotheby’s France, Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe

On 16 May, 75 prestigious works of art—handpicked by French interior designer and collector Jacques Garcia from the project of a lifetime—will be offered at Sotheby’s in Paris. The proceeds will benefit Champ de Bataille, preserving its legacy for future generations. Garcia is the creative force behind many of the most lavish and opulent settings in the world—from the La Mamounia Hotel in Marrakech and Hotel Costes in Paris, to painstakingly decorated rooms in the Louvre and Versailles. Most recently in the limelight has been his Villa Elena in Noto, a magnificent Sicilian villa featured in the US series The White Lotus, a labour of love for Garcia who painstakingly restored the baroque interiors, which were destroyed by an earthquake in 1693.

In 1992, Garcia acquired the Château du Champ de Bataille, one of the most charming and inventive buildings of its kind, designed by Louis le Vau (the architect behind Versailles) and boasting the grandest private garden in Europe. By the late twentieth century, only two of the rooms were in usable condition; and so, began a titanic project of renovating the site spanning the next three decades and then opening its doors to the public.

The collection assembled by Jacques Garcia for the Champ de Bataille is a tribute to the finest decorative arts of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, bringing together exceptional furniture, porcelain, and sculpture. Among the many masterworks are items that belonged to royalty and nobility—including Kings Louis XV and Louis XVI, Queens Marie Leszczynska and Marie-Antoinette, King William III and Queen Mary II, the Count of Provence, and the Dukes of Penthièvre and Lorraine. The selection continues into the 19th century with provenances including the Emperor Napoleon and dynastic collectors such as the Rothschilds.

The sale’s 75 lots will mark Garcia’s 75th birthday. Many pieces within the collection have a royal provenance, with Kings Louis XV and Louis XVI and Queens Marie Leszczynska and Marie-Antoinette among the previous owners (Photo from Sotheby’s).

The sale will offer several pieces of Neoclassical furniture crafted by prominent Parisian maker Georges Jacob and delivered for Queen Marie-Antoinette. These include two pairs of armchairs and a canapé thought to have been ordered for Marie-Antoinette’s Turkish Boudoir at Fontainebleau (each estimated at €400,000–600,000).

Among the most remarkable pieces is a console table by Parisian marchand-mercier and ébéniste Adam Weisweiler (estimated €1–2 million). The magnificent piece of furniture bears the hallmarks of the innovations towards the end of Louis XVI’s reign, bringing together precious materials such as Japanese lacquer and porcelain plates. The use of painted sheet metal, juxtaposed with the marble top, is unique in Weisweiler’s corpus, whilst paying homage to the work of his predecessor Martin Carlin.

A floral marquetry commode from the Louis XV period, attributed to Antoine-Robert Gaudreau (the principal supplier of furniture for the royal châteaux early in the reign of Louis XV), bears the mark of Louis XIV’s grandson, the Duke of Penthièvre (estimated at €400,000–700,000). Penthièvre was one of the wealthiest men of his day, living in the Château de Bizy in Normandy, which he partly decorated with furniture from the Marquise de Pompadour.

The sale also offers a daybed likely made for the wedding of Napoleon Bonaparte to Empress Marie-Louise in 1810 (estimated €100,000–200,000). Attributed to Jacob Desmalter, it follows the design from a drawing by French architects Percier and Fontaine and decorated with a medallion by Bertrand Andrieu (created to commemorate the marriage and associated Napoleon with a centuries-old dynasty).

A pair of cabinets, decorated with remarkable finesse with Japanese laquer and silver mounts from the Edo period (ca. 1640–80), hail from the collection of King William III and Queen Mary II of England (estimated €800,000–1,200,000). The decor reflects the strong Flemish and Dutch influences during their reign, as well as a penchant for East Asian elements.

The table service featured in the sale is decorated with images of 400 different birds after drawings by Buffon (Photo from Sotheby’s).

The sale will present the most important group of Sèvres ever to appear on the market. Among them is a pair of vases with Turkish-inspired decor from 1773, the compositions inspired by painter Jean-Baptiste Le Prince (estimated €200,000–300,000)—reflecting the contemporary craze of transposing fashionable artworks onto vases intended for the royal court. The collection also includes part of a table service with the Suddell family coat of arms, decorated with more than 400 different birds after the natural history drawings by Georges-Louis Le Clerc de Buffon, keeper of the Royal Garden in Paris (estimated €600,000– 1,000,000). Among the most spectacular of all is a pair of large ‘Lagrenée’ vases, with a vibrant purple background, dated 1797 (estimated €800,000– 1,200,000). Over its long history, this pair has belonged to a number of the most prestigious European collections: purchased at the Sèvres factory in December 1799 before being presented to King Charles IV of Spain in about 1800, acquired by Alexander Hamilton (the 10th Duke of Hamilton) in 1807–08, and passed on by descent to the 12th Duke of Hamilton, William Alexander Louis Stephen Douglas-Hamilton.

Recognised the world-over, Jacques Garcia has long been one of the most sought-after interior designers, reinventing himself with each project and dedicated to innovation through the bringing together of the classic and the modern. His influence is multi-faceted, spanning interior design, patronage of the arts, and technical and artistic advisor. Garcia was awarded the Legion of Honour in 1997, before being made a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in 2002, as well as the Knight of the Order of Agricultural Merit.

From the 1990s, Garcia has worked for major international hoteliers, from Barrière-Desseigne to Costes; his standout achievements include La Réserve in Paris (a 5-star palace voted as the best hotel in the world in 2017) and the mythic La Mamounia in Marrakech. His innate talent for matching styles and his perfect knowledge of history is treasured by some of the greatest museums and institutions, many of which have entrusted him with their spaces. These include the Musée de la Vie Romantique in Paris, the grand apartments of Versailles, and the rooms of François I at the Château de Chambord. He has also played the rôle of scenographer for several exhibitions, the most spectacular of which was a recreation of the throne room in Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors in 2007.

Château du Champ-de-Bataille, built 1653-65 (Photo from Sotheby’s).

An art lover from his childhood, Garcia is also an eminent collector, buying his first works at the age of 25. His erudition, curiosity, and encyclopedic knowledge of inventories, as well as an overriding quest for excellence, has enabled him to assemble the finest examples of art and antiques. In 1992, Garcia acquired the Château de Champ de Bataille and set about on the project of a lifetime, renovating the residence in the image of the Grand Siècle. Inspired by the Universal Exhibitions, he also populated the garden with multiple follies, bringing together influences from China and India.

Built in the 17th century, the Château du Champ de Bataille is one of the most beautiful estates in France. Its first proprietor, Count Alexandre de Créqui, was exiled from court and placed under house arrest by Cardinal Mazarin during the Fronde (a series of civil wars in France between 1648 and 1653). De Créqui set upon building this home on his land in Normandy to remind himself of the splendour of the French court.

The castle then passed through the hands of a number of different families, including several cousins of the noble Harcourt family, each of whom made profound changes. In the 19th century, the almost derelict castle even became a hospital and then a prison.

At the time that Jacques Garcia acquired the property, only two of the rooms had retained their original decor. Remaining true to the grand spirit of the 17th and 18th centuries, Garcia redesigned and restored all of the other rooms, acquiring a wealth of furniture, paintings, and works of art from great collections to furnish and bring the space to life.

Alongside the interiors, Garcia also completely recreated the gardens, with the assistance of master landscaper Patrick Pottier. The result is a marriage of a historic garden and a contemporary vision, drawing inspiration from ancient and philosophical themes. The garden presents several architectural follies, including the ‘Temple of Leda’ and the ancient theatre or ‘Pavillion of Dreams’ (inspired by Mughal India and furnished with original pieces from Indian palaces). Today, the Champ de Bataille estate—covering an area of 45 hectares—is the largest private park in Europe, its gardens recognised for their wonder by the French government.

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For more information on the house, see Jacques Garcia and Alain Stella, with photographs by Eric Sander, Jacques Garcia: Twenty Years of Passion: Chateau du Champ de Bataille (Paris: Flammarion, 2014), 400 pages, ISBN: 978-2080201690.

Symposium | Rococo across Borders: Designers and Makers

Posted in conferences (to attend), online learning by Editor on February 3, 2023

Chest with two-drawers.

Commode designed by Jean-François Cuvilliés, the Elder, pine partially painted and gilded, German, ca. 1735–40 (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 28.154).

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Registration now open at Eventbrite:

Rococo across Borders: Designers and Makers
In-person and live-streamed, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 24–25 March 2023

Organized by the Furniture History Society and the French Porcelain Society, this two-day symposium on Rococo ceramics and furniture across Europe and beyond aims to examine the geographical spread of the Rococo style, the interaction between designers and makers, and the significant role played by print culture in its dissemination. It will go beyond the traditional geographical, chronological, and conceptual fields of Rococo design to explore how the style evolved throughout the long eighteenth century and to reflect on wider discussions about the historical contexts for Rococo ceramics and furniture, alongside the place of the ‘Rococo’ in museums and art historical scholarship today. Tickets: £30–142.

F R I D A Y ,  2 4  M A R C H  2 0 2 3

10.00  Registration

10.20  Welcome and Introduction from Dame Rosalind Savill DBE, FSA, FBA, President of the French Porcelain Society

10.35  Session One | Origins and Circulation of the Rococo
Moderated by Helen Jacobsen
• Form versus Function: The Rococo Contradiction and Its Application to French Eighteenth-Century Decorative Arts — John Whitehead (Independent Scholar)
• The Diplomatic Gifts of Louis XV (working title) — Marie-Laure Buku-Pongo (Assistant Curator of Decorative Arts, The Frick Collection, New York
• From Cathay to Paris: Trade with Asia, Its Actors, and Its Influence on the Arts in Paris — Stéphane Castelluccio (Directeur de recherche au CNRS, Centre André Chastel, Paris)
• The Rococo Diaspora: Wandering Craftsmen, Objects, Patronage, and Diplomacy — Sarah Coffin (Independent Curator, Former Senior Curator, Cooper Hewitt Museum, New York)

12.40  Discussion

12.55  Lunch including ’Object in Focus Sessions’ with V&A Collections and Curators (separate tickets required)

14.25  Session Two | Virtuoso Rococo: England and the Netherlands
Moderated by David Oakey
• ‘A Peculiarity in the Lines’: Drawing and Carving ‘Rococo’ in Mid-Eighteenth-Century England — Jenny Saunt (Curatorial Research Fellow, V&A Museum, London)
• Chelsea’s Extreme Rococo: A Perspicuous Misunderstanding or a Calculated Risk — Patricia Ferguson (Independent Scholar)
• Designing or Making: On the Role of Craftsmen as Designers — Reinier Baarsen (Curator Emeritus of Decorative Arts at the Rijksmuseum)
• Rococo Silver in the Austrian Netherlands: A Virtuoso Kaleidoscope? — Wim Nys (Head of Collections and Research, DIVA Museum, Antwerp)

16.35  Discussion

16.50  Closing Remarks

18.00  Ticket holders are invited to a drinks reception, supported by Bonhams, at Montpelier St, London SW7 1HH; spaces are limited so early booking is advised.

S A T U R D A Y ,  2 5  M A R C H  2 0 2 3

10.00  Registration

10.20  Welcome and Introduction from Christopher Rowell FSA, Chairman of the Furniture History Society

10.30  Session Three | Inspiration and Emulation: Ireland, Germany, and Russia
Moderated by Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth
• The Prints of Carl Pier (b. 1717): Visions and Potentialities in Southern German Rococo Design — Michael Yonan (Professor of Art History, University of California)
• Frederician Furniture in Berlin and Potsdam, ca. 1740–1775 — Henriette Graf (Curator of Furniture, Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg)
• The Englishness of Irish Rococo: The Dublin School of Stucco Workers — Conor Lucey (Associate Professor in Architectural History, University College Dublin)
• Pineau le Russe: A French Sculptor in Service to the Tsars— Turner Edwards (Collaborateur Scientifique, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris)

12.40  Discussion

12.55  Lunch

14.25  Session Four | Across the Seas: China, the Americas, and back to France
Moderated by Adriana Turpin
• Persistence, Resistance, and Canadian Rococo Furniture — Philippe Halbert (Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford)
• Ornaments from the Western Ocean: Rococo as a Qing Imperial Style in the Decorative Arts — Mei Mei Rado (Assistant Professor, History of Textiles, Dress, and Decorative Arts, Bard Graduate Center, New York)
• The French Rococo Style in Colonial Latin America — Dennis Carr (Virginia Steele Scott Chief Curator of American Art, Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, Los Angeles)
• Colonial Fantasy and Rococo Regressions: Porcelain in the Time of Louis-Philippe — Iris Moon (Assistant Curator of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

16.35  Discussion

16.50  Closing Remarks

Images: Top left to bottom right, Flower vase (cuvette Mahon), probably designed by Jean-Claude Duplessis, Sèvres Manufactory, French, soft-paste porcelain, ca. 1757–60 (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1974.356.592); Girandole à branche de porcelaine garnie d’or, from Oeuvres de Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier, engraved by Gabriel Huquier, French, 1738–49 (New York: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, 1921-6-212-29-b); Commode designed by Jean-François Cuvilliés, the Elder, pine partially painted and gilded, German, ca. 1735–40 (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 28.154).

Handling Session | Hausmaler at the V&A

Posted in lectures (to attend), resources by Editor on February 3, 2023

Saucer, made at the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory, ca. 1720–25 and then painted by an unknown ‘hausmaler’ painter, ca. 1720–30
(London: Victoria and Albert Museum, C.218A-1938)

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A good reason to join The French Porcelain Society:

Hausmaler at the V&A
Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 23 February 2023

The French Porcelain Society’s handling session examining German Hausmalerei—faïence and porcelain painted in small workshops outside their factories (Hausmaler, ‘home painter’)—from the V&A collection will take place on Thursday, 23 February, in the morning. The session will be led by Simon Spier, Curator of Ceramics and Glass 1600–1800, and Errol Manners. Numbers will be limited, and the cost is £25, with a reduced rate available for emerging scholars. If interested, please contact FPS administrator Kelsey Weeks, FPSmailing@gmail.com.

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