Thinking about Teaching

Posted in teaching resources by Editor on September 9, 2009

At the beginning of a new academic year, recent postings at The Long Eighteenth address various themes related to teaching. Laura Rosenthal tackles grading and tactics for teaching with ECCO (Eighteenth-Century Collections Online). David Mazella responds to a posting by Kenneth Mostern at Leaving Academia (he found it at Perverse Egalitarianism), which suggests that “the scariest thing a young faculty member experiences is not, as is conventionally supposed, the ‘need to produce’ and therefore her/his experience is not aided by the ‘mentorship’ of an experienced scholar. Rather, the young scholar’s fear stems from the fact that no one in the department is talking to each other about scholarship.” Mazella also describes an assignment he gives students to make use of the Burney Collection of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century newspapers (as noted earlier here, the Burney Collection is available for free until October 30 through Early Modern Online Bibliography). The postings are all accompanied by dozens of comments. For the most part, the specifics apply to literary studies, but the larger concerns and goals would seem to bear on art history in the eighteenth century as well.

Last Week for ASECS Proposals

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on September 8, 2009

Abstracts due by September 15 (next Tuesday)

At the 2009 ASECS conference in Albuquerque, March 18-21, HECAA will host two sessions, chaired by Wendy Wassying Roworth and Adrienne Childs:

HECAA New Scholars Session (Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art and Architecture) Wendy Wassyng Roworth, U. Rhode Island; (home) 112 Slater Avenue, providence, RI 02906; Tel: (401) 351-6448 (home); Fax: (401) 874-2729; E-mail: wroworth@uri.edu
This session will feature papers by graduate students and recent recipients of the doctoral degree on new research in the history of art and architecture. Papers are welcome on all aspects of art history including studies of art collecting, patronage, exhibitions, and art production in all media.

Theorizing the Decorative in Eighteenth-Century Art (Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art and Architecture) Adrienne Childs, David C. Driskell Center, 1214 Cole Student Activities Center, U. of Maryland, College Park, MD, 20742 (ATTN: ASECS Session Submission); Tel: (301) 314–2615; E-mail: alchilds@umd.edu
“Decorative” is a term that has been consistently used to describe the arts of the eighteenth century. Applied to painting, sculpture, material culture, interior design, architecture, and more, decoration evokes a feeling of luxury and abundance. In recent years scholars of eighteenth-century art have attempted to look beyond the profusion of floral motifs and arabesque lines to investigate how these seemingly innocuous motifs are part of larger social, economic, political, and cultural systems at work in the period. This paper seeks papers that engage critical and theoretical perspectives that investigate and decode the “decorative.”

In addition, there are numerous other panels that should prove interesting for art and architectural historians. You can, of course, check the ASECS website for details and a full listing, but a couple of dozen are included here» (more…)

Watteau at the Met

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on September 8, 2009

Press release from the Met:

Watteau, Music, and Theater
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 22 September – 29 November 2009

Catalogue edited by Katharine Baetjer (Yale University Press)

Catalogue ed. Katharine Baetjer (Yale University Press)

Watteau, Music, and Theater, the first exhibition of Jean-Antoine Watteau’s paintings in the United States in 25 years, will demonstrate the place of music and theater in Watteau’s art, exploring the tension between an imagery of power, associated with the court of Louis XIV, and a more optimistic and mildly subversive imagery of pleasure that was developed in opera-ballet and theater early in the 18th century. It will demonstrate that the painter’s vision was influenced directly by musical works devoted to the island of Cythera, the home of Venus, and to the Venetian carnival, and will shed new light on a number of Watteau’s pictures.

Made possible by The Florence Gould Foundation, the exhibition will feature more than 60 works of art, consisting of major loans of paintings and drawings by Watteau and his contemporaries from collections in the United States and Europe. The balance of the paintings will be drawn from the Metropolitan Museum’s collections, together with most of the works on paper, and all of the musical instruments, gold boxes, and ceramics. Watteau, Music, and Theater will honor Philippe de Montebello, Director Emeritus of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Watteau, “The French Comedians,” 1720–21, oil on canvas, 22 x 29” (NY: Metropolitan Museum)

Watteau, “The French Comedians,” 1720–21, (New York: Metropolitan Museum)

Born in 1684 in Valenciennes in the Hainault (French, but formerly part of the Spanish Netherlands), Jean-Antoine Watteau is widely considered the most important artist in early eighteenth-century France. A solitary, ill-educated, self-taught, largely itinerant figure, he was a supremely gifted painter and draftsman whose surviving works of art are his testament. Most of them are so-called fêtes galantes, idyllic scenes that have no specifically identifiable subject. Only one of Watteau’s paintings, The Embarkation for Cythera (1717), was publicly exhibited in his lifetime. Watteau died in 1720 at the age of 36 after a long illness. While relatively little is known about Watteau, an expanding body of literature relating to Paris opera-ballet, plays, and the less formal and more traditional seasonal théâtres de la foire relates to specific works in the exhibition, and these can now be mined more deeply to examine the artist’s life and work.

Among the many highlights of Watteau, Music, and Theater will be the Metropolitan Museum’s Watteau paintings Mezzetin and French Comedians; the Städel Museum’sThe Island of Cythera; Pleasures of the Dance from the Dulwich Picture Gallery; Love in the French Theater and Love in the Italian Theater, both from the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin; and The Alliance of Music and Comedy (private collection), which has not been on view in any museum in decades.

The exhibition will mark the first time the painting La Surprise (private collection) will be seen in a museum. Lost for almost 200 years and presumed to have been destroyed, La Surprise was rediscovered last year in a British country house and later sold at auction. (more…)

Tagged with:

Getting away for the Weekend

Posted in on site, opinion pages by Editor on September 4, 2009

Editor’s Note

Rather perversely, I typically begin the first class session of a new semester by having students introduce themselves and then share one place they would like to be — anywhere in the world — at that particular moment. Just when I’m supposed to get everyone back on board with the routines of academic life, it’s just much more fun to indulge in a bit of daydreaming. My pedagogical rationale goes something like this: art history may begin with slides in a dark lecture hall, but it ultimately requires a curiosity and fascination about the world that will take students far and wide. And indeed, for the course to work, imagination (maybe even desire) turns out to be vital.

So on this Labor Day Weekend, I thought that I myself might indulge in a game of ‘where would I like to be?’ The UK’s Landmark Trust rents some remarkable historic properties — from three days to three weeks. As noted on the organization’s website, the Trust “is a building preservation charity, founded in 1965 by the late Sir John Smith and Lady Smith. It was established to rescue historic and architecturally interesting buildings and their surroundings from neglect and, when restored, to give them new life by letting them as places to experience for holidays.” Here’s a sampling (photos and descriptions come from the Trust website, though the italicized bits are my additions). I’m not sure I can narrow it down any further, but maybe if I think about it just a bit longer . . .

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊


The Bath House, near Stratford-upon-Avon

Just right to prepare oneself for the upcoming Delany exhibition

The benefits of a cold bath were held to be almost limitless by medical opinion of the eighteenth century and many country houses were equipped with one. The Bath House here, it is thought, was designed in 1748 by the gentleman-architect Sanderson Miller for his friend Sir Charles Mordaunt. Good historical fun was had by all: the rough masonry of Antiquity, used for the bath chamber, is contrasted with the polished smoothness of the new Augustan age seen in the room above, where the bathers recovered. Even in the upper room there is a hint of the subterranean, with a dome hung with coolly dripping icicles. Here the walls have also been frosted with shells, arranged in festoons as if ‘by some invisible sea-nymph or triton for their private amusement’. This was the idea of Mrs Delany, better known for her flower pictures, who advised the Mordaunt daughters on where to find the shells. Their work was skilfully reproduced by Diana Reynell, after terrible damage by vandals. The Bath House, at the end of a long and gated drive, has one main room to live in, but in its deep woodland setting, so near to the Forest of Arden, ‘you may fleet the time carelessly, as they did in the golden world’.

d9746e67-3857-4dd7-a15e-a61653030a0a Auchinleck House, Ochiltree, Ayrshire

The perfect place to celebrate Johnson’s 300th birthday (September 18th)

Perhaps the finest example of an eighteenth-century country villa to survive in Scotland, Auchinleck House is where the renowned biographer James Boswell indulged his penchant for ‘old laird and family ideas’. Built around 1760 by Boswell’s father Lord Auchinleck, its architect is unknown; it seems likely that Lord Auchinleck himself had a hand in the neo-Classical design, perhaps influenced by the Adam brothers. Boswell’s friend and mentor Dr. Samuel Johnson famously argued over politics with Lord Auchinleck in the library here, when they visited at the end of their tour of the Hebrides in 1773. Once inherited by Boswell, the house was host to much ‘social glee’, which he recorded in his Book of Company and Liquors. Auchinleck House itself expresses the rich spirit of the Scottish Enlightenment, combining Classical purity in the main elevation with a baroque exuberance in the pavilions and the elaborately carved pediment. We have restored not only the house with its magnificent library looking across to Arran, but also the pavilions, the obelisks and the great bridge across the Dippol Burn, on whose picturesque banks are an ice-house and grotto. Visitors to the house pass beneath an extract, chosen from Horace by Lord Auchinleck, carved into the pediment: Quod petis, hic est, Est Ulubris, animus si te non deficit aequus (‘Whatever you seek is here, in this remote place, if only you have a good firm mind’). We are sure this will speak as clearly to those who stay at Auchinleck today as it did to James Boswell himself.

0997fd3c-a9da-4164-95c7-c396362be537Fox Hall, Charlton, West Sussex

A Palladian idyll perhaps?

Charlton is just a small village, but at one time, when the Charlton Hunt was famous and fashionable, its name was familiar and dear to every sportsman in England. Even Goodwood was described as ‘near Charlton’. The hunt was founded in the 1670s by the Duke of Monmouth and was continued after his death by his son-in-law the Duke of Bolton and then by the Duke of Richmond. Apart from the sport, what attracted highspirited noblemen here, surely, was that they could live in lodgings away from the constraints of home. They clubbed together and built a dining-room for themselves, which they christened ‘Fox Hall’, designed by Lord Burlington, no less, and here ‘these votaries of Diana feasted after the chase and recounted the feats of the day’. Not to miss such affairs and to be in good time for the meets, the Duke of Richmond commissioned the small Palladian building that we now possess. The designer of this rich sample of architecture, built in 1730, was most probably Lord Burlington’s assistant Roger Morris. It consists of a plain brick box with a small stylish hall and staircase leading to one magnificent room above, undoubtedly Britain’s premier bedsit. There is a gilded alcove for the Duke’s bed and in the pediment over the fireplace an indicator shows the direction of the wind, important information for the fox hunter. The front door to all this grandeur leads very sensibly straight to the stable yard. In the 1750s the Hunt was moved away from Charlton to Goodwood. The old Fox Hall disappeared and somehow its name was transferred to our building a few yards off, which, grievously altered, for a long time housed the manager of the Duke of Richmond’s sawmill. So far as possible we have given it back its original form.

0f27257d-86ee-48c6-8fde-0f930e84f3c6The Library, Stevenstone, near Great Torrington, Devon

A lovely place to finish that article

The Library, and its smaller companion the Orangery, stand in well-mannered incongruity beside the ruins of Victorian Stevenstone, with the remains of a grand arboretum around them. Stevenstone was rebuilt by the very last of the Rolles in 1870, but these two pavilions survive from an earlier remodelling of 1710–20. The façade of the Library, with its giant order and modillion cornice, looks like the work of a lively, probably local, mason-architect, familiar with the work of such as Talman and Wren. Why a library in the garden? It probably started life as a perfectly ordinary banqueting house and only assumed its more learned character later on. Why it should have done so is a mystery, of a pleasantly unimportant kind. By the time we first saw it, when it came up for sale in 1978, the bookshelves had been dispersed and the Library had been a house for many years, the fine upper room divided and the loggia closed in, while the Orangery was about to collapse altogether. We put new roofs on both buildings and, on the Library, a new eaves cornice carved from 170 feet of yellow pine by a local craftsman, Richard Barnett. The loggia is open again, and the main room has returned to its full size. To stay in this particularly handsome building, even without the books, is an enlightening experience.

82edede9-08bb-4f99-9cee-2d0ea10ae0edThe House of Correction, Folkingham, Lincolnshire

For fantasies of a Sadean bent?

Folkingham is one of those agreeable places that are less important than they used to be. It has a single very wide street, lined on each side by handsome buildings, with a large eighteenth-century inn across the top end. Behind the houses, to the east, lie the moat and earthworks of a big medieval castle. The House of Correction occupies the site of this castle. These minor prisons were originally intended for minor offenders – the idle (regarded as subversive) and the disorderly. Folkingham had a house of correction by 1611, replaced in 1808 by a new one built inside the castle moat and intended to serve the whole of Kesteven. This was enlarged in 1825 and given a grand new entrance. In 1878 the prison was closed and the inner buildings converted into ten dwellings, all demolished in 1955. The grand entrance alone survives. It was designed by Bryan Browning, an original and scholarly Lincolnshire architect also responsible for the Sessions House at Bourne. It is a bold and monumental work, borrowing from the styles of Vanbrugh, Sanmichele and Ledoux. Apart from cowing the malefactor it was intended to house the turnkey, and the Governor’s horses and carriage. Now it gives entrance only to a moated expanse of grass – a noble piece of architecture in a beautiful and interesting place.

163717ac-cb0b-4f95-afea-72d859252b4dPiazza di Spagna, Rome

An ideal base for tracking the footsteps of Keats and Shelley (although most of the properties are in the UK, there are some notable exceptions)

All architects, and many artists, owe a debt to Rome, and we had long wanted a foothold there. So when the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association launched an appeal for funds to maintain 26 Piazza di Spagna, we asked whether there was a part of it that we could occupy in return for helping them. Happily there was, a flat on the third floor, now restored by us to its condition in about 1800 – spacious rooms with tiled floors and high, beamed ceilings painted in soft colours. The house itself was built around 1600, but owes its external appearence today to changes made by Francesco de Sanctis in 1724–5. Our apartment is not the rooms in which Keats died in 1821 – those are on the floor below – but they are identical in form and layout, and are more in a condition he would recognise. Every tall shuttered window has a view unchanged almost since the days of the Grand Tour, and the sitting-room looks up the Spanish Steps – certainly the world’s grandest and most sophisticated outdoor staircase – to the church of S. Trinita dei Monti at the top. At the front door is Bernini’s fountain in the form of a stone boat sinking into the Piazza di Spagna. There is hardly any motor traffic, but instead all the noises of humanity, some of them very unusual – for example when the steps are cleared by water-cannon, or when the horsedrawn cabs, which form a rank at the far end of the Piazza, arrive over the cobbles, seemingly at dawn and at a gallop. The Steps were designed in 1721 by Francesco de Sanctis, who also designed this house to fit in with his plan. It was probably apartments from the first, in a part of the city long frequented by foreign and particularly English visitors. There can be few places in Rome available to their successors so central, so handsome, so famous or so unaltered as this.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Enjoy the weekend. Enfilade will be back on Tuesday.

-Craig Hanson

Innovation in Teaching Award

Posted in Calls for Papers, opportunities, teaching resources by Editor on September 3, 2009

ASECS Innovative Course Design Competition

Deadline: 1 October 2009

To encourage excellence in undergraduate teaching of the eighteenth century, the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies invites proposals from members in any of its constituent disciplines. Proposals should be for a new approach to teaching a unit within a course on the eighteenth century, covering perhaps one to four weeks of instruction, or for an entire new course. For example, participants may offer a new approach to a specific work or theme, a comparison of two related works from different fields (music and history, art and theology), an interdisciplinary approach to a particular social or historical event, new uses of instructional technology (e.g., web sites, internet resources and activities), or a new course that has never been taught or has been taught only very recently for the first time. Participants are encourage to include why books and topics were selected and how they worked. Applicants should submit five (5) copies of a 3-5 page proposal (double-spaced) and should focus sharply on the leading ideas distinguishing the unit to be developed. Where relevant, a syllabus draft of the course should also be provided.

The Committee will select the top three proposals by November 15. A major criterion for judging the proposals is how specific they are in relation to design, readings, pedagogy, and/or activities. The authors will be asked to develop a brief presentation for delivery in the Teaching Competition seminar at the 2010 Annual Meeting. A distinguished teacher-scholar will be invited to moderate the session. A $500 award will be presented to each of the participants, and they will be invited to submit a twelve-page account of the unit or course, with a syllabus or other supplementary materials for publication on the website. (more…)

Gemmae Antiquae, Part II

Posted in catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on September 2, 2009

From the website of the Hermitage:

The Fate of One Collection
500 Carved Stones from the Collection of the Dukes of Orléans
State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, ongoing exhibition

Gillas, "Head of Olympic Zeus of Phidias," sardonyx,  1st Century BCE

Gillas, "Head of Olympic Zeus of Phidias," sardonyx, 1st Century BCE (Hermitage)

On October 30, 2001 an exhibition entitled The Fate of One Collection: 500 Carved Stones of the Collection of the Dukes of Orléans opened in the Golden Room of the Winter Palace. The exhibition continues the series of temporary exhibits dedicated to famous European collections, the foundation of the Hermitage art collections. The exhibition showcases 500 gems, dating from the 4th century B.C. to the mid-18th century, which represents one-third of the collection of the Dukes of Orléans.

In 1787 Catherine the Great ordered to acquire from Louis Philippe Joseph of Orléans the collection of 1500 gems of the familial collection of the Dukes of Orléans, representatives of the junior branch of the French royal dynasty.

The collection’s central exhibit is the collection of Heidelberg Castle gems. The collection was started by Count Palatine Otto-Heinrich (1502-1559). Antique gems comprise the largest part of the Heidelberg Castle collection. It includes rare pieces of the Hellenic epoch and pieces dating back to
masters of Republican and Augustine Rome and the time of Soldier Emperors.

"Jupiter, Mercury and Cupid, Mars and Neptune Surrounded by Zodiac Signs," 16th-century Italy (Hermitage)

"Jupiter, Mercury and Cupid, Mars and Neptune Surrounded by Zodiac Signs," 16th-century Italy (Hermitage)

In 1685 the collection was inherited by Elisabeth-Charlotte, Princess Palatine, who married Duke Philippe of Orléans. Thanks to this dynastic marriage the Gemmae Study passed on to the Dukes of Orléans. Elisabeth-Charlotte continued adding to the collection, and acquired the gems representing different stages of ancient glyptics, including works by famous masters, such as Aulus, Rufus, Sostrates, and Trypho. A larger part of the works dates back to Renaissance and Baroque epochs.

In 1741 the grandchild of Elisabeth-Charlotte, Duke Louis III of Orleans, acquired the Paris collection of carved stones, which had belonged to Pierre Crozat, one of the most famous collectors in Europe. Of special interest in his collection are the cameos of the pure Byzantium style. A large collection of entails and cameos demonstrates the glyptics of Italy, France, Germany and the Netherlands of the 15th – early 18th centuries. Among the masterpieces of the European portrait is the portrait of Henry II of France by A. Cesati, poetized by Giorgio Vasari.

"The Fate of One Collection: 500 Carved Stones from the Room of Duke of Orleans."

"The Fate of One Collection: 500 Carved Stones from the Room of Duke of Orleans."

Among the Dukes of Orléans, last owners of the gem collections, there were no such art connoisseurs as Elisabeth-Charlotte and Pierre Crozat. However, during this time rare Etruscan scarabs and gems of the 15th – 18th centuries were added to the collection along with several glyptic portraits, talismans and grillae (human heads and animal bodies). Sassanian Iran and European Renaissance are represented by one work each.

The exhibition includes descriptions, catalogs of collections and engravings, dedicated to gems of the Dukes of Orléans, and pictures of castles and palaces where the collection was kept at various times. Sections of the exhibit reconstructing separate collections of the 16th – early 18th centuries, which belonged to the Dukes of Orléans, are highlighted. Slavia Publishers presents The Fate of One Collection. 500 Carved Stones from the Room of Duke of Orleans. Introduction is by Y. O. Kogan and O. Y. Neverov.

[Credits: Images and text (with minor spelling modifications) taken from the Hermitage website]

Tagged with:

Gemmae Antiquae, Part I

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on September 1, 2009

From the Getty Villas’s website:

Carvers and Collectors: The Lasting Allure of Ancient Gems

Getty Villa, Los Angeles, 19 March – 7 September 2009


Jeffrey Spier, Ancient Gems and Finger Rings: Catalogue of the Collections (Getty Museum, 1993), ISBN 978-0-89236-215-8 ($70)


Gems from the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum (For individual identifications, click on the image)

The beauty of carved gemstones has captivated collectors, connoisseurs, and craftsmen since antiquity. Precious markers of culture and status, gems were sought by Greek and Roman elites as well as modern monarchs and aristocrats. This exhibition features intaglios and cameos carved by ancient master engravers along with outstanding works by modern carvers and works of art in diverse media that illustrate the lasting allure of gems. . . .

In antiquity, gems were engraved with personal or official insignia that, when impressed on wax or clay, were used to sign or seal documents. Carved gems were valued not only for their distinctive designs, but also for the beauty of their stones, some of which were believed to have magical properties. From the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century, rulers, nobles, and wealthy merchants sought and traded classical gems, and carvers produced replicas and forgeries.

Augustin de Saint-Aubin after Charles-Nicolas Cochin II French Engraving in François Arnaud, Description des principales pierres gravées du cabinet de S.A.S. Monseigneur le duc d'Orléans... (Description of the Principal Engraved Gems in the Cabinet of His Serene Highness, the Duke of Orleans...) (Paris, 1870) Research Library, The Getty Research Institute 85-B16748

Augustin de Saint-Aubin after Charles-Nicolas Cochin II, engraving in François Arnaud, Description des principales pierres gravées du cabinet de S.A.S. Monseigneur le duc d'Orléans. . . (Paris, 1870) The Getty Research Institute 85-B16748

Sumptuous engraved catalogues of gem collections were published in the days before photography. Like the gems they illustrated, these volumes functioned as luxury objects. The engravings in these books sometimes improve upon the already excellent carving of the gems themselves. Louis Philippe d’Orléans (1725–1785), the great-grandson of King Louis XIV of France, published his gem collection in an elaborately engraved volume dedicated to his cousin King Louis XVI. The frontispiece, shown here, depicts the duke himself and also represents the superiority of gems over other art forms: in the foreground, two cupids inspect the contents of drawers pulled from a large gem cabinet, while symbols of architecture, sculpture, and painting are relegated to the upper right and lower left corners. . . .

Since the Renaissance, gem carvers have attempted to equal and surpass their ancient counterparts. Because of the high demand for classical gems, some carvers, dealers, and collectors sought to pass off modern works as ancient. Some even forged the signatures of famous Greek and Roman carvers. No scientific method exists for proving the antiquity of gems, and quality is no proof of authenticity. Thus it is usually some deviation in style or imagery that reveals a piece to be modern. . . .

Engraved Gem, signed by Giovanni Pichler; or Luigi Pichler, ca. 1750-1850

Engraved Gem, signed by Giovanni Pichler or Luigi Pichler, ca. 1750-1850

Austrian carver Antonio (Johann Anton) Pichler worked in Rome in the 1700s copying ancient gems. His son Giovanni also became an accomplished gem carver, as did Giovanni’s half-brothers Giuseppe and Luigi and Giovanni’s son Giacomo. Luigi was the most renowned: he received commissions from the Vatican and the French and Austrian courts to carve both classical and contemporary subjects. This intaglio is modeled after a famous relief of Antinous (the beloved of the Roman emperor Hadrian) housed in the Villa Albani, Rome. The fact that the gem is signed “Pichler” in Greek indicates no intention to deceive but rather an emulative spirit, the artist vying with his ancient predecessors.

[Text and images from the Getty Villa exhibition website]

%d bloggers like this: