Speaking of Blake and the Morgan

Posted in resources by Editor on November 30, 2009

As posted on C-18L:

William Blake, "The Ancient of Days," 1794 (London: BM); Wikimedia Commons

The William Blake Archive is pleased to announce the publication of the electronic edition of Europe a Prophecy copy G, from the Morgan Library and Museum. Europe, extant in nine copies, is dated 1794 on its title plate. The first six copies were color printed that year; four of these copies were printed on both sides of the leaves and two were printed on one side only. Copy G belongs to the former issue and joins in the Archive copy E from the same issue and copy B, more heavily printed, from the latter. It also joins copy H, the only monochrome copy, printed in 1795, and copy K, from the last printing session, c. 1821. With each printing session represented in the William Blake Archive, users can trace the full printing history of Europe.

Like all the illuminated books in the Archive, the text and images of Europe copy G are fully searchable and are supported by our Inote and ImageSizer applications. With the Archive’s Compare feature, users can easily juxtapose multiple impressions of any plate across the different copies of this or any of the other illuminated books. With our new Related Works feature, launched last month, users can access related materials through active links on the work index pages and in the Show Me menu on the object view pages. New protocols for transcription, which produce improved accuracy and fuller documentation in editors’ notes, have been applied to all copies of Europe in the Archive.

With the publication of this copy of Europe, the Archive now contains fully searchable and scalable electronic editions of seventy-one copies of Blake’s nineteen illuminated books in the context of full bibliographic information about each work, careful diplomatic transcriptions of all texts, detailed descriptions of all images, and extensive bibliographies. In addition to illuminated books, the Archive contains many important manuscripts and series of engravings, sketches, and water color drawings, including Blake’s illustrations to Thomas Gray’s Poems, water color and engraved illustrations to Dante’s Divine Comedy, the large color printed drawings of 1795 and c. 1805, the Linnell and Butts sets of the Book of Job water colors and the sketchbook containing drawings for the engraved illustrations to the Book of Job, the water color illustrations to Robert Blair’s The Grave, and all nine of Blake’s water color series illustrating the poetry of John Milton.

As always, the William Blake Archive is a free site, imposing no access restrictions and charging no subscription fees. The site is made possible by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the continuing support of the Library of Congress, and the cooperation of the international array of libraries and museums that have generously given us permission to reproduce works from their collections in the Archive.

Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi, editors
Ashley Reed, project manager, William Shaw, technical editor
The William Blake Archive

Blake at the Morgan

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on November 29, 2009

From the Morgan website:

William Blake’s World: “A New Heaven Is Begun”
Morgan Library & Museum, New York, 11 September 2009 — 3 January 2010

William Blake, “Behemoth and Leviathan,” ca. 1805–10 (NY: Morgan)

Visionary and nonconformist William Blake (1757–1827) is a singular figure in the history of Western art and literature: a poet, painter, and printmaker. Ambitiously creative, Blake had an abiding interest in theology and philosophy, which, during the age of revolution, inspired thoroughly original and personal investigations into the state of man and his soul. In his lifetime Blake was best known as an engraver; he was later recognized for his innovations across many other disciplines.

In the Morgan’s first exhibition devoted to Blake in two decades, former director Charles Ryskamp and curators Anna Lou Ashby and Cara Denison have assembled many of Blake’s most spectacular watercolors, prints, and illuminated books of poetry to dramatically underscore his genius and enduring influence. William Blake’s World: “A New Heaven Is Begun”—the subtitle a quote from Blake referring to the significance of his date of birth—is on view from September 11, 2009, to January 3, 2010.

The show includes more than 100 works and among the many highlights are two major series of watercolors, rarely displayed in their entirety. The twenty-one watercolors for Blake’s seminal illustrations for the Book of Job—considered one of his greatest works and revealing his personal engagement with biblical texts—were created about 1805–10. Also on view are twelve drawings illustrating John Milton’s poems L’Allegro and Il Penseroso, executed about 1816–20. Both series were undertaken for Blake’s principal patron, Thomas Butts. (more…)

At the Watteau Show with a Dance Critic

Posted in exhibitions, reviews by Editor on November 29, 2009

In today’s New York Times, Alastair Macaulay considers Frederick Wiseman’s new documentary La Danse alongside the Watteau exhibition now at the Met:

Nicolas Lancret, "La Camargo Dancing” ca. 1730 (DC: National Gallery)

. . . Many of us who love ballet have found our feelings on this film to be conflicted. By chance, I saw it a few hours before I attended the Metropolitan Museum’s exhibition “Watteau, Music and Theater.” What a difference! If you love dance, “La Danse” isn’t the place to see why; “Watteau, Music and Theater” certainly is. The display fills only two rooms. Many of its pictures, especially those by Watteau himself, are not related to dance. Yet it spans, and often illuminates, the first century of existence of the institution in the film, the Paris Opera Ballet. True, ballet then was almost a different species. The paintings here help show the impact of the most famous achievement of the celebrated Paris Opera ballerina Marie Camargo, seen in a classic Nicolas Lancret painting from about 1730: the shortening of her skirts to give full exposure to her ankles and lower calves. “Watteau, Music and Theater” makes the dance of that era feel pristine. Here is the sunrise of a tradition. . .

For the full article, click here»

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Surveying Decadence

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on November 28, 2009

Exhibitions that trace broad themes back to the eighteenth century can be both instructive and delightful. I’m thinking, for instance, of the show, Rococo: The Continuing Curve, 1730-2008.

I have my doubts that the following exhibition on Decadence, now on view at the Dunkers Kulturhus in Sweden, lives up to such high standards, but it’s perhaps notable all the same. I apologize for the feeble translation. Since I was unable to find a description in English, I simply plugged the Swedish into Google’s translator. I was surprised the text came out as sensible as it did, though it’s still humorously rough. Indeed, it struck me as consistent with the apparently playful spirit of the show. -CAH

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Decadence: A Rake’s Progress
Dunkers Kulturhus, Helsingborg, Sweeden, 31 October 2009 — 28 February 2010

Rake302The word Decadence tickle in your mouth and into the tank. But what does it actually mean? Is that all you want but do not dare? Is it leather, whips and sex? Is it a luxury, pearls and swine? There are probably as many preliminary proposals as people.

Dekadens is also the title of one of Dunkers Kulthurhus’s major autumn exhibitions. It has its origin in a picture story of William Hogarth from the 1700s London, A Rake’s Progress. We follow a young heir by sudden wealth, betrayal, gambling, women, poverty, betrayal again, new wealth, drugs, prison, insane asylum and death. A story that tells positions. Which way of life should we choose? The security of challenging the faithful or shameless? Sometimes one or the other but never both at once.

This story has inspired many artists through the ages, as Igor Stravinsky, Ingmar Bergman, David Hockney and Paula Rego. They are all in Dekadens as well as a few of our most interesting young artists: Nathalie Djurberg and Jockum Nordstrom. They are involved with new works created for the exhibition. Cartoonist Gunnar Krantz gives his version of The Rake’s Progress and let the center be moved from London to Yuppie Future Stureplan in Stockholm. Decadence are everywhere and anytime.

Exhibition form breathable rubber, tar and rose petals. We will find the place we never knew of and that will always occupy our minds. Jonas Lindvall has designed an exhibition that is impregnated by everything from the asceticism of pomp! Welcome to the challenges posed maze!

Dutch Maps of Russia

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on November 27, 2009

From the website of the Geelvinck Hinlopen Huis, a house museum built in the 1680s that boasts some remarkable eighteenth-century interiors:

Dutch Cartography of Russia, 16th-18th Centuries / Nederlandse Kaarten van Rusland, 16e-18e eeuw
Museum Geelvinck, Amsterdam, 4 July 2009 — 1 February 2010


Pontus Euxinus of Nieuwe en Naauwkeurige Paskaart van de Zwarte Zee, ontworpen door N.Witsen, Reinier & Iosua Ottens, 1723

De kaarten maken deel uit van de collectie van Jhr. Dr. Igor Wladimiroff, zoon van een naar Nederland geëmigreerde Rus. Wladimiroff promoveerde onlangs in Groningen op een onderzoek in Russische en Nederlandse bronnen naar de relatie en rol van Witsen en Vinius bij de cartografie van Rusland. Midden 16e eeuw ontdekten de Engelsen door toeval een nieuwe handelsroute via de Witte zee naar Moscovié. In hun kielzog volgden de Nederlanders. Vanaf begin 17e eeuw kwamen Nederlandse kooplieden, ambachtslieden en diplomaten in toenemend aantal naar Rusland. In dezelfde periode gingen de Nederlandse koopvaarders de wereldzeen bevaren en golden al spoedig de zee- en landkaarten van de Nederlandse cartografen als de beste ter wereld. Hun namen spreken nog altijd tot de verbeelding: Ortelius, Waghenaer, Mercator, Hondius, Blaeu, Janssonius en vele anderen.

Het was logisch dat in de Nederlanden ook behoefte ontstond aan betrouwbare kaarten van Rusland. Al was het alleen maar vanwege de herhaalde pogingen om via de noordelijke kust van Rusland een doorvaart naar China en Indië te vinden. Voortbouwend op de primitievekaarten die eerder in het Westen gemaakt waren, streefden de Nederlandse cartografen ernaar hun kaarten van Rusland te verbeteren. Gelet de hiervoor genoemde reden was dat echter een groot probleem.

Alleen door eigen kennis en waarneming, door vertrouwelijke contacten met ontwikkelde Russen en door het smokkelen van geheime informatie, kon men aan cartografische gegevens uit Rusland komen. Nederlanders die in de 16e en 17e eeuw uit Rusland cartografisch materiaal meebrachten waren onder andere: Olivier Brunel, Willem Barentsz, Isaac Massa, de gebroeders Kluytting, Nicolaes Witsen en Jan Struys. . .

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted in today in light of the 18th century by Editor on November 25, 2009

Two eighteenth-century offerings to celebrate the U.S. holiday:

Philipp Ferdinand de Hamilton (?), "Wild Turkey," ca. 1725-1750 (Chicago: Smart Museum of Art)

1) By clicking here, you can listen to a fascinating lecture (recorded 23 March 2006) from the food historian Elizabeth Reily on the topic of “Benjamin Franklin and the Wild Turkey.” The lecture is made available by the Forum Network, a public media service of PBS and NPR.

2) The painting shown at the right is part of the collection of the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago. The following description by Ingrid Rowland comes from the exhibition catalogue, which she edited, The Place of the Antique in Early Modern Europe (Chicago: Smart Museum of Art, 1999), pp. 95-96:

By the early eighteenth century, painted reveries like this lively portrayal of a wild turkey combined the precision of Dutch still life with the epic sweep of Italian baroque histories . . . This wild turkey, a New World bird, perches among other birds large and small above a battered fragment of carved stone relief, while in the background an Egyptian sphinx crouches on its high pedestal . . . . A likely candidate for that owner is Prince Eugene of Savoy, whose Belvedere Palace in Vienna boasted a sphinx among its many antiquities and an aviary as part of its menagerie. The prince’s birds, beasts, gardens, and antiquities were all commemorated in a series of twelve engravings by Salomon Kleiner (1734) . . . Prince Eugene also commissioned such stagey views of nature and antiquity from painters like Philip Ferdinand de Hamilton, a Belgian of Scots family who emigrated to Vienna before 1700, and the Viennese Ignaz Heinitz von Heintzenthal. . . . of the two, de Hamilton worked in an intimate style closer to that of the Smart painting. . . .

Chinoiserie in the Bedroom

Posted in today in light of the 18th century by Editor on November 25, 2009

John Linnell, Badminton Bed, ca. 1754 (London: V&A)

Today at Style Court, Courtney Barnes addresses four-poster beds, including John Linnell’s exquisite Badminton Bed, ca. 1754, from the collection of the Victoria and Albert. A design blog with a focus on interiors, Style Court regularly covers a variety of artistic topics with an interest in bridging the worlds of the academy and the museum for a wider, general public.

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From the V&A’s website:

The exotic form of this bed was inspired by Chinese pagodas. The design and the pierced fretwork back are similar to garden tea pavilions built in the Chinese style and found in large gardens throughout Britain and Europe from about 1730. Chinese decoration was particularly popular for ladies’ bedrooms and dressing rooms.

Although the payments for the bed and other bedroom furniture were made jointly by the 4th Duke and Duchess of Beaufort, evidence in the Duchess’s private notebooks shows that she was particularly interested in this commission and probably discussed the details with the designer and craftsman John Linnell and his father William Linnell.

The bed hangings had been replaced with scarlet woollen hangings by 1835, although the bedding still included the original 18th-century hair mattress which was acquired with the bed by the Museum in 1921. In addition there was a feather bed, three blankets, a wool mattress, a straw paliasse (another form of mattress) and a Marsella quilt. In 1929 a replica of the bed was made for the Chinese Bedroom at Badminton House by Angell of Bath.

Paul Sandby’s Bicentenary

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on November 25, 2009

From the website of the National Gallery of Scotland:

Paul Sandby: Picturing Britain
Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery, 25 July — 18 October 2009
National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, 7 November 2009 — 7 February 2010
Royal Academy of Arts, London, 13 March — 13 June 2010


Paul Sandby, "Windsor Castle from Datchet Lane on a Rejoicing Night," Photograph: The Royal Collection © 2009 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Paul Sandby: Picturing Britain looks at all aspects of Sandby’s career and includes studies of rural and urban views, street scenes, royal parks and ancient castles. Sandby explored a broader range of subject matter than any previous artist in Britain and was integral in refining the use of watercolour. This exhibition features over one hundred loans, including oil paintings, watercolours, gouaches, prints and sketchbooks, coming from all the major collections which house his work: The Royal Collection, The British Museum, The British Library, The Victoria and Albert Museum, and The Yale Center for British Art. It also showcases outstanding works from private collections.

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Addressing the exhibition in The Gaurdian (7 November 2009), Linda Colley describes Sandby’s standing in British society, then and now:


Stephen Daniels, et al (London: Royal Academy of Arts), ISBN: 978-1905711482, 216 pages, $55

. . . As George III’s remark illustrates, this view of him has always been coloured by varieties of snobbery. To this extent, the portrait of Sandby by Francis Cotes, showing him leaning out of a country house window, sketchbook in hand, can be seen as a calculated puff by a close friend. It accurately conveys Sandby’s good looks and pleasant temperament. But the portrait gives a flatteringly deceptive impression of a man as much at ease in polite and leisured interiors as he is with nature. In reality, Sandby’s family background was considerably more humble than that of Gainsborough or John Constable. Unlike his fellow academician Joshua Reynolds, Sandby was never a fashionable, expensive portrait painter. Nor was he a practitioner of academically prestigious history painting. And, crucially, unlike JMW Turner or Thomas Girtin, Sandby was not a metropolitan.

The son of a framework knitter, he was baptised in Nottingham in 1731; and this exhibition is very much a Nottingham achievement, where it was first displayed. The show, opening today at the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh, and at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in March, was conceived by Stephen Daniels of Nottingham University. It is exactly the sort of deeply researched and ambitious regional art exhibition that is likely to be rendered increasingly impracticable because of government, municipal and corporate spending cuts. . . .

Sandby’s vision then is substantially (not entirely) loyalist and conventionally patriotic, and this may be another reason why his work is sometimes passed over. Morning, an extraordinary painting of a massive, venerable beech tree set firm in a Shropshire landscape, is, for instance, a powerfully loyalist testament. Exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1794, five years after the fall of the Bastille and in the midst of war, the painting would have been understood as an allusion to contemporary conservative celebrations of an ancient, organic British constitution as against the recent republican outgrowths of revolutionary France. As the exhibition catalogue argues, Sandby’s vision was also increasingly a Britannic one. Like Turner, Sandby made repeated tours throughout Wales and Scotland, representing not just their scenic and cultural differences, but also the ways in which these countries were undergoing change and becoming in some respects far more closely linked with England. . . .

For the full article, click here»

Travel Lecture Series

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on November 24, 2009

Art and Travel in the Mediterranean, 1600-1900: A Series of Five Lectures
Paul Mellon Centre, London, November 2009 — February 2010

The grand object of travelling is to see the shores of the Mediterranean –Samuel Johnson, 1776

In the history of British travel since the late sixteenth century, the Mediterranean has always played a prime role and inevitably captured the imagination like no other European region. Travel to the Mediterranean was stimulated by its art and architecture and in return inspired new art, architecture, collecting and art criticism. Images drawn, painted or photographed on these journeys by a diversity of travellers – artists, antiquarians, scientists, ethnographers, diplomats, navy personal, amateurs and tourists, to name just a few – have fulfilled a whole variety of purposes. This lecture series, organised by the National Maritime Museum’s Centre for Art and Travel and generously hosted by the Paul Mellon Centre, attempts a new overview on the subject from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century.

26 November 2009
Edward Chaney (Southampton Solent University), The Origins of the Grand Tour and the Discovery of Art

10 December 2009
Charles Newton (V&A), ‘Present under the rose…’: Stratford Canning, His Greek Artist, and the Last Chance to See Turkey before the Tanzimat

21 January 2010
Briony Llewellyn (Independent Scholar), ‘These inhuman trafficers in flesh & blood’: British Artists and the Slave Trade in Egypt

4 February 2010
David Howarth (University of Edinburgh), Revolving Mirrors: Britain and Spain from the Armada to the Spanish Civil War

18 February 2010
Jenny Gaschke (National Maritime Museum), ‘Hellas… in one Living Picture’: British Artist Travellers in Greece

All lectures will begin at 6pm in the seminar room at the Paul Mellon Centre, 16 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3JA. They are free of charge and there is no need to book, but if you wish to reserve a place, please contact Janet Norton, Research Administrator at 020 8312 6716 or research@nmm.ac.uk. For details along with abstracts for each lecture, see the website for the series.

Fellowships at the Walpole Library

Posted in fellowships, graduate students by Editor on November 24, 2009

Lewis Walpole Library Fellowships and Travel Grants for 2010-2011
Lewis Walpole Library, Farmington, CT

Applications due by 18 January 2010

Library Strawberry Hill

Library at Strawberry Hill

The Lewis Walpole Library offers short-term residential fellowships and travel grants to support research in the Library’s rich collections of eighteenth-century–mainly British–materials, including important holdings of prints, drawings, manuscripts, rare books, and paintings, as well as a growing collection of sources for the study of New England Native Americans.

Scholars undertaking post-doctoral or equivalent research, and doctoral candidates at work on a dissertation, are encouraged to apply. Recipients are expected to be in residence at the Library, to be free of other significant professional obligations during their stay, and to focus their research on the Lewis Walpole Library’s collections. Fellows also have access to additional resources at Yale, including those in the Sterling Memorial Library, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and the Yale Center for British Art.

Lewis Walpole Library fellowships, usually for one month, include the cost of travel to and from Farmington, accommodation in an eighteenth-century house on the Library’s campus, and a living allowance stipend (now $2,000). The Library’s travel grants typically cover transportation costs for research trips of shorter duration and also include accommodation on site.

To apply for a fellowship or travel grant, candidates should send a curriculum vitae, including educational background, professional experience and publications, and a brief outline of the research proposal (not to exceed three pages) to:

Margaret K. Powell
W.S. Lewis Librarian and Executive Director
The Lewis Walpole Library
P.O. Box 1408
Farmington, CT 06034 — USA
Fax: 860-677-6369

While application materials may initially be submitted electronically, a hard copy is required for the application to be considered complete. Two confidential letters of recommendation are also required by the application deadline. Letters of recommendation should specifically address the merits of the candidate’s project and application for the Lewis Walpole Library fellowship. General letters of recommendation or dossier letters are not appropriate. The application deadline for the 2010-2011 Fellowships is January 18, 2010. Awards will be announced in March.

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