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. . . .

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