Also in Virginia: Pirates . . . with a ‘Buccanneer Ball’ to Boot

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on December 31, 2009

Designed as a crowd-pleasing exhibition with children particularly in mind, the following show on pirates, currently in Norfolk, looks like immense fun. It certainly would have stolen my heart as a nine-year old. At a more critical level, the exhibition perhaps belongs in a discussion of how the eighteenth century is presented (and marketed) to a popular audience. But that can wait (here I’m reminded of the ability of the brilliant Medievalist Michael Camille to find pleasure even in the ersatz historical theme park ‘Medieval Times’ for an episode of This American Life). From the website of National Geographic:

Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship
Nauticus, Norfolk, Virginia, 21 November 2009 — 4 April 2010

Model of the "Whydah," shown here decked out in her pirate colors after being captured by Samuel Bellamy. Matthew Prefontaine © Arts and Exhibitions International

Organized by National Geographic

The slave ship Whydah began her short life in London, England, in 1715. Less than two years later, now a pirate ship, she sank to the ocean floor off Cape Cod. Using artifacts recovered from the wreck, Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship reveals the true story behind this vessel—a story more compelling than anything dreamt up by Hollywood. From the team behind Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs, this new exhibition tells the story of the crew of a real pirate ship that started as a slave ship—and gives some insights into the violence and idealism of early eighteenth-century piracy.

The exhibition features real stories of the people who populated the Atlantic world in the age of slavery and piracy: artisans and traders from West Africa, slave ship captains and their captives, Native American boat pilots, impoverished sailors from all over Europe, and pirates—including women pirates and John King, a boy no more than 11 years old, who “went on the account.” Guests see more than 200 actual Whydah artifacts recovered by underwater explorer Barry Clifford, such as treasure from more than 54 ships, gold and silver coins from all over the world, Akan gold jewelry, cannons, swords, pistols, personal belongings, leg iron moldings from shackles, the ship’s bell and its massive anchor! Kids also learn about the exciting world of nautical archaeology and the many technologies that have been developed to allow scientists and historians to unlock the clues embedded in these 300 year old “treasures.” Discover how high-powered digital x–rays of mysterious underwater concretions can reveal the artifacts hidden within.

Visitors return to a time when the cities of North America were still small towns with few interconnections. It was the Caribbean, with its enormous sugar plantations, that made up the dynamic center, drawing vast quantities of money, goods, and people from all corners of the Atlantic. Some people came by choice. But most were transported to this world against their will: men, women and children from across Africa who were kidnapped and sold to slavers; Native Americans bound into slavery from colonial North America; South American natives enslaved in Spanish mines; and indentured servants shipped from Europe.

Slave ships were perfect prizes for pirates: easy to maneuver, unusually fast, and armed to the hilt. After the Whydah‘s human cargo was unloaded in the West Indies, the ship was captured by notorious pirate Sam Bellamy and his motley crew. These pirates created an outlaw life within the brutal realities of the European and Caribbean world. Hailing from many nations, they included ordinary seamen, free black men, political dissidents, escaped slaves, indentured servants, Africans freed from slave ships taken at sea, Native Americans, and runaway plantation workers.

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And for those who find themselves in Norfolk on New Year’s Eve, there’s a Buccaneer Ball to ring in 2010 (pirate costumes optional, though I’m not sure why one would go in anything but fancy dress). Additional information about the show can be found at the exhibition website. Happy New Year!

An Eighteenth-Century Coffeehouse Opens in Virginia

Posted in the 18th century in the news by Editor on December 30, 2009

With winter certainly here, a cup of coffee or hot chocolate tastes even better than usual. The latest addition to Williamsburg allows one to gather in front of a piping hot cup for an eighteenth-century experience. Mr. and Mrs. Charlton pour the drinks; you supply the imagination. From the Williamsburg website:

In November 2009, R. Charlton’s Coffeehouse became the newest reconstructed building on Duke of Gloucester Street in 50 years. An authentic 18th-century coffeehouse, this exhibition building is now open to ticketed guests. R. Charlton’s Coffeehouse is located just across from the Capitol. On the same site more than 240 years ago, a Williamsburg wigmaker named Richard Charlton operated a popular coffeehouse, just a few steps from the colonial Capitol. Over cups of coffee, chocolate, and tea, Williamsburg’s gentlemen and politicians gathered to make deals, discuss business, learn the news from England, and exchange the latest gossip.

One of the most dramatic encounters of the period leading up to the American Revolution took place on the coffeehouse porch in 1765, when an angry crowd protesting against the Stamp Act confronted the appointed collector for Virginia, George Mercer. The royal governor, Francis Fauquier, intervened and saved Mercer from the crowd. Mercer later resigned his position, and the Stamp Act was repealed by the British Parliament the following year. From the building itself created with period techniques and incorporating the original foundations to the opportunity to meet Mr. or Mrs. Charlton and enjoy a coffee, chocolate, or tea in an 18th-century setting, everything about the new coffeehouse reflects the very best of what Colonial Williamsburg has to offer.

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Additional information (including details on the building’s construction) can be found at the blog for R. Charlton’s. The opening of the coffeehouse was covered by Philip Kennicott for the Washington Post.

Warmest Wishes

Posted in site information by Editor on December 23, 2009

With the semester over, grades turned in, and a day to catch my breath before Christmas, I won’t be posting as regularly during the next two weeks. By all means, though, please continue to send any announcements or news items you may have. Thanks so much for your support of Enfilade and all the best for whatever moments of peace you can squeeze in before the new year!

–Craig Hanson

Mary Vidal Awards Announced and a Year-End Appeal

Posted in Member News by Editor on December 23, 2009

As 2009 comes to an end, I hope that you’ll consider joining the Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art and Architecture, renewing your membership for 2010, or making an additional contribution. Among other things, your dues help fund the Dora Wiebenson Prize and the Mary Vidal Memorial Fund. Within the latter category, HECAA is pleased to announce awards for the following young scholars:

  • Amber Ludwig (Ph.D. candidate, Boston University) will be using funds to defray costs incurred in presenting her research on Emma Hamilton at CAA and ASECS in 2010.
  • Sally Grant (Ph.D. student, University of Sydney) will use funds to defray expenses as she travels to ASECS in Albuquerque to present her paper “The World in the Venetian Countryside: The Tiepolos at the Villa Valmarana ai Nani.”
  • Anne-Louise Gonçalves Fonseca (Ph.D. University of Montréal, 2008) will be able to defray costs for travel to ASECS, where she will present her paper “Mythological Painting in Eighteenth-Century Portugal: Models, Nudity, and Patronage.”

So please take a moment now to renew your membership or make an additional contribution. You can submit memberships and donations via PayPal by clicking here or via check made payable to ‘HECAA’ and mailed to me at the following address. Best wishes for a festive (and productive) holiday season and new year!

Denise Baxter, HECAA Treasurer
College of Visual Arts and Design
University of North Texas
1155 Union Circle, #305100
Denton, Texas 76203-5017

A Christamas Toast: To Handel

Posted in books, exhibitions by Editor on December 22, 2009

Ed. by Donald Burrows and Rosemary Dunhill (Oxford University Press, 2002)

‘I was much pleased this year with our exhibitions, and though I fear we shall never overtake Italy, ‘tis some praise that we begin to think, that, both in painting and in music, tis worth following’.
–James Harris in Salisbury to William Hamilton in Naples, 15 September 1774 (BL Add MS 42069, folios 94-5)

I’m not sure about the specific items included in the exhibition now on display at the Handel House Museum in London, but the book detailing the Harris collection of manuscripts is certainly fascinating. In assessing the volume for the English Historical Review 118 (April 2003): 446-48, William Weber suggests that

the letters and diaries of James Harris, his family and friends, between 1732 and 1780 take us close into the life of England’s elites, from theatres and assembly rooms in Salisbury, to concerts at Almack’s or the King’s Theatre in Westminster, and to court life in Spain, Germany, and Poland as seen through a diplomat’s eyes. Browsing through the 1068 pages of carefully annotated documents instils a highly nuanced sense of how such
people lived, and what music meant to them.

Handel House Museum, 25 Brook Street (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

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From the museum’s website:

Mr Handel’s Friends
Handel House Museum, London, 10 November 2009 — 28 February 2010

Curated by Donald Burrows and Rosemary Dunhill

Handel had many friends and admirers in London who collected, played and promoted his music, entertained him in their homes, and supported him in difficult times. Through the private letters and diaries of the Harris family this exhibition explores these relationships and shows the many sides of the famous composer’s character and fortunes.

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And if the holiday season has the Messiah running through your head, then you might enjoy Jonathan Kandell’s profile in The Smithsonian Magazine. In
the eighteenth century, the oratorio wasn’t tied to Christmas but was a feature
of the annual concerts held to benefit the Foundling Hospital (another
outstanding small museum in London). 2009 marks the 250th anniversary of
Handel’s death.

–Craig Hanson

SAH: Call for Session Proposals for 2011 Conference

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on December 21, 2009

Society of Architectural Historians 2011 Annual Meeting
New Orleans, 13-17 April 2011

Session Proposals due by 4 January 2010

Members of the SAH, representatives of affiliated societies, and other scholars who wish to chair a session at the 2011 annual meeting are asked to submit proposals by January 4, 2010, to Professor Abigail A. Van Slyck, General Chair of the SAH 64th Annual Meeting (Dayton Professor of Art History, Connecticut College, Box 5565, 270 Mohegan Avenue, New London, CT 06320-4196, aavan@conncoll.edu).

As SAH membership is required to present research at the annual meeting, non-members who wish to chair a session or deliver a paper will be required to join the Society and to pre-register for the meeting in September 2010. SAH will offer a limited number of travel fellowships (with a value of up to $1000) for speakers participating in the annual meeting; session chairs are not eligible for these awards. The deadline for applying will be in October 2010. (more…)

Study in Contrasts: Mather Brown and Benjamin West in London

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on December 20, 2009
From the Royal Academy of Arts website:

Yankees in King George’s Court: Mather Brown and Benjamin West
Burlington House (Library Print Room), London, 13 October — 24 December 2009

Thomas Park after Mather Brown, "Mr. Holman and Miss Brunton in the Characters of Romeo and Juliet," published in 1787, mezzotint. Photo: R.A./Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd. ©Royal Academy of Arts

This display of engravings and archive material drawn from the Academy’s collections contrasts the fortunes of two expatriate American artists working in Britain during the second half of the 18th century. Benjamin West (1738–1820) left Pennsylvania to travel, via Italy, to Britain, where he achieved great success. Following the death of Sir Joshua Reynolds in 1792, he became the second President of the Royal Academy. Boston-born Mather Brown (1761–1831) arrived in London in 1781. The ambitious young artist worked in West’s studio and studied at the RA Schools, but never gained the recognition he hoped for. A series of letters in the display tells the story of the breakdown of his relationship with the Academy of which he longed to become a member. The display is timed to coincide with the conference on Trans-Atlantic Romanticism organised by University College London in association with the Royal Academy of Arts, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

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Restoration of James Wyatt’s Darnley Mausoleum Recognized

Posted in on site, the 18th century in the news by Editor on December 19, 2009

Now in the hands of the UK’s National Trust, the Darnley Mausoleum at Cobham Park is the recipient of this year’s Country House of the Year Award from from Country Life (2 December 2009). From the magazine’s website:

Country House of the Year — The Darnley Mausoleum, Cobham, Kent

James Wyatt, Darnley Mausoleum at Cobham Park 1786 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Built on the instructions of the 3rd Earl of Darnley in 1786, this mausoleum is one of the great masterpieces of the architect James Wyatt. The story of its recent restoration as part of an £8 million project to revive the whole park at Cobham is one of the most heartening of recent years. It has been effected through a remarkably complex partnership of bodies, including Gravesham Borough Council, Cobham Hall, English Heritage, Union Railways, Natural England, Kent County Council, the Woodland Trust and the National Trust. Following the break-up of the Cobham estate in 1957, the mausoleum became neglected, and the construction of the M2 motorway in 1963 made it a magnet for joyriders and vandals. The nadir of its fortunes came on Guy Fawkes Night in 1980, when the crypt was packed with petrol cans and tyres and ignited. The subsequent explosion reduced the interior to ruin. Stimulus for the project came from compensation money paid out when the Channel Tunnel Railway Link cut through the northern edge of Cobham Park. A trust was set up to drive forward the restoration as part of a more ambitious park project. The architect for the restoration was Purcell Miller Tritton, the main contractor was Paye, and Worthington Stone Carving has been responsible for the admirable masonry repairs and replacements to the mausoleum. The architectural work was underpinned by historical research by Roger Bowdler of English Heritage. Having been awarded Heritage Lottery funding in 2003, the restored mausoleum was handed over to the National Trust this year and is open to the public.

Vanbrugh’s Seaton Delaval Hall Saved

Posted in the 18th century in the news by Editor on December 18, 2009

As reported by Martin Bailey in The Art Newspaper, 17 December 2009:

John Vanbrugh, Seaton Delaval Hall, finished in 1731, engraving from Colen Campbell, "Vitruvius Britannicus," vol. 3, 1725 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Seaton Delaval Hall, near Blyth in Northumberland, has been acquired by the National Trust, along with its contents. Completed in 1731, it was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh and is Britain’s most important baroque country house. The central block suffered a devastating fire in 1822, and it was not until 1980 that there was a major restoration, undertaken by the 22nd Baron Hastings (Edward Delaval Henry Astley) .

The 22nd Baron and his wife both died in 2007, and the hall and land (worth approximately £3.5m) have now been accepted in lieu of £1.7m of inheritance tax and the contents in lieu of a further £3.2m of tax. This is the first acceptance in lieu (Ail) deal for a historic house since 1984, when Calke Abbey was saved.

Photo from "The Seaton Delaval Journal"

The National Trust has put in £6.9m to create an endowment fund to care for the estate in perpetuity (its largest ever initial contribution for a country house). A further £3m has been raised from outside sources to cover the immediate costs of opening the property to visitors. Of this, £1m came from One North East, the regional development agency.

The Ail deal has led to the acquisition of 199 items, including a portrait of Admiral George Delaval by Sir Godfrey Kneller, a Queen Anne suite of seat furniture and two lead life-size sculptures after Giambologna by the John Cheere workshop. The Art Fund is giving £100,000 for the Fairfax Jewel (which has three painted enamel roundels) and a marble bust of Charles II by Sir John Bushnell. . .

For the full article, click here»

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Additional coverage can be found at the National Trust, Apollo Magazine, Artdaily.org, the Guardian, and the Seaton Delaval Journal.

A Glimpse of Sun for the French Winter

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on December 18, 2009

From the website of Versailles:

Louis XIV: The Man and the King
Château de Versailles, 20 October 2009 — 7 February 2010

Curated by Nicolas Milovanovic and Alexandre Maral

For the first time, a major exhibition is devoted to Louis XIV, the king’s personality, his personal tastes. This exhibition, Louis XIV: The Man and the King, brings together more than 300 exceptional works coming from collections all over the world and never shown together before. Paintings, sculptures, objets d’art and furniture will be exhibited. These masterpieces, some of which have never been presented in France since the days of the Ancien Régime, will enable visitors to get to know the famous monarch better in both his personal tastes and through his public image.

The King’s Public Image

The richness of the image of Louis XIV has no precedent in history: Louis XIV is the Sun King, i.e. Apollo as the sun god. Fashioned by the king himself and his counsellors, this image constantly evolved to convey emblematic figures of the royal power: the king of war leading his troops, the patron king and protector of the arts, the very Christian king and Defender of the Church, the king of glory, an image constructed for posterity. This visible glory, given mythical proportions, which was constructed during his lifetime, took shape thanks to the excellence of the artists chosen, such as Bernini, Girardon, Rigaud, Cucci, Gole, Van der Meulen and Coysevox who set out to sublimate the royal portrait, which the exhibition allows the visitors to rediscover.

The King’s Taste

He saw himself as a king who was the protector of the arts and a collector, competing with other sovereigns of Europe who were also genuine connoisseurs. Benefiting from the example of Mazarin, Louis XIV formed his taste in direct contact with artists, and through the personal relations that he established with them: Le Brun and Mignard in painting, Le Vau and Hardouin-Mansart in architecture, Le Nôtre in the art of gardens, Lully in music, and Molière in theatre. By assembling the works appreciated by the king, a genuine portrait emerges of a passionate lover of the arts and a man of good taste through the jewels, cameos, medals, miniatures and objets d’art, as well as the paintings and sculptures that he loved to surround himself within the Petit Appartement in Versailles.

Accompanying the show is a tapestry exhibition, Royal Pomp, Louis XIV’s Tapestry Collection, at the Gobelins Gallery in Paris.

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Reviews and notices of the exhibition can be found at Newsweek, the Telegraph, and The New York Times. The catalogue, Louis XIV, l’homme et le roi (Skira-Flammarion, 2009; ISBN: 9782081228108) is available through Michael Shamansky’s artbooks.com.

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