Trompe l’oeil in Florence

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on December 9, 2009

From the Palazzo Strozzi’s website:

Art and Illusions
Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, 16 October 2009 – 24 January 2010

Curated by Annamaria Giusti

Sebastiano Lazzari, "Still Life with Peaches and Armillary Sphere on 'Trompe l’oeil Board' Ground," second half of the 18th century (Venice, Gallerie dell’Accademia)

From ancient Greco-Roman mosaics and frescoes to European masterpieces of the 1300s to today, two hundred works from Italian and international museums and private collections tell the intriguing and spectacular history of trompe-l’oeil, the art of deceiving the eye. The theme of deception, illusion, and the eternal tension between fiction and reality is shown not only in painting, but in the richness it has always enjoyed: sculpture, intarsia, scagliola, pietre dure, porcelain, etc. Examples exhibited include faux armoirs, half-open, with books inside, wood intarsia of small Renaissance studios, scagliola tabletops and stones portraying seemingly prehensile objects, soup tureens and table furnishings in the shape of vegetables, anatomical and botanical wax models.

The exhibit also dedicates a significant amount of space to wall decorations and interiors (detached frescoes from Ancient Rome, where the theme of deception gave life to a school) and to Flemish artists and their innovations in the trompe-l’oeil genre. . .

Section 4: Paperwork

Giuseppe della Santa “‘Deception’ with Papers, Cameos, and a Medal,” 1777 (Florence: Fondazione Longhi)

The popularity of paper objects in trompe l’œil was due both to their two-dimensional nature, which increased their effectiveness as illusions, and to their being such a normal part of daily life, where paper was essential for study, messages, business, art and games. This varied paper repertoire which was part and parcel of the daily experience of clients, collectors or more simply the public at large, lent itself to fanciful combinations and painterly simulation, from the mastery of Gijsbrechts’ grand Letterboard to the meticulous 18th-century compositions by the Florentine Della Santa family comprising engravings, printed paper and stucco bas-reliefs. Nor does it come as a surprise that this favourite theme found an even more realistic home on table surfaces displaying collections of paper objects designed to deceive both the eye and the touch, or that paper fleetingly came to rest on porcelain plates, just waiting for a hand to pick it up. . .

Section 6: Three-Dimensional Deception: Plastic Art between Realism, Artifice, and Instruction

Waxworks Workshop of the Imperial and Royal Museum of Natural History and Physics of Florence, “Model of a ‘Persica flore magno’ (prunus persica, or ripe and juicy peach),” late 18th century, polychrome wax, wood

Sculpture, too, allowed itself to be seduced by the idea of perfecting its potential for illusion, favoured by its true three-dimensional nature and rendered even more realistic by the use of colour. On the other hand, sculpture’s physical quality also limited the game of allusion and illusion on which trompe l’œil’s intellectual and technical appeal was based, keeping it pegged to the threshold of hyperrealism down the ages. Thus we move from the poignantly realistic polychrome terracotta work of Guido Mazzoni, to the Baroque artifice that produced unsettling and vaguely grotesque “clones” in the field of portraiture, foreshadowing the irony in the contemporary versions of this ancient genre, manufactured using plastic resin. Wax’s tried and tested potential for imitation was exploited for educational purposes from the 18th century onwards, to produce study aids that conjugate scientific clarity with artistic mastery in the anatomical waxworks from La Specola, while it provides the added value of individual pieces of décor in the botanical waxworks contained in false books or in real porcelain cachepots. . .

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Rachel Spence reviews the exhibition for the Financial Times (28 October 2009). Andrea Gáldy’s review (excerpted below) appears in the December issue of Apollo Magazine:

Magdalena Margrethe Bärens, “Melon,” embroidery on fabric, mounted on cardboard, second half of the 18th century (Copenhagen: National Museum of Denmark)

Trompe l’oeil is art that willingly deceives the senses, most of all the eyes. It plays with its audience and invades their space. There are different kinds of trompe l’oeil, ranging from depictions so naturalistic that one could take them for the real thing to familiar objects made of unexpected materials, such as a convincing-looking melon, lent by the National Museum of Denmark, that is actually made from card and embroidery (1737-1808). The exhibition is challenging in more than one sense: it invites you to look, think and be deceived, to look once again, and finally to get the joke (which is firmly on the spectator).

The art displayed is a manifestation of the artifex ludens, the artist at play. . . This exhibition includes some 150 works of art, from classical antiquity to the present day, in media that range from needlework to holograms. This startling profusion reveals that trompe l’oeil is an important as well as a neglected genre. . .

Gáldy’s full review can be found here»

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Newberry Fellowships

Posted in fellowships by Editor on December 9, 2009

Newberry Library Fellowships in the Humanities, 2010-2011
Applications due by 11 January 2010 (Long-Term) and 1 March 2010 (Short-Term)

Newberry Library, Chicago (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The Newberry’s fellowships support humanities research in our collections. Our collections are wide-ranging, rich, and sometimes a little eccentric. If you study the humanities, chances are good we have something for you. We promise you remarkable collections; a lively interdisciplinary community of researchers; individual consultations on your research with staff curators, librarians, and scholars; and an array of scholarly and public programs.

Long-Term Fellowships — Long-term fellowships support research and writing by scholars with a doctorate. Fellowship terms range from six to eleven months with stipends of up to $50,400.

Short-Term Fellowships — Ph.D. candidates and post-doctoral scholars are eligible for short-term travel-to-collections fellowships. These are usually awarded for a period of one month. Most are restricted to scholars who live and work outside the Chicago area. Stipends are $1600 per month.

New: We invite short-term fellowship applications from teams of two or three scholars who plan to collaborate intensively on a single, substantive project. The stipend is $1600 per fellow per month. Teams should submit a single application, including cover sheets and CVs from each member.

Recapping the Conference on Everyday Objects

Posted in conferences (summary) by Editor on December 8, 2009

Everyday Objects: Art and Experience in Early Modern Europe
Courtauld Institute Inaugural Early Modern Symposium, London, 21 November 2009

By Paula Rea Radisich

The inaugural Early Modern Symposium—Everyday Objects: Art and Experience in Early Modern Europe—was a Courtauld Institute Research Forum organized by graduate students Edward Payne and Hannah Williams. The superbly-crafted list of possible topics of discussion Payne and Williams included in their call for papers will convey to Enfilade readers just what the phrase “everyday object” evokes. They welcomed papers analyzing images of the everyday (still life, genre scenes); ephemeral objects, temporary art or displays; things and thing theory; quotidian experience as a mode of beholding; spaces and activities of everyday life; and art works as everyday objects/everyday objects as art works.

Although most of the panelists were art historians, literary scholars and historians of material culture were also represented. Historian Ariane Fennetaux (Université Paris Diderot) examined surviving examples of the tie-on pocket and its “private” contents worn by British women in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. English professor Beth Fowkes Tobin (Arizona State University) described women from the same era removing the brains and other organs from their dead pet birds in order to preserve them in artfully arranged bell jars displayed in the home. Professor of English and American Literatures and Language Melinda Rabb (Brown University) explored the relation of miniature furniture and other small versions of everyday objects collected by adults in early modern Europe to the history of human cognition, which postulates awareness of scale error as central to adult existence.

While art historian Samuel Bibby (University College London) asked us to consider Donatello’s bronze boy, the so-called Atys, as an everyday object, Olivia Fryman (Kingston University and Historic Royal Palaces) reversed the proposition, demonstrating how John Riley’s 1686 portrait of Bridget Holmes, the servant charged with cleaning out the King’s chamber pot, represented her as the occupant of a dignified post engaged in serious work. In this full-length portrait commissioned directly by James II himself, the 96-year-old Holmes wears the tidy plebian clothing of a prosperous street vendor and wields a broom.  Joanna Woodall (The Courtauld Institute of Art) speculated upon the role of light in Dutch still life compositions by such artists as Willem Claesz. Heda, and Katie Scott (The Courtauld Institute of Art) summed up the production, cost and appearance of the type of salmon-colored male handkerchief appearing on the desk in David’s Portrait of Jacobus Blauw, 1795. Responding to the prompt from Payne and Williams, my own paper drew on Bill Brown’s notions of thing theory to analyze how shoes signified in Chardin’s La mère laborieuse, Lancret’s Fastening the Skate, and to a lesser extent, Boucher’s La Toilette, all produced between 1740-43 in Paris.

As the Humanities gropes for new paradigms–on this topic, see the Forum on interpreting the French Revolution in French Historical Studies 32 (Fall 2009) and the ensuing discussion on H-France–the study of the everyday object appeals from a number of perspectives. The questions posed by Edward Payne in his opening remarks are the ones that stuck with me: How can we use the formulation of the everyday object as an analytical tool? What constitutes an everyday object? How was it experienced? For whom was it “everyday”?

The author of Hubert Robert: Painted Spaces of the Enlightenment (Cambridge University Press), Paula Rea Radisich is a Professor of Art History at Whittier College, California.

Lost and Found

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on December 7, 2009

From the website of Sue Bond, Public Relations: Specializing in Fine Art, Antiques, and Cultural Events:

Burlington House Commodes Return after 150 Years
Royal Academy of Art, Burlington House, London, 27 July — 31 December 2009

John Mayhew and William Ince, attributed

Securely recorded in the collection of the Hon. Charles Compton Cavendish (1793-1863), later 1st Lord Chesham, who inherited Burlington House in 1834, the commodes were almost certainly made for his father, Lord George Cavendish (1754-1834), later 1st Earl of Burlington, who moved to Burlington House following his marriage in 1782 and who is known to have commissioned a quantity of related satinwood and marquetry furniture at this period. There is also evidence that the commodes were specifically altered as part of the remodelling of the state apartments at Burlington House for Lord George Cavendish in the early 19th century, having added side panels of that date which are shaped to match the re-configured profile of the walls and skirting in these interiors.

Removed from Burlington House when it was sold in 1854, the commodes remained in the Cavendish family at Latimer, the family seat in Buckinghamshire, until they were sold by John Compton Cavendish (1894-1952), 4th Baron Chesham, at Sotheby’s in 1945 when it was clearly stated in the catalogue that they came from Burlington House. The commodes then entered the collection of the 2nd Lord Glenconner who sold them at Christie’s in 1957 (£5,040) when the Burlington House provenance was overlooked and the connection was lost and not recovered when they were sold again at Christie’s in 1984 (£59,400). It is only thanks to Joseph Friedman who spotted a label on the reverse of one of the commodes that their history has again come to light. (more…)

Conservation at the Frick

Posted in the 18th century in the news by Editor on December 7, 2009

Press release, dated 30 November 2009, from the Frick’s website:

Joseph Godla, Chief Conservator of the Frick Collection, photo Michael Bodycomb

The Frick Collection is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a $1 million challenge grant by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. When matched over the next four years with $3 million in contributions from other sources, the grant will create a $4 million endowment for the position of Chief Conservator, also providing, in perpetuity, funds for research, professional development, and related expenses. Comments Frick Collection Board Chairman Margot Bogert, “Change happens in perhaps less obvious ways at the Frick than elsewhere, which for many of our enthusiasts is an attraction. However, in the last decade, the institution has experienced an exciting level of growth and advancement in its curatorial and conservation departments. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has been involved in these efforts in significant ways, generously funding a vital curatorial fellowship program and contributing support for the endowed position of Curator of Decorative Arts. With this latest grant, we have the opportunity to create a firm foundation for permanence and growth in the vital area of conservation.”

Adds Director Anne Poulet, “The establishment of a formal Conservation Department at The Frick Collection is a relatively recent event. We are extremely proud of the superb team now in place, led by Joseph Godla, and the myriad ways in which he and his staff care for our holdings and the beautiful mansion that houses them. We depend daily on the remarkable skills and watchful eye of this department, whose efforts extend collaboratively into research and education. In helping us meet the challenge grant, our supporters will ensure that this area of the Collection’s stewardship continues, while also making possible the staff’s broader contributions within the conservation community. It is an exciting prospect, and we are deeply grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for making it possible.” (more…)

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CAA Registration: The Last Week for Best Rates

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on December 6, 2009

The 2010 College Art Association conference takes place in Chicago, February 10-13, at the Hyatt Regency. The discounted ‘early registration’ rates end December 11 — after which the regular conference rate for CAA members jumps from $155 to $225 (the on-site rate is even higher at $270). Click here to register online. HECAA will be represented by two terrific-looking panels:

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New Scholars: Transforming Traditions in Eighteenth-Century Art
Chair: Laura Auricchio (Parsons The New School for Design)
Thursday, February 11, 12:30-2:00; Grand CD South, Gold Level, East Tower, Hyatt Regency

  1. Ryan White (independent scholar, Toronto), “Vision, Display, and Information: Chardin as Tapissier”
  2. Lyrica Taylor (University of Maryland, College Park), “Portrait of the Artist: John Francis Rigaud’s Vision of the Role of the Artist in Eighteenth-Century England”
  3. Hector Reyes (Northwestern University), “Classicism’s Secret Histories: On Jean-Germain Drouais’s Christ and the Canaanite”
  4. Amber Ludwig (Boston University), “Emma Hamilton as Grand Tourist”

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Representing the Psyche in Eighteenth-Century Art
Chair: Michael Yonan (University of Missouri, Columbia)
Thursday, February 11, 2:30-5:00; Grand A, Gold Level, East Tower, Hyatt Regency

  1. Heather McPherson (University of Alabama, Birmingham), “Thinking Heads: Representing Mental Activity in Eighteenth-Century Portraiture”
  2. Emma Barker (Open University), “Figures of Pathos: Melancholy and Interiority in Late-Eighteenth-Century Art”
  3. Thomas Beachdel (Graduate Center, City University of New York), “Awestruck: Claude-Joseph Vernet and the French Sublime”
  4. Yuriko Jackall (Université de Lyon 2), “Divas, Nymphs, and Fallen Maidens: Greuze’s Experiments in Expression”
  5. Barrett Kalter (University of Wisconisn, Milwauke), “Romantic Stained Glass and the Formation of a Neomedieval Consciousness”

Call for Papers: German Studies

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on December 6, 2009

German Studies Association Conference
Oakland, California, 7-10 October 2010

Paper proposals due by 15 February 2010

The German Studies Association will hold its thirty-fourth annual conference in Oakland, California, October 7-10, 2010. This will be the GSA’s first conference in the San Francisco Bay Area in over twenty years. The Program Committee cordially invites proposals on any aspect of German, Austrian, or Swiss studies, including (but not limited to) history, Germanistik, film, art history, political science, musicology, religious studies, sociology, and cultural studies. Proposals for entire sessions and for interdisciplinary presentations are strongly encouraged. Individual paper proposals and offers to serve as session moderators or commentators are also welcome.  Programs of past GSA conferences may be viewed at the GSA website. Please see the website for information about the submission process, which opens on January 5, 2010.  Please note that ALL proposals must be submitted online; paper forms are not used. The deadline for proposals is February 15, 2010. Presenters must be members of the German Studies Association. For more information, visit the GSA website or contact members of the 2010 Program Committee:

  • Program Director: George Williamson (University of Alabama), gwilliam@ua.edu
  • Medieval, Early Modern, Eighteenth Century: Jason Coy (College of Charleston), coyj@cofc.edu
  • Nineteenth Century: Jonathan Hess (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), jmhess@email.unc.edu
  • Twentieth- & Twenty-First-Century History: Andrew Port (Wayne State University), ar6647@wayne.edu
  • Twentieth- & Twenty-First-Century Literature/Cultural Studies: Jennifer Ruth Hosek (Queens University, Ontario), jhosek@queensu.ca
  • Political Science: Louise Davidson-Schmich (University of Miami), davidson@miami.edu
  • Interdisciplinary: Janet Ward (University of Nevada, Las Vegas), janet.ward@unlv.edu

Tracing Ownership at the British Library

Posted in books, conferences (to attend) by Editor on December 5, 2009

Provenance Research in the British Library
British Library, London, Monday, 25 January 2010, 2:15 pm

Launch event for the publication of Libraries within the Library: The Origins of the British Library’s Printed Collections, edited by Giles Mandelbrote and Barry Taylor (London: British Library, 2009).

Dispersed along the shelves of the British Library today are many volumes that once stood side by side in private libraries. Libraries within the Library explores some of the most important printed collections which have been brought together within the British Museum Library since its foundation in 1753, casting new light on the individuals whose personal interests and taste they reflect. The launch of this volume will provide an opportunity to hear papers on recent developments in the field.

2.15    Welcome
2.30    David Pearson, “Learning from Collections”
3.00    Alison Walker, “Halfway There? An Update on the Sloane Printed Books Catalogue”
3.20    Phil Harris, “The Old Royal Library and Legal Deposit in the Eighteenth Century”
3.40    Discussion
4.00    Tea
4.30    Stephen Parkin, “Finding and Losing: The Provenance of an Italian Polybius in the British Library”
4.50    John Goldfinch, “A Group of Incunables Collected in the Eighteenth Century”
5.10    David McKitterick, “A View from Cambridge”
5.40    Discussion
6.00    Reception

Attendance is free, but please register your name with Teresa Harrington at the British Library; email: teresa.harrington@bl.uk.

Finding the Perfect Gift

Posted in books, exhibitions, journal articles, Member News by Editor on December 4, 2009

Edited by Maureen Cassidy-Geiger

Just Published

The Court Historian 14.2 (December 2009), published by The Society for Court Studies
Special Issue: Gift-Giving in Eighteenth-Century Courts — Papers from the conference Fragile Diplomacy: Meissen Porcelain for European Courts, c. 1710­-1763, held at the Bard Graduate Center, New York, 17 November 2007, in conjunction with the eponymous exhibition (reviewed at artnet by N. F. Karlins).

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Table of Contents

  • Andrew Morrall (Bard Graduate Center), Introduction
  • Cordula Bischoff (State Art Collections, Dresden), Complicated Exchanges: The Handling of Authorised and Unathorised Gifts
  • Christopher M. S. Johns (Vanderbilt University) The ‘Good Bishop’ of Catholic Enlightenment: Benedict XIV’s Gifts to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Bologna
  • John Whitehead, Royal Riches and Parisian Trinkets: The Embassy of Saïd Mehmet Pacha to France in 1741­-42 and Its Exchange of Gifts
  • Michael Yonan (University of Missouri-­Columbia), Portable Dynasties: Imperial Gift-Giving at the Court of Vienna in the Eighteenth Century
  • Guy Walton, Emeritus (New York University), Ambassadorial Gifts: An Overview of Published Material
  • Maureen Cassidy-Geiger (Cooper-Hewitt Museum/Parsons School of Design), Afterthoughts on Fragile Diplomacy: Meissen Porcelain for European Courts, c. 1710­-1763
  • Book Reviews / Exhibition Reviews

Looking Ahead: Art of the Austrian Table

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on December 3, 2009

From the Met’s website:

Vienna Circa 1780: An Imperial Silver Service Rediscovered
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 13 April — 7 November 2010


Wolfram Koeppe, ISBN-10: 0300155182 ($35)

Following the acquisition in 2002 of two Viennese silver wine coolers from the Sachsen-Teschen Service, most of the set’s surviving parts were discovered in a French private collection. This superb ensemble was last displayed at the beginning of the twentieth century. Wine coolers, tureens, cloches, sauceboats, candelabra, candlesticks, dozens of plates, porcelain-mounted cutlery, and other kinds of tableware totaling over 350 items, represent the splendor of princely dining during the ancien régime. It was made for Duke Albert Casimir of Sachsen-Teschen (1738-1822), and his consort, Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria (1742-1798) by the Imperial court goldsmith Ignaz Josef Würth. The Sachsen-Teschen Silver Service, an embodiment of Viennese neo-classicism, will be shown in the context of contemporary silver from other countries.
Accompanied by a catalogue to be published by the MMA.

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