Walpole and Strawberry Hill

Posted in exhibitions, resources, reviews by Editor on April 8, 2010

The March issue of Apollo Magazine includes a review by Hugh Belsey of the Walpole exhibition now at the V&A in London:

John Carter, "View from the Hall at Strawberry Hill," 1788, pen and ink, and watercolour on laid paper, from Horace Walpole’s extra-illustrated copy of "A Description of the Villa…at Strawberry-Hill" (Strawberry Hill, 1784). Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University. Folio 49 3582, fol. 24.

In 1818 William Hazlitt cruelly remarked that Horace Walpole’s ‘mind as well as his house, was piled up with Dresden china, and illuminated through painted glass’. Twenty-four years later the contents of his house, Strawberry Hill on the banks of the Thames at Twickenham, including the china, were sold. It took the auctioneer, George Robins, 24 days to complete the sale and gave the public the last opportunity to sample Walpole’s mind and taste – or not quite the last opportunity, as many of the rich, strange and beautiful lots have been reassembled in an exquisite exhibition . . .  It is a display that sparkles, enchants and entrances. . . .

The full review can be found here»

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In conjunction with the exhibition, there is an outstanding digital component that includes virtual tours and immensely useful search functions for the database (including provenance). As noted on the site:

John Carter, "Tribune from Strawberry Hill", 1789

Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill Collection was initially developed by the Lewis Walpole Library to support research for the exhibition Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill and for the renovation of the house itself, undertaken by the Strawberry Hill Trust. Dispersed since the famous sale in 1842, Walpole’s collection was one of the most significant in eighteenth-century Britain, numbering several thousand items. This database encompasses the entire range of art and artifacts from Walpole’s collections, including all items whose location is currently known and those as yet untraced but known through a variety of historical records. This information is now made available for public access.  The database is an ongoing project: the Library will continue to add and enhance records as further discoveries are made. Queries and comments are invited.

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Finally, it’s worth noting that Strawberry Hill will itself be open to visitors, starting in September, after extensive renovations (projected to cost £8.9 million). For details, see the website of the Strawberry Hill Trust.

Taking a Count

Posted in the 18th century in the news by Editor on April 7, 2010

As reported by the AP, “a first edition of the first U.S. census signed by Thomas Jefferson in 1791 is heading for the auction block in New York City.”

Here’s the description from Sotheby’s:

N08653, Wednesday, 14 April 2010, 2pm, Lot 98

Return of the Whole Number of Persons within the Several Districts of the United States. Philadelphia: Childs and Swaine, 1791

Estimate: 50,000-70,000 USD

8vo (8 x 4 3/4 in.; 204 x 125 mm). Signed on the final text leaf (“Th:Jefferson”); minor worming in lower left margin affecting the title-page and first text leaf, some marginal spotting. Contemporary Dutch-combed marbled paper wrappers; right edge of upper wrapper frayed, lower half of backstrip perished, wormhole in lower left corner of upper wrapper, some remnants
of paper adhering to joints. Green cloth folding-case, tan morocco
spine lettered gilt. . . .


First edition of the first United States census, signed by Thomas Jefferson on the final text leaf. The enumeration was evidently printed in a very small edition for distribution by the Secretary of State at whose urging the census was undertaken. Rare, only two other copies have appeared at auction since 1975: the Park and the Sedgwick-Norton copies.

Small Show of Watercolours in London

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on April 6, 2010

Eighteenth-Century Watercolours from the Royal Academy Collection
Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, London, 9 March — 16 May 2010

Francis Wheatley "Figures and Cattle by a Lake," 1795. Pencil and watercolour. Photo © Royal Academy of Arts, London.

This display features watercolours by leading British artists of the eighteenth century including J. M. W. Turner, Paul Sandby and Michael ‘Angelo’ Rooker. The works on display were originally part of a collection assembled by the architect John Yenn RA (1750–1821) who bought watercolours, prints and drawings from his friends and fellow artists. Yenn gravitated towards topographical scenes and the display includes impressive views of Durham Cathedral and Battle Abbey. He also shared in the late eighteenth-century enthusiasm for historic ruins, represented here by watercolours of Valle Crucis Abbey and Kenilworth Castle.

Thanks so much!

Posted in site information by Editor on April 5, 2010

Enfilade numbers continue to grow, and March was another record-breaking month. The site attracted nearly 5800 unique visitors and tallied 578 visits from return readers. Thanks so much for your continued support!

I’m sorry that I was unable to attend this year’s ASECS meeting; it sounded like a great conference. Thanks so much for the voice of support at the annual HECAA luncheon. I’ve heard some terrific ideas, and I look forward to receiving more. As always, don’t be bashful in sending in updates about your work as well as general announcements (please don’t assume I know about any particular conference or exhibition; even if I am aware of it, reminders are nice).

Finally, please be aware that in addition to subscribing to the site via an RSS Feed, you can also subscribe via email (posts will simply arrive in your inbox). Links for either service are available toward the bottom of the right-hand column. -C.H.

ASECS 2011 — Proposals Due 1 May

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on April 5, 2010

The 2011 ASECS Conference takes place in Vancouver, British Columbia, March 17-21. Proposals for panels are due by May 1. Details and a form for submitting a session for consideration can be found here»

From an Eighteenth-Century Kitchen

Posted in resources by Editor on April 3, 2010

If this Easter weekend has you thinking about eggs, you might consider this eighteenth-century recipe for Princess Poached Eggs from the blog, 18thC Cuisine. Written by Carolyn Smith-Kizer, the site focuses especially on French cuisine of the period “as a habitante in Nouvelle France may have cooked,” complete with “Anglo and other American influences.”

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Princess Poached Eggs.
Start by dissolving sugar [simple syrup], cooking until it takes a consistency of syrup; break eggs, using only the yolks, put each one in an eating spoon, & hold in the syrup, until they are cooked; make as many and as cooked [hard or soft] as you like, & when your dish is filled, sprinkle with sugar, and when they are served, pour a little Orange flower water over them and add a grating of candied lemon peel.

Interesting taste, one of those items of which you close your eyes before you take a bite–reminds me of what I thought was crazy when the boys in the cafeteria at college in East Texas poured pancake syrup on their eggs–but it actually tastes good. Evidently it is still appreciated in Quebec where they pour maple syrup over eggs.

*****Œufs pochez à la Princesse.
On commence par faire fondre du sucre qu’on cuit, jusqu’à ce qu’il ait pris une consistance de syrop; on casse des œufs dont on ne prend que les jaunes, qu’on met l’un aprés l’autre dans une cuilliere à bouche, & qu’on tient ainsi dans le syrop, jusqu’à ce qu’ils soient cuits, on en fait tant qu’on en veut de cette maniere, & lorsque le plat est rempli, on les poudre de sucre, puis on les sert, piquez d’écorce de citron confits, avec de l’eau de fleur d’Orange, qu’on verse pardessus.

Le Menage de la Ville et des Champs, et le Jardinier François, Louis Liger & Nicolas de Bonnefons. Chez Jean Leonard, Brussels, 1712, p.156-157.

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Warm thanks to Carolyn Smith-Kizer for permission to republish this posting. For an interview with her, click here»

The BHA is Back — For Everyone

Posted in resources by Editor on April 2, 2010

After lots of uncertainty, the BHA has been saved after all! As noted at the Getty website:

As of April 1, 2010, the Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA) will be available free of charge on the Getty Web site at http://library.getty.edu/bha. Free Web access to BHA is an advantage not only to all traditional users of the database but also to such potential users as institutions in developing countries and independent scholars worldwide, who until now have been unable to afford access to the BHA. Since ending its collaboration with the Institut de l’Information Scientifique et Technique (INIST)–CNRS in December 2007, the Getty has been searching for partners to continue the production and distribution of BHA. This process has been complicated, and with no suitable arrangement immediately available, the Getty decided to act on its commitment to the scholarly community by providing access to BHA directly from its own Web site.

BHA on the Getty Web site offers both basic and advanced search modules, and can be searched easily by subject, artist, author, article or journal title, and other elements. To search BHA, please visit, http://library.getty.edu/bha. Note that the database search includes both BHA (covering 1990-2007) and the International Bibliography of Art (IBA), covering the years 2008 and part of 2009. The Répertoire de la litterature de l’art (RILA), one of the predecessors of BHA, with records that cover 1975–1989, will be online by May 1.

About the BHA
The Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA) is the world’s most comprehensive bibliography of scholarly writing about the history of western art.

Journals Included in BHA (PDF, 308 K)
BHA includes articles from over 1,200 journals. The link above leads to a list of names and ISSNs of each of those journals.

Note: BHA includes all articles within the subject scope of BHA regardless of the subject focus of a particular journal. Thus, many of the journals on this list are covered partially, as only some of their articles are within BHA’s scope.

Review of the Met’s Watteau Exhibition and Catalogue

Posted in books, catalogues, reviews by Editor on April 2, 2010

Recently added to CAA Reviews:

Katherine Baetjer, ed., Watteau, Music, and Theater, exhibition catalogue (New York and New Haven: Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2009), 176 pages, ISBN: 9780300155075, $35.

Reviewed by Sarah R. Cohen, University at Albany, State University of New York; posting added 24 March 2010.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is ideally suited for an exhibition devoted to the theme of “Watteau, Music, and Theater” because two of Watteau’s most incisive treatments of these themes reside in its collection: the solitary singer “Mezzetin” (ca. 1718–20) and the tragic-comic “French Comedians” (ca. 1720–21). Both works also display Watteau’s ineffable fusion of performance and humanity, artifice and nature, and gestures both rote and heartfelt. The exhibition, rich in drawings as well as paintings loaned from a wide variety of institutions and private collections, allowed viewers to ponder the artist’s compelling transformation of music and theater into an exploratory pictorial language. But only about half of the exhibition featured works by Watteau himself; the rest comprised an eclectic mix drawn largely from the Metropolitan’s extensive collections of eighteenth-century objects, including paintings, graphic arts, porcelain figures, miniature boxes, and musical instruments. . . .

The exhibition catalogue, edited by Baetjer, features an essay on Watteau by Pierre Rosenberg as well as an account by Cowart of the multiple venues where eighteenth-century Parisians could encounter musical theater. Scholarly entries on all of the objects in the exhibition were contributed by the Metropolitan’s curators as well as outside experts, notably Mary Tavenor Holmes on Lancret and Kim de Beaumont on Gabriel de Saint-Aubin. . . .

For the full review (CAA membership required), click here»

Upcoming: A Visual Puzzle at the Yale Center for British Art

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on April 1, 2010

Seeing Double: Portraits, Copies, and Exhibitions in 1820s London
Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 24 June — 19 September 2010

John Scarlett Davis, "Interior of the British Institution Gallery" detail 1829 (YCBA)

In 1829, the young artist John Scarlett Davis sought to make a splash on the London art scene with his painting, Interior of the British Institution. An image of an art exhibition, the painting is also an elaborate visual puzzle. Seeing Double: Portraits, Copies and Exhibitions in 1820s London invites viewers to decode this puzzle and in the process explore the relationship between display and replication in early nineteenth-century Britain. Davis’s painting has long been recognized as a valuable record of an early nineteenth-century exhibition venue, representing in miniature works by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough, among others. What has less often been recognized is that the figures who chat amiably or stoop to examine canvases are themselves replicas of paintings: Davis copied the figures from pre-existing portraits, notably by Sir Thomas Lawrence. By examining this practice, the exhibition reveals hitherto unknown connections between works in the Center’s collection. Seeing Double has been organized by the Yale Center for British Art and curated by Catherine Roach, Postdoctoral Associate, Department of the History of Art, Cornell University. The organizing curator at the Center is Cassandra Albinson, Associate Curator of Paintings and Sculpture.

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