From Blog to Book

Posted in books by Editor on July 22, 2010

Lucy Inglis, the author of the blog Georgian London, has just announced that she has a book deal with Penguin. The book Georgian London is due out in hardback in the spring of 2012. It’s another example of how digital publishing formats are shaping the larger publishing industry, and I think it’s a safe bet that lots of customers will be reading Inglis’s book in an electronic format rather than the promised hardback.

There have been plenty of examples of blogs that have led to deals in media formats with larger circulation numbers. Julie Powell’s Julie and Julia began as a blog in 2002, became a book in 2005, and finally a film in 2009. Scott Schuman began writing The Sartorialist in 2005. By the time the book appeared in 2009 (also, incidentally, from Penguin), Schuman had already made his career well beyond the immediate domain of the blog, though in many ways it still anchors his professional presence/persona.

What’s interesting in Inglis’s case, however, is that we’re now seeing the same pattern play out in terms of the field of history (as opposed to food or style genres). Georgian London will clearly be a trade publication, but it promises to be a smart book, too. A friend of mine who works in media studies and disability studies approached an agent not long ago with a proposal for a trade volume. What was the agent’s first question? Not do you have a blog? but how many readers follow your blog?

Enfilade is, of course, published under the auspices of HECAA as a newsletter for the organization, functioning largely as an aggregator for news related to eighteenth-century art and architectural history. Still, the larger digital domain raises the question of what ‘intellectual content’ might consist of within the medium of the blog. Inglis’s Georgian London might provide one glimpse at an answer. At least the editors at Penguin seems to think so.

Conference on Salvator Rosa in Eighteenth-Century Britain

Posted in conferences (to attend), Member News by Editor on July 22, 2010

From The Paul Mellon Centre:

Salvator Rosa in Britain
A Conference at Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, 18 October 2010

This conference, organized by Dr Helen Langdon, accompanies the exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery, Salvator Rosa (1615-1673): Bandits, Wilderness and Magic (15 September–28 November 2010) which concentrates on the quality and variety of Rosa’s works – savage landscapes, fanciful portraits of romantic figures, intriguing philosopher-paintings, witches and dragons. The conference explores the impact of this many-sided art on British painting, literature and art theory.

9:30 Registration

Morning Session introduced and chaired by Claire Pace (Honorary Research Fellow, University of Glasgow); Wendy Wassyng Roworth (Professor of Art History, University of Rhode Island), ‘The Legacy of Genius: Salvator Rosa, Joshua Reynolds and Painting in Britain’; Elinor Shaffer (Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, University of London), ‘The Lives of Artists: William Beckford and Salvator Rosa’.

Visit to the exhibition, Salvator Rosa (1615-1673): Bandits, Wilderness and Magic, led by Helen Langdon and Xavier F. Salomon, Arturo and Holly Melosi Chief Curator at Dulwich Picture Gallery.

Afternoon Session I introduced and chaired by Susan Jenkins (Senior Curator, English Heritage); Cinzia Maria Sicca (Associate Professor of the History of European Art, University of Pisa), ‘“One of the most excellent Masters that Italy has produced in this century”: The circulation of Salvator Rosa’s works through the English community in Leghorn’; Alexis Ashot, Associate Specialist, Old Master and British Pictures, Christie’s, ‘“Unbounded capacity”: a 1778 vita of Salvator Rosa by the London connoisseur, Charles Rogers’.

Afternoon Session II introduced and chaired by Christoph Vogtherr (Curator of Pictures, pre-1800, The Wallace Collection); Jonathan Yarker (PhD candidate, University of Cambridge), ‘Joseph Goupy and the imitation of Rosa in early eighteenth-century England’; Helen Langdon (curator of the exhibition), ‘Belisarius in Norfolk’.

17.00 Panel and audience discussion chaired by Claire Pace, followed by wine reception.

Full conference fee, including coffee, lunch, tea, private view of the exhibition, and wine reception: £40. Student and Senior concessions £20. To register for the conference please check availability with Ella Fleming at The Paul Mellon Centre: Email: events@paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk, Tel: 020 7580 0311, Fax: 020 7636 6730.

Art History & 18th-Century Studies: Risky?

Posted in interviews by Editor on July 21, 2010

Michael Yonan poses an interesting question in response to the recent interview with Mary Sheriff. In lieu of any new postings for today, I would point readers back to the ‘comments’ section of the interview. Any thoughts?


N.B. — We’re up to six replies — lots of interesting material to think about already; thanks to those of you have left comments!

Current Issue of ‘Eighteenth-Century Studies’

Posted in books, exhibitions, journal articles, Member News by Editor on July 20, 2010

Selections from Eighteenth-Century Studies 43 (Summer 2010):

Stacey Sloboda, “Displaying Materials: Porcelain and Natural History in the Duchess of Portland’s Museum,” pp. 455-72.

Abstract: Porcelain in eighteenth-century aristocratic collections was associated with both the curious and the foreign. The Duchess of Portland’s Museum contained large amounts of porcelain along with thousands of natural history specimens. The material and geographic plurality of the collection mirrored its totalizing claims to have a comprehensive display of the world’s natural and artificial materials. This essay explores the relationship between porcelain and natural history, arguing that Portland’s collection attempted to bridge conceptual distinctions between science and art in the eighteenth century, and that this project was particularly important to making sense of eighteenth-century female collecting practices and their sociable display.

Dorothy Johnson, “Review Article — The Matter of Sculpture,” pp. 505-08.

  • Erika Naginski, Sculpture and Enlightenment (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2009).
  • Martina Droth and Penelope Curtis, eds., Taking Shape: Finding Sculpture in the Decorative Arts (Leeds and Los Angeles: Henry Moore Institute and the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2008-09).
  • Anne Betty Weinshenker, A God or a Bench: Sculpture as a Problematic Art during the Ancien Régime (Bern: Peter Lang, 2008).

Clorinda Donato, “Review Article — Fresh Legacies: Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s Enduring Style and Grand Tour Appeal,” 508-11.

  • Mario Vevilacqua, Fabio Barry, and Heather Hyde Minor, eds., The Serpent and the Stylus: Essays on G. B. Piranesi (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006).
  • Andelka Galic and Vladimir Malekovic, eds. Piranesi: Vasi candelabri cippi sarcofagi tripodi lucerne ed ornamenti antichi, exhibition catalogue, translated into Italian by William Klinger (Zagreb: Museum of Arts and Crafts, 2007).

A Visual Puzzle at the Yale Center for British Art

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on July 20, 2010

Notice of the exhibition appeared here in April, but now that the show is actually on view, here it is again:

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.

Politics in the Garden

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on July 20, 2010

Political Gardening: Jacobites and Tories, Whigs and True Whigs, ca. 1700-1760
Wentworth Castle, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, 6-8 August 2010

The conference will explore political gardening in Britain, ca. 1700–1760, in order to identify the symbolism and meanings embedded within the country estates of Tory and Jacobite landowners. The papers will discuss whether these landscapes can be distinguished from those of Whig politicians, and whether Tories and Jacobites created an iconography of dissent from the Whig governments that managed Britain on behalf of the Hanoverian Kings George I and George II. The conference will be held at Wentworth Castle in the Palladian wing of the mansion (built 1760–65), and delegates will enjoy meals within the Baroque wing (built 1709–14). Wentworth Castle is also the home of the Northern College for Residential Adult Education which will provide delegates with catering and modern student accommodation.

The Wentworth Castle estate was created by Thomas Wentworth, first Earl of Strafford (second creation) between 1708 and 1739, and further developed by his son William, the second Earl. Although a Tory minister in Queen Anne’s government, Thomas Wentworth became a Jacobite conspirator after the accession of George I in 1714 and employed the Jacobite architect, James Gibbs, to design the interior of his new mansion. It is also likely that Gibbs designed garden buildings for Wentworth Castle. Booking information is available here» (more…)

Portrait of General Wolfe Tops $600,000 at Bonhams

Posted in Art Market by Editor on July 20, 2010

As reported at Art Daily:

Circle of Joseph Highmore (?), "Portrait of General James Wolfe" Photo: Bonhams

Bonhams Old Master Paintings auction (7 July 2010) made £3,403,920 with a packed saleroom and numerous telephone bidders. The highlight was the sale of the last privately owned portrait of General James Wolfe – the soldier from Kent who conquered Canada – which sold to a Canadian buyer for £400,800.

Wolfe led the British assault on Quebec in 1759, with the resulting Battle of the Plains of Abraham (or the Battle of Quebec) being one of the most celebrated events in British military history and a pivotal victory in the Seven Years’ War. He was mortally wounded during the battle and died on the field; yet his victory earned him posthumous fame and it proved to be a deciding moment in the conflict between France and Britain. The portrait is attributed to the Circle of Joseph Highmore.

The top selling lot of the day was ‘A still life of tulips, a crown imperial, snowdrops, lilies, irises, roses and other flowers in a glass vase with a lizard, butterflies, a dragonfly and other insects’. Painted on copper by Jan van Kessel the Elder, it sold for £804,000. . . .

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Call for Proposals: CAA in Los Angeles in 2012

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on July 20, 2010

College Art Association Annual Conference
Los Angeles, 22-25 February 2010

Panel Proposals due by 1 September 2010

CAA invites individual members to propose a session for the 2012 Annual Conference, taking place February 22–25, 2012, in Los Angeles. Proposals should cover the breadth of current thought and research in art, art and architectural history, theory and criticism, pedagogical issues, museum and curatorial practice, conservation, and developments in technology. The Los Angeles conference closes CAA’s Centennial year, which will begin at the New York meeting in February 2011.

The Annual Conference Committee welcomes session proposals that include the work of established artists and scholars, along with that of younger scholars, emerging and midcareer artists, and graduate students. Particularly welcome are those sessions that highlight interdisciplinary work. Artists are especially encouraged to propose sessions appropriate to dialogue and information exchange relevant to artists.

Proposals are only accepted online; paper forms and postal mailings are not required. To set up an account in CAA’s content management system, please email Lauren Stark, CAA manager of programs, who will register your email address and provide you with a password. For full details on the submission process, please visit Chair a Conference Session. Deadline: September 1, 2010; no late applications are accepted.

Scholar Profile: Mary Sheriff

Posted in interviews, Member News by jfmit18th on July 18, 2010

To introduce some of the names and faces of HECAA, Craig and I have decided to begin a new Enfilade series that will profile scholars from diverse institutions and varying areas of expertise. We hope that this will not only illustrate the wealth of knowledge shared among the HECAA community at large but also provide individualized snapshots of upcoming projects, common interests, and new directions of research. If you would like to nominate someone to be interviewed or share thoughts on the series, we would be happy to hear from you; send an email to jennifer.ferng@gmail.com.

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Mary Sheriff is the W.R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Art History and Department Chair at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on eighteenth and nineteenth-century art and culture, with an emphasis on issues of creativity, sexuality, gender, and most recently, travel and cultural exchange. She has published three books with the University of Chicago Press J.-H. Fragonard: Art and Eroticism (1990), The Exceptional Woman: Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun and the Cultural Politics of Art (1996), and Moved by Love: Inspired Artists and Deviant Women in Eighteenth-Century France (2004). This spring, her edited collection of essays, Cultural Contact and the Making of European Art, was published by the University of North Carolina Press.

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Jennifer Ferng: You were awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship earlier this year. Has this acknowledgment validated, sustained, or altered certain conceptions of what you believed about your approaches to the study of art history? What has this recognition personally meant to you?

MS: The fellowship could not have come at a better time. I have just completed seven years as department chair, and I am anxious to devote myself full-time to writing. The fellowship and the time off it represents means that I can now return to my research—which is what brought me to the profession in the first place! Administration was an afterthought and, unfortunately, a necessary evil.

I think the recognition of my work has helped me see that the discipline of art history, like other disciplines, has not only become more open to different approaches and methods, but also to work that engages and interprets material traditionally thought to be outside the domain of the discipline. I’m thinking here not only of diverse texts (novels, plays, travel writing, science treatises, etc.) but also of, for example, material culture, theatrical and operatic performance, contemporary theory. At the same time, I believe that art historians are now more open to different forms of interpretation.

JF: How do you feel eighteenth-century studies has recently changed (in relation to other sub-fields including feminist studies, material culture, and visual culture studies)?

MS : Let me answer this question from a slightly different angle. What I think has changed most about the field of eighteenth-century studies in art history is the number of practitioners. Two decades ago there were precious few of us in the sub-field and even fewer of us in ASECS. New scholars have brought into the field many different perspectives, approaches, and even disciplinary formations – and many of those perspectives, approaches, and formations have mirrored the changes in the discipline at large. Although some of the new scholars studied with those eighteenth-century specialists who had already changed the field – many others did not. When I and others entered the field it was a risk, and I believe it still is. Twenty years ago there was no recognized specialization in «Eighteenth-Century Art» and I think today the CAA categories of specialization still jump from «Baroque» to «Nineteenth-Century».

Now to take things from a different direction: I think that because we were never a venerable old field (like Renaissance Studies), we did not have venerable old ways of doing things; nor did we have the issues that arise from what I might call dynastic succession. So as a field, we have been able to change and adapt more easily to the changes in the discipline. I also like to believe – although it may be a personal myth – that folks who take the risk of specializing in the eighteenth century are also willing to take risks in their work – by which I mean they are willing to use a novel approach, ask a new question, interpret a «frivolous» object, bring together different archives of knowledge, and ultimately to admit the contingency of meaning.

JF: What are some of your upcoming projects and some of the new directions you will be pursuing?

MS: My new project is entitled Enchanted Islands: Picturing the Allure of Conquest in Eighteenth-Century France. I have been working on issues of cultural contact for a while now in my teaching and research. I’ve edited a volume just out from UNC Press called Cultural Contact and the Making of European Art, which is actually designed to be a complementary text for teaching the history of Western art. The volume has essays that range in time from 1429 to 1930, and all the essay consider the effects of cultural contact – from oppressive colonialism to mutually profitable trade – on European art. The volume argues that European art has always been shaped from the outside as well as from the inside, and is never a «pure product». The authors include ASECS members Christopher Johns and Elisabeth Fraser, as well as Claire Farago, Julie Hochstrasser, Carol Mavor, and Lyneise Williams.

My new project on enchanted islands develops in different ways issues of cultural contact and continues my studies of gender and sexuality, in this case as related to royal power and «Frenchness». The «allure of conquest» I mean as both martial and sexual. As the title of the project also suggests, I am interested in the hold that islands and «island-ness» have had on the Western (and especially French eighteenth-century) imagination. The project focuses on a particular sort of island imagined to be ruled by an enchantress, which is a staple of epic literature. A prime example is the island of the Saracen sorceress Armida in Tasso’s Jerusalem Delivered. The story of Rinaldo and Armida on the enchanted island was represented repeatedly in painting, opera, book illustration, and the decorative arts throughout the eighteenth century. Armida’s island is particularly significant for me because it is at once an enchanted, real, and mythical space. Tasso places Armida’s realm in what he calls the Fortunate Islands, which we know as the Canary Islands, and which were in antiquity the imagined site of the Elysian Fields. The whole project, in fact, takes up the larger questions of how mythical paradigms are mapped onto real persons and spaces; how real persons and spaces engender mythical paradigms; how paradigms change over time; and to what ends such paradigms are deployed.

What’s newer, perhaps, is that this project also engages with notions of «enchantment» as a feature of art, love, power, and magic. I’m interested in how the relation between art and enchantment was theorized in the eighteenth century and how it has been theorized today, especially in the work of anthropologist Alfred Gell.

I am also involved in a new project co-authored with Melissa Hyde, currently entitled French Women Artists: Rococo to Romanticism. We envision a book that will be not only a collective history of women artists from the mid-eighteenth century through the mid-nineteenth century, but also a history that considers these artists within their social, personal, institutional, and professional networks. In other words, this project is a history focused on women artists, but one that presents the art world as peopled by women and men together. Histories of that period in French art inevitably focus on select male painters and thus present what one could call the one-sex model. Our history contests that model by putting women back into the picture.

JF: Regarding pedagogical techniques inside and outside the classroom, how do you encourage your graduate students to pursue individual research and dissertation topics? What are some outstanding areas of unstudied eighteenth-century art?

MS: From the beginning of their studies, I encourage my students to find their own areas of special interest. I see my job not as telling them what to pursue but as helping them get where they want to go. My graduate seminars often define an area of research very broadly and offer as group reading some basic theoretical material. I ask students to find their own specialized topics within that area. I stress that finding a good topic is half the game of writing an outstanding essay – and by a good topic I mean one that is both focused and complex: one that can sustain different avenues of interpretation while remaining coherent. Of course, this is a tall order, especially for first-year students, but I meet with them and try to guide them toward an appropriate topic once I know their interests. And I will dissuade them if I think a topic is unworkable. I often suggest focusing on a single object or image that will open itself up to different interpretative strategies or that seems to condense several contemporaneous aesthetic and/or cultural issues.

There is so much understudied in the eighteenth century that I can hardly begin to prioritize. But in no particular order. . . Religious art and ecclesiastical architecture need sustained attention (this is especially true for French art). There are individual artists whose work deserves more study even though the monograph seems to be out of fashion; I’m sure everyone has his or her list, but mine would include Falconet and Meissonnier. France, England, and to a lesser extent Italy are fairly well worked – at least for major artists – but how about Sweden, Russia, and other areas in Europe?

Among the subjects that are the focus of current work, I think that there are many areas of material culture that need attention (here a personal favorite would be the miniature and the idea of miniaturization). Cultural contact in all its forms is now getting attention, but there is still a lot of work to be done. I would also like to see more work on optical devices and displays such as phantasmagoria and magic lanterns. I would add that while we are interrogating these newer areas, we should not ignore all the other, perhaps more traditional, areas of eighteenth-century art that also need work.

JF: In looking back at your development as a senior scholar, who and what were some of the most influential intellectuals and books, which affected the ongoing evolution of your ideas?

MS : I have from the beginning been influenced by my mentor, Barbara Stafford, not so much in terms of any particular method, but in terms of her openness to new ideas, her omnivorous intellectual tastes, and her willingness to let her students go their own way. When I was a beginning assistant professor, and especially in my first years at UNC, I read voraciously in high French theory and French feminist theory, often in informal reading groups with colleagues from art history, literature, languages, and history. We read all the usual suspects – Barthes, Foucault, Lacan, Derrida, Irigaray, Cixous – but we also read the likes of Plato and Augustine for the history of ideas. Over the years I’ve been inspired and influenced by ongoing exchanges with colleagues and students, and participating in ASECS has been extremely important to me as a venue for the exchange and sharing of ideas.

JF: Back in Chapel Hill, what object that you own describes you best as a personality and scholar?

MS: My buoyancy control device (or BCD). I love to scuba dive. Diving is a very visual activit ; the way I dive there is a lot of looking at all sorts of interesting and beautiful things, so it feeds my scopophilia. There is a lot of diversity on the reef, so I like that, and I learn a lot by just observing. The reef is truly another world – for me an enchanted world. Diving, moreover, is an activity that offers solitude and quiet, which is how I work best. No email, no mobile phone, only the sound of your breathing and, for equipment, a computer that tells you how deep you are and a gauge that registers how much air you have left! But at the same time, since in diving you are always with a buddy, there is solitude but not loneliness. I like the physical challenge of diving and buoyancy control. And I like that diving means I am on a real vacation. Too many academics only take busman’s holidays. I think that’s a mistake. I need down time to do my work.

JF: What are some of your favorite places to visit while in Paris, whether for work or leisure?

MS: Musée des arts décoratifs (and the café there), Les Gobelins, Bagatelle gardens and especially the rose garden, Arsenal Library, Club Med Gym, Le Sirocco (my favorite Moroccan resto); any church that’s open and uncrowded.

Engraving Watteau

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on July 17, 2010

Antoine Watteau et l’art de l’estampe / Antoine Watteau and the Art of Engraving
Musée du Louvre, Paris, 8 July — 11 October 2010

Exhibition catalogue by Marie-Catherine Sahut and Florence Raymond, ISBN: 9782847421521 ($50)

A hundred engravings from the oeuvre of Antoine Watteau, mostly from the Edmond de Rothschild collection, illustrate the art of engraving in the 18th century. Before his premature death at age thirty-seven, the painter, engraver, and tireless draftsman Antoine Watteau (1684–1721) set his seal on the 18th century with the grace and spontaneity of his art. The oeuvre was engraved almost at once—between 1724 and 1735—on the initiative of his friend and protector Jean de Julienne. This remarkable venture—four volumes totaling some six hundred plates after his drawings and paintings—was entrusted to fifty engravers. A crucible for young talents including François Boucher and Laurent Cars, the project played its part in the Europe-wide development of the Rocaille style, of which Watteau was one of the main instigators.

Curators: Marie-Catherine Sahut (Department of Paintings) and Pascal Torres-Guardiola (Department of Prints and Drawings)

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N.B. — The catalogue is available through artbooks.com (a full description, in English, is available here). The latest mailing from Artbooks.com also includes the forthcoming title edited by Christiane Naffah, Watteau et la fête galante (Paris: Musées nationaux, 2010), ISBN: 9782711856541 ($90).

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