Stockholm Show Surveys Sexuality

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on March 31, 2011

Press release from the museum:

Lust & Last / Lust & Vice
Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, 24 March — 14 August 2011

Louis Lagrenée, "Amor and Psyche," (Stockholm: Nationalmuseum)

On 24 March 2011, Nationalmuseum opens the doors to Lust & Vice, a major exhibition filling three rooms and five display cases. Over 200 works from the 16th century to the present day, mostly little-known treasures from the museum’s own collection, will illustrate how views of sexuality, virtue and morality have changed over the centuries. The exhibition includes works coloured by the religious teachings of the 16th and 17th century, which held that sexual relationships could only take place inside marriage. However, there was a big difference between the behaviour the church prescribed for ordinary people and the liberties taken by the elite. The exhibition continues by examining the upper-class view of marriage in the 18th century: a social institution that left the parties to seek true passion elsewhere. In other words, an
attitude diametrically opposed to that of the church. The 18th
century was a time of double standards: one for the masses
and another for the enlightened elite.

Adolf Ulrik Wertmüller, "Danaë and the Shower of Gold,"(Stockholm: Nationalmuseum)

From the 19th century onward, the city becomes a central theme. Large-scale urbanization frequently led to anonymous sexual encounters and prostitution. Secret images for private consumption coexisting with moralistic public art were another by-product of urbanization. The exhibition presents examples of how virtue and sin have been depicted in art through the ages. One of the display cases examines how girls were brought up to lead a virtuous life in order to be good marriage material. Exhibits include a real chastity belt on loan from Nordiska museet. One wall in the first room displays paintings of women’s bottoms – an erotic reference that was long considered sinful because sex, besides taking place inside marriage, required eye contact in order to be morally acceptable. Artists managed to paint erotic motifs by portraying
myths or biblical scenes, often with moralistic undertones
alluding to the consequences of a sinful lifestyle. (more…)

Drawings in Portland, Maine

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on March 30, 2011

Press release from the museum:

European Drawings at the Portland Museum of Art
Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine, 26 March — 22 May 2011

Thomas Rowlandson, "Norfolk Broads," watercolor, graphite, and ink, ca. 1795 (Portland Museum of Art)

In the spring, the Portland Museum of Art will feature an exhibition devoted to European drawings comprised of 30 works from the Museum’s permanent collection and on loan from private collectors. European Drawings at the Portland Museum of Art, on view March 26 through May 22, 2011, will highlight masterworks by the finest draughtsmen of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. This will be a unique opportunity to see works of art that are rarely exhibited because of the fragile nature of paper. The exhibition is part of Where to Draw the Line: The Maine Drawing Project, a statewide collaboration of 20 arts organizations that will present exhibitions dedicated to the medium of drawing throughout 2011. (more…)

Review: Amanda Lahikainen on Thomas Rowlandson

Posted in books, exhibitions, reviews by Editor on March 29, 2011

The Rowlandson exhibition opens next week at The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College (8 April — 11 June 2011). And so in a timely manner, Amanda Lahikainen here inaugurates a new feature of Enfilade, original reviews. They won’t become a major feature of the site anytime soon, but there are a few more on the way.

Patricia Phagan, Vic Gatrell, and Amelia Rauser, Thomas Rowlandson: Pleasures and Pursuits in Georgian England (London: D. Giles Limited, 2011), 184 pages, ISBN: 9781904832782.

Reviewed for Enfilade by Amanda Lahikainen

The lens of social life and social mixing frames the exhibition and accompanying catalogue, Thomas Rowlandson: Pleasure and the Pursuits in Georgian England. It’s a concept that Rowlandson himself might have chosen for such an exhibition of his own work. The show and catalogue stress the importance of broad historical contextualization, with an emphasis on pleasure and socialization in England during Rowlandson’s life (1757-1857). Edited by the exhibition’s curator, Patricia Phagan, the catalogue divides Rowlandson’s prints into six categories, each with an introductory essay, including images of street life and scenes from the theater. The color photographs are generously sized, and the entries aid readers both in deciphering the social and political references within the satires and in contextualizing the prints within the market for satire more generally. Entry #9, for instance, includes a caricature by the cotemporary satirist James Gillray for comparison, and entry #27 allows us to compare Rowlandson’s print The Brilliants to its likely predecessor, A Midnight Modern Conversation by William Hogarth. Readers find detailed information about Rowlandson’s life and the placement of his work within Britain’s hierarchy of genres. Also included is discussion of his pornographic subject matter and boisterous tavern scenes so important for an artist who relished whimsical and grotesque vignettes from common life. Fortunately, the catalog offers multiple points of engagement between “high art” and “low art,” thereby problematizing facile distinctions that have long plagued scholarly assessments of Rowlandson.

Especially valuable for British art studies are the two essays by Vic Gatrell, a historian, and Amelia Rauser, an art historian. Both scholars have recently published important books on graphic satire, in 2006 and 2008 respectively, and they usefully approach Rowlandson’s art from different perspectives. Gatrell lays bare the complex network of print makers and artists that defined Rowlandson’s world and visualizes this history using a detailed topographical map of Covent Garden and the Strand, an area of London which he describes as the “emotional heartland and a chief source” of Rowlandson’s comic vision. Toward the end of the essay, he tackles the critical reception of Rowlandson; this section is well worth reading even as an abstract meditation on the values that often guide our judgments of prints, including anxieties about reproduction and the pitfalls of strict subject categories.

Rauser’s essay asks us to look closely at Rowlandson’s prints and acknowledge that his work often simultaneously captivates and repulses. She gives a compelling answer to the question of what makes Rowlandson’s satire distinctive. Starting from the observation that Rowlandson’s art is amoral, she identifies his “commitment to embodiedness” and bemused “ironic detachment” as exceptional strengths. Her point is a good one: Rowlandson deflates his subjects by relentlessly reminding his viewers that they inhabit a body bound by the laws of nature and desire. Whether or not we follow Rauser in thinking of Rowlandson’s unrelenting interest in the human body as a product of Romanticism or Gatrell in thinking of Rowlandson’s humorous and grotesque bodies as responses to the growing wealth of the middle-class print buyers, we can agree that Rowlandson handles the human form to great effect. It is perhaps because of his disregard for didactic messages that he so successfully demonstrates the absurdity of social norms, especially deflating the rich and powerful along the way.

Amanda Lahikainen, a Ph.D. candidate at Brown University, is finishing her dissertation on the representation of abstract ideas in British graphic satire during the French Revolution. She has an article forthcoming in Print Quarterly and is currently working towards writing a book on the embodiment of debt in satire over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The State of Paris Churches

Posted in on site, the 18th century in the news by Editor on March 28, 2011

The last time I was in Paris (January 2010), I was especially struck by the city’s churches. Apart from Notre Dame, these seem to be largely overlooked by both travelers and (all too often) scholars. Apparently, those in charge of preserving the city’s historic sites may also be neglecting them; at least this is the contention of Didier Rykner.

Didier Rykner, “The State of Churches in Paris (1): Saint-Philippe-du-Roule,” The Art Tribune (18 December 2010).

Jean-François Chalgrin, Saint-Philippe-du-Roule, 1774-84 (Photo by Vincent Babilotte, Wikimedia Commons)

This article inaugurates a new series devoted to Parisian churches. Although we often point out endangered religious sites, those here in the capital have escaped our attention thus far as we tend to assume that they are well protected. Unfortunately, this is not at all the case. The department in charge of preserving and restoring art works and mural paintings (the COARC) works diligently on important projects, certain restorations of major sections of buildings have also been carried out in the past few years by the Bureau des Edifices Cultuels & Historiques (BECH), but the need is so great and some churches are so deteriorated that it is now time to admit that this is not enough. . . .

To show our good faith and thus also more positive points, some of the articles in our series will highlight churches which have been restored, or where work is underway. We begin today, however, with a building which is in extremely grave danger, though not visible to visitors who enter: the church of Saint-Philippe-du-Roule. It was built in the late 18th century, designed by Jean-François Chalgrin who submitted his plans in 1764 although construction did not begin until 1774 and the blessing of the church took place only in 1784. . . .

The full article on Saint-Philippe-du-Roule and its deteriorating condition is available here»

Putting a Price on a Chinese Vase

Posted in Art Market by Editor on March 27, 2011

Arts writer and CultureGrrl blogger, Lee Rosenbaum, does an extraordinary job covering the intersection of the visual arts, museum culture, the art market, and politics. As a journalist, she’s not afraid of asking tough questions, challenging flimsy responses, and occasionally taking stances on controversial issues. In a recent posting (23 March 2011), she reports on the results of the New York Sotheby’s sale, Informing the Eye of the Collector: Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art from J.T. Tai & Co, in which a vase valued at $1000 sold for $18 million. The auction house presented the vase as “probably Republican” (early twentieth century) while seven bidders believed it to be something else altogether more important: a vase with the seal marks of the eighteenth-century emperor Qianlong.

It’s a potent example of what’s at stake in identifying an object. All seven bidders could certainly be mistaken, but regardless of who’s right, the discrepancies between their conception of the object and that of Sotheby’s is startling.

The posting is available here»

Berlin Conference on Plaster Casts

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on March 26, 2011

Gipsabgüsse und antike Skulpturen / Plaster Casts of Ancient Sculpture
Pergamon Museum, Berlin, 7-9 April 2011

Much of this conference addresses the nineteenth century, with a keynote address on Thursday evening by Dr. Marjorie Trusted, of the V&A on “Reproduction as Spectacle and Inspiration: The Cast Courts at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.” There are, however, several sessions on Friday morning for the eighteenth century:

  • Simone M. Kaiser (Johann-Wolfgang-von-Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main), “Die Verbindung von Antikenforschung und fürstlicher Repräsentation im Villengarten der frühen Neuzeit”
  • Hélène J. Bremer (University of Leiden), “How to Display a Collection of Classical Sculpture at the End of the 18th Century?”
  • Francesca Valli (Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, Milano), “The Galleria delle Statue of Brera Academy in Milan, 1806”

The full program is available here»

Research at the Boston Athenaeum

Posted in fellowships, graduate students by Editor on March 25, 2011

Short-Term Fellowships at the Boston Athenæum
Applications due by 15 April 2011

The Boston Athenæum, offers short-term fellowships to support the use of Athenæum collections for research, publication, curriculum and program development, or other creative projects. Each fellowship pays a stipend for a residency of twenty business days and includes a year’s membership to the Boston Athenæum. Scholars, graduate students, independent scholars, teaching faculty, and professionals in the humanities as well as teachers and librarians in secondary public, private, and parochial schools are eligible.

The Boston Athenæum, a membership library, first opened its doors in 1807, and its rich history as a library and cultural institution has been well documented in the annals of Boston’s cultural life. Today, it remains a vibrant and active institution that serves a wide variety of members and scholars. Members take advantage of its large and distinguished circulating collection, a newspaper and magazine reading room, the exquisite fifth floor reading room, quiet spaces and rooms for reading and researching, a children’s library, and wireless internet access throughout its building. The Special Collections resources are world-renowned, and include maps, manuscripts, rare books, and archival materials.

Additional information is available here»

Pockets in the Eighteenth Century

Posted in resources by Editor on March 24, 2011

Pockets of History
A Database Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the University of Southampton

Pair of embroidered pockets, mid-eighteenth century, (Halifax: Bankfield Museum)

It’s a commonplace, by now, but one of the remarkable things about the virtual world is the way one bit of familiar terrain quickly leads to who new sites. In an interesting enough posting at The Art History Newsletter, Jeremy Miller provides cases of peer-reviewed online journals and asks how they will come to fit into the established body of scholarly venues. One of the examples he cites is Worn Through, which addresses “apparel from an academic perspective.” After a small bit of exploring, I was impressed with the credentials of the contributors and the site’s two interns (an idea for Enfilade?), though I saw little evidence of peer-reviewed articles. Regardless, it is a fascinating site for anyone interested in
serious engagement with fashion and clothing.

More to the point for Enfilade readers, Heather Vaughan in a posting from November of 2009 addresses eighteenth-century clothing, including then current exhibitions related to the topic. Toward the end of the posting, she notes that “the University of Southampton has put together a database  of 17th-20th century tie-on pockets. The collection not only includes beautifully embroidered pockets, but also historic fashion dolls (whose costumes included pockets).” And what a wonderful database it is! Here’s the beginning of the description from the Southampton site itself:

The Pockets of History collection contains new digital photographs of over three hundred tie-on pockets of the 1700 and 1800s, with overviews and close-ups of details. The photographs come from the first survey ever made of women’s tie-on pockets surviving in Britain. Very few have been photographed before.

In addition to example of pockets, there are various supporting images that picture pockets. In addition, Barbara Burman and Seth Denbo supply a “History of Tie-on Pockets” (PDF). The homepage for the project is available here»


Online Journal: ‘Vivante Drawings’

Posted in resources by Editor on March 23, 2011

Featured Digital Resource: Vivante Drawings

Vivante Drawings addresses a broad range of issues relevant to early modern drawings generally, but there’s a lot here for the dix-huitièmiste. The following description comes from the site:

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Vivante Drawings is an online journal. Its purpose is to provide information on the nature and history of drawings and to address the question: just what is it that makes drawings so appealing, so attractive?

Lucy Vivante, editor, first learned about prints and drawings in a seminar taught by Christiane Andersson at Columbia University. Soon after graduating from Barnard
College she went to work as a curator for Ian Woodner. She stayed with the Ian Woodner Family Foundation for three years. In the 90s she and Michael Miller sold drawings as private dealers based in New York City. The Louvre, British Museum, and National Gallery of Art, Washington were some of their clients. From 2000 to 2008 Lucy worked at The Bank of New York as a vice president in the bank’s philanthropy department. In September 2008 she moved to Italy where she is writing pieces for The Berkshire Review for the Arts and volunteering, through the Università della Tuscia, at an archive in Tarquinia.

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For a sample of a posting that stretches from the Renaissance to the eighteenth century, see “Silhouetted and Silhouettes,” from 22 August 2010:

Anonymous, "Profile Bust of Dr. Gerard Van Sweiten," Black paper silhouette mounted on cream paper (Private Collection: image from Vivante Drawings)

Long before Etienne de Silhouette (1709-67), whose name was appropriated for black cut-out images, collectors were snipping the outlines of drawings. . . . Drawings weren’t the only snipped works. Medieval manuscripts have been clipped, even for making lampshades. Starting in the early 18th century prints were trimmed, glued to furniture and decorative objects, then varnished, creating the look of lacquered items. Sometimes the prints were made on purpose to be cut out for decorative projects. The descriptive word decoupage was the name for it and the leisure class took it up as a pass time–crafting for fun. . . . Etienne de Silhouette, the budget-minded Controller General of France’s Finances (1759) was known for cost cutting, to the point of calling for pocketless trousers. His name became associated with frugality and “à la silhouette” meant something that was no-frills. The cut-outs, generally portraits, were first known as “portraits à la silhouette,” then simply as silhouetttes. The big difference is that blank paper was used. This example just below [to the right] is by an anonymous cutter and is of Gerard van Swieten (1700-72), the personal doctor of Maria Theresa (1717-80), an important figure in developing the University of Vienna’s Medical School and a debunker of belief in vampires. . . .

The full posting is available here»

Paris Conference on Collectors’ Marks

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on March 22, 2011

Last year on the occasion of a new supplement to Frits Lugt’s Marques de Collections de dessins et d’estampes (link to a useful description at CODART), the Rencontres Internationales du Salon du Dessin 2010 focused on this crucial work, looking both at its significance and a few specific examples of collectors’ marks. The upcoming 2011 meeting continues the theme. From the Salon du Dessin website:

Rencontres Internationales du Salon du Dessin 2011: Les Marques de collections
Palais de la Bourse, Paris, 30-31 March 2011

A l’occasion de l’inauguration en 2010 d’un supplément de l’ouvrage de Frits Lugt (1884-1970) Marques de Collections de dessins et d’estampes, les Rencontres internationales du Salon du Dessin 2010 se sont consacrées à l’histoire des Marques de Collections. Le premier après-midi a été dédié à la présentation de la base, à un hommage à Frits Lugt, ainsi qu’aux apports des marques dans la connaissance des fonds institutionnels. La seconde partie du colloque s’est penchée plus précisément sur quelques exemples de collectionneurs et de leurs marques. Cette double approche a permis de définir le monde de la collection et des collectionneurs selon Frits Lugt, lui-même membre éminent de cette famille et doté d’une personnalité réellement hors du commun.

Pour cette nouvelle édition 2011, les Rencontres se dérouleront à nouveau au Palais de la Bourse les 30 et 31 mars prochain, toujours sous la direction éditoriale de Peter Fuhring, responsable de la mise en oeuvre de ce projet, dans la continuité des conférences de l’an dernier.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

  • Pierre Rosenberg (de l’Académie française), Présentation des VIèmes Rencontres
  • Novella Barbolani di Montauto (Università « La Sapienza » di Roma), “Les inscriptions sur les dessins de la collection F.M.N Gaburri”
  • Diana Dethloff (University College of London), “La collection de dessins de Peter Lely”
  • Donato Esposito (Historien de l’art, Londres), “Les vraies et fausses marques de Sir Joshua Reynolds”

Thursday, 31 March 2011

  • Peter Fuhring (Fondation Custodia, Paris), “Soleil ou Séchan? Identification de la marque L.2342”
  • Rhea Sylvia Blok (Fondation Custodia, Paris), “Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1890), collectionneur et artiste sur les pas de Rembrandt”
  • Pierre Juhel (Historien d’art, Paris), “Georges Pochet (1843-1901), collectionneur de dessins et estampes modernes”
  • Francesco Grisolia, (Doctorant, Université « Tor vegata » di Roma), “Rodolfo Lanciani (1845-1929), archéologue et collectionneur de dessins et d’estampes”