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»