Susan Taylor-Leduc on the French Picturesque Garden

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on April 1, 2011

From the Bard Graduate Center:

Susan Taylor-Leduc, The “Pleasures of Surprise” in the French Picturesque Garden
Bard Graduate Center, New York, 27 April 2011

Just as video games, smart phone ‘apps’ and online betting solicit the attention of early 21st-century subjects, gaming, particularly high-stakes gambling, was irresistible to eighteenth-century French Society. Whereas gambling was considered as an abstract science combining mathematical calculation and chance, its corollary, surprise, inspired the imagination. Baron de Montesquieu linked the two in his “Essay on Taste” in 1754, suggesting how the social practices of gambling inspired surprising images, behaviors, and sensations. Comparing playing cards, board games, engravings, and paintings to garden plans and extant garden sites, this talk investigates how gambling was projected from the card table to the picturesque gardens created by elite patrons who were themselves addicted gamers. It argues that by fostering a game-like sense of surprise, such gardens promoted new sensate experiences that reconfigured eighteenth century notions of amusement and pleasure and contributed to the formulation of modern aesthetic discourses. (more…)

Call for Papers: Merchants as Collectors

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on April 1, 2011

The dates of the conference topic range from 1450 to 1650 — yes, well before even the ‘long eighteenth century’ — but there’s one phrase in the Call for Papers that caught my attention: “topics falling outside of this date range will be considered if a compelling reason for their inclusion can be made.” Details are available here. -CAH

Early Modern Merchants as Collectors
Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, 15-16 June 2012

Proposals due by 31 May 2011

In 1615, Vincenzo Scamozzi highlighted the importance in Venice of the merchant-collectors Bartolomeo dalla Nave and Daniel Nijs by including descriptions of their collections in his L’Idea della architettura universale. Scholarship has also moved beyond the consideration of the artist and the patron as the principal protagonists in the history of collecting. As a result, merchants are now being regarded by historians as influential collectors in their own right.

With the 1985 publication of The Origin of Museums, a collection of conference papers edited by Oliver Impey and Arthur MacGregor, the Ashmolean Museum became established as a leading institution for research in the history of collecting. Recently re-opened with innovative galleries displaying objects exploring the theme ‘Crossing Cultures Crossing Time’, the new Ashmolean now affords an opportunity to re-visit the 1985 conference topic and not only to update but also to expand it into this fresh area of research and debate. This interdisciplinary conference will explore early modern merchants as collectors across a wide range of geographical regions and collecting categories, investigating whether there are any patterns connecting these merchant-collectors of the early modern period and what theoretical frameworks can be applied to them. (more…)