Furniture Exhibition at Winterthur: ‘Paint, Pattern, and People’

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 22, 2011

Press release from Winterthur:

Paint, Pattern & People: Furniture of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 1725-1850
Winterthur, 2 April 2011 — 8 January 2012

Curated by Wendy Cooper and Lisa Minardi

ISBN: 9780912724690, $55

This landmark exhibition explores the colorful furniture of southeastern Pennsylvania along with the people who made, owned, inherited, and collected it. Featuring nearly 200 objects—including furniture, fraktur, needlework, and paintings—the show focuses on the culture and creativity of the area’s English- and German-speaking inhabitants. Paint, Pattern & People sheds new light on southeastern Pennsylvania’s highly distinctive local expressions of furniture and presents important objects for which the maker or family history is known. This well-documented furniture provides a new context to understand the objects as fully as possible and place them within specific locations. Although the exhibition is about furniture, it is not about dovetails and glue blocks but rather the people of the region who are the threads from which the story is woven. Thus the furniture in Paint, Pattern & People is the vehicle that transports us into the lives of our ancestors and leads to a greater understanding of our rich cultural heritage.

Due to William Penn’s policy of religious tolerance that attracted people of various faiths and ethnic backgrounds, Pennsylvania was the most culturally diverse of the thirteen colonies. Through the study of objects produced by this great mixed multitude, the extraordinary vibrance and variety of the region’s furniture comes into focus. Ethnicity, religious affiliation, personal taste, socioeconomic status, and the skill of the craftsman all influenced local forms, ornamentation, and construction. (more…)

Exhibition: ‘Picturing the Senses in European Art’

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on April 21, 2011

From the MFAH:

Picturing the Senses in European Art
The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, 10 April — 17 July 2011

Sebastiano Ceccarini, "Portrait of the Young Princes Marescotti of Parrano," 1745

Picturing the Senses in European Art, organized by the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation, explores artists’ interest in evoking the five senses through both allegorical and realistic associations. The exhibition of 16th-, 17th- and 18th-century paintings and works on paper is drawn largely from the permanent collections of the Blaffer Foundation and the MFAH, and offers an opportunity to see some significant works that are not often on display while viewing others in a fresh context.

The theme of Picturing the Senses is simple and accessible, yet rooted in classical philosophy and art-historical tradition. “Picturing the Senses includes and reaches beyond the traditional scenes and cycles of the senses,” says Leslie Scattone, assistant curator of the Blaffer Foundation, “and covers a variety of subjects that evoke one or more of the senses. While all of the works are mediated through the sense of sight, many appeal to multiple senses, and the discovery of these can be an intriguing process.”

The five senses as a theme in art first emerged in the medieval period, when they were often associated with vice. During the 16th century, the senses began being treated as independent subjects, usually as allegories. A shift to more naturalistic depictions took place in the 17th century, paralleling intellectual developments of the time. (more…)

Study Day near Paris: Vauban’s Influence on Military Architecture

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on April 20, 2011

From Le Blog de APAHAU:

L’Influence de Vauban dans le Monde
Citadelle d’Arras, 7 July 2011

Vauban n’a jamais publié un traité de la fortification, considérant que, d’une part, « l’art de fortifier ne consistait pas dans des règles et des systèmes mais uniquement dans le bon sens et l’expérience », et d’autre part que, tombée entre les mains des puissances étrangères, une telle publication pourrait être utilisée contre la France. Il accepte cependant, à la demande de Louis XIV, de rédiger deux manuscrits sur l’attaque et la défense des places pour l’instruction du duc de Bourgogne, petit-fils du roi Soleil. Ces deux écrits, achevés en 1704 et 1706, seront imprimés aux Pays-Bas dès 1737. A partir de 1680, la réputation de Vauban en France est telle que ses contemporains commencent à mentionner les apports de Vauban dans les traités de la fortification, soit en les actualisant pour y inclure les innovations apportées par lui, soit en éditant des traités en prétendant livrer les méthodes de Vauban. Dans le monde entier on retrouve des fortifications bastionnées supposées être influencées par la méthode de Vauban, de par leur forme, ou parce que des ingénieurs de l’Europe occidentale ont contribué à leur construction. Cependant, lorsqu’on étudie ces sites de plus près, il s’avère que la filiation n’est pas toujours évidente à établir.

La journée d’étude aura pour objectifs :
1. de déterminer plus précisément par quelles voies l’influence a pu se faire,
2. d’identifier les sites ou secteurs géographiques où l’influence de Vauban est réelle,
3. de préciser quels sont exactement les aspects attribuables à Vauban.
Une première analyse de l’influence de Vauban dans le monde sur l’art de fortifier concernera la façon dont ces traités ont été utilisés à l’étranger. La seconde approche est celle de l’analyse architecturale et technique: quelles formes et quelles méthodes de construction, utilisées au-delà des frontières françaises jusqu’au milieu du XIXe siècle, peuvent être attribuées au grand ingénieur ?

Conference: Britain’s Soldiers, 1750-1815

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on April 19, 2011

From the conference website:

Britain’s Soldiers, 1750-1815
University of Leeds, 7-8 July 2011

Registration is now open for the two-day international conference on Britain’s relationship with its soldiers in the eighteenth century. It brings together an exciting range of over 20 papers into a series of panels, and covers social, cultural, and military history. The presentations cover all aspects of the men from the United Kingdom who served in the military and British attitudes towards them. From the identities and experience to the relationship between soldiers, culture and society. Sessions include:

  • Soldiers and society
  • Discipline and disorder
  • Soldiers in art
  • Identity and the experience of others
  • Sources for studying soldiers

There will also be key note lectures from Professor Stephen Conway and Dr Stephen Brumwell.

Exhibition: London’s Lost Museums at the Hunterian

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on April 18, 2011

Press release from the Hunterian:

London’s Lost Museums: Nature and Medicine on Show
Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons, London, 1 March — 2 July 2011

William Bullock's Egyptian Hall

London’s Lost Museums: Nature and Medicine on Show celebrates early natural history and anatomical collections once displayed in the capital, now ‘lost’ due to neglect, dispersal or destruction. With manuscripts, illustrations and specimens, the exhibition brings to life the contents, purpose and fate of seven historic collections and paints a portrait of curators and museum practices of the last 350 years. The exhibition also provides an opportunity to see fascinating objects such as a rare illustrated catalogue, Museum Regales’ Societis from 1681, a mummified foot believed to be from the Royal Society’s Repository, and hear about the devastating bomb damage inflicted upon the Hunterian Museum during
the Second World War.

As noted by Sarah Pearson, Curator at the Hunterian Museum, “Displays of natural history and anatomy have been popular in London since the 17th century and were curated for various reasons, some enhanced social and professional credentials while others were created to inspire wonder or to educate. Whatever their purpose, precious remains of collections forgotten, dispersed or damaged have found their way into today’s museums, including the Hunterian Museum, and so centuries on are still helping to explain  the world of nature and medicine.”

The seven ‘lost’ natural history and anatomy museums featured in the exhibition are:
1. The Royal Society’s Repository – 17th to 18th century
2. Sir Hans Sloane’s Museum – 17th to 18th century
3. Sir Ashton Lever’s Holophusikon and the Museum Leverianum – 18th to 19th century
4. William Bullock’s Egyptian Hall – early 19th century
5. Joshua Brookes’ museum of anatomy and natural history – 18th to 19th century
6. John Heaviside’s anatomy museum – 18th to 19th century
7. The original College Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons – 19th to 20th century

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

London’s Lost Museums Study Day
Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons, London, 21 May 2011

For those inspired by the exhibition London’s Lost Museums, this study day offers the opportunity to learn more about museums that did not survive the test of time. Engage with the material and manuscript remnants of forgotten collections and tour the exhibition with its curators. Featuring speakers from across the heritage sector:
* Sam Alberti (Royal College of Surgeons) on lost medical museums
* Alan Bates (University College London) on lost anatomy shows
* Caroline Cornish (Royal Holloway) on Kew’s lost museums
* Stuart Eagles on the lost art museum at Ancoats
* Tim Knox (Sir John Soane’s Museum) on a lost architectural museum
* Frances Larson (Durham University) on Wellcome’s lost collection
* Chris Plumb (University of Manchester) on lost animal displays

£45/£35 concessions (MGHG members; College members, fellows and affiliates, full-time students). Includes refreshments and lunch. Bookings: 020 7869 6560. More information is available here»

St Paul’s in HD — Just Like Being There?

Posted in on site, resources by Editor on April 17, 2011

This panoramic view of St. Paul’s in London is extraordinary. I’ve excerpted below the marketing copy from the company’s website. Quite apart from the quality of the image, it’s interesting to see this latest installation in the rhetoric of the real: it’s “just like actually being there” along with requisite exclamation marks!!! Click on the photo to view the interior images. From Spherical Images:

A London-based virtual tour company, Spherical Images provide HD quality virtual tours by photographing your venue using ground breaking technology – allowing you to bring your venue to the customer with unparalleled impact and quality. . . .

They won’t just get an impression of your Venue, they will see what it is actually like to be there. This means they can plan an event and see the true potential and beauty of your Venue. Our Virtual Tours are shot using cutting edge photography techniques such as High Dynamic Range (HDR) and exposure blending to give you a full screen HD experience that is just like actually being there! Virtual Tours are becoming an essential tool for showing Venues online. Make your website convert by showing customers what you have.

One of the largest indoor photographs ever taken: 2,400 images stitched together to make a 15.5 Giga Pixel panorama. It took 3.5 hours to shoot – during which time the cathedral had completely filled up with tourists – hence the ‘half people’, floating heads etc! . . .

Reviewed: ‘Gem Engraving in Britain from Antiquity to the Present’

Posted in books, reviews by Editor on April 16, 2011

Recently published by Apollo Magazine:

Julia Kagan, Gem Engraving in Britain from Antiquity to the Present (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2010), ISBN 9781407305578, £80 / $160.

Reviewed by Diana Scarisbrick; posted 1 April 2011.

Neglected for years, the study of English glyptics has recently taken on a new lease of life. Following the publication of Professor Sir John Boardman’s ‘The Marlborough Gems’ (2009) and of his catalogue, co-authored by Kirsten Aschengreen Piacenti, of the collection of HM Queen Elizabeth II, it is now the turn of Julia Kagan. Here, she tells the whole story, from its roots in the mid-1st- century-BC Roman invasion up to modern times, bringing together in chronological sequence the many artists, patrons, collectors and scholars involved. Her narrative is easy to read, fully illustrated, with every statement supported by a reference, helpfully inserted into the text and not relegated to the back of the book. . . .

The full review is available here»

Exhibition: Goya’s ‘Disasters of War’ in Barcelona

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on April 15, 2011

As noted at ArtDaily:

Goya: The Disasters of War / Los Desastres de la Guerra
Museu Diocesà de Barcelona, 24 March — 29 May 2011

Ibercaja, together with the Diocesan Museum of Barcelona, has organised this exhibition of the first complete series of The Disasters of the War: 80 engravings of the Aragonese painter Francisco Goya Lucientes (Fuendetodos, Zaragoza, 1746 – Bordeaux, 1828). These were painted during the Spanish Independence War, between 1810 and 1814, and are a graphical chronicle of those tragic events. However, Goya far-reaches the events and his existential and vital adventure, and he uses his art to make a declaration against all wars: he denounces the atrocities of the French army against the Spanish people, as well as the violence of the soldiers and the uncontrollable masses. The result of these paintings is the evidence of a surprisingly modernity for the times, a real crude disillusioned reflexion about mankind, finding itself in a limit situation that creates cruelty, death and misery and shows the failure of reason, strongly defended by the erudites. . . .

The full ArtDaily posting is available here»

Paris Conference: Ugliness in the Eye of the Beholder?

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on April 14, 2011

This study day in Paris (Nanterre) addresses the theme of the aesthetics of ugliness from the Renaissance to the present. The first session is the one that’s relevant to the eighteenth century — and interesting to see ornament as the point of entry into the subject. From the INHA:

L’Esthétique du laid: Essai de définition d’une histoire du goût
Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, 19 May 2011

Objectif à atteindre ou bête à abattre, la question de l’esthétisme demeure encore aujourd’hui un point sensible de la production et de la critique artistique. La multiplicité des axes d’étude et la subjectivité « implicite » du sujet contraignent aujourd’hui les chercheurs et les enseignants à d’autant plus de nuances et de neutralité dans l’enseignement des arts. Organisée par les étudiants en Master 2 de l’Université Paris Ouest Nanterre – La Défense et sous l’égide de Claire Barbillon et Marianne Cojannot-Le Blanc, maîtres de conférences, cette journée d’étude est par conséquent l’occasion de réfléchir sur cette notion de la « laideur » et sur ses implications.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Première Partie
Romain Godart and Sabrina Valin
« La gravure dans tous ses états : recueils d’ornements et décor architectural »

Malgré les critiques formulées à l’encontre des différents types d’ornements depuis l’Antiquité, leur diffusion massive depuis le chantier des Loges du Vatican jusqu’aux édifices français du XVIIIe siècle montre de quelles manières le « microbe » antique, tel que le décrit Louis Courajod, contamine les différents arts. Des recueils d’ornements fournissant aux artistes différents modèles, jusqu’à leur adaptation peinte, sculptée ou modelée, l’étude de ce sujet montre que l’ornement devient porteur d’un message qui transcende les simples préoccupations esthétiques et révèle une dimension cognitive ayant bien souvent trait à son commanditaire.

The full program is available as PDF here»

Reviewed: ‘Early Georgian Furniture’

Posted in books, Member News, reviews by Editor on April 13, 2011

Adam Bowett, Early Georgian Furniture 1715–1740 (Woodbridge, UK: Antique Collectors’ Club, 2009) 328 pages, ISBN: 9781851495849.

Reviewed for Enfilade by David Pullins

In the preface to Adam Bowett’s first book English Furniture 1660–1714 From Charles II to Queen Anne (2002), he wrote “I have attempted to write this book from first principles and, in the main, from primary evidence — bills, inventories and, of course, the furniture itself” (10). In Bowett’s latest work, Early Georgian Furniture 1715–1740, he pursues this disciplined and productive approach, providing numerous correctives to the sloppy dating that has infiltrated not only the antiques trade but also academic publications on English furniture. In particular, his research reveals the dangers of back-dating in the field, which, he argues, has created stylistic vacuums, particularly for the period of the 1720s and 1730s. In order more precisely to date a given form or motif, Bowett focuses on “fashionable furniture” — which is to say items typically produced in London for less than ten percent of the population. While this might at first appear to limit the usefulness of his study beyond the most rarefied examples, his point is not so much to disregard less elevated or vernacular examples but to provide solid points of departure through vanguard furniture. A trickle-down effect, largely accepted by most scholars who examine commerce during the period, is therefore a basic premise of the study. For readers aiming to identify and date a given piece of furniture, this method — along with the structure of the book, which is divided into six chapters according to form (e.g., “Seat Furniture” or “Mirrors”) — results in a remarkably user friendly text that, through a rich range of intelligently selected illustrations, can help contextualize furniture of varied quality and geography.

While Bowett’s meticulously documented corrections to the accepted chronology of English furniture will probably prove the strongest case for the importance of his book, the contribution he offers expands beyond issues of dating. Bowett’s primary research has revealed a fascinating body of information on the training of craftsmen, power structure in the workshop and the intricacies of interaction between patrons and furniture makers. By looking at contemporary documents, including inventories, trade-cards and labels (many of them illustrated), Bowett is able better to define basic terms used to describe furniture forms and the division of labor in the trade between, for example, turners and chair-makers or cabinet-makers and carvers. In the best case scenarios, contemporary descriptions are matched with the surviving work allowing us better to describe undocumented pieces of furniture and better to imagine pieces which are known now only through written descriptions. Bowett also lays the groundwork for understanding two especially complex issues relevant to his subject, the timber trade and the influence of East Asian furniture on English stylistic developments. While expanding on either topic would have greatly enriched his book and its relevance apart from the objects immediately at hand, he wisely curtails his discussion within the context of a self-acknowledged survey (though East Asia appropriately reappears in his description of the development of the cabriole leg, the top rails and back splats of early Georgian chairs).

In addition to Bowdett’s primary concern with form, this survey is also notable for its detailed account of gilt furniture (an important counterpoint to the materials caught in the colloquial phrase “Age of Walnut” to describe the period) and japanned surfaces, which Bowett first treated with considerable care in his earlier book on the preceding period. Both kinds of decoration remind us of the resilience of baroque modes well into the eighteenth century which issues of condition have sometimes occluded.

Bowett’s reappraisal of early Georgian furniture stands out as arguably the most important since R.W. Symonds’s classic texts from the 1920s through 1950s and the Dictionary of English Furniture (last revised in 1954), all of which continue to be used regularly by scholars. At two to three color illustrations per page, each given a detailed caption, the book moves beyond what earlier authors could offer while retaining their high standards of archival research. Following from his earlier work on furniture from Charles II through Queen Anne, Bowett’s book also paves a carefully plotted path for his next anticipated project devoted to the rise and influence of the most famous English cabinet-maker, Thomas Chippendale.

David Pullins is a Ph.D. candidate in History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University. His research addresses the circulation of images across media in eighteenth-century France.