News: British Library to Digitize Eighteenth-Century Texts

Posted in books, the 18th century in the news by Freya Gowrley on July 31, 2011

With a growing number of eighteenth-century texts available online, the period should become increasingly accessible to scholars around the world. This latest cooperative project between the British Library and Google promises to augment the already invaluable contribution made by Gale’s subscription-based resource, Eighteenth Century Collections Online. As reported by Mark Brown for The Guardian (20 June 2011) . . .

British Library and Google Bring 18th-Century Hippos to the Web

British Library, Photo by Mike Peek, Wikimedia Commons

Digitisation project will make out of copyright books from 1700 to 1870 available online, including account of Prince of Orange’s stuffed animal interests.

An 18th-century treatise on the Prince of Orange’s interest in a stuffed hippo will join one of the first modern constitutions and pamphlets on Marie Antoinette as part of an ambitious project to make 250,000 books in the British Library available online for the first time.

The library and Google said they were linking up to digitise out-of-copyright books from the collection, making them available to both specialised researchers and the simply curious.

The library’s chief executive Lynne Brindley called it a “significant partnership” which was part of the institution’s “proud tradition of giving access to anyone, anywhere and at any time.”

The out-of-copyright books from around 1700 to 1870 will be digitised over three years, with the majority being books from continental Europe. The library will not choose the books in forensic fashion, although they will be thematically linked – colonial history, for example. Shelves of books relating to the French revolution will be some of the first packaged up and sent to Google for digitisation

Others which will be digitised include Georges Buffon’s hitherto little-known 1775 work on the natural history of the hippo which also gives an account of the stuffed hippo taking up much of the Prince of Orange’s cabinet of curiosities. . . .

The full article is available here»

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In the latest issue of Eighteenth-Century Studies 44 (September 2011), Patrick Spedding’s article “‘The New Machine’: Discovering the Limits of ECCO,” pp. 437-53, addresses the difficulties of conducting research with scanned text-bases such as Eighteenth Century Collections Online — in this case, Spedding catalogs some of the ways ECCO fails to turn up texts with references to condoms, even though the texts are available in the database. It will be interesting to see what the results of the BL/Google initiative look like, though if scholars’ reactions to Google Books serves as any guide, there will be plenty of grumbling. -CH.

On Site: Washington, D.C.’s Old Stone House

Posted in on site by Editor on July 30, 2011

I’ve no doubt that with many of HECAA’s members scattered across the globe, lots of you have made terrific discoveries over the summer. Some of these will lead to new areas of research, publications, and teaching ideas. Others, however, might simply stand out as interesting. There are plenty of venues for the big finds, but it seems to me the more modest — often just personally satisfying — discoveries usually just fade quietly into the background of memory. As a means of countering the tendency, I would encourage HECAA members to share some of the curious gems you’ve stumbled across recently — perhaps an exhibition, an unfamiliar collection, a less than famous country house, or a small museum, maybe a site that came as a total surprise or maybe something you’ve been meaning to visit for a long time.

As proof of just how unassuming such ‘discoveries’ might be, I’m contributing the first installment in the series. So don’t be bashful, send in your own contribution as well. I’m happy to help with logistics of the posting. Best, -CH

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Last week I was in Washington, D.C. for a couple of meetings, and though I didn’t have lots of time for research and museum visits, I spent a balmy evening walking from the White House to Georgetown. At 3051 M. Street, just across from a Barnes & Noble bookstore, stands the Old Stone House. Built in 1765, it is the oldest surviving building in the Washington metropolitan area. At least according to my guidebook, it is, in fact, the city’s only colonial building still standing. Administered by the National Park Services, the house, with its six rooms and garden, is open to the public for free tours (I was unfortunately too late to see inside).

Built by Christopher Layman, a joiner from Pennsylvania, who lived there briefly with his wife Rachael and their two sons, the house was expanded after being purchased by Cassandra Chew in 1767; it remained in the family until the nineteenth century. Paneling was added in 1775 along with an Adams style mantel in the 1790s. Inventories of the Chew family’s possessions also list slaves.

In this city that so depends upon giving visual form to eighteenth-century ideals — from L’Enfant’s 1791 plan to the towering sculpture of a standing Jefferson peering out across the Tidal Basin — it is remarkable to me that this small house built by a carpenter is the only tangible bit of architecture connecting us to the pre-revolutionary period.

-Craig Hanson

Understanding British Portraits Research Network

Posted in fellowships, opportunities, resources by Freya Gowrley on July 29, 2011

The Understanding British Portraits Research Network is an active network with free membership for professionals working with British portraits including curators, museum learning professionals, researchers, academics, and conservators. Having come across the network via its exciting 2012 bursary announcement, I was really impressed with the project’s promotion of, and research into, the British portrait. The maximum funding of £500 is intended to cover five days of research, along with accommodations and travel expenses. With news, an annual seminar, and several bursaries, the network is a resource many will find useful. FG

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The Understanding British Portraits Network Bursary for 2012
Applications due by 8 September 2011

The Understanding British Portraits network is led by the National Portrait Gallery, the National Trust, The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Renaissance North East and Renaissance South West. It aims to enhance the knowledge and understanding of portraits in all media in British collections, and to facilitate future dialogue and debate around research methodologies, interpretation, display and learning programmes. The network has a particular interest in promoting the research and interpretation of regional collections. More information can be found on the UBP website: www.portraits.specialistnetwork.org.uk.

This bursary will give the successful candidate the opportunity to devote five working days, over a period of almost six months, to a portrait-focused project of their choosing. Projects can involve a particular portrait, artist, collection, pattern of collecting, method of display, interpretation, or learning programme. The UBP network will provide a maximum budget of £500 to offset expenses such as travel and accommodation. The successful candidate is free to determine the best means of using their budget in order to complete their project; this might include a visit to the National Portrait Gallery’s Heinz Archive and Library to conduct research and meet with relevant members of staff. Applications should take the form of a concise outline (max. 500 words) of the proposed project. The proposal should include:

  • a description of the project and clear objectives
  • proposed activities involved in your project
  • specific partners expected to be involved in your research (e.g. local libraries, private collections, auction houses, museums, etc.)
  • desired outcomes and target audience
  • CPD benefits
  • timescale of research (all projects must be completed by 23 March 2012)
  • estimated use of funds
  • how the outcomes of the bursary will be disseminated among professional colleagues within the successful candidate’s organisation and region.

Applications must be accompanied by a brief nomination from line managers.

Advice for applicants:

  • Please begin your application by stating that you are applying for the UBP network bursary, followed by your name, job title, and details of your nominee.
  • Past applicants to the UBP bursary and placement schemes are welcome to apply again.
  • The project should be realistically achievable in the limited budget and timescale.
  • The bursary cannot be spent on conference fees or training courses.

The deadline for applications and nominations is 12 noon on Friday 9 September 2011; please email both applications and nominations to ssnportraiture@npg.org.uk. Applications received after this time will not be considered. In the meantime, any queries should be sent to the same address. Applications will be assessed by the Understanding British Portraits Steering Group, and all applicants contacted before the end of September.

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P R E V I O U S  R E C I P I E N T S

Paul Holden, House and Collections Manager, Lanhydrock

Studio of Godfrey Kneller, "John Robartes, later 1st Earl of Radnor, Dressed in his Lord Privy Seal Robes," ca. 1680 (Lanhydrock, Cornwall)

My aim was to assess the connoisseurship and collecting habits of the first four Earls of Radnor and perhaps in the process recognise the provenance of our collections at Lanhydrock. Looking predominantly at portraiture my two trips to London took me to the NPG Heinz archive, the V&A art library to look at auction records and the British Library to look through remnants of Radnor correspondence. My aim is to write this research up for future publication and incorporate some of the findings as house presentation in our ‘Bringing Properties to Life’ project. I will also use the information in a lecture entitled ”The Earls of Radnor as Connoisseurs (1679-1758)’ to be held at Lanhydrock on 25 November 2011 (for further details or booking call 01208 265950). Furthermore, in putting these details together our Collections Management database will benefit from more detailed entries. I have wanted to do this research for some time now and the bursary has, at last, made it possible. The bursary programme worked extremely well and facilitated research which may not have been possible through the daily work pattern. I
fully applaud the scheme and am grateful for the opportunity to participate. Thank you
for giving me the opportunity to pursue this line of research. It was an experience that I
found very enriching both personally, academically and culturally.

Jo Cairns, Museum Assistant, Mount Edgcumbe House

Girl in a green dress, English School, early 17th century

The project set out to enhance our understanding of several seventeenth-century portraits in the Mount Edgcumbe collection, hopefully shedding new light on the story of the Edgcumbe family and therefore improving our ability to interpret these portraits for the public.

The four portraits chosen for the project were of unidentified sitters and were by unidentified artists. They had all been ‘cleaned’ and ‘retouched’ at various intervals in the past making them all the more difficult to decipher. Research was undertaken into the inscriptions, symbols and heraldry shown in some of the portraits, the costume worn by the sitters and the Edgcumbe family history. This all helped to date the portraits more accurately and narrow down the possible identities of the sitters. In one instance it enabled me to positively identify one of the portraits as Sir Richard Edgcumbe (1565-1639).

This project has benefitted me personally in a number of ways. It significantly increased my confidence in researching and working with the portrait collection at Mount Edgcumbe, and has also increased my understanding of many subjects I had not foreseen, for example costume, heraldry and painting conservation techniques. I believe the project has also been extremely beneficial to Mount Edgcumbe, allowing me to dedicate time on research which would otherwise not have been done.

North American Conference on British Studies, November 2011

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on July 29, 2011

Annual Meeting of the North American Conference on British Studies
Denver, 18-20 November 2011

Registration is now open for the 2011 annual meeting of the North American Conference on British Studies, hosted by the Western Conference on British Studies. The conference will take place November 18-20, 2011, at the Sheraton Downtown Denver, right in the heart of the city. Details are available here»

Exhibition: Marie Leszczynska, Wife of Louis XV

Posted in exhibitions by Freya Gowrley on July 28, 2011

Whilst not as well-known as her eighteenth-century counterparts — Marie Antoinette, Madame du Barry, or her direct rival Madame de Pompadour — Marie Leszczyńska, the wife of Louis XV, was a fascinating figure, and as Queen Consort of France from 1725 to 1768, she contributed to the period’s artistic culture. From the Château de Fontainebleau:

Parler à l’âme et au coeur: Le Goût de Marie Leszczynska
Musée du Château de Fontainebleau, 18 June — 19 September 2011

Curated by Xavier Salmon

Jean-Marc Nattier, “Portrait of Marie Leszczynska, Queen Consort of France,” detail, ca. 1748

De nombreux éléments de décor des Grands et des Petits Appartements du château de Fontainebleau témoignent encore aujourd’hui du goût de Marie Leszczynska (1703-1768), épouse de Louis XV et reine de France de 1725 à 1768. Fille du roi détrôné de Pologne Stanislas Leszczynski, cette princesse était d’autant plus attachée au château que c’est dans la chapelle de la Trinité de ce palais qu’elle épousa le roi de France, le 5 septembre 1725. C’est aussi dans l’appartement de la cour Ovale à Fontainebleau que, le 20 décembre 1765, s’est éteint son fils unique, le Dauphin Louis.

Malgré la dispersion à sa mort du mobilier, des tableaux, tapis, tapisseries, bronzes et objets d’art constituant l’ameublement de ses appartements à Fontainebleau et à Versailles, nombreuses sont les œuvres revenues au cours des deux derniers siècles et figurant à nouveau au sein des collections des deux châteaux, permettant encore d’évoquer la personnalité singulière et peu connue de cette reine. Acquis par le château de Fontainebleau en 2004, le remarquable ensemble de quatre tableaux peints par Jean-Baptiste-Marie Pierre (1714-1789) illustrant les Quatre Saisons était disposé dans le cabinet de retraite de Marie Leszczynska, disparu depuis la création à sa place du boudoir de Marie-Antoinette (1787). Ces peintures constituent un très bel exemple de son goût.

À l’aide d’œuvres peintes par Oudry, Nattier, les Coypel, Vien ou Pierre – et celles exécutées de la main même de la reine – c’est toute une atmosphère à jamais disparue qui est restituée le temps d’une exposition. À cette occasion est présenté au public pour la première fois le fameux « Cabinet des Chinois » livré pour Versailles. Les sept peintures à sujet exotique furent un véritable travail de collaboration entre Marie Leszczynska et les peintres du Cabinet du roi.

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English gloss from Le nouveau Par!s:

A discreet sovereign, Marie Leszczynska, wife of Louis XV, was a true patron of the arts at court. A great painting and music lover (she painted watercolours herself), throughout her life she surrounded herself with great artists from whom she commissioned works with which to decorate her apartments. The Chateau of Fontainebleau, where she was married and where her son Louis Ferdinand de Bourbon died, still bears witness to her refined taste.

This exhibition brings together numerous works from her residence, from the remarkable collection of paintings by Jean-Baptiste Marie Pierre illustrating the Four Seasons, on display in her personal cabinet to paintings by Oudry, Nattier, Coypel and by the queen herself. You can admire the famous “Chinese Cabinet” commissioned for Versailles, a series of seven paintings on exotic themes which was a true work of collaboration between Marie Leszczynska and the painters of the King’s Cabinet. You can also see the furnishings of her apartments: carpets, hangings, bronzes and other works of art.

Elisabeth Badinter: Feminism Here and There, Then and Now

Posted in today in light of the 18th century by Editor on July 27, 2011

I think it’s safe to say that the history of feminism looks considerably different in France and the United States. Last week’s issue of The New Yorker includes an instructive profile by Jane Kramer on the powerful intellectual Elisabeth Badinter, whose scholarly interests are anchored in the eighteenth century. Badinter has taught philosophy in Paris for twenty-eight years at the École Polytechnique. Her academic books include Les Remonstrances de Malesherbes, an account of the trial of Louis XVI, Les Passions Intellectuelles, and a biography of Nicolas de Condorcet, co-authored with her husband Robert Badinter, an established fixture in French politics. In 2006 she co-curated an exhibition at the Bibliothèque Nationale on Émilie du Châtelet. -CH

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From The New Yorker:

Elisabeth Badinter, photograph by Lise Sarfati (The New Yorker, 25 July 2011, p. 45).

Badinter once told me that she lived in two centuries and commuted between them, a reluctant tenant in her own. She is convinced that young Frenchwomen have been undermining their hard-won claims to equality — a universalist principle enshrined in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, written by the revolutionary elite of 1789 as the founding document of a new republic. Never mind that the citoyennes of 1789 lost those rights before they ever had them, or that they got to vote only after the Second World War, or, for that matter, that until they took to the streets two months ago, in protest, they were expected to accept the extraordinary sexual prerogatives of their republic’s male leaders. Legally, Frenchwomen have those rights now, and Badinter thinks they are starting to renounce them. She believes that, in the name of “difference,” young women are falling victim to sociobiological fictions that reduce them to the status of female mammals, programmed to the “higher claims” of womb and breast. She has written five blunt, admonitory best-sellers on the subject of those women and their men. They have made her a household name. She calls
them “my contrarian feminist politics.” . . .

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Though little of Badinter’s work has been translated into English, the American edition of her latest book, Le conflit, la femme et la mère is scheduled to be released in January 2012.

Exhibition: French Landscape Prints at the Château de Sceaux

Posted in exhibitions, on site by Editor on July 26, 2011

In the eighteenth century the Château de Sceaux was home to Louis Auguste de Bourbon, the Duke of Maine (the son of Louis XIV and his royal mistress, Madame de Montespan). The Duchess of Maine, Louise-Bénédicte de Bourbon-Condé, had her children raised at the nearby Petit Château, the building now serving as an exhibition venue for the Musée de l’Île-de-France. Just south of Paris, the commune of Sceaux is served by the RER Line B. From the website of the Domaine de Sceaux:

Le Dessin français de paysage aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles
Musée de l’Île-de-France, Petit Château du Domaine de Sceaux (near Paris), 14 May — 15 August 2011

Donnant sur la ville côté cour, partie intégrante du parc départemental côté jardin, le Petit Château du Domaine de Sceaux complète désormais les espaces du musée de l’Île-de-France ouverts au public. Il devient aujourd’hui le lieu de rendez-vous des amateurs d’arts graphiques. Une première exposition consacrée au Dessin français de paysage aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles s’y déroule du 14 mai au 15 août.

The Château de Sceaux (ca. 1860) houses the Musée de l'Île-de-France. The current château replaced a seventeenth-century house destroyed in the French Revolution. The gardens were laid out by André Le Nôtre in the 1670s.

Préfiguration de la vocation nouvelle du Petit Château, l’exposition consacrée au dessin français de paysage des XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles a permis la réunion d’une cinquantaine d’œuvres provenant de plusieurs grands musées (Besançon, Dijon, Epinal, Marseille, Montpellier, Quimper, Rennes), le Louvre consentant pour sa part à un ensemble de prêts particulièrement important. Le fonds propre du musée de l’Île-de-France vient compléter une sélection valorisant différents types de paysage, servis par une grande diversité de techniques graphiques (pierre noire, sanguine, lavis d’encre, aquarelle…). Que la représentation porte sur des sites rustiques ou urbains, que le cadrage en soit panoramique ou resserré, que l’élément humain y trouve ou non sa place, ces
feuilles se livrent comme autant de visions singulières du
monde, soutenues par des principes esthétiques très affirmés.

Site of the current exhibition of landscape prints, the Petit Château (ca. 1661) is one of the oldest buildings in the park.

Ainsi les dessins de Claude Gellée, de Sébastien Bourdon ou de Pierre Patel, au XVIIe siècle, véhiculent une pensée résolument classique, nourrie de poésie virgilienne appelant à une méditation sereine, tandis que ceux de François Boucher, de Jean-Honoré Fragonard ou d’Hubert Robert, au siècle suivant, cherchent davantage, par leurs rythmes puissants et presque musicaux, à surprendre et déstabiliser le spectateur. Quelques dessins s’imposeront comme d’évidents chefs-d’œuvre, tel l’Ermitage sur un rocher de Jacques Callot, la Vue de Marseille d’Israël Silvestre, ou celle de Rouen par Charles-Nicolas Cochin… Un rendez-vous à ne pas manquer !

En écho à cette exposition, une sélection de 13 dessins du XIXe siècle, issue des collections du musée de l’Ile-de-France, est présentée 1er étage du Château. Avec des feuilles de François-Edme Ricois, Jean-Jacques Champin, Jean-Marie Morel, Jean-Charles Develly, Paul Huet, Jean-Charles Develly, Jean-Lubin Vauzelle et Antoine-Patrice Guyot, la diversité technique et esthétique de la représentation du paysage au XIXe siècle permet de compléter le panorama esquissé au Petit Château.

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More information on the château and the exhibition (including a brief video) is available here»

Exhibition: Reynolds’ Celebrity Portraiture & the Market for Mezzotints

Posted in exhibitions by Freya Gowrley on July 25, 2011

From The Huntington:

Out of the Shadows: Joshua Reynolds’ Celebrity Portraiture
and the Market for Mezzotints in 18th-Century Britain
The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA, 2 July — 26 September 2011

John Raphael Smith after Joshua Reynolds, "Henry George Herbert as 'The Infant Bacchus',” 1776, mezzotint (The Huntington)

One of the most innovative and popular mediums of the great age of 18th-century British art, mezzotint engraving altered the way images were produced and seen by an ever-growing and discerning audience. Building on the tradition of linear printmaking that began with Dürer’s woodcuts in the 15th century, English engravers developed a new tonal technique that provided an unprecedented level of textural refinement and expressive detail through light and shadow, rivaling that of the monumental oil paintings of masters such as Joshua Reynolds, George Romney, and Thomas Gainsborough.

Out of the Shadows: Joshua Reynolds’ Celebrity Portraiture and the Market for Mezzotints in 18th-Century Britain celebrates this rich period of mezzotint with 13 works from The Huntington’s collections. Highlighting the role of mezzotint in the development and dissemination of portraits after those of the most prolific portrait painter of the period, the exhibition includes works by engravers Valentine Green, James Watson, John Dixon, and John Jones, illustrating the popularity, breadth, and richness of mezzotint as a medium, as well as the development and
transformation of artistic production and the role of the artist in
18th-century England.

Exhibition: Revisiting the Regency: England, 1811–1820

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on July 24, 2011

From The Huntington:

Revisiting the Regency: England, 1811–1820
The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA, 23 April — 1 August 2011


Thomas Rowlandson, “Vauxhall Gardens,” from "Microcosm of London" (London: T. Bensley, ca. 1808–11)

In October of 1810, England’s King George III slipped into that final madness from which only death would release him, nearly a decade later. The following February, Parliament authorized the king’s estranged and profligate eldest son, the Prince of Wales (the future George IV), to rule in his place as regent. Extravagant, emotional, controversial, and self-indulgent, the prince regent lent his name and many of his characteristics to a glittering era.

In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of this extraordinary decade, The Huntington presents an exhibition titled Revisiting the Regency: England, 1811–1820. Opening April 23 in the West Hall of the Library and continuing through August 1, the exhibition draws on The Huntington’s extensive holdings of rare books, manuscripts, prints, and drawings documenting this historic era.

The term “Regency England” usually evokes Jane Austen’s world of graceful country-house living and decorous village society, the elegance of London’s fashionable elite, or the licentious activities of the prince and his aristocratic Carlton House set. Ladies followed the latest fashions in La Belle Assemblée while gentlemen copied Beau Brummell’s severe elegance. Readers found new works by a generation of England’s greatest poets and novelists: Austen, Lord Byron, John Keats, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Sir Walter Scott. Londoners enjoyed a rich theatrical and musical life, watching Edmund Kean’s premiere in Richard III or hearing the first English production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Art lovers followed the latest exhibits at the Royal Academy. Under the prince’s patronage, architect John Nash created the fantasy Royal Pavilion at Brighton and remade London’s West End with the new developments of Regent’s Park and Regent Street.

Yet underneath this ordered upper-class surface lay a far more complex and turbulent world: more than a century of intermittent war with France ended at Waterloo, but peace revealed wrenching poverty, social unrest, the strains of rapid industrialization, and growing calls for political reform. The first railroads, gas lighting, and other advances in technology altered the landscape of everyday life. This rich cavalcade of people and events provided irresistible targets for a brilliant generation of visual satirists. The witty, savage, and iconic images of George Cruikshank and his fellow caricaturists, well represented in the exhibition, capture all the vagaries of an extraordinary decade in English arts, letters, science, and society.

Mary Robertson, William A. Moffett Curator,
English Historical Manuscripts

Reviewed: ‘The Temperamental Nude’

Posted in books, Member News, reviews by Editor on July 23, 2011

Recently added to caa.reviews:

Tony Halliday, The Temperamental Nude: Class, Medicine and Representation in Eighteenth-Century France, Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2010), 272 pages, ISBN: 9780729409940, £55.

Reviewed by Dorothy Johnson, University of Iowa; posted 14 July 2011.

In “The Temperamental Nude: Class, Medicine and Representation in Eighteenth-Century France,” the late Tony Halliday studies a neglected facet of visual representation in Enlightenment culture, namely, the revival and significance of the theory of the temperaments and its impact on the depiction of the human figure, specifically the male figure, in painting, sculpture, and prints. His study focuses principally on mid- to late eighteenth-century France, with particular emphasis on the Revolutionary period. The contested idea of the new citizen (who was male according to French convention and law) and his fluctuating image in the visual arts during the Revolution, Republic, and Directory (1789–99) constitute the principal matter of the book. . . .

The full review is available here» (CAA membership required)

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