Exhibition: ‘Revolution!’

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on July 4, 2011

From the New-York Historical Society:

Revolution! The Atlantic World Reborn
New-York Historical Society, 11 November 2011 — 15 April 2012
Details of additional venues to be announced later

Curated by Richard Rabinowitz

ISBN: 9781904832942, $65

Revolution! The Atlantic World Reborn, an international exhibition sponsored by the New-York Historical Society, will open in New York in November 2011 and travel to sites in Britain, France, the United States, and Haiti. Occupying about 3,500 square foot (325 m2), the exhibition will feature magnificent paintings, drawings, and prints from collections in a half-dozen countries; historical documents, maps, and manuscripts penned by participants in these revolutions; audio-visual presentations and computer-interactive learning stations; inventive and beautiful works of art commissioned for this exhibition; and curriculum materials for students from kindergarten through graduate school. The exhibition will be fully accessible in English, French, and Haitian Kreyol. Dr. Richard Rabinowitz of the American History Workshop, is Chief Curator of the exhibition. A beautifully illustrated catalog, with scholarly essays by leading scholars in revolutionary studies and edited by Professors Thomas Bender of NYU and
Laurent Dubois of Duke, will accompany the exhibition.

Noel le Mire, "General Washington," 1780, engraving (New York Historical Society)

The exhibition explores the enormous transformations in the world’s politics and culture between the 1763 triumph of the British Empire in the Seven Years War and the end of the Napoleonic Wars 52 years later. For the first time, this story will be told as a single global narrative rather than as chapters within national histories. Opposing the power and reach of European imperial authorities, the diverse men and women of the Atlantic world — natives of Africa, Europe, and the Americas — registered their grievances in both legal argument and violent protest. Their first major outbursts, comprised in the American Revolution, triggered an explosion of radical ideas. And these in turn drew many Britons to the antislavery crusade, then fomented a fierce antagonism to entrenched privilege among French revolutionaries, and finally spawned the astonishing insurrection on the island of Saint Domingue leading to the world’s only successful slave revolt and the establishment of the first nation fully committed to equality and emancipation, Haiti.

John Greenwood, "Sea Captains Carousing in Surinam," ca. 1752-58, oil on bed ticking (Saint Louis Art Museum)

Linking the attack on monarchism and aristocracy to the struggle against slavery, Revolution! explores how thousands of revolutionaries across the Atlantic world made freedom, equality, and the sovereignty of the people into universal goals. The eighteenth-century revolutionaries certainly did not succeed in obliterating every trace of the Ancient Regime, but they invented the notions of human rights, within a world of nation states, that still fire the desire for justice everywhere.

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Exhibition catalogue: Thomas Bender and Laurent Dubois, eds., Revolution! The Atlantic World Reborn (London: Giles, 2011), 288 pages, ISBN: 9781904832942, $65.

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