Exhibition | Workshop Drawings of Silversmith Robert-Joseph Auguste

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on March 27, 2012

Thanks to Hélène Bremer for noting this exhibition. The following description comes from the Nissim de Camondo (an English summary from Art Media Agency is available here). . .

Dessins d’orfèvrerie de l’atelier Robert-Joseph Auguste (1723-1805)
Musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris, 16 November 2011 — 1 April 2012

Curated by Yves Carlier

Salt cellar design, workshop of Robert-Joseph August
Inv 24 722B (Paris: Les Arts Décoratifs)

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Reçu maître à Paris en 1757, Robert-Joseph Auguste porte à partir de 1777 le titre d’orfèvre ordinaire du roi et devient le principal fournisseur de la Couronne jusqu’à la Révolution. Rien ne nous étant parvenu de ces fournitures, son œuvre est mieux connu par les pièces d’orfèvrerie et les services entiers qu’il réalisa pour les cours de Lisbonne, Londres, Copenhague, Saint-Pétersbourg et Stockholm.

Sélectionnés pour leur rapport avec des pièces connues de Robert-Joseph Auguste, les douze dessins présentés ont été donnés en 1925 au musée des arts décoratifs par le baron Robert de Rothschild (1880-1946) avec dix-huit autres provenant de l’atelier de l’orfèvre et faisant partie de la même vente (Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 4 avril 1925).

De techniques variées (mine de plomb, plume, sanguine, lavis), ces œuvres rares rendent compte des différentes manières de Robert-Joseph Auguste et de la variété de sa production pour les grands services d’orfèvrerie qui lui sont commandés par Christian VII du Danemark, Catherine II de Russie ou Georges III d’Angleterre (pot à oille, saucière, salière, couverts …).

Les quatre dessins de la vente de 1925 conservés dans une collection particulière viennent compléter de manière exceptionnelle cet ensemble. Deux d’entre eux figurant un seau à bouteille et une verrière portent notamment la signature « auguste f. » d’une écriture correspondant à celle de Robert-Joseph Auguste.

En regard de cet accrochage sont exposées les prestigieuses pièces d’orfèvrerie de Robert-Joseph Auguste livrées pour les cours de Russie et du Portugal et conservées dans les collections du musée des arts décoratifs.

Enfin, dans la salle à manger du musée Nissim de Camondo, les deux paires de compotiers du service dit de Moscou réalisées par Auguste pour l’impératrice Catherine II ont retrouvé leur place d’origine sur les dessertes. Dressée avec faste pour l’occasion, la table est ornée du pot à oille à la magnifique hure de sanglier exécuté par l’orfèvre pour un client portugais aux armoiries récemment identifiées.

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Additional information (in English) is available here (as a PDF).

Storied Reconstructed Furniture Sold at Bonhams

Posted in Art Market by Editor on March 27, 2012

Bonhams, London, New Bond Street
Sale 19957 – Fine English Furniture and Works of Art, 7 March 2012
Lot No: 133*

A satinwood, mahogany, sycamore and marquetry and parcel gilt secretaire cabinet reconstructed from an important cabinet by Seddon, Son & Shackleton of 1793 reputedly for Charles IV of Spain, the panels possibly by William Hamilton R.A.

Estimate of £20,000 – 30,000; sold for £25,000 inclusive of Buyer’s Premium

Inlaid with boxwood and ebonised lines, the upper section with pierced gilt metal fret and white marble pilasters, above a bowed central drawer and door painted with a vase of flowers, flanked by a pair of lozenge panelled doors also painted with floral sprays, each with leaf carved reeded and fluted turned pilasters and each enclosing four pigeonholes and a shelf, flanked by larger bowed panelled doors, one painted with the figure of ‘Night’, the other with probably ‘Day’, surmounted by domed plinths with gilt crown finials; above five frieze drawers, the lower part with inverted breakfront and central secretaire drawer with gilt bronze moulded panelling painted with a cherub flanked by reeded pilasters, enclosing a leather lined writing surface, two short drawers and ten compartments, flanked by a short panelled bowed drawers to each side, on six leaf carved and fluted tapering legs joined by a platform stretcher, on turned feet, the central Wedgwood plaque now missing, stamped several times ‘3258’, the reverse marked, ‘MGM 5 X7760’, ‘A605-495’, ‘UAP’, 131cm wide, 49cm deep, 173cm high (51.5″ wide, 19″ deep, 68″ high).

This secretaire on stand is a remarkable survival. Not only is it made from one of the most spectacular late eighteenth century English cabinets ever produced, but it also belonged to the MGM studios in Hollywood where it was used as a film prop. Although parts of its history remain obscured, the exceptional quality of both the cabinet work and the painted decoration are clear to be seen.

The present secretaire comprises parts of the upper section of a magnificent cabinet believed to have been made by Seddon, Sons and Shackleton (active c.1790-1798), to designs by Sir William Chambers (1723-1796), with painted panels by William Hamilton RA (1751-1801). The cabinet was said to have been commissioned by King Carlos IV of Spain (1788-1808) in 1793.

The cabinet was well-known amongst Edwardian connoisseurs and was illustrated and described in early twentieth-century books on English eighteenth-century furniture. It was exhibited twice, once at the Franco British Exhibition in London in 1908, and secondly in a selling exhibition held in the Plaza Hotel in New York in 1910.

At some point during the twentieth century, the cabinet was broken up and made into separate pieces of furniture. A commode made from parts of the centre of the cabinet was sold twice at auction, first at Christie’s in London, 19th November 1987, lot 125 and secondly at Sotheby’s New York, The Collection of Mr & Mrs Saul P. Steinberg, 26 May 2000, lot 236. The fact that present secretaire was made from parts of the same cabinet was not known until it was recognised by Bonhams, London in 2011.

Oxford Art Journal March 2012

Posted in journal articles by Editor on March 27, 2012

The latest issue of Oxford Art Journal is now available. For a free trial, visit: http://www.oxfordjournals.org/page/4541/2

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Dominic Janes, “Unnatural Appetites: Sodomitical Panic in Hogarth’s The Gate of Calais, or, O the Roast Beef of Old England (1748),” Oxford Art Journal 35 (March 2012): 19-31.

William Hogarth, "O the Roast Beef of Old England ('The Gate of Calais')," oil on canvas, 1748 (London: Tate Britain)

Abstract: Hogarth’s The Gate of Calais, also known as O the Roast Beef of Old England (1748), has been extensively studied in relation to its expression of British Protestant prejudice against the French and against Roman Catholicism. However, other aspects of the work have not received such attention. In the eighteenth-century the appetite for food was popularly employed as a metaphor for sexual desire. The painting, and the widely circulated engraving made from it, could, therefore, admit of an erotic reading, particularly bearing in mind the frequency of complex sexual references in Hogarth’s works. The carnality so satirised was not simply related to anti-Catholic parody of transubstantiation, because this composition can be interpreted as having been structured around coded expressions of same-sex desire. Hogarth’s interest in this theme can be related not only to his homosocial environment, but also to the events in Calais that inspired him. Hogarth’s experience as a prisoner aroused in him a ‘sodomitical panic’ which can be seen as the precursor of the ‘homosexual panic’ studied by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick as an aspect of male sexual anxiety at the end of the nineteenth century. This work can be interpreted, therefore, as evidence for sexual as well as national and religious insecurity in mid-eighteenth-century Britain.

Dominic Janes is Senior Lecturer in the Department of History of Art and Screen Media, Birkbeck College, University of London. His work focuses on representations of religious belief, morality and sexuality in Britain since the eighteenth century. His most recent book is Victorian Reformation: The Fight over Idolatry in the Church of England, 1840–1860 (Oxford University Press, 2009). He is currently researching images of martyrdom and deviance during the duration of an AHRC Fellowship.

Spring 2012 Issue of ‘Eighteenth-Century Studies’

Posted in journal articles by Editor on March 27, 2012

Art historical offerings from the Spring 2012 issue of Eighteenth-Century Studies:

Ian Haywood, “Rude Britannia: New Perspectives on Caricature,” Review of Amelia Rauser, Caricature Unmasked: Irony, Authenticity, and Individualism in Eighteenth-Century English Prints (2008) and Todd Porterfield, ed., The Efflorescence of Caricature, 1759-1838 (2011), Eighteenth-Century Studies 45 (Spring 2012): 437-40.

John Bonehill, “The Art of Empire,” Review of John Crowley, Imperial Landscapes: Britain’s Global Visual Culture (2011) and Geoff Quilley, Empire to Nation: Art, History, and the Visualization of Maritime Britain (2011), Eighteenth-Century Studies 45 (Spring 2012): 440-42.

Michael Yonan, Review of Christiane Hertel, Pygmalion in Bavaria: The Sculptor Ignaz Günther and Eighteenth-Century Aesthetic Art Theory (2011), Eighteenth-Century Studies 45 (Spring 2012): 457-59.

Stephanie Koscak, Review of Wendy Bellion, Citizen Spectator: Art, Illusion,
and Visual Perception in Early National America
(2011), Eighteenth-Century
45 (Spring 2012): 459-61.

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