Exhibition | Gold, Jasper, and Carnelian: Johann Christian Neuber

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 30, 2012

From The Frick:

Gold, Jasper, and Carnelian: Johann Christian Neuber at the Saxon Court
Grünes Gewölbe, Dresden, 3 March — 2 May 2012
The Frick Collection, New York, 30 May — 19 August 2012
Galerie J. Kugel, Paris, 12 September — 10 November 2012

Coordinated by Dirk Syndram, Jutta Kappel, Ian Wardropper, and Charlotte Vignon

Johann Christian Neuber, Breteuil Table, Dresden, 1779–80, wood, gilded bronze, semiprecious stones, faux-pearls, and Meissen porcelain plaques, H: 32 inches, collection of the Marquis de Breteuil, Chäteau de Breteuil (Choisel/Chevreuse); photo: © Georges Fessy

Johann Christian Neuber was one of Dresden’s most famous goldsmiths. Sometime before 1775 he was named court jeweler to Friedrich Augustus III, elector of Saxony, and in 1785 he was appointed Curator of the Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vault), the magnificent royal collection of Augustus the Strong, the founder of the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory. For more than thirty years, Neuber created small gold boxes, chatelaines, and watchcases decorated with local semiprecious stones such as agate, jasper, and carnelian. He fashioned enchanting landscapes, complex floral designs, and geometric patterns with tiny cut stones, often incorporating Meissen porcelain plaques, cameos, and miniatures. These one-of-a-kind objects, which reflect the Saxon court’s interest in both luxury items and the natural sciences, remain prized treasures today, but have never before been shown together in a monographic exhibition.

In 2012, the public will have their first comprehensive introduction to this master craftsman’s oeuvre through a traveling exhibition that is accompanied by a lavishly illustrated publication (Paul Holberton publishing, London, and Editions d’Art Monelle Hayot, under the direction of Alexis Kugel). The exhibition began in Dresden at the Grünes Gewölbe on March 3, remaining there through May 2, 2012, when it travels to the United Sates for an exclusive engagement at The Frick Collection (May 30 through August 19, 2012). It concludes at Galerie J. Kugel in Paris in the fall (September 12 through November 10, 2012).

Gold, Jasper, and Carnelian: Johann Christian Neuber at the Saxon Court includes some thirty-five boxes and other decorative objects from the Grünes Gewölbe and the Porcelain Collection of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and private collections in Europe and the United States. The exhibition also features Neuber’s masterpiece, the Breteuil Table. This small table is regarded as one of the most extraordinary pieces of eighteenth-century furniture ever made, distinguished not only by the materials used in its construction and for the remarkable skill of its creator, but also for its prestigious history. It was presented in 1781 by Friedrich Augustus III to Baron de Breteuil, a French diplomat, as recognition for the role Breteuil played in the negotiation of the Treaty of Teschen, which officially ended the war of Bavarian Succession fought between the Habsburg monarchy and a Saxon-Prussian alliance to prevent the Habsburg acquisition of the Duchy of Bavaria. The table features a mosaic top of 128 semiprecious stones and Meissen porcelain plaques. Still owned by the family who received it nearly 250 years ago, this stunning object has almost never been exhibited outside the Château de Breteuil (some twenty-five miles west of Paris) and has never before crossed the Atlantic. The Frick exhibition also reunites for the first time two bases designed and crafted by Neuber for the display of Meissen porcelain groups. One is now in the collection of the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, while the other is from a private collection in Paris. These bases were part of a much larger diplomatic gift from Friedrich Augustus III to Nicolai Wasilijewitsch Repnin, the Russian emissary who helped to negotiate the Treaty of Teschen. The gift originally included a Meissen porcelain service and an enormous centerpiece composed of seven stands of varying heights, each supporting an allegorical group made of Meissen porcelain. Of this extravagant gift, only these two bases have been definitively identified.

The exhibition is co-organized by the Grünes Gewölbe, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, The Frick Collection, and Galerie J. Kugel, Paris. The exhibition in Dresden will be shown in a slightly different form as Johann Christian “Neuber à Dresde”: Schatzkunst des Klassizismus für den Adel Europas. It is coordinated by Dirk Syndram, Director of the Grünes Gewölbe and the Armoury, and Jutta Kappel, Senior Curator of the Grünes Gewölbe. The presentation of the exhibition at The Frick Collection is coordinated by Director Ian Wardropper and Charlotte Vignon, Associate Curator of Decorative Arts.

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From Paul Holberton Publishing:

Alexis Kugel, ed., Gold, Jasper and Carnelian: Johann Christian Neuber at the Saxon Court (London: Paul Holberton, 2012), 400 pages, ISBN: 9781907372360, £100.

Johann Christian Neuber (1736–1808) was a goldsmith and mineralogist at the Saxon Court. In 1769 he became director of the Grünes Gewölbe, the magnificent State Treasury, and was appointed court jeweler in 1775. He specialized in creating small gold boxes, chatelaines and watchcases decorated with semiprecious stones, such as agate, jasper and carnelian. Neuber fashioned enchanting landscapes, complex floral designs and geometric patterns out of tiny cut stones, often incorporating Meissen porcelain plaques, cameos and miniatures. These one-of-a-kind objects are treasured in public and private collections all over the world today, but have never been brought together.

This book is the first comprehensive introduction to this master craftsman’s oeuvre, presenting boxes and other decorative objects from the Grünes Gewölbe, the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as public and private collections in Germany, France and New York. One of its highlights is the ‘Breteuil Table’, still owned by the family for which it was made as a diplomatic gift nearly 250 years ago.

Beautiful photographs of all Neuber’s creations adorn this extraordinary book – well over 500 in number. The context and history of the growing interest in mineralogy and its celebration in these works of art are fully investigated. Its distinguished authors include Dr Jutta Kappel, Head of Conservation at Grünes Gewölbe, Dresden;  art historians and specialists Sophie Mouquin and Philippe Poindront;  marquis de Breteuil, Henri-François Le Tonnelier; and the editor of the book, Alexis Kugel, of the famous Parisian gallery.

There is also a French edition of this book: Le luxe, le goût, la science: Neuber, orfèvre minéarologiste à la cour de Saxe (ISBN 9782903824808).

Call for Papers | CAA 2013: Open Session for New Scholars

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on April 29, 2012

In addition to the session chaired by Hector Reyes on ‘Art in the Age of Philosophy’, HECAA is sponsoring an ‘Open Session for New Scholars’ at the annual meeting of the College Art Association in New York, 13-16 February 2013. The deadline is slightly later for this 1.5 hour slot, though I’m sure the chair, Amelia Rauser would appreciate receiving them as early as possible. -CH

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CAA 2013 | HECAA Affiliate Session: Open Session for New Scholars
New York, 13-16 February 2013

Proposals due by 1 June 2012

Open session for new scholars, sponsored by the Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art and Architecture, at the 2013 meeting of the College Art Association in New York. Proposals welcomed on any aspect of eighteenth-century art. Please email CV and abstract by 1 June 2012 to Professor Amelia Rauser at: amelia.rauser@fandm.edu.

In the March 2012 Issue of ‘French History’

Posted in journal articles by Editor on April 28, 2012

Selections from the current issue of French History:

Julian Wright and Penny Roberts, “Editors’ Note,” French History 26 (March 2012).

This issue allows us to mark a number of points about the continuing importance of the study of the French Revolution. Without having planned it as a special issue, it so happened that we have been able to publish together a number of important new studies of the French Revolutionary decade and its historiography. . .

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Claire Trévien, “Le monde à l’envers: The Carnivalesque in Prints of the Construction of the Fête de la Fédération of 1790,” French History 26 (March 2012).

Abstract: This article explores representations of the carnivalesque during the construction of the Fête de la Fédération of 1790. Bakhtin’s assertion that the carnival is always separate from official festivities is exemplified by this spontaneous manifestation which was shunned by officials and disregarded appropriate class and gender roles. This article focuses on the pictorial depiction of this unique event and discusses how a study of its iconography also reflects the suppression of the carnivalesque in early revolutionary Paris.

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David Gilks, “Art and Politics during the ‘First’ Directory: Artists’ Petitions and the Quarrel over the Confiscation of Works of Art from Italy in 1796,” French History 26 (March 2012).

Abstract: This article examines the place of artists’ petitions in the quarrel over confiscating works of art. It argues that the dispute provided opportunities for its participants to advance a series of distinct agendas that reflected political and professional concerns rather than judgements about the art in question. By tracing the earliest stages of the quarrel and radically reinterpreting Quatremère’s crucial contribution—his Letters on the Plan to Abduct the Monuments of Italy—as part of his reactionary politics, the article clarifies the meaning of the ensuing artists’ petitions. It argues that while Quatremère duped ‘insider’ artists into supporting the Papist cause by signing his petition questioning the confiscations, the artists themselves instead signed as a means to re-assert their status and right to patronage. The vituperative responses to his petition included a counter-petition supporting art confiscations; it was signed by ‘outsider’ artists, reluctant to let their more famous co-professionals monopolize the debate at their expense.

Exhibition | Women of Achievement in the Early American Republic

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on April 27, 2012

From the exhibition website:

A Will of Their Own: Judith Sargent Murray and Women of Achievement in the Early Republic
Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C., 20 April — 13 September 2012

John Singleton Copley, "Judith Sargent Murray,"
1770–72 (Terra Foundation for American Art)

At the time of the American Revolution with Great Britain, women did not share the same status or rights as men. They could not vote or hold political office, enjoyed few property rights, were not equal in marriage, and had limited access to educational opportunities. As the debate about liberty and the rights of men took center stage during the Revolution, some women began to question their position in American society. Whereas many believed that women’s primary responsibility was to raise their children to be productive, moral citizens, some women began to argue for certain legal and economic rights and to pursue various professional careers. The Revolution created new opportunities for women to do work outside the home and to voice their opinions and concerns in public. Given the racial and class divisions that existed during the period, however, not all women were permitted to step forward in this manner. The eight women who are highlighted here did not produce a collective movement for women’s rights, but they were important in sowing the seeds for future progress. While the nature of their achievements differed, each demonstrated through their work that women possessed a will
of their own.

New Title | Quatremère de Quincy’s ‘Letters to Miranda and Canova’

Posted in books by Editor on April 27, 2012

From The Getty:

Antoine Quatremère de Quincy, introduction by Dominique Poulot, translation by Chris Miller and David Gilks, Letters to Miranda and Canova on the Abduction of Antiquities from Rome and Athens (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2012), 208 pages, ISBN: 9781606060995, $50.

In the 1790s and early 1800s, the art world experienced two big events: First came the military confiscation of masterpieces from Italy and northern Europe in order to build a universal museum in Paris’s Louvre. Then famous marble sculptures were prised from the Parthenon and sent to London. These events provoked reactions ranging from enthusiastic applause to enraged condemnation.

The French art critic, architectural theoretician, and political conservative Quatremère de Quincy was at the center of the European debates. In his pamphlet Letters to Miranda, he condemns the revolutionary hubris of putting “Rome in Paris” and urges the return of the works. In the Letters to Canova, however, Quatremère celebrates the British Museum for making the Parthenon sculptures accessible. Quatremère’s writing was highly controversial in its time. This book offers the first English translation of the two series of letters, as well as a new critical introduction.

Antoine Quatremère de Quincy (1755–1849) was a French archaeologist, architectural theoretician, arts administrator, and influential writer. Dominique Poulot is professor of the history of art at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Chris Miller is a translator specializing in the fine arts. David Gilks is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Queen Mary, University of London.

New Title | ‘The Goldfish in the Chandelier’

Posted in books by Editor on April 27, 2012

From The Getty:

Casie Kesterson with illustrations by Gary Hovland, The Goldfish in the Chandelier (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2012), 32 pages, ISBN 9781606060940, $18.

A different kind of adventure story, The Goldfish in the Chandelier takes place just outside of Paris in the early 1800s. Uncle Henri is stuck. He has been commissioned to design a chandelier for a great house in Paris, but he can’t figure out what form it will take. His young nephew, Louis Alexandre, comes to the rescue with some dazzling ideas—inspired by Alexander the Great and the first hot-air balloon flights over Paris—that surprise them both. Together, they use a lot of imagination to create something that never existed before—something new, unexpected, and very beautiful.

This delightful story was inspired by the Gérard-Jean Galle chandelier, one of the most popular pieces in the J. Paul Getty Museum’s impressive collection of French decorative arts. An information page about the chandelier is included in the back of the book. For children ages 7 to 10.

Gérard-Jean Galle, ca. 1818 (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum)

Formerly on staff at the Getty Research Institute, Casie Kesterson currently is a consultant specializing in matters relating to the history of collecting art. Gary Hovland’s illustrations have appeared in such nationally and internationally known publications as the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. His illustrations for If the Walls Could Talk: Family Life at the White House (Simon & Schuster, 2004) won a Toy Portfolio Platinum Book Award in 2005.

Autumn Exhibition in Venice | Francesco Guardi

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 26, 2012

From the Correr:

Francesco Guardi, 1712-1793
Museo Correr, Venice, 28 September 2012 — 6 January 2013

Curated by Alberto Craievich and Filippo Pedrocco

Francesco Gurdi, The Parlour of the Nuns at San Zaccaria
ca. 1750 (Venice: Ca’ Rezzonico), Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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In the third centenary of the birth of Francesco Guardi, the last great landscape artist of the 18th century, the monographic exhibition promoted by the Fondazione dei Musei Civici di Venezia aims to highlight his complex artistic production, from the lesser-known figure paintings of his youth to the ‘interior scenes’, concluding with the splendid views of Venice and his fabulous capriccios, painted in his maturity and old age. The exhibition at the Museo Correr will illustrate the various phases in Guardi’s development thanks to a series of major loans of works never before made to Venice.

It is known that Francesco Guardi’s training took place within a modest family workshop in which everyone was a painter, from his father, Domenico, to his brothers, Nicolò and Antonio. None of them in life was able to attain a certain degree of prosperity, let alone success. After his death in 1793, Francesco Guardi was forgotten. His rediscovery is the merit of 20th-century criticism, and attained a high point in the fine exhibition curated by Pietro Zampetti, held in Palazzo Grassi in 1965.

The first part of the exhibition will focus on the production of works of a prevalently everyday life subject inspired by genre painting of costume painting, one dominated by Pietro Longhi. The exhibition will present two masterpieces from this period: The Ridotto and The Parlour of the Nuns at San Zaccaria, now in Ca’ Rezzonico. A little later, Francesco Guardi began his production of the views, capriccios and fantastic landscapes that underpin his fame today. It is not certain when exactly he began working as a landscape painter; perhaps it was around 1755, when the painter was over 40 years old and had a less than exhilarating career as a figure painter behind him. His first works echoed the compositions of Canaletto and Marieschi, with fluid, controlled brushstrokes, still a long way from the bubbling, shorthand manner that would make him famous. But his unique style does already emerge in some of these works from the first period, including in the St. Mark’s Square belonging to the National Gallery in London, in which the figures, painted by frothy little impastos of colour, reveal a lively chromatic touch. His period of greatest success was between the 1760s and 1770s and it was in this period that he painted the 12 canvases of the Ducal celebrations adapted from Canaletto’s own models and engraved by Giambattista Brustolon. Guardi based his paintings, today in the Louvre, on these prints; the result is truly astonishing and reveals the artist’s transfiguring, fantastic skill.

The picture showing the Bucentaur at San Nicolò on the Lido is exemplary: although faithful to its model, it creates an image of unmatched appeal. The gondolas and Bucentaur used for special occasions seem to shimmer on the water; a myriad of reflections sparkle on the slightly choppy sea, while tiny figures resembling Oriental ideograms bustle in the vessels. In 1782, Guardi was commissioned to paint four pictures to commemorate the visit of Pope Pius VI to Venice. For the 70-year-old artist, here at last was an official commission, and it was followed by the celebratory paintings of the incognito visit to Venice of the Russian archdukes, who travelled under the name of the Counts of the Nort

Over time, his highly personal style became increasingly free and allusive; the proportions between the various elements were freely modified, the perspective framework became elastic and was deformed, losing all association with reality. And finally, the figures became simply splashes of colour, a rapid white scribble or black dot traced out with a trembling movement.

Apart from a number of airy capriccios, he also painted some splendid pictures of villas half-hidden in the green Veneto countryside, and alongside traditional views of Venice he added others of the lagoon, broadening the horizons of 18th-century Venetian landscape and dissolving it in wide stretches of water and sky.

The exhibition will present a total of over 100 paintings and drawings from leading Italian and foreign institutions, including the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York, the National Gallery of Washington, the National Gallery in London, the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, the Alte Pinakothek of Munich, the Gulbenkian Foundation of Lisbon, the Hermitage of Saint Petersburg, the Fine Art Museum of Boston, the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo and the Poldi Pezzoli of Milan. The exhibition can boast an academic committee formed of the leading international scholars of 18th-century Venetian painting, and will be accompanied by a comprehensive, well-illustrated catalogue edited by Alberto Craievich and Filippo Pedrocco, and published by Skira, containing the latest studies concerning the artist.

Curators: Alberto Craievich and Filippo Pedrocco
Academic Committee: Giuseppe Pavanello, Charles Beddington, Catherine Whistler, Keith Cristiansen, Stephane Loire, Andrew Robison, Irina Artemieva, Lino Moretti
Scientific Director: Gabriella Belli

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Catalogue: Alberto Craievich and Filippo Pedrocco, eds., Francesco Guardi, 1712-1793 (Milan: Skira, 2012), ISBN: 9788857214818, $90. Available October 2012

Visiting Fellowship | Urban Cultural History at UMass Boston

Posted in fellowships by Editor on April 25, 2012

Short-Term Visiting Fellowship
The Research Center for Urban Cultural History at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Spring 2013

Applications due by 1 September 2012

The Research Center for Urban Cultural History at the University of Massachusetts Boston is offering a 3-4 week short-term visiting fellowship for Spring 2013. The RCUCH Flaherty Visiting Fellow will pursue a research project pertaining to urban cultural history; the project must be interdisciplinary, and be focused on the cultural history of cities, urban life, urban networks, urban materials or urban experience. We define urban cultural history broadly; projects treating pre-urban sites as well as contemporary situations fall within the fellowship’s parameters. During the fellowship period the Fellow is required to offer a Faculty Lecture for the RCUCH on work-in-progress related to the research project, and to provide a talk for a graduate seminar or student group where this can be arranged; other than these lectures, and the research project itself, the Fellow will also have numerous opportunities to attend on-campus lectures and symposia, and to take advantage of lectures, exhibits, and other events in Boston and its environs, The RCUCH invites applications, giving preference to scholars at associate professor rank or above. (more…)

Exhibition | Hubert Robert: Les Jardins du Temps

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on April 24, 2012

From The National Museum of Western Art:

Hubert Robert: Les Jardins du Temps
The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 6 March — 20 May 2012
Fukuoka Museum of Art, Fukuoka, 19 June — 29 July 2012
Shizuoka Municipal Museum of Art, Shizuoka, 9 August — 30 September 2012

Curated by Hélène Moulin-Stanislas and Megumi Jingaoka

In 18th-century Europe, enthralled by the discoveries at the sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum, Hubert Robert (1733-1808) was a French landscape painter became known later by the nickname Robert des ruines (Robert of the Ruins), for his many works on these ancient sites. During his studies in Italy, Robert depicted fascinating landscapes that incorporated ancient motifs enhanced by his own fanciful imagination. His images brought to life the architecture and sculpture of ancient times, contrasting with the scenes of trees, flowing streams and the lively everyday world of ordinary people. These images developed in an age newly fascinated with antiquity. Robert’s arts with their uniquely lyrical expression attracted a great number of people, inspiring dreams of the flow of time, nature and the power of the arts.

The painter of these fantastic scenes was also the creator of numerous famous landscape-style garden designs, under his title of Designer of the Royal Gardens. Robert’s placement of ancient architectural forms and man-made waterfalls and grottoes amidst actual scenery adds all the more fascination to his works. This exhibition focuses on about 80 drawings in red chalk, selected from the world-renowned Robert Collection of the Musée de Valence, as it introduces Japanese audiences to Robert’s oeuvre, dating from his earliest production to his final years. Works by Robert’s teachers and colleagues, including Piranesi and Fragonard, from other collections round out the display of approximately 130 oil paintings, drawings, prints and furnishings. The natural and the man-made, fiction and fact, and the jumbled memories of happiness and imaginary futures, all present the secrets of Arcadia, as created in the midst of this artist’s paintings and gardens.

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Addition information is available at the Art Media Agency; the complete exhibition checklist (as a PDF file) is available here (in both English and Japanese).

Exhibition | The Prisons by Giovanni Battista Piranesi

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on April 24, 2012

From The National Museum of Western Art:

The Prisons by Giovanni Battista Piranesi
The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 6 March — 20 May 2012

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, "The Prisons (Le Carceri," Round Tower 2nd edition, 1st Publication: 1761 G.1987-425 (Tokyo)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi was a major 18th-century Italian print artist. The Prisons [Carceri d’invenzione], a series of prints, are amongst his most famous works. Amidst the rise of Romanticism at the beginning of the 19th century, this series stimulated the imaginations of a number of writers. In the intervening decades and centuries, this series has continued to exert an influence in architecture, literature and film, as well as fine art. As indicated by its title, this series presents various views of prisons. But these images are not depictions of actual prisons; rather they are images of a fantastic, imaginary world. Giant pillars, beams, chains and torture implements, along with prisoners, are depicted amongst bold compositions made up of powerful lines. The NMWA collection includes a set of the first state of the Prisons, along with the second state, which involved considerable reworking of the first, plus two additional prints. The second state was made by Piranesi in 1761, the year in which he established his own printing studio, and is characterized by its stronger light-dark contrast and its more dramatic impression. Piranesi sought the full expressive range of the print in this series, at times going so far as to use his own finger and
the palm of his hand to achieve desired results.

This exhibition presents approximately 30 works from both the first and second states, allowing visitors a chance to compare the two states and the changes in Piranesi’s conception of the prints. We hope that you will enjoy these many prints with their powerful impact.

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The exhibition checklist (as a PDF) is available here (in Japanese and English).

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