Exhibition | ‘Shelf Lives: Four Centuries of Collectors’

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on May 31, 2012

Two of the collectors from this Cambridge exhibition come from the eighteenth century: John Moore (1646-1714) and George Lewis (d. 1729), as noted below. From the exhibition website:

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Shelf Lives: Four Centuries of Collectors and Their Books
Cambridge University Library, 18 January — 16 June 2012

With more than eight million items on its shelves, Cambridge University Library is one of the largest accumulations of books and manuscripts in Europe, and one of the most important in the world. But its holdings are not a single, uniform entity: instead they consist of a great variety of different collections which, over the centuries, by one route or another, have come to be housed under the same roof. Some of the most remarkable of these are the collections gathered by ardent individual book-lovers, whose intensely personal passions for acquiring rare and beautiful volumes have, through the eventual deposit of their treasures in the Library, gone on to enrich the national heritage.

This exhibition presents ten such collectors, whose lives span the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. As well as placing on display some of the most splendid, distinctive and—in a few cases—unexpected items held in the Library, it allows us to observe the changing motives, fashions and tastes of book-collectors over the course of four hundred years.

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Great Industry, Accurate Judgement and Royal Favour: John Moore

John Moore (1646–1714), an undergraduate of Clare College and later Bishop of Norwich (1691–1707) and Ely (1707–1714), was one of the greatest bibliophiles of his day, celebrated for his collection of early English ‘black letter’ printing. The range of manuscripts and early printed books he acquired reflected the breadth of his interests, above all in medicine.

After he died, on 31 July 1714 (one day before Queen Anne), the collection was bought by King George I at Lord Townshend’s suggestion and presented to the University as a reward for Cambridge’s loyalty to the Hanoverian succession during the Jacobite rebellion of 1715. It was known henceforth as the Royal Library. The manuscripts include such treasures as the Moore Bede and the Book of Cerne, and number among them some of the most valuable items in the Library. Yet in many cases comparatively little is known about their origins and provenances: the Library’s greatest accession of all remains in large part mysterious.

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The Archdeacon and his ‘Bibliotheca Orientalis’: George Lewis

George Lewis’s valuable collection of 76 manuscripts, mainly in Persian, came to the Library in 1727 in a wooden cabinet inscribed ‘Bibliotheca Orientalis’.

Lewis (d. 1729) was educated at Queens’ College in the 1680s and subsequently entered the Church. He travelled to India in 1692 where he was Chaplain to the East India Company settlement in Madras until 1714. He was a gifted linguist, proficient in Persian, and during his stay in India he collected manuscripts which closely reflected his own interests and expertise. The collection is strong in religious texts (Qur’ans and translations of the Bible into Persian), manuscripts on grammar, and dictionaries, including Lewis’s own unfinished dictionary of Persian. Significantly, there are texts by poets such as Hātifī and Jāmī and a rare volume by Rahā’ī—the literary traditions of the Islamic world were little known in Europe at this date.

Along with the manuscripts came an assortment of curiosities: coins, weights, inscriptions, miniature Indian playing cards on wood and tortoiseshell, and a pair of embroidered slippers.

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For more information, see the exhibition website.

Conference | Color between Science, Art, & Technology

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on May 30, 2012

Colour in the 17th and 18th Centuries: Connexions between Science, Art, and Technology
Technische Universität, Berlin, 28-30 June 2012

Organized by Magdalena Bushart, Reinhold Reith, and Friedrich Steinle

Knowledge of how to use, combine, analyse, and understand colour has always been widely distributed, if not dispersed. Painters and architects, dyers and printers, pigment producers and merchants, physicists and chemists, natural historians and physiologist, among others, have been dealing with colour, its properties, mixtures, harmonies, meanings and uses. For long periods, different communities that were concerned with colour and the knowledge about it did not interact? at least so it appears.

One of the first to come up with fundamental claims concerning colour in full generality was Newton whose 1704 Opticks indeed quickly became a common reference point for most of those who reflected on colour. Throughout the 18th century, however, the reactions to Newton remained wildly controversial, from unrestricted appraisal via indifference to open and fierce opposition. Several attempts to reconcile Newton’s account with practitioner’s knowledge remained unsuccessful, and this was still the case in early 19th century, when the physiology of colour perception opened yet another field of colour research. The central aim of the conference is to bring together scholars who are interested in how the various strands of colour use and knowledge were interwoven and connected.

Technische Universität Berlin, Architekturgebäude, Room A 053, Straße des 17. Juni 150/152, 10623 Berlin,

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Thursday, 28 June

12:00  Registration

13:00  Welcome

13:30  Sarah Lowengard (New York), Analogies, Adaptations and Disorientations in the Mechanization of Color-Printing

14:30  Coffee Break

15:00  PRACTICES Chair: Reinhold Reith (Salzburg)
• Ad Stijnman (Amsterdam) and Elizabeth Upper (Cambridge), Early Modern Colour Printing 1600-1700
• Susan Wager (New York), Coloring the Rococo: Intermedial Reproduction and the Invention of Color in Eighteenth-Century France
• Carole Blumenfeld (Rome), Colors for Paintings Sold at Market in Rome and Paris

17:00  Coffee Break

17:30  COLOURS IN NATURE Chair: Magdalena Bushart (Berlin)
• Karin Leonhard (Berlin), Painting the Rainbow: Colour in Nature versus Colour in Art
• Ulrike Kern (Los Angeles), Broken Colours: A Key Concept in Seventeenth-Century Colour Theory

18:50: Snacks

20:00  PUBLIC LECTURE — Jenny Balfour-Paul (Exeter), Indigo: Not Just a Colour

Friday, 29 June

9:15  Alan Shapiro (Minneapolis), Newton’s Theory of Color and Painters’ Primaries

10:15  Coffee Break

10:30  COLOUR AND NEWTONIANISM Chair: Friedrich Steinle (Berlin)
• Fokko Jan Dijksterhuis (Twente), Perception of Colours by Different Eyes
• Gerhard Wiesenfeldt (Melbourne), Practitioners’ Materials and Optical Theories: Colour in Dutch Eighteenth-Century Natural Philosophy
• Heiner Krellig (Berlin/ Venice), Algarotti, Newton, and the Advantage of Their Theory of Light for Painterly Practice

12:30  Lunch Break

14:00  NATURAL PHILOSOPHY BEFORE NEWTON Chair: Sven Dupré (Berlin)
• Tawrin Baker (Bloomington), Colour in Seventeenth-Century Natural Philosophy Textbooks
• David Brafman (Los Angeles), Broken Colours: A Key Concept in Seventeenth-Century Colour Theory

15:20  Coffee Break

15:40  PRACTICE AND SYSTEM Chair: Lissa Roberts (Twente)
• Sachiko Kusukawa (Cambridge), The Colour Chart of Richard Waller, FRS, 1686
• Bruno Belhoste (Paris), Dyeing at the Gobelins in the Eighteenth Century: The Challenge of Quémizet

17:00  Coffee Break

17:20  COLOURS AFTER NEWTON Chair: Sven Dupré (Berlin)
• Robin Rehm (Basel), ‘Beauty and Perfection of the Pure Colours’: Anton Raphael Mengs and the Singularity of Yellow, Red, Blue
• Olaf L. Müller (Berlin), Border Spectra in the Atmospheric Colours of Hokusai and Hiroshige?

Saturday, 30 June

9:15  Ulrike Boskamp (Berlin), Primary Colours in the Eighteenth Century: Concepts and Uses

10:15  Coffee Break

10:30  MEANINGS Chair: Regina Lee Blaszczyk (Philadelphia)
• Corinne Thépaut-Cabasset (London), Words of Fashion: Words of Colours in Parisian Textile Trade in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries
• Theresa M. Kelley (Madison, WI), Fugitive and Variable: Color, Material Practice, and Aesthetic Contingency
• Romana Filzmoser (Florence), Color Knowledge and Color Practice in English Cosmetic Treatises of the Seventeenth Century

12:30  Lunch Break

14:00  ARTISTS’ ACCOUNTS I Chair: Ulrich Heinen (Wuppertal)
• Audrey Adamczak (Paris), A Dry Coloured Powdery Medium: The Art of Making Pastel and the Artistic and Technical Literature in France Ancien Régime
• Matthias Vollmer (Berlin), Disegno versus Colorito: Science versus Illusion?

15:20  Coffee Break

15:40  ARTISTS’ ACCOUNTS II Chair: Ulrich Heinen (Wuppertal)
• Ioana Magureanu (Bucharest), Colour: From Damnation in the Scientific Discourse to Its Recovery in Art Theory
• Petra Schuster (Berlin), How Knowledge of Color Affected Value Judgments in Siglo de Oro Painting Technique Innovation: Carducho’s Diálogos de la Pintura (1633) in Comparison to Pacheco’s Arte de la Pintura (1649)

17:00  Coffee Break

17:20  BLUE! Chair: Lissa Roberts (Twente)
• Aida Yuen Wong (Boston), Kingfisher Blue in Ming China
• Francois Delamare (Paris) and Bernard Monasse (Paris), Dyeing with Berliner Blue: A Jointed French Venture

18:40  Closing Remarks

Forthcoming | Hanneke Grootenboer’s ‘Treasuring the Gaze’

Posted in books by Editor on May 30, 2012

As noted in Heidi Strobel’s review of The Look of Love from yesterday, Hanneke Grootenboer’s book on eye miniatures is scheduled for release in November. Here’s the description from the University of Chicago Press:

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Hanneke Grootenboer, Treasuring the Gaze: Intimate Vision in Late Eighteenth-Century Eye Miniatures (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), ISBN: 9780226309668, $45.

The end of the eighteenth century saw the start of a new craze in Europe: tiny portraits of single eyes that were exchanged by lovers or family members. Worn as brooches or pendants, these minuscule eyes served the same emotional need as more conventional mementoes, such as lockets containing a coil of a loved one’s hair. The fashion lasted only a few decades, and by the early 1800s eye miniatures had faded into oblivion. Unearthing these portraits in Treasuring the Gaze, Hanneke Grootenboer proposes that the rage for eye miniatures—and their abrupt disappearance—reveals a knot in the unfolding of the history of vision.

Drawing on Alois Riegl, Jean-Luc Nancy, Marcia Pointon, Melanie Klein, and others, Grootenboer unravels this knot, discovering previously unseen patterns of looking and strategies for showing. She shows that eye miniatures portray the subject’s gaze rather than his or her eye, making the recipient of the keepsake an exclusive beholder who is perpetually watched. These treasured portraits always return the looks they receive and, as such, they create a reciprocal mode of viewing that Grootenboer calls intimate vision. Recounting stories about eye miniatures—including the role one played in the scandalous affair of Mrs. Fitzherbert and the Prince of Wales, a portrait of the mesmerizing eye of Lord Byron, and the loss and longing incorporated in crying eye miniatures—Grootenboer shows that intimate vision brings the gaze of another deep into the heart of private experience.

With a host of fascinating imagery from this eccentric and mostly forgotten yet deeply private keepsake, Treasuring the Gaze provides new insights into the art of miniature painting and the genre of portraiture.

Reviewed | Heidi Strobel on ‘The Look of Love’

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions, reviews by Editor on May 29, 2012

Graham Boettcher, ed., with essays by Graham Boettcher, Elle Shushan, and Jo Manning, The Look of Love: Eye Miniatures from the Skier Collection (London: D. Giles Limited in association with the Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, Alabama, 2012), 208 pages, ISBN: 9781907804014, $35.

Reviewed for Enlade by Heidi Strobel

Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine.
– Ben Jonson, “Song to Celia” (1616)

In the sumptuously illustrated catalogue for The Look of Love: Eye Miniatures from the Skier Collection (on at the Birmingham Museum of Art from 7 February to 10 June 2012 ), Graham Boettcher, Elle Shushan, and Jo Manning highlight the world’s largest collection of eye pictures: small, often jewel-encrusted, paintings of individual eyes of lovers or beloved family members. These synecdochal portraits enjoyed a brief heydey between 1790 and 1850, in large part due to the patronage of the Prince of Wales (later George IV) who famously commissioned several lover’s eye portraits for his forbidden amour, Maria Fitzherbert. Although the best known of such commissions, these were not the first. In antiquity, the Romans and Etruscans produced similar images and, more recently, according to Horace Walpole, the French did so in the eighteenth century (18).

In “The Artist’s Eye,” Elle Shushan describes the evolution of the eye miniature and introduces its practitioners, portraitists such as Richard Cosway, who produced the aforementioned miniatures in his role as Miniature Painter to the Prince of Wales, and George Engleheart, Miniature Painter to the prince’s father, George III. In addition to the latter’s prolific output (4853 portrait miniatures between 1775 and 1813), Engleheart trained several relatives to paint eye miniatures, including his cousin Thomas Richmond and nephew John Cox Dillman Engleheart, whose work is also included in the catalogue. Shushan explains the initial modern popularity of the genre (in England and on the Continent) and describes patrons who later resuscitated the genre, including Queen Victoria who requested eye pictures of her closest friends and relatives from her Royal Miniaturist, Sir William Charles Ross. In closing, Shushan attributes the genre’s demise to its hybrid status — “part portrait, part jewelry, and part decoration” (27).

In “Symbol & Sentiment: Lover’s Eyes and the Language of Gemstones,” Graham Boettcher demonstrates how the jewels that often surrounded an eye portrait provided additional information about the qualities and features of the sitter and its wearer. Since many of these portraits were memorials to a deceased loved one, Boettcher’s discussion of these items as mourning jewelry is particularly useful.

In the third section of the catalogue, Jo Manning contributes five fictional vignettes inspired by items in the Skier Collection, an inclusion stimulated by the lost identities of most of the sitters and artists. Interspersed amid the catalogue entries are brief biographies of specialists George Engleheart and his family protégés, Cosway, Richmond, William Grimaldi, as well as George IV. Some of the entries also supply information about inscriptions and particular sitters.

Although most recent publications on miniatures include a section on eye miniatures, The Look of Love is the first publication devoted to this fleeting genre. While the liminal status of the eye miniature as part jewelry, part decoration, and part portrait may have contributed to the genre’s transience, we might ask whether such images should be considered portraits at all, a point made by Hanneke Grootenboer in her 2006 Art Bulletin article, “Treasuring the Gaze: Eye Miniature Portraits and the Intimacy of Vision.”[1] Perhaps it would be more accurate to describe these small paintings as ‘eye pictures’ (rather than portraits) since they work so differently from traditional portrait conventions grounded in personal identification. And, given that more typical portrait miniatures were also commonly hybrids (part portrait, part jewelry, and part decoration), why was their popularity more enduring than that of the eye pictures? Were eye pictures – often profusely decorated – more expensive than standard portrait miniatures? And if so, did this factor contribute to the genre’s demise?

Notwithstanding such questions, this generously illustrated catalogue marks a significant addition to the study of miniatures and should appeal to a broad audience with its combination of scholarly scrutiny and fictional narratives.

[1] Hanneke Grootenboer, “Treasuring the Gaze: Eye Miniature Portraits and the Intimacy of Vision,” The Art Bulletin 88 (September 2006): 496-507; also see her forthcoming book from the University of Chicago Press, Treasuring the Gaze: Intimate Vision in Late Eighteenth-Century Eye Miniatures (November 2012).

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Heidi Strobel is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Evansville, in Indiana. Her dissertation research, focused on the promotion of eighteenth-century female artists by female patrons such as Charlotte, wife of King George III of England, is published as The Artistic Matronage of Queen Charlotte (1744-1818) (Edwin Mellen Press, 2011). Other recent publications include articles on twentieth-century topics such as British sculptor Barbara Hepworth, American folklore artist Howard Finster, World War II icon Rosie the Riveter, and women’s scholarship on women.

Reviewed | Davis’s ‘A General Theory of Visual Culture’

Posted in books, reviews by Editor on May 28, 2012

Recently added to caa.reviews:

Whitney Davis, A General Theory of Visual Culture (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011), 432 pages, ISBN: 9780691147659, $55.

Reviewed by James Elkins, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; posted 18 May 2012.

Along with David Summers’s ‘Real Spaces: World Art History and the Rise of Western Modernism’ (New York: Phaidon, 2003) (click here for review), Whitney Davis’s ‘A General Theory of Visual Culture’ is one of the most ambitious and potentially foundational books on art history in recent decades. It is unusually dense in logical argumentation, so it is more than a convention to say that it cannot helpfully be summarized. Because longer reviews will be needed to assess the book’s arguments, I want to use the generally shorter review length here in caa.reviews to raise two points about the book as a whole. But first I will evoke, as succinctly as possible, the book’s content, purpose, and significance.

Davis’s book ranges widely across the central examples of art-historical methodology, from Heinrich Wölfflin to Michael Baxandall, including discussions of writers as different as T. J. Clark, Arthur Danto, Ernst Cassirer, Nelson Goodman, and Giovanni Morelli. There are extended readings of texts by Erwin Panofsky, Richard Wollheim, E. H. Gombrich, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, and critiques of formal analysis (chapter 3), style analysis (chapter 4), and iconography (chapter 7). The book’s visual examples range from prehistory to Renaissance art to modernism and Warhol.

Davis’s principal purpose is to provide a “general theory of visual culture,” by which he means an account of the relation between what is cultural about vision, and what is visual about culture. He has many ways of putting this difference, and the variety is itself significant. (More on that later.) To ask about what is cultural about vision is to note that “styles of depiction . . . have materially affected human vision,” and to ask about what is visual about culture entails the possibility that “some things,” but not all, “are visual in culture, or visible as culture” (6; see also p. 8).

As a conceptual reorganization of art history’s fundamental terms of engagement with objects, the book is exemplary, and it is difficult to imagine a reader who is engaged with the discipline for whom this book is optional reading. . .

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

Ceilings of Versailles as You’ve Never Seen Them Before

Posted in today in light of the 18th century by Editor on May 27, 2012

Thanks to Mia Jackson for passing along this story by Tony Cross from Radio France Internationale (16 May 2012): “Louis XIV Railway Carriages Take to Paris-Versailles Line,” . . .

Inside one of the carriages with a reproduction of a ceiling from Versailles, Christophe Recoura/SNCF

They may look like any old beat-up railway train on the outside but inside they are decorated with reproductions of interiors from the royal château of Versailles. For the modest price of a local network ticket passengers travelling to Versailles, just outside Paris, will have a décor fit for a king. The first of five carriages decorated with reproductions of the château’s world-famous royal apartments built by Louis XIV, Louis XVI’s library and similar sumptuous scenes started running Wednesday. The others will all be in operation by the end of the year. . .

The full article is available here»

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Note (added 8 December 2012)Eleanor Beardsley reported on the story for NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday (8 December 2012).

Call for Papers | The Work of Art, Particular and Universal

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on May 26, 2012

As noted at Le Blog de L’ApAhAu:

L’œuvre d’art entre ambition identitaire et aspiration à l’universel
Institut Catholique de Paris (ICP), 5-6 April 2013

Proposals due by 31 July 2012

Institut Catholique de Paris, founded in 1875

L’œuvre d’art et le sens qu’on lui donne sont porteurs d’une tension : la création est tout à la fois symbole d’une identité culturelle spécifique et dépositaire d’un message d’ordre universel. Ce phénomène s’accentue dans le contexte contemporain de mondialisation des échanges où l’art semble constituer plus que jamais un repère stable dans un monde au caractère mouvant parfois perçu comme inquiétant. Le propos de ce colloque est d’explorer, dans une perspective historique, cette dialectique identité / universalité de l’œuvre d’art par le biais de trois thématiques :

• L’étude des œuvres hybrides, combinant ostensiblement différentes traditions artistiques, culturelles, techniques… et les conséquences de l’intégration de nouveaux modèles sur la formation d’une identité culturelle.

• La thématique du transfert : voyages d’artistes, circulation d’œuvres, décentrement des foyers artistiques… : autant d’éléments aux conséquences majeures sur la création de nouvelles formes d’art, sur leur appropriation et la portée du sens qui s’y attache.

• La question muséale avec le contraste entre un spectaculaire développement du nombre de musées à vocation plus ou moins universelle et les difficultés croissantes liées à la circulation et à la propriété des œuvres, considérées tantôt comme des marqueurs identitaires nationaux tantôt comme des icônes universelles.

Le colloque se tiendra sur deux jours dans les locaux de l’ICP. Les propositions de candidatures devront être envoyées avant le 31 juillet 2012 à l’adresse suivante : colloqueicp-2013@yahoo.fr. Elles comporteront un exposé du projet de communication 1500 signes environ ainsi qu’un bref CV ou résumé biographique. La durée des communications est fixée à 20 mn.

Exhibition | The Triumph of Pleasure: Vauxhall Gardens

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on May 25, 2012

From The Foundling Museum:

The Triumph of Pleasure: Vauxhall Gardens 1729 — 1786
The Foundling Museum, London, 11 May — 9 September 2012

Curated by David Coke

‘Vauxhall Gardens showing the Grand Walk at the entrance of the Garden and the Orchestra with the Musick Playing’, print published in London, 1751

The twenty-first-century public appetite for cultural consumption is unquenchable; but unbeknown to many, mass consumption of contemporary art, popular music and entertainment began over 200 years ago. In 1729 and 1739 two London institutions changed the face of British art forever, Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens under the management of Jonathan Tyers and the Foundling Hospital for abandoned babies and England’s first public art gallery established by Thomas Coram. To ensure the success of the two institutions both men enlisted the help of two great artists of the age, painter and engraver William Hogarth and composer George Frideric Handel.

The Foundling Hospital became the premier venue for London’s polite society to combine socialising and culture with philanthropy whereas Vauxhall Gardens was a place to enjoy contemporary music and art, spectacular design, al fresco dining, beautiful gardens and supper boxes from which to see and be seen. The Triumph of Pleasure: Vauxhall Gardens 1729 – 1786 will explore the Gardens, which for its visitors was an escape from daily realities and a re-affirmation of all the good things that life had to offer.

Drawing from the collections of major museums and galleries across the country, The Triumph of Pleasure: Vauxhall Gardens 1729 – 1786 will display works by Hogarth, Canaletto, Hayman, Rowlandson and Gainsborough. Visitors can view original manuscripts and song sheets which will be supported by a series of specially commissioned concerts. One of the last surviving supper box paintings will be on display alongside objects associated with the Gardens and the Foundling Hospital. This will include an identifying token left by a mother with the baby she left at the Foundling Hospital. This token is a copper 1737 Vauxhall Garden season ticket, attributed to Hogarth. The exhibition will also be the first time François Roubiliac’s three terracotta portrait busts of William Hogarth, George Frideric Handel and Jonathan Tyers have been seen together.

Vauxhall Gardens was an all-embracing sensual experience, becoming an international byword for pleasure and now, over 200 years later, visitors to the Foundling Museum can experience the sights, sounds and tastes of the Gardens once more.

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David Coke, the exhibition’s curator and co-author of Vauxhall Gardens: A History (Yale UP, 2011), offers a preview of the show with his article “Vauxhall Gardens: Patriotism and Pleasure,” in this month’s issue of History Today 62 (May 2012). Also, see Coke’s own immensely useful website for the gardens (this last noted added 1 June 2012).

Marking Frederick the Great’s 300th Birthday

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on May 24, 2012

On the 300th anniversary of the birth of Frederick the Great, the Prussian Culture Heritage Foundation has organized a series of nine exhibitions. A few of them are detailed here at Enfilade, but more information is available from the series website:

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Art – King – Enlightenment
Exhibition Series Organized by the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Berlin, 2012

Johann Gottfried Schadow, “Stettin Monument of Frederick the Great,” 1793 © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, photo: Achim Kleuker

The 24 January 2012 marked the 300th anniversary of the birth of Frederick the Great. To mark the occasion, the five institutions that make up the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation have joined forces to deliver a series of diverse exhibitions and events that will guide visitors through the tercentenary celebrations.

The joint project bears the title Art – King – Enlightenment. The institutions involved are: the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin), the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (Berlin State Library), the Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian state archives), the Ibero-American Institute and the Staatliche Institut für Musikforschung (an institute for scholarship in music). Together, they highlight various areas relating to the king as a person and the age in which he lived.

Coinage reforms, Montezuma, the image as a mass medium, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Chinese porcelain service, secret correspondence, and a concert flute are just some of the things that provide a snapshot of what we can expect to see in 2012. This colourful palette of events revolving around the anniversary will provide an insight not just into the life and work of the famous Prussian king, but
also into his historical impact, for Prussia, Germany and Europe.

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War Court in Köpenick! Anno 1730: Crown Prince – Katte – Order of the King
Köpenick Palace, 29 October 2011 — 5 February 2012

It’s Enough for Eight Groschen… Frederick the Great Seen through His Coins and Medals
Bode-Museum, 24 January — 14 October 2012

Frederick’s Montezuma: Power and Meaning in the Prussian Court Opera
Museum of Music Instruments, 27 January — 24 June 2012

On the Edge of Reason: Cycles of Works on Paper in the Age of the Enlightenment
Kupferstichkabinett at Kulturforum, 16 March — 29 July 2012

‘…Old Fritz, Who Lives in His People’: The Image of Frederick the Great in Adolph Menzel
National Gallery, Kupferstichkabinett and Gemäldegalerie in the Old National Gallery, 23 March — 24 June 2012

On the Plurality of Worlds: The Arts of the Enlightenment
Art Library at Kulturforum, 10 May — 5 August 2012

China and Prussia: Porcelain and Tea
Museum of Asian Art, Dahlem Museums, 8 June — 31 December 2012

Porcelain for the Palaces of Frederick the Great
Museum of Decorative Arts in Köpenick Palace, 15 June — 28 October 2012

Homme de lettres – Federic: The King at His Writing Desk
Prussian State Archives and Berlin State Library presented in the Art Library at Kulturforum,  6 July — 30 September 2012

Exhibition | Frederick the Great through His Coins and Medals

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on May 24, 2012

From the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin:

It’s Enough for 8 Groschen … Frederick the Great Seen through His Coins and Medals
Bode-Museum, Berlin, 24 January — 14 October 2012

Ludwig Heinrich Barbiez, Medaille auf die Schlacht bei Kesselsdorf, 1745 © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Münzkabinett

Coins and medals reflect the history of Prussia and its great king in an immediate way: quite literally in the palms of our hands. No other European monarch wrought such wide-reaching changes to his country’s coinage and monetary system as Frederick II of Prussia. With his coinage reforms of 1750 and 1764, he not only set Prussia on a new course, but also significantly paved the way for later monetary developments in the rest of Germany.

By radically debasing the currency, specifically of specie (by lowering the quantity of precious metals in newly minted coins), he managed to finance the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763). He was just as radical in overhauling the Prussian currency after the war. The mints went from being half-private companies to efficient, state-run money factories. Under Frederick II, gold coins and larger silver coins were standardised across the country in a process that started in 1750. The diversity of territories under Prussian control and their various types of coins and monetary systems are reflected in the coins of the time. The coin portraits of Frederick II reveal a lot about the image of the ruler – from handsome young man in the year of his coronation in 1740 up to his death in 1786, by which time he was dubbed ‘Old Fritz’. Besides his great battles and victories, various other kinds of events that took place during his reign are captured on his medals.

The Numismatic Collection holds over 3500 coins from the time of Frederick the Great, thus making it not only the largest, but also the most complete collection of its kind in the world. This particular collection will be published for the first time in its entirety, in a combination of print and online catalogues to mark the celebrations surrounding Frederick II’s birth. The result means that the public now has unprecedented access to this historical source on the life of Frederick the Great.

The exhibition is being held as part of a wider series of events called Art – King – Enlightenment, coordinated by the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation in honour of the 300th anniversary of the birth of Frederick the Great on 24 January 2012.

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