Roundtable Discussion for New Book on Court Funerals

Posted in books, lectures (to attend) by Editor on August 21, 2012

As  noted at L’ApAhAu, in Paris on Thursday, 20 September 2012, at 6pm, the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, in conjunction with the Centre de Recherche du Château de Versailles, will host a roundtable discussion with the authors of this new book on the role of court funerals in early modern Europe. The invitation (as a PDF) is available here»

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Juliusz A. Chrościcki, Mark Hengerer, Gérard Sabatier, Les funé­railles prin­ciè­res en Europe, XVIe-XVIIIe siè­cle — Volume I : Le grand théâtre de la mort (Paris: Éditions de la Maison des scien­ces de l’homme, 2012), ISBN: 9782735114269, 47€. [Publi­ca­tion issue du col­lo­que inter­na­tio­nal des 14-16 octo­bre 2007 à Cracovie]

Depuis une tren­taine d’années, les his­to­riens ont exploré la pro­blé­ma­ti­que de la « genèse de l’État moderne » en Europe entre le XVIe et le XVIIIe siè­cle, et son corol­laire, la place cen­trale tenue par les cours prin­ciè­res dans le pro­ces­sus. L’objec­tif de ce livre est de s’inter­ro­ger sur la part qu’ont pu y pren­dre les stra­té­gies funé­rai­res des famil­les sou­ve­rai­nes. Ce livre pro­pose une appro­che dif­fé­rente des tra­vaux consa­crés jusqu’à pré­sent aux rituels funé­rai­res prin­ciers où l’his­toire de l’art y est pré­pon­dé­rante. Les funé­railles prin­ciè­res sont étudiées en terme de stra­té­gies de la part des monar­chies, comme rituel interne de trans­mis­sion du pou­voir, mais aussi dans le cadre de leurs rela­tions entre dynas­ties, et de leurs rap­ports tant avec leurs opi­nions publi­ques pro­pres qu’avec une opi­nion euro­péenne en for­ma­tion.

Premier des trois volu­mes consa­crés aux funé­railles prin­ciè­res, l’ouvrage s’inté­resse au dérou­le­ment des céré­mo­nies en rela­tion avec les ins­ti­tu­tions pro­pres, la conjonc­ture, les tra­di­tions par­ti­cu­liè­res, les rap­ports de force inter­nes, l’inser­tion dans le jeu poli­ti­que euro­péen.

On Site | Kladruby Abbey Church, Czech Republic

Posted in Member News, on site by Editor on August 19, 2012

Eighteenth-Century Encounters: Kladruby Abbey Church, Czech Republic
By Michael Yonan

Jan Blažej Santini-Aichl, Abbey Church of Kladruby,
near Stříbro, completed in 1726 (Photo by Michael Yonan)

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For most eighteenth-century specialists, the phenomenon of the period’s Gothic revival architecture is principally understood as an English one. Less well known is existence of another eighteenth-century Gothic, this one Central European. I’m speaking of the series of so-called Czech ‘Gothic Baroque’ churches by the Prague-born architect Jan Blažej Santini-Aichl (1677­–1723). This summer I traveled to western Bohemia and, generously stewarded by art historian Dr. Martin Mádl, was able to visit one of the more distinctive of Santini-Aichl’s buildings: the abbey church of Kladruby, part of a complex of ecclesiastical buildings that make up a Benedictine cloister, located not far from the town of Stříbro.1

From a distance, the church doesn’t immediately reveal its eighteenth-century origins. Its height, the pinnacled columns, exterior buttresses, and of course ogive arches all suggest a medieval vintage. That is until one notices the centralized cupola, an element whose arrangement and form is not typically Gothic. Dislocations of style and date increase as one enters the church. As with many Gothic buildings, Kladruby has a basilican plan and employs architectural forms like pointed arches and ribbed vaulting. But few, if any, Gothic churches look quite like this. The ribbed vaults zigzag into stylized lilies, the coat-of-arms of the local abbots. The interior’s pink and pistachio green tonalities, its original hues, are more reminiscent of the rococo than of medieval churches. And the illusionistically painted dome, replete with saints tumbling through the heavens and an oculus representing the Holy Spirit, recalls seventeenth-century Roman predecessors more than Chartres or Ulm. Kladruby reveals itself to be a surprising synthesis of late baroque and medieval architectural styles.

What could possibly explain this? As an American art historian trained to see eighteenth-century art through specific narratives, I’ll confess that this building floored me. To understand it, it helps to know the monastery’s history and the unique culture of Czech religious communities. A church was first consecrated here in 1233, not long after the abbey’s formation. In subsequent centuries the community’s fortunes waxed and waned; it fell into disarray in the sixteenth century and was conquered and plundered during the Thirty Years’ War. Repairs to its buildings began in 1653, but in 1712 the presiding abbot, Maurus Fintzguth, commissioned Santini-Aichl to build an entirely new church, the one we see today, which was completed in 1726.

‘New’ is not quite the right term, however. Most of what one encounters at Kladruby dates, in fact, from the eighteenth century, but scholars have speculated that somewhere within the walls are fragments of the original church. In constructing this new building out of and on top of its predecessor, Santini-Aichl described his architectural process as one of renovation. He did more than simply reconstruct an old church or build a new one on its site, but rather constructed something that simultaneously evokes its predecessor, incorporates it, and improves upon it. In this respect, Santini-Aichl’s building maintains and visualizes the monastery’s medieval history, which Fintzguth viewed as a Golden Age, even as it celebrates its modern resilience.

Some scholars have suggested that Kladruby is essentially an eighteenth-century building wrapped in Gothic skin, and indeed given what we know about the eighteenth-century love of surfaces, architectural and otherwise, this would seem to fit. But a recent article by the Czech art historian Pavel Kalina claims that the situation is actually more complicated.2 The interior ribbed vaulting is not used in a manner true to Gothic structural techniques, for sure, but neither is it entirely decorative. It’s somewhere in between, partially structural and partially ornamental, and in achieving this balance it combines medieval and eighteenth-century architectural knowledge. In this synthesis of old and new, Kalina argues, lie traces of dialogues between learned abbots and skilled artisans, as well as existential tensions between the abbey’s past and its present.

Kladruby isn’t an isolated example of such a synthesis. Santini-Aichl constructed a similar Gothic-baroque church at Sedlec, a village near the city of Kutná Hora, and he designed particularly daring synthesis of classical and Gothic architectural forms for the Pilgrimage Chapel of St. John Nepomuk at Žďár nad Sazavou. All are easily reachable as day trips from Prague.

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1. Three different 360-degree views of the church and its surroundings are available at 360globe.net. Martin Mádl’s wife, Claire Mádl, is editor and co-founder of the journal Cornova, the ‘Eighteenth-Century Studies’ of the Czech Republic.

2. Pavel Kalina, “In opere gotico unicus: The Hybrid Architecture of Jan Blažej Santini-Aichl and Patterns of Memory in Post-Reformation Bohemia,” Umění 58 (2010): 42–56.

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President of HECAA, Michael Yonan is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Missouri-Columbia. His book, Empress Maria Theresa and the Politics of Habsburg Imperial Art, appeared in 2011 from Penn State University Press.

Colloquium | We Need to Talk about ‘Things’

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on August 18, 2012

From the CRASSH website:

We Need to Talk about ‘Things’: Concluding Colloquium
CRASSH, University of Cambridge, 27-28 September 2012

This year CRASSH has hosted a Graduate Research Group concerned with ‘Things: Material Cultures of the Long Eighteenth Century’. Our speakers have considered specific eighteenth-century objects ranging from coins to ships, porcelain to plants, from different disciplinary perspectives. We have discussed how these objects allow us to tell complex. inter-disciplinary stories about consumption, production and display in this period.  This colloquium pulls together the speakers and themes that have defined the series. The day will consist of several papers with invited responses, as well as space for discussion. The colloquium is preceded by a keynote lecture by Professor Ludmilla Jordanova  on Thursday evening, Talking about Things.

Both keynote lecture and colloquium talks on Friday 28 September are open to everyone. The lecture is free to attend and no registration is required. However, registration is required for the colloquium. The fee is £20 (including lunch and refreshments at the colloquium) with a reduced £10 charge for students. For information about the event and the graduate research group please contact Katy Barrett or Sophie Waring.

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Thursday, 27 September

18.00  Keynote Lecture, Ludmilla Jordanova (King’s College London) — Talking about Things

19.00  Drinks reception at CRASSH

Friday, 28 September

9.00  Registration and coffee

9.30  Welcome and Introduction — Sophie Waring (University of Cambridge) and Katy Barrett (University of Cambridge)

9.45  Session 1:  W R I T T E N  T H I N G S — Chair: Dr Luisa Calè (Birkbeck College, London)
• Sarah Kareem (University of California, Los Angeles) — Romantic Bubbles, Fictional Worlds
• Leanna McLaughlin (University of California, Riverside) — “A Lampoon Put on his Door”: Poetry and Politics, 1678-1689

11.15 Coffee break

11.45  Session 2:  F A M I L I A R  T H I N G S — Chair: Dr Melissa Calaresu (University of Cambridge)
• Sara Pennell (University of Roehampton) — Familiarity Breeds Contempt?  ‘Everyday’ Objects and ‘Small Things Forgotten’ in the early modern English Household
• Melanie Keene (University of Cambridge) — Title tbc

13.15  Lunch

14.15  Session 3:  G E N D E R E D  T H I N G S — Chair: Dr Elizabeth Eger (Kings College London)
• Catherine Eagleton (British Museum) — Sarah Sophia Banks: Money, Medals and a ‘Collection of Scraps’
• Mary Brooks (University of Durham) — Curiosities from Female Hands

15.45  Tea Break

16.15  Session 4:  T R A V E L L I N G  T H I N G S
• Mary Terrall (University of California, Los Angeles) — The Dynamics of Natural History: Collecting and Collections in the Eighteenth Century
• Jonathan Eacott (University of California, Riverside) — Few Constitutions Can Stand Against East Indian Luxury: Tropical Lifestyles and the Health of Britain’s Global Power

Forthcoming | From Books to Bezoars: Sloane and His Collections

Posted in books by Editor on August 17, 2012

Due in November from the University of Chicago Press:

Michael Hunter, Alison Walker, and Arthur MacGregor, eds., From Books to Bezoars: Sir Hans Sloane and His Collections (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), 296 pages, ISBN: 9780712358804, $60.

This well-illustrated volume offers fresh perspectives on the great eighteenth-century physician, naturalist, and collector Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753), whose extensive holdings formed the basis of the British Museum and its offspring, the Natural History Museum and the British Library. The colonial milieu within which Sloane operated gets prominence here, particularly the time he spent in Jamaica. Attention is paid to his enormous network of acquaintances and correspondents throughout the world as well as to the way his collecting activities permeated every aspect of his life. Other essays consider the museum specimens accumulated by Sloane—both natural and man-made—shedding new light on his aims for acquiring and organizing them. A fascinating look at the man behind three of the United Kingdom’s most famous museums, From Books to Bezoars will appeal to students and scholars of eighteenth century studies, early modern science, and the history of the book.

Conference | Histories of British Art, 1660-1735

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on August 16, 2012

From the University of York:

Histories of British Art, 1660-1735
King’s Manor, University of York, 20-22 September 2012

Organized by Claudine Van Hensbergen

Histories of British Art is the third and final conference organised as part of  Court, Country, City: British Art 1660-1735, a major research project run by the University of York and Tate Britain, and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Held at the King’s Manor in York, this three-day conference includes a drinks reception at York City Art Gallery and a visit to Beningbrough Hall (built 1716) for a private viewing of the National Portrait Gallery’s collection of over a hundred artworks from the period.

Keynote speakers: Malcolm Baker, Diana Dethloff, Charles Ford, and David Solkin

Conference spaces are limited and we therefore encourage early booking to avoid disappointment. For any other queries please email email clare.bond@york.ac.uk

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P R O G R A M M E (more…)

Exhibition | Dutch Country Houses

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on August 15, 2012

As noted at Art Daily:

Fresh Air!: City Dwellers and Their Country Houses
Naar Buiten! – Stedelingen en hun Buitenplaatsen

Geelvinck Hinlopen House, Amsterdam, 11 July 2012 — 4 February 2013

Jan van der Heyden, Elswout House and Gardens , ca. 1660 (Haarlem: Frans Hals Museum)

Since the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century, those, who could afford it, fled the malodour of the city during the summer months. In a time span of three centuries, over 6000 summer residences appeared all over the country and especially around Amsterdam. Today, some 10% of these historic houses for the summer still survive. This exhibition tells the story of these houses, why they came into existence, how the city dwellers spend their time during summer and how the once spectacular gardens and parks of these houses are maintained and reconstructed today.

The leading theme of the exhibition concerns the rich and influential bourgeoisie families who once lived in the city palace Geelvinck Hinlopen Huis. Their palatial country houses were exemplary. Many still exist and often the gardens can be visited. Important exhibits, such as a painting of the country house and gardens of Elswout by Jan van der Heyden (1637-1712) on loan from the Frans Hals Museum, a huge painting of a city garden The Courtyard of the Proveniershuis (1735) by Vincent Laurensz van der Vinne II (1686-1742) on loan from the Rijksmuseum Twente and a large reverse glass painting of the country house of Soelen by Jonas Zeuner (1727-1814) on loan from the Amsterdam Museum, are on view. Connected to the exhibition is a new website, which stimulates visiting the gardens and parks of the country houses around Amsterdam, which are open for the public. . .

The full article is available here»

Call for Papers | 2013 Anglo-Italian Conference

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on August 14, 2012

Fourth Anglo-Italian Conference on Eighteenth-Century Studies
University of Tuscia, Viterbo, 5-7 September 2013

Proposals due by 30 December 2012

Following the success of the first three Anglo-Italian Conferences, in York in 2006 and 2011 and in Capri, Italy in 2009 the Italian Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies and the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies are proud to announce the fourth in this series of conferences. The focus of the 2013 Conference will be “Comparing Eighteenth-Century British and Italian Narratives.” Possible topics may include, but are not strictly limited to:
• origins of the novel
• functions of historiographies
• narrative/s of history and narrative/s of fiction
• ideologies and cultural systems
• poetics and forms
• printers, readers and book dissemination
• translations and cultural transfers

Proposals are invited for 20-minute papers. Abstracts of no more than 200 words should be sent by email to all the following: Frank O’Gorman fog17@btinternet.com, Rosamaria Loretelli loretell@unina.it, and Francesca Saggini fsaggini@unitus.it. Papers are acceptable in either Italian or English. Please include your position, name of your home institution and a working email address for contacts. The costs of the conference, including lunches, coffee break, etc. are expected to be in the region of €40. A fee waiver may be arranged for early career research scholars (e.g. self-financing Ph.D. students). The deadline for abstracts is 30 December 2012. Acceptance will be communicated by 31 January 2013. Delegates not offering papers will be warmly welcome to attend the conference.

Viterbo is an enchanting medieval town about 60 km north of Rome. There is plentiful accommodation in Viterbo and the surrounding areas at all levels and prices from spa resorts, to 4-star hotels, to quaint medieval B&Bs. Consequently, delegates will be expected to provide their own accommodation. However, advice and listings may be provided by Francesca Saggini fsaggini@unitus.it or by the Conference Graduate Staff, Adriana Micheli adriana.84@hotmail.it or adriana_micheli@alice.it and Fabio Ciambella fv762006@yahoo.it

The nearest airports are Leonardo da Vinci Airport in Fiumicino (all flights, including international) and Giovanni Battista Pastine Airport in Ciampino (mostly low-cost companies, including Ryanair). Both of these airports are located just outside Rome. Viterbo is a town north of Rome, easily accessible by train from most train stations in Rome as well as by coach. Alternatively, Viterbo can be reached by trains stopping at Orte station (about 25 km from Viterbo). Thence transfers can be arranged either by local train or even by taxi (this latter solution is favourable in case of taxi sharing). Delegates can contact Francesca Saggini or the Conference Graduate Staff for further information. By car, the nearest exit is ORTE, on the A1 Milan-Naples Motorway.

For further information, contact Frank O’Gorman fog17@btinternet.com or Francesca Saggini fsaggini@unitus.it.

Exhibition | Fables and Magic: The Guidobono Brothers

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on August 13, 2012

From Cultura Italia:

Fables and Magic: The Guidobono Brothers, Painters of the Baroque
Palazzo Madama, Turin, 29 May — 2 September 2012

Curated by Mary Newcome Schleier, Giovanni Romano, and Gelsomina Spione

From 29 May to 2 September, Palazzo Madama in Turin hosts Fables and Magic: The Guidobono Brothers, Painters of the Baroque, an exhibition focusing on the life and work of the two artists, Bartolomeo and Domenico Guidobono, best known for decorating the ceiling of Palazzo Madama, along with an extensive series of paintings on canvas held in the most prestigious European and American museums.

The Savona-born painters Bartolomeo and Domenico Guidobono were not well-known in Piedmont. Nevertheless, between the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th, they were entrusted with several important commissions in Turin. Following in the footsteps of their father, the painter and ceramic artist Giovanni Antonio, who drew a salary from Victor Amadeus II, the two brothers introduced to Turin the light and festive decorative style typical of Genoese residences, with its emphasis on light effects and elements drawn from nature. Both lived in Turin twice, more precisely between 1685 and 1690, and again from 1702 to 1726, when they painted the frescoes decorating the vault ceiling of the apartments of the second Madama Reale, Marie Jeanne of Savoy.

Their work is illustrated by paintings, drawings, and engravings that highlight their meticulous approach to depicting the details of their subjects, which ranged from mythology to Biblical stories, sacred subjects, still lifes, and magic scenes. Flowers, fruits, birds, animals, objects, and details of still lifes are painted with a refined, light touch and ooze seductive mystery.

The exhibition is arranged chronologically and begins with the work of the older of the two brothers, Bartolomeo Guidobono (Savona 1654 – Turin 1709). During his first sojourn in Turin, he painted the frescoes of the presbytery of the Casanova abbey near Carmagnola and a painting for Palazzo Madama, which was originally located in the former apartments of the Madama Reale and is now lost. During his second sojourn, from 1702 to 1709, Bartolomeo decorated both the residences of the Savoy court and church altars in Turin and the Duchy of Savoy. It is in this context that his Genoese-inspired decorations were made, such as those of the convent of San Francesco da Paola and the Pilone cupola, the ceiling in the hall currently known as the Madama Felicita apartment in Palazzo Reale, which are featured in the exhibition thanks to video images.

Domenico’s style began to emerge more forcefully after his brother’s death in 1709. The artist, who maintained a close relationship with the Madama Reale Maria Giovanna Battista, became the undisputed protagonist of the decorations of the halls on the first floor of Palazzo Madama, known as the Guidobono halls – the Madama Reale’s Chamber, the Chinese Cabinet, and the Southern Veranda – which were decorated on the orders of the Duchess orders between 1708 ad 1721. Domenico Guidobono was active in Turin and the rest of the Duchy until the ascent of Filippo Juvara, who eventually marginalized him and caused him to return to Genoa and subsequently to Naples, where he died in 1746. The exhibition delves into the life and work of Domenico Guidobono through recently discovered documents and artwork. The history of his art can be traced thanks to a dowry inventory put together by his daughter Maria Beatrice in 1720, which lists the works from her father’s Turin workshop. Today, most of these works are held in foreign museums, including the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum in New York City.

The exhibition is enhanced by works by Genoese masters and other artists who were crucial influences on the Guidobono brothers, such as Domenico Piola, Gregorio De Ferrari, and Daniel Seyter. There is also a selection of engravings by Rembrandt and Castiglione, the stylistic points of reference underlying Genoese painting, followed by a section on project planning with preparatory sketches by Piola and De Ferrari from the Cabinet of Drawings and Paintings in Genoa’s Palazzo Rosso.

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From Artbooks.com:

Catalogue: Clelia Arnaldi di Balme, Giovanni Romano, Mary Newcome Schleier, and Gelsomina Spione, Favole e Magie: I Guidobono, Pittori del Barocco (Milano: Silvana, 2012), 128 pages, ISBN: 9788836623952, $33.

Ai fratelli Bartolomeo e Domenico Guidobono, attivi tra la fine del Seicento e l’inizio del Settecento in Liguria e in Piemonte, è dedicato questo volume, che offre una retrospettiva completa e aggiornata sulla loro carriera di pittori, costellata di successi in vita, ma poco considerata dalla critica nei secoli successivi. I due fratelli, originari di Savona, hanno lasciato il segno della loro ispirazione più alta nei soffitti di Palazzo Madama a Torino, ma si deve a loro anche una vasta produzione di quadri da cavalletto, ora in gran parte dispersa in musei e collezioni private d’Europa e d’America. Giunti a Torino a seguito del padre – pittore e ceramista stipendiato da Vittorio Amedeo II –, introducono in Piemonte i caratteri leggeri e festosi della grande decorazione barocca genovese, che trae i suoi spunti dall’osservazione della natura e dallo studio degli effetti della luce. Favole mitologiche, storie bibliche e soggetti sacri, nature morte e scene di magia si accompagnano alla descrizione precisa di fiori, frutti, uccelli, animali, oggetti e brani di natura morta, con esiti di raffinata leggerezza e talvolta di seducente mistero. Il volume, che nel ricostruire la loro attività permette di fare il punto sulla fortuna critica e sugli studi svolti intorno ai due pittori, presenta, accanto alle opere dei Guidobono, anche quelle di altri artisti che rappresentarono un punto di riferimento per la loro formazione, come Domenico Piola, Gregorio De Ferrari e Daniel Seyter. Il volume è completato da una bibliografia.

Exhibition | John Clerk of Eldin (1728-1812)

Posted in books, exhibitions by Editor on August 12, 2012

From Edinburgh’s City Art Centre:

John Clerk of Eldin (1728-1812)
Edinburgh City Art Centre, 3 November 2012 — 3 February 2013

Curated by Geoffrey Bertram

John Clerk of Eldin, Craigmillar Castle from the South-East, detail

John Clerk of Eldin is well known to historians of 18th-century British art, and he is often included in exhibitions and publications relating to the work of other 18th-century figures, namely Robert Adam, the architect, and of Paul Sandby, the well respected English painter and printmaker. In addition, his geological drawings are highly valued by geologists as the illustrations provided for Dr James Hutton’s seminal 1790s publication ‘A Theory of the Earth’. However Clerk’s etchings have never received a major overview, which the exhibition aims to redress. This anniversary year provides a perfect opportunity to highlight the prints of this remarkable man.

The exhibition is being organised and curated by Geoffrey Bertram. The main part of the exhibition is being lent by the Clerk family, supplemented with additional etchings to be borrowed from the National Gallery of Scotland. The etchings presented will range from some of the earliest efforts to those finest, with some related drawings that show his working method. These will be supplemented by sketchbooks, geological drawings and copies of the 1855 compendium of etchings published by the Bannatyne Club, Edinburgh, as well as other items relating to his life and work.

For more information, see the exhibition website»

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Catalogue: Geoffrey Bertram et al, The Etchings of John Clerk of Eldin (Enterprise Editions, 2012), 180 pages, ISBN 9780957190405, £35.

Published to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Clerk’s death, the book catalogues all of Clerk’s etchings and examines his etching technique and the influences on his style. It also includes essays by Iain Gordon Brown “John Clerk of Eldin and ‘The Virtuoso Genius of the Family'” and Duncan Macmillan “Scottish Printmakers in the Eighteenth Century.” Copies are available from Bertram Enterprises, 1 Knutscroft Lane, Thurloxton, Somerset TA2 8RL email: geoffrey@clerkofeldin.com

Reviewed | Dubin’s ‘Futures and Ruins’

Posted in books, Member News, reviews by Editor on August 11, 2012

Recently added to caa.reviews:

Nina L. Dubin, Futures and Ruins: Eighteenth-Century Paris and the Art of Hubert Robert (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2010), 210 pages, ISBN: 9781606060230, $50.

Reviewed by Frédérique Baumgartner, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Columbia University; posted 27 July 2012.

In an article entitled “Les musées ne sont pas à vendre” (“Museums Are Not For Sale”) published on December 12, 2006, in the daily French paper ‘Le Monde’, the art historians Françoise Cachin, Jean Clair, and Roland Recht strongly denounced the increasing commercialization of the national patrimony, epitomized by the Louvre’s plan to rent out part of its collection to a branch established in Abu Dhabi. The authors warned the French administration against the incoherence of its cultural policy: claiming to protect the nation’s artistic treasures, while at the same time using those treasures as commodities.

The controversy over the Louvre Abu Dhabi is one of the many contemporary resonances that Nina Dubin’s book, ‘Futures and Ruins: Eighteenth-Century Paris and the Art of Hubert Robert’, holds for its reader. A meticulously researched study examining Robert’s paintings of Parisian ruins in light of the new financial interests and related economic and cultural risks that defined the city’s urban and patrimonial policies in the 1770s–1790s, ‘Futures and Ruins’ will prompt readers to consider the origins of the economic and cultural precariousness of today’s world. As such, the book is both historically stimulating and morally engaging.

At the center of ‘Futures and Ruins’ lies the following historical claim: in the course of the eighteenth century, Paris, in the grip of the forces of early capitalism, became the terrain of intense real estate speculation. It was enabled by the introduction of paper money in 1716, as the greater capacity for circulation of paper money precipitated transactions and engendered prospects of hastily accumulated wealth. At the same time, the reliance of the real estate market on the expansion of credit raised the specter of bankruptcy. As Dubin underscores, in agreement with the historian Michael Sonenscher, the nature of credit was characterized by “the ease with which it enabled economic prosperity, while at the same time catalyzing the potential for expansive debt” (Michael Sonenscher, ‘Before the Deluge: Public Debt, Inequality, and the Intellectual Origins of the French Revolution‘, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007, 91).

These economic phenomena, Dubin argues, found their aesthetic counterpart in pictures of ruins—a genre in which Robert (1733–1808), received as Peintre d’architecture at the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in 1776, excelled. . .

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