Call for Papers | A Window on Antiquity: The Topham Collection

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on December 6, 2012

A Window on Antiquity: The Topham Collection at Eton College Library
The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London, 17 May 2013

Proposals due by 10 February 2013

Screen shot 2012-12-05 at 9.13.30 AMTo accompany the exhibition Paper Palaces: The Topham Drawings as a Source for British Neo-Classicism at Eton College Library, 9 May – 1 November 2013

Consisting of 37 volumes and more than 3,000 items, the collection amassed by Richard Topham (1671-1730) is one of the most significant resources for the history of antiquarianism and for the culture and industry of the Grand Tour in Europe. This collection of drawings, watercolours and prints after antique sculptures and paintings in Rome and Italy is the largest of its kind assembled in England, surpassing in both scale and breadth those collected by other celebrated antiquarians such as John Talman, Dr Richard Mead or Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester.

Since its arrival at Eton in 1736 the Topham Collection has fascinated and served archaeologists, researchers investigating collections of antiquities and scholars of the history and reception of the classical tradition. The drawings have also attracted the attention of art historians, as Topham managed to assemble an extraordinary range of works by some of the best Italian draughtsmen of the first half of the eighteenth century, such as Pompeo Batoni, Giovanni Domenico Campiglia and Francesco Bartoli, or by artists who later excelled in other fields, including the architect William Kent. More recently it has also emerged that Francesco Bartoli’s drawings of ancient ceilings and wall elevations in the collection were extensively copied and re-adapted by neo-classical architects such as Robert Adam, James Wyatt and Charles Cameron, becoming one of the most important sources for a decorative language that would spread over Europe.

However, despite the growing body of scholarship on the Topham Collection produced in recent decades, notably the work of the late Louisa M. Connor Bulman, a comprehensive study of the whole collection and of its role in eighteenth-century antiquarian culture is still wanting.

We invite proposals for papers on any aspect of the Topham Collection. Special consideration will be given to papers examining the Topham Collection in relation to British and European antiquarian and artistic culture. Cross-disciplinary and comparative studies are particularly welcome.

The conference, jointly hosted by Eton College, The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and The University of Buckingham, will be held in London at The Paul Mellon Centre on 17 May, 2013. Selected papers may be published in an edited volume.

For further information please contact Dr Adriano Aymonino (University of Buckingham) or Lucy Gwynn (Eton College Library). Please email abstracts of no more than 300 words by 10 February, 2013 to:

At Auction | Marouf Collection at Bonhams, Part I

Posted in Art Market by Editor on December 6, 2012

I was waiting until afer the auction of the Marouf Collection to run this posting so as to include results. Checking in yesterday morning, however, I see that the Meissen chamber pot was withdrawn from the first part of the sale, and I found results for neither the armorial beaker associated with Maria Amalia of Saxony nor the Meissen écuelle and cover. The bourdalou perhaps will be included in the second part in 2013. -CH

Note (added 16 March 2013): Part II of Bonhams’s Marouf Sale is scheduled for 2 May 2013. While the full catalogue has yet to be published, a press release highlights the inclusion of a small tureen from the Swan Service of Meissen porcelain, commissioned in 1736 for Heinrich Graf von Brühl.

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Press release (3 September 2012) from Bonhams:

The Marouf Collection, Part I (#19610)
Bonhams, London, 5 December 2012

Screen shot 2012-12-05 at 9.33.20 AMA rare Meissen bourdalou, otherwise known as a chamber pot, will go under the hammer along with several highly valuable pieces relating to the royal toilette at Bonhams single-owner sale of Meissen ceramics on 5th December at New Bond Street. The ornately decorated porcelain bourdalou, produced circa 1724 is estimated at £50,000-60,000 and is one of the most beautifully decorated examples of porcelain in the Said and Roswitha Marouf Collection. Other key items from the toilette included in
the sale are an important Meissen armorial beaker (estimate
£25,000-30,000), a Meissen armorial tureen, cover and stand
(estimate £60,000-80,000) [sold for £67,250 w/ premium], and
a rare Meissen écuelle and cover (estimate £20,000-25,000).

Screen shot 2012-12-05 at 1.03.39 PMAlthough it was one of the most intimate parts of daily life, unlike today, many elements of the toilette were made public, and it became an important ritual in the eighteenth-century European courts. It was a way for courtiers to flaunt their wealth and rank in society, with elaborate displays becoming commonplace for those in the highest echelons of court. After the lady was sponged and bathed by her maid in private, the public part of the toilette was literally ‘performed’ with the assistance of servants. Often the lady would be dressed, take her breakfast and have an elaborate hair-do in front of a host of onlookers. It was a privilege to be a spectator on these occasions, and the beautifully decorated porcelain toilette pieces were luxury items that showed the reverence paid to the toilette ritual. The bourdalou would have been a well-used item in the eighteenth-century practice of the toilette. The term ‘bourdalou’ originated in the eighteenth century after the name of the priest Louis Bourdalou who preached at the court of Louis XIV. His sermons were so fascinating that the ladies of the court were loathe to leave his
service to relieve themselves. They used an oval jug with handles,
constructed so that ladies could put it beneath their skirts and
have their maids carry it away after use.

Screen shot 2012-12-05 at 9.48.50 AMAnother important intimate object in the sale is an armorial chocolate beaker, which is highly decorated and carries an estimate of £25,000-30,000. Originally part of a set of six beakers, it was given as a wedding present to the Princess Maria Amalia of Saxony for her marriage in 1738 to Charles VII, King of Naples. The young bride was only 14 years old when her marriage was arranged by her father, King Augustus III, successor of Augustus the Strong, who first set up the Meissen porcelain factory near Dresden. The armorial beaker is one of the few surviving pieces from the wedding present, which originally comprised six teabowls and saucers and six chocolate beakers. It represents the most exceptional elements of Meissen porcelain:
unrivaled quality and fascinating provenance.

Screen shot 2012-12-05 at 9.55.13 AMThe chocolate beaker was most likely used in the public part of the toilette, when a lady of the court would take her breakfast. Another remarkable piece that would have been used for the morning meal is the armorial tureen, cover and stand, estimated at £60,000 – 80,000. Made around 1745, it is spectacularly decorated with landscape scenes, scattered flowers, and gilt. Originally made for Maria Josepha, daughter-in-law of Augustus the Strong and wife of Augustus III, the item made its way back into aristocratic hands, owned for many years by the Dowager
Duchess of Westminster.

The Said and Roswitha Marouf Collection brings together a stunning collection of exceptionally rare pieces, such as an unprecedented eight objects from the ‘Half figure service’, arguably the rarest and most sought after chinoiserie decoration on Meissen porcelain. Many pieces in the collection have been published and exhibited in museum exhibitions, including the legendary 2010 exhibition in the Japanese Palace in Dresden to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Meissen manufactory. The whole collection is superbly documented in the catalog Passion for Meissen written by Professor Ullrich Pietsch, Director of Porcelain in Dresden.

Sebastian Kuhn, Director of European porcelain at Bonhams said, “The Said and Roswitha Marouf Collection is without doubt one of the most important collections of eighteenth-century Meissen porcelain to come to the market. After the success of the Hoffmeister collection sales, it is incredible to see such a selection of fine pieces, including some rare and intimate items from the royal toilette, with fascinating provenance. Said Marouf has been an avid collector all his life and started out collecting pocket and wrist watches. It is not hard to see why his eye for detail attracted him to the extremely detailed and intricate decoration of early eighteenth-century Meissen porcelain.”

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