Conference | A Window on Antiquity: The Topham Collection

Posted in conferences (to attend), exhibitions by Editor on May 3, 2013

From the conference progamme:

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

In collaboration with the University of Buckingham and Eton College, to accompany the exhibition Paper Palaces: the Topham Drawings as a Source for British Neo-Classicism (Eton College Library, Verey Gallery, 3 May–1 November 2013)

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The Topham Collection

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 and artistic culture is still wanting. This conference wishes to indicate new avenues of research and is intended as the first step towards an online catalogue of the whole collection.

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Abstracts are available here»

9:00  Registration

9:30  Lucy Gwynn (Eton College Library), Opening address and welcome

Session 1: The Topham Collection and Its Context: Antiquarianism and the Grand Tour Market
Chair: Ian Jenkins (British Museum) and Lucy Gwynn (Eton College Library)

9:50  Cinzia Maria Sicca (Università di Pisa), The Mind behind the collection: John Talman, antiquary and advisor to Richard Topham and Henry Hare, 3rd Baron Coleraine

10:20  Eloisa Dodero (Royal Collection Trust, Windsor Castle), Did Topham know of the ‘Museo Cartaceo’? The Paper Museum of Cassiano dal Pozzo and the Topham Collection of drawings

10:50  Novella Barbolani (Università di Roma La Sapienza) and Valentina Rubechini (Università di Firenze), Francesco Maria Niccolò Gabburri, John Talman and Richard Topham: artistic exchanges between Florence and Britain

11:20  Tea and Coffee

11:40  Bruno Gialluca (Independent Scholar), William Kent’s drawings after the Antique in the Topham and Holkham Collections

12:10  Lucia Faedo (Università di Pisa), The Topham Collection and the Roman palaces: British visitors to the Palazzo Barberini

12:35  Discussion

13:00  Lunch

Session 2: The Topham Collection and Its Archaeological Value
Chair: Helen Whitehouse (University of Oxford)

14:15  Mirco Modolo (Università degli Studi di Roma Tre), From philology to the market: the archaeological value of Francesco Bartoli’s drawings in the Topham Collection

14:45  Delphine Burlot (Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art-INHA, Paris), Forgeries of ancient paintings in the Topham Collection

Session 3: Richard Topham: His Library, Legacy and Influence
Chair: Richard Hewlings (English Heritage)

15:15  Paul Quarrie (Maggs Bros Ltd; Eton College Librarian 1977-1994), Richard Topham and his library

15:45  David Noy (University of Wales Trinity St David), Richard Topham’s will: a collector plans for the future

16:15  Adriano Aymonino (University of Buckingham), The Topham Collection as a source for British eighteenth-century classicism

16:40  Discussion

17:00  Drinks Reception

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