The Historical Journal, March 2013

Posted in journal articles by Editor on May 10, 2013

From The Historical Journal:

David Gilks, “Attitudes to the Displacement of Cultural Property in the Wars of the French Revolution and Napoleon,” The Historical Journal 56 (March 2013): 113-43.

coverAbstract: The French state expropriated an enormous quantity of cultural property from across Europe during the Wars of the Revolution and Napoleon, but much was returned in 1815 after the fall of the Empire. This article examines contemporary attitudes to the displacement of works of art, antiquities, scientific specimens, and rare books. The seizures were controversial: since they occurred at a time when plundering the vanquished was already considered questionable behaviour, they attracted opposition and needed to be justified. The article identifies the resulting repertoire of attitudes, arguing that this repertoire evolved with changing circumstances and was more varied than hitherto maintained. By situating this repertoire in a larger historical context, the article also reassesses the extent to which attitudes were derivative and innovative. It contends that the disputation as a whole did not amount to a decisive rupture in the treatment of foreign cultural property during wartime, but that it was nevertheless remarkable in two respects: concepts from hitherto unrelated subjects were applied to considerations about cultural property; and the perceived conditions under which cultural property could be legitimately transferred were revised.

Exhibition | Home, Land, and Sea: Art in the Netherlands

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on May 10, 2013

From the Manchester Art Gallery:

Home, Land, and Sea: Art in the Netherlands, 1600-1800
Manchester Art Gallery, 24 May 2013 — 23 May 2014

Curated by Henrietta Ward


Aelbert Cuyp, River Scene with a View of Dordrecht, oil on panel (Manchester Art Gallery)

Home, Land, and Sea: Art in the Netherlands, 1600-1800 is a new exhibition which brings together over 50 paintings from Manchester City Galleries’ exceptional 17th- and 18th-century Dutch and Flemish collection, one of the most important in the country. It includes exquisite paintings of everyday life, portraiture, landscapes, seascapes, and still lifes by Pieter de Hooch, Gerard ter Borch, Jacob van Ruisdael and many more. Some of these paintings have not been on display for tens of years, while others have benefited from recent conservation treatment.

For the first time these paintings will be juxtaposed with works by major contemporary artists such as Mat Collishaw’s Last Meal on Death Row, Texas series, sculptures of gnawed apples by Gavin Turk, and Rob and Nick Carter’s homage to Ambrosius Bosschaert: Transforming Still Life Painting. Alongside the seascapes will be Bachelor Machines Part I, a film by 2013 Northern Art Prize nominee Rosalind Nashashibi that focuses on the lives of an all-male crew on board the Gran Bretagna, a modern-day cargo vessel. This exhibition has been curated by Henrietta Ward, The National Gallery Curatorial Trainee supported by the Art Fund.

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From Hettie Ward’s blog for the exhibition, Manchester’s Dutch and Flemish Collection:

February’s Painting of the Month — Innocent Nostalgia or Outright Fraud?


Willem van Mieris, Woman Pulling on a Dog’s Ear,
16 x 12.5 cm (Manchester City Galleries)

This month’s painting is an extension of my previous post which looked at the fineness that can be found in Dutch paintings, particularly the fijnschilders, such as Willem van Mieris (1662-1747). We have 2 works by Willem van Mieris in the collection: Interior with a Cavalier and Lady and the Painting of the Month: Woman Pulling on a Dog’s Ear, which both came to the Gallery through the Assheton Bennett bequest. Woman Pulling on a Dog’s Ear is miniscule and only measures 16 x 12.5 cm (27 x 23.4cm framed) and is so intricately painted that you can’t make out a single brushstoke.

The painting is a portrait of the artist’s mother, Cunera van der Cock, but it is actually a copy of a painting by his father, Frans van Mieris (1635-1681). The original is in the collection of Worcester Art Museum, USA, along with its companion piece A Soldier Smoking a Pipe, or self-portrait of the artist. The Worcester pair dates to 1662 and both measure 14 x 11cm. You can see them here. Willem van Mieris also made a copy of the companion piece, now in a private collection.

Willem’s painting is an incredibly good copy, and whilst the initial reaction is to dismiss Manchester’s version as being just that, there is actually a lot more to it which touches on elements of fraud — to a certain extent — and brings into question the whole value of a fake. It is with great thanks to the recent research of the art historian and academic Junko Aono that this painting can be reassessed and valued in terms of the 18th-century revival of the Dutch Golden Age, and turns it from being an interesting copy to a fascinating bit of history. Much of what I have learnt about this painting has come from her article ‘Reproducing the Golden Age: Copies after Seventeenth-Century Dutch Genre Painting in the First Half of the Eighteenth Century’ in Oud Holland Vol. 121, 2008, no. 1, and I urge you to read it yourselves if you can get hold of a copy. . . .

Read Ward’s full posting here»

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