Conference | The Lives of Objects

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on August 31, 2013

From the conference website:

The Lives of Objects
Wolfson College, Oxford, 20–22 September 2013

1690s Cabinet of Curiosities_1The relationship between life-writing and objects marks a growing trend in biographical studies. In the first major international conference on the subject, the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing (OCLW) will bring together scholars and curators at the forefront of research in this dynamic area. The conference’s premise is that objects can have lives of their own. Object biographies raise important methodological issues relating to life-writing, and interrogate the fundamental concept of ‘life’. Object biographies also reveal the importance of life-writing to curatorship: the conference will foreground research questions relating to museum management.

The application of life-writing to objects lies at the heart of many recently published biographies, memoirs and histories, including Neil MacGregor’s A History of the World in 100 Objects (2010), Edmund De Waal’s The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance (2010), Steven Connor’s Paraphernalia: The Curious Lives of Magical Things (2011), Mark Kurlansky’s Salt: A World History (2003) and Lorraine Daston’s Biographies of Scientific Objects (2000). Biographies of objects raise important methodological issues pertinent to life-writing, regarding narrative, structure and chronology; the representation of change and improvement; and the influence of objects in human lives, communities and material history. The study of ‘object biographies’ continues to generate fruitful areas of academic research, including Bill Brown’s work on ‘thing theory’ (2001); Chris Gosden and Yvonne Marshall’s 1999 study of ‘the cultural biography of objects’ (in relation to archaeology); and explorations of value and exchange of objects in cultural and material history, such as the essays included in Arjun Appadurai’s edited volume The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective (1986). OCLW’s Conference on The Lives of Objects will bring together scholars and curators at the forefront of research into particular aspects of the theme, and will provide an environment in which fruitful interdisciplinary conversations will occur. Over the three-day event, delegates will enjoy:

• the History Faculty Plenary Lecture by Neil Macgregor (director of the British Museum and author of History of the World in 100 Objects); the English Faculty Plenary Lecture by Jenny Uglow (author of The Lunar Men and The Pinecone); and the John Fell Plenary Lecture by Edmund De Waal (author of The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance)

over fifty 20-minute papers from a wide range of backgrounds. Papers will offer biographical accounts of particular objects (including, but not limited to, portraits, sculpture, scientific instruments, archaeological finds, domestic artefacts and items of clothing); papers reflecting on the methodology of object biographies or outline existent projects concerned with objects’ lives; papers considering the influence of life-writing on material history and/or archaeology; papers exploring the relationship between curating and auto/biography; the history of the book; the history of museums; and further facets of the conference theme

• an informal workshop, in which delegates will present and discuss the lives and meanings of individual objects

• tours of the Ashmolean Museum, the Pitt-Rivers Museum and the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, with talks by keepers and museum-directors about objects from the museum’s collections

• special conference sessions on ‘The Letter as a Material Object’ by Professor Hugh Haughton (University of York) and ‘The Private (and Public) Life of an Opera Aria’ by Professor Michael Burden (University of Oxford)

• opportunities to socialise with scholars working on this area during the conference, including at conference meals, drinks receptions, a gala conference dinner and other social events

The complete programme is available for download as a PDF file.

Exhibition | Eighteenth-Century Pastels

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on August 30, 2013

Now on view at The Met:

Eighteenth-Century Pastels
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2 August — 29 December 2013

nedetto Luti (Italian, Florence 1666–1724 Rome). Study of a Boy in a Blue Jacket, 1717. Pastel and chalk on blue laid paper, laid down on paste paper. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gwynne Andrews Fund, 2007 (2007.360)

Benedetto Luti, Study of a Boy in a Blue Jacket, 1717. Pastel and chalk on blue laid paper, laid down on paste paper (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

With the 1929 bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, the Metropolitan Museum acquired its first pastels—about twenty nineteenth-century works by Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, and Édouard Manet. For forty years, they were shown with our European and American paintings. It was not until 1956 that we were bequeathed a pastel by Jean Pillement (1728–1808). Between 1961 and 1975 we acquired a small group of works by John Russell (1745–1806), and there the matter stood until 2002, when the Metropolitan bought a pastel by the Venetian artist Rosalba Carriera (1673–1757). Since then we have purchased nearly a dozen others by Italian, French, British, German, and Danish artists. Most are portraits, exhibited here with two vivid seascapes by Pillement from a private collection. Pastels are made from powdery substances that are fragile and subject to fading. In accordance with modern museum practice, they are exhibited in very low light or rotated to ensure their long-term preservation. This display is therefore a temporary extension of the new installation in the adjoining galleries for European Old Master paintings.

Described by the great Salon critic and encyclopedist Dennis Diderot as no more than dust, pastel owes it distinctive velvety quality to its powdery surface, which reflects diffuse scattered light. Consisting of finely ground pigment and a white mineral extender moistened with a minute quantity of binder (such as oatmeal whey, mineral spirits, and gum tragacanth) rolled into sticks of color, pastels are made in a progression of tints and shades. Pastelists kept hundreds of such crayons on hand. The popularity of pastel—especially for portraiture—swept across Europe and Britain in the eighteenth century. Unlike today, such compositions were regarded as paintings. They were executed in vibrant colors on paper mounted on a wood strainer, elaborately framed with costly glass and on an intimate scale that suited the refined living spaces of the aristocracy and the haute bourgeoisie. These works have retained their original brilliance because the pastel medium does not contain resins and the surfaces of works in pastel were never varnished and rarely fixed, thereby precluding the darkening or yellowing that so often alters the hues of paintings in oil.

New Book | Concrete: From Archeology to Invention, 1700–1769

Posted in books by Editor on August 30, 2013

Distributed by Routledge:

Roberto Gargiani, Concrete: From Archeology to Invention, 1700–1769 (Lausanne: EPFL Press, 2013), 404 pages, ISBN: 978-0415833462, $105.

978-2-940222-64-3_largeThe reemergence in the early eighteenth century of the technology and use of concrete provide the starting point for this first volume of the Treatise on Concrete. In this book are described and analyzed, for the first time, the various contributions that led to the rediscovery of concrete made by the specialists of the period, from chemists to volcanologists; from engineers to architects and construction workers; from inventors to archaeologists and even men of letters.

The book traces the various criteria for concrete production using local materials, from hydraulic lime to pozzolana and trass, as well as how the technique of casting concrete in formwork developed from construction-site practices that had survived locally from the times of ancient Rome. The subjects of the book include the transport of Roman pozzolana with which Italian, French, English or Danish engineers built grandiose offshore concrete structures; the genealogy of techniques for manufacturing wood formwork for foundations at sea, in rivers and above ground; the description of the various formwork systems invented to pour concrete in water; the research conducted by chemists on lime and pozzolana that led to the development of concrete; the invention of artificial stone, obtained using various types of cement; and the series of fantastic archaeological findings about the concrete structures of antiquity, which, even if sometimes baseless, nevertheless helped build confidence that this material could be invented. Finally, several great personalities in the history of architecture, such as Piranesi or Soufflot, are presented in a new light and are shown to be vital players in the affirmation of concrete in the eighteenth century.

Thus emerges the first entry of a new history of concrete, one that will provide the essential principles needed to understand how the manufacturing methods discovered between the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century emerged and led to the production of this mythical material. This new history of concrete is clearly of present-day interest, specifically in the context of recent research which aims to encourage concrete production using local materials, including volcanic constituents such as pozzolana – exactly as it was fabricated during the eighteenth century.

Roberto Gargiani obtained his degree at the University of Architecture in Florence in 1983 and completed his Ph.D. on the history of architecture and urbanism in 1992. He has taught the history of architecture in Florence, Rouen, Paris, Venice and Rome. He is now Professor of history of architecture and construction at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).


1. Fantastic archaeology and artificial stones
2. Pozzolana, trass and lime for hydraulic construction
3. Major hydraulic works of the 1730s and 1740s
4. Apologia of Roman construction, from Soufflot to Piranesi to Winckelmann
5. Caissons and hydraulic mortars in the 1750s
6. Pozzolanas and new cement compounds, from Cronstedt to Loriot
7. Cement works in ports

Exhibition | William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on August 29, 2013

From the Bard Graduate Center:

William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain
Bard Graduate Center, New York City, 20 September 2013 — 9 February 2014
Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 22 March —  13 July 2014

Curated by Susan Weber and Julius Bryant

9780300196184William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain, on view at the Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture from September 20, 2013 to February 9, 2014, is the first major exhibition to examine the life and career of one of the most influential designers in eighteenth-century Britain. Visitors will discover Kent’s genius, through nearly 200 examples of his elaborate drawings for architecture, gardens, and sculpture, along with furniture, silver, paintings, illustrated books, and through new documentary films. As most of his best-known surviving works are in Britain’s great country houses, the exhibition is rich in loans from private as well as public collections. Organized by the Bard Graduate Center in collaboration with the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the exhibition is curated by Susan Weber (BGC) and Julius Bryant (V&A). It will travel to the V&A where it will be on view from March 22 to July 13, 2014.

William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain explores Kent’s work over three decades (1719–48)—a period when Britain was defining itself as a new nation and overtaking France as a leading world power. Like Robert Adam a generation later, Kent is identified not only with his own prolific and diverse output but also with an entire period style. At a time when most patrons and collectors looked to Italy for their art and design, Kent’s versatility and artistic inventiveness set the style of his age and asserted the status of the modern British artist. From a time when no refined education was complete without the Grand Tour to Italy, the word ‘Kentian’ has come to denote rich, Italianate palatial interiors furnished with gilded sculptural tables, mirrors, and Old Master paintings, elaborately presented on walls lined with the richest silk damasks and velvets, and beneath painted ceilings. Kent devised a style that catered to the Grand Tour alumni, recreating the splendors of Roman palazzi. A jovial house guest of his patrons, ‘Kentino’ (as he was affectionately known) and his creations reminded them of the best days of their lives, before they returned, inherited, and dutifully managed their old family estates.

Many of the ideas we take for granted today about visual education, good design, and national style were established by Kent’s generation. At the start of the eighteenth century, the United Kingdom of Great Britain was established through the Act of Union between England and Scotland (1707). Great expectations of new public buildings followed, especially for a new parliament and royal palace to replace those destroyed by the Whitehall Palace fire of 1698. From the accession of George I in 1714 through the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, the Royal House of Hanover reigned over Britain. With Kent’s help, this German family reinvented themselves. The new nation needed a new sense of style, both to define itself through design (in contrast to the Stuarts and the French) and to improve society at large. Responding to a challenge articulated in the Earl of Shaftesbury’s Letter Concerning the Art, or Science of Design (1712), Lord Burlington is the best- known today of several patrons who took on this responsibility. Kent lived in his London townhouse, Burlington House (today the home of the Royal Academy) for most of his life and was also, in effect, artist-in-residence at Burlington’s new Italianate villa at Chiswick. Essentially, Kent saw that good design is about visual experience, not only dependent on the erudite eye of the connoisseur or the knowledge of architecture’s ancient rules, but also reliant on the emotional response as one moved through and around houses, offices, streets, and gardens.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

The Exhibition
William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain is divided into ten sections that introduce specific aspects of Kent’s work, including signature private and royal commissions, and important periods in his career. William Kent’s life and the historical age in which he worked is the subject of the first section. A highlight is William Aikman’s portrait of Kent that hung over the mantelpiece at Wanstead House, and is now in the National Portrait Gallery, London. The second section focuses on Kent’s formative years on the Grand Tour in Italy where he was sent to hone his painting skills by copying the Old Masters, and to act as a purchasing agent for British collectors. Italian Baroque art, interiors, and furnishings made a lasting impression on Kent. Featured are seldom seen paintings and drawings, including Kent’s copies after Agostino Carracci, Domenichino, and Carlo Maratti, and drawings of Italianate interiors by fellow Grand Tourist John Talman, that document this inspiring period in Kent’s life. While in Italy, Kent met Lord Burlington who became his mentor and collaborator for the next several decades. Together they became early exponents of the designs of the late Renaissance architect, Andrea Palladio, which they eventually incorporated into their own Anglo-Palladian style that came to define the Georgian era.

Kent is best known for the interiors he designed for several grand country estates in Britain, and for his approach in taking responsibility for the design of the entire interior from the painting and furniture to the sculpture and decoration. Visitors to the exhibition will have the opportunity to explore a few of Kent’s best-known early interiors, such as Chiswick House, Wanstead House, and Houghton Hall, Kent’s most important early commission for the grand estate of Sir Robert Walpole, and one of the key buildings in the history of Palladian architecture in England. In addition to drawings and plans of these interiors, the exhibition features rare examples of Kent’s furniture designed specifically for these commissions.

In time, Kent began to receive important royal commissions, particularly from King George II and his son, Frederick, Prince of Wales. A section of the exhibition is devoted to designs for the new monarchy. In 1722, Kent was given a major commission to design the Cupola Room at Kensington Palace, where he was in charge of painting the ceiling and designing the furniture and chimneypieces. One of Kent’s best known and somewhat unusual works was a state barge designed for Frederick. Although the barge is too large to travel, the exhibition will feature Kent’s beautifully rendered designs, along with a detailed model. Other notable royal commissions explored include those for Queen Caroline’s Library and Hermitage in Richmond Garden. Also on view will be several extraordinary pieces of silver, made after designs by Kent. Among these are a chandelier commissioned by George II for the Leineschloss, Hanover, made by Balthasar Behrens, on loan from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and a large centerpiece (or epergne) for Frederick made by silversmith George Wickes.

Another section looks specifically at the work Kent produced in London, both in private residences as well as in public buildings. Among the most prestigious of these commissions was the design of Devonshire House, the residence of the Duke of Devonshire. Although the palatial home was demolished in the 1920s, objects from and related to it survive, and the exhibition will feature drawings and a door designed by Kent. Of his public works, the exhibition examines 10 Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament, the Horse Guards at Whitehall, and the Royal Mews. Also explored are Kent’s contributions to sculpture. Among the works shown are drawings for tomb monuments for Isaac Newton, William Shakespeare, and James Stanhope in Westminister Abbey, and Michael Rysbrack’s terracotta model of Newton.

One section is devoted to Holkham Hall, designed with the assistance of Lord Burlington for Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester, who was among Kent’s most important patrons. Now considered to be one of the finest examples of the Palladian revival style of architecture in Britain, Holkham Hall is shown through a number of important works that the BGC is fortunate to borrow, including a gilded and elaborately carved settee, drawings of the interior, and Francesco Trevisani’s portrait of Thomas Coke, who built Holkham.

Although known today almost exclusively for his Palladian style, Kent worked in other idioms depending on the wishes of the patron. The exhibition looks at his Gothic works, including projects at Hampton Court and Esher Place, and his illustrations for books, most notably an edition of Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene.

The final section examines Kent’s contributions to the history of landscape and garden design. Through drawings, furniture, and video, visitors will discover how Kent revolutionized garden design and helped usher in a style of natural gardening that came to characterize the English landscape garden. Two of Kent’s most important gardens, at Rousham and Stowe, remain today close to Kent’s original designs. A BGC produced video will offer a virtual journey through these gardens so that visitors will gain a better understanding of his landscape designs.

The Book
William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain, edited by Susan Weber, and published with Yale University Press, presents twenty-one essays by leading scholars of eighteenth-century British art and design, including Julius Bryant (co-curator), Geoffrey Beard, John Harris, John Dixon Hunt, Frank Salmon, and David Watkin. The book is richly illustrated with over 600 color images, including the pieces featured in the exhibition. A chronology of Kent’s projects, an exhibition checklist, and an extensive bibliography round out this scholarly publication.

William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain has been generously supported by The Rothschild Foundation, Edward Lee Cave, Dr. H. Woody Brock, Christie’s, Philip Hewat-Jaboor, John A. Werwaiss, Patricia and Martin Levy, The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, Friends of the BADA Trust, Ronald Phillips, Ltd., and two donors who wish to remain anonymous.

Conference | Kent Symposium: Re–presenting Kent

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on August 29, 2013

From the Bard Graduate Center:

Kent Symposium: Re–presenting Kent
Bard Graduate Center, New York City, 7 October 2013


William Aikman, Portrait of William Kent, ca. 1723–25 (London: National Portrait Gallery)

Organized in conjunction with the exhibition William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain, on view at the Bard Graduate Center Gallery (September 19, 2013 through February 16, 2014) and the Victoria & Albert Museum (March 22 through July 13, 2014), this international symposium will bring together scholars and curators to examine the life and career of one of the most influential designers of eighteenth-century Britain.

The symposium and related exhibition will explore Kent’s art over three decades (1719–1748)—a period when Britain was defining itself as a new nation and overtaking France as the leading world power. Kent’s versatility and artistic inventiveness set the style of his age and asserted the status of the modern British artist at a time when most patrons and collectors looked to Italy for their art and design. Kent devised a style that catered to the alumni of the Italian Grand Tour and recreated the splendors of Roman palazzi.

The symposium is free. It will take place in the Lecture Hall at 38 West 86th Street, between Columbus Ave. & Central Park West, in New York City. RSVP is required. Please contact academicevents@bgc.bard.edu. Since our Lecture Hall can accommodate only a limited number of people, please come early to assure yourself a seat.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊


Susan Weber (Founder and Director, Bard Graduate Center), “William Kent: A Historiography”

Julius Bryant (Keeper of Word and Image, Victoria & Albert Museum), “Exhibiting William Kent: Curation and Interrogation”

David Watkin (History of Architecture, University of Cambridge), “Changing Attitudes to Kent from Sustained Hostility to Acceptance in the Twentieth Century”

Matthew Hirst (Arts & Historic Collections, the Devonshire Collection, Chatsworth), “A Country House Repository of Design: William Kent in the Devonshire Collection”

David Jacques (Independent Scholar, Sugnall Hall), “William Kent and the Landscape Garden”

Exhibition | François-André Vincent

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on August 28, 2013

From Le musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours:

François-André Vincent
Musée des Beaux-arts, Tours, 18 October 2013 — 19 January 2014
Musée Fabre de Montpellier Agglomération, 8 February — 11 May 2014

François André Vincent, Portrait presumed to be Madame Jeanne-Justine Boyer-Fonfrede and her son, Henri (Paris: Louvre)

François André Vincent, Portrait Presumed to be Madame Jeanne-Justine Boyer-Fonfrede and Her Son, Henri (Paris: Louvre)

Le musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours et le musée Fabre de Montpellier s’associent pour concevoir et organiser d’octobre 2013 à mai 2014 la première exposition consacrée au peintre François-André Vincent (1746–1816), à l’occasion de la publication du catalogue raisonné de l’œuvre de l’artiste publié chez Arthéna par Jean-Pierre Cuzin, ancien conservateur général du département des peintures du musée du Louvre.

Le commissariat de l’exposition est constitué, aux côtés de Jean-Pierre Cuzin qui a sélectionné peintures et dessins, de Sophie Join-Lambert et Michel Hilaire, directeurs des deux musées, et de deux conservateurs, Olivier Zeder, conservateur en chef à Montpellier et Véronique Moreau, conservateur en chef au musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours.

Les publications récentes ont montré l’importance d’un artiste, aussi bien pour la peinture que pour le dessin, dont les œuvres, entre deux mondes stylistiques, ont pu être confondues avec celles de Fragonard comme avec celles de David. Il tient une place essentielle dans la peinture française comme promoteur des sujets pris à l’Antiquité comme de ceux pris à l’Histoire de France et peut apparaître, à beaucoup d’égards, comme un “préromantique”. Son rôle dans le domaine du portrait et particulièrement dans celui du portrait-charge apparaît capital.

L’exposition devrait apporter la révélation d’un grand artiste jusqu’ici méconnu et dont les œuvres enrichissent des collections publiques et privées des plus prestigieuses, tant en Europe qu’à l’étranger. Un tel projet ne peut se concevoir sans faire appel aux musées et collectionneurs français et étrangers. Parmi les collections publiques, plusieurs appartiennent au réseau FRAME (French Regional American Museums Exchange, France et Etats-Unis).

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

From Art Media Agency:

François André Vincent, The Clemency of Augustus (Corneille, Cinna, V, 3) (recto); Knight Restraining a Female Figure (verso), 1788 (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art)

François André Vincent, The Clemency of Augustus (Corneille, Cinna, V, 3) (recto); Knight Restraining a Female Figure (verso), 1788
(New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art)

An exhibition of works by François-André Vincent (1745–1816) is to take place between 19 October 2013 and 19 January 2014 at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Tours. The exhibitions is to coincide with the publication by Arthéna of a catalogue raisonné devoted to the artist François-André Vincent produced by Jean-Pierre Cuzin, former curator of painting at the Louvre.

Stylistically, Vincent’s works have been compared to those by Fragonard and David, and are sometimes described as pre-Romantic. Inspired by antiquity, the artist’s pieces often return to explore moments in France’s history. The exhibition features over 100 works, gathered from collections in both France and further afield. It is organised with the support of the French state, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and Communication, the French Heritage Management association, and the French Museums Service.

Following its close at Tours, the exhibition is to travel to the Musée Fabre in Montpellier, where is is to be on display between 8 February to 11 May 2014. A selection of drawings by Vincent will then be display at the Cognacq-Jay museum from 26 March to 30 June 2014.

New Book | Georgian London: Into the Streets

Posted in books by Editor on August 27, 2013

Georgian London by Lucy Inglis, author of the eponymous blog, is scheduled for publication in September from Penguin Books:

Lucy Inglis, Georgian London: Into the Streets (London: Viking, 2013), 400 pages, hardback, ISBN: 978-0670920136, £20 / softcover, 978-0670920143, £10.

coverAll aboard for a tour of London’s most formative age-the age of love, sex, intellect, art, great ambition and fantastic ruin. Travel back to the Georgian years, a time that changed life expectancy and the expectation of what life could be. Peek into the gilded drawing rooms of the aristocracy, walk down the quiet avenues of the new middle class, and crouch in the damp doorways of the poor. But watch your wallet – tourists make perfect prey for the thriving community of hawkers, prostitutes and scavengers. Visit, if you dare, the madhouses of Hackney, the workshops of Soho and the mean streets of Cheapside. Have a coffee in the city, check the stock exchange, and pop into St Paul’s to see progress on the new dome. This book is about the Georgians who called London their home, from dukes and artists to rent boys and hot air balloonists meeting dog-nappers and life-models along the way. It investigates the legacies they left us in architecture and art, science and society, and shows the making of the capital millions know and love today.

Kinross House Receives HHA Restoration Award for 2013

Posted in on site, the 18th century in the news by Editor on August 27, 2013


Sir William Bruce, Kinross House, Perth and Kinross, 1685

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Press release from the HHA:

The Historic Houses Association and Sotheby’s are delighted to announce that the 2013 Restoration Award has been awarded to Kinross House, Scotland’s first neo-classical Palladian mansion. Built in 1685 by Sir William Bruce, one of the foremost architects of the classical form, the historic house was in need of extensive restoration when its present owner, Mr Donald Fothergill, acquired the property in 2011. In a labour of love, Kinross House and Gardens have been saved from disrepair and meticulously restored to their former glory. Six other applicants from across the UK have been commended or shortlisted for this year’s Award (as listed below).

The entire roof, every single pipe, and every single wire in the 55 room property had to be replaced. Working with sensitivity and respect, and using traditional products and craftsmanship wherever possible, the restoration team remodelled every room drawing inspiration from the house’s own history, historic furniture and artworks. The project also enabled parts of the interior of the house to be completed for the very first time – such as the pediments above the door and the fireplaces in the Grand Salon – elements which Sir William Bruce had been unable to finish by the time of his fall from royal favour and financial ruin.

Dining room

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

In line with Sir William Bruce’s vision for the house 350 years ago, the original seventeenth century garden designs have also been reinstalled – restoring the long lost historic views, geometries and horticultural plans which were so integral to Bruce’s neo-classical design. As well as functioning as a contemporary home, the house is now open to the public for the first time in its history, available for special events, weddings and tours.

“The major restoration programme which has been undertaken over the past two years at Kinross has saved and revitalised this hugely important house from deterioration and possible future loss. The scale of the renovation is magnificent, and the house can now be seen by more people than perhaps ever in its long history – it is terrific to see the house coming back to life and being filled once again. Active use of the house is already having a beneficial effect on employment and incomes in the surrounding area. I would also like to congratulate all those projects which the judges have commended as well as those on the shortlist”
– Richard Compton, President of the Historic Houses Association

“This is an heroic restoration of the grandest classical house in Scotland. To see an owner devote such love, care and attention to a house which will continue as a home, is a thorough vindication of the aims of the award “
– Harry Dalmeny, Chairman of Sotheby’s UK

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

C O M M E N D E D  P R O P E R T I E S

Allerton Castle, Yorkshire
England’s most elegant and important Gothic revival stately home was previosuly owned by Prince Frederick (the Grand Old Duke of York), brother to King George IV. Dr Gerald Arthur Rolph has dedicated some 25 years to restoring this important Grade I listed house including recent major restoration following a fire in 2005 which destroyed one third of the castle.

Blenheim Palace Vistor Centre
July 2012 marked the opening of a new visitor’s centre at Blenheim – the largest development seen at the Palace for over 200 years. Located in the East Courtyard of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, the new centre has been expertly crafted to seamlessly integrate with its historic surroundings.

Bodnant, Furnace Farm
Unused for 40 years, Furnace Farm, based on the edge of the famous Garden at Bodnant, had deteriorated nearly beyond the realms of repair. Sensitively restored by owners Michael and Caroline McLaren, the farm has been respectfully converted into a Welsh food centre, wine shop and restaurant. Welsh materials and workmanship were used wherever possible.

Rise Hall, Yorkshire
After the Second World War, Rise Hall was used as a girl’s convent school, though 50 years on it had begun to creak under the strain of skeleton maintenance. The present owners, Graham Swift and Sarah Beeny, purchased the house 12 years ago, embarking on a restoration project to ensure a sustainable future for the property. One or two rooms have been left in their original state to demonstrate the exhausting lengths the owners have gone to in order to rescue this house.

S H O R T L I S T E D  P R O P E R T I E S

The Hyde, Tenbury Wells
This Grade II* medieval hall dating from around 1300 is one of the earliest hall houses in the country. Although it was extensively remodelled in the 1840s and again in the 20th century, the house began to reveal the secrets hiding behind its Victorian façade during recent restoration work. Saved from near total loss by owners Lord and Lady Clifton, the house has been sensitively restored using traditional techniques and materials, and displays many of the original features.

The Grove, Essex
The Grove, built in 1754, stands in the centre of a park and pleasure gardens designed by Humphry Repton, the last great English landscape designer of the eighteenth century. Its Coach House, designed to match the elegance of its surroundings, was built in 1840. Now transformed into residential accommodation, the Coach House has been into returned into an integral part of The Grove estate once more.

Exhibition | Exuberance of Meaning: Catherine the Great’s Patronage

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on August 26, 2013

Press release (1 July 2013) from the Georgia Museum of Art:

Exuberance of Meaning: The Art Patronage of Catherine the Great
Georgia Museum of Art, The University of Georgia at Athens, 21 September 2013 — 5 January 2014
Hillwood Museum and Gardens, Washington, D.C., 1 February — 7 June 2014

Curated by Asen Kirin


Chalice, Iver Windfeldt Buch (1749-1811), St. Petersburg, 1791, gold, diamonds, chalcedony, bloodstone, nephrite, carnelian, cast glass, height: 33 cm, diameter: 18 cm (Hillwood Museum and Gardens)

The Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia presents Exuberance of Meaning: The Art Patronage of Catherine the Great September 21, 2013 to January 5, 2014. This exhibition features works of decorative art the Russian empress Catherine the Great commissioned for her own use or as gifts for courtiers, including a large chalice created by noted goldsmith Iver Winfeldt Buch.

The Buch chalice, which belongs to Hillwood Museum and Gardens in Washington, D.C., serves as the centerpiece of the exhibition. Adorned with precious gems and eight carved cameos, it demonstrates how Catherine combined Byzantine and classical influences to forge a new direction for Russian culture. Other objects establish the background for the empress’s choices or represent major currents in 17th- and 18th-century Russian art. Dr. Asen Kirin, associate professor of art and associate director of UGA’s Lamar Dodd School of Art, is curator of this exhibition, which borrows objects from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Chipstone Foundation, the Walters Museum and private collections, as well as Hillwood.

Marjorie Merriweather Post, the sole heir to the multimillion-dollar Post Cereal Company, purchased the works that formed Hillwood’s Russian collection. Many of the works she purchased while in Russia in the 1930s are on display in this exhibition. Kirin invites audiences “to contemplate the art collections of two extraordinary women, who lived at different times and could not have come from more dissimilar environments. One is Europe’s Old Regime of absolute hereditary monarchies, the other—the modern, industrialized America of free enterprise.”

The exhibition presents a comparison of dazzling and masterful objects that exemplify both medieval Byzantine culture, of which Russia was the successor and guardian, and the Western, neoclassical style that was the hallmark of the Enlightenment. It focuses on the manner in which Catherine applied her knowledge of ancient and medieval glyptic art and incorporated her collection of carved gems in the commission of new works of art, a deliberate continuation of the centuries-old tradition of placing pagan, Greek, and Roman carved stones onto sacred Christian liturgical and devotional objects.

During her reign, the empress worked to reconcile her contemporary scientific and historical frame of mind with the devotional ways of the Orthodox Church, which had long been sanctified by tradition. The title Exuberance of Meaning refers to the crucial characteristic that distinguishes her endeavors in the arts: she conceived her projects in a manner that allowed for multiple complementary interpretations covering a wide spectrum of meanings.

Kirin is particularly interested in the comparison of the two collectors, Catherine and Post, as both women were powerful, accomplished and elevated their respective domains despite a tradition of male dominance. Kirin suggests that audiences contemplate “how the arts enabled them to present themselves to society and to control the perception of their images.”

Kirin has worked with the museum before, perhaps most notably on the exhibition Sacred Art, Secular Context, which examined Byzantine works of art from the collection of Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C.

The museum will publish a catalogue to accompany the exhibition, featuring full-page, full-color illustrations of the objects it includes and scholarly essays on Catherine’s art patronage, the Buch chalice and the empress’ proto-feminist use of vessels to make a statement about gender and power.

Events associated with the exhibition include films, a family day, and a two-day symposium scheduled for November 1–2 featuring noted scholars of Russian art. The museum’s Collectors Group, an upper-level membership group within the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art, will host an opening for the exhibition September 21 in conjunction with the UGA Performing Arts Center’s presentation of a concert of music the empress favored.

Conference | The Enlightened Gaze in Eighteenth-Century Russia

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on August 26, 2013

From the symposium program:

The Enlightened Gaze: Gender, Power, and Visual Culture in Eighteenth-Century Russia
Georgia Museum of Art, The University of Georgia at Athens, 1–2 November 2013


Round Box with Catherine II as Minerva, Paris, 1781–82, gold
verre eglomisé, 7.3 cm (Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens)

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Organized in conjunction with the exhibition Exuberance of Meaning: The Art Patronage of Catherine the Great, Georgia Museum of Art (21 September 2013 – 5 January 2014). This exhibition’s assembly of imperial portraits, liturgical vessels, icons, books, and dinnerware provides insight into Russian visual culture from the second half of the eighteenth century and illustrates the complex dynamic between the collecting of historical art and the commissioning of new works of art.  Friday evening’s lecture and all sessions of the symposium are open to the public and will take place at the M. Smith-Griffith Auditorium, Georgia Museum of Art, 90 Carlton Street, Athens, GA 30602.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

F R I D A Y ,  1  N O V E M B E R  2 0 1 3

6:00  The Shouky Shaheen Lecture by Priscilla Roosevelt (Princeton), “Serfdom and Splendor: The World of the Russian Country Estate”

7:00  Reception at the Georgia Museum of Art

S A T U R D A Y ,  2  N O V E M B E R  2 0 1 3

8:00  Coffee and pastries

8:30  Opening remarks by William U. Eiland

9:00  Session One: Gender and Power in Eighteenth-Century Europe

Presenter and moderator, Alisa Luxenberg (UGA, School of Art)

• Marcus Levitt (University of South California), “On Catherine’s Greatness”

• Michael Yonan (University of Missouri), “How to Be an Empress in Eighteenth-Century Europe: Maria Theresa of Austria and Catherine the Great Compared”

• Emily Everhart (UGA, School of Art), “Enduring Friendship: The Legacy of the Marquise de Pompadour at the Château de Bellevue”

10:30  Coffee break

11:00  Session Two: Verbal and Pictorial Texts

Presenter and moderator, Priscilla Roosevelt

• Jennifer Palmer (UGA, Department of History), “Picturing Slavery in the Eighteenth Century”

• Elizaveta Renne (State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg), “A ‘Toy’ Castle: The Whim of an Ambitious Owner, Chesme Palace and Its Portrait Gallery”

• Edward Kasinec (Columbia University, Harriman Institute), “Two ‘Royal Doors’ from the Reign of Catherine the Great and Their Twentieth-Century Fate”

12:30  Discussion

1:00  Lunch and gallery tour

2:30  Session Three: Intentions and Happy Accidents: The Total Design Environment

Presenter and moderator, Shelley Zuraw (UGA, School of Art)

• Mimi Hellman (Skidmore College), “Lost in Decoration: Thoughts on Intentionality and Visuality in Eighteenth-Century Interiors”

• Asen Kirin (UGA, School of Art), “The Guiding Gaze of the Enlightened Empress: The Architecture of Lookout Spaces”

3:30  Coffee break

4:00  Session Four: The Attitudes to Byzantium after Catherine II

Presenter and moderator, Kristen Regina

• Yuri Saveliev (The Russian Academy of Arts, Moscow), “The Byzantine Idea in the Imperial Patronage of Russian Architecture”

• Yuri Pyatnitski (State Hermitage. St. Petersburg), “The Shadow of Byzantium Over Nineteenth= and Twentieth-Century Russia: A Historical-Mythological Paradox”

5:00  Discussion

%d bloggers like this: