The Burlington Magazine, December 2013

Posted in books, exhibitions, journal articles, on site by Editor on December 13, 2013

The (long) eighteenth century in The Burlington:

The Burlington Magazine 155 (December 2013)


• Richard Shone, “Home is Where the Art Is,” p. 807.

1329_201312Houses once occupied by distinguished residents are a special strand of the heritage industry that increasingly dominates a nation in thrall to all aspects of the past. We are constantly being exhorted to save and preserve this or that—a factory, a view, a manor house, a pier, a site of outstanding natural beauty, the historic habitat of wildlife, or, indeed, of the famous dead. Some of the shrines we visit are more larded with authenticity than others. Inevitably, the further back in time the illustrious lives were lived, the fewer objects there are likely to be which were familiar to the inhabitants. Was this her chair; was this really his easel? The aspic of preservation continually wobbles between the authentic and the fake. We do not always know—are not always told—whether something is ‘of the same period’ or ‘similar to’ or a ‘replica of’ what may or may not have been originally there, under the eye, the hand, the bottom or the feet of the presiding genius. Much depends on the piety of heirs and descendants, the
changing ownership of the house and the fluctuating stakes of fame. . . .

The latest appeal for an artist’s house has much to recommend it and should attract supporters beyond British shores. It concerns the restoration and preservation of J.M.W. Turner’s rural retreat at Twickenham, west London. This is an exceptional project and not simply a matter of tidying up and putting a blue plaque on the front. Turner designed this house himself, and plans for it abound in sketchbooks of c.1810–12, after he had purchased two plots of land near the Thames. The intention is to remove later additions (not serious) and reveal its compact interior, obviously influenced by his friend John Soane’s house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. For Turner, Sandycombe Lodge was for rest and recreation such as fishing (when he could ‘angle out the day’) and hosting friends on excursions for picnics, rather than for long residence and staying guests. Turner sold the house in 1826 and the adjoining meadow in 1848 (to the Windsor, Staines and South Western Railway). Under the auspices of the Turner’s House Trust, the appeal for £2 million is well underway, with support already assured from the Heritage Lottery Fund, among many other organisations and private donors, although further funding is still needed.2 It is expected that the public will be able to visit in 2016.

2. For an entertaining and informative account of the house, see C. Parry-Wingfield, with Foreword by A. Wilton: J.M.W. Turner. The Artist and his House at Twickenham, London 2012. Donations can be sent to the Trust at 11 Montpelier Row, Twickenham, tw1 2nq, or at www.turnerintwickenham.org.uk.

The full editorial is available here»


• Gauvin Alexander Bailey and Fernando Guzmán, “The Rococo Altarpiece of St Ignatius: Chile’s Grandest Colonial Retable Rediscovered,” pp. 815–20.

An examination of the Rococo altarpiece of St Ignatius in Santiago, Chile, and of the European influences on this great retablo.

• David Pullins, “Dating and Attributing the Earliest Portrait of Benjamin Franklin,” pp. 821–22.

A re-evaluation of a painting now found to be the earliest known portrait of Benjamin Franklin, added to an earlier figure of a man by Robert Feke (c.1746–48).


• Elizabeth Goldring, Review of Laura Houliston, ed., The Suffolk Collection: A Catalogue of Paintings (English Heritage, 2012), p. 835.

• Michael Rosenthal, Review of Leo Costello, J.M.W. Turner and the Subject of History (Ashgate, 2012), p. 836.

• Basile Baudez, Review of the exhibition Soufflot: Un architecte dans la lumière, pp. 850–51.

• Xavier F. Salomon, Review of the exhibition Il Gran Principe Ferdinando de’ Medici (1663–1713) collezionista e mecenate, pp. 851–53.

• Angela Delaforce, Review of the exhibition Da Patriarcal à Capela Real de São João Baptista, pp. 855–56.

• Jamie Mulherron, Review of the exhibition Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500–1800, pp. 856–58.

Exhibition | Grand Prince Ferdinando de’ Medici, 1663–1713

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on December 13, 2013

From the Uffizi:

The Grand Prince Ferdinando de’ Medici (1663–1713): Collector and Patron of the Arts
Uffizi Gallery, Florence, 26 June — 3 November 2013, extended until 6 January 2014

Curated by Riccardo Spinelli


◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

To mark the 300th anniversary of the death of Grand Prince Ferdinando de’ Medici (1663–1713), the Galleria degli Uffizi is planning to devote a celebratory exhibition to this key figure who was one of the most important collectors and patrons of the arts in the entire history of the Medici Grand Dukes of Tuscany. The son of Cosimo III and of Marguerite-Louise d’Orléans, Ferdinando nurtured two overriding interests, in the theatre and music and in the figurative arts, from a very early age. The exhibition sets out to convey the complexity of his interests and the innovative nature of his approach which drew the leading artists of the era (musicians, instrumentalists, painters and sculptors) to Florence between the end of the 17th century and the first decade of the 18th. The exhibition is broken down into sections illustrating the complex issues surrounding the prince’s cultural inclinations, while also presenting the buildings in which his patronage was played out.

An introductory iconographic section displays likenesses of the prince and of his family, with works by Giovan Battista Foggini, Justus Suttermans and Anton Domenico Gabbiani.

This is followed by a second section illustrating the early years of Ferdinando’s art collecting and patronage which focused in particular on his beloved villa at Pratolino where, alongside musicians, singers, costumiers and composers, he also hosted the Bibbiena family from Bologna, masters in the art of stage design. At the same time, the residence was being transformed in its interior decor and embellished with the work of Ferdinando’s favourite painters at the time, including Livio Mehus, Pier Dandini and Domenico Tempesti, all of whom were Tuscans, but also such “foreigners” as Crescenzio Onofri from Rome or Cristoforo Munari from northern Italy, all of them engaged in producing works closely linked to the villa and to the performances and other leisure activities that were held in it.

The third section is devoted to the renovation of Palazzo Pitti, of the Pergola Theatre and of the cathedral of Florence on the occasion of Ferdinando’s wedding to Princess Violante Beatrix of Bavaria in 1689. The ducal palace underwent radical transformation in its piano nobile, in the bridal couple’s apartments and in the mezzanines above, which were renovated in a spectacularly imaginative way, evinced in the exhibition by the memoirs and preparatory drawings of the artists who executed in the work (Luca Giordano, Diacinto Maria Marmi, Alessandro Gherardini, Giovan Battista Foggini and Anton Domenico Gabbiani). At the same time, the section also explores the ceremonies and festivities held in Florence to mark the prince’s wedding, using drawings and documents for the purpose.

The fourth section illustrates the prince’s growing interest in the figurative arts, both in contemporary sculpture and in painting, with the leading artists active at the time, many of whom were experts in such ‘modern’ late 17th-century genres of as still-life and portraiture. Thus this part of the exhibition contains both religious and secular works (by Carlo Dolci, Carlo Loth, Baldassarre Franceschini and Il Volterrano) and examples of ‘painted nature’ (by Jacopo Ligozzi, Bartolomeo Bimbi, Margherita Caffi, Fardella, Houbracken and Michelangelo Pace da Campidoglio). Of equal interest in the section is the presence of sumptuary objects, pieces of furniture and everyday items testifying to Ferdinando’s sophisticated tastes, with works by the leading engravers, marquetry inlayers and silversmiths then active at court.

The highly significant fifth section explores the tastes of the Grand Prince as collector, with some of the 16th- to 18th-century paintings removed from churches in Tuscany and elsewhere, including Andrea del Sarto’s Madonna of the Harpies, Lanfranco’s Ectasy of St. Margaret of Cortona, Annibale Carracci’s Farnese Altarpiece, and lastly, the Madonna of the Long Neck by Parmigianino, one of Fernando’s most prestigious acquisitions in the field of Renaissance art as the 17th century drew to a close.

The sixth section is devoted to the grand prince’s favourite villa of all, Poggio a Caiano, whose decoration he renovated with the greatest magnificence. He chose a room on its piano nobile to house one of his most original collections comprising ‘works in miniature’, which is eloquently recreated in the exhibition through a selection paintings that once formed part of it, illustrating the prince’s catholic tastes in collecting.

The seventh section of the exhibition illustrates the prince’s taste for major Florentine statuary at the close of the 17th century, while in the sphere of painting it looks at the change in Ferdinando’s taste in favour of ‘foreign’ schools—far more modern than anything local artists could produce—such as the Venetian school (of which he was enamoured in his youth), the Bolognese school and the Ligurian school (with work by Crespi, Cassana, Fumiani, Sebastiano and Marco Ricci, Magnasco and Peruzzini) whose leading painters were summoned to Florence, where they produced some of their masterpieces specifically for the prince.

The final section is devoted to the last years of Ferdinando’s life, exploring the results and repercussions of his art patronage and collecting, and displaying the drawings for a celebratory monument that it was planned to erect in his memory, the sketches for that project, and material relating to his funeral.

Available from Artbooks.com:

Riccardo Spinelli, ed., Il gran principe Ferdinando de’ Medici (1663–1713) Collezionista e Mecenate (Firenze: Giunti, 2013 ), 430 pages, ISBN: 978-8809786103, $77.50.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

This smaller exhibition was on view until recently at the Villa of Poggio a Caiano:

For the Grand Prince Ferdinando:
Still lifes, vedute, bambocciate and caramogi from the Medici Collections
Medici Villa of Poggio a Caiano, 5 July — 5 November 2013

Curated by Maria Matilde Simari


◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

The Villa of Poggio a Caiano was one of the favourite residences of the Grand Prince Ferdinando de’ Medici (1663–1713), son of the Grand Duke Cosimo III and destined to succeed his father in the government of Tuscany. In concomitance with the major exhibition devoted to the Grand Prince in the Uffizi Gallery, the idea is to recall the figure of Ferdinando in the site of his favourite villa, too. It was here that Ferdinando spent the spring and autumn, riding his Berber horses, attending sophisticated concerts and operas performed in the theatre of the villa and devoting himself to the organisation of his own particular collection of miniature paintings, the so-called ‘Gabinetto di opere in piccolo’ which went on to become a famous example of a late seventeenth-century collection.

Significant evidence of Ferdinando’s commissions for the Villa of Poggio has fortunately survived in the large fresco dating to 1698 by Anton Domenico Gabbiani showing Cosimo de’ Medici being presented to Jupiter by Florence, which can be seen on the ceiling of the dining room on the first floor. This painting shows the celebratory and official side of court taste, but other aspects of the personality of Ferdinando, who was a curious man, interested in a wide range of artistic genres, also deserve to be explored.

An itinerary extending through fourteen rooms of the Still Life Museum is devoted to the Grand Prince as a collector of still lifes, highlighting the works that were certainly part of his collection. At the end of this itinerary is a room devoted to two different aspects of his tastes as a collector: the miniatures and the genre paintings, comprising in the latter group the views, the bambocciate and the grotesque and humorous paintings portraying pygmies and dwarves, or the whimsical caramogi.

The Grand Prince Ferdinando was attracted not only by great figure painting and by the works of the most famous painters of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Titian, Parmigianino and Sebastiano Ricci) but also by artists engaged in collateral aspects and genres that can certainly not be defined as minor, since they made a very particular and novel impression on seventeenth-century taste: the flower painters, the painters of vedute, the Dutch petits maîtres, the bamboccianti painters of everyday life and the caricaturists.

The inventory of the assets of the Grand Prince drawn up at his death in 1713 records no less than sixteen paintings depicting caramogi (deformed, dwarf-like figures) intent upon various games and activities, for one of which the author’s name is specifically mentioned: the Brescia artist Faustino Bocchi, a renowned specialist in ‘the painting of pygmies’ who appears to have sojourned at the grand ducal court, and whom Ferdinando may in any case have met during a trip to Veneto and Lombardy in 1688. His interest in this particular grotesque genre can be linked to the recollections of Ferdinando as a passionate lover of amusing sonnets, ‘burlette burlesche’, of poets in ottava rima, comedians and ham actors.

The small collection of works displayed in the room dedicated to the Grand Prince Ferdinando in the Still Life Museum of the Villa of Poggio a Caiano offers a synthetic overview of the vedute, the bambocciate and the caramogi that he loved, displaying works not normally visible to the public since they are conserved in the repositories of the Florentine Galleries and of other institutions. Also on display is an as yet unpublished painting by Bartolomeo Ligozzi on which the date and signature have been discovered.

The show is rounded off by a selection of ancient manuscripts and printed books connected with the eclectic personality of Ferdinando: a cultured, passionate and curious collector who is also remembered as a cordial and affable man with a great sense of humour. As one of the manuscript memoirs recalls: “With his departure, spirit and joy too took their leave of Florence and Tuscany.”

Exhibition | Joseph Wright of Derby: Bath and Beyond

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on December 12, 2013

From The Holburne Museum:

Joseph Wright of Derby: Bath and Beyond
The Holburne Museum, Bath, 25 January — 5 May 2014
Derby Museum and Art Gallery, dates TBA


Joseph Wright, Vesuvius in Eruption, with a View over the
Islands in the Bay of Naples, ca. 1776–80 (London: Tate)

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

I have taken the Liberty to give this Letter of Introduction to my Friend Mr. Wright of Derby, Who since his Return from Italy is come to Bath, & Designs to settle there.
Erasmus Darwin, 22 November 1775

Joseph Wright ‘of Derby’ (1734–1797) lived and worked in Bath between November 1775 and June 1777. This brief and little-known episode in Wright’s life marked a crossroads in his career; yet it has never been explored in detail. Joseph Wright of Derby: Bath and Beyond will place Wright in the context of the many artists, musicians, writers, business people and scientists living and working in the Georgian spa and present for the first time a comprehensive view of his life and work during those eighteen months. The exhibition and accompanying catalogue will also go ‘beyond’ to examine the effect of his time in Bath and his travels in Italy on Wright’s later work.


Joseph Wright, The Rev. Dr. Thomas Wilson and his adopted Daughter Miss Catherine Sophia Macaulay, 1776 (Chawton House Library)

Wright came to Bath to paint portraits, hoping to build on the success of Thomas Gainsborough who had recently left for London. The exhibition will include the three remaining portraits that the artist certainly made in Bath, including his painting of the elderly Rev. Thomas Wilson with the young daughter of Catharine Macaulay, the radical historian.

Whilst in Bath Wright worked up landscape studies he had made in Italy, producing spectacular views of Vesuvius in Eruption and the dazzling firework displays of Rome, the highlight of a visit to the artist’s studio in Brock Street. It was whilst in Bath that he first began to explore subjects from sentimental contemporary literature, which in turn have a strong impact on his portrait composition, and the exhibition will include some of his most beautiful depictions of figures alone in the landscape.

We are grateful to Derby Museum, which holds the world’s largest and finest collection of Wright’s work, for its generous loans to this exhibition which will include The Indian Widow, The Alchymist and some beautiful drawings. Other lenders include the National Gallery, Musée du Louvre, Tate, the British Museum, the Walker Art Gallery and the Fitzwilliam Museum. This exhibition will travel to Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

A study day is scheduled for 24 February 2014.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

From I. B. Tauris:

Amina Wright, Joseph Wright of Derby: Bath and Beyond (London: Philip Wilson Publishers, 2014), 112 pages, ISBN: 978-1781300213, £16 / $30.

coverJoseph Wright (1734–1797) arrived in Bath from his native Derby in November 1775. Recently returned from a tour of Italy, he came to the fashionable spa town to re-establish his business as a portrait painter, hoping to fill the vacancy left by Thomas Gainsborough the previous year. This book, the first to examine Wright’s little-known Bath period, places the artist in the context of a city then at the height of its unique cultural significance. Using rarely-seen illustrations of his work, it considers his attempts to conquer a saturated portrait market with images of local celebrities, and his use of domestic spaces for public exhibition. His celebrated views of fireworks in Rome and the terrors of Vesuvius were first shown in Bath. Beautifully illustrated and highly readable, Joseph Wright of Derby: Bath and Beyond sheds new light on a key moment in this important English artist’s career, deepening our understanding of his life and work as a whole.

Amina Wright is Senior Curator at the Holburne Museum in Bath, UK, and has been Curator of Fine Art there since 2001. She was closely involved in the Holburne’s major redevelopment project, completed in 2011, as well as a number of exhibitions relating to British eighteenth-century painting, drawings and Georgian Bath. Previous publications include the exhibition catalogues Pictures of Innocence: Children in Portraits from Hogarth to Lawrence (2005) and Pickpocketing the Rich: Portrait Painting in Bath 1720–1800 (2002).

Study Day | Joseph Wright of Derby: Bath and Beyond

Posted in conferences (to attend), exhibitions by Editor on December 12, 2013

From the study day programme:

Joseph Wright of Derby: Bath and Beyond
The Holburne Museum, Bath, 24 February 2014

This event will bring together a variety of stimulating speakers from different disciplines to examine in greater
depth Wright’s little-known Bath period and its contexts. The morning session will explore the cultural life of Bath
in the 1770s through recent historical research and ask whether Wright’s place in this complex and creative
society has been misunderstood. In the afternoon the focus will turn to other places: Derbyshire, Liverpool, the
London exhibition galleries and the places of Wright’s literary imagination, and their influence on the artist’s
life and work.

The study day accompanies the major new exhibition Joseph Wright of Derby: Bath and Beyond (25 January 5
May 2014). It has been made possible by a generous grant from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British
Art. The exhibition is sponsored by Lowell Libson Ltd. Price: £45 (Concessions £40, Students £15), to include morning coffee, afternoon tea and a ticket for the exhibition.

Credit card bookings may be made by calling Spencer Hancock at the Holburne on 01225 388560, email
s.hancock@holburne.org, or in person at the Museum’s information desk. Or send a cheque made payable to “The Holburne Museum” to Spencer Hancock, Visitor Services Manager, the Holburne Museum, Great Pulteney Street, Bath BA2 4DB. We can also offer a packed lunch for £6.15. Please purchase when you book. When booking, please supply your name and address so that your tickets can be posted to you.

M O N D A Y ,  2 4  F E B R U A R Y  2 0 1 4

9.00  Registration

9.30  Welcome, Alexander Sturgis, Director, Holburne Museum; and introduction, Adrian Tinniswood OBE, Trustee, the Holburne Museum

9.45  Georgian Bath: Images and Realities, Peter Borsay

Session I: Joseph Wright’s Bath
10.30  Toyshops and Tradesmen in Bath, Vanessa Brett
11.00  Coffee
11.30  Anna Miller, Catharine Macaulay and Agnes Witts: Bath hostesses, diarists and travellers, Elaine Chalus
12.00  Henry Sandford’s commonplace books, Susan Blundell
12.25  Wright’s working practices in Bath, Rica Jones
12.50  Questions

1.00  Lunch

2.30  Joseph Wright ‘of Bath’?, Amina Wright

Session II: Joseph Wright beyond Bath
3.15  Joseph Wright and Derby, Stephen Daniels and Alice Insley
3.45  Joseph Wright and Liverpool, Alex Kidson
4.10  Tea
4.50  Wright’s Exhibitions, John Bonehill
5.15  Questions

Recent Reviews Posted at BSECS

Posted in books, reviews by Editor on December 12, 2013

Recent reviews at BSECS:

Nelson, Navy, Nation: The story of the Royal Navy and the British people, 1688–1815

Location: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
Event Date: December 2013
Reviewed By: Evan Wilson, University of Oxford
This new gallery shows there’s more to the eighteenth-century Navy than Nelson, but his fans will still get their fix.

Read full review…

KPM. Gestalten, Benutzen, Sammeln / Creating, Using, Collecting: 250 Jahre Porzellan aus der Königlichen Manufaktur Berlin

Location: Schloss Charlottenburg
Event Date: November 2013
Reviewed By: Caroline Cannon-Brookes
Berlin celebrates the 250th anniversary of its Royal Porcelain Manufactory.

Read full review…

David d’Angers: Making the Modern Monument

Location: The Frick Collection, New York City
Event Date: November 2013
Reviewed By: Lucy Gellman, Florence B. Selden Fellow, Yale University Art Gallery
A welcome, if somewhat underwhelming, stateside debut for the ‘other’ David.

Read full review…

Exhibition | Metropolitan Vanities: The History of the Dressing Table

Posted in catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on December 11, 2013

Press release (3 July 2013) from The Met:

Metropolitan Vanities: The History of the Dressing Table
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 17 December 2013 — 13 April 2014

Curated by Jane Adlin

1976.155.99 003

Martin Carlin, combination table, ca. 1775 (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art,1976.155.99a, b)

Metropolitan Vanities: The History of the Dressing Table at The Metropolitan Museum of Art will explore the evolution of the modern dressing table. Few pieces of furniture have revealed more about social customs, leisure-time pursuits, and popular tastes throughout history. The form of the dressing table—or vanity, as we know it today—began to develop in the late 17th century in Europe. The exhibition will consist of outstanding examples of this furniture form and some 50 related objects, paintings, and drawings selected mainly from the Metropolitan’s collection. Ancient Egyptian decorative boxes used to hold cosmetics, classical Greek and Roman scent bottles, medieval mirror cases, 18th-century nécessaires, and innovative contemporary jewelry and accessories will be on display.

In the late 17th century, European high society began commissioning luxurious specialized furniture from craftsmen and furniture makers. The poudreuse in France, and the low boy, Beau Brummel, and shaving table in England served as models for the dressing table. Jean-Henri Riesener’s Mechanical Table (1780–81) is one of the finest examples of this period in the exhibition. This table, in which the top slides back as the drawer slides forward to reveal a toilette mirror flanked by two compartments, was delivered by the cabinetmaker to Queen Marie Antoinette at Versailles in January 1781.

Pietro Antonio Martini, after Jean Michel Moreau the Younger, The Morning Toilet (La Petite Toilette), from Le Monument du Costume, ca. 1777 (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art,  33.6.28)

Pietro Antonio Martini, after Jean Michel Moreau the Younger, The Morning Toilet (La Petite Toilette), from Le Monument du Costume, ca. 1777
(New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 33.6.28)

In America the designs for dressing tables were simpler, with the Chippendale style among the most popular. During the 19th century, dressing tables were made in many revivalist styles including the Gothic, Elizabethan, Rococo, Renaissance, and Colonial revivals, to name a few. Eventually, in the later 19th century, the dressing table—like other cabinet furniture—became a matching part of the bedroom suite.

It was not until the early part of the 20th century, during the Art Deco period in both Europe and America, that luxurious dressing tables came to epitomize the modern concept of glamour and luxury. Hollywood films of the 1920s and ’30s, with their fantasy world of penthouses atop Manhattan skyscrapers, were hugely popular during this period and often depicted the femme fatale heroine sitting at her supremely elegant vanity table in the bedroom or dressing room. Norman Bel Geddes’s enamel and chrome-plated steel dressing table (1932) is a model for this streamlined and sophisticated style.

More recently, designs for the dressing table have reflected the diversity of new styles, from the modern molded-plastic valet dressing cabinet of Raymond Loewy (1969) to a postmodernist Plaza dressing table and stool by Michael Graves (1981) and a minimalist dressing table of today by the Korean contemporary designer Choi Byung Hoon (2013).

Metropolitan Vanities: The History of the Dressing Table is organized by Jane Adlin, Associate Curator in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibition is accompanied by a Bulletin published by the Metropolitan Museum and distributed by Yale University Press (volume 71, Fall 2013).

More images are available here (under additional resources).

At Auction | Portrait of François-Henri d’Harcourt by Fragonard

Posted in Art Market by Editor on December 11, 2013

From Bonhams:

fragonardA major work by the 18th-century French artist Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Portrait of François-Henri d’Harcourt, sold for £17,106,500 this evening (5 December) setting a world record price for the artist at auction [Bonhams, Auction 21413, Lot 85]. The previous record was £5,300,000 for a painting sold in London in 1999. It is also the highest price for an Old Master Painting sold at auction anywhere in the world this year. The painting was the leading work in the sale of paintings and sculpture from the renowned collection of the German philanthropist, the late Dr Gustav Rau which raised more than £19 million. The proceeds will be used to benefit the Foundation of the German Committee for UNICEF—for the children of the world.

Bonhams Director of Old Master Paintings, Andrew McKenzie, said, “The portrait of François-Henri d’Harcourt is one of the paintings on which Fragonard’s reputation as an artistic genius rests. It is impossible to overstate its cultural and artistic significance. Handling this great painting for sale was a huge privilege and a landmark in the history of the art market.” . . .

One of Fragonard’s famous fifteen fantasy portraits, The Portrait of François-Henri d’Harcourt was the most significant of the artist’s works to have appeared on the market for many years. Only two other fantasy portraits remain in private hands making this painting rarer than portraits by Frans Hals, Joshua Reynolds or even Rembrandt.

Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806) was a master of genre painting and a leading exponent of the Rococo style of which The Swing in the Wallace Collection in London is probably the best known example. In great demand as a portraitist in the dying days of the Ancien Régime, Fragonard fell on hard times after the French Revolution, and although he continued to live in France, he died in obscurity and poverty. Fragonard’s fantasy portraits—often depicting friends and acquaintances—were painted quickly with bold, fluid brush work which anticipated the Impressionists in bravura and technique. This style was referred to by some contemporaries as the artist’s, “swordplay of the brush.” The portrait of François-Henri d’Harcourt is unusual among Fragonard’s fantasy portraits because the subject is identified. Many of the other portraits are personifications of the arts rather than representations of named individuals.

Exhibition | Rococo to Neoclassicism from the Palazzo Chigi in Ariccia

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on December 9, 2013

From Artbooks.com:

Dipinti tra rococò e neoclassicismo da Palazzo Chigi in Ariccia e da altre raccolte
Palazzo Ducale Castromediano di Cavallino, Lecce, 21 September — 15 December 2013

cavallino_mostra_roccocoLa mostra è dedicata alla memoria di Fiammetta Luly Lemme (Ancona, 20 marzo 1937 – Roma, 29 marzo 2005), avvocato, collezionista e studiosa d’arte, moglie dell’avvocato Fabrizio Lemme, che con lei ha condiviso i medesimi interessi per l’arte e il collezionismo, che ancora coltiva. La collezione Lemme, formata con la consulenza di insigni studiosi quali Federico Zeri, Italo Faldi e Giuliano Briganti, fornisce un rilevante materiale di studio per la conoscenza della pittura barocca, rococò e proto-neoclassica, con particolare attenzione al Settecento romano. Nel 1998 i coniugi Lemme donarono al Museo del Louvre venti quadri e una scultura, collocati nella “Sala Lemme,” mentre altri ventuno furono donati contestualmente alla Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica di Palazzo Barberini, oggi organicamente inseriti nel nuovo allestimento.

Il 28 maggio 2007 Fabrizio, Giuliano e Ilaria Lemme hanno formalizzato la donazione al Palazzo Chigi in Ariccia del nucleo più importante della collezione, costituito da 128 dipinti, in gran parte già oggetto di notifica del Ministero dei Beni Culturali e Ambientali come insieme di elevato interesse storico artistico (Decreto del 1 dicembre 1998). La raccolta è confluita nel Museo del Barocco Romano, ubicato nella dimora chigiana, formato a partire dal nucleo di dipinti del ‘600 lasciati nel 2002 dallo storico dell’arte Maurizio Fagiolo dell’Arco. Ulteriori donazioni provenienti da altre raccolte (Ferdinando Peretti, Oreste Ferrari, Renato Laschena, etc.) hanno potenziato il museo di Palazzo Chigi, arricchendo le già rilevanti raccolte di provenienza chigiana, acquisite con la dimora nel 1989.

Il presente evento si pone in continuità ideale ed è una prosecuzione in termini didattici e storicoartistici della mostra Dipinti del Barocco Romano da Palazzo Chigi in Ariccia, tenuta a Cavallino di Lecce tra settembre e dicembre 2012, circoscritta alla pittura romana del ‘600. L’esposizione si volge al ‘700, il secolo dei lumi, l’età d’oro del Grand Tour d’Italie, che ebbe in Roma il proprio centro pulsante, propagandosi in tutta Italia. Tuttavia, oltre agli artisti attivi nella capitale pontificia, sono presenti in mostra anche pittori della scuola napoletana, provenienti o attivi nel regno borbonico. Spicca in ambito meridionale la figura di Corrado Giaquinto, il massimo artista pugliese del secolo ed uno dei più grandi del ‘700. Sono presenti anche tele di Paolo de Matteis, pittore della scuola napoletana attivo anche nel Salento. Le opere esposte provengono in gran parte da Palazzo Chigi, sia dalla collezioni storiche chigiane che dal Museo del Barocco. Sono presenti anche alcune opere in collezione privata, compresi ulteriori dipinti raccolti da Fabrizio Lemme negli ultimi anni o provenienti da una prestigiosa collezione privata inglese.

Francesco Petrucci, Dipinti tra rococò e neoclassicismo da palazzo Chigi in Ariccia e da altre raccolte (Rome: Gangemi, 2013), 128 pages, ISBN: 978-8849227086, $48.50.

Call for Papers | George I 300 Years On

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on December 9, 2013

George I 300 Years On: Reconstructing the Succession
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, 18–20 June 2014

Proposals due by 24 January 2014

George I (Bristol City Museum)

George I (Bristol City Museum)

Led by the History postgraduate community, and hosted by Bath Spa University, Göttingen University and Mannheim University, this international conference will be held at Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution.

This interdisciplinary conference takes the theme of the accession of the first Hanoverian king, George I. It will examine not just the end of the Stuart era, but the defining characteristics, outcomes and consequences the Hanoverian succession. We invite new and established academics, PhD and early career researchers to bring their knowledge and expertise together for this three-day gathering in the city of Bath. We welcome proposals (200–250 words) for individual papers. Panels of three papers with chair and commentator are also welcome. All proposals should be sent to the Centre for History and Culture at Bath Spa University (email: historyandculture.bsu@gmail.com.

Exhibition | Connecting Seas: Discoveries and Encounters

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on December 9, 2013

This exhibition opens the Getty Research Institute’s newly expanded galleries with an exploration of materials related to the 2013–14 scholar year theme Connecting Seas: Cultural and Artistic Exchange. From the exhibition press release (5 November 2013) . . .

Connecting Seas: A Visual History of Discoveries and Encounters
Getty Research Institute, Getty Center, Los Angeles, 7 December 2013 — 13 April 2014

Curated by Peter Bonfitto, David Brafman, Louis Marchesano, Isotta Poggi, Kim Richter, and Frances Terpak


◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Since antiquity, people have crossed the seas to explore distant shores and discover other cultures. The introduction of the printing press made it possible for illustrated accounts of travel and exploration to find wide distribution in Europe, and, soon after, other continents. Connecting Seas: A Visual History of Discoveries and Encounters, on view December 7, 2013–April 13, 2014 at the Getty Research Institute, Getty Center, draws on the Getty Research Institute’s extensive special collections to reveal how adventures on other continents and discoveries of other cultures were perceived, represented, and transmitted during past ages of ocean travel.

“This exhibition prompts us to see and consider the long history of cultural encounters, an endeavor we are still pursuing today,” said Thomas W. Gaehtgens, director of the Getty Research Institute. “The Getty Research Institute’s special collections are rich troves of original sources that offer insight into the history of representation spanning five hundred years.”


Featuring rare books, prints, maps, and navigational instruments—from Renaissance prints to Napoleon’s monumental folios on Egypt to panoramic images known as vues d’optique, photographs and children’s games—the exhibition traces the fascinating course of scholarly investigation and comprehension of cultures in Asia, South America, and Africa. These intriguing original works from the sixteenth- to the twenty-first century, mostly from European, but some of Asian and South-American origins, chart diverse narratives of discovery, exploration, commerce, and colonization, and illuminate the multiple and various levels of encounter at the roots of today’s globalization. The exhibition is organized under three themes: “Orienting the World,” “Expeditions and Exploration,” and “Commerce and Colonialism” and was collaboratively curated by six GRI curators: Peter Bonfitto, David Brafman, Louis Marchesano, Isotta Poggi, Kim Richter and Frances Terpak.

Most of the rare material featured in Connecting Seas is of European origin, which reflects the history of the GRI. In the past, the GRI was primarily dedicated to collecting and exploring the Western tradition. Some objects from other parts of the world already signal a recent programmatic change. As the GRI continues to broaden its scope of collecting and research, this more global approach will become a more visible aspect of exhibitions and public programs. Connecting Seas draws heavily from the GRI’s special collections, including prints, photographs, drawings, rare books and ephemera from the 16th to 20th centuries. It also features navigational instruments, a painting on the North Atlantic slave trade and other marine objects generously loaned by the Kelton Foundation that directly complement the GRI’s collections on display. Through deep research in the GRI’s rich holdings of primary sources and historical objects and documentation, the exhibition interprets images from the past to see how they transferred and represented the encounter of cultures. As Gaehtgens states, “by understanding how such encounters were embraced in the past, we can learn to think critically about our contemporary experiences and its challenges.”

“This exhibition invites the viewer to reflect on the complex, long history of exploration and exchange,” added Marcia Reed, Chief Curator, Getty Research Institute. “For every instance of misunderstanding, prejudice or exploitation there are examples of persistent intellectual curiosity, generosity, and empathy.”

Orienting the World

Mapping the world was the first step in discovering new lands. The first section of the exhibition displays the techniques and tools early explorers developed in order to navigate the seas. Knowledge of astronomical orientation and the invention of maritime instruments were necessary to face the challenges of ocean voyages. For example, an Islamic astrolabe from Maghreb helped mariners navigate by charting the stars. As civilization gradually came to understand the Earth as a globe, discoverers created early representations of the continents that combined experience and imagination. A woodcut map from Magdeburg in 1597 depicts the world as a clover leaf with Jerusalem at the center, and the continents of Europe, Asia and Africa emerging from the center.

Expeditions and Exploration

Early travelogues of Europeans who visited Asia and Africa were at times extraordinarily fanciful, and hearsay reports generated strange imaginings and misunderstandings about other lands and cultures. In many cases bizarre legends were passed down over centuries, understood as true. A woodcut in Giovanni Botero’s early seventeenth-century book, Man from the Wilds of Asia, depicts a headless man with a face on his chest. The notion that such people had been seen in Africa and throughout Asia was centuries old at the time and could be traced to al-Qazwini, a thirteenth-century scholar of Baghdad.

This second section of the exhibition explores how early travelers’ tales with such misinformation gradually became replaced by more scholarly studies. Exploration and collecting were followed by study and analysis. Enlightenment values motivated rigorous scholarly approaches to distant continents, but they also often coincided with imperialist ambitions of European rulers. Napoleon invited geographers, archaeologists, and scientists to accompany him on military campaigns in Egypt. After their return to France, this team of experts published precise, firsthand observations and groundbreaking research on the entire Egyptian world. Preoccupation with other cultures became the domain of professionals who valued firsthand knowledge of distant lands and employed systematic and scientific approaches. Among the most remarkable of these was the German explorer and intellectual Alexander von Humboldt, who traveled extensively to many parts of Latin America. He returned to Berlin and Paris with significant specimens and notes and published his research. A German lithograph dating to the mid-1800s on view in the exhibition depicts Humboldt in his study, surrounded by maps, papers and objects from his travels.

Commerce and Colonialism

The third section of the exhibition examines how exploration, colonization, and exploitation characterized the age of modern imperialism, in which European nations competed for control over territories in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. International exhibitions in European and North American cities displayed the products of faraway lands or reproductions. Some children’s games disseminated prejudice—advertisements for the Belgian company Chocolat de Beukelaer from the early-twentieth century featured disturbing cartoon scenes of colonial encounters in Africa—and world’s fairs even displayed human beings who were brought to the European capitals along with (often inaccurate) reconstructions of their original dwellings. Despite the rise in scholarly perspectives on exploration and travel during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, racial prejudices were often spread by in prints, journals, and photographs as trade among the continents increased.

The Getty Research Institute’s Scholar Program

The exhibition relates closely to the GRI’s Scholar Year theme. Every year scholars from around the world come to the Getty Research Institute to join the highly competitive Scholars Program. This year, forty scholars were chosen out of nearly 600 applicants, the highest total in the program’s 28-year history. The 2013–14 scholar year theme, Connecting Seas: Cultural and Artistic Exchange, will focus on similar subjects as the exhibition, exploring the art-historical impact of maritime transport. The scholars will be in residence at the Getty Center and the Getty Villa through the spring to undertake research projects related to the vital role seas and oceans played in connecting cultures.

New Exhibition Spaces

Connecting Seas will be the first exhibition in the Getty Research Institute’s newly expanded galleries. As part of its ongoing commitment to present engaging exhibitions to the public, the Getty Research Institute has added an additional 2,000 square feet of gallery space. The additional gallery space will bring the total exhibition area to 2,800 square feet, divided between two galleries. This expansion will allow the Research Institute to mount innovative and significant exhibitions drawing principally from the GRI’s Special Collections and responding to advanced research initiatives in art history.

The exhibition object list is available here»

%d bloggers like this: