Conference | The Production of Ornament

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on January 26, 2014

From the conference website:

The Production of Ornament: Reassessing the Decorative in History and Practice
University of Leeds, 21-22 March 2014

Registration due by 28 February 2014

The descriptive terms ‘decorative’ and ‘ornamental’ are in many ways synonymous with superfluity and excess; they refer to things or modalities that are ‘supplementary’ or ‘marginal’ by their very nature. In the West, such qualitative associations in made objects intersect with long-standing and inter-related philosophical oppositions between ‘form’ and ‘matter’, ‘body’ and ‘surface’, the ‘proper’ and the ‘cosmetic’. Accordingly, this has weighed both on determinations of value in artistic media, and on the inflexions of related histories – particularly histories of ‘non-Western’ art, design and culture, where a wide range of decorative traditions are deemed unworthy of critical attention.

Yet such frameworks are no more historically stable than they are culturally universal. To take one very clear and ‘central’ counter-example, decoration in some strands of Renaissance architectural theory (Filarete, Alberti) emerged as a rigorous codification of meaning, as an essentially functional (political) language. In many ways the history of ornament may itself be seen as a process of marginalisation of such ways of thinking, and the separation of ornament from any form of social practice.

This two-day conference seeks to explore the various ways in which ornament might be regarded as itself productive of its objects and sites. How might the technologies, techniques, and materials of ornament be related to the conception and transformation of modes of object-making? How might ornament be understood to inform its objects, disrupting the spatial categories of ‘surface’ and ‘structure’, and the temporal models in which ornament ‘follows’ making? What are the relations between ornament and representation, and what is at stake in the conventional oppositions between these categories? What are the roles of ornament in larger dynamics of copying, hybridisation and appropriation between things? In what ways have practices and thinking on ornament staged cultural encounters, and engendered larger epistemological and social models?

Tickets cost £15/£8, and include lunches and refreshments. To book a place email Dr Richard Checketts and Dr Lara Eggleton at production.of.ornament@gmail.com by Friday the 28th of February.

F R I D A Y ,  2 1  M A R C H  2 0 1 4

10:00  Coffee/tea and registration

10:45  Richard Checketts and Lara Eggleton (University of Leeds), Welcome and Introduction

11:00  Emma Sidgwick (University of Leuven), ‘Late Antique Strigillation: The Abstract Iconography and Embodied Mediation of a Holy Productive Power’

11:40  Catherine E. Karkov (University of Leeds), ‘Entanglement, Enchantment, Stone: The Materiality of Ornament in Tenth-Century Leeds’

12:20  Carol Bier (Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley / The Textile Museum, Washington D.C.), ‘Is Ornament Ornamental? Geometry Made Manifest in Islamic Architecture’

13:00  Lunch

14:30  Soersha Dyon (Independent Scholar), ‘Unravelling the Arabesque’

15:10  Jason Nguyen (Harvard University/ Institut national d’histoire de l’art, Paris), ‘Communauté ornament: Law and Labour in Late Seventeenth-Century Paris’

15:50  Coffee and tea

16:30  Keynote 1, Alina Payne (Harvard University)

S A T U R D A Y ,  2 2  M A R C H  2 0 1 4

10:00  Keynote 2, Susanne Kuechler (UCL), ‘The Quest for Affinity: The Ornament in Perspective’

11:15  Coffee and tea

11:30  Todd P. Olson (University of California, Berkeley), ‘Sticky Figures: Reconciling Pattern and Mimesis in Early Modern Prints’

12:10  Elizabeth Athens (Yale University), ‘Monstrosity, Ornament, Ecology: William Hogarth’s Natural Knowledge’

12:50  Frances S. Connelly (University of Missouri-Kansas City), ‘Rogue Ornament or Poetic Monster: Giambattista Vico and the Ornamental Grotesque’

1:30  Lunch

2:30  Sabrina Rahman (Northumbria University), ‘The Politics of Ornament: Historiographical and Ethnological Practices of the Austrian Werkbund’

3:10  Mark Crinson (University of Manchester), ‘The Ornamented Ceiling in New Brutalism’

3:50  Closing remarks and discussion

5:00  Drinks reception

Exhibition | A Dialogue with Nature: Romantic Landscapes

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on January 25, 2014

Press release from Sue Bond:

A Dialogue with Nature: Romantic Landscapes from Britain and Germany
The Courtauld Gallery, London, 30 January — 27 April 2014
The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, 30 May — 7 September 2014

Curated by Rachel Sloan


John Robert Cozens, A Ruined Fort near Salerno, ca. 1782
watercolour on paper (The Courtauld Gallery)

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Organised as a collaboration between The Courtauld Gallery and The Morgan Library & Museum in New York, this exhibition explores aspects of Romantic landscape drawing in Britain and Germany from its origins in the 1760s to its final flowering in the 1840s. Bringing together twenty-six major drawings, watercolours and oil sketches from both collections by artists such as J.M.W. Turner, Samuel Palmer, Caspar David Friedrich, Carl Philipp Fohr, and Karl Friedrich Lessing, it draws upon the complementary strengths of both collections: the Morgan’s exceptional group of German drawings and The Courtauld Gallery’s wide-ranging holdings of British works. A Dialogue with Nature offers the opportunity to consider points of commonality as well as divergence between two distinctive schools. Together, these drawings exemplify Friedrich’s understanding of Romantic landscape draughtsmanship as ‘a dialogue with Nature’.

9781907372667_p0_v2_s260x420Friedrich claimed that ‘the artist should not only paint what he sees before him, but also what he sees in himself’. His words encapsulate two central elements of the Romantic conception of landscape: close observation of the natural world and the importance of the imagination. The display opens with a selection of drawings made in the late 18th century. The legacy of Claude Lorrain’s ideal vision is visible in both Jakob Philipp Hackert’s magisterial view of ruins at Tivoli, near Rome, and in Thomas Gainsborough’s more informal rendering of a rustic cottage among rolling hills, while cloud and tree studies by John Constable and Johann Georg von Dillis demonstrate the importance of drawing from life and the observation of natural phenomena. This newfound emphasis on drawing out of doors extended to amateur artists as well, exemplified by two remarkable sketchbooks by dilettante draughtsmen, the composer Felix Mendelssohn and the British naval officer Robert Streatfeild.

The important visionary strand of Romanticism is brought to the fore in a group of works centred on Friedrich’s Moonlit Landscape and The Jakobikirche as a Ruin and Samuel Palmer’s Oak Tree and Beech, Lullingstone Park. These are exemplary of their creators’ intensely spiritual vision of nature as well as their strikingly different techniques, Friedrich’s painstakingly fine detail contrasting with the dynamic freedom of Palmer’s penwork.

The final grouping shows Romantic landscapes at their most expansive and painterly, featuring Turner’s St Goarshausen and Katz Castle, one of fifty watercolours inspired by his first visit to Germany in 1817 and his highly atmospheric late rendering of a full moon over Lake Lucerne, as well as Friedrich’s subtle wash drawing of a coastal meadow on the remote Baltic island of Rügen. The exhibition closes with three small-scale drawings revealing a more introspective and intimate facet of the Romantic approach to landscape: Theodor Rehbenitz’s fantastical medievalising scene, Palmer’s meditative Haunted Stream and, lastly, Turner’s Cologne made as an illustration for The Works of Lord Byron (1833), which underscores important links between literature and the visual arts in the ongoing exchange of ideas between Britain and Germany.

A Dialogue with Nature is the first exhibition to be organised jointly by The Courtauld’s IMAF Centre for Drawings and The Morgan Library & Museum’s Drawings Institute. The accompanying publication will feature an essay by Matthew Hargraves (Yale Center for British Art and Morgan-Courtauld Fellow) and individual catalogue entries for each work by Rachel Sloan (The Courtauld Gallery).

From Athena Books/Paul Holberton:

Matthew Hargraves and Rachel Sloan, A Dialogue with Nature: Romantic Landscapes from Britain and Germany (London: Paul Holberton Publishing, 2014), 84 pages, ISBN: 978-1907372667, $25.

Alexander Sturgis Appointed Director of the Ashmolean

Posted in museums by Editor on January 25, 2014

From the press release (January 2014) . . .

ash-2The University of Oxford is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Alexander Sturgis as the new Director of the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology. He will take up the appoint- ment on 1 October 2014, succeeding Professor Christopher Brown CBE, who has been the Museum’s Director since 1998.

Dr Sturgis has had a distinguished career as the Director of the Holburne Museum, Bath, since 2005 and previously held various posts over 15 years at the National Gallery, London, including Exhibitions and Programmes Curator from 1999 to 2005.

Welcoming the appointment of Dr Sturgis, the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andrew Hamilton, said: “We are delighted that Dr Sturgis has agreed to come to Oxford to lead the Ashmolean. The Museum has undergone a substantial transformation in recent years under the outstanding leadership of Christopher Brown. I am fully confident that Dr Sturgis will take forward with equal distinction the next stage of the Ashmolean’s development.”

Professor Ian Walmsley, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Services and University Collections), said: “I am looking forward very much to working with Dr Sturgis as he develops a strategy for the Ashmolean that continues its exceptional trajectory and maximises the contribution of its outstanding collections, both to the teaching and research of the University and to the Museum’s exciting range of activities involving the general public.”

Mr Bernard Taylor, Chairman of the Board of Visitors of the Ashmolean Museum, said: “I am so pleased that Xa Sturgis has decided to come to the Ashmolean. His great success at the Holburne Museum and his previous time at the National Gallery, working closely with Neil McGregor, prepares him well for leadership of this great museum. His past work in the use of collections in education, in arranging successful exhibitions, and in raising visitor numbers six-fold at the Holburne gives him the experience base to build upon the considerable success the Ashmolean has enjoyed in recent times.”

Responding to his appointment, Dr Sturgis said: “I am thrilled to be appointed the next Director of the Ashmolean. It is a huge honour to be given the chance to lead one of the country’s great museums, however hard it will be to leave the Holburne after eight exceptionally happy and eventful years. I look forward to working with the Ashmolean team and Oxford University to build on all that has been achieved at the Museum in recent years.”

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Sturgis’s bio from the Holburne Museum:

Alexander Sturgis studied Modern History at Oxford (1982–85) before completing a PhD in Art History at the Courtauld Institute, London (1985–90).

He joined the National Gallery, London in 1991 where he spent 14 years first as Education Officer (1991–99) and then as Exhibitions and Programmes Curator (1999–2005). During this time he also served as the Director’s Curatorial Assistant helping to set up the Regional Museums Task Force. His exhibition credits at the National Gallery include Seeing Salvation (2000), Telling Time (2000), Bill Viola: The Passions (2003), and Rebels and Martyrs: The Artist in the Nineteenth Century (2006). His list of publications includes Faces (1999) Telling Time (2000) Understanding Paintings: Themes in Art Explored and Explained (2000), and Rebels and Martyrs: The Artist in the Nineteenth Century (2006). He was appointed Director of the Holburne Museum in 2005.

Book and Display | Baroque and Later Ivories in the V&A

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on January 24, 2014

From the V&A:

Baroque and Later Ivories in the V&A
Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 25 January — 28 September 2014

This is a display of a number of sculptures from the outstanding collection of baroque and later ivories in the V&A, including German, Austrian, Netherlandish, French, British and Hispanic works. A range of objects will be seen: portrait busts, tankards, statuettes, and devotional reliefs. Carved and turned ivories were highly treasured items throughout the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They might render dramatic mythological scenes, present exquisitely carved portrait likenesses on a small scale, or depict religious narratives. This small exhibition celebrates the recent publication of a catalogue of these ivories at the V&A.

From the V&A Shop:

Marjorie Trusted, Baroque and Later Ivories in the V&A (London: V&A Publishing, 2013), 544 pages, ISBN: 978-1851777679, £85.

650275919233179215Over 500 baroque and later ivories from the V&A’s outstanding collection are illustrated and discussed in this scholarly catalogue. This publication includes every ivory sculpture made after 1550 from a collection comprising German, Austrian, Netherlandish, British, French, Italian, Scandinavian, Russian and Spanish pieces, as well as examples from the Philippines, Goa, Sri Lanka and South America. The range of objects is extensive: statuettes, reliefs, tankards, boxes, cabinets, snuff rasps and cutlery handles are all represented. These small-scale sculptures might render dramatic scenes from mythology, present exquisitely carved portrait likenesses on a small scale, or depict religious narratives. The high quality of the V&A’s holdings is readily apparent; leading ivory sculptors to be found here include Francis van Bossuit, Benjamin Cheverton, Balthasar Griessmann, Joachim Henne, Johann Christoph Ludwig Lücke, David Le Marchand, and Balthasar Permoser. In addition to detailed entries on each piece, the Introduction summarises the history and techniques of baroque and later ivory carving, while indexes of subjects and artists, in addition to a comprehensive bibliography, provide a full scholarly apparatus.

Marjorie Trusted is Senior Curator of Sculpture at the V&A. She has published and lectured widely, specializing in European art from the seventeenth century onwards, in particular British and Spanish sculpture. Her books include Spanish Sculpture (V&A 1996), British Sculpture 1470–2000 (co-author, V&A 2002), The Making of Sculpture (V&A 2007), and The Arts of Spain (V&A 2007).

Exhibition | The Image of the European City

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on January 23, 2014

From the Correr:

The Image of the European City from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment
Museo Correr, Venice, 8 February — 18 May 2014

Curated by Cesare De Seta


Pierre-Antoine Demachy, Panoramic View of Tours,
1787 (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Tours)

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The fascinating context of the European city from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment is evoked in this exhibition through an extraordinary iconographic repertory comprising over a hundred paintings, prints and drawings from prestigious public and private, Italian and foreign collections.

Ever since the Middle Ages, towns have been a favoured subject in European painting and a means for a state to promoate itself and show off its virtues. The exhibition brings together those global images of an especially high quality that for centuries were the only or most persuasive means for showing off the beauty and wealth of Europe’s leading cities. The exhibition starts with Italy, the first to introduce the imago urbis thanks to the invention of perspective in the early years of the 15th century, providing a fascinating manifesto of the ambitions of popes, princes and sovereigns. Following a chronological and geographic itinerary, the visitor can then travel virtually through cities transformed by time, which for the most part no longer exist in the same way.

For more information, see the press release, available here»

Call for Papers | The Period Room: Museum, Material, Experience

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on January 22, 2014

The Period Room: Museum, Material, Experience
The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham, 19–20 September 2014

Proposals due by 31 March 2014

Since the late 19th century the Period Room has been a consistent presence in the public museum, and yet over the past 25 years the Period Room has become a contentious museum object, leading many museums to question the legitimacy of the Period Room as an effective and appropriate method of display and interpretation. As dislocated fragments, often remodelled to fit the spaces of the museum, the Period Room is, for some, a signifier for the inauthentic, an outmoded method of display and a representation of unfashionable museum interpretation. The problems associated with Period Rooms are exacerbated by the fact that they are large and bulky objects, difficult and expensive to redisplay or reinterpret. Many museums retain their Period Room displays, but the recent changes in the perspectives on Period Rooms have also led a number of museums in the UK, Europe and the USA to reconsider their continued relevance as museum objects, to dismantle and deaccession the displays, and in some cases to repatriate the Period Rooms to their places of origin (if that still exists of course).

This conference, held at the Bowes Museum, which redisplayed its own collection of Period Rooms in 2007–10, aims to consider the Period Room from a wide variety of perspectives in order to address some key questions about Period Rooms and the history of Period Rooms display in Museums: Should Period Rooms be considered objects in their own right, or merely ‘contexts’ for related material? How, and in what ways, did Period Rooms satisfy ideas of museum interpretation, and how and why did these attitudes change? What was the role of the evolving frameworks of national/local heritage in the appearance of Period Rooms in museums? What were/are the theoretical, technical and aesthetic frameworks for the display of Period Rooms in museums? How, and in what ways, is the Period Room different from, or similar to, the Historic Interior?

We invite papers to explore these themes and relationships from a wide range of perspectives and from a wide range of organisations, institutions and disciplines, from academics (historians, art historians, literary and film historians), museum curators and professionals, exhibition designers, technicians and craft-workers):

Themes for consideration may include:
• The processes of the circulation, display and redisplay of Period Rooms
• The dealers, merchants, decorators, collectors, and museum curators and their roles in the changing taste for the Period Room
• Case Studies of Period Rooms—the history of specific displays in museums and other public institutions; their provenance, removal and reconstruction; display and interpretation
• The philosophical history of the Period Room as a particular mode of engagement with the past—as an historical space, as a space of historical empathy, and as an immersive environment
• The material and technical aspects of Period Room display—the challenges of redisplay in museum contexts, what the objects reveal about the history of their making and the history of museum interpretation.
• The ‘Period Room’ in literature, film and visual culture— how was/is the Period Room/Historic Interior imagined, and what can these perspectives tell us about how we engage with the Period Room in the museum?

Please send abstracts of no more than 400 words to the conference organisers:
Dr Mark Westgarth (University of Leeds), m.w.westgarth@leeds.ac.uk
Dr Jane Whittaker (The Bowes Museum), jane.whittaker@thebowesmuseum.org.uk
Dr Howard Coutts (The Bowes Museum), howard.coutts@thebowesmuseum.org.uk

Exhibition | Georgians: 18th-Century Dress for Polite Society

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on January 21, 2014

From Bath’s Fashion Museum:

Georgians: 18th-Century Dress for Polite Society
Fashion Museum, Assembly Rooms, Bath, 25 January 2014 — 1 January 2015

fmus2097_v_Variation_1…it being absolutely necessary that propriety of dress should be observed at so polite an assembly as that at Bath. Captain William Wade, Master of Ceremonies, New Assembly Rooms Bath 1771.

The Fashion Museum’s special exhibition for 2014, Georgians, celebrates the museum’s situation in the Georgian Assembly Rooms in Bath. The new exhibition will present a selection of the finest fashions worn by those attending Assemblies, and other glittering occasions of 18th-century life.

An Assembly was defined at the time as “a stated and general meeting of the polite persons of both sexes for the sake of conversation, gallantry, news and play.” As Bath grew in popularity in the 18th century, there was a need for a grand Assembly Room in the fashionable upper town, and in 1771 the New Rooms, designed by John Wood the Younger and financed by public subscription, opened to the public. Today, the New Rooms are known as the Assembly Rooms and are the location of the world-famous Fashion Museum.

Georgians will include over 30 original 18th-century outfits and ensembles from the museum’s world-class collection, including gowns made of colourful and richly patterned woven silks, as well as embroidered coats and waistcoats worn by Georgian gentlemen of fashion. A highlight of the exhibition will be a trio of wide-skirted Court dresses dating from the 1750s and 1760s (held out by cane supports known as panniers, from the French word for baskets), the early years of the reign of King George III. The grand finale of Georgians will include 18th-century-inspired fashions by five top fashion designers: Anna Sui, Meadham Kirchhoff, Vivienne Westwood, Stephen Jones, and AlexanderMcQueen. All are influenced by the 18th-century aesthetic, and all (in different ways) show how the elegance and grace of Georgian dress continues to inspire fashion today.

Winterthur Acquires Fraktur Collection

Posted in museums by Editor on January 20, 2014

Recently noted at ArtDaily:


Andreas Kolb, Fraktur, ca. 1785 (Winterthur Museum)
Photo by Jim Schneck

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Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library announces a landmark acquisition from the estate of Pastor Frederick S. Weiser (1935‒2009) containing a large religious text signed by Andreas Kolb that is widely regarded by scholars and collectors as one of the greatest Pennsylvania German fraktur ever made. Fraktur is a Germanic style of decorative work on paper. As one of the largest acquisitions in the museum’s history, it includes 121 fraktur plus nearly 200 textiles and other items in addition to Pastor Weiser’s extensive research papers.

“Winterthur is honored to have acquired this exceedingly important collection. We thus preserve the legacy of an extraordinary scholar and establish Winterthur’s already excellent collection of Pennsylvania German decorative arts as among the top few institutional holdings,” said Winterthur Director Dr. David P. Roselle.

A prolific writer and longtime editor of the Pennsylvania German Society, Pastor Weiser is considered one of the foremost scholars and collectors of Pennsylvania German decorative arts. He published numerous books and articles on Pennsylvania German arts and culture in addition to directing several major research projects that resulted in publications and exhibitions. “Pastor Weiser’s exceptional collection will be preserved largely in its entirety at Winterthur, where it can be studied alongside his extensive research files, which were donated by his estate to the Winterthur Library,” said J. Thomas Savage, director of museum affairs at Winterthur.

Assembled by Pastor Weiser over a span of more than forty years and with a careful eye to collecting the most significant or rare examples, the collection includes many objects acquired directly from descendants of the original owner or maker. Many objects were featured in Pastor Weiser’s publications, exhibitions, and lectures and represent a core group of well-documented pieces on which scholars rely. Linda Eaton, Winterthur’s John L. and Marjorie P. McGraw director of collections and senior curator of textiles, added, “We are thrilled to bring the Weiser collection to Winterthur, where the historical and artistic significance of this exceptional collection will be preserved and made accessible to a broad audience.”

Additional highlights from the Weiser fraktur collection include a large alphabet made in 1795 by Jacob Otto, a joiner and fraktur artist who worked in Lancaster County; a spiritual clockworks attributed to itinerant artist Friedrich Krebs; several dozen small drawings that were given to students by their schoolmasters as rewards for good behavior or academic performance; certificates for birth, baptism, and confirmation; bookplates, writing samples (Vorschriften), and cutworks (Scherenschnitte); religious texts, tunebooks, and hymnals; and New Year’s greetings, valentines, and assorted drawings of buildings, people, flowers, and animals. (more…)

New Book | Religieuses dans la ville, L’architecture des Visitandines

Posted in books by Editor on January 19, 2014

Available from Artbooks.com:

Laurent Lecomte, Religieuses dans la ville, L’architecture des Visitandines en France, XVIIe et XVIIIe siecles (Paris: Editions du Patrimoine, 2013), 304 pages, ISBN: 9782757701454, $110.

image_previewFondé par François de Sales et Jeanne de Chantal en 1610 à Annecy, l’ordre de la Visitation Sainte Marie a connu une expansion fulgurante à travers toute la France (134 couvents et églises à la Révolution). Reflet de l’attractivité de la spiritualité salésienne, ce mouvement de création conventuelle s’accompagne d’un prodigieux élan constructeur dont l’ampleur et l’originalité résultent principalement de la spécificité du monachisme féminin de la période post-tridentine. Assujetties à la règle de la clôture la plus stricte, les Visitandines sont aussi tenues de s’installer en ville et de s’ouvrir partiellement au “monde” extérieur. Enfin, elles doivent bâtir selon un plan type dans le but de maintenir l’unité architecturale de l’ordre, reflet de son unité spirituelle. Leurs constructions résultent des tensions entre les valeurs traditionnelles de l’idéal monastique (pauvreté, renoncement, isolement) et les contingences topographiques, économiques et sociales de la réalité urbaine. Richement illustré et documenté, cet ouvrage de référence propose une étude fouillée des apports architecturaux et urbanistiques d’un ordre féminin original.

Exhibition | Fame and Friendship

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on January 18, 2014

From the YCBA press release:

Fame and Friendship: Pope, Roubiliac, and
the Portrait Bust in Eighteenth-Century Britain

Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 20 February — 19 May 2014
Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire, 18 June — 26 October 2014

Curated by Malcolm Baker


Louis François Roubiliac, Portrait Bust of Alexander Pope, 1741, marble (Yale Center for British Art)

Opening in February 2014, the Yale Center for British Art, in collaboration with Waddesdon Manor, will present an exhibition on the eighteenth-century literary figure and poet Alexander Pope (1688–1744), whose sculpted portraits exemplified his fame at a time when the portrait bust was enjoying new popularity. Fame and Friendship: Pope, Roubiliac, and the Portrait Bust in Eighteenth-Century Britain will bring together paintings, sculptures, and materials that convey Pope’s celebrity status, high-lighted by a series of eight busts by Louis François Roubiliac (1702–1762), the leading sculptor of the period, to explore questions of authorship, replication, and dissemination.

Frequently used in antiquity to represent and celebrate writers, the portrait bust became the most familiar way of lauding famous writers in the eighteenth century, as the concept of authorship was being newly conceived. The signed and documented versions of Roubiliac’s busts of Pope, which span the years from 1738 to 1760, are among the most fascinating and iconic images of the poet. These early versions of Roubiliac’s bust are likely to have been made for Pope’s close friends, serving to articulate those friendships that were so important to him. Further, the comparisons of these related versions, together with copies from the period in marble, plaster, and ceramic, will provide a unique and unprecedented opportunity to understand the role of replication and repetition in eighteenth-century sculptural practice.


Adrien Carpentiers, Louis-Francois Roubiliac Modelling His Monument to Shakespeare, between 1760 and 1761 (Yale Center for British Art)

Complementing the sculptures of Pope will be busts of other sitters with whom Pope’s image was associated, reflecting the poet’s place in a developing literary canon, as well as a selection of painted portraits of the poet by artists such as Jonathan Richardson the Elder, Jean-Baptiste van Loo, and Sir Godfrey Kneller. Alongside these works will be a range of Pope’s printed texts. With their subtle changes in typography and their carefully planned illustrations and ornamental features, these early editions were produced under the watchful eye of Pope himself and were the outcome of the poet’s direct engagement with the materiality of the book and print.

Also presented will be lesser-known material about the Yale literary critic W. K. Wimsatt, who in the 1960s not only helped to make Yale a major center for the study of eighteenth-century literature (and Pope in particular), but spent twenty-five years researching the poet’s portraits, an achievement celebrated in this exhibition. As Wimsatt recognized, the relationship between Pope’s private persona and public fame was complex and ambiguous. Pope proved adept at managing the two while gradually establishing himself as an independent author, no longer dependent upon the support of noble patrons. Throughout his career, he astutely managed the presentation of his own image and reputation through both his published works and his portraits, especially those by Roubiliac.

Among the busts by Roubiliac will be a terracotta model (ca. 1738) from the collection of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Birmingham, England, and four marble pieces that he carved between 1738 and 1741. These busts have been assembled from a number of locations: the Center’s own collection; Temple Newsam House, Leeds Museums and Galleries; and the Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead (formerly in the possession of the eighteenth-century actor David Garrick). Another, from a private collection, was made for Pope’s close friend, the brilliant young lawyer, William Murray, later first Earl of Mansfield, with whom the poet shared an enthusiasm for both the classics and the visual arts, particularly sculpture. Also on view will be an earlier marble bust of Alexander Pope made in 1730 by the Anglo-Flemish sculptor John Michael Rysbrack (1694–1770), from the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London.

When this exhibition travels to Waddesdon Manor, the core group of busts of Pope by Roubiliac and some of the contextual material from the Yale Center for British Art will remain the same, but there will be an additional selection of painted portraits, a different range of printed texts lent by the British Library, and material that will illustrate the reception of Pope and his works in France in keeping with Waddesdon’s superb French collections.

Fame and Friendship: Pope, Roubiliac, and the Portrait Bust in Eighteenth-Century Britain is co-organized by the Center and Waddesdon Manor (The Rothschild Collection), where it will travel in June 2014. It is curated by Malcolm Baker, Distinguished Professor of the History of Art at the University of California, Riverside, and Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The organizing curator at the Yale Center for British Art is Martina Droth, Associate Director of Research and Education, and Curator of Sculpture; and at Waddesdon Manor, Dr. Juliet Carey, Senior Curator of Paintings, Sculpture and Works on Paper.

P U B L I C A T I O N S  &  S C I E N T I F I C  S T U D Y

9780300204346During the course of the exhibition, Yale University Press will be publishing The Marble Index: Roubiliac and Sculptural Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century Britain, Malcolm Baker’s study of the bust and the statue as genres [scheduled for release in August 2014]. Following the exhibition, a second book will appear as a volume in the series Studies in British Art, published by the Yale Center for British Art and the Paul Mellon Centre in collaboration with Yale University Press. The latter will include essays based on papers presented at the conferences at Yale and Waddesdon organized by the Center, the Paul Mellon Centre in London, and the Rothschild Foundation. It will also incorporate the results of a related research program of detailed digital scanning using the world-class facilities under development at the Yale Digital Collections Center at Yale’s West Campus. By analyzing the busts both visually and technically, this study aims to discover similarities and differences in surfaces, dimensions, construction, and materials, thus shedding new light on the studio practices of eighteenth-century sculptors. These findings will be the focus of a workshop to which leading figures in the field of eighteenth-century sculpture will be invited.

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Note (added 31 May 2014) — A more tightly focused catalogue will also be published by Paul Holberton:

Malcolm Baker, Fame and Friendship: Pope, Roubiliac and the Portrait Bust (London: Paul Holberton Publishing, 2014), 128 pages, ISBN: 978-0954731052, £15 / $25.

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Note (added 13 June 2014) — Waddesdon will host a study day (with a visit to Stowe) on July 10 and a conference on July 12.

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