Smithsonian American Art Museum’s 2014 Fellows Lectures

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on March 31, 2014

All three afternoons look interesting; I include only Amy Torbert’s talk here only because most of the sessions address the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. -CH

Smithsonian American Art Museum’s 2014 Fellows Lectures
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.,  7–9 May 2014

The Fellowship Program at the Smithsonian American Art Museum cordially invites you to attend three afternoons of lectures in American art delivered by Smithsonian art history research fellows. The talks will be held in the museum’s McEvoy Auditorium, located at 8th and G Streets NW, Washington, D.C. This event is open to the public and no reservations are required. For further information, please contact Amelia Goerlitz at (202) 633-8353 or email AmericanArtFellowships@si.edu.

Thursday, 8 May, 2:00
Amy Torbert, Predoctoral Fellow (National Portrait Gallery), University of Delaware
“Robert Sayer’s Empire: The Geographies of Prints, 1770–1800”

A full list of speakers is available here»

Call for Papers | Port Cities in the Early Modern World, 1500–1800

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on March 31, 2014

Port Cities in the Early Modern World, 1500–1800
Philadelphia, 5–7 November 2015

Proposals due by 15 September 2014

Co-sponsored by the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, the Program in Early American Economy and Society, and Temple University.

In the early modern period, advances in maritime technology redrew the global map-not only through the ‘discovery’ of new worlds, but by reorienting patterns of commerce and migration to transform what had been peripheries into vital nodes of exchange, power, and culture. Port cities rose to occupy a critical space, mediating between their own hinterlands and an oceanic world of circulation and exchange. Highly local institutions and networks influenced and reacted to global networks and the movements of people, goods, fashions, ideas, and pathogens. This conference will explore comparisons and connections among ports in the age of sail. Through broadly comparative papers and revealing case studies this conference provides a forum to explore comparisons and contrasts, diversity and congruence, competition and emulation, among far-flung port cities on a global scale. Among the topics the organizers hope to explore are socio-political organization, economic and labor patterns, and cultural productions

We seek proposals from scholars at all stages of their careers. Committed participants include Christopher Hodson, Richard Kagan, Willem Klooster, Christian Koot, Kris Lane, Ty Reese, Philip Stern, and David Wheat.

Paper proposals should include an abstract of no more than 500 words and a one-page curriculum vita. Papers, which will be pre-circulated, should be approximately 7,500 words in length. Please e-mail paper proposals to mceas@ccat.sas.upenn.edu by September 15, 2014. All queries should be sent to the conference organizer, Jessica Choppin Roney (roney@ohio.edu). The program committee will reply by December, 2014.

Some support for participants’ travel and lodging expenses will be available for paper presenters.

New Book | Chinese Wallpaper in National Trust Houses

Posted in books by Editor on March 30, 2014

From The East India Company at Home, 1757–1857 Newsletter (March 2014); note that the booklet is available for free download as a PDF file.

Emile de Bruijn, Andrew Bush, and Helen Clifford, Chinese Wallpaper in National Trust Houses (Newcastle upon Tyne: National Trust, 2014), 50 pages.

coverOn the evening of 20 March Emile de Bruijn, Andrew Bush and Helen Clifford were delighted to celebrate the publication of Chinese Wallpaper in National Trust Houses, at the China Tang Suite at the Dorchester Hotel, London, providing the opportunity to thank the contributing team of collaborators including curators, conservators, entrepreneurs and scholars. Special thanks go to the hosts who made this venue possible. Copies of the National Trust’s catalogue of a group of historic Chinese wallpapers based on the latest research and conservation can be bought from Shop.nationaltrust.org.uk. The 50-page booklet is entitled Chinese Wallpapers in National Trust Houses and includes nearly 50 colour pictures, introductory essay, location map of sites including non-NT examples and a bibliography.

The booklet is also available as a PDF file.

More information about the The East India Company at Home Project is available here»


Renovation and Conservation at the YCBA and the Beinecke

Posted in books, museums, resources by Editor on March 30, 2014

For those of you thinking ahead in terms of fellowships at Yale, bear in mind these planned closures for 2014 and 2015. 2016, however, seems like a fine time to be in New Haven!

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From the Beinecke:

The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library will undergo a major renovation beginning at the end of May 2015.  The renovation will replace the library’s mechanical systems and expand its research, teaching, storage, and exhibition capabilities. The library will reopen in September 2016.

A temporary reading room in the Sterling Memorial Library will provide researchers access to the library’s collections while work is under way. Beginning in April 2014, access to various collections will be limited as we prepare the library for closure. Please consult our closed collections schedule for information about when specific collections will be unavailable.

We invite you to learn more about the project, and follow our progress as we prepare the library for another 50 years as a world-class center of research and scholarship.

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From the YCBA:

. . . Planning is well underway for the second phase of the project, which will take place in 2015. The focus of this next phase will be the renewal of the public galleries on the second, third, and fourth floors, as well as the refurbishment of the Lecture Hall. The project will also address improvements related to life safety and accessibility, and extensive building-wide mechanical and electrical upgrades will be made. Visitors will have limited access to the building and no special exhibitions will be mounted or visiting fellowships awarded. When the Center reopens in January 2016, its collections will be completely reinstalled in the elegant, sky-lit galleries of the fourth floor, and three focused exhibitions, featuring specific aspects of the Center’s collection, will be on view in the second- and third-floor galleries.

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From Yale UP

Peter Inskip and Stephen Gee in association with Constance Clement, Louis I. Kahn and the Yale Center for British Art: A Conservation Plan (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012), 200 pages, ISBN 978-0300171648, $50.

9780300171648The standing of the Yale Center for British Art as one of the world’s great museums and study centers finds expression in its remarkable building, designed by Louis I. Kahn (1901–1974). In this important and innovative volume, two architects offer a plan to ensure the proper stewardship of the building in order to preserve its essence as a great architectural structure. Peter Inskip and Stephen Gee describe the design, construction, and subsequent renovation of the building; assess its cultural significance; analyze the materials that comprise it (steel, concrete, glass, white oak, and travertine); and shed light on its evolution over the four decades since it was built. Drawing on their extensive experience developing conservation plans for both historic sites and modern buildings, they propse a series of policies for the Center’s conservation into the future.

Peter Inskip and Stephen Gee are with the London-based firm Peter Inskip + Peter Jenkins Architects. Constance Clement is Deputy Director of the Yale Center for British Art.

At Auction | Stubbs’s Tygers at Play (Two Leopard Cubs)

Posted in Art Market by Editor on March 30, 2014

George Stubbs, Tygers at Play, 40 by 50 inches, c.1770–75 (est. £4–6 million)

Press release (27 March 2014) from Sotheby’s:

Tygers at Play, one of George Stubbs’s most celebrated works, is to lead Sotheby’s London Evening Sale of Old Master and British Paintings on 9 July 2014. Painted circa 1770–75, this masterful depiction of two leopard cubs ranks among Stubbs’s most popular subjects, reproduced in numerous prints. The painting itself, however, has rarely been seen in public, having been exhibited only four times since its original appearance at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Testament to the artist’s exceptional eye for capturing the animal form, this admirably preserved work boasts impeccable provenance, having been sold only once since it was commissioned from the English painter. It remained in the possession of a single family until 1962, when it was acquired by the present owners. Coming from a distinguished British aristocratic collection, Tygers at Play will be offered with an estimate of £4–6 million.

Talking about the sale of the painting, Julian Gascoigne, Specialist, British Paintings at Sotheby’s commented: “Major big cat compositions by Stubbs very rarely appear at auction. Having only passed through two careful owners since it was painted, this work is in perfect condition, down to the delicate whiskers of the leopards, which is exceptionally rare for a work of this date. Never has the art market been so global and the universal beauty of Stubbs’s animals appeals today to an ever-growing array of collectors across the world. We therefore very much look forward to exhibiting this extraordinary work in Hong Kong, Moscow, New York, and London in the three months leading up to the sale.”

Of Stubbs’s four paintings of leopards, Tygers at Play is by far the most ambitious and dramatic. This rare example of the artist’s understanding of animal anatomy is also illustrative of his preoccupation with wild and exotic animals from the late 1760s and 1770s, which resulted in some of Stubbs’s greatest paintings, including his famous Lion and Horse series (a theme which emanated from his encounter with classical antiquity in Rome in 1754), as well as his famous paintings of an Indian Rhinoceros (c.1790/91, Hunterian Museum, Royal college of Surgeons), a Zebra presented to Queen Charlotte in 1762 (Paul Mellon Collection, Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven), and his portrait of The Kongouro from New Holland, recently acquired by the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

The seemingly incorrect title, Tygers at Play, which was used by Stubbs in the Royal Academy exhibition in 1776 and in the lettering for the engraving in 1780, seems curiously old fashioned given the artist’s studious and observant depiction of what are quite clearly leopards. A possible explanation would be that before circa 1750 the word tiger, or tyger was used as the generic term for all striped or spotted members of the cat family that were not lions.

Stubbs’s fascination with exotic animals was partly a symptom of the rise of menageries in mid-18th century London, stocked with wild beast brought back from Africa and India by men like Warren Hastings, and the contemporary fascination with exotic specimens from far off lands, which was fuelled by expeditionary voyages such as Captain Cook’s journey to the South Pacific in 1766 and his subsequent discovery of Australia in 1770.


Worldwide Exhibitions

Hong Kong Convention Centre: 3–7 April 2014
Moscow, New Manege Exhibition Hall: 25–27 April 2014
Sotheby’s New York:
31 May 4 June 2014
Sotheby’s London:
Early July 2014


Lecture | Nina Dubin on Painting ‘The Papered Century’

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on March 29, 2014

From The Newberry:

Nina Dubin | Love, Trust, Risk: Painting ‘The Papered Century’
The Newberry Library, Chicago, 19 April 2014

The eighteenth-century vogue for pictures of women perusing love letters not only marked the age’s affection for epistolarity, it also emblematized the “papered century,” named for the period’s unprecedented proliferation of monetary notes and credit instruments. Dwelling upon the fragility of paper promises, epistolary pictures vivify the precariousness of trust and the romanticization of risk on the eve of modernity.

Saturday, April 19, 2:00–4:00pm

The Newberry Library Eighteenth-Century seminar is designed to foster research and inquiry across the scholarly disciplines in eighteenth-century studies. It aims to provide a methodologically diverse forum for work that engages our ongoing discussions and debates along this historical and critical terrain. Attendance at all events is free and open to the public but in order to receive the pre-circulated paper, participants must register online in advance via this link. A reception follows each presentation. It is also the custom of the seminar to gather at a restaurant in the Newberry neighborhood to continue our conversation. If you would like to join us for dinner after any session, please email Lisa Freeman at lfreeman@uic.edu.

Timothy Campbell, University of Chicago
Lisa A. Freeman, University of Illinois at Chicago
John Shanahan, DePaul University
Helen Thompson, Northwestern University

Additions to The Art World in Britain 1660 to 1735

Posted in resources by Editor on March 29, 2014

Richard Stephens, the editor for The Art World in Britain 1660 to 1735, and his team continue to expand what is already an extraordinary resource. From the most recent update (25 March 2014). . .


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11,000 auction records have been published, bringing the total now online to 87,000 lots. Here are the main additions:

Three great collections

The library of Edward, 2nd Earl of Oxford (1689-1741) was ‘the most choice and magnificent that were ever collected in this Kingdom’. His bound prints and illustrated books were sold by his widow in 1746 over 22 nights. The sale catalogue is the longest & most detailed of its kind from this period, by some way.

The South Sea Bubble triggered one of the greatest picture sales of the early 18th century, when the heavily-indebted Henry, 1st Duke of Portland (1682-1726) sold his paintings in 1722. One copy of the catalogue survives, in the Frick library. Its manuscript annotations, which list every buyer and price fetched, provide an invaluable snapshot of the major collectors and dealers of that moment.

The collection of old master drawings belonging to the Roman connoisseur Padre Resta was “the finest without doubt in Europe” according to John Talman. Resta sold almost 4000 sheets to the Whig Lord Chancellor, Baron Somers (1651-1716), which were auctioned in London in 1717.

Sales of artists, architects & a composer

Auction catalogues offer a window onto the careers, households and intellectual worlds of the vendors. In this update are the posthumous catalogues of architects Nicholas Hawksmoor (1740), William Kent (1749), Sir Christopher Wren (1749), and Leonard Wooddeson (1733); the painters John Robinson (1746), Louis Goupy (1748), Thomas Morland (1748), Joseph Vanhaecken (1751) and John Ellys (1760); the engraver John Dunstall (1693); and the composer George Frederick Handel (1760).

Auctioneer’s copies

The Frick’s Portland annotations are probably based on information from the auctioneer’s office, given their completeness & the fact that the prices include the post-sale fee (by contrast, the Houlditch transcript of the Portland sale gives the hammer price only). Another catalogue published now – the heavily-annotated catalogue of the 1719 sale of the contents of the Duke of Ormonde’s London house – appears to be the only auctioneer’s working copy surviving from any sale before the foundation of Christie’s.

This update of sale catalogues has been funded very generously by Lowell Libson Ltd. The editor is also very grateful to Ashley Baynton-Williams, Shana Fung, Peter Moore, Kate Papworth, William Schupbach and Jacob Simon for their contributions of data, images and corrections.

A full list of sources published is available here»

New Book | The Profession of Sculpture in the Paris ‘Académie’

Posted in books by Editor on March 29, 2014

SVEC 2014.02 from the Voltaire Foundation:

Tomas Macsotay, The Profession of Sculpture in the Paris ‘Académie’, SVEC (Oxford: Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, 2014), 360 pages, ISBN-13: 978-0729410793, £70 / €84 / $116.

macsotay-bookcover1The profession of sculpture was transformed during the eighteenth century as the creation and appreciation of art became increasingly associated with social interaction. Central to this transformation was the esteemed yet controversial body, the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture. In this richly illustrated book, Tomas Macsotay focuses on the sculptor’s life at the Académie, analysing the protocols that dictated the production of academic art. Arguing that these procedures were modelled on the artist’s study journey to Rome, Macsotay discusses the close links between working practices introduced at the Académie and new notions of academic community and personal sensibility. He explores the bodily form of the morceau de réception on which the election of new members depended, and how this shaped the development of academic ideas and practices. Macsotay also reconsiders the early revolutionary years, where outside events exacerbated tensions between personal autonomy and institutional authority.

The Profession of Sculpture in the Paris Académie underscores the moral and aesthetic divide separating modern interpretations of sculpture based on notions of the individual artistic persona, and eighteenth-century notions of sociable production. The result is a book which takes sculpture outside the national arena, and re-focuses attention on its more subjective role, a narrative of intimate life in a modern world.

Tomas Macsotay is a research fellow at the Universitat Autònoma, Barcelona. He is currently researching the visual culture of Spanish academies and sculpture in transnational Rome, and has previously published articles on the history of eighteenth-century French, Dutch, and British art. Macsotay’s 2008 thesis The Human Figure as Method: Study, Sculpture and Sculptors in the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture (1720–1765) was awarded the 2009 Prix Marianne Roland Michel.


1. The impossible originality of Falconet’s Milon
2. Sculptors’ morceaux between style and method
3. From shop floor to academic gallery
4. Guidance and autonomy: the role of Rome
5. Vleughels’s drawing sculptors
6. The order of figures: inert and moving
Epilogue. Of lions and cats: sociability and sculpture

Macsotay offers a peak at the book’s argument with this posting at the Voltaire Foundation’s blog, “Sculptors in the Paris Académie’s mould, and how to (mis)understand them,” (17 February 2014).

March 2014 Issue of RIHA Journal

Posted in journal articles by Editor on March 28, 2014

The latest issue of RIHA Journal, the open access journal of the International Association of Research Institutes in the History of Art (RIHA), addresses the theme “When Art History Meets Design History.” Here are the eighteenth-century offerings:

Katie Scott, “Persuasion: Nicolas Pineau’s Designs on the Social,” RIHA Journal (March 2014).

This essay offers a Latourian account of the wood sculptor Nicolas Pineau’s design process via a reading of Jean-François Bastide’s [1758] novella La petite maison. It argues that the conventional form assumed by his drawings or ‘inscriptions’—the indications of scale, the delineation of options, the signatures and marginal notes—can be read as traces of seduction that helped ‘translate’ potential patrons to a taste for Rococo. The essay further suggests that the activation of the taste at the point of commission was kept alive in the designs executed by the bi-modal asymmetry that is characteristic of the goût pittoresque because its exercise was considered a mark of refinement.

Matthew Craske, “Model Making and Anti-Competitive Practices in the Late Eighteenth-Century London Sculpture Trade,” RIHA Journal (March 2014).

This article concerns the generation of anti-competitive practices, and the associated discontents, that rose to the fore in the London sculpture trade in the late eighteenth century (1770–1799). It charts the business strategies and technical procedures of the most economically successful practitioners, whose workshops had some of the characteristics of manufactories, and whose critics accused them of conducting a “monopoly” trade. Small-scale practitioners lost out in the competition for great public contracts on account of their design processes and their inability to represent any manifestation of “establishment.” A combination of three factors increased the gap between a handful of powerful “manufacturers” and the rest of the trade: the foundation of the Royal Academy, shifts in the ways designs were evaluated, and a growing number of very lucrative contracts for public sculpture. I conclude that such were the discontents within the London trade that by the 1790s, there was a marked tendency for practitioners who were not manufacturers to be attracted to democratic political movements, to the Wilkite call for liberty and the rise of civic radicalism in the merchant population of London.

Anne Puetz, “Drawing from Fancy: The Intersection of Art and Design in Mid-Eighteenth-Century London,” RIHA Journal (March 2014).

This paper attempts to bring the world of mid-eighteenth-century British design into fruitful conversation with contemporary art theory and practice. Taking the neighbourhood and milieu of the St Martin’s Lane area in London as a starting point, I investigate connections between British “rococo” design and William Hogarth’s Analysis of Beauty in terms of shared formal values and contemporary implications of “modernity.” I argue for a mutual indebtedness rather than “art” directing “design.”

Symposium | The Disciplined Past: The Study of the Middle East

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on March 28, 2014

While I’m not sure how much eighteenth-century content to expect from the papers, the issues of periodization and the implications of how we connect (or disconnect) historical periods strike me as crucial eighteenth-century problems with present-day stakes for exploring a global eighteenth century. -CH

From Harvard’s Mahindra Humanities Center:

The Disciplined Past: Critical Reflections on the Study of the Middle East
Mahindra Humanities Center, Harvard University, 4–5 April 2014

Registration due by 3 April 2014

Organized by Mirjam Brusius

The symposium aims to reassess the study and the representation of the Middle East in scholarship and museums today. Studying the Middle East in the current Western academic and museological discourse entails encountering a history of dichotomies and contradictions. A manifest example, both physically and metaphorically, is provided by a visit to some art museums in the Western world: while, for example, art from ancient Mesopotamia—which occupied the same space as much of modern day Iraq, Syria and Iran—is often presented in direct proximity to objects deeply embedded in the Western canon, such as Classical Greek sculpture, objects from the very same region that derive from after the coming of Islam are often separated from their more ancient geographical counterparts, for instance in Islamic Art departments.

The epistemological consequence has been denounced before: this type of taxonomy creates a narrative of the Middle East that suggests a period of decline from the seventh century A.D. onwards, while prevailing European narratives link their historical present to mythical beginnings in the Middle East via the notions of a classical Graeco-Roman Antiquity. These canonical ideas have been shaped in Western European readings and injected into notions of progress and decline, into the organization of historical time, and scholarly disciplines themselves. They do so with restricted notions of key concepts in history of science, such as ‘origin’ and ‘discovery’, which only account for a single and teleological narrative rather than for dynamic flows of exchange between spaces and a plurality of accounts. What counts as canonical in Western traditions and what is subject to alienation is thus a temporal rather than geographical dichotomy.

The recent restructuring of some museum spaces reflects discomfort with this status quo, though not always in favour of a more even and unifying approach. The ‘ethnologization’ of Islam still pushes the Middle East to the margins, while the ‘religionization’ of the Middle East often does the same in academic contexts. Often they also run the risk of presenting an alternative orientalist trope: that of the ‘eternal, unchanging East’. Even though critical voices have critiqued these legacies of formerly colonial structures in recent decades, the ancient Near East and the modern Middle East remain neatly separated from another. Archaeology as a mediating discipline connecting the present with the past is both a perpetrator and victim of this discourse but its role in this discourse has not yet been fully explored in spite (or because) of its political power.

Finally, the naming of university departments throughout the world tells a story of its own: How religious does the Middle East have to be in order to be studied as the “science of Islam” (Islamwissenschaft)? How universal to be simply “oriental”? How ancient does the Near East have to be in order to be “Near”? How ancient Western Asia in order to be “Western”? How modern the Middle East, in order to be in the “Middle”? How much in the middle does the East have to be in order to be “modern”? The symposium seeks to bring historians of the modern Middle East, scholars of the ancient Near East, Egypt and Western Asia, archaeologists, anthropologists, historians of science and of archaeology, as well as historians of Islamic and Western art in dialogue with one another to assess the current states of affair.

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F R I D A Y ,  4  A P R I L  2 0 1 4

2.00  Introduction, Mirjam Brusius (Harvard University)

2.30  Heritage and Museums
• Alexander Nagel (Smithonian Institution): The Order of Things According to Washington DC: Reading Middle Eastern Materials in the Smithsonian Institution
• Ian Straughn (Brown University): On Heritage Crusades and other Cultural Rescue Missions in the Middle East
• Melania Savino (KHI Florenz): Ancient Near Eastern Antiquities in the Italian Museums: Travels, Collections, Displays

4.30  In discussion: Section participants with Irene Winter (commentator, Harvard University) and Eleanor Robson (University College London)

S A T U R D A Y ,  5  A P R I L  2 0 1 4

9.00  Ruptures and Turning Points
• Avinoam Shalem (Columbia University): Troubling Monochronic Time: Revisiting the Myth of the ‘Origin’ of Islamic art
• Katharine Park (Harvard University): Teaching and Writing across Regional Boundaries: A History of Arabic and Latin Science

10.00  Coffee break

10.30  In discussion: Section participants with Roy Mottahedeh and Chad Kia (Harvard University)

12.00  Lunch break

1.00  Empire and Knowledge
• Erin Hyde Nolan (Boston University): Ottomans Abroad: The Translation and Circulation of Nineteenth-Century Portrait Photography from Istanbul to Europe and the United States
• Daniela Helbig (University of Sydney): Whose Wonderland? Aviation and Aerial Archaeology in Syria and Lebanon under the French Mandate

2.00  In discussion: Section participants with Marwa Elshakry (commentator, Columbia University) and Adam Mestyan (Harvard University).


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