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.”

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