New Book | Confronting the Golden Age

Posted in books by Editor on April 29, 2014

Distributed by The University of Chicago Press:

Junko Aono, Confronting the Golden Age: Imitation and Innovation in Dutch Genre Painting 1680–1750 (Amsterdam University Press, 2014), 272 pages, ISBN: 978-9089645685, $99.

9789089645685Dutch genre paintings of the period between 1680 and 1750 have historically been cast as uninspired repetitions of art from the mid-seventeenth-century Dutch Golden Age. In Confronting the Golden Age, Junko Aono reconsiders these oft-dismissed paintings, repositioning them as dynamic works that played an instrumental role in the canonization of the art of the Golden Age.

Drawing on archival documents, sales catalogs, and other texts, Aono closely analyzes a range of genre paintings—many of them handsomely reproduced in this volume. In the process, she deepens our understanding of these works and reveals how they illuminate the relationships among painters, collectors, and the dominant artistic currents of the time.

Junko Aono is associate professor of art history at Kyushu University, Fukuoka in Japan.


I. Confronting the Heritage of the Golden Age: The Situation around Dutch Genre Painting 1680–1750

1.  Painter and collector in transition: the search for a new relationship
2. The collector ’s taste: in praise of seventeenth-century Dutch genre painting
3. Popular subject matter of genre painting in eighteenth-century collections
4. The painter ’s choice: updating seventeenth-century genre painting

II.  Reproducing the Golden Age: Copies after Seventeenth-Century Dutch Genre Painting in the First Half of the Eighteenth Century

1. Commercial misuse of copies: discussion between Johan van Gool and Gerard Hoet
2. Copies as substitutes for seventeenth-century painting
3. The painter ’s choice: in search of a favorite painte and subject matter
4. Case study: the candlelight scene as popular subject
5. The function of copying: looking back to the Golden Age

III. Emulating the Golden Age: The Painter’s Choice of Motifs and Subject Matter in Dutch Genre Painting of the First Half of the Eighteenth Century

1. The painter ’s choice of subject matter
2. Competing with the ‘old masters’: pendants by Gerard Dou, Willem van Mieris and Hieronymus van der Mij
3. ‘Pleasurable enjoyment of dissimilar similarity’

IV. Ennobling Daily Life: A Question of Refinement in Early Eighteenth-Century Dutch Genre Painting

1. Gerard de Lairesse’s attempt to ennoble genre painting
2. The painter ’s practice of idealizing figures in genre painting
3. To meet new demands of collectors: seeking ideal versatility

Symposium | Exploring Maria Sibylla Merian

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on April 29, 2014

As noted by Hélène Bremer, from the conference website:

Exploring Maria Sibylla Merian
Artis Library, University of Amsterdam, 26–28 May 2014

merian banana small

Banana (Musa × paradisiaca) with moth and larva of the bullseye moth (Automeris liberia); plate 12, M.S. Merian, 1719, Over de voortteeling en wonderbaerlyke veranderingen der Surinaemsche insecten (University of Amsterdam)

Artis Library (Special Collections of the University of Amsterdam) will host a three-day symposium titled Exploring Maria Sibylla Merian on May 26–28, 2014. The program will open on the evening of May 26 with a reception and presentation and continue the following day with panels of invited scholars who will discuss their research on Merian’s life and her work in both art and science. On the third day the discussion will focus on the challenges and future of research on Merian. The themes of the symposium will be Merian’s biography, her work in the context of early modern entomologists and artists, the biology/ecology in Merian’s work, and her influence on both art and science. This symposium also aims to be the starting point for the preliminary work on an international conference in 2017, the 300th anniversary of the death of Merian.

If you are interested in attending the symposium (the cost will be 50 Euros), please contact Florence Pieters at the email address below. Space is very limited and so we also ask that you let us know if you must cancel for any reason.


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2 6  M A Y  2 0 1 4

Opening reception and presentation of parts of the Maria Sibylla Merian documentary film in progress. Filmmakers Jo Francis and John Fuegi will discuss their work in researching the film.

2 7 – 2 8  M A Y  20 1 4

Speakers will present 20-minute papers and time will be allotted for discussion. The order is not finalized, but capsule descriptions of the topics are below.

Presenting Merian, Kurt Wettengl
The talk will reflect on the Merian exhibition in Nürnberg 1967 and the exhibition in Frankfurt in 1997, touching on questions about the background of the exhibitions and the different intentions of exhibitions. This presentation will also reflect on the necessity of new investigations into Merian’s life and work.

Studying Insects before Merian: Johannes Goedaert en Johannes Swammerdam, Eric Jorink
Two Dutchmen, Johannes Goedaert (1617-1668) and Johannes Swammerdam (1637–1680) brought insects, considered as the ‘less esteemed of God’s creatures’, to the center of scientific and artistic attention. Basing themselves on philosophical and religious arguments, both argued that insects were among nature’s most intricate and ingenious creatures, showing the Creator’s magnificence par excellence, and their books were largely responsible for arousing interest in collecting and studying insects.

From Lay Expert to Fabulist: Merian’s scientific reputation in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Brian Ogilvie
Maria Sibylla Merian’s engraved works on insects were widely circulated in the eighteenth century and were used and cited favorably by leading naturalists, but in the 19th century, her mistakes were often cited as grounds for rejecting her authority entirely. This paper will examine how this shift in naturalists’ assessment of Merian is related to changes in European society and in the organization and practice of entomology.

Merian’s holistic view of the tiny, Katharina Schmidt-Loske
Merian developed a unique style of drawing insects and their development stages and is famous for depicting the caterpillars’ food plants. Her perspective, details of the insects’ structure, and documentation of parasitic cycles characterize her work. This presentation will compare Merian’s still life studies, her ‘Studienbuch’, caterpillar book and entomological watercolours with those of Johannes Goedaert, Wenceslaus Hollar, Herman and his son Anton Henstenburgh, and Johannes Bronckhorst.

The Ecology of the Raupen books, Kay Etheridge
Merian’s Raupen (caterpillar) books contain a wealth of insightful observations on interactions among the species portrayed – the very foundation of the study of ecology. This presentation will focus on her study of factors central to ecological science, including her descriptions of environmental effects on insect development and abundance, and her observations on insect food choice and feeding behavior.

Challenges in transcribing Merian’s correspondence, Florence F.J.M. Pieters
This presentation is linked to that of Brigitte Wirth, who discovered a major transcription error in a letter written by M.S. Merian in 1711. Brigitte’s correction throws new light on the coloring procedures in Merian’s atelier. Furthermore, the letter helps to clarify price differences between several types of hand-colored copies of her books.

Maria Sibylla Merian, Baltasar Scheid and Richard Bradley: Some remarks on their letters and on the struggle with incorrect transcriptions and translations, Brigitte Wirth
In several letters the Amsterdam trader Baltasar Scheid (circa 1660–1724 ) wrote to J.G. Volkamer about Merian’s Metamorphosis, describing its development in a few words from the early beginning to the end. With the details given in these letters it is possible to specify the time of production of this book. The English botanist Richard Bradley, who visited Merian in 1714, mentioned original drawings and hand-colored books he saw in her house in his correspondence with James Petiver. The presentation will also discuss how comparison of transcriptions and translations of Merian’s letters revealed differences in meaning that should be corrected.

The printing history of Merian’s Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium, Leslie Overstreet
In 1705 Merian published her classic work Surinam work in two languages and with plates in four modes: uncolored on paper, hand-colored on paper, and hand-colored counter-proofs on either paper or vellum. Through the 18th century, five further ‘editions’ were produced, again in several languages both uncolored and colored. This presentation will demonstrate how surviving copies provide evidence of significant divergence of later editions from the original coloring, raising questions about the scientific reliability of those versions.

Contemporary clients for Merian’s colored copies, Truusje Goedings
Merian advertised and sold both colored and uncolored copies of her heavily illustrated books. Hand-colored books were highly profitable and must have been a major source of income for Merian. This paper will examine some of her contemporary clients for these rather expensive materials, their interests, and what they bought.

Portfolio Wiesbaden, Joos van de Plas
This contemporary artist will address her research in which she investigated the alleged link between specimens in the Wiesbaden Gerning Collection and Merian’s work. Van de Plas visually compared the dried insects in the Gerning Collection with the life-size depictions in Merian’s Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium; she verified her findings using computer comparisons and by additional comparisons with specimens in other 17th- and 18th-century collections. Van de Plas also will relate how her decade-long investigation profoundly influenced her own art.

Speaker information is available here»

Call for Papers | Accessorising the Long Eighteenth Century

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on April 29, 2014

As noted at The University of York’s British Art Research:

Fashion, Function and Ornament: Accessorising the Long Eighteenth Century
York Hilton Hotel and Fairfax House, York, 19 September 2014

Proposals due by 28 July 2014

In fashion the term ‘accessory’ covers a wide range of items such as gloves, sashes, reticules, spectacles, watches, parasols, and potentially many other articles. Accessories can be seen as marginal to the nature of fashion, but historically they have played a key role in shaping the character of men’s and women’s fashions, combining ornament and function and giving scope for the expression of individual and collective identities. The era from the late Stuart to the early Victorian period saw the accessory achieve new prominence as a fashion statement, an expression of wealth, status and taste, and a desirable object of consumption, possession and display.

This symposium aims to bring together interested parties from curatorial, conservation, academic and other backgrounds with an interest in fashion, textiles, clothing and related topics to explore the nature and significance of accessories in the history of fashion from c.1660 to c.1840. Relevant topics to be addressed in contributions to the symposium may include (but would certainly not be limited to) the gender, class and identity dimensions of the accessory, collecting and collections cultures of consumerism and consumption, style, fashion and ornament, exoticism and the antique in accessory design and ornament, and the accessory in the visual and literary culture of the ‘long eighteenth century’.

Proposals are invited for symposium contributions not exceeding 20 minutes in length. Please send outlines of c.200 words to fairfaxhousesymposium@gmail.com by Monday 28 July 2014. Please direct any queries about the symposium to the same email address.