New Book | Elihu Yale: Merchant, Collector & Patron

Posted in books by Editor on May 2, 2014

From Thames & Hudson:

Diana Scarisbrick and Benjamin Zucker, Elihu Yale: Merchant, Collector & Patron (London: Thames & Hudson, 2014), 288 pages, ISBN 978-0500517260, £25.

unnamedThere can be few educational institutions named after a man with the force of character, powers of leadership, business acumen, and variety of intellectual and spiritual interests of Elihu Yale. His career, which spans Puritan New England, Mughal India, and the London of the English Enlightenment, throws light on the religious, political, social, commercial, scientific, and cultural circumstances of the world of the later Stuarts and early Hanoverians.

Elihu Yale (1649–1721) is famous for the name of Yale University, of which he was an early benefactor. He made his fortune in India, trading in diamonds. Arriving there in 1672, he rose through the East India Company from clerk to governor. When he returned to London in 1699 he brought with him gems, furniture and textiles. In the milieu of portrait painter Sir Godfrey Kneller and physician Sir Hans Sloane he established a fashionable household where he had assembled some ten thousand items.

Yale’s collection was dispersed after his death and the catalogues of the sales survive, providing information about the 18th-century London art market. The Yale sales prove to be a landmark in the history both of collecting and of auctioneering. Analyses of the categories throw light on Yale’s personality and interests: he is revealed as a Fellow of the Royal Society, churchman and a philanthropist, totally in tune with the English Enlightenment.

The authors explore Yale’s life in Madras and London and his interests, including musical and scientific instruments and books, and then turn to Yale as a dealer and a collector of diamonds and jewelry and works of art. The story is one with many appeals: the East India Company and early 18th-century London; furniture, both Indian and English; the fashion for things Oriental in the West; gemstones and jewelry; and collecting works of art.

Diana Scarisbrick is a historian specializing in jewelry and engraved gems. She has curated exhibitions in the UK and abroad and has written many books, including Rings: Jewelry of Power, Love and Loyalty and Portrait Jewels: Opulence and Intimacy from the Medici to the Romanovs. She is a Research Associate at the Beazley Archive, Oxford, and recently collaborated with Professor Sir John Boardman on The Marlborough Gems.
Benjamin Zucker, a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School, is one of the world’s leading gem dealers, based in New York. He has written extensively on gemstones, coloured stones and the history of ring collecting

The Golden Room of the Mauritshuis Restored

Posted in museums by Editor on May 2, 2014


Restoration of the Pellegrini paintings in the Golden Room of the Mauritshuis has just been completed in time for the re-opening of the museum in June. As noted at ArtDaily:

The Golden Room, a spectacular 18th-century room in the Mauritshuis , which includes a series of paintings by Italian painter Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini (1675–1741) has been restored. The 15 wall and ceiling paintings were treated as part of the museum’s larger building project. The restoration of the Pellegrini paintings was undertaken with the support of the Shell Technology Centre Amsterdam. The pictures from the Golden Room are the first to have been returned to the renovated Mauritshuis. The museum will reopen after a two-year renovation on the evening of Friday 27 June.

The restoration of the Golden Room is an important component of the museum’s large scale project to renovate and expand the building. The restoration of the 15 monumental paintings by Pellegrini in the Golden Room was necessary. Although the pictures were not seriously damaged, they had been painted over several times, and the canvas was stained and showed strong yellow discoloration. The Johan Mauritshuis Compagnie Foundation provided the funding to realise the restoration.

Once the varnish had been removed, an unknown grey haze was discovered on the paintings. According to Carol Pottasch, Mauritshuis conservator who led this sizable restoration project: “We couldn’t figure out what this haze was initially; clearly, it wasn’t paint. In order to be able to bring the paintings back to their optimal condition, we had to find out the composition of this haze, so that it could be removed. Thankfully, the staff of the Shell Technology Centre, who have the equipment necessary to conduct the chemical analysis that we needed, were able to help us.” The Mauritshuis and Shell have been collaborating closely as ‘Partners in Science’ in the field of technical research since 2012, focussing on paintings by Pellegrini and Jan Steen. The partnership has already proved invaluable: together, they were able to establish that the cause of the grey haze was the wood- and coal-burning stoves used to heat the Golden Room.

In 1704 a fire reduced the whole interior of the 17th century Mauritshuis building to ashes. The interior had to be completely refurnished and redecorated. Italian painter Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini (1675–1741) was asked to decorate the Grote Benedenzaal, as the Golden Room was called at the time. Pellegrini was one of the most important Venetian painters of the early 18th century. The paintings are special: they are the only Italian pieces on display in the Mauritshuis and they are still on site, unlike most Pellegrini paintings.

Call for Papers | Faith, Politics, and the Arts

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on May 2, 2014

Faith, Politics, and the Arts: Early Modern Transfers between Catholic and Protestant Cultures
Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany, 9–11 March 2015

Proposals due by 22 May 2014

The search for transcendental systems of belief that provide orientation in the confused realities of everyday life is an anthropological constant which characterizes contemporary multi-cultural communities just as much as the no less troubled societies of the past. Religion can inform political decisions, sustain certain forms of government, underpin or destabilize the social order. The conference Faith, Politics, and the Arts will explore the role of the arts as a means for shaping and interpreting the interrelation of religion and politics. Conference papers are intended to focus on Catholic and Protestant cultures in the Early Modern period (1517– ca. 1800). Central questions to be addressed are: How did Catholic and Protestant cultures visualize the relationship between God, ruler and subjects // spiritual and temporal power? In what ways and to what ends did the art production of Protestant cultures appropriate and modify visual formulae developed for Catholic societies (and vice versa)? To what extent did such transfers promote or undermine religious tolerance?

We invite proposals for papers from a wide range of disciplines engaging with the visual arts as well as architecture, drama, fashion, and material culture. Among others, topics may include: religious imagery in the palaces of political leaders; political elements in the pictorial programme, design and layout of churches and chapels; prints commenting on religiously motivated conflicts; diplomatic gifts between Catholic and Protestant powers; images promoting religious tolerance; theatre productions touching on confessional issues; the staging of the Eucharist and of religious processions; frontispieces to theological treatises; prints with satires on fashions associated with the ‘foreign’ religion etc.

Abstracts may be submitted in German, English, Italian, and French. Please send an abstract for a 30-minute paper plus a short CV to PD Dr. Christina Strunck (strunck@staff.uni-marburg.de) and Julia Bender-Helfenstein, M. A. (benderhelfenstein@googlemail.com) by May 22, 2014.

Call for Manuscripts | Brill Series: History of Collecting & Art Markets

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on May 2, 2014

From Brill’s latest Art and Architecture Catalog:

Brill’s Studies in the History of Collecting & Art Markets is a peer-reviewed book series dedicated to original scholarship on the social, cultural, and economic mechanisms underlying the circulation of art. Over the last two decades interest in the formation, display, and dissolution of art collections increased tremendously; art markets, trade routes, and dealer networks became a rich field of interdisciplinary inquiry. Scholarship brought forth a lot of information about the flamboyant personalities to whom the possession of art was a lifestyle; regarding the ‘social life of things’, i.e. the provenance of individual artworks, many research gaps could be closed.

This shift in scholarly attention from the production side to the consumption side of the art world is also reflected in the emergence of specialized post-graduate courses offered by a number of institutions internationally, as well as an ever-increasing stream of exhibitions, conferences, and publications devoted to the subject. Brill’s book series accommodates scholarly monographs, collections of essays, conference proceedings, and works of reference that engage in the broadly defined topic of art markets and collecting practices throughout history.

We invite scholars to submit their English language manuscript proposal for the new book series to Liesbeth Hugenholtz, Acquisitions Editor Art at Brill (hugenholtz@brill.com) or to the series editor Christian Huemer

Christian Huemer, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles

Editorial Board
Malcolm Baker (University of California, Riverside),
Ursula Frohne (University of Cologne), Hans van Miegroet (Duke
University, Durham), Inge Reist (Frick Collection, New York), Adriana
Turpin (Institut d’Études Supérieures des Arts, London), Filip Vermeylen
(Erasmus University, Rotterdam)

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