Exhibition | Magna Carta: Cornerstone of Liberty

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on May 6, 2014


On the eve of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. . . From the MFA press release (7 March 2014). . .

Magna Carta: Cornerstone of Liberty
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2 July — 1 September 2014
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 6 September — 2 November 2014
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., 6 November 2014 — 19 January 2015
British Library, London, 13 March — 1 September 2015

One of only four surviving copies of the original Magna Carta—a document written in 1215 that subsequently served as a symbol for liberty around the world—travels to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), this summer for a special exhibition of approximately 20 works in the Museum’s Art of the Americas Wing. An inspiration for the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, the exemplar owned by the UK’s Lincoln Cathedral and typically housed in Lincoln Castle will be on view in the exhibition, Magna Carta: Cornerstone of Liberty, from July 2–September 1, 2014. In partnership with the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) and the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Magna Carta will join historical loans as well as portraits and works of art from the Museum’s collection. The MFA’s Sons of Liberty Bowl (1768) by Paul Revere—which is engraved with the words “Magna/Charta” and “Bill of/Rights”—will be among the works that help tell the story of patriots and revolutionaries who fought for freedom in the face of tyranny across the centuries. Founding Fathers, presidents and abolitionists, inspired by the liberties enshrined in Magna Carta, will be represented in the exhibition through portraits, marble busts and historical documents that celebrate their commitment to civil rights and equal representation under the law.

“Our state’s rich history and preeminent cultural institutions provide a wonderful showcase for Magna Carta,” House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said. “Massachusetts’ tourism industry is booming and the House of Representatives is proud to provide substantial support for the arts, travel and tourism. Last month we extended this commitment by allocating sizeable funding to bring Magna Carta to Massachusetts. Thank you to the Museum of Fine Arts and my colleagues in the Legislature for their work in securing this momentous historic treasure.”

State Representative Cory Atkins (D-Concord), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development, and Alice Richmond, Deputy Chair of the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary 2015 Committee, worked with the MFA and Lincoln Cathedral to secure the loan of Magna Carta. After being shown in the MFA’s Edward and Nancy Roberts Family Gallery, Magna Carta travels to the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, before returning to London for an exhibition celebrating the charter’s 800th anniversary. All four of the original surviving 1215 Magna Carta manuscripts will be brought together for the first time in history at a three-day event at the British Library February 2–4, 2015.

“Massachusetts is a fitting place to learn about the founding of this great nation and the development of civil rights and liberties both here and abroad.  I am incredibly proud to bring Magna Carta to Boston, where it inspired so many Sons of Liberty and Founding Fathers to action, and am grateful to the Lincoln Cathedral for this extraordinary loan,” said Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director at the MFA. “This foundational document will hold a place of honor among American masterpieces and colonial treasures that bring some of the Commonwealth’s most famous patriots to life.”

For centuries, Magna Carta—Latin for “Great Charter”—has had symbolic influence on politicians, judges and revolutionaries who were inspired by its protections against tyranny and arbitrary rule. Written in Latin, the document laid the foundation for modern concepts of justice, due process, trial by jury and civil rights, and was reissued multiple times in the Middle Ages. In the 17th century, its influence was revived during the English Civil War. The concepts enshrined in the document also had a profound influence on the American Colonies, where it influenced the Declaration of Independence and later the US Constitution—particularly the Bill of Rights.

Massachusetts Historical Society President Dennis Fiori added, “This exhibition will be a terrific experience for anyone with an interest in the people and events that shaped our country. In partnering with the MFA, the MHS is pleased to loan a number of documents and artifacts that define our nation’s history. It will be quite something to see the nearly 800-year-old Magna Carta together with important US documents—such as handwritten drafts of the Declaration of Independence and an annotated copy of the Constitution—that were inspired by it. I am sure the Founding Fathers would be pleased.”


Paul Revere, Sons of Liberty Bowl, 1768 (Boston: MFA).

The exhibition at the MFA will focus on Massachusetts’ and America’s ongoing relationship with Magna Carta—highlighting early presidents, Founding Fathers and patriots whose ideals and philosophies have shaped our nation. Iconic works of art, loans and manuscript material from the MHS and other lenders will tell the story of these remarkable men and women, and the revolutionary acts inspired by Magna Carta. The MFA’s silver Sons of Liberty Bowl, a highlight of the Museum’s renowned collection of art and objects from Revolutionary Boston, honors 92 members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives who refused to rescind a letter protesting the Townshend Acts (1767), which taxed tea, paper, glass and other commodities. This act of civil disobedience by the ‘Glorious Ninety-Two’ was a major step leading to the American Revolution, and demonstrates the legacy and influence of Magna Carta more than 500 years after it was first issued.

“Since the 17th century, Magna Carta has served as a potent symbol for all Americans seeking protection against ‘the insolent menaces of villains in power,’ as the inscription on the Liberty Bowl states,” said Gerald W. R. Ward, New Hampshire State Representative (D-Portsmouth) and the MFA’s Senior Consulting Curator and Katharine Lane Weems Senior Curator of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture Emeritus. “This exhibition offers the rare opportunity, in this digital age, to see the nearly 800-year-old ‘real thing’ that is the ancient underpinning for so many freedoms and rights that we cherish today.”

A number of items from the Museum’s collection will be paired with loans from the MHS. Two manuscript copies of the Declaration of Independence, originally penned by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, will be accompanied by the MFA’s marble busts of the two Founding Fathers. The MFA’s painting of lawyer Theodore Sedgwick (about 1808) by Gilbert Stuart complements a miniature portrait from the MHS of Elizabeth Freeman (“Mumbet”) (1811), a woman who was enslaved in Massachusetts and was represented by Sedgwick when she successfully sued for her freedom—a case which abolished slavery in the Commonwealth. Other loans from the MHS include a portrait of former Massachusetts Governor and US Vice President Elbridge Gerry and his annotated copy of the US Constitution, as well as two Paul Revere Sword in Hand Notes (currency)—one of which depicts the words “Magna Carta.” (more…)

New Book | Architecture, Art, and Identity in Venice

Posted in books by Editor on May 6, 2014

From Ashgate:

Nebahat Avcioglu and Emma Jones, eds., Architecture, Art, and Identity in Venice and its Territories, 1450–1750 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2013), 326 pages, ISBN: 978-1472410825, £70.

9781472410825_500X500Cities are shaped as much by a repertoire of buildings, works and objects, as by cultural institutions, ideas and interactions between forms and practices entangled in identity formations. This is particularly true when seen through a city as forceful and splendid as Venice. The essays in this volume investigate these connections between art and identity, through discussions of patronage, space and the dissemination of architectural models and knowledge in Venice, its territories and beyond. They celebrate Professor Deborah Howard’s leading role in fostering a historically grounded and interdisciplinary approach to the art and architecture of Venice.

Based on an examination and re-interpretation of a wide range of archival material and primary sources, the contributing authors approach the notion of identity in its many guises: as self-representation, as strong sub-currents of spatial strategies, as visual and semantic discourses, and as political and imperial aspirations. Employing interdisciplinary modes of interpretation, these studies offer ground-breaking analyses of canonical sites and works of art, diverse groups of patrons, as well as the life and oeuvre of leading architects such as Jacopo Sansovino and Andrea Palladio. In so doing, they link together citizens and nobles, past and present, the real and the symbolic, space and sound, religion and power, the city and its parts, Venice and the Stato da Mar, the Serenissima and the Sublime Port.

Nebahat Avcioglu is Associate Professor of Art History at Hunter College, CUNY. Emma Jones is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History of Art at the University of Cambridge.

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Introduction, Nebahat Avcioglu and Emma Jones

Section 1: Identity, Space and the City

1. ‘Soli deo honor et gloria’? Cittadino lay procurator patronage and the art of identity formation in Renaissance Venice, Allison Sherman

2. The Sisters Sagredo: Passion and patronage in eighteenth-century Venice, Esther Gabel

Section 2: Drawing, Mapping and Translating Venice

3. The early history of Jacopo Sansovino’s scheme for Piazza San Marco: A proposal, Paul Davies

4. Venice 1557: Sabbadino’s city plan, Elena Svalduz

5. Translatio Longhena Salute: Drawings and patrons in pilgrimage between Venice, Rome, and Gostyn, Andrew Hopkins

Section 3: Palladio’s Creations and Creating Palladio

6. The twin sacristy arrangement of Palladio’s Venice: origins and adaptations, Lydia Hamlett

7. Palladio’s patrons and music: Connections between cultural interests and architecture: The Villa Pisani at Bagnolo, Laura Moretti

8. How Palladio became famous: Paolo Gualdo and the Republic of Letters, Tracy E. Cooper

Section 4: The Production of Sacred Space

9. The seventeenth-century project for the church of San Nicolò del Lido in Venice: Liturgical problems and new architectural models in the counter-Reformation, Massimo Bisson

10. Innovation or afterthought? Dating the San Giobbe retrochoir, Joanne Allen

11. Venice’s cathedral of San Pietro di Castello, 1451–1630, Gianmario Guidarelli

Section 5: Time and Place in the Stato da Mar

12. The topography of antiquity in descriptions of Venetian Crete, Johanna D. Heinrichs

13. Jacopo Foscarini, Francesco Barozzi and the oracles of Leo the Wise, Blake de Maria

14. Becoming a man of empire: The construction of patrician identity in a republic of equals, Patricia Fortini Brown

Call for Papers | The Church of San Pietro di Castello

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on May 6, 2014

While this is primarily a Renaissance and seventeenth-century project, the organ of San Pietro di Castello is the mid-eighteenth-century work of Pietro Nachini. Surely ‘San Pietro in the Eighteenth Century’ would make a fine epilogue to the proceedings . . .

The Church of San Pietro di Castello and the Birth of the Patriarchate of Venice
Venice, 10–12 December 2015

Proposals due by 15 June 2014

The research project Chiese di Venezia. Nuove prospettive di ricerca (Churches of Venice. New Research Perspectives), promoted by the Studium Generale Marcianum and representing one of the activities of the ISSR San Lorenzo Giustiniani, consists in a long-term program of multidisciplinary conferences, each focused on a particular church of Venice. The project aims at promoting the combination of the different disciplines in order to understand the complex phenomena and dynamics of which Venetian churches, in their articulate reality and manifold meanings, have been catalyst elements for centuries. Besides facing in an innovative way the study of the churches of Venice, ‘releasing’ the potentialities of each discipline through their mutual comparison, the project takes up the challenge of reaching a wider public than just the specialist one, whose contributions, constituting a central aspect, are collected in a special series of volumes edited by Marcianum Press.

After the study of  the churches of San Bartolomeo (2011), of the Scalzi (2012), of San Lazzaro dei Mendicanti (2013) and of San Zaccaria (scheduled for 2014), the conference of 10–12 December 2015 will be dedicated to the study of the church of San Pietro di Castello. In the context of the urban development of Venice, the Olivolo Island, set at the extreme peripheral area of the town, was appointed to be the see of the Bishop’s complex (including the cathedral, the bishop’s palace and the residences of the canons) since the 9th century. Since 1451, when the island was chosen to be the seat of the Patriarch of Venice, a series of urban and architectural renewals led to a complete restoration of the complex by Mauro Codussi, Andrea Palladio, Francesco Smeraldi, Gerolamo Grappiglia and Baldassarre Longhena.

The conference will concentrate on the transformation from the Episcopate of Castello to the Patriarchate of Venice, in the framework of Renaissance Venice, and will focus the attention on the early patriarchs, particularly on Lorenzo Giustiniani. The figure of the proto-patriarch of Venice, who played a fundamental role in the history of the local Church, will be studied not only in the context of the changing fortunes of the Venetian Church of the 15th century but also in the wider context of the changing fortunes of the whole town during 16th and 17th centuries, when the process of canonization and the following worship of the Saint represented the key to discover the relationship between Church and state. The conference intends to reconsider, from a multidisciplinary point of view, the role of the Patriarchate in the history of the town, starting from the church of San Pietro di Castello in its architectural consistency, passing on to the following decoration campaigns and getting to the 17th century rebuilding.

In particular, the following topics will be analysed:
• The area of the parish: social and pastoral aspects
• The curia: the patriarchal palace and the residences of the canons. Historical-architectural aspects, fortunes of the chancellery and life of the familia patriarchalis
• The Giustinianean Reform in the context of the Italian Church of 15th century
• Worship and music in San Pietro di Castello
• The church’s interior decoration between the 15th and 16th century
• The façade: sacred liturgy and urban ritual
• The worship of Saint Lorenzo Giustiniani: religious and civil rituals. The worship of the Saint in the area of the Republic: prayers, churches, place names and festivals dedicated to San Lorenzo Giustiniani outside Venice
• The iconography of Saint Lorenzo Giustiniani
• Seventeenth-century church: the chancel (architecture, painting, sculpture), the Vendramin Chapel and Luca Giordano. The interior decoration of the church.

Proposals, accompanied by a brief abstract (200 words, max 1200 characters) and by a one-page cv, will have to be submitted sending an e-mail to chiesedivenezia@marcianum.it by 15th June 2014. Successful applicants will be notified by 31st July 2014.

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