Journal of the History of Collections, July 2014

Posted in journal articles, reviews by Editor on June 28, 2014

The eighteenth century in the Journal of the History of Collections (though other pieces for periods both earlier and later will likely also be of interest) . . .

Journal of the History of Collections 26 (July 2014)


Alexander Echlin, “Dynasty, Archaeology and Conservation: The Bourbon Rediscovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum in Eighteenth-Century Naples,” pp. 145–59 (first published online 1 April 2014).

The rediscovery of the ancient sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum in the eighteenth century attracted a huge response from contemporary commentators. Many of these, as well as almost all subsequent judgements from historians, are very critical of the Bourbon excavators. Charles, King of Naples, and his team of antiquaries have been depicted as charlatans, treating ancient artefacts and the sites poorly, interested in them only in so far as they glorified their kingdom. In this article it is argued that, with an understanding of contemporary approaches to antiquity and conservation, this verdict on the Bourbons seems unduly harsh. Their archaeological methods and treatment of classical art were typical for the eighteenth century and were, in some ways, progressive. In support of this harsh judgement of Charles, Winckelmann has been portrayed as a savage critic of the excavations; in reality he was kinder to the Bourbons than historians have believed.

Julia Lenaghan, “The Cast Collection of John Sanders, Architect, at the Royal Academy, ” pp. 193–205 (first published online 4 November 2013).

John Sanders (1768–1826) was an architect and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. He was the first student and a life-long friend of Sir John Soane. In 1817 in retirement he travelled to the Continent, where he studied and recorded with academic zeal the architectural monuments of the classical world which had so influenced his mentor and his world. In Rome he amassed a comprehensive and original collection of plaster casts of ‘architectural’ details. This collection was purchased by the Royal Academy in 1830, and much of it remains today part of the permanent collection of the Academy. This article presents the history and use of this early, non-figural, collection of plaster casts.

Paulo Oliveira Ramos, “The Royal Decree of 1721 and the Ephemeral Archaeological Collection of the Royal Academy of Portuguese History,” pp. 223–27 (first published online 22 January 2014).

In the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755, the palace of the Dukes of Braganza collapsed and its priceless treasures were lost forever. Although the content of its archaeological collection—said to constitute the first Portuguese museum of archaeology—is almost impossible to recover in detail today, the process behind its formation can be glimpsed in the documentary record. Two main aspects have emerged in the course of the present research: on the one hand, the relevance of the Royal Decree of 1721 as a crucial moment in the history of heritage preservation in Portugal and in Europe—and also as the inspiration for the archaeological collection; and, on the other hand, the antiquarian commitment of the Marquis of Abrantes.

Stephen Clarke, “Rosamond’s Bower, The Pryor’s Bank, and the Long Shadow of Strawberry Hill,” pp. 287–306 (first published online 4 March 2014).

The influence of Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill is traced in the little-known collections created in the 1830s and early 1840s at Rosamond’s Bower by the writer and antiquary Thomas Crofton Croker (joint author of the Gooseberry Hall satire of the Strawberry Hill sale of 1842) and by Thomas Baylis and Lechmere Whitmore at The Pryor’s Bank, both at Fulham. They were active purchasers at the sale (particularly Baylis), and Walpole’s Description of Strawberry Hill is a continuing presence behind Croker’s accounts of both collections. Both houses were social spaces, presented for antiquarian display, and in the case of The Pryor’s Bank in particular that display was played out in entertainments and Dickensian amateur theatricals. An under-explored element in this combination of collecting, antiquarianism, and jocularity is the Noviomagian Society, an antiquarian dining club of which Croker was a founder and which has connections to both houses.


Jeremy Coote, Review of Holophusicon: The Leverian Museum – An Eighteenth-Century English Institution of Science, Curiosity, and Art,” pp. 317–18 (first published online 18 April 2014).

Jörg Zutter, Review of Houghton Revisited: The Walpole Masterpieces from Catherine the Great’s Hermitage, pp. 319–21 (first published online 11 June 2014).

Arthur MacGregor, Review of Natural Histories: Extraordinary Rare Book Selections from the American Museum of Natural History Library, pp. 322–23 (first published online 8 May 2014).

Peter Mason, Review of Historias Naturales: Un Proyecto de Miguel Ángel Blanco, pp. 323–24 (first published online 16 May 2014).

Charles Sebag-Montefiore, Review of Provenance: An Alternate History of Art, pp. 324–25 (first published online 18 April 2014).


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