Exhibition | The Generous Georgian: Dr Richard Mead

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on October 13, 2014

The conference Dr Richard Mead: Physician, Philanthropist, Collector takes place next Monday, October 20. While I noted the exhibition previously, I didn’t include the press release. It’s included below, and the image sheet is available here. I’m excited to be part of the conference programme and look forward to a few days in London.CH

The Generous Georgian: Dr Richard Mead
The Foundling Museum, London, 26 September 2014 — 4 January 2015

Allan Ramsay, Dr Richard Mead, 1747 (London: The Foundling Museum)

Allan Ramsay, Dr Richard Mead, 1747
(London: The Foundling Museum)

For the last major exhibition of the Foundling Museum’s 10th anniversary year, the focus turns to the life and work of Dr Richard Mead (1673–1754), one of the most eminent physicians, patrons, collectors and philanthropists of his day, and a significant figure in the early history of the Foundling Hospital.

A leading expert on poisons, scurvy, smallpox and public health, Mead counted among his patients included Queen Anne, George II, Sir Isaac Newton and the painter Antoine Watteau. Mead was no stranger to daring acts and fierce controversies, with stories of drinking snake venom in his investigations into the effects of various poisons, and fighting a duel to defend his theory on smallpox treatment. He also possessed a deep-seated passion for the arts, demonstrated in a lifetime’s patronage of painters such as Allan Ramsay and a revered collection of masterpieces that included works by Dürer, Holbein, Rembrandt, Poussin, and Canaletto.

Smallpox was endemic in Georgian England, and killed an estimated 400,000 Europeans throughout the eighteenth century. Though vaccination against smallpox was developed by Edward Jenner at the end of the century, inoculation was promoted decades earlier. Dr Mead was an ardent and effective advocate of this procedure, which saved the lives of many, including foundlings. Of the 247 children who were inoculated at the Foundling Hospital, by 1756 only one had died of the disease.

Exploring Mead’s diverse contributions to Georgian society—the collector, the philanthropist and the physician—this exhibition reunites key objects from Mead’s life and collection, such as the ancient bronze Arundel Head (2nd Century BC) and Allan Ramsay’s half-length portrait of Mead, evidence of his significance in London’s cultural landscape.

Antonio Maria Zanetti, Study of a relief decorated with a Hermaphrodite; in the Palazzo Colonna, c.1721. Image courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum, used with permission.

Antonio Maria Zanetti, Study of a relief decorated with a Hermaphrodite; in the Palazzo Colonna, ca.1721. Image courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum, used with permission.

Items from the Foundling Museum archive, such as the minutes from the very first Governors’ meeting, and the logs of daily life at the Foundling Hospital in its first year, are also on display to illustrate Mead’s relationship with the Hospital and the important role he played in its early history. Mead dedicated considerable time and energy to the Hospital, encouraging his noble clients to support the charity, serving as a Governor and giving his clinical expertise pro bono. His contribution went even further, to attending sick children and advising on nurses’ salaries and what medicines to keep in stock.

His home on Great Ormond Street backed onto the Foundling Hospital grounds, and housed his magnificent collection of paintings, sculptures, antiquities, coins and a library of over 10,000 books. Painters and scholars were given access to Mead’s renowned collection which, in a time before public galleries, offered visitors a rare chance to view artistic masterpieces from around the world.

Mead’s generosity in every aspect of his life meant his family were burdened with huge debts following his death. Perhaps anticipating this, Mead’s will ordered for the sale of thousands of objects from his incredible collection – in an auction lasting 56 days! Through a number of key objects, we highlight a once-legendary collection which, compared to that of his contemporary and founder of the British Museum, Sir Hans Sloane, is not so well known today. This exhibition celebrates the energy, learning and wide interests of a truly generous Georgian who, according to his contemporary the writer Samuel Johnson, “lived more in the broad sunshine of life than almost any man.”

The Generous Georgian: Dr Richard Mead is supported by the Wellcome Trust, the City of London Corporation, the Royal College of Physicians, and Verita.


Exhibition | Canaletto, Bernardo Bellotto Paints Europe

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on October 13, 2014

Last fall, I noted this exhibition Canaletto, Bernardo Bellotto Paints Europe / Bernardo Bellotto Malt Europa, which opens this week at Munich’s Alte Pinakothek, Munich (17 October 2014 — 19 January 2015), but that was admittedly ages ago (thanks to Hélène Bremer for the useful reminder). And here’s the information for the catalogue.CH

The German edition catalogue will soon by published by Hirmer; the English edition, distributed by The University of Chicago Press, will be available in January:

Andreas Schumacher, Canaletto, Bernardo Bellotto Paints Europe (Munich: Hirmer Publishers, 2015), 360 pages, ISBN: 978-3777422473, $75.

9783777422473In 1761, Bernardo Bellotto painted his famous panorama of Munich, signing the painting ‘Canaletto’—as he signed many of his paintings—in tribute to his uncle and teacher Giovanni Antonio Canal. In addition to the famous panorama, Bellotto completed over the course of several months two stunning palace views for the Duke of Bavaria, Maximilian III Joseph.

Placing Bellotto’s Munich paintings within the artist’s broader body of work, this well-illustrated book highlights the Italian painter and printmaker’s capacity to create paintings of European cities that are both remarkably realistic and compositionally idealistic. Depicting Dresden, Vienna, Turin, and Warsaw, the paintings demonstrate an elaborate attention to architectural and natural detail and a sophisticated understanding of the specific quality of light in each place. By juxtaposing the paintings with Bellotto’s preparatory sketches, the book also sheds light on his complicated process, which is thought to have included the use of the popular optical aid of that time, the camera obscura. Rounding out the book is a contemporary artistic reevaluation of the paintings through the medium of photography.

Bringing together many well-known works by the Venetian vedute with a trove of paintings rarely seen, including a series of highly idealized architectural depictions, the book illustrates his critical contribution to this important European tradition.

Andreas Schumacher is a director at the Alte Pinakothek, Munich, where he is responsible for the museum’s Collection of Italian Painting to the End of the Eighteenth Century. He is also an associate lecturer at the Institute for Art History at the University of Bonn, Germany.

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Recent Launch of the Association of Print Scholars

Posted in opportunities by Editor on October 13, 2014

APS envisions a future for itself as a CAA affiliate society. As noted at H-ArtHist:

Introducing the Association of Print Scholars, a new group bringing together the print community

splash_page2We are excited to announce the launch of the Association of Print Scholars (APS). APS is a nonprofit members’ group for enthusiasts of printmaking that will bring together the diverse community of curators, collectors, academics, grad students, artists, paper conservators, critics, independent scholars, and dealers. APS’s goals are to encourage innovative and interdisciplinary study of printmaking and to facilitate dialogue among members.

Membership benefits will include
• Access to a searchable database of active members and their current activities
• Ability to update online membership profile with all print-related activities
• Announcements about events, exhibitions, calls for papers, and other news from the print world
• Opportunities to promote new projects to members on the APS website and listserv
• Participation in APS’s events, including lectures and scholarly conferences
• Grants for digital projects and research, and support for working/reading groups

For further information, please contact info@printscholars.org, or visit www.printscholars.org. In addition, please consider joining and donating to APS through our Indiegogo campaign. Your support will help us build our website, which will launch in early 2015.

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