New Book | The Nation’s First Monument

Posted in books by Editor on February 28, 2015

From Ashgate:

Sally Webster, The Nation’s First Monument and the Origins of the American Memorial Tradition: Liberty Enshrined (Aldersthot: Ashgate, 2015), 254 pages, ISBN: 978-1472418999, $105.

9781472418999The commemorative tradition in early American art is given sustained consideration for the first time in Sally Webster’s fascinating study of public monuments and the construction of an American patronymic tradition. Until now, no attempt has been made to create a coherent early history of the carved symbolic language of American liberty and independence. Establishing as the basis of her discussion the fledgling nation’s first monument, Jean-Jacques Caffiéri’s Monument to General Richard Montgomery (commissioned in January of 1776), Webster builds on the themes of commemoration and national patrimony, ultimately positing that like its instruments of government, America drew from the Enlightenment and its reverence for the classical past. Webster’s study is grounded in the political and social worlds of New York City, moving chronologically from the 1760s to the 1790s, with a concluding chapter considering the monument, which lies just east of Ground Zero, against the backdrop of 9/11. It is an original contribution to historical scholarship in fields ranging from early American art, sculpture, New York history, and the Revolutionary era. A chapter is devoted to the exceptional role of Benjamin Franklin in the commissioning and design of the monument. Webster’s study provides a new focus on New York City as the 18th-century city in which the European tradition of public commemoration was reconstituted as monuments to liberty’s heroes.

Sally Webster is Professor of American Art, Emerita at Lehman College and the Graduate Center, CUNY.

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List of Illustrations

1  New York’s De Lancey Family and the Origins of the American Memorial Tradition
2  Celebrating the Repeal of the Stamp Act: New York Tributes to William Pitt and George III
3  A Memorial to General Richard Montgomery: Commemorating the Death of an American Hero
4  Benjamin Franklin and the Commission of America’s First Monument
5  New York, Pierre-Charles L’Enfant, and a Monument for America


New Book | Exhibiting Outside the Academy, Salon and Biennial

Posted in books by Editor on February 27, 2015

From Ashgate:

Andrew Graciano, ed., Exhibiting Outside the Academy, Salon and Biennial, 1775–1999: Alternative Venues for Display (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 2015), 308 pages, ISBN: 978-1472428271, $120.

9781472428271_p0_v1_s600In recent years, there has been increasing scholarly interest in the history of museums, academies, and major exhibitions. There has been, however, little to no sustained interest in the histories of alternative exhibitions (single artwork, solo artist, artist-mounted, entrepreneurial, privately funded, ephemeral, etc.) with the notable exception of those publications that deal with situations involving major artists or those who would become so—for example J. L. David’s exhibition of Intervention of the Sabine Women (1799) and The First Impressionist Exhibition of 1874—despite the fact that these sorts of exhibitions and critical scholarship about them have become commonplace (and no less important) in the contemporary art world. The present volume uses and contextualizes eleven case studies to advance some overarching themes and commonalities among alternative exhibitions in the long modern period from the late-eighteenth to the late-twentieth centuries and beyond. These include the issue of control in the interrelation and elision of the roles of artist and curator, and the relationship of such alternative exhibitions to the dominant modes, structures of display and cultural ideology.

Andrew Graciano is Associate Professor of Art History at the
University of South Carolina.

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List of Illustrations
Notes on Contributors

Introduction: Alternative Venues, Andrew Graciano
1  Nathaniel Hone’s 1775 Exhibition: The First Single-Artist Retrospective, Konstantinos Stefanis
2  Branding Shakespeare: Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery and the Politics of Display, Heather McPherson
3  Fantasy and Rivalry: Jean-Baptiste Regnault’s Solo Exhibition, Paris 1800, Katie Hanson
4  Rereading ‘Court’ in the Touring Exhibition of Rembrandt Peale’s Court of Death (1820), Tanya Pohrt
5  ‘Plasmati dalle sue mani’: Canova’s Touch and the Gipsoteca of Possagno, Christina Ferando
6  Art History as Spectacle: Blockbuster Exhibitions in 1850s England, Amy M. Von Lintel
7  Merging Form and Formlessness: The 1892 Monotype Exhibition by Edgar Degas, Christine Y. Hahn
8  The Radical Work of Oskar Kokoschka and the Alternative Venues of Die Kunstschauen of 1908–1909, Vienna, Austria, Rosa J.H. Berland
9  Bringing the Boudoir into the Gallery: Florine Stettheimer’s ‘Failed’ Solo Exhibition, Karen Stock
10  Exhibiting the Museum-Function: Marcel Broodthaers and the Musée d’Art Moderne, Département des Aigles, Julian Jason Haladyn
11  Georges Adéagbo: Between Artwork and Exhibition, Kathryn M. Floyd
Epilogue: Control Issues, Andrew Graciano

Select Bibliography

Lecture | Mark Rakatansky on Piranesi and Soane

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on February 27, 2015

From The Morgan:

Mark Rakatansky | ‘His Conduct is Mischievous’: Piranesi and Soane
The Morgan Library and Museum, New York, 19 March 2015

Sir John Soane, although an admirer of the graphic works of Piranesi, remarked that his “conduct is mischievous” in his only built work Santa Maria del Priorato. Similar sentiments have been expressed about Soane, particularly in regard to his own House-Museum. Mark Rakatansky (Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University) will explore the complex relationship of these two architects and the unsettling ‘mischievous’ engagements of their architecture, drawings, and writings. This lecture is cosponsored by Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation.

The exhibition Piranesi and the Temples of Paestum: Drawings from Sir John Soane’s Museum will be open at 5:30pm for program attendees.

Thursday, March 19, 2015, 6:30pm
Tickets: $15; $10 for Morgan and Sir John Soane’s Museum Members; and free for students with valid ID.

New Book | Wearable Prints, 1760–1860

Posted in books by Editor on February 26, 2015

From Kent State UP:

Susan W. Greene, Wearable Prints, 1760–1860: History, Materials, and Mechanics (Kent: Kent State University Press, 2014), 600 pages, ISBN: 978-1606351246, $100.

indexWearable prints are not only a decorative art form but also the product of a range of complex industrial processes and an economically important commodity. But when did textile printing originate, and how can we identify the fabrics, inks, dyes, and printing processes used on surviving historical examples? In Wearable Prints, 1760–1860, Susan Greene surveys the history of wearable printed fabrics, which reaches back into the earliest days of the discovery of the delights of selectively patterned cloth and is firmly interwoven with the Industrial Revolution. The bulk of the book is devoted to the process of printing and dyeing. Greene brings together evidence from period publications and manuscripts, extant period garments and quilts, and scholarship on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century chemistry and technology. Greene includes some 1600 full-color images, showing an array of textile samples. Wearable Prints, 1760–1860 is a convenient encyclopedic guide, written in plain language accessible to even the most casual reader. Historians, students,
costumers, quilters, designers, curators, and collectors will find it an
essential resource.

Susan W. Greene is a collector, museum consultant, and independent scholar. Her collection of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century clothing now resides at the Genesee Country Village and Museum in Mumford, New York. She is the author of Textiles for Early Victorian Clothing and several entries in Valerie Steele’s Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion and Carol Kammen’s Encyclopedia of Local History.


Newly Formed ANZSECS

Posted in opportunities, resources by Editor on February 26, 2015

Australian and New Zealand Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies

Jean-Baptiste Joseph Pater, The Fair at Bezons,ca. 1733 (NY: Metroplitan Museum of Art)

Jean-Baptiste Joseph Pater, The Fair at Bezons, ca. 1733 (New York: Metroplitan Museum of Art)

The newly formed Australian and New Zealand Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ANZSECS) exists to promote the study of the culture and history of the long eighteenth century within Australia and New Zealand. The Society encourages research in eighteenth-century studies on a broad interdisciplinary basis—its members work in fields including art history, history, literature, philosophy, bibliography, and the history and philosophy of science. It is an affiliate of ISECS, the International Congress for Eighteenth-Century Studies.

Established in December 2014, the Society draws on a distinguished history of eighteenth-century scholarship in Australia and New Zealand. It advances the exchange of information and ideas among researchers engaged in eighteenth-century studies through various activities and events, including the 3–4 yearly David Nichol Smith Seminar. For more information about the Society, membership, and related events, please visit our website.

New Book | The Sexuality of History: Modernity and the Sapphic

Posted in books by Editor on February 25, 2015

From The University of Chicago Press:

Susan Lanser, The Sexuality of History: Modernity and the Sapphic, 1565–1830 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2014), 344 pages, Cloth ISBN: 978-0226187563, $95 / Paper ISBN: 978-0226187730, $32.50 / E-book ISBN: 978-0226187877, $7–$30.

9780226187730The period of reform, revolution, and reaction that characterized seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe also witnessed an intensified interest in lesbians. In scientific treatises and orientalist travelogues, in French court gossip and Dutch court records, in passionate verse, in the rising novel, and in cross-dressed flirtations on the English and Spanish stage, poets, playwrights, philosophers, and physicians were placing sapphic relations before the public eye.

In The Sexuality of History, Susan S. Lanser shows how intimacies between women became harbingers of the modern, bringing the sapphic into the mainstream of some of the most significant events in Western Europe. Ideas about female same-sex relations became a focal point for intellectual and cultural contests between authority and liberty, power and difference, desire and duty, mobility and change, order and governance. Lanser explores the ways in which a historically specific interest in lesbians intersected with, and stimulated, systemic concerns that would seem to have little to do with sexuality. Departing from the prevailing trend of queer reading whereby scholars ferret out hidden content in ‘closeted’ texts, Lanser situates overtly erotic representations within wider spheres of interest.  The Sexuality of History shows that just as we can understand sexuality by studying the past, so too can we understand the past by studying sexuality.

Susan S. Lanser is professor of comparative literature, English, and women’s and gender studies at Brandeis University. She is the author of Fictions of Authority: Women Writers and Narrative Voice and The Narrative Act: Point of View in Prose Fiction.

Exhibition | Burnishing the Night: Mezzotints from the AIC

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on February 24, 2015

From the AIC:

Burnishing the Night: Baroque to Contemporary Mezzotints from the Collection
Art Institute of Chicago, 22 February — 31 May 2015

Thomas Frye, Young Man with a Candle, 1760 (Art Institute of Chicago)

Thomas Frye, Young Man with a Candle, 1760 (Art Institute of Chicago)

Excelling in eerie effects and seductive textures, the late 17th-century medium of mezzotint blossomed from an amateur fascination and hobby of members of the nobility to the 18th century’s most popular reproductive printmaking method. Mezzotint engraving allowed artists to burnish soft highlights and volume into a textured copper plate that would otherwise print in a solid tone. This shading method contrasted dramatically with the standard intaglio medium, which involved either painstakingly incising engraved lines with a burin (a metal-cutting tool) or etching looser lines into a plate with acid. Ideal for nocturnal scenes, portraits, reproductions of paintings, lush landscapes, and garish anatomical and botanical studies, the versatile medium later lent itself to color printing and remains in use today.

Burnishing the Night brings together mezzotint prints, books with mezzotint illustrations, and other works on paper from the permanent collection that span the medium’s predominantly Northern European origins through its worldwide use in the 20th century. Several works in the show are by Irish mezzotint engravers, especially Thomas Frye, whose imaginative head studies will also be featured in this spring’s highly anticipated exhibition Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design, 1690–1840. Frye’s evocative Young Man with a Candle from 1760 demonstrates the liquid effects made possible by the mezzotint medium, from the bulging, startled eyes to the dancing candlelit shadows and dripping wax. The viewer waits with bated breath along with this startled youth, enjoying the theatrical uncertainty of a ghost story, printed in velvet tones.

A complementary and concurrent installation in Gallery 208A, Printing Darkness and Light in the Dutch Republic, details how Rembrandt and other artists created their own dramatic “Dark Manner” or “Night Pieces” without the use of mezzotint.

New Book | Dandyism in the Age of Revolution: The Art of the Cut

Posted in books by Editor on February 24, 2015

From The University of Chicago Press:

Elizabeth Amann, Dandyism in the Age of Revolution: The Art of the Cut (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2015), 288 pages, ISBN: 978-0226187259, $45.

9780226187259From the color of a politician’s tie, to exorbitantly costly haircuts, to the size of an American flag pin adorning a lapel, it’s no secret that style has political meaning. And there was no time in history when the politics of fashion was more fraught than during the French Revolution. In the 1790s almost any article of clothing could be scrutinized for evidence of one’s political affiliation. A waistcoat with seventeen buttons, for example, could be a sign of counterrevolution—a reference to Louis XVII—and earn its wearer a trip to the guillotine.

In Dandyism in the Age of Revolution, Elizabeth Amann shows that in France, England, and Spain, daring dress became a way of taking a stance toward the social and political upheaval of the period. France is the centerpiece of the story, not just because of the significance of the Revolution but also because of the speed with which its politics and fashions shifted. Dandyism in France represented an attempt to recover a political center after the extremism of the Terror, while in England and Spain it offered a way to reflect upon the turmoil across the Channel and Pyrenees. From the Hair Powder Act, which required users of the product to purchase a permit, to the political implications of the feather in Yankee Doodle’s hat, Amann aims to revise our understanding of the origins of modern dandyism and to recover the political context from which it emerged.

Elizabeth Amann is professor in the Department of Literary Studies at Ghent University, Belgium. She is the author of Importing Madame Bovary: The Politics of Adultery.

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List of Illustrations

1  Muscadins
2  Jeunes gens
3  Incroyables
4  Currutacos
5  Crops

List of Abbreviations

Exhibition | Europe in Vienna: The Congress of Vienna 1814/15

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on February 23, 2015


Johann Nepomuk Höchle, Redoute paré during the Congress of Vienna, ca. 1815
(Vienna: Österreichische Nationalbibliothek)

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Press release for the exhibition:

Europe in Vienna: The Congress of Vienna 1814/15
Europa in Wien: Der Wiener Kongress 1814/15
Lower Belvedere and the Orangery, Vienna, 20 February — 21 June 2015

Curated by Sabine Grabner and Werner Telesko

The Congress of Vienna is one of the most important international mega events in European history. Two hundred years ago, Vienna became Europe’s political, cultural, and social hub for a period of several months. The Congress was hosted by Emperor Francis I of Austria. All of the major European powers sent their delegates in order to confer together about how to reorganise the continent, which had lost its stability during the Napoleonic Wars. Austria was represented by the Prince of Metternich, who also functioned as the president of the Congress. Its declared goal was to achieve peace in Europe and secure order on a long-term basis. The diplomatic negotiations were accompanied by a number of social events and various entertainments, the enormous splendour of which has been captured in numerous written and pictorial documents. Vienna was flourishing as a centre of cultural life, with many artists coming to the imperial capital and inspiring all genres of domestic art production.

Exhibition view "Europe in Vienna: The Congress of Vienna 1814/15". Photo by Eva Würdinger.

Exhibition view Europe in Vienna: The Congress of Vienna 1814/15. Photo by Eva Würdinger.

Europe in Vienna: The Congress of Vienna 1814/15 will highlight both the political and social aspects of this extraordinary event, which kept all Europe on tenterhooks over several months. There is hardly another political, diplomatic and social event of the nineteenth century that was documented by such a great diversity of materials like the Congress of Vienna, which turned the metropolis on the River Danube into the hotspot of Europe for a brief period of time. When preparing the objects for the exhibition, the curators Sabine Grabner and Werner Telesko were confronted with the challenge of how to vividly present a diplomatic and historical process that was mainly perceived as a social event. The exhibits, which come from numerous different countries, range from reportage prints and caricatures to history paintings and portraits in various dimensions and media—from miniature to sculpture and life-sized oil paintings. The scope of the Congress of Vienna as a phenomenon of social and artistic ramifications will primarily be displayed in the form of artistic masterpieces from all genres. The thematic spectrum will take into account both the exciting chronology of events—from the European Wars of Liberation and the occupation of Vienna in 1805 and 1809 to the Battle of Leipzig of 1813—and an adequate representation of their protagonists, who came from the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie alike.

François Pascal Simon Gérard, The Imperial Count Moritz Christian Fries with His Wife Maria Theresia Josepha von Fries (née Princess of Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfurst) and Their Son Moritz, ca. 1805 (Vienna: Belvedere)

François Pascal Simon Gérard, The Imperial Count Moritz Christian Fries with His Wife Maria Theresia Josepha von Fries (née Princess of Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfurst) and Their Son Moritz, ca. 1805 (Vienna: Belvedere)

“For the Belvedere it was particularly important to illustrate the epochal event of the Congress of Vienna as comprehensively as possible, both as to its historical and political and its social and cultural implications,” says Agnes Husslein-Arco, Director of the Belvedere and 21er Haus. “It was seemed essential to us to vividly capture the cultural impact of the Congress and the atmosphere that prevailed in those days through private loans, which we mostly found in the surroundings of direct descendants of the diplomats and aristocrats involved. Besides such personal souvenirs as medals and snuffboxes, we will also present the portrait of Princess Dorothea of Courland, the Duchess of Dino, Talleyrand-Périgord and Sagan, by François Gérard and the portrait of Prince Charles Philip of Schwarzenberg I by Johann Peter Krafft. I am particularly delighted that we succeeded in receiving Ludwig van Beethoven’s score for his Eroica symphony from the archives of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien, as well as the elaborately designed final act of the Congress of Vienna, which will naturally be the exhibition’s centrepiece,” Agnes Husslein-Arco adds.

Among the exhibition’s further highlights will be the portrait of Prince Clement Wenceslas Lothar von Metternich, then foreign minister of the Austrian Empire and its future chancellor, by the period’s leading English painter Sir Thomas Lawrence, as well as the more-than-lifesized portrait of Emperor Alexander I of Russia by François Gérard from the Château de Malmaison near Paris, which is hardly ever allowed to travel abroad.

The Congress of Vienna as a Junction of Politics and Culture

Johann Nepomuk Schaller, Bust of Empress Maria Ludovica Beatrix, 3rd wife of Emperor Franz I of Austria, 1814 (Vienna: Belvedere)

Johann Nepomuk Schaller, Bust of Empress Maria Ludovica Beatrix, 3rd wife of Emperor Franz I of Austria, 1814 (Vienna: Belvedere)

The Congress of Vienna as a historic diplomatic event whose consequences affected Europe as a whole was generally perceived by the public as a social spectacle. Yet those in charge and the organisers at the Viennese court were well aware from the very outset that there was a close connection between its political and diplomatic dimension on the one hand and its abundance of diverse court festivities (fireworks, dances, masked balls, carousels, tournaments, ethnic festivals, hunts, sleigh rides, theatre performances, etc.) and private fêtes on the other, which boils down to the fact that it was easier to arrive at relevant political results with the protagonists discussing unsettled or delicate issues in a relaxed atmosphere behind the scenes.

“The special challenge about the Congress of Vienna as a theme lies in the interdependence between history and event culture. What makes it even more difficult is that then there was no sense of documentation as it exists today, which means that many events have come done to us in the form of narrative but cannot be visualised in the form of images,” says curator Sabine Grabner.

As to the pictorial representation of the event it is characteristic that the image or images of the Congress of Vienna do not exist—except for the famous engraving based on a work by Jean-Baptiste Isabey (1819), which in our textbooks at school was still used as the illustration of the Congress of Vienna, although it actually visualises a fictitious conference of diplomats.

The Congress of Vienna as a Major Society Event


Exhibition view Europe in Vienna: The Congress of Vienna 1814/15. Photo by Eva Würdinger.

Initially the official entertainment programme of the Congress of Vienna comprised primarily military festivities. Various military parades, military church parades, and manoeuvres were intended to demonstrate to the high-ranking guests the strength and splendour of the imperial army. In addition, however, numerous court festivities were held, including balls and concerts that took place at the imperial palace or in the residences of influential members of the higher aristocracy, such as Rasumofsky or Metternich. The programme also included hunts, fireworks, and sleigh rides. For the huge balls at the Hofburg, which were attended by as many as 10,000 guests, the Winter Riding School was transformed into a gigantic dance floor and connected to the Hofburg’s two ballrooms by an outside staircase. ‘In order to do justice to the essential qualities of the Congress as a historic and diplomatic event on the one hand and as a point of attraction for European society on the other, the exhibition deliberately concentrates on the numerous intersections between art and cultural history,’ guest curator Werner Telesko, Director of the Department of Studies in Art and Music History at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, points out.

The Congress of Vienna as an Epochal Political Event

Exhibition view Europe in Vienna: The Congress of Vienna 1814/15. Photo by Eva Würdinger.

Exhibition view Europe in Vienna: The Congress of Vienna 1814/15. Photo by Eva Würdinger.

As to the significance of the Congress for posterity, one must not neglect the dramatic political developments of the year 1815. For Napoleon’s flight from the island of Elba and the subsequent declaration against him, which was signed by all of the European states on 13 March 1815, seem to have contributed considerably to the pressure of the Congress to succeed. As of this day, the political fate of Napoleon was sealed in the form of this hitherto unprecedented closing of ranks of the major European nations and eventually turned out to be final in the legendary and decisive Battle of Waterloo in June 1815 All in all, the Congress proved a remarkable political success. The borderlines between the individual European powers were redefined on a long-term basis. Especially the power equilibrium that had been achieved in Vienna had a far-reaching impact on the entire continent. The negotiations helped settle a number of conflicting interests and tensions. For almost forty years, no further martial conflicts occurred on a European level, due to the stability that had been brought about. Initially, Russia, Austria, Prussia, and Great Britain had decided that France, Spain, and the lesser powers should not have a voice in the decision processes. Yet the experienced French diplomat Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand eventually succeeded in getting France to participate in the deliberations of the major powers, so that he was able to secure the political influence of the ‘Grande Nation’.

On the Conception of the Exhibition and Catalogue

The Belvedere’s exhibition intends to confront visitors with the epochal event of the Congress of Vienna within a comprehensive historical review spanning the period from Napoleon’s appearance on the European stage to the Battle of Waterloo. Works of art serve to present an important historical episode as a narrative marked by a high degree of drama and fascinating personalities. The exhibition concept refrains from treating the individual genres and themes separately but seeks to offer exciting multimedia crossovers. It is only on such a basis that the interdependencies between social life and cultural boom as central aspects of the Congress can be properly experienced and understood. The catalogue and the exhibition complement each other and should therefore be seen as a conceptual unity. The contributions to this opulently designed publication offer essential information about the most important historical and art historical facts and their connections, some of which are difficult or even impossible to convey in the exhibition. The exhibition, on the other hand, is meant as a guide through historical developments alongside which it visualises the highlights of social life and cultural accomplishments. With its thematic approach, Europe in Vienna is the only exhibition that recognises this complex event in its entirety on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Congress of Vienna in 2014/15.

“You have come in time to see great things happen. Europe is in Vienna.” This is how the French nobleman Charles Joseph de Ligne welcomed Count Auguste de La Garde, one of the famous chroniclers of the Congress. De Ligne’s assessment is not an invention or justification conjured up in retrospect but is confirmed by many contemporary sources. Because of its uniquely telling combination of Europe and Vienna, his wording has given the Belvedere’s exhibition its title.

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Published by Hirmer, the catalogue is distributed by The University of Chicago Press:

Agnes Husslein-Arco, ed., Europe in Vienna: The Congress of Vienna 1814/15 (Munich: Hirmer Publishers, 2015), 448 pages, ISBN: 978-3777423241, $65.

Wiener Kongress_ohne Serifen.inddFrom September 1814 to June 1815, Vienna was the undisputed center of Europe. As the Congress of Vienna convened, the city saw an unprecedented gathering of crowned heads and their ambassadors. Among them were a tsar, an emperor, and no fewer than five kings as the leaders of Europe attempted to remake the continent in the wake of the Napoleonic wars. In total, two hundred European countries came together to discuss the future of the European continent. And while the diplomats worked during the day, in the evening, Viennese society blossomed: there were balls, parties, sleigh rides, receptions, theatrical performances, musical events, and much more. Vienna was suddenly the heart not just of European diplomacy, but of European social life as well.

This book draws on an astonishing trove of documents, including historical photographs and paintings, to re-create the atmosphere of the Congress of Vienna. The incredible images and documents are supported by essays that shed light on the political, cultural, and social aspects of the gathering. The resulting volume not only takes readers to an unforgettable moment in the past, but also highlights the continuing effects of this historic gathering for Europe and the entire world.

Agnes Husslein-Arco is an art historian and director of the Belvedere Gallery in Vienna.

New Book | The Congress of Vienna: Power and Politics after Napoleon

Posted in books by Editor on February 23, 2015

From Harvard UP:

Brian E. Vick, The Congress of Vienna: Power and Politics after Napoleon (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2014), 448 pages, ISBN: 978-0674729711, $45.

9780674729711-lgConvened following Napoleon’s defeat in 1814, the Congress of Vienna is remembered as much for the pageantry of the royals and elites who gathered there as for the landmark diplomatic agreements they brokered. Historians have nevertheless generally dismissed these spectacular festivities as window dressing when compared with the serious, behind-the-scenes maneuverings of sovereigns and statesmen. Brian Vick finds this conventional view shortsighted, seeing these instead as two interconnected dimensions of politics. Examining them together yields a more complete picture of how one of the most important diplomatic summits in history managed to redraw the map of Europe and the international system of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The Congress of Vienna investigates the Vienna Congress within a broad framework of influence networks that included unofficial opinion-shapers of all kinds, both men and women: artists and composers, entrepreneurs and writers, hosts and attendees of fashionable salons. In addition to high-profile negotiation and diplomatic wrangling over the post-Napoleonic fates of Germany, Italy, and Poland, Vick brings into focus other understudied yet significant issues: the African slave trade, Jewish rights, and relations with Islamic powers such as the Ottoman Empire and Barbary Corsairs. Challenging the usual portrayal of a reactionary Congress obsessed with rolling back Napoleon’s liberal reforms, Vick demonstrates that the Congress’s promotion of limited constitutionalism, respect for religious and nationality rights, and humanitarian interventions was influenced as much by liberal currents as by conservative ones.

Brian E. Vick is Associate Professor of History at Emory University.

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