Conference | Challenging Materials: Joshua Reynolds

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on March 11, 2015

From The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art:

Challenging Materials: Joshua Reynolds and Artistic Experiment in the Eighteenth Century
The Wallace Collection, London, 15 May 2015

Organized by The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and The Wallace Collection

Joshua Reynolds Portrait of Mrs Mary Robinson, 'Perdita', 1783–84 (London: The Wallace Collection)

Joshua Reynolds, Portrait of Mrs Mary Robinson, ‘Perdita’ , 1783–84 (London: The Wallace Collection)

This on-day conference, which accompanies the exhibition Joshua Reynolds: Experiments in Paint at the Wallace Collection, is designed to investigate and contextualise the artist’s famously experimental practice. Building upon the technical findings of the Reynolds Research Project at the Wallace Collection, and also on a range of recent conservation projects on Reynolds’s paintings, it will explore his distinctive manipulation of paint as a medium. Papers will explore new perspectives on Reynolds’s experimental forms of pictorial composition, narrative and allusion, and to look afresh at the dynamic interactions between the artist, his sitters and his models in the studio. As well as focusing on Reynolds’s own art in detail, the conference seeks to place his experimental activities within the context of wider artistic, cultural and scientific practices of the eighteenth century.

Confirmed Speakers: Mark Aronson, Helen Brett, John Chu, Cora Gilroy-Ware, Matthew C. Hunter, Rica Jones, Andrew Loukes, Martin Myrone, Marica Pointon, Martin Postle, Sophie
Reddington, Lisa Renne and Iris Wien.

The conference will take place on 15th May 2015 in London at The Wallace Collection. Tickets can be purchased via Eventbrite. General Admission: £65 (+ admin fee) / Concession Ticket: £45 (+ admin fee).

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F R I D A Y ,  1 5  M A Y  2 0 1 5

9.00  Private view of Joshua Reynolds: Experiments in Paint

10.00 Introduction: Mark Hallett and Christoph Vogtherr

10:15  Session 1
• Marcia Pointon (Professor Emeritus in History of Art, The University of Manchester), Known Knowns, Known Unknowns and Unknown Unknowns: Finish and unfinish, in a portrait by Reynolds from the 1750s (?)
• Helen Brett (Painting Conservator, Tate and Martin Postle, Deputy Director, The Paul Mellon Centre), ‘New Light on an old Warhorse’: Joshua Reynolds’s portraits of Lord Ligonier

11:15  Coffee Break

11:45  Session 2
• John Chu (Research Cataloguer, Tate Britain), Experiment, Excess, Patronage: Joshua Reynolds and the 3rd Duke of Dorset
• Iris Wien (Marie Curie/IPODI Fellow, Technical University Berlin), Character as experiment: Reynolds’s A Strawberry Girl and his Boy Holding a Bunch of Grapes
• Rica Jones (Conservator of Paintings, formerly at Tate Gallery), ‘I can vouch for them to be authentick and just, either from my own experiments and observations, the information of persons of undoubted veracity who have practised them, or clear deductions from unquestionable principles’: An appraisal of Robert Dossie’s ‘Handmaid to the Arts’ and the climate in which it was produced in the 1750s

13:15  Lunch Break

14:15  Session 3
• Sophie Reddington (Paintings Conservator, Private Studio and Andrew Loukes, Curator of Exhibitions and Collections, Petworth House, National Trust), Toil and Trouble: The history, materials and restoration of Reynolds’s largest work
• Mark Aronson (Chief Conservator, Yale Centre for British Art), Canvas, a Time Based Media: Joshua Reynolds’s portraits revealed through X-radiography
• Elizaveta Renne (Keeper of British and Scandinavian Paintings at the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg), The painting which ‘might be called great if it were more correct: it might perhaps have been correct had it not attempted to be great’

16:00  Coffee Break

16:30  Session 4
•  Matthew Hunter (Assistant Professor and Graduate Program Director, Department of Art History and Communication Studies, McGill University), ‘The Unique Art of Hightening and Preserving the Beauty of Tints to Futurity without a Possibility of Changing’: William Birch’s Chemical Gambits
•  Cora Gilroy-Ware (from September 2015, Huntington Library/California Institute of Technology), ‘Her swelling breast palpitates’: Life and death in the works of William Hilton
•  Martin Myrone (Lead Curator for Pre-1800 British Art, Tate Britain), Painting after Reynolds (around 1820)

18.00  Drinks Reception

Call for Papers | Animating the Georgian London Town House

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on March 11, 2015

From The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art:

Animating the Georgian London Town House
London, 17 March 2016

Proposals due by 8 May 2015

Organised by The Paul Mellon Centre, The National Gallery, and Birkbeck College, University of London

Eighteenth-century country houses loom large in the British national consciousness. Yet, for every great country house from this period, there was usually also a town house. Wilton is much visited and discussed, but we know so much less about its counterpart in London: Pembroke House. Chatsworth has officially been recognised as one of the country’s favourite national treasures, but most of its visitors know little of Devonshire House, which the family once owned in the capital. In part, this is because town houses were often leased, rather than being passed down through generations as country estates were. But, most crucially, many London town houses, including both Pembroke House and Devonshire House, no longer exist, having been demolished in the early twentieth century.

Following on from the Animating the Eighteenth-Century Country House conference in March 2015, this related event will seek to resurrect the lost town houses of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, exploring the position they once occupied in the lives of families and the nation as a whole. Some—such as Spencer House—have survived; others have left fragmentary traces; others have been completely destroyed and can only be  recreated on the basis of inventories and descriptive accounts. There is much still to be uncovered about the collections of paintings, sculpture and decorative arts which these buildings once housed as well as about their furnishing, their architecture and gardens, and what refashioning occurred over time.

What was the significance of the town house for families such as the Devonshires and Pembrokes? How much time did they spend in London, relative to their sojourns in the country, and was one home considered more important? How did this vary between families? How did owners arrange their possessions between their houses? London town houses were often the setting for elite socialising, so is it the case that they would house their owners’ most impressive works of art? Was Joshua Reynolds right to bemoan in 1787, on learning that the Duke of Rutland was to keep Poussin’s Seven Sacraments at Belvoir Castle, that ‘the great works of art which this nation possesses are not (as in other nations) collected together in the capital, but dispersed about the country’? When and why were items moved between town and country, and are there discernable patterns over the period? Were London town houses opened to the public in the same way as country houses, and what did visitors say about what they encountered?
As well as mapping the relationship between the town house and the country house, this conference will also explore the geography of London: the location of these properties (especially within the West End), the most important estates (such as the Bedford or Grosvenor estates), and the reputations which various areas accrued. How did these houses position their owners in the complex social and political milieu of Georgian London, and what roles did they play in the lives and activities of those who owned, leased and inhabited them? How was this different for men and for women? And what was the significance of owning a town house freehold, leasehold—or just renting one for a season?

Proposals for contributions are welcomed from art historians and historians working on all aspects of eighteenth and early nineteenth-century town houses, including architecture, painting, sculpture, the decorative arts and garden history. Abstracts for 25-minute conference papers should be no longer than 300 words in length, and should be accompanied by a short biography (of no more than 100 words) detailing any work or recent publications of particular relevance. Please send abstracts and biographies by FRIDAY 8th MAY 2015 to Ella Fleming at the Paul Mellon Centre: efleming@paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk.