Helen Jacobsen on The Wallace Collection’s Sphinx Clock, 1781

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


◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

This afternoon at The Wallace Collection:

The Wallace Collection Treasure of the Month, April 2015 | Sphinx Clock, France, 1781
Gallery Talk by Helen Jacobsen, The Wallace Collection, London, 27 April 2015

In the late summer of 1777, Queen Marie-Antoinette wagered her brother-in-law 100,000 livres that he could not build a ‘pleasure house’ in less than 100 days; she lost the bet and the charming Pavillon de Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne was the result, although the interiors took several years to complete. Designed by the comte’s architect, François-Joseph Bélanger (1744–1818), it was intended for parties and enjoyment, with a billiard room, a dining room and a salon on the ground floor. Everything was in the latest neo-classical taste, executed by the group of talented decorators, sculptors and cabinet-makers around Bélanger and d’Artois.

The walls of the circular salon were decorated with panels of painted and gilded stucco decoration in the Antique style made fashionable by English and French architects such as Robert Adam and Charles-Louis Clérisseau, while the silk curtains and velvet chairs were of ‘English green’. Bélanger designed a clock for the room that reflected this decoration and when it was finally delivered in 1781 it was considered to be of such superb workmanship that it sat under a glass shade on the chimneypiece. The king’s clock-maker, Jean-Baptiste Lepaute (1727–1801), charged d’Artois the enormous sum of 7,500 livres for the clock, and also made one for his older brother, the comte de Provence. This clock is most likely the one made for Bagatelle. . . .

More information about the clock is available here»

A gallery talk on the clock by Helen Jacobsen, Senior Curator and Curator of 18th-Century Decorative Arts will take place Monday, 27 April 2015, at 1:00pm.


Exhibition | Handel: A Life with Friends

Posted in books, exhibitions by Editor on April 27, 2015

From the Handel House Museum:

Handel: A Life with Friends
Handel House Museum, London, 1 July 2015 — 10 January 2016

Curated by Ellen Harris

Exhibition_Friends_fullWhat was it like to live next to the great composer Handel? Who would call at his house? Who did he visit? In this new exhibition, Handel scholar Ellen Harris will explore the composer’s domestic life at 25 Brook Street and the many friends and neighbours who visited him at the new, fashionable residential district called ‘May Fair’.

Handel’s music brought this disparate group of men and women together, as amateur performers in their own homes and as audiences at performances of his operas and oratorios. With important loans from national, local and private collections, the exhibition—inspired by Ellen Harris’s new book George Frideric Handel: A Life With Friends—will offer a rare glimpse into the public and private lives of some of Handel’s closest friends.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

From Norton:

Ellen T. Harris, George Frideric Handel: A Life with Friends (New York: Norton, 2014), 496 pages, ISBN: 978-0393088953, $40.

George Frideric Handel Mechanical 4p_r2.inddAn intimate portrait of Handel’s life and inner circle, modeled after one of the composer’s favorite forms: the fugue.

During his lifetime, the sounds of Handel’s music reached from court to theater, echoed in cathedrals, and filled crowded taverns, but the man himself—known to most as the composer of Messiah—is a bit of a mystery. Though he took meticulous care of his musical manuscripts and even provided for their preservation on his death, very little of an intimate nature survives.

One document—Handel’s will—offers us a narrow window into his personal life. In it, he remembers not only family and close colleagues but also neighborhood friends. In search of the private man behind the public figure, Ellen Harris has spent years tracking down the letters, diaries, personal accounts, legal cases, and other documents connected to these bequests. The result is a tightly woven tapestry of London in the first half of the eighteenth century, one that interlaces vibrant descriptions of Handel’s music with stories of loyalty, cunning, and betrayal.

With this wholly new approach, Harris has achieved something greater than biography. Layering the interconnecting stories of Handel’s friends like the subjects and countersubjects of a fugue, Harris introduces us to an ambitious, shrewd, generous, brilliant, and flawed man, hiding in full view behind his public persona.

Ellen T. Harris is professor emeritus at MIT and has served on the music faculties of Columbia University and The University of Chicago. Her previous books include Handel as Orpheus: Voice and Desire in the Chamber Cantatas, and she has spoken at Lincoln Center and appeared on PBS NewsHour and BBC Radio 3. She lives in Newton, Massachusetts.


Exhibition | A Year in the Life of Handel: 1738

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on April 27, 2015

Exhibition_1738_fullFrom the Handel House Museum:

A Year in the Life of Handel: 1738
Handel House Museum, London, 1 October 2014 — 28 June 2015

Our series of exhibitions looking in depth at a single year in Handel’s life continues with 1738. It was a year of varying fortunes for Handel—the Italian opera was failing and he was turning increasingly to the new form of the English oratorio. But at the same time a magnificent statue of him was unveiled at Spring Gardens in Vauxhall, celebrating his pre-eminent position in London society. It was the year in which Handel helped create the Fund for Decay’d Musicians, the roots of the new Methodist ministry were established, and Fortnum and Mason invented the Scotch Egg.

Once again a team of Handel House Volunteers will research and curate the exhibition, and the story of 1738 will be told through images and objects from the Handel House Collection, together with loans from other museums.

%d bloggers like this: