The Art Bulletin, March 2015

Posted in journal articles by Editor on June 3, 2015

The eighteenth century in The Art Bulletin:

The Art Bulletin 97 (March 2015)

The Wallace Collection: Joshua Reynolds: Experiments in Paint

Joshua Reynolds, Studio Experiments in Colour and Media, ca. 1770–1790? (London: Royal Academy of Arts)


Matthew C. Hunter, “Joshua Reynolds’s ‘Nice Chymistry’: Action and Accident in the 1770s,” pp. 58–76.

The first president of Britain’s Royal Academy of Arts, Joshua Reynolds was described by contemporaries as a dangerously misguided chemist. Using a secretive laboratory of fugitive materials, he crafted visually striking images that came together quickly and stopped audiences dead in their tracks. But, just as rapidly, those paintings began to deteriorate as objects—flaking, discoloring, visibly altering in time. When framed around the “nice chymistry” he prescribed for aspiring artists in his famous Discourses, Reynolds’s risky pictorial enterprise can be situated within a broader problematic of making and thinking with temporally evolving chemical images in the later eighteenth century.

Une étude de femme d'après nature

Marie-Denise Villers, Une étude de femme d’après nature, 1802 (Paris: Louvre)

Susan L. Siegfried, “The Visual Culture of Fashion and the Classical Ideal in Post-Revolutionary France,” pp. 77–99.

In her little-known painting A Study of a Woman after Nature (1802), Marie-Denise Villers exploited a conjuncture between masculine-inflected ideals of Neoclassical art and feminine-inflected ideas of fashionability in the post-Revolutionary period in France by making a feature of female dress while emulating the standards of history painting. The artist’s confident synthesis of idioms is examined in the context of Albertine Clément-Hémery’s memoir of a women’s art studio. Walter Benjamin’s notion of gestus is enlisted as a means of understanding how the quite different image cultures invoked in this work communicated social ideas.

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