New Book | Giambattista Bodoni: His Life and His World

Posted in books, exhibitions by Editor on January 27, 2016

On the occasion of the publication of Valerie Lester’s Giambattista Bodoni: His Life and His World, the first English biography of the great typographer, PRPH Rare Books and David R. Godine, Publisher invite you to an exhibit of selected Bodoni masterworks at our New York Gallery, a five-minute walk from The Grolier Club, Wednesday, January 27, 2016, 7.30–10.00pm. Light refreshments will be served. Please RSVP to news@prphbooks.com. PRPH Rare Books, 26 East 64th Street, 3rd Floor , New York, NY 10065.

A brief catalogue of nineteen items related to Bodoni is available as a PDF file here»

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From David R. Godine:

Valerie Lester, Giambattista Bodoni: His Life and His World (Boston: David R. Godine, 2015), 280 pages, ISBN: 978-1567925289, $40.

97815679252891-417x564A lively, lavishly illustrated biography of the great printer Bodoni, vividly describing his work, life, and times while justifying his reputation as the ‘prince of typographers’.

This is the first English-language biography of the relentlessly ambitious and incomparably talented printer Giambattista Bodoni (1740–1813). Born to a printing family in the small foothill town of Saluzzo, he left his comfortable life to travel to Rome in 1758 where he served as an apprentice of Cardinal Spinelli at the Propaganda Fide press. There, under the sponsorship of Ruggieri, his close friend, mentor, and protector, he learned all aspects of the printing craft. Even then, his real talent, indeed his genius, lay in type design and punchcutting, especially of the exotic foreign alphabets needed by the papal office to spread the faith.

His life changed when in 1768 at age 28 he was invited by the young Duke of Parma to abandon Rome for that very French city to establish and direct the ducal press. He remained in Parma, overseeing a vast variety of printing, some of it pedestrian, but much of it glorious. And all of it making use of the typefaces he personally designed and engraved.

This fine book goes beyond Bodoni’s capacity as a printer; it examines the life and times in which he lived, the turbulent and always fragile political climate, the fascinating cast of characters that enlivened the ducal court, the impressive list of visitors making the pilgrim- age to Parma, and the unique position Parma occupied, politically Italian but very much French in terms of taste and culture. Even the food gets its due (and in savory detail). The illustrations—of the city, of the press, of the types and matrices—are compelling enough, but most striking are the pages from the books he designed. And especially, pages from his typographic masterpiece, the Manuale Tipografico, painstakingly prepared by his wife Ghitta, posthumously published in two volumes, and displaying the myriad typefaces in multiple sizes that Bodoni had designed and engraved over a long and prolific career.

Intriguing, scholarly, visually arresting, and designed and printed to Bodoni’s standards, this title belongs on the shelf of any self-respecting bibliophile. It not only makes for compelling reading, it will be considered the biography of record of a great printer for years to come.

Valerie Browne Lester is an independent scholar, writer, and translator living in Boston. She is the author of Phiz: The Man Who Drew Dickens (2004), a biography of Hablot Knight Browne, Dickens’s principal illustrator who was also her great-great-grandfather. She translated Alain-Fournier’s Le Grand Meaulnes (The Magnificent Meaulnes, 2009), and has written poetry, plays, and articles.

New Book | Jacques-François Blondel

Posted in books by Editor on January 27, 2016

From Librairie Droz:

Aurélien Davrius, ed., Jacques-François Blondel, un architecte dans la « République des Arts » (Geneva: Librairie Droz, 2016), 752 pages, ISBN: 978-2600019514, 89€.

jacques-françois-blondel-un-architecte-dans-la-république-des-arts-Au XVIIIe siècle, de nombreux architectes ont publié des traités ou des « Cours » sur leur art. L’un d’eux se distingue par la quantité et la qualité des livres qu’il publie : Jacques-François Blondel (1708/9–1774). Auteur majeur de la théorie architecturale, Blondel a su, au cœur des Lumières, redonner une actualité à l’architecture classique, en s’opposant à l’art rocaille qui domine alors. Pour Blondel, l’architecture possède une dimension encyclopédique – il mobilise à la fois les savoirs techniques et les différents arts –, mais aussi sociale – chacun est appelé à y participer. Les écrits de Blondel sont par ailleurs indissociables de son action pédagogique : avec la fondation de son Ecole des Arts, qui se propose de centraliser la diversité des compétences, il opère une véritable révolution pédagogique. Cet ouvrage rassemble les discours, mémoires, articles pour L’Encyclopédie et autres textes de Blondel, dans lesquels le professeur développe ses idées sur le « bon goût » en architecture. Pour la majeure partie inédits, ou jamais réédités depuis le XVIIIe siècle, ces documents renseignent sur les enjeux de l’art de bâtir au siècle des Lumières, ainsi que sur la transmission de la tradition nationale.

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Table des matières (more…)

Exhibition | China Observed

Posted in Art Market, exhibitions by Editor on January 27, 2016

As noted at Art Daily:

China Observed: Historical Pictures by Chinese and Western Artists, 1750–1970
Hong Kong Maritime Museum, 7–14 October 2015

Mallett, New York, 21–31 January 2016

Chinese artist, late 18th century, one of a pair of paintings picturing Chinese Women Accompanied by Pipes and Pets, gouache on paper, 80 x 59 cm (London: The Martyn Gregory Gallery)

Chinese artist, late 18th century, one of a pair of paintings picturing Chinese Women Accompanied by Pipes and Pets, gouache on paper, 80 x 59 cm (London: The Martyn Gregory Gallery)

The world’s foremost expert in Chinese Export paintings, The Martyn Gregory Gallery of London, will exhibit 70 of these paintings (also known as China Coast or China Trade paintings), January 21–31, 2016, at Mallett, 929 Madison Avenue (at 74th Street). An exhibitor since 1990 at the annual Winter Antiques Show in New York, the gallery presents its first independent exhibition in the city with China Observed. These highly detailed works by Cantonese artists were bought by ships’ officers and merchants who came to trade at Canton (modern Guangzhou) in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Also on view will be paintings by Western artists who travelled to the East.

“New York has been one of the principal centers of the China Trade ever since America won its independence from Britain,” commented Martyn Gregory, “and the city still contains a wealth of China Trade pictures and keen collectors. We have always enjoyed coming to New York, and we look forward to meeting old friends and new enthusiasts in our new venue. We are bringing with us the finest collection of China Trade paintings to be found on the market at the present time, and perhaps for the foreseeable future.”

Among the most spectacular of the paintings by Chinese artists included in China Observed are detailed scenes of the ports visited by the Westerners: notably Canton, Hong Kong and Shanghai. One such example is The Hongs of Canton by an unknown Chinese artist, c. 1804. This oil on canvas (32 x 50 in.) is a large, impressive and finely detailed view of the hongs, or ‘Factories’, at Canton that commemorates the early years of direct trade between the United States and China. It also records a brief period when seven different nations (Great Britain, America, France, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Spain) were all actively trading at Canton, the only Chinese port at which Western trade was permitted.

Another large and unusually well-painted harbor painting is Hong Kong from the Harbour by an unknown Chinese artist, late 1850s (oil on canvas, 26 x 44 in.). Here, the island of Hong Kong is pictured before the erection of the signaling station on the Peak in 1861. Less than 20 years had elapsed since the British hoisted the Union Jack on the shore of Hong Kong Island, but in the intervening period, most of the waterfront between Western District and East Point had been developed. Several well-known structures are included in the landscape, including the tower of St. John’s Cathedral, which can be seen above the smaller paddlesteamer, with Government House uphill to its right. In the harbor, a great variety of vessels can be seen, including a coastal junk, Tanka boats operated by blue-robed women, covered hulks (superannuated sailing ships converted for use as naval base), small sidewheelers and three-masted sailing ships flying the flags of Britain, France and the United States. A curiosity of the painting is the presence, towards the right of the harbor, of a junk-rigged vessel with additional jib and topsails in the Western fashion.

A Panoramic View of the Bund at Shanghai, with a Regatta in Progress, an oil on canvas (16¾ x 55¾ in.) by an unknown Chinese artist, is apparently the earliest detailed view of the Shanghai Bund. The picture, which is known in several versions, would have been executed no earlier than July 1849, when the British consulate was first established on this site (far right) and not later than 1851, by which time Jardine, Matheson had replaced the Chinese-roofed building seen here (to the left of the British consulate) by a larger structure with a Western-style roof.

Also to be seen in China Observed will be remarkable Chinese export portraits of Western visitors to China and painted ‘in the Western manner’. Portrait of William Read of Philadelphia by the Cantonese artist known as Spoilum (fl. c.1774–c. 1805), an oil on canvas (24 x 20 in.) is an outstanding example of this artist’s distinctive work. The sitter, William Read (1767–1846), made several voyages to China. His father, George Read, was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Trampling Down Loose Tea in Tea Chests at Canton, a gouache by a late 18th-century unknown Chinese artist (12½ x 10 in.; 31.7 x 25.4 cm.) is another highlight of China Observed. This painting is one of a set of eight scenes illustrating the production of tea from the earliest stages—picking tea in the mountains—to the late stage seen here, in which dark-suited Westerners sample the tea as animated Chinese figures press down the tea within the chests in which it will be exported to the West.

An unusual and early pair of suave Chinese women holding long tobacco pipes—one shown with a dog and the other with a green-eyed cat—are also included in the exhibition. A Pair of Paintings of Chinese Women accompanied by Pipes and Pets by a late eighteenth-century Chinese artist (gouache on paper, each 31½ x 23¼ in.; 80 x 59 cm) depicts in each scene a woman beside a latticework shutter, as if at a window, with flowering shrubs and birds beyond. Each woman wears a fur-lined robe and flower-bedecked headdress and holds up a long tobacco pipe. One woman is accompanied by a small dog, the other by a green-eyed cat; both are placed within painted trompe-l’oeil frames of differing design. These unusual pictures are precursors perhaps of the more standardized ‘beauties’, painted in oils, which were exported in the mid-nineteenth century.

China Observed will be on view from 10:00 to 6:00 daily. During the exhibition, inquiries can be directed via Mallett at 212.249.8783.

The catalogue is available as a PDF file for download here»

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Martyn Gregory, the proprietor for whom the gallery is named, has been an art dealer for more than 50 years. In 1977 the gallery held its first exhibition relating to the China Trade (Catalogue 18) following the discovery of an album containing over one hundred works relating to China at the time of the Second Opium War. It was from this beginning that the gallery developed its interest in the ever-intriguing subject of the China Trade and in the many artistic connections between China and the West. In addition to Mr. Gregory, Dr. Patrick Conner is a director of the gallery. He is a historian and lecturer and former Keeper of Fine Art at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton; he is also the author of the definite work on the legendary artist of the China Coast, George Chinnery and more recently a book on the ‘Hongs of Canton’, a study of the pictorial icons of the China Trade and the merchants who traded there.

The Martyn Gregory Gallery sells works that are often both historically significant and highly decorative. At least once a year, the gallery produces illustrated and scholarly catalogues on this area of specialty. For over 40 years it has been located at 34 Bury Street, St James’s in the West End of London.

Exhibition | Trading China: Paintings of the Porcelain Production Process

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on January 27, 2016

From the Hong Kong Maritime Museum:

Trading China: Paintings of the Porcelain Production Process in the Qing Dynasty
Hong Kong Maritime Museum, 23 October 2015 — 1 May 2016

2224_Trading_ChinaThis special exhibition showcases a series of 34 paintings recently acquired by the Museum that document the process of making and trading porcelain from the famous Jingdezhen kilns, from mining the clay to selling the porcelain to foreign merchants through local dealers. Painted for the Western market, these illustrations vividly capture the work of the many specialised labourers as well as the way in which the trade and transport of the finished porcelain was arranged.

From the 16th century, Western demand for Chinese porcelain, exported through Guangzhou, grew. The technique of overglaze enamel painting, which originated in the imperial workshops, was used at Jingdezhen from the early 18th century for the production of imperial, domestic and export wares, reinforcing its role as China’s largest porcelain production centre. This style was very popular and led to innovations in ceramic production in Europe.

The Hong Kong Maritime Museum is grateful to the late Susan Chen Hardy for her generous donation of this collection of paintings. Susan was a long-time supporter of the Museum and a passionate connoisseur and collector of Chinese art. She and her husband Anthony Hardy have made significant contributions to the Museum and we are very pleased to welcome this exceptional series of paintings into our permanent collection.

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The bi-lingual catalogue is available here

Trading China: Paintings of the Porcelain Production Process in the Qing Dynasty (Hong Kong: Hong Kong Maritime Museum, 2015), 88 pages, ISBN: 978-9881823380, HK$100.

This catalogue features a series of 34 paintings recently acquired by the Museum. The paintings document the process of making and trading porcelain from the famous Jingdezhen kilns in the 18th century. Introductory articles and appendices on surveys of Qing paintings on the porcelain production process in other collections are also included.

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A set of twelve Chinese pictures depicting the porcelain production process (from about 1803 and formerly belonging to Lord Grenville, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom) was shown at the Indianapolis Museum of Art as part of The Luxury of Tea and Coffee: An Exhibition of Chinese Export Porcelain from a Private Collection (April 2011 – March 2012). That set of gouaches has since been sold by Thomas Coulborn & Sons.

Call for Papers | Paragons and Paper Bags: Early Modern Prints

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on January 27, 2016

From the Rijksmuseum:

Paragons and Paper Bags: Early Modern Prints from the Consumer’s Perspective
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 9 June 2016

Proposals due by 1 March 2016

Blue album sheet with cut out prints of various printmakers, ca. 1690-1720

Blue album sheet with cut out prints of various printmakers, ca. 1690–1720

The scholarly research on early modern printmaking has evolved from a focus on the Romantic concept of the Peintre-Graveur to studies of artists and printmakers in their specific cultural and socioeconomic context. In addition, the idea that publishers played a vital role in artistic, commercial, and organisational aspects of printmaking is now widely accepted. Both art-historical and art-technical research on these matters have resulted in reference works and exhibition catalogues of high standard. In these studies, however, the position of the consumer has often been ignored or dealt with only briefly. In addition, print collections in the past have often failed to recognise the importance of contemporary adaptations, signs of usage, and collecting conditions.

However, for a proper understanding of early modern culture, it is crucial to study the consumption of printed images and the socioeconomic and artistic processes behind it. Prints were a widespread and artistically diverse medium and the creative process of a print did not stop after printing. Researching the creative afterlife of prints is therefore an essential development in the study of early modern visual culture. Although the consumption and reception of early modern books has received increasing attention in the past decades, only some scholars such as Peter Schmidt (Gedruckte Bilder in handgeschriebenen Büchern. Zum Gebrauch von Druckgraphik im 15. Jahrhundert, 2003), Jan van der Waals (Prints in the Golden Age: From Art to Shelf Paper, 2006), Kathryn Rudy (Virtual Pilgrimages in the Convent: Imagining Jerusalem in the Late Middle Ages, 2011), and Suzanne Karr Schmidt (Altered and Adorned: Using Renaissance Prints in Daily Life, 2011) have integrated the consumer’s side of the print market and the concrete use of prints in their research.

In order to stimulate this promising evolution, the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam is organising an international conference on early modern prints, ranging from precious artistic prints that were carefully collected to cheap printed images that were used and discarded. Paragons and Paper Bags: Early Modern Prints from the Consumer’s Perspective will take place at the Rijksmuseum on Thursday 9 June 2016. The aim of this symposium is to further develop this new approach in order to achieve new insights on target audiences, the application and usage of prints, and special collection practices.

The organisers particularly welcome object-based proposals regarding printed pictorial material or written primary sources. Topics for discussion may include, but are not limited to:

• Prints with particular engraving or printing techniques, colouring, or multi-sheet compositions, resulting in a special visual or practical experience

Usage and manipulation
• Prints that were applied to objects, furniture or walls
• Prints that were altered by the consumer, deviating from the printmaker’s intentions such as censoring, colouring, and cutting
• Manuscripts and printed books in which prints were added and integrated
• Prints as a source of inspiration for other forms of art
• Prints depicted on other works of art
• Printed primary sources or archival documents on the intended use of specific prints

Target audiences and collection practices
• Print albums that reveal particular contemporary collection practices or the target market for specific prints or print genres
• Prints or primary sources on prints that were created on the initiative of a private individual or professional organisation with a particular purpose in mind
• The appreciation and appraisal of specific prints and printed oeuvres
• Printed primary sources or archival documents on the consumers of early modern prints
• Printed primary sources or archival documents on target audiences of specific prints

The organisation will consider proposals for 20-minute papers, presenting the findings of new or ongoing research. The application, consisting of a proposal abstract (maximum 300 words and an image) and a concise curriculum vitae, should be sent to j.luyckx@rijksmuseum.nl before 1 March 2016. The final program of the conference will be announced later that month.

Scientific Committee
Thomas Döring (Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Braunschweig), Erik Hinterding (Rijksmuseum Amsterdam), Huigen Leeflang (Rijksmuseum Amsterdam), Ger Luijten (Fondation Custodia, Paris), Jeroen Luyckx (Rijksmuseum Amsterdam/ Illuminare – University of Leuven), Mark McDonald (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), Jane Turner (Rijksmuseum Amsterdam), An Van Camp (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford), Peter van der Coelen (Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam), Jan Van der Stock (Illuminare – University of Leuven), Joris Van Grieken (Royal Library of Belgium, Brussels), Joyce Zelen (Rijksmuseum Amsterdam/ Radboud University Nijmegen)