Redwood Library Acquires Collection of Early Modern Architecture Books

Posted in on site, resources by Editor on February 18, 2016


Redwood Library and Athenaeum in Newport, Rhode Island, with Harrison’s Mirror mounted on the front pediment of the 1750 building, designed by Peter Harrison; the mirror was one element of the installation exhibition To Arrive Where We Started by Peter Eudenbach (July 2012 — July 2013).

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From Art Daily (17 February 2016) . . .

The Redwood Library and Athenaeum—a hybrid historic site, museum, rare book repository, and the oldest continuously operating lending library in America (1747)—has acquired a comprehensive collection of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British architecture books and building manuals from the antiquarian bookseller Charles Wood. Comprising 53 titles, the collection deepens the Library’s already significant holdings of material devoted to early modern architecture and design, one of its cornerstone collecting areas. The acquisition was made possible by a grant from the B.H. Breslauer Foundation, as well as from donations from a number of local and national benefactors.

newport-2-“By virtue of what the Redwood is—the country’s oldest public Neo-Classic structure and a touchstone of the nation’s architectural patrimony—we are duty bound to remain a center for the study of early American architecture,” said Benedict Leca, Executive Director of the Redwood Library. “This collection dovetails perfectly with our existing holdings, notably the Cary Collection of supremely rare eighteenth-century pattern books, and exemplifies our commitment to the scholarly interpretation of our own building and those of colonial Newport.”

Newport’s historic center of learning and a designated national landmark, the Redwood Library has been serving New England and beyond as a resource supporting the range of intellectual pursuit for nearly three hundred years. In a city especially known today as a hub of historic preservation, garden design and place making, the Redwood endures as a locus of research in these domains through a constellation of related collections, making this acquisition especially pertinent.

The Redwood’s Newport Collection, an indispensable trove when researching Newport and Aquidneck Island, comprises over 5,000 books and hundreds of archives and manuscripts. The Doris Duke Preservation Collection focuses on New England colonial and nineteenth-century architecture, with an emphasis on the preservation and restoration of both the exterior architectural structure, including windows, doors and moldings, and on interior decorative elements, such as wallpaper and textiles. The Dorrance Hamilton Gardening Collection currently holds over 500 titles of landscape architecture, classic ‘how-to’ guides by important historic designers, such as Geoffrey Jellicoe and Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, as well as a number of discerning treatments of historic world gardens. The Cynthia Cary Collection, collected over decades by Mr. and Mrs. Guy Fairfax Cary, Sr., contains nearly 200 fifteenth- to mid-nineteenth-century English and continental pattern books of furniture, decoration, and ornament. All of these collections are a resource for scholars from all over the world, and continue to grow through the acquisition of primary works and authoritative scholarly titles.

“This outstanding collection is particularly noteworthy as it is a blend of builder’s manuals on one hand, and of illustrated, so-called gentlemen’s folios on the other,” specified Benedict Leca. “It gives us a window not only on period building techniques, but also on the diffusion of architectural knowledge, its styles and fashions, by way of some real rarities. The Scamozzi Mirror of Architecture, for example, was often used practically by builders and thus literally consumed; for this reason it rarely survives complete. Of appeal to the connoisseur rather than the builder is a very rare suite of nine copperplate engravings of Chinese lattice designs by William Halfpenny, with the only two other known copies at the British and Avery libraries.”

Further highlights from the collection include a number of rare manuals and pamphlets, including Henry Cook’s Patent artificial slate manufactory (1786), one of only three copies listed in the National Union Catalog (NUC); Abraham Fletcher’s The Universal Measurer (1766), one of only six copies on OCLC; and The Rudiments of Architecture or the Young Workman’s Instructor (1775), one of only two known copies, the Redwood’s having an eighteenth-century Boston provenance. The folios include a copy of the now scarce pattern book produced by Abraham Swan, The British architect or the builder’s treasury of stair-cases (1765?); and Christopher Wren Jr’s Parentalia: or memoirs of the family of Wrens (1750), an exceptional copy complete with the often-missing mezzotint frontis portrait of Wren.

Display | Majestic Mountain Retreats

Posted in exhibitions by Caitlin Smits on February 18, 2016

From the Norton Museum of Art

Majestic Mountain Retreats: 17th- and
18th-Century Monumental Chinese Landscape
Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, 6 February — 15 May 2016

Wang Jiu, Chinese, Landscape in the Manner of Wang Meng, dated 1774; hanging scroll, ink on paper 136.8 x 64.1 cm (Nortom Museum of Art; photography by C.J. Walker)

Wang Jiu, Chinese, Landscape in the Manner of Wang Meng, dated 1774; hanging scroll, ink on paper 136.8 x 64.1 cm (Nortom Museum of Art; photography by C.J. Walker)

Inspired by Stormy Landscape, likely painted in the late 1730s to mid-1740s, and the most recent hanging scroll added to the Norton’s Chinese Collection, the three works in this installation depict mountain retreats. The inscription and artists’ seals on Stormy Landscape, suggest that it is a painting of a Taoist monastery. It is reminiscent of extant Taoist mountaintemples in Fujian province not far from the artist’s home. The other two works are, Waterfall in a Bamboo Grove, probably painted in the mid-17th century, and Landscape in the Manner of Wang Meng, dated 1744.

New Book | Parsonages

Posted in books by Editor on February 18, 2016

From Bloomsbury:

Kate Tiller, Parsonages (New York: Bloomsbury Shire Publications, 2016), 88 pages, ISBN: 978-1784421373, $15.

9781784421373From the Middle Ages to the present day, parsonages—vicarages, rectories, and later manses, presbyteries, and chapel houses—have been among the most significant dwellings in every kind of British community. Their roles have been wide and varied. Architecturally important, and ranging from medieval vernacular buildings to the bespoke house designs of leading architects of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, to the more modest homes of today’s clergy, parsonages are important not only as buildings but for the part they—and their occupants—have played in the life of local communities, and in their links with the wider world. The parsonage, a hub of activity and connection, a place of change and continuity, provides fascinating historical insights both general and local. This study draws on the evidence of architecture, official documents, private records, literary accounts, and contemporary and modern images to build a picture of parsonages and their occupants. It includes a section on tracing the history of a parsonage.


Parsonage Histories: Houses, Priests and People
Setting the Pattern: Medieval Priests’ Houses
The Post-Reformation Parsonage
Georgian Parsonages: A Golden Age?
Victorian and Edwardian Heyday
Vicarages and Rectories: The Recent Past
Further Reading
Tracing the History of a Parsonage: A Checklist of Sources

Summer Course Offerings at Sotheby’s, 2016

Posted in opportunities by Editor on February 18, 2016


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Among the course offerings this summer at Sotheby’s (for undergraduate credit). . .

European Decorative Arts: From Baroque to Art Nouveau
Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London, 31 May — 24 June 2016

Beginning in the seventeenth century with the rise of the Baroque and culminating in Art Nouveau at the end of the nineteenth, this varied and exciting course provides a comprehensive understanding of key stylistic developments in Western European design and the decorative arts. The course focuses on furniture, ceramics, glass and metalwork, explored within the context of architecture and interiors and the broader historical and cultural forces that have influenced the production and consumption of decorative art objects. It seeks also to provide students with a basic knowledge of materials and techniques.

A diverse programme of lectures is complemented by visits to leading museums, galleries and historic houses. Students are taught by a range of in-house tutors and visiting experts from the art world. The course is introductory and requires no prior knowledge. The teaching approach is object-based and enables students to gain confidence in analyzing and identifying a wide range of art objects. It promotes skills that will be useful for working in the art world and also serves as a bridging course for further study. Faculty: Helena Pickup (Course Leader), Lis Darby, Anne Ceresole, Daniel Packer, Elisabeth Bogdan.

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London, Art Capital of the World, 1700–2000
Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London, 28 June — 22 July 2016

The history of the market holds valuable lessons for those hoping to work in the commercial art world. London has been synonymous with the exhibiting, collecting, buying, and selling of art for centuries. This course will provide an in-depth exploration of the institutions, personalities, and locations that have made London the epicenter of the art world, historically and today. With many of these historic works and buildings still in existence and accessible, students will experience themselves how the art scene evolved along with the city itself. We will examine the key factors that led to an increase in the demand for fine arts and how London emerged as the favored location for auctions in the eighteenth century. The connection between opportunities to view works of art and the growth of collecting will be analyzed, as will the impact of the market on ‘native’ artists. Students acquire an understanding of the history of the art market, collecting, and museums. A comprehensive course of lectures is enhanced by visits to galleries, museums, and auction houses. Faculty: Elizabeth Pergam.

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