Lecture | Giorgio Riello, Towards a Global Cultural History?

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on March 2, 2016

Giorgio Riello, Towards a Global Cultural History? Gifts,
Commodities and Diplomacy in the First Global Age
Deutsches Haus, Columbia University Department of History, New York, 23 March 2016

Columbia University Department of History is pleased to present the Dr. S. T. Lee Annual Lecture in History: Towards a Global Cultural History? Gifts, Commodities and Diplomacy in the First Global Age, presented by Professor Giorgio Riello (University of Warwick, Department of History), Wednesday, March 23rd, Deutsches Haus (420 West 116th Street, between Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Drive), 6:00–7:30pm. Reception to follow.

Giorgio Riello was trained as an economic historian, with a focus on material culture and the history of technology. After his work on the transformation of Italian and European industry in the eighteenth century, he began publishing on global history, becoming founding director of the Centre for Global History and Culture at Warwick University, one of the world’s leading programs focusing on the global history of material culture. His multiply award-winning publications have ranged from the global history of cotton to south Asian textile production, to the global industry of shoe production.


New Book | The Global Lives of Things

Posted in books by Editor on March 2, 2016

Published in December by Routledge:

Anne Gerritsen and Giorgio Riello, eds., The Global Lives of Things: The Material Culture of Connections in the Early Modern World (New York: Routledge, 2015), 266 pages, paperback ISBN: 978-1138776753, $50 / hardback ISBN: 978-1138776661, $160.

9781138776753The Global Lives of Things considers the ways in which ‘things’, ranging from commodities to works of art and precious materials, participated in the shaping of global connections in the period 1400–1800. By focusing on the material exchange between Asia, Europe, the Americas and Australia, this volume traces the movements of objects through human networks of commerce, colonialism and consumption. It argues that material objects mediated between the forces of global economic exchange and the constantly changing identities of individuals, as they were drawn into global circuits. It proposes a reconceptualization of early modern global history in the light of its material culture by asking the question: what can we learn about the early modern world by studying its objects?

This exciting new collection draws together the latest scholarship in the study of material culture and offers students a critique and explanation of the notion of commodity and a reinterpretation of the meaning of exchange. It engages with the concepts of ‘proto-globalization’, ‘the first global age’ and ‘commodities/consumption’. Divided into three parts, the volume considers in Part One, Objects of Global Knowledge, in Part Two, Objects of Global Connections, and finally, in Part Three, Objects of Global Consumption. The collection concludes with afterwords from three of the leading historians in the field, Maxine Berg, Suraiya Faroqhi and Paula Findlen, who offer their critical view of the methodologies and themes considered in the book and place its arguments within the wider field of scholarship. Extensively illustrated, and with chapters examining case studies from Northern Europe to China and Australia, this book will be essential reading for students of global history.

Anne Gerritsen is Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Warwick. Her previous publications include Ji’an Literati and the Local in Song-Yuan-Ming China (2007).

Giorgio Riello is Professor in the Department of History at the University of Warwick. In addition to several edited collections, he is the author of A Foot in the Past (2006) and Cotton: The Fabric that Made the Modern World (2013).

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Introduction The Global Lives of Things: Material Culture in the First Global Age, Anne Gerritsen and Giorgio Riello

Part I: Objects of Global Knowledge
1  Itineraries of Matter and Knowledge in the Early Modern World, Pamela Smith
2  Towards a Global History of Shagreen, Christine Guth
3  The Coral Network: The Trade of Red Coral to the Qing Imperial Court in the Eighteenth Century, Pippa Lacey

Part II: Objects of Global Connections
4  Beyond the Kunstkammer: Brazilian Featherwork and the Northern European Court Festivals, Mariana Françozo
5  The Empire in the Duke’s Palace: Global Material Culture in Sixteenth-century Portugal, Nuno Senos
6  Dishes, Coins and Pipes: The Epistemological and Emotional Power of VOC Material Culture in Australia, Susan Broomhall
7  Encounters around the Material Object: French and Indian Consumers in Eighteenth-Century Pondicherry, Kévin Le Doudic

Part III: Objects of Global Consumption
8  Customs and Consumption: Russia’s Global Tobacco Habits in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, Matthew P. Romaniello
9  Sugar Revisited: Sweetness and the Environment in the Early Modern World, Urmi Engineer
10 Coffee, Mind and Body: Global Material Culture and the Eighteenth-Century Hamburg Import Trade, Christine Fertig and Ulrich Pfister

Paula Findlen
Suraiya Faroqhi
Maxine Berg

Exhibition | Eighteenth-Century Porcelain Sculpture

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on March 2, 2016

Press release for the exhibition now on view at the NGV:

Eighteenth-Century Porcelain Sculpture
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 27 February — December 2016

Chelsea Porcelain Factory, London (manufacturer), Joseph Willems (modeller), Pietà, ca. 1761, porcelain (soft-paste), 38.5 x 28.5 x 22.8 cm (Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria)

Chelsea Porcelain Factory, London, Joseph Willems (modeller), Pietà, ca. 1761, porcelain (soft-paste), 38.5 x 28.5 x 22.8 cm (Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria)

The NGV will present its renowned collection of eighteenth-century porcelain sculpture in an upcoming exhibition, revealing eighteenth-century baroque life and culture, from commoners and aristocrats to famous actors and musicians. Eighteenth-Century Porcelain Sculpture will showcase over eighty exquisite examples from famed European factories—including the German Meissen, French Sèvres, and English Derby factories—of intricately modelled porcelain figures, large-scale sculptural works, and celebrity portraits.

Tony Ellwood, Director, NGV, said, “The NGV holds the largest collection of porcelain sculpture in Australia, and this exhibition offers an opportunity to view a number of our rarest and most important works, including the Chelsea Porcelain Factory’s large-scale Pietà sculpture of which the NGV will present two of the only three examples in the world.”

Whilst today porcelain sculptures are often considered ‘decorative’ items, in the eighteenth century many of the finest artists of the time were drawn to the novel medium. The exhibition will include the work of key modellers such as Johann Joachim Kändler—the era’s most important ceramic sculptor and a major innovator—Franz Anton Bustelli, Johann Peter Melchior, and Giuseppe Gricci, court sculptor to King Charles VII of Naples.

The exhibition also includes rare porcelain sculptures of popular eighteenth-century London stage actors including Kitty Clive, Henry Woodward, David Garrick, and James Quinn. Collected by wealthy members of the elite, these figures give insight into the growing culture of celebrity in eighteenth-century England and demonstrate how porcelain became an important medium for the dissemination of popular imagery. Another highlight is the exceptionally rare Goffredo at the Tomb of Dudone, modelled by Giuseppe Gricci for the Neopolitan Capodimote factory, which portrays an episode from Tasso’s great Renaissance epic poem Jerusalem Liberated.

Due to the fragile nature of porcelain sculpture, NGV conservators have undertaken five months of restoration work to return many of these pieces to display. One sculpture, by the Italian Doccia factory of a shepherd and his companion, will be displayed for the first time in more than twenty years. Individual fingers no more than 2mm across were remade from porcelain and skilfully attached to the shepherd’s hand, an incredibly delicate procedure that required three attempts. Conservators have also removed discolouration from other pieces enabling them to be displayed once more in all of their original beauty.

The exhibition is accompanied by an online essay by Matthew Martin and public program offerings including floor talks which will provide unique insights into the period.

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