Exhibition | Louis-Auguste Brun, Painter to Marie-Antoinette

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on March 7, 2016

Now on view at the Swiss National Museum:

Louis-Auguste Brun, Painter to Marie-Antoinette: From Prangins to Versailles
Musée National Suisse, Château de Prangins, Prangins, 4 March — 10 July 2016

Curated by Martine Hart and Helen Bieri Thomson

Louis-Auguste Brun, Portrait of Marie-Antoinette on Horseback, 1783, oil on canvas, 59 x 64.5 cm (Musée national des châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon, Versailles)

Louis-Auguste Brun, Portrait of Marie-Antoinette on Horseback, 1783, 59 x 64.5 cm (Musée national des châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon)

From 4 March to 10 July 2016, the Swiss National Museum – Château de Prangins presents an exhibition devoted to the remarkable career of Louis-Auguste Brun, a painter from the Geneva school best known for his equestrian portraits of Queen Marie-Antoinette. Some one hundred works, together with a film recounting the surprising last years of his life as both art dealer and Vaud patriot, allow visitors to explore the life of an individual who defies easy classification. With scent-based guided tours and a Marie-Antoinette-inspired menu at the Café du Château, it’s an experience for all the senses.

A skilled draughtsman and an outstanding painter of portraits, animals and landscapes, the Swiss artist Louis-Auguste Brun (1758–1815) is today principally known for the works he produced at the French court, in particular two equestrian portraits of Marie-Antoinette. In fact, however, there is much more to his oeuvre. How did a young painter from the village of Rolle who completed his apprenticeship with a local craftsman come to enjoy the splendours of Versailles and gain an introduction to the Queen herself?

The exhibition retraces his remarkable story in around a hundred oil paintings and drawings. It highlights the decisive role of Brun’s encounters in the early stages of his career at Château de Prangins, a centre of cultural life in the Vaud region. The rest is down to Brun’s talent as an artist. Entirely at his ease depicting the diversions and carefree life of the privileged class, Brun begins producing large numbers of portraits, landscapes, hunting and horse racing scenes from the time he arrives in Paris. The exhibition also presents the works created on the shores of Lake Geneva after his return from France. It ends with a film recounting the surprising final years of his life, as an art dealer, collector and Vaud patriot.

The 16-page press packet is available as a PDF file here»

The catalogue is available from the Boutiques de musées de France:

Martine Hart and Helen Bieri Thomson, Louis-Auguste Brun, Peintre de Marie-Antoinette: De Prangins à Versailles (Paris: La Bibliothèque des Arts, 2016), 104 pages, ISBN: 978-2884531993, €29.    

Tomasso Brothers Fine Art Offerings at TEFAF 2016

Posted in Art Market by Editor on March 7, 2016


Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi, Ganymede and the Eagle,
bronze, 31.5cm high, 38.5cm wide, ca. 1714.

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Press release for the Tomasso Brothers:

Tomasso Brothers Fine Art at TEFAF
Maastricht, 11–20 March 2016

Leading international dealers in the field of important European sculpture, Tomasso Brothers Fine Art will unveil a rare work by the Florentine master of the late Baroque era, Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi (1656–1740). Ganymede and the Eagle, circa 1714, depicts a poetic moment from classical mythology when Zeus, disguised as an eagle, captures Ganymede, in Homer’s words “the loveliest born of the race of mortals,” to become his cup-bearer. This dramatic composition is a wonderful example of Soldani-Benzi’s suave modelling of form and the sumptuous finish of his bronzes. It is also an extremely rare model: the only other known version is held by the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Soldani-Benzi is acknowledged as the finest bronze caster in late 17th- and early 18th-century Europe and, along with Foggini, is considered the most significant proponent of the Florentine late Baroque style in sculpture. He excelled in medal and coin-making, enjoying commissions from Pope Innocent XI and Queen Christina of Sweden, and in 1682 he became Director of the Grand-Ducal Mint. His workshop, situated on the ground floor of the Galleria degli Uffizi, was patronised by the Medici Grand Dukes, the Elector Palatine, and the 1st Duke of Marlborough, among many prestigious foreign clients.

The present model is first mentioned in correspondence between Soldani-Benzi and his London agent Zamboni, dated 15th October 1716, regarding four casts Lord Burlington had ordered two years previously but not yet paid for. They included a Venus and Adonis, of which there is an example in the J. Paul Getty Museum, and a matching pair of groups depicting Leda and the Swan and Ganymede and the Eagle. The latter was sent to England, although Leda and the Swan is now missing. The present bronze was previously at Swithland Hall, Leicestershire, residence of the Earls of Lanesborough.

This historic work is just one of the highlights at Tomasso Brothers Fine Art, stand 166, TEFAF 2016, offered for sale priced in excess of €1,000,000 (euros). The fair, which is the world’s leading art and antiques event, takes place at the Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre (MECC) from 11–20 March 2016.

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And as a centrepiece for their TEFAF offerings, the Tomasso Brothers reunite a pair of Roman busts from Wilton House:

Horace, Rome, 17th century, Red Imperial Porphyry and Breccia Pernice marble , 54.5 cm wide, 71.5 cm high.

Horace, Rome, 17th century, Red Imperial Porphyry and Breccia Pernice marble , 54.5 cm wide, 71.5 cm high.

Extensive research by Tomasso Brothers Fine Art has reunited an important pair of polychrome marble portrait busts depicting Cicero, civic hero of the Roman Republic, and Horace, the famed poet. Carved in the same seventeenth-century Roman workshop, the busts have an illustrious provenance. Originally part of the Valletta collection in Naples, they were acquired around 1721 by Thomas Herbert, the 8th Earl of Pembroke (1654–1733) for his family’s splendid residence, Wilton House, near Salisbury, one of England’s finest stately houses.

For more than two centuries, the busts were displayed at the heart of one of the finest private art collections ever assembled in Europe. They flanked the main chimneypiece in the Earl’s ‘sanctum sanctorum’ of the Great ‘Double Cube’ Room designed by Inigo Jones, among family portraits by Sir Anthony Van Dyck, and works formerly in the esteemed collections of Cardinals Mazarin and Richelieu, King Charles I of England, and Thomas Howard, the 14th Earl of Arundel.

Pembroke’s influence on the tastes and collecting trends of the aristocratic English in the early eighteenth century were considerable. When he embarked on his Grand Tour in 1676 and set about building a collection in the 1680s, he was all but alone. Yet the fame of the galleries at Wilton House spread among the aristocracy, and by the time of his death in 1733, many of England’s great country houses were beginning to be decorated with antiquities, renaissance, and baroque sculpture.

Horace, Rome, 17th century, Red Imperial Porphyry and Breccia Pernice marble , 54.5 cm wide, 71.5 cm high.

Cicero, Rome, 17th century, Black Touchstone and Breccia Pernice marble, 61 cm wide, 76 cm high.

The history of this pair of busts is inextricably linked to some of the most important European art collections ever assembled, the rise of ‘The Grand Tour’, and thus with the history of art collecting.

It is through the expertise of Tomasso Brothers Fine Art that the two works have been reunited since their dispersal from Wilton House. Cicero came into the gallery’s collection a short while after the directors had become aware of Horace. They knew instinctively that they were both great 17th-century busts and that the particular specimen of imperial porphyry used for the Horace was a wonderful quality. While recognising the physical similarities of the two works, it was finding an old photograph of the Double Cube Room at Wilton House that set off months of study to discover the full history of the busts [photo from Arthur Stratton, The English Interiors (London 1920), plate XLII].

“Our research has taken us across Britain, from the Pembroke archives in Wiltshire, to the British Library, and on to the Bodleian Library, Oxford” says Dino Tomasso, Director. “We have uncovered eighteenth-century manuscripts, printed catalogues, and early guidebooks to the Wilton House Collection that detail in remarkable depth the journey of these illustrious busts from Naples to Wiltshire in the first quarter of the eighteenth century.”

Raffaello Tomasso, Director, adds: “It has been an exciting discovery to unearth the provenance of these two important works from Thomas Herbert’s famous collection, and our privilege to reunite them at TEFAF.”

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This year’s loan exhibition includes drawings by Fra Bartolommeo assembled in 1729 by Niccolò Gabburri:

Collecting Collectors in the Boijmans
Maastricht, 11–20 March 2016

As in previous years, the loan exhibition in TEFAF Paper will offer visitors a one-off opportunity to view a unique selection of prints and drawings from a museum with a major collection in the field. This year’s exhibition, entitled Collecting Collectors, shows a selection of master drawings and prints from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The drawings and prints were acquired over the last 167 years.

A particular highlight of the collection are the works by Fra Bartolommeo (1473–1517), numbering 400 sheets with 500 drawings assembled in two luxury albums by Florentine collector Niccolò Gabburri in 1729. One of the albums will be included in the selection at TEFAF Maastricht 2016, as a prelude to the forthcoming large Fra Bartolommeo exhibition in the Boijmans in the autumn of 2016. Also included in Collecting Collectors are works by old masters such as Albrecht Dürer, Lucas van Leyden and Rembrandt van Rijn to modern and contemporary artists like Paul Cézanne, Salvador Dalí, René Magritte and Yayoi Kusama. . . .

Göttingen Summer School | Academic Collecting and Knowledge

Posted in graduate students, resources by Editor on March 7, 2016

From H-ArtHist:

Göttingen Spirit Summer School
Academic Collecting and the Knowledge of Objects, 1700–1900
Lichtenberg-Kolleg, Historic Observatory, University of Göttingen, 5–10 September 2016

Applications due by 1 May 2016

Anne Mariss, University of Tuebingen
Maria Rentetzi, National Technical University of Athens, Lise Meitner fellow, University of Vienna
Kim Sloan, British Museum London
Emma Spary, University of Cambridge

Early modern cabinets of curiosities/Wunderkammern can be considered as an important space especially for those developing sciences that wanted to transcend text based scholasticism and base their knowledge solely on experience. Scholarly engagement with collections laid the foundations for knowledge production that was based on experiment and research with and on objects. Since this development took shape during the 17th century, collecting, storing, ordering, and the presentation of objects has become a strong concern for many academic disciplines.
Accordingly, technologies that transformed things into objects of knowledge and rendered them accessible and sustainable are equally practical as well as epistemological techniques. Current research in the history of science and knowledge focuses increasingly on practices of collecting, ordering and presenting. Thus highlighting how scientific research and its results are intertwined with and rely upon different cultures of materiality and the handling of objects is the main concern of the summer school.

In addition to questions concerning the role of objects and collections in the processes of knowledge production, we would also like to address the state and development of object based research in the humanities. How can humanities research be enhanced by engaging with objects? Which methods and theories can be successfully employed in order to achieve meaningful knowledge about these processes on a medium and larger scale? Each day of the summer school will be dedicated to a specific topic where four PhD candidates will present their research and give an introduction to their projects, with one expert commenting and leading the discussion for each project.

As we acknowledge the epistemic value of engaging with objects, visits to the relevant academic collections at the University of Göttingen are an integral part of the program. Two of our experts, Kim Sloan and Emma Spary, will also give keynote lectures on Monday and Wednesday respectively. On Thursday evening, Anne Mariss will introduce her recent book ‘A World of New Things’: Praktiken der Naturgeschichte bei Johann Reinhold Forster (Johann Reinhold Forster and the Practices of Natural History), thereby reflecting on her process of writing a thesis on praxeological aspects of knowledge production and engaging with material culture.

The four thematic sections are:

From encyclopaedic to specialised collecting: Practices of collecting and exhibiting, the role of collectors and things // Kim Sloan, British Museum

During the two centuries between 1700 and 1900, a far-reaching transformation took place that influenced both the scientific practices related to objects and the role of collectors. Burgeoning university collections differed considerably from most private or courtly cabinets of curiosities regarding their claims to establish order, classification and systematic comparison: the typical and the ordinary gradually replaced the rare and the unique, and the learned collector became the collecting scholar. The 18th century can be seen as a period of transition and the nineteenth 19th century was a threshold in the process of the differentiation of academic disciplines. This also influenced the collections, which were separated as well and thereby shed new light on the objects and thus eventually led to new ways of knowledge production. Accordingly, we especially invite presentations that address continuities and discontinuities in practices of collecting and the role of the collectors, as well as the actual order, presentation and spatial distribution of objects in the collections. Additionally, presentations that engage with wider epistemological, cultural, social and political contexts are equally welcome.

‘Putting nature in a box’ The material order of things: shelves, cabinets, boxes and other furniture of order // Maria Rentetzi, NTU Athens, University of Vienna

Furniture that helps to order and to store collections is an important part of the social world of collecting and is embedded in the epistemic practices surrounding collections as well. Material appliances influence the rules of the handling of objects and permit as well as prohibit certain practices. Thus, they are not neutral vessels but material conditions of possibilities regarding what and what cannot be known at a particular time and space. Which role do these vessels play concerning the development of object centred sciences in the18th and 19th century, especially concerning the production of knowledge and its contents? How did cabinets and other storage systems help natural historians to organise knowledge, and how did they help to create knowledge about the natural world? How did boxes become multifunctional tools in transferring the collected material into systematics? Could this furniture be regarded as a kind of laboratory that decontextualized and re-contextualised objects in changing spatial-systematic vicinities?

Networks, actors and objects // Emma Spary, Cambridge University

Current research in the history of science and knowledge no longer focuses solely on individual collectors and well-known collections, but also on complex and far-reaching networks of collecting that mobilised and thereby often transformed objects, actors and inscriptions. This approach lead to the decentralisation of the persona of the collector and collections were conceptualised in the Latourian framework as ‘centres of calculation’. Special emphasis was laid on the analysis of the diverse spaces within which objects of knowledge were constituted and circulated. This panel wants to address the complicated movements of objects, materials, specimen and living creatures (both humans and other animals) within these wide and heterogeneous networks. Studies that address their itineraries between various spaces of encounter, e.g. academic collections, the marketplace, the scholars’ houses, lecture halls, hospitals, etc. are especially welcome. Additionally, we are interested in the multitude and diversity of the actors in these spaces. Extending the research beyond the scholar as the classical focus in the history of science, we want to know about artisans, merchants and, very importantly, the members of the source communities from where the objects originated. It will be interesting to see if these diversities also produced different kinds of knowledge. Besides well-studied analytical and systematic forms of knowledge, other kinds, especially corporeal, implicit and tacit knowledge as well as technological, practical and artisanal competence—that all of these actors applied in one way or another—will be the focus of this panel. Calculation, Ordering and Classification are only three possible practices that would highlight these processes, and we are equally looking forward to presentations addressing further practices.

The long road to the image: strategies of visualisation in collections // N.N.

Images are also part of the transformation processes surrounding objects but they exemplify a special form of inscription in their claim to be mimetic. Current history of science and interdisciplinary visual culture studies have shown that the road from object to image is not as straightforward and simple as previously acknowledged. In order to understand the visual representation of collections, objects, and collectors, the manifold processes that lead from object/subject to image have to be analysed thoroughly. Traditions and conventions of image making have to be studied in order to show how social, epistemic and affective contexts of image production and presentation have influenced these processes.

Applications and selection procedure

The summer school will be held in English and welcomes PhD candidates or advanced postgraduates to apply. Up to 16 applicants will be admitted. Interested applicants are asked to send a cover letter, a CV and a research exposé (1500–2000 words/approx. 3–5 pages) preferably via e-mail as one pdf file to summerschool@kustodie.uni-goettingen.de by 1st of May 2016. The cover letter should address to which of the four sections the project would correspond to. Ideally, it should already mention a special interest in one or more academic collections from Göttingen, as well as contain a short explanation why the certain collection(s) would be interesting for the PhD or postgraduate project. The selection will be conducted by the convenors, the experts and the academic advisory board of the Zentrale Kustodie. Successful candidates will be informed early in June, and will then be asked to send in a more developed research exposé (up to 8000 words/approx. 15–20 pages) within 6 weeks of the invitation. These texts will be circulated among all participants of the summer school and will be the basis for the experts‘ commentaries and the discussions during the summer school. We ask all applicants to address not only the research content of their projects but also to include references to concepts and methodologies and an explication of their research agenda and the sources employed. A discussion on how objects and collections feature in the research project is very much appreciated.

Thanks to the generous support of the Goettingen Spirit Summer School program at the University of Göttingen, we are able to provide board and lodging for all participants. The participation fee is 50€. For further information and questions, please contact Christian Vogel (summerschool@kustodie.uni-goettingen.de).

Marie Luisa Allemeyer (Zentrale Kustodie, University of Göttingen)
Dominik Hünniger (Lichtenberg-Kolleg, University of Göttingen)
Christian Vogel (Zentrale Kustodie, University of Göttingen)

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M O N D A Y ,  5  S E P T E M B E R  2 0 1 6

5:00  Arrival and registration
6:30  Keynote lecture by Kim Sloan
8:00  Opening dinner

T U E S D A Y ,  6  S E P T E M B E R  2 0 1 6

From encyclopaedic to specialised collecting: Practices of collecting and exhibiting, the role of collectors and things / Kim Sloan

9:30  Presentation of the chair
10:00  Two project presentations
1:30  Visit of a collection
4:00  Two project presentations
6:30  Guided tour Historic Observatory
8:00  Dinner

W E D N E S D A Y ,  7  S E P T E M B E R  2 0 1 6

‘Putting nature in a box’: The material order of things: shelves, cabinets, boxes and other furniture of order / Maria Rentetzi

9:30  Presentation of the chair
10:00  Two project presentations
1:30  Visit of a collection
4:00  Two project presentations
6:30  Keynote lecture by Emma Spary
8:00  Dinner

T H U R S D A Y ,  8  S E P T E M B E R  2 0 1 6

Networks, Actors and Objects / Emma Spary

9:30  Presentation of the chair
10:00  Two project presentations
1:30  Visit of a collection
4:00  Two project presentations
6:30  Book presentation by Anne Mariss
8:00  Dinner

F R I D A Y ,  9  S E P T E M B E R  2 0 1 6

The long road to the image: strategies of visualisation in collections / N. N.

9:30  Presentation of the chair
10:00  Two project presentations
1:30  Visit of a collection
4:00  Two project presentations
6:30  Anthropology performance
8:00  Dinner


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