Enfilade

Exhibition | John Trumbull: Visualizing American Independence

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on November 7, 2016

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Press release (1 November 2016) from the Wadsworth Atheneum:

John Trumbull: Visualizing American Independence
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, 5 November 2016 — July 2017

Three historic scenes by America’s first history painter, John Trumbull, are central to a new installation at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art that explores the visual interpretation of the Revolutionary War (1775–83). John Trumbull: Visualizing American Independence features more than 30 objects taken from the museum’s permanent collection, including additional work by Trumbull, as well as works by modern artists who revisited the legacy of the war in the twentieth century in observance of major anniversaries such as the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth in 1932 and the nation’s bicentennial in 1976. The installation opens November 5, 2016 and is on view through July 2017.

John Trumbull (1756–1843) served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and later created a series of eight paintings devoted to the subject, explaining once to Thomas Jefferson that he hoped the paintings would “diffuse the knowledge and preserve the memory of the noblest series of actions which have ever dignified the history of man.” After completing a second edition to adorn the rotunda of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., Trumbull began a third and final series in 1831. Due to his failing health, Trumbull was able to complete only five of the paintings, all of which were purchased by the trustees of the Wadsworth Atheneum. Trumbull’s Revolutionary War scenes were some of the museum’s inaugural objects and were displayed when the first gallery opened in 1844. Three of those paintings—The Death of General Montgomery in the Attack on Quebec, December 31, 1775; The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776; and The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, December 26, 1776—are included in the installation. The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker’s Hill, June 17, 1775 is on view in the museum’s Morgan Great Hall, and The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777 is scheduled for loan to a peer institution.

Trumbull’s role as artist-historian encouraged later generations of artists to address the American Revolution, securing the legacy of its heroes. “Trumbull set the stage for later generations of artists to reinterpret the Revolutionary War and enhance the iconography of American independence,” says Erin Monroe, the Robert H. Schutz, Jr., Associate Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture.

One of the most frequently portrayed subjects from this period is George Washington, whose image—especially after his death—became so symbolic that memorial portraits elevated him to a divine figure. Many portraits were made into engravings and mass-produced, providing artists with easy accessibility to Washington’s likeness for transfer onto textiles, decorative arts, jewelry, postage stamps, currency, and other objects. John Trumbull: Visualizing American Independence features a range of such renditions, including several nineteenth-century ceramic jugs decorated with Washington’s image and a 1975 color lithograph by Alex Katz, titled Young Washington, from the Kent Bicentennial Portfolio, Spirit of Independence.

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Conference | The Inexplicable and the Unfathomable: China and Britain

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on November 7, 2016

This weekend at The Courtauld:

The Inexplicable and the Unfathomable: China and Britain, 1600–1900
The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 11–12 November 2016

Organized by David Park, Lars Tharp, and Frances Wood

image-600x600The “Chinese character seems at present inexplicable,” observed Lord Macartney during his celebrated embassy to China in the 1790s, while the Chinese themselves at this time often described “western ocean barbarians” as “unfathomable.” The failure of Macartney’s embassy is well known, not least the Emperor Qianlong’s dismissive comment that “we possess all things. I set no value on objects strange or ingenious, and have no use for your country’s manufactures.”

A sense of bafflement might therefore overwhelm the present-day visitor to the Forbidden City, on encountering its glorious array of English clocks, many imported during Qianlong’s reign. The present conference will consider some of the endless misunderstandings and deliberate deceptions that characterised relations between Britain and China in the four centuries under review, in fields as varied as religion and art, and commerce and literature. It will also explore, however, the burgeoning range of contacts between the two countries, and the increased mutual understanding achieved by two cultures separated by “the confines of many seas.”

Advance booking required: £16 general admission / £11 students and concessions.

Organisers
David Park, The Courtauld Institute of Art
Lars Tharp, Ceramics Historian, Curator and Broadcaster
Frances Wood, Former Curator of Chinese Collections, The British Library

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F R I D A Y ,  1 1  N O V E M B E R  2 0 1 6

17.30  Registration

18.00  Keynote Address
• Donald S. Lopez (University of Michigan), Britain and Buddhism: George Bogle in Tibet, 1774–75

19.15  Reception

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

9.45  Registration

10.15  Session 1 – Chair: Roderick Whitfield
• Greg Clingham (Bucknell University, PA), Cosmology and Commerce on Lord Macartney’s Embassy to China, 1792–94
• Catherine Pagani (University of Alabama), Elaborate Clocks and Sino-British Encounters in the Eighteenth Century

11.25  Tea and coffee

11.55  Session 2 – Chair: David Park
• Tang Hui (University of Warwick), ‘The Finest of Earth’: Selling Porcelain in Eighteenth-Century Canton
• Lars Tharp, China on a Plate: Images from Hogarth to Whistler

13.00  Lunch break

14.30  Session 3 – Chair: Frances Wood
• Jessica Harrison-Hall (The British Museum), Collecting Chinese Art at the British Museum, 1760–1860
• Edward Weech and Nancy Charley (Royal Asiatic Society), The Thomas Manning Archive and Prospects for a New Perspective on British Intellectual Engagement with China in the Early 1800s

15.45  Tea and coffee

16.45  Session 4 – Chair: Lars Tharp
• Elizabeth Chang (University of Missouri), Writing Personhood from the Frontier of Western China
• Frances Wood, The View from the Other Side: China’s Reactions to the West

17.45  Concluding remarks

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