Conference | HECAA Sessions at UAAC, 2016

Posted in conferences (summary) by Editor on December 22, 2016

This posting is three months late, but in wrapping up year-end business, I think it’s important to note that HECAA has been represented at UAAC since 2013. Again, thanks so much to Christina Smylitopoulos for organizing this year’s session (actually two panels this year as a result of lots of strong proposals)! Next year’s conference meets October 12–15. CH

Universities Art Association of Canada / l’association d’art des universités du Canada
Université du Québec, Montréal, 27–30 October 2016

HECAA Open Sessions (Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art and Architecture)
Chaired by Dr Christina Smylitopoulos, University of Guelph

David Mitchell (PhD candidate, McGill), The Colour of Death: Polychrome Anatomies in Print and Wax

While it was a convention of early modern art theory that colour was evocative of animate life, my paper focuses on eighteenth-century anatomical models in order to investigate an alternate set of implications for polychrome effect. In such works, dead flesh served as reference for investigation of the animating force of physiological mechanism. Documentation of protracted legal battles in France over technological patent for both coloured mezzotint and anatomical waxwork offers, I argue, a discourse of colour plotted in counterpoint to art theory’s promotion of the animate force of coloris. And the elaboration of this other colouristic semantics related pigmented substance, craft, and authority in shifted configuration.

Ersy Contogouris (Adjunct Professor, Université du Québec à Montréal), James Gillray’s Preparatory Drawings for Connoisseurs Examining a Collection of George Morland’s

In 1807, James Gillray published a satire on the phenomenal success of George Morland, painter of rustic genre scenes, whose early death three years earlier had led to a great increase in the demand for his works and to the circulation of countless forgeries. This paper will examine the ten preparatory drawings—a uniquely large number—that survive for his Connoisseurs Examining a Collection of George Morland’s. Their analysis enriches our understanding both of the caricature itself and of the nature of Gillray’s recurring criticism of the late eighteenth/early nineteenth-century art market, and provides us with an unprecedented view into Gilray’s creative process, revealing the many steps involved in developing an idea into a caricature, the role of writing in Gillray’s thought process, and the struggle to find the perfect title. Taken together, these drawings invite us to rethink some of the accepted notions regarding caricature.

Catherine Girard (Visiting Assistant Professor, Williams College), Mirrored Surfaces: Painting and Reflexivity in French Royal Interiors

The addition of mirrors alongside paintings was a major transformation of eighteenth-century interiors that enhanced the reflexivity of richly decorated spaces. French aristocratic hunters were at the heart of this intensified dialogue between interiors and interiority, as large mirrors and genre paintings showing figures that looked and behaved like them adorned the increasingly specialized rooms that were conceived and built for their after-hunt parties in royal residences. This paper explores the reflexive quality of such spaces created in France during the Rococo moment. While the meals taken outdoors by royal hunters reenacted a concomitant architectural quest for intimacy, the pictures painted for hunting dining rooms allowed the same participants to extend the corporeal sensations imprinted by the pursuit and kill to the in situ experience of paintings. The role of illusion in representation was thus expanded to entire rooms, telescoping the outdoors into newly articulated, intimate, and proto-immersive interiors.

Ryan Whyte (Assistant Professor, OCAD University), En sens contraire: Paradoxes of Reversal in French Reproductive Prints of the Ancien Régime

In French printmaking in the Ancien Régime, the reversal of the image inherent in the printmaking process was so rarely remarked on that modern scholarship has responded with corresponding silence on the subject. This paper addresses those lacunae by examining exceptional cases where the printmaker corrected reversed images in reproduction because the reversal rendered some aspect of the composition strange, usually right-handed subjects made left-handed. Such correction occurred within multiple and contradictory artistic and social contexts, including period notions of handedness, at a time when progressive educational discourse, bound up in neoclassical conceptions of virtue and social reform rejected traditional prejudices against left-handedness and promoted the teaching of ambidexterity. Yet the perception of the inherent reversibility of the composition, in which the ‘corrected’ representation of handedness was the exception that proved the rule, was reinforced both by printmaking processes and by the predominance of dematerialized, literary conceptions of composition.

Stéphane Roy (Associate Professor, Carleton University), Révolution et marché de l’art : transformations et continuité

« Quand la guillotine fonctionne […] il est rare que l’art s’épanouisse ». Ainsi s’exprimait l’auteur anonyme de la notice « Beaux-arts » de l’Histoire et dictionnaire de la Révolution française (1987), faisant écho à une longue tradition historiographique selon laquelle la production artistique de la période révolutionnaire a marqué une rupture complète avec les modèles académique et philanthropique d’Ancien Régime. Les historiens ont montré, depuis, que la situation des arts était plus complexe et que la période révolutionnaire avait produit un corpus d’œuvres appréciable. Mais qu’en est-il du marché de l’art ancien au cours de cette même période? Les fluctuations du politique ont-elles eu une influence sur les goûts? Un nouveau public a-t-il pris le relais des collectionneurs d’Ancien Régime? Peut-on parler d’une transformation radicale ou d’une continuité des goûts? Un examen des catalogues de vente mettra au jour une culture visuelle peu connue de cette période charnière.

Cette étude s’inscrit dans le cadre d’une enquête sur l’évolution des goûts en France à la fin du 18e siècle, saisie plus particulièrement à travers l’inventaire et l’analyse des ventes publiques d’œuvres d’art pendant la période révolutionnaire.

Alena Robin (Associate Professor, The University of Western Ontario), Carmelite Preaching in Guadalajara

Signed and dated in 1747 by Antonio Enríquez, a painter active in the second half of the eighteenth century in Nueva Galicia (now Mexico), a huge painting recently appeared in the collection of the Museo Regional de Guadalajara. The painting was registered in the 1931 inventory without a photograph, as was the rest of the collection, and it was most likely forgotten until now. The painting is currently kept in a corner of the storage room of the museum, sectioned in two, and rolled up. The purpose of this presentation is to uncover the complex composition of this painting in relation to the settling of the male Carmelite order in Guadalajara. Issues of the reality of painting in the so-called periphery will be addressed through the figure of Antonio Enríquez. Questions of patronage will also be raised as an inscription on the canvas points towards the benefactor of the painting.

Isabelle Masse (PhD Candidate, McGill University), Entre pastel et photographie : les portraits de Gerrit Schipper au Bas-Canada, 1808–10

Le pastelliste néerlandais Gerrit Schipper (1775 – c.1825) débarque à Philadelphie en 1802, à l’endroit et au moment où l’inventeur John Isaac Hawkins (1772–1855) brevète un nouveau modèle de physionotrace, un appareil reproduisant mécaniquement les visages de profil. Shipper qui travaille avec une semblable « machine à dessiner » se déplace de ville en ville annonçant dans les journaux locaux que sa « nouvelle méthode pour peindre au pastel » produit des « ressemblances exactes ». Le physionotrace suscite en effet des prétentions de vérité qui le font souvent considérer dans la littérature comme étant protophotographique. Ainsi, les rigoureuses effigies en miniature réalisées par l’artiste se situent à la frontière de deux médiums, le pastel et la photographie. À l’aide d’un corpus créé au Bas-Canada entre 1808 et 1810, cette communication fait valoir que la double médialité des portraits est révélatrice des profondes transformations que subit le médium du pastel à l’aube du XIXe siècle.

Paul Holmquist (Independent Scholar; Carleton University, Contract Instructor), ‘Elle fond les Villes’: The Physiognomy of Reconnaissance in Claude-Nicolas Ledoux’s Ideal City of Chaux

This presentation examines the conception of reconnaissance in eighteenth-century France as a central principle of Claude-Nicolas Ledoux’s theory of architectural expression. Connoting ‘gratitude’ as well as ‘recognition’, reconnaissance is asserted by Ledoux as part of the moral effect of his architecture parlante with respect to nature as a providential order, and society as embodying the common good. I argue that the significance of reconnaissance for Ledoux can best be understood in light of Rousseau’s conception of gratitude as the love for what in turn loves and preserves one’s self, and the origin of conscience. Through an analysis of key projects of Ledoux’s ideal city of Chaux I will show how the evocation of reconnaissance in the spectator underlies Ledoux’s ambition to inculcate civic and personal virtue, and entails an essential reciprocity with the expressivity of architecture that challenges any reduction of his character theory to one of mere affect or signification.

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