Exhibition | The Land without Music

Posted in exhibitions by Caitlin Smits on March 21, 2017

From the Lewis Walpole Library

The Land without Music: Satirizing Song in Eighteenth-Century England
The Lewis Walpole Library, Farmington, CT, 1 March — 29 September 2017

Curated by Amy Dunagin

Copy after James Gillray, A Little Music, or, The Delights of Harmony, etching and stipple with hand coloring; published 1818 by John Miller and W. Blackwood (Lewis Walpole Library, 810.00.00.72).

Music pervaded public and private spaces in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England; yet, in 1904, German critic Oscar Adolf Hermann Schmitz, heightening long-standing aspersions, dismissed England as a “land without music.” This unflattering epithet pointed to England’s meager contributions to the western musical canon during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—no English Gluck, Mozart, or Verdi; no English operatic or symphonic tradition that could rival those that flourished on the continent. The English, critics like Schmitz suggested, were importers rather than producers—tasteless consumers and dilettantes rather than discerning, proficient practitioners. This view did not originate with continental nationalists; in the eighteenth century the English often presented themselves as uniquely unmusical in print and in visual satire. At once self-effacing and boastful, this representation asserted a national character too sensible, too chaste, too sober to permit the excesses of musical genius. Bringing together satirical prints and documents pertaining to English music makers and listeners, this exhibition explores English attitudes toward music as lascivious, feminine, foreign, frivolous, and distinctly un-English.

Curated by Amy Dunagin, Postdoctoral Associate, European Studies Council, Yale University, and Managing Editor, Eighteenth-Century Studies

The exhibition brochure, which includes a full checklist, is available as a PDF file here»




New Book | After the Fire: London Churches

Posted in books by Editor on March 21, 2017

From Pimpernel Press:

Angelo Hornak, After the Fire: London Churches in the Age of Wren, Hooke, Hawksmoor, and Gibbs (London: Pimpernel Press, 2016), 384 pages, ISBN: 978  191025  8088384, £50.

“London was but is no more!” In these words diarist John Evelyn summed up the destruction wrought by the Great Fire that swept through the City of London in 1666. The losses included St Paul’s Cathedral and eight-seven parish churches, as well as at least thirteen thousand houses.

In After the Fire, celebrated photographer and architectural historian Angelo Hornak explores, with the help of his own stunning photographs, the churches built in London during the sixty years that followed the Great Fire, as London rose from the ashes, more beautiful—and far more spectacular—than ever before. The catastrophe offered a unique opportunity to Christopher Wren and his colleagues—including Robert Hooke and Nicholas Hawksmoor—who, over the next forty years, rebuilt St Paul’s and fifty-one other London churches in a dramatic new style inspired by the European Baroque.

Forty-five years after the Fire, the Fifty New Churches Act of 1711 gave Nicholas Hawksmoor the scope to build breathtaking (and controversial) new churches including St Anne’s Limehouse, Christ Church Spitalfields and St George’s Bloomsbury. By the 1720s the pendulum was swinging away from the Baroque of Wren and Hawksmoor, and it was James Gibbs’ more restrained St Martin-in the-Fields that was to provide the prototype for churches throughout the English-speaking world—especially in North America—for the next hundred years.

Angelo Hornak is the author of Balloon over Britain (1991) and London from the Thames (1999) and has provided the photographs for many books, including histories of St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey and the cathedrals of Canterbury, Winchester, Wells, Exeter, and Ely. He lives in London and Norfolk.


Auction Results | Givaudan Collection at Piguet

Posted in Art Market by Editor on March 21, 2017

Press release, via Art Daily:

Givaudan Collection
Piguet Auction House, Geneva, 15 March 2017

Lot 794: Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Man Pointing to a Skull, red chalk.

The prices for the Givaudan Collection soared this week at Piguet Auction House in Geneva. A red chalk drawing by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806) sold for six times its low estimate, fetching CHF 267,500, the highest price seen at auction for the last decade (lot 794 estimated at CHF 40,000–60,000). This result is the third best price ever achieved for a red chalk drawing by Fragonard, the first and second being for works sold at Sotheby’s before the economic downturn of 2008 (one fetching €391,063 in 2007 and the other €286,534 in 1998). Another star lot from this collection, the spectacular pair of Louis XV Meissen porcelain candelabras, sold for CHF 158,000 at five times its low estimate (lot 586 estimated at CHF 30,000–50,000). The paintings, furniture, silver, and works of art from the collection totalled 55 lots altogether and fetched over one million Swiss francs (CHF 1,095,000).

The Givaudan Collection was part of the Spring Sale at Piguet Auction House, which finished Thursday evening with an end result of CHF 3.9 million. The Jewellery and Watches sale fetched CHF 1.5 million alone. The Wine and Spirits sale saw an almost clear round selling 92% of lots auctioned. Around 500 lots over the four days of auctions were sold at less than CHF 300, providing many an opportunity for a little indulgence at a low price.

Collectors and enthusiasts alike went into battle in the saleroom and over the telephones to be a successful bidder on pieces from this important collection from Xavier and Leon Givaudan’s estate. Having settled in Geneva over a century ago, the Givaudan brothers made their fortune in the production of synthetic perfumes, soaps, and chemicals. Consulting only the most renowned Parisian dealers and galleries, their collection began to take shape at the beginning of the 20th century. Furthermore, thanks to the research carried out by Piguet Auction House specialists, certain pieces were traced all the way back to their 18th-century origins.

French and American collectors were the most forthcoming in their bidding on the drawings and paintings while the Swiss and German collectors went to battle over the bronzes and works of art. Two clients in particular entered a bidding war over the telephones which saw a red chalk drawing by Jean-Honoré Fragonard reach CHF 267,500. The red chalk drawing which includes a skull is annotated in French “he has been what I am: what he is I will be soon.” Discovered by Bernard Piguet in the previous owner’s shoe cupboard, this red chalk drawing has now become the third most expensive work of its kind by the artist in the world. First and second place are held by drawings sold at Sotheby’s before the economic downturn of 2008 (red chalk drawing sold for €391,063 in 2007 and another for €286,534 in 1998).

Lot 793: Louis Léopold Boilly, Conjugal Tenderness.

Just minutes later, two other red chalk drawings by Hubert Robert (1733–1808) fetched CHF 82,700 and 94,800. Their provenance had been traced uninterruptedly from the present owner right back to the artist himself (lots 803 and 804 each estimated at CHF 15,000–20,000). The married couple sharing an intimate moment in La tendresse conjugale (Conjugal Tenderness) by Louis Léopold Boilly (1761–1845) moved one client to bid CHF 121,600 by telephone before finally becoming its next owner (lot 793 estimated at CHF 60,000–80,000).

During Wednesday afternoon’s auction, the Louis XV candelabras took centre stage. Veritable works of art in themselves, these important Meissen porcelain figures after a model by J.J. Kändler are set in ornate ormolu mounts (ca. 1740). Selling at five times their low estimate, these finely crafted candelabras fetched CHF 158,000 (lot 586 CHF 30,000–50,000).

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