Warm Thanks to the Fall 2017 Intern, Julia Bouwkamp

Posted in site information by Editor on January 4, 2018

With the new year upon us, it seems like a fine time to introduce and publicly thank Julia Bouwkamp, who has done an amazing job as an intern here at Enfilade for the last few months! Julia is another one of my former students (like Rebecca Woodruff, she was part of the May-term course I taught in Sweden and Denmark in 2016).

Since then, Julia has been busy with lots of things. She was a historic interpreter at Colonial Michilimackinac, a reconstructed 18th-century fort in Michigan where the lower and upper peninsulas touch. She worked as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in Wayland, Michigan marketing the economic development and historic preservation potential of the town’s Main Street program. She’s presently interning with the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council, where she also serves on the board. In particular, Julia is preparing entries for Her Hat Was in the Ring, a national crowd sourcing effort mapping women who ran for elected office before the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1920 (in Grand Rapids, over fifty women stood for election in the late 19th and early 20th in various school board and local government positions). In addition, Julia is doing supporting research for an upcoming documentary on the history of kindergarten in the U.S.

Clearly Julia’s interests are diverse, but there are typically a series of reliable, coherent threads: gender, the history of fashion, material culture, the mediation of the past, and history as lived experience with real world consequences (then and now).

Many thanks, Julia!

–Craig Hanson


New Book | American Furniture 1650 to the Present

Posted in books by Editor on January 4, 2018

From Rowman and Littlefield:

Oscar Fitzgerald, American Furniture, 1650 to the Present (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2017), 630 pages, ISBN: 978 144227 0381, $130 / £85.

Drawing on the latest scholarship, this comprehensive, lavishly illustrated survey tells the story of the evolution of American furniture from the 17th century to the present. Not viewed in isolation, furniture is placed in its broader cultural, historic, and aesthetic context. The focus is not only on the urban masterpieces of 18th-century William and Mary, Queen Anne, Chippendale, and Federal styles but also on the work of numerous rural cabinetmakers. Special chapters explore Windsor chairs, Shaker, and Pennsylvania German furniture which do not follow the mainstream style progression. Picturesque and anti-classical explain Victorian furniture including Rococo, Renaissance, and Eastlake. Mission and Arts and Crafts furniture introduce the 20th century. Another chapter identifies the eclectic revivals such as Early American that dominated the mass market throughout much of the 20th century. After World War II American designers created many of the Mid-Century Modern icons that are much sought after by collectors today. The rise of studio furniture and furniture as art which include some of the most creative and imaginative furniture produced in the 20th and 21st centuries caps the review of four centuries of American furniture. A final chapter advises on how to evaluate the authenticity of both traditional and modern furniture and how to preserve it for posterity. With over 800 photos including 24 pages of color, this fully illustrated text is the authoritative reference work.

Oscar P. Fitzgerald is a nationally known historian, author, lecturer, and consultant on American furniture from colonial times to the present. He retired as the director of the Navy Museum in Washington, DC and curator of Tingey House, to pursue full time his first love which is the history of furniture from antique to modern. As a member of the faculty of the Smithsonian Institution/George Washington University Master’s program in Decorative Arts & Design History, he teaches all the furniture classes. As a decorative arts consultant, he advises on the furniture collections of a number of historic houses including the Frederick Douglass House, the Clara Barton National Historic Site, and the Custis-Lee Mansion. His publication range from a study of The Green Family of Cabinetmakers: An Alexandria Institution (of the Mercy Street TV series fame) to the catalog of the studio furniture at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.


1  The Jacobean Period: Joiners and Cabinetmakers in the New World
2  William and Mary: The Years of Transition
3  Queen Anne: The Line of Beauty
4  The Chippendale Style
5  Furniture of the Federal Period
6  American Empire
7  Windsor Chairs
8  Country Furniture: New England
9  Southern Furniture
10  Furniture of Rural Pennsylvania, the Mid-Atlantic, and the Mid-West
11  Shaker Furniture: The Gift to Be Simple
12  Victorian Furniture: Gothic and Rococo Revivals
13  Victorian Furniture: The Renaissance Revival
14  Eastlake, the Aesthetic Movement, and the Colonial Revival
15  American Mission Furniture and the Arts & Crafts Movement: 1900–1915
16  Traditional Revivals for a Conservative Public
17  Modern Furniture, 1920–1941: Is It Here to Stay?
18  America Takes the Lead: Mid-Century Modern, 1950s and 1960s
19  Post-Modern and Avant-Garde Furniture since 1975
20  Studio Furniture and Furniture as Art
21  Connoisseurship of American Furniture

Exhibition | Faces of China

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on January 4, 2018

From the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin:

Faces of China: Portrait Paintings from the Ming and Qing (1368–1912)
Gesichter Chinas: Porträtmalerei der Ming- und Qing-Dynastie (1368–1912)

Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, 18 May 2013 — 23 February 2014
Kulturforum, Berlin, 12 October 2017 — 7 January 2018

Unidentified Painter, Portrait of Dawaci, 佚名 達瓦斉像, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736–1795), ca. 1756, oil on Korean paper (Ethnologisches Museum – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, I D 22242, Waltraut Schneider-Schütz).

Faces of China is the first exhibition explicitly dedicated to Chinese portrait painting. A selection of more than 100 paintings from the collections of the Palace Museum Beijing and the Royal Ontario Museum Toronto, most of which have never been shown in Europe, spans a period of more than 500 years. The main focus is on the unique portraits of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912), including images of members of the imperial court, ancestors, military figures, and informal portraits of artists and famous women. These portraits evidence a blossoming of the genre that had never been seen before.

Portrait painting has a 2000-year-old tradition in China. Beginning in the middle of 16th century, the late Ming Dynasty brought with it an economic boom and great intellectual openness that spurred a significant moment of florescence. It was in this period that Italian Jesuit painters visited the country, such as Matteo Ricci, who brought new techniques of European portrait painting with him in 1583. After the Manchu people conquered China in 1644 and established the Qing Dynasty, the imperial court in Beijing was host to a lively cultural exchange between China and Europe. This is particularly well reflected in the portrait paintings. The Jesuit painter Giuseppe Castiglione (Chinese name: Lang Shining; Milan 1688–Beijing 1766) is a key figure of this period.

Chinese portrait painting is characterized by two traditions of representation: images of ancestors and images of living figures. Ancestor portraits were created to honor deceased family members, who were venerated as part of religious observance within the family. Most were painted by professional but anonymous artists and are unsigned. On the other hand, there are portraits signed by often famous artists depicting well-known figures, such as officials, artists, poets, or those in the military, along with ordinary citizens shown in both single and group family portraits.

In exhibitions on Chinese portrait painting to date, only one of these traditions of representation has always been the central theme. However, Faces of China is deliberately dedicated to both of these two traditions, as developments in one always informed developments in the other. While the upper exhibition hall is dedicated to portraits of princely figures, officials, and artists, the focus in the galleries on the lower exhibition hall is on private individuals, families, and ancestral portraits.

The works are placed in carefully chosen relationships in light of their original social and religious contexts, as well as their circumstances of production. Thus, large-scale imperial portraits are surrounded by imperial silk garments once worn in the Palace—both groups of objects are on loan from the Palace Museum Beijing. The ancestor portraits—loans from the Royal Ontario Museum Toronto—are placed alongside an altar table with a censer, candlesticks, and flower vases, intended for honoring deceased relatives. Further objects on display come from the extensive Chinese collections of the Staatliche Museen’s own Ethnologisches Museum and Museum für Asiatische Kunst.

A collection of 365 preparatory studies for ancestral portraits that have never gone on display before, along with a series of presentation pieces in album form that artists showed potential clients as a way of sampling their wares, offers insight into workshop practices of the time. Also included in this collection are handbooks for portrait painters with woodcut illustrations, such as Ding Gao’s Secret Workshop Traditions of Portrait Painting, which not only gives details on technique, but also explores scientific approaches to the art of portraiture, such as physiognomy.

In addition, the exhibition deliberately highlights transcultural relationships to European portraiture by placing the Chinese portraits alongside a handful of European masterworks from the same time. So Anthony van Dyck’s Portrait of a Genovese Lady (ca. 1623) from the collection of the Gemäldegalerie appears next to a Chinese portrait of similarly large dimensions and from the same time, depicting a male ancestor.

The exhibition is organized by the Museum für Asiatische Kunst – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the Palace Museum Beijing, in cooperation with the Royal Ontario Museum Toronto (at the ROM, the exhibition was entitled Faces to Remember: Chinese Portraits of the Ming and Qing Dynasties). An extensive catalogue, published by Imhof Verlag, will accompany the exhibition.

Klaas Ruitenbeek, Gesichter Chinas: Porträtmalerei der Ming- und Qing-Dynastie, 1368–1912 (Petersberg: Michael Imhof Verlag, 2017), 368 pages, ISBN: 978 37319 05875, 50€.

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