Display | Lighting Up the Stage: Stars of the Georgian Theatre

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on January 5, 2018

From The Holburne Museum:

Lighting Up the Stage: Stars of the Georgian Theatre
The Holburne Museum, Bath, 2 February — 3 June 2018

Samuel de Wilde, John Palmer as Don John in ‘The Chances’, 1791 (Bath: The Holburne Museum).

William Somerset Maugham (1874–1965), a playwright and novelist, began collecting paintings of actors in the 1910s. He built a sizeable and important collection of theatrical portraits, which he displayed in his villa in the south of France. The collection remained together throughout the Second World War, despite Maugham himself having to leave France and his villa being taken over by the occupying forces. He gifted his collection to the National Theatre in 1951, from which the paintings were transferred to Bath in 2010. The collection contains key works by Zoffany, including portraits of David Garrick in some of his most celebrated tragic and comic roles, and the 18th-century small-scale portraitist Samuel de Wilde. The theatrical portraits immortalise stars of the 18th- and 19th-century stage in character and often in moments of high drama. The collection forms an important historical record as well as being the unique creation of one man’s personal taste.

This temporary display will provide a rare view of some of the less frequently seen portraits in the Maugham collection. These include sitters whose names may be less familiar to audiences today but who were nevertheless considered among the great actors of their day. They include the comic actor Richard Wilson (1744–1796) and John Palmer (1745–1798), who regularly performed at Drury Lane and who Sheridan nicknamed ‘plausible Jack’.

Later in the year, The Holburne Museum will present the exhibition Gainsborough and the Theatre , on view from 5 October 2018 until 20 January 2019.

New Book | Material Witnesses

Posted in books by internjmb on January 5, 2018

From The University of Virginia Press:

Camille Wells, Material Witnesses: Domestic Architecture and Plantation Landscapes in Early Virginia (Charlottesville: The University of Virginia Press, 2018), 416 pages, ISBN: 978 08139 40366 (hardcover), $75 / ISBN: 978 08139 40373 (paperback), $40.

The Chesapeake region of eastern Virginia and Maryland offers a wealth of evidence for readers and researchers who want to discover what life was like in early America. In this eagerly anticipated volume, Camille Wells, one of the foremost experts on eighteenth-century Virginia architecture, gathers the discoveries unearthed during a career spent studying the buildings and plantations across this geographic area. Drawing on the skills and insights of archaeologists and architectural historians to uncover and make sense of layers of construction and reconstruction, as well as material evidence and records ranging from ceramics, furniture, and textiles to estate inventories and newspaper advertisements, Wells poses meaningful questions about the past and proposes new ways to understand the origins of American society.

The research gathered in this cohesive and engaging collection views the wider history of the colonial and early national periods through the lens of lauded as well as previously unrecorded sites in the Tidewater and Piedmont regions. The subjects are equally wide-ranging, from the way domestic architecture articulates problems and possibilities that found forceful expression in the Revolution; to the values and choices made by those who lived in unprepossessing circumstances as well as those who built statement gentry houses intended to dominate the landscape. Other essays address the challenges of discovering historically accurate room functions and furnishings as well as the way Colonial Revival attitudes still dominate much of what is imagined about the early Virginia past. Taken together, these beautifully written and accessible essays will be essential reading for those interested in architecture, material culture, and the ways they reveal the complexities of the nation’s history.

Camille Wells was most recently a fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.




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