Exhibition | Luigi Valadier: Splendor in Eighteenth-Century Rome

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on January 12, 2018

Looking ahead to the fall, from the press release:

Luigi Valadier: Splendor in Eighteenth-Century Rome
The Frick Collection, New York, 31 October 2018 — 20 January 2019
Galleria Borghese, Rome, 30 October 2019 — 2 February 2020

Curated by by Alvar González-Palacios and Xavier Salomon

Luigi Valadier, Herma with Bacchus for the Palazzo Borghese, alabaster and glazed bronze with traces of gilding, 1773, 69 inches (Rome: Galleria Borghese; photo by Mauro Magliani).

Of the many artists who flourished in Rome during the eighteenth century, the silversmith Luigi Valadier (1726–1785) was among those particularly admired by popes, royalty, and aristocrats. Luigi was born in Rome in 1726, about six years after his parents emigrated from France. His father, Andrea, established a silversmith workshop that quickly captured the attention of the wealthiest Roman aristocrats. Heir to his father’s business, Luigi had an unsurpassed technical expertise, which, combined with his avant-garde aesthetic, resulted in extraordinary works in silver and bronze. Well aware of the evolution of artistic taste throughout Europe, he had an impressive ability to reframe examples of ancient Roman art and architecture within the context of contemporary Rome. Sculptures in private collections, cameos, architectural details, and ruins of ancient monuments served as his inspiration for candelabra, tableware, altars, and centerpieces in both silver and bronze. Luigi’s fame and influence spread beyond the borders of Italy, and he received commissions from patrons in France, England, and Spain. He was, however, burdened by debts for commissions undertaken but never paid for, and, in 1785, he committed suicide, drowning himself in the Tiber. Following this tragic event, his workshop passed to his son Giuseppe.

Illustrating the uncommon versatility of Luigi Valadier, who produced everything from large altar pieces to intricate works of jewelry, the Frick’s fall 2018/winter 2019 exhibition will include more than sixty works carefully selected from the vast production of the Valadier workshop. Preparatory drawings of both sacred and profane subjects will be displayed alongside finished works. . One of the highlights of the exhibition will be a full centerpiece, or deser (from the Italianization of the French word dessert), created around 1778 for the Bali de Breteuil, Ambassador of the Order of Malta to Rome. Atop a gilt-bronze base inlaid with precious stones, Valadier has re-created temples, triumphal arches, columns, and other miniature representations of ancient Roman monuments. The multiple elements of the Breteuil deser are today separated between two museums in Madrid (the Museo Arqueológico Nacional and the Palacio Real), but will be reunited for this special exhibition at the Frick. It will therefore be possible to admire this masterwork in its entirety, as nobles and cardinals did in 1778, when it was displayed for a few days in Valadier’s workshop in a candle-lit room specially decorated for the occasion.

The exhibition will also feature finely worked silver plates, tureens, salt cellars, and other pieces of tableware. The juxtaposition of these individual works with the complete centerpiece will illustrate the evolution of the Valadier workshop. While the earliest pieces presented are distinctly in the Baroque style, Valadier’s work becomes more refined in the Rococo style, before becoming neoclassical by the late-eighteenth century. The monochrome silver objects will be contrasted with polychrome works in gilt-bronze, marble, and precious stones, such as the Egyptian clock, a table from Villa Borghese, and extraordinary mounts for two antique cameos once in the Vatican collections and now at the Musée du Louvre.

One section of the exhibition will be devoted to reproductions in bronze of famous antique sculptures in Roman collections, such as the Apollo Belvedere and the Ares Ludovisi.

Luigi Valadier: Splendor in Eighteenth-Century Rome is co-curated by Professor Alvar González-Palacios, considered the world’s authority on Valadier, and Xavier F. Salomon, Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator of The Frick Collection. It is part of a series of monographic exhibitions that focus on remarkable decorative arts artists and follows the ground-breaking and critically acclaimed Pierre Gouthière: Virtuoso Gilder at the French Court, organized by the Frick, where it was on view in fall 2016 before traveling to the Musée des arts décoratifs, Paris, in spring 2017.

Accompanying the exhibition will be the first complete monograph on Luigi Valadier. Written by González-Palacios, the book will shed new light on the provenance and dating of some works. It also identifies the exact roles performed inside the workshop by Andrea, Luigi, and Giuseppe Valadier, tracing the genesis of inventions and the authorship of models. The monograph also details the Valadier family’s collaborations with other workshops and artists. Typically, works in various materials such as bronze, marble, and precious stones were realized not by one person but by many artisans working together. The decoration of both sacred and private buildings likewise involved outside artisans and architects. This will be the only comprehensive publication on Valadier in English and, lavishly illustrated, it will feature much-needed new photography.

Together, the monograph and exhibition at the Frick will reconstruct the artistic endeavors of one of the most important silversmith families, shedding new light on the cultural life of Rome and, more broadly, Europe, during the eighteenth century. Following the presentation of this show in New York, a related exhibition will be on view later in 2019 at the Galleria Borghese, Rome.

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Note (added 20 December 2019) — The posting was updated to include specific dates for the Galleria Borghese.

Conference | Telling Her Story

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on January 12, 2018

From the Women’s History Network:

Telling Her Story: Women’s History, Heritage, and the Built Environment
Wrest Park, Bedfordshire, 19 March 201

Organized by Megan Leyland, Roey Sweet, and Andrew Roberts

Telling Her Story will bring together heritage professionals and academics to explore the diverse roles and experiences of women at historic sites. Whether in country houses or castles, women have played a pivotal role in shaping the built environment and in influencing the course of history. Yet, more often than not, their voices are marginalised or missing from the historical record and from interpretation at heritage sites.

This conference seeks to uncover the many and varied experiences of women at historic properties in the care of English Heritage and other heritage organisations. It aims to move beyond stock biographies of famous and extraordinary women to discover the many diverse stories of women from all walks of life, to offer new perspectives on better-known individuals and to critique narratives and interpretations which continue to be constructed principally around the experiences of men.

This conference is being jointly organised by English Heritage and the University of Leicester, and has been generously supported by the Women’s History Network Small Grant Scheme. Dr. Megan Leyland (English Heritage), Prof. Roey Sweet (University of Leicester), Dr. Andrew Roberts (English Heritage).

Tickets, £30, are available by calling our dedicated ticket sales team on +44(0) 370 333 1183. A limited number of free tickets for students / unwaged are available; to apply, please contact megan.leyland@english-heritage.org.uk with why the conference is relevant to your research, interests, or work. Tickets will be allocated on a first come first serve basis. Please note, this programme is subject to change.


9:30  Coffee

10:00  Welcome and Introduction

10:10  Castles and Warfare
• Rachel Delman (University of Oxford), Writing medieval women back into castle narratives
• Karen Dempsey (University of Reading), Outside the can(n)on: Telling inclusive stories of the medieval past
• Jessica Malay (University of Huddersfield), Anne Clifford’s transformation of Westmorland through the construction of households
• Emma Turnbull (University of Oxford), Remembering resistance: Female activism during the English Civil Wars

10:10  Silent Voices
• Helen Bates (University of Leicester), The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? New interpretations of women at Lincoln Castle Victorian Prison
• Nigel Cavanagh (Network Archaeology), An alternative focus for industrial heritage: Women’s lives in Elsecar, ca. 1780–1870
• Kate O’Neill (RCA/ V&A), Capturing the invisible? Photography and female domestic servants in the country house, 1850–1920
• Elena Settimini (University of Leicester), Demeter’s daughters: The representation of women within a vineyard landscape

12:00  Lunch

1:00  Eighteenth-Century Female Patronage
• Ruth Larsen (University of Derby), Beyond the withdrawing room: Exploring notions of gendered spaces in the eighteenth-century country house
• Lydia Hamlett (University of Cambridge), Revealing women’s stories through mural painting, 1680–1720
• Amy Boyington (University of Cambridge), Female architectural patronage in eighteenth-century Britain

1:00  Written out of History
• Judith Phillips (Bowes Museum/ Teesside University), Mrs. Bowes’s mansion, museum, and galleries: Joséphine Bowes and The Bowes Museum
• Louise Devoy (Royal Observatory, Greenwich), Observatory life: Adding domestic history and female voices to the story of the Royal Observatory
• Eleanor Sier (Toynbee Hall), Kate Bradley (University of Kent), and Lucinda Matthews-Jones (Liverpool John Moores University), Toynbee Hall: Mother of settlements

2:15  Coffee

2:30  Connecting People, Space, and Place
• Hannah Worthen (University of Hull), Gender and the hidden histories of English landed estates
• Emma Purcell (University of Leicester), The impact of heiresses on the Montagu property network, ca. 1749–1827
• Jon Stobart (Manchester Metropolitan University), Housekeeper, correspondent and confidante: The under-told story of Mrs Hayes of Charlecote Park, ca. 1740–60

2:30  Heritage Industry Approaches
• Rachael Lennon (National Trust), Challenging histories: Women and power
• Morvern French and Stefan Sagrott (Historic Environment Scotland), Telling their stories: From warriors to witches, and everything in between
• Megan Leyland (English Heritage), Telling the story of England: Women’s history at English Heritage

4:00  Closing Discussion / Tour

Exhibitions and Posters
Exhibition material on display throughout the conference includes The Women of Wrest Park (the Wrest Park Volunteer History Group, English Heritage), Uncovering Women’s Voices in the Richmond Castle Cell Block (the Richmond Castle Cell Block Project volunteers, English Heritage), and Marble Hill Revived (English Heritage), as well as academic posters.


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