New Skylights for The Met

Posted in museums by Editor on April 5, 2018

As Keith Christiansen, John Pope-Hennessy Chairman of the Department of European Paintings at The Met, explains in a blog posting for The Met from 7 December 2017, the museum has embarked on a four-year-long project to replace the building’s skylights, which were originally constructed in 1939. Coverage by James Barron for The New York Times is available here. From Christiansen’s blog posting

One of my favorite documents (yes, it is possible to have favorite historical documents!) was only discovered in Rome’s dusty state archives five years ago. It notes how the brilliant young Spanish painter Jusepe de Ribera, having found lodgings in which he could paint, received permission from his landlord to create a window in the ceiling of his apartment. The purpose was, he said, “to facilitate painting.” Caravaggio had done the same in his lodgings in 1605.

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Allegory of the Planets and Continents, 1752, oil on canvas, 185 × 139 cm (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, 1977.1.3).

You see, artists can’t paint without good light—and not just any light, but sunlight (ideally with a northern orientation). Just try to imagine Jan van Eyck trying to paint the minute details of the distant cityscape and mountains in his phenomenal Crucifixion without adequate lighting—which, believe me, could not be obtained with candles.

In an age dominated by the drama of artificial light, it’s all too easy to forget how important daylight has always been to artists: natural light possessing the full color spectrum; light that falls evenly across the surface of the panel or canvas. A beautiful illustration of this is Vermeer’s famous Allegory of Painting in the collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, where we see the well-dressed artist sitting on his stool in front of his easel while a woman poses, dressed as Clio, the muse of history. The natural light from an unseen but clearly present window falls across her figure and gives an evenly balanced light to the artist’s canvas.

It follows that you cannot judge a painting without good light either. Not surprisingly, the optimal light in which to view a painting is dispersed and even daylight—which is why The Met is embarking on a four-year-long project to replace the skylights in the European Paintings galleries—originally constructed in 1939—and replace them with an up-to-date system; one that will significantly improve the way visitors experience the collection.

On our new web feature, Met Masterpieces in a New Light, you’ll be able to follow the project’s progress over the next four years and discover new ways to engage with our European paintings collection online while the galleries are closed. Be sure to bookmark the page and check in with us every month.


Call for Papers | Marginal Drawing Techniques

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on April 5, 2018

From H-ArtHist:

Marginal Drawing Techniques as an Aesthetic Strategy, 1600–1800
Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte München, Munich, 5 October 2018

Proposals due by 20 April 2018

Cennino Cennini’s metaphorical description of drawing as the “entrance and gateway to painting” provides an important indication of the purpose of drawing around 1400. Beyond its role in the execution of panel paintings, to the present day, drawing serves in the enhancement of motifs as a repository of alternatives and as ‘finger exercise’ for the development of routine manual dexterity—the prerequisite for a “free hand” (Albrecht Dürer).

Beyond the specific appreciation of “freehand drawing,” which reached a particular zenith in the eighteenth century, artists of all periods used different techniques for organising the drawing process, both materially and economically. They traced and pounced, made counter-proofs and impressions, and produced natural imprints and cliché verres. However, it would appear that the characteristics of such processes cannot be adequately explained in terms of the mere simplification of the process of creating a drawing. Instead, the aforementioned techniques or processes also served in the stimulation of the imagination, which was inspired, for example, by more or less random blots and smudges; similarly, cutting and pasting techniques contributed to the flexible arrangement of variations.

In view of the fact that such techniques generally assume a less prominent role in the study of drawing, as they also raise questions of quality for the art trade and collection history, it is intended to explicitly explore the functional and aesthetic importance of these marginal processes in case studies beyond the Alps during the period from around 1600 to around 1800. The aim here is to understand technical skill and versatility as a condition of creative and artistic-intellectual performance and to increase awareness of the correlation between theory and practice with a view, not least, to making the case for a greater focus on artistic-technical processes.

Possible key questions and issues in relation to the proposed sections include:

Tracing–Verso: Which tracing techniques exist and what functions did they fulfil? What is the role of the reverse side of the drawing here? To what extent does the tracing process become visible in the drawing process? Is it covered during the further execution of the work or visually highlighted in other cases? Where does the upgrading of the tracing process become evident?

Counter-Proofs–Inversion: The question regarding the different techniques and functions of counter-proofs also arises here. How do the reproductive printing techniques relate to this? Which sensoria and semantizations were developed for the side-inverted image? How can these be embedded in terms of cultural history, also on the basis of documentary sources (workshop treatises, art criticism, literature)?

Klecksography–Random Processes: As is generally known, Leonardo saw blots and cloud formations as a huge stimulus for the imagination. Artists resorted to processes that were only controlled to a limited extent to incorporate a certain principle of chance into the drawing process. However, these processes often only prove to be random on a superficial level: they were executed with extreme bodily motor skill and were intended to evoke a certain studied facility (sprezzatura).

Cut and Paste: The value of a treasury of motifs is particularly evident in the repeated use of models and patterns. Individual parts of a drawing could be cut out, stuck on and removed again for editing and checking a new draft. What are the artistic implications of such a procedure? And how can the cut & paste process be related to other techniques?

Repetition–Palimpsest: Finally, it is planned to examine practices involving the repetition of drawings and the cultural-historical dimensioning of drawings as a palimpsest.

Please send an abstract (max. 500 words) and a short CV for a 20-minute presentation in German or English by 20 April 2018 to marginalia@zikg.eu. Travel costs (economy class) and accommodation in accordance with the provisions of the German Travel Expenses Act will be covered.

Scientific Conception: Iris Brahms (Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte Munich, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum Cologne), Thomas Ketelsen (Wallraf-Richartz-Museum Cologne), Ulrich Pfisterer (Institut für Kunstgeschichte der LMU, Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte Munich)


Lecture | Mark Purcell on the Country House Library

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on April 5, 2018

Booking information is available through Eventbrite:

Mark Purcell | The Country House Library
Art Workers’ Guild, London, 10 April 2018

The Society for the History of Collecting are delighted to announce their next event which sees Mark Purcell discusses his new book The Country House Library.

Country Houses are normally studied by art, architectural, and social historians for the prosopography of their ownership, the details of the house, the modifications and motivations thereof, and the chattels (art and furnishings). However, when it comes to the actual contents of the library, often considered the most important room in house, the books themselves are overlooked. This is perhaps due to a general and historic lack of understanding of the history of the book, although the value of the books could equal that of the rest of the chattels in a house. Mark Purcell has remedied this oversight in his majestic survey of country house libraries, those that are and even those that once were but have been dispersed. Mark demonstrates that the country house libraries were not standard appendages, underappreciated and under read by their owners, but that they encompassed a vast range of form and function. His immensely successful book will be a sourcebook for art historians and those interested in the history of collections for decades to come.

Tuesday, 10 April, 6:00pm, Art Workers’ Guild, 6 Queen Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3AT. The lecture will be followed by drinks. Please book as soon as possible as places are limited.

Mark Purcell is Deputy Director, Research Collections, University of Cambridge, University Library. Formerly he was responsible for all the libraries within the National Trust (1999–2015) that comprise much beyond the country house, ranging from vernacular buildings to industrial in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Mark has studied the NT collections and has published numerous gems within. Responsible for a thorough cataloging of that vast corpus, he is perhaps the world’s expert on libraries once privately held in the UK.

Journée d’études | Représenter le conflit et le désordre au XVIIIe siècle

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on April 5, 2018

Jan van Huchtenburg, La Bataille de Ramilies entre Français et Anglais le 23 mai 1706, 1706–33, 116 × 153 cm
(Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum)

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

As noted at Groupe de Recherche en Histoire de l’Art Moderne (GRHAM). . .

Représenter le conflit et le désordre au XVIIIe siècle (1715–1799)
Institut national d’histoire de l’art (INHA), Paris, 13 April 2018

Cette journée d’étude est consacrée au thème du conflit au XVIIIe siècle, et plus particulièrement sur ses représentations, ses significations et les manières de le mettre en scène. La borne chronologique choisie inclut tous les supports visuels (gravure, peinture, sculpture, architecture) afin de voir comment, mises en synergie, les différentes formes d’art expriment, de façon plus ou moins évidente, la notion de conflit, de trouble et de désordre.

Comment figure-t-on le conflit ou l’idée de conflit au XVIIIe siècle ? Quelles sont les ruptures visuelles éventuelles avec le XVIIe siècle ? La Révolution française semble résumer le XVIIIe siècle or, pendant toute la première partie du règne, il existe des conflits religieux, militaires ainsi que des troubles liés à la politique intérieure. C’est aussi l’époque où l’aspect scientifique et les sciences naturelles font l’objet de nombreuses représentations. Ainsi, on s’aperçoit que la nature et ce qui l’environne, peut faire écho à l’idée de désordre (peinture de paysage, grandes fêtes révolutionnaires…). Il serait donc intéressant de mettre en valeur l’aspect technique : existe-t-il une technique propre à la représentation du conflit ? Quels liens entre technique et expression picturale pouvons-nous établir dans ces représentations de conflits ? Enfin, au-delà d’un désordre dans l’espace public, il serait également intéressant de traiter l’aspect conflictuel au sein de l’espace privé, dont l’intimité des familles entre en résonance avec l’essor de la bourgeoisie au XVIIIe siècle.

Comité organisateur: Lucille Calderini (Paris 1/INHA), Bastien Coulon (Paris 1) et Charlot te Rousset (Lille 3).


9.45  Accueil des participants

10.00  Introduction, Etienne Jollet et Lucille Calderini

10.30  Conflit et Animalité
• Loreline Pelletier (Doctorante, Université Lille 3), Comme chien et chat: Représenter le conflit animal dans la peinture du XVIIIe siècle
• Lydia Vazquez (Professeure, Université du Pays Basque, UPV/EHU) et Juan Manuel Ibeas Altamira (Professeur Adjoint, Université du Pays Basque, UPV/EHU), Le monde à l’envers chez Goya: Pouvoir féminin, puissance animale
• Chloé Perrot (Doctorante, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), Fouler le joug rompu, représenter des actes d’insurrection dans l’Iconologie par figures (v. 1795)

12.15  Discussion et déjeuner

14.30  Conflit et Royauté
• Clara Auger (Doctorante, Université Rennes 2), Portraits et représentations allégoriques de Philippe V d’Espagne: Une interprétation française du triomphe royal ?
• Charlotte Rousset (Doctorante, Université Lille 3), Les victoires militaires de Louis XV dans ses médailles: Justifier la guerre au nom de la paix

15.30  Pause

15.45  Conflit et Politique
• Camilla Murgia (Professeure, EPSU et Université de Genève), Représenter la guerre, fabriquer la paix: Les éventails de la période révolutionnaire et du Directoire
• Bastien Coulon (Doctorant, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), Le désordre et la paix: La peinture d’histoire en France à l’épreuve du Traité de Paris (1763)

16.45  Discussions et conclusion de la journée