Enfilade

Colonial Williamsburg Acquires Revolutionary War Portrait

Posted in museums by Editor on November 12, 2018

Press release (8 November 2018) from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, via Art Daily.

Unidentified artist, Portrait of Major Patrick Campbell, 1775–76, oil on canvas (Williamsburg: Colonial Williamsburg Collections, 2018-26).

Likenesses of British officers who served in the Revolutionary War are rare. Therefore, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s recent acquisition of the first bust-length, British military portrait for its collection is significant especially given the connection of this oil on canvas to events that happened nearby. The subject, Major Patrick Campbell, was a Scottish officer who served in the British lines at the Siege of Yorktown. Until the last few decades, the portrait descended through the family of Major Campbell’s sister.

“To be able to accurately depict our nation’s enduring story, especially the individuals who participated in events that happened in such close proximity to Williamsburg, is essential to our mission,” said Mitchell Reiss, president and CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. “The exceptional portraits in our collection, such as that of Major Campbell, enable us to fulfill this duty in an authentic way.”

The portrait of Major Campbell joins Colonial Williamsburg’s important collection of militaria pertaining to the Siege and Surrender of Yorktown, which took place approximately 13 miles away. The collection includes maps such as Joseph Frederick Wallet Des Barres’s A Plan of the Posts of York and Gloucester (1782) and Major General Marquis de Lafayette’s manuscript field map used during the Virginia Campaign. Among the paintings are James Peale’s group portrait of George Washington and his generals after the Surrender and two by French artist Louis-Nicholas Van Blarenberghe after drawings from eyewitnesses to the Siege and Surrender. The collection also features objects relating to other regions where the Revolutionary War occurred.

“Our goal is to tell the whole story of the Revolution in Virginia,” said Ronald Hurst, the Foundation’s Carlisle H. Humelsine chief curator and vice president for collections, conservation and museums. “Objects such as the portrait of Patrick Campbell allow us to put faces on the players and therefore humanize these events that changed the course of American history.”

The portrait of Major Campbell was painted in Scotland by an unidentified Scottish artist in late 1775 or early 1776 after Campbell was commissioned into the 71st Regiment to see action in the Revolutionary War. (He also sat for two portraits by John Singleton Copley.) The Major is shown in the uniform of the 71st Regiment prior to receiving command of the Grenadier Company of the 2nd Battalion, at which point a second silver epaulette was added to his uniform. His military career in America was vast: he served in the New York Campaign of 1776, the Philadelphia Campaign of 1777, and sailed to Savannah in late 1778 where he fought in the Campaign of 1779. In December of that year, he was captured aboard a sloop sailing to New York and taken as a prisoner of war to Newport, Rhode Island. He was exchanged back to the British for an American officer of the 2nd Virginia Regiment in 1780. On January 1, 1781, Campbell married Sarah Pearsall, a young woman from a prominent Loyalist Quaker family in New York City, with whom he fathered a son. Major Campbell survived in the British lines at Yorktown in October 1781, where he surrendered as part of the garrison of Redoubt #10, the earthwork fortification in the British defensive line protecting the town. He died in New York City in 1782 and was buried there.

The acquisition of Major Campbell’s portrait also exemplifies the collaborative efforts between two Colonial Williamsburg curators, who each brought forth their expertise in different media: Laura Pass Barry, Juli Granger curator of paintings, drawings and sculpture, and Erik Goldstein, senior curator of mechanical arts and numismatics. “It’s always a win-win situation for Colonial Williamsburg when two specialists can join forces on a project. I am fortunate to be able to rely on Erik for his expertise in military history, especially the people and events of the American Revolution,” said Barry. Added Goldstein, “And, I am appreciative for Laura’s insight into the context for which this portrait was made. Together, we’re able to better understand and therefore tell a more comprehensive story about objects like this in our collection.”

Generous donations by the Friends of Colonial Williamsburg Collections made this acquisition possible.

Exhibition | The Art of London Firearms

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on November 12, 2018

Opening next month at The Met:

The Art of London Firearms
The Met Fifth Avenue, New York, 29 January 2019 — 29 January 2020

Samuel Brunn, detail of one of a pair of flintlock pistols, with silver mountings attributed to Michael Barnett, ca. 1800 (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992.330.1,.2).

This exhibition will explore a fascinating and often overlooked chapter in the art of European gunmaking through a selection of important London-made firearms, dating from around 1760 through 1840, drawn exclusively from The Met collection. Many of the works have rarely, or never, been on public display. This will be the first focus exhibition in the United States in nearly fifty years to examine London firearms and will celebrate the in-depth recataloguing of this important section of the Museum’s collection.

Beginning around 1780, a small group of talented gunmakers set up workshops on the outskirts of the London city center. Their names—Durs and Joseph Egg, John and Joseph Manton, H. W. Mortimer, and Samuel Brunn, among others—are largely unknown to those outside the arms and armor field. But their contributions to the art of firearms are almost without parallel. In fierce competition with one another for lucrative commissions, fame, and prestige, they brought the flintlock gun to a level of refinement never before seen. They developed revolutionary new firearms technologies and, most importantly, a distinctly English style of firearm, wholly different from that of Continental Europe and immediately recognizable by its elegant proportions, restrained use of ornament, and precision workmanship. Indeed, they presided over what one writer of the period termed an ‘Augustine age’ of gunmaking.

Call for Essays | Terra Foundation for American Art Essay Prize

Posted in Calls for Papers, opportunities by Editor on November 12, 2018

Terra Foundation for American Art International Essay Prize
Submissions due by 15 January 2019

The Terra Foundation for American Art International Essay Prize recognizes excellent scholarship by a non-U.S. citizen working in the field of historical American art. Manuscripts should advance the understanding of American art by demonstrating new findings and original perspectives. The prize winner will be given the opportunity to work toward publication in American Art, the peer-reviewed journal copublished by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the University of Chicago Press. The winner will receive a $1,000 cash award and a travel stipend of up to $3,500 to give a presentation in Washington, D.C., and meet with museum staff and research fellows.

Authors must be non-U.S. citizens who have achieved doctoral candidacy or completed a doctoral degree (or the equivalent), and have not previously had a manuscript accepted for publication in American Art. Essays may focus on any aspect of historical (pre-1980) American art and visual culture; however, architecture and film studies are not eligible. Essays may be submitted in any language; abstracts must be submitted in English.

Submissions for the 2019 prize must be sent to TerraEssayPrize@si.edu by January 15, 2019. For information on the prize, available in Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish, please consult AmericanArt.si.edu/research/awards/terra.