Exhibition | Canova and Thorvaldsen

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on October 31, 2019

Antonio Canova, The Three Graces, 1813–16
(St. Petersburg: State Hermitage Museum)

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From the press release (via Art Daily) for the exhibition:

Canova and Thorvaldsen: The Birth of Modern Sculpture
The Gallerie d’Italia—Piazza Scala, Milan, 25 October 2019 — 15 March 2020

Curated by Stefano Grandesso and Fernando Mazzocca

The Gallerie d’Italia—Piazza Scala, Intesa Sanpaolo’s museum in Milan, presents Canova and Thorvaldsen: The Birth of Modern Sculpture, on display from 25 October 2019 to 15 March 2020. The exhibition tells the story of the two great sculptors, Italian Antonio Canova (1757–1822) and Danish Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770–1844), focusing on their rivalry and how they transformed the very idea of sculpture and its techniques to create works of art that inspired their contemporaries and generations of artists that followed. Italy played a central role to both sculptors’ lives, and careers and the exhibition brings over 150 works together from across Italy and further afield to Milan with key works from the Intesa Sanpaolo collection to be shown together for the first time.

The city of Rome was particularly important to both artists. Canova arrived in 1781 and remained in the city until his death in 1822, while Thorvaldsen settled in the city in 1797, spending the next forty years there. It was in Rome that the two great masters began engaging in one of the most famous and fruitful instances of artistic competition in history, interpreting identical themes and subjects to create a number of masterpieces: classical mythological works, such as Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss, Venus, Paride, Hebe, and The Three Graces—which embodied some of life’s great themes, from the brevity of youth, the enchantment of beauty, to temptation and heartbreak. Canova and Thorvaldsen brings together the fruits of this historic competition and ongoing rivalry for the first time, including Canova’s celebrated Graces from the State Hermitage Museum alongside Thorvaldsen’s Cupid and The Graces from the Thorvaldsen Museum, offering visitors the unique opportunity to compare each of these masters’ approach and style.

Both Canova and Thorvaldsen were celebrated by their contemporaries and by critics of the era for their appreciation for the classical world and ability to reinterpret classical themes through the lens of the modern day. Canova was seen as a revolutionary artist in Italy and abroad who gave sculpture precedence over all other forms of art by confronting ancient works and reinterpreting them for a contemporary audience. Keeping a close eye on the work and strategy of his rival, Thorvaldsen was inspired by a stricter and more conservative adherence to classical norms, beginning a new period of Nordic art inspired by Mediterranean civilisations.

Both artists not only revolutionised an approach to classical ideals in sculpture but also advanced new techniques. Each established large studios the size of complex workshops with numerous colleagues, and students and were able to break free from the constraints that clients typically placed on sculpture due to the high costs of marble or bronze. Thanks to the technical innovations like the use of preparatory plaster models, introduced by Canova and used on a large scale by Thorvaldsen the sculptors had—for the very first time—the freedom to express their own poetic vision through statues designed without being commissioned.

The unprecedented pairing of these two great sculptors is made possible through Intesa Sanpaolo’s partnerships with the Thorvaldsen Museum in Copenhagen and the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, as well as the contribution of major works loaned by museums and private collections in Italy and abroad including the Vatican Library, the Uffizi Galleries in Florence, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, the Pinacoteca di Brera gallery and Pinacoteca gallery of the Ambrosian Library in Milan, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Museo e Gypsotheca Antonio Canova in Possagno, the National Gallery of Ancient Art in Rome, and the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice.

Stefano Grandesso and Fernando Mazzocca, Canova e Thorvaldsen: La nascita della scultura moderna (Milan: Skira, 2019), 408 pages, ISBN: 885724252, €42.

More information about the exhibition (in Italian) is available here»

Lecture Series | Perspectives on Collecting

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on October 31, 2019

From ArtHist.net:

Perspectives on Collecting: A Four-Part Lecture Series
Strawberry Hill House, London, 6–27 November 2019

Strawberry Hill Trust hosts a four-part lecture series exploring perspectives on collecting from renowned speakers: David Starkey, historian and presenter; Tim Knox, Director of the Royal Collection; Martin Caiger-Smith, author and Head of the MA Curating the Art Museum programme at The Courtauld Institute of Art; and Tristram Hunt, Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum. The lectures will begin at 7.30pm in the Waldegrave Drawing Room by kind permission of St Mary’s University. Guests are invited to arrive from 6.45pm to enjoy a complimentary glass of fizz in Horace Walpole’s magnificent Gallery.

Wednesday, 6 November
David Starkey, Holbein and The Tudor Court

Wednesday, 13 November
Tim Knox, The Rise and Fall of the Country House Museum

Wednesday, 20 November
Martin Caiger-Smith, Antony Gormley’s Interventions in Historic Collections

Wednesday 27 November
Tristram Hunt, Collecting the Home

Exhibition | Inspired by the East

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on October 30, 2019

Now on view at The British Museum:

Inspired by the East: How the Islamic World Influenced Western Art
The British Museum, London, 10 October 2019 — 26 January 2020
Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, 20 June — 20 October 2020

Curated by Julia Tugwell and Olivia Threlkeld

Levni (active ca. 1703–1730), leading artist at the court of Sultan Ahmet III, A European Gentleman in a Red Coat, Ottoman School painting, Turkey, early eighteenth century (London: The British Museum, 1960,1112,0.2).

Charting the fascinating history of cultural and artistic interactions between East and West, this exhibition explores the impact the Islamic world has had on Western art for centuries. Artistic exchange between East and West has a long and intertwined history, and the exhibition picks these stories up from the 15th century, following cultural interactions that can still be felt today. Objects from Europe, North America, the Middle East, and North Africa highlight a centuries-old tradition of influence and exchange from East to West. The diverse selection of objects includes ceramics, photography, glass, jewellery, and clothing, as well as contemporary art, showcasing how artistic exchange influenced a variety of visual and decorative arts. The exhibition concludes with a 21st-century perspective, through the eyes of four female artists from the Middle East and North Africa who continue to question and subvert the idea of Orientalism in their work and explore the subject of Muslim female identity.

The show takes a deeper look at the art movement of Orientalism—specifically the way in which North Africa and the Middle East were represented as lands of beauty and intrigue, especially in European and North American art. Reaching its height during the 19th century, this genre often blurred the lines between fantasy and reality—and as Palestinian-American scholar Edward Said argued—often misrepresenting life in the so-called ‘Orient’. This exhibition seeks to demonstrate a longer, more complex history of influence and inspiration from 1500 through to present day. An exchange of art and ideas which may have been driven by interests such as pilgrimage, warfare, diplomatic encounters, colonial interests, or simply an interest in adapting artistic techniques.

Conceived and developed in collaboration with the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, Inspired by the East: How the Islamic World Influenced Western Art includes generous loans from their extensive collection of Islamic and Orientalist art. The exhibition and collaboration highlight centuries of cultural exchange between East and West and its continuing importance today. It will be on display at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (IAMM), Kuala Lumpur, from 20 June to 20 October 2020.

Curators Julia Tugwell and Olivia Threlkeld provide more information here»

William Greenwood and Lucien de Guise, eds., Inspired by the East: How the Islamic World Influenced Western Art (London: British Museum Press, 2019), 256 pages, ISBN: 978-0714111933, £30.


Exhibition | Luca Giordano (1634–1705)

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on October 28, 2019

Luca Giordano, Ariane abandonnée (Ariadne Abandoned),1675–80, 203 × 246 cm, oil on canvas
(Verona: Museo di Castelvecchio)

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Opening next month at the Petit Palais:

Luca Giordano: The Triumph of Neapolitan Painting / Le triomphe du baroque napolitain
Petit Palais, Paris, 14 November 2019 — 23 February 2020

The Petit Palais presents the first ever retrospective in France of works by the Neapolitan painter Luca Giordano (1634–1705), one of the most brilliant European artists of the 17th century. The exhibition highlights the exceptional virtuosity of this illustrious Seicento painter with nearly ninety works, monumental paintings and drawings, assembled thanks to exceptional loans from the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples, the main churches in Naples, and numerous European institutions, including the Museo del Prado. Following the exhibition of works by the sculptor Vincenzo Gemito (1852–1929), this retrospective is part of the season that the Petit Palais is devoting to Naples this autumn in partnership with the Museo di Capodimonte.

Exhibition Curators
• Christophe Leribault, director of the Petit Palais
• Sylvain Bellenger, director of the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte
• Stefano Causa, teacher at the Università degli Studi Suor Orsola Benincasa, Naples
• Patrizia Piscitello, leader of the Exhibitions and of Loans Department of the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

From the press release:

À partir du 14 novembre, le Petit Palais présente pour la première fois en France une rétrospective consacrée au peintre napolitain Luca Giordano (1634–1705), l’un des artistes les plus brillants du XVIIe siècle européen. L’exposition met en valeur l’exceptionnelle virtuosité de cette gloire du Seicento à travers la présentation de près de 90 œuvres, tableaux monumentaux et dessins, réunis grâce aux prêts exceptionnels du musée de Capodimonte à Naples, des principales églises de la ville et de nombreuses institutions européennes dont le musée du Prado. Avec l’exposition sur le sculpteur Vincenzo Gemito (1852–1929), cette rétrospective constitue le second volet de la saison que le Petit Palais consacre à Naples cet automne en partenariat avec le musée de Capodimonte.

Organisée selon un axe chronologique tout en ménageant des rapprochements avec des toiles majeures d’autres peintres, le parcours de l’exposition souhaite apporter une vision renouvelée de l’artiste et montrer comment Giordano a su tirer le meilleur des différents courants stylistiques de l’époque pour aboutir aux formules qui séduisirent son siècle.

Formé dans le sillage de Jusepe de Ribera (1591–1652), espagnol de naissance mais napolitain d’adoption, Giordano assimila avec maestria son génie ténébriste tout en commençant sa carrière à succès par des quasi-pastiches d’œuvres de Raphaël, de Titien comme de Dürer. Un séjour de formation à Rome vers 1653 le mit toutefois en contact avec la modernité baroque et les innovations d’un Rubens comme d’un Pierre de Cortone. C’est grâce à sa capacité à intégrer les innovations de son temps comme des maîtres du passé que l’œuvre de Giordano évolua continuellement depuis le naturalisme jusqu’à des mises en scène baroques d’une fougue inégalée.

Très vite reconnu dans toute la péninsule italienne, il reçoit de très nombreuses commandes et exécute près de 5 000 tableaux et ensembles de fresques d’où son surnom de « Luca fa presto » (Luca qui va vite) ! Il reste le peintre par excellence des églises de Naples qui sont remplies de ses toiles d’autel dont l’exposition présentera une sélection. Ces immenses compositions frappent par leur dramaturgie complexe, mettant en scène les saints de la Contre-Réforme comme les patrons tutélaires de la ville, notamment San Gennaro (saint Janvier). L’immense tableau San Gennaro intercédant pour les victimes de la peste rappelle le contexte terrible de cette période qui vit la plus grande ville d’Europe méridionale perdre la moitié de ses habitants à la suite de la peste de 1656.

L’exposition met en valeur le contraste entre des compositions tourmentées, Crucifixion de Saint Pierre (par Giordano et par Mattia Pretti), Martyr de saint Sébastien (idem), terrible Apollon et Marsyas (par Giordano et par Ribera) et, dans un registre sensuel hérité du Titien, de langoureuses Vénus, Ariane abandonnée ou Diane et Endymion.

Son rayonnement dépassa l’Italie et, s’il refusa les sollicitations royales pour l’attirer à Paris, il s’installa à la cour de Charles II d’Espagne à partir de 1692, où il réalisa d’immenses fresques notamment, pour le Cazón del Buen Retiro à Madrid, le monastère de l’Escorial ou encore la cathédrale de Tolède. L’exposition évoque d’ailleurs cet aspect majeur de son œuvre en proposant aux visiteurs une expérience immersive dans une salle de projection.


Exhibition | Flesh and Blood: Italian Masterpieces

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on October 27, 2019

Guido Reni, Atalanta and Hippomenes, ca. 1620–25, oil on canvas, 76 × 104 inches
(Naples: Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte)

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Press release (via Art Daily) for the exhibition:

Flesh and Blood: Italian Masterpieces from the Capodimonte Museum
Seattle Art Museum, 17 October 2019 — 26 January 2020
Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, 1 March — 14 June 2020

The Seattle Art Museum presents Flesh and Blood: Italian Masterpieces from the Capodimonte Museum, featuring 40 Renaissance and Baroque works of art (39 paintings and one sculpture) drawn from the collection of one of the largest museums in Italy. Traveling from the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte in Naples, the exhibition offers a rare opportunity to see works by significant Italian, French, and Spanish artists who worked in Italy including Artemisia Gentileschi, El Greco, Parmigianino, Raphael, Guido Reni, Jusepe de Ribera Titian, and more.

The Capodimonte Museum is a royal palace built in 1738 by Charles of Bourbon, King of Naples and Sicily (later King Charles III of Spain). The core of the collection is the illustrious Farnese collection of antiquities, painting, and sculpture, formed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and inherited by Charles of Bourbon. Italian and Spanish masterpieces of the Baroque period, grounded in realism and produced in Naples, build on this foundation. The Farnese collection traces a century of creativity, inspiration, and a constant search for beauty, followed by masterpieces of the Baroque era characterized by grandeur, dramatic realism, and theatricality.

This exhibition marks the first time that this many works from the Capodimonte Museum will travel together at the same time. The New York Times called the museum an “under-visited treasure trove” with a “staggering collection of art,” and Conde Nast Traveler called it “the most underrated museum in Italy.”

The paintings in Flesh and Blood center on the human figure, whether featured in portraits or mythological and religious scenes. They explore the intersection of physical and spiritual existence, with an emphasis on the human body as a vehicle to express love and devotion, physical labor, and tragic suffering.

“I am thrilled that we have the rare opportunity to see these incredible works in Seattle,” says Chiyo Ishikawa, SAM’s Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art and Curator of European Painting and Sculpture. “Epic and intimate, divine and brutally realistic, these paintings speak to the complexity of human experiences in a timeless way that will resonate with our visitors.”

A 160-page softcover exhibition catalogue will be available for purchase in SAM Shop ($30). It features essays by Sylvain Bellenger, General Director, Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte; James P. Anno, American Friends of Capodimonte Curatorial Fellow; and Christopher Bakke, American Friends of Capodimonte Curatorial Fellow.


Flesh and Blood is presented chronologically, tracing a 200-year period from the 16th through the 18th centuries. Here are nine highlights:

Parmigianino, Antea, 1524–27
With the identity of the sitter a mystery, this striking portrait most likely represents a vision of idealized beauty typical of the Renaissance. Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola, known as Parmigianino (1503–1540), has his subject look directly out at the viewer, adorned with furs and jewelry that may have signified fertility or lust.

Titian, Pope Paul III, 1543
Titian (1488/90–1576) established strong ties with the powerful Farnese family, beginning with Pope Paul III. In this official portrait, Titian delivers a vivid likeness that conveys both the elderly human being and the shrewd statesman.

Titian, Danaë, 1544–45
This overtly erotic painting is one of the most celebrated nudes of the Renaissance. It depicts the mythological princess Danaë, whose father locked her in a chamber so that no man could reach her. The God Zeus gained access by transforming himself into a golden cloud, showering down upon her. Painted for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, it probably portrays his mistress Angela as the goddess and was intended only for private viewing.

El Greco, Boy Blowing on an Ember, 1571–72, oil on canvas (Naples: Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte).

El Greco, Boy Blowing on an Ember, 1571–72
This painting by Doménikos Theotokópoulos (1541–1614), commonly known as El Greco, may reference an antique painting mentioned by the Roman writer Pliny the Elder. Depicting a boy blowing on an ember to light a candle, El Greco uses that as the work’s sole source of light, illuminating the concentrated face of the boy.

Annibale Carracci, Pietà, 1599–1600 
Annibale Carracci (1560–1609) was one of the most influential painters and teachers in Bologna and Rome. This effective expression of maternal grief at the death of her son was inspired by Michelangelo’s Pietà in Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith and Holofernes, 1612–13
Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1653 or later) may be the most celebrated female painter of the Baroque period. In her work, she often painted dramatic scenes featuring women subjects from the Bible and mythology. With this painting, she depicts the story of the Jewish heroine Judith slaying the Assyrian general Holofernes, who was threatening to destroy her village. Gentileschi’s decision to focus on the violent act has been associated with her traumatic experience in 1611, when she was raped by the painter Agostino Tassi.

Guido Reni, Atalanta and Hippomenes, ca. 1620–25
The influential Baroque painter Guido Reni (1575–1642) was known for both Biblical and mythological subjects. In this painting, he depicts the story of Atalanta, who had taken a vow of chastity. Under pressure from her father, she agreed to marry the first man who could outrun her in a footrace. Hippomenes won by distracting her with three irresistible golden apples given to him by Venus.

Jusepe de Ribera, Drunken Silenus, 1626
This unusual depiction of a classical bacchanal centers on Silenus, companion to the wine god Dionysus. Ribera (1591–1652) renders his rotund body with loaded, vital brushstrokes typical of his naturalistic style. Painted for a private collector, this reclining, unglamorous male nude seems to send up the physical beauty and erotic appeal of Renaissance Venuses.

Jusepe de Ribera, Saint Jerome, 1626
Saint Jerome is one of Ribera’s most frequently painted subjects. In this monumental altarpiece, the emaciated, aged hermit is startled by the angel that appears in the upper right blowing the trumpet of the Last Judgment. The saint’s withered body, which reflects the divine light above, dominates the composition and is as palpable as human flesh.


Call for Essays | The Enlightened Nightscape, 1700–1830

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on October 26, 2019

From the Call for Proposals:

The Enlightened Nightscape, 1700–1830
Edited by Pamela Phillips

Proposals due by 20 December 2019; completed essays due by 30 June 2020

Traditional timelines divide the past into the ‘Dark Ages’ and the ‘Enlightenment’, with their corresponding associations with ignorance, the irrational, and superstition in opposition to light, clarity, and reason. In recent years numerous academic disciplines have challenged this black and white view, converging in and on the night to study the many dimensions of the other half of our daily twenty-four-hour cycle. The emerging field of Night Studies has examined the evolution of the meaning of night since the Middle Ages, its representation in different national literatures and art, and the impact of street illumination in the creation of nightlife, especially in urban centers, among other topics. This line of research is particularly relevant to eighteenth-century studies, as the Enlightenment’s embrace of light and reasoned knowledge makes it easy to overlook that night and darkness held both physical and metaphorical importance. The invention of lighting technology and economic growth, along with the rise of social infrastructures like cafés and the fascination with graveyards and other dark spaces, brought life and light to the eighteenth-century nightscape. The night became a source of inspiration for many writers and artists, and philosophers explored its hidden meanings.

The objective of this edited collection is to present a cross-disciplinary discussion on the thinking about the concept of night through examples from the global and long eighteenth century. The Enlightened Nightscape 1700–1830 seeks to bring together case studies that address how the night became visible in the eighteenth century through different mediums and in different geographical contexts. The proposed study of the representation, treatment, and meaning of the night in the long and global eighteenth century also contributes to an on-going exercise that questions the accepted definitions of the Enlightenment. By bringing Eighteenth-Century Studies into dialogue with Night Studies, The Enlightened Nightscape 1700–1830 enriches the critical conversation on both lines of research.

Contributions may consider, but are not limited to, the following topics:
• Night, dusk, and dawn as periods and spaces of the daily cycle
• Darkness and the (in)visible world
• Nocturnal landscapes and architecture (cemeteries, forests, etc.)
• The unknown, uncertainty, and obscurity
• Urban and rural night culture
• Blindness and sight
• Public spaces and sociability
• Gender and mobility
• Astrology and astronomy
• Shadows in art and life
• Chiaroscuro and nocturne painting
• Sleep and dreams
• Nighttime animals (wolves, bats, etc.)
• Evening customs (witchcraft, storytelling, crime, etc.)
• Literary and artistic representations

In its embrace of the global turn in eighteenth-century studies, The Enlightened Nightscape 1700–1830 welcomes multidisciplinary topics, analysis of literary, visual, aural, and material texts, and considerations of nightscapes that extend beyond the traditional European canon.

Please submit a 300-word abstract and an abbreviated CV to Pamela Phillips (phillips.pamela@gmail.com) by December 20, 2019. Authors will be notified by January 31, 2020. Complete, original, and not previously published essays of 6,000–8,000 words will be due by June 30, 2020.

The editors of the Routledge Studies in Eighteenth-Century Cultures and Societies series have expressed an initial interest in the collection and a full proposal will be submitted to the publisher once the abstracts have been selected. Please send all proposals and inquiries to Pamela Phillips: phillips.pamela@gmail.com.

Pamela Phillips, PhD
Department of Hispanic Studies
University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras

Symposium | London Art Week: Conversations on Collecting

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on October 26, 2019

In conjunction with London Art Week:

London Art Week Symposium: Conversations on Collecting
Sainsbury Wing Theatre, The National Gallery, London, 2 December 2019

This December, London Art Week (1–6 December) launches the inaugural LAW Winter Symposium to foster debate and learning among the public, international collectors, members of the art trade, and museum professionals. Held in collaboration with our partner museum, The National Gallery, the 2019 Symposium will consist of three panel discussions, with our eminent speakers discussing different aspects of collecting. Attendance is free, but places must be registered and booked in advance.


2.30  Introduction and welcome by Gabriele Finaldi (Director, The National Gallery)

2.35  Returning Home: The Significance and Challenges of Exhibitions that Reunite Historic Collections in Their Original Settings
Moderator: Tom Stammers (Assistant Professor of Modern European Cultural History, Durham University)
• Toto Bergamo Rossi (Curator, Domus Grimani; Director, Venetian Heritage Foundation)
• Silvia Davoli (Curator, Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill; Paul Mellon Research Curator, Strawberry Hill House; Associate Researcher, University of Oxford)
• Thierry Morel (Curator, Houghton Revisited; Director and Curator at Large, Hermitage Museum Foundation USA; and Trustee of the Sir John Soane’s Museum, London)

3.30  Collecting Today: What Motivates Private Collectors and How Do They Envisage the Future of Their Collections
Moderator: Justin Raccanello (Specialist dealer in Italian ceramics)
• Katrin Bellinger (Collector and Founder, Tavolozza Foundation)
• Claudio Gulli (Curator, Valsecchi Collection at Palazzo Butera, Palermo)
• Keir McGuinness (Collector)

4.30  Changing Questions: The Role of Museums in 2020 and How They Can Better Engage with the Public
Moderator: Martin Bailey (The Art Newspaper)
• Ketty Gottardo (Martin Halusa Curator of Drawings, The Courtauld Gallery)
• Luke Syson (Director and Marlay Curator, Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge)
• Nicholas Thomas (Director, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge)

Exhibition | Thomas Jefferson, Architect

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions, lectures (to attend) by Editor on October 25, 2019

Model of Jefferson’s Design for the President’s House Competition, designed by Simone Baldissini and constructed by Ivan Simonato, 2015, scale 1:66, wood, resin, and tempera (Vicenza: Palladio Museum; photo by Lorenzo Ceretta).

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Press release (18 April 2019) for the exhibition:

Thomas Jefferson, Architect: Palladian Models, Democratic Principles, and the Conflict of Ideals
Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia, 19 October 2019 — 19 January 2020

 Curated by Erik Neil, Lloyd DeWitt, and Corey Piper

Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) was Governor of Virginia, Secretary of State, President of the United States, and author of the Declaration of Independence. The most important architectural thinker of the young American republic, Jefferson conveyed ideals of liberty and democracy in his designs. He was also a slave owner. A new exhibition from the Chrysler Museum of Art titled Thomas Jefferson, Architect: Palladian Models, Democratic Principles and the Conflict of Ideals explores this divergence alongside his extraordinary architectural influence.

Thomas Jefferson, Monticello: Observation Tower, recto, ca. 1771, pen and Ink with gray wash (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts).

Organized by the Chrysler Museum of Art in collaboration with the Palladio Museum in Vicenza, Italy, the exhibition focuses on the ideas, formation, and key monuments of the Founding Father who dramatically influenced the architectural profile of the young republic. It will also confront the inherent conflict between Jefferson’s pursuit of contemporary ideals of liberty and democracy and his use of slave labor to construct his monuments.

The Chrysler Museum’s exhibition will follow Jefferson’s evolution as an architect with nearly 130 objects, including models, rare books, paintings, drawings, early photographs, and architectural elements. Visitors will see objects from the Chrysler’s rich collection, as well as loans from the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art, Jefferson’s residences at Monticello and Poplar Forest in Virginia, the University of Virginia, and other museums and libraries.

The Palladio Museum will provide 14 models, including 10 newly created models of Jefferson’s buildings and four models displaying the key architecture of Renaissance master Andrea Palladio (1508–1580). The exhibition will feature models of Monticello and Jefferson’s design for the U.S. president’s house, which was not selected, as well as numerous representations of the Pantheon that will highlight its architectural influence on the University of Virginia’s Rotunda. The Chrysler will also display the only autographed drawing by Palladio in an American collection as well as various editions of his treatise, The Four Books of Architecture.

Visitors will also see bricks, nails, and other components from Jefferson’s buildings that were created by enslaved laborers and craftsmen, as well as two rare images of enslaved and formerly enslaved people who can be linked directly to Jefferson and his buildings. These include Isaac Granger Jefferson, an artisan who was a tinsmith and blacksmith and labored in the nailery as an enslaved worker at Jefferson’s Monticello.

“Thomas Jefferson engaged with the most advanced ideas of architecture and city planning of his era. He was also a slave owner who failed to resolve his ideals about freedom and democracy with his reliance upon the institution of slavery. We will examine these facets of Jefferson’s architectural formation and practice to foster a new and fuller understanding of his accomplishments,” said Museum Director Erik H. Neil.

Through his education in Virginia, travels in the colonies and Europe and extensive library, Thomas Jefferson engaged with both classical and contemporary ideas about architecture. His projects frequently referenced ancient models or those of established authorities such as Palladio. He pursued forms that were both aesthetic models and expressive of the new republic’s democratic ideals. He employed those influences in his designs for the Virginia State Capitol, the University of Virginia, buildings in Washington, D.C. and his own residences, Monticello and Poplar Forest.

“For both Jefferson and Palladio, the architecture of the ancients was the key model with regard to functionality, style and meaning,” Neil said. “We see evidence of Thomas Jefferson’s influence in the architecture throughout our region, and we are excited to share the history and influence of these designs with our visitors to present important elements of Virginia’s history.”

Thomas Jefferson, Architect: Palladian Models, Democratic Principles and the Conflict of Ideals is curated by the Chrysler Museum’s Erik Neil, director; Lloyd DeWitt, chief curator and Irene Leache curator of European art; and Corey Piper, Brock curator of American art.

Lloyd DeWitt and Corey Piper, with an introduction by Erik Neil and contributions by Guido Beltramini, Barry Bergdoll, Howard Burns, Lloyd DeWitt, Louis P. Nelson, Mabel O. Wilson, and Richard Guy Wilson, Thomas Jefferson, Architect: Palladian Models, Democratic Principles, and the Conflict of Ideals (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019), 208 pages, ISBN: 978-0300246209, $45.

A richly illustrated catalog published by Yale University Press will accompany the exhibition. A team of leading international scholars will offer new scholarship and a fresh appraisal of Jefferson’s formation and career as an architect, engage the impact and legacy of his status as a slave owner and highlight the work and contributions of enslaved laborers and artisans. Contributors include Lloyd DeWitt, the Chrysler Museum’s chief curator, and Irene Leache, curator of European art; Howard Burns, president of the Centro Palladio, Scuola Normale Pisa; Guido Beltramini, director of the Palladio Museum; Richard Guy Wilson and Louis P. Nelson, both from the University of Virginia; and Barry Bergdoll and Mabel O. Wilson of Columbia University.

S E L E C T E D  P R O G R A M M I N G

Mabel O. Wilson and Louis P. Nelson in Conversation
Saturday, 2pm, 26 October 2019

Renowned scholars Mabel O. Wilson and Louis P. Nelson will discuss the contributions and legacy of enslaved craftsman on the architecture of Thomas Jefferson. Wilson is a professor of architectural design at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Research in African American Studies and co-directs Global Africa Lab. Nelson is the Vice Provost for Academic Outreach and Professor of Architectural History at the University of Virginia. Register at chrysler.org.

Travis McDonald, Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest
Sunday, 2pm, 1 December 2019

Travis McDonald, the Director of Architectural Restoration at Poplar Forest, will offer insight into the restoration of Thomas Jefferson’s personal retreat and plantation and the work of enslaved craftspeople.

Visitors to Versailles Database

Posted in resources by Editor on October 25, 2019

From the Centre de recherche du château de Versailles:

Visitors to Versailles Database
Accessible since October 2019

After Charles Le Brun, The Different Nations of Europe, oil on canvas, 17th century (Château de Versailles, MV 5778).

The Visiteurs database is part of the research programme Court Identities and the Myth of Versailles in Europe: Perception, Adherence and Rejection (18th–19th Centuries), led by the Centre de recherche du château de Versailles and directed by Gérard Sabatier.

The purpose of this tool is to draw up a list of the personal accounts of foreign visitors to the domain, palace and court of Versailles, in order to examine how the ‘Versailles myth’ was disseminated throughout Europe. The period in question will extend from the reign of Louis XIV to the end of the 19th century, in order to establish how opinions about this place evolved, from the moment it established itself as the centre of royal power to when it became a testimony to a monarchical past. The corpus will bring together a variety of texts: memoirs, travel accounts, letters and even diaries, written by authors of diverse social and geographical origins. To make these more easily accessible, several thematic filters will be put in place, such as the period of the trip, places visited, people encountered and the occasions at court when the observations were made. The database has been accessible since October 2019 through the resources portal of the Centre.

Access the Visiteurs Database (in French).

Conference | The Pictorial Evidence of Ruins

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on October 22, 2019

From ArtHist.net:

The Pictorial Evidence of Ruins: From Rome to Homs
Istituto Svizzero di Roma / Academia Belgica, Rome, 14–15 November 2019

The questions of ruins and their images oscillate in the history of art between the vanitative interpretations related to the early modern period and the aesthetic categories of romanticism, while for the cultural studies the theoretical reflection on the ambiguities of memory and oblivion stands in the foreground. The conference goes beyond this topic range and raises questions about the importance of a ruin as an anachronistic symbol, a visual indicator of historical difference, and a critical touchstone of modernity.

How did ruins turn into an independent figurative metaphor regarded as the epitome of transience? To what extent were the ancient Roman ruins transformed in the early modern period into iconic images of symbolic and aesthetic value and what is the relevance of this long process of transference—the elevation of the ruin to a sovereign image—for the way in which we view today’s Syrian war ruins from a distance? In this context, one needs to differentiate between natural disintegration and planned ruination: what distinguishes the archaeological from the iconoclastic dimension of a ruin?

The instrumentalization of the ruins of Palmyra which themselves became victim to a media-related iconoclasm in 2015 and the elevation of their void space after devastation into a social icon give reason to think critically about how the reception of ruins and the depiction of ruination combine anachronism with aesthetics and affect. Following these issues, we shall ask: What is the pictorial evidence of ruins and that of their images? In how far can images of ruins iconically convey or translate the nature of a catastrophe? To what extent does the aesthetic familiarity of the ruins of Rome as a visual paradigm of a ruined city raised by art since the 16th century contribute to our understanding of the new media-related impact of factual destruction today? Does aesthetics have an anaesthetic effect in this case?

With these questions, the conference seeks to contribute to the critical analysis of a pictorial concept of ruins from the early modern period to the present—spanned between destruction, restoration, and construction—and to ask how the issue of the media topicality of ruins can be dealt with today.

T H U R S D A Y ,  1 4  N O V E M B E R  2 0 1 9

Istituto Svizzero di Roma

15.00  Welcome by Adrian Brändli (Istituto Svizzero di Roma))

15.15  Afternoon Session
• Mateusz Kapustka (University of Zurich/FU Berlin), Ruins, Ruination, and Anachronism: An Introduction
• Henri de Riedmatten (University of Geneva), Recoding Fragmented Figures: Dynamics of Restoration in Early Sixteenth-Century Rome
• Jumana Al Asaad (University of Heidelberg), The Iconization and Medialisation of the Syrian Cultural Heritage in the Ongoing Armed Conflict

F R I D A Y ,  1 5  N O V E M B E R  2 0 1 9

Academia Belgica

9.00  Welcome by Sabine van Sprang (Academia Belgica)

9.15  Morning Session
• Maarten Delbeke (ETH Zurich), Getting Rid of the Ruins.: Remnants as Sources of Knowledge and Confusion in the Late Seventeenth Century
• Dirk De Meyer (Ghent University), Palmyra to Europe and Back: Architectural Ruins and their Mediatization
• Stanislaus von Moos (University of Zurich/Getty Research Institute), Constructivist Ruins? On Frank Lloyd Wright and Peter Blume

12.00  Lunch break

13.00  Closing Session
• Robert Harbison (London), Ruins and Fragments in Modern Sculpture

Mateusz Kapustka

Adrian Brändli
Ralph Dekoninck
Mateusz Kapustka
Tristan Weddigen


Istituto Svizzero di Roma
Via Ludovisi 48, 00187 Rome
Adrian Brändli, info@stitutosvizzero.it

Academia Belgica
Via Omero 6, 00196 Rome
Charles Bossu, info@academiabelgica.it

Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History
Via Gregoriana 28, 00187 Rome
Mara Freiberg Simmen, freiberg@biblhertz.it

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