Call for Articles | Art Institute Review

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on May 28, 2020

The Art Institute of Chicago is launching a new digital journal, Art Institute Review:

Art Institute Review, Fall 2021: Instability
Issue edited by Delinda Collier and Robyn Farrell

Proposals due by 15 July  2020

Instability is the hallmark of our present moment—ways of living, working, and relating have been dramatically altered over the course of mere weeks. What if the current state of flux is but an expression of the mutable nature of reality? Encounters between cultures through colonization, migration, trade, and war have, through the instability they wrought, regularly propelled change. Technology in particular has a fraught relationship with instability, capable of exacerbating and ameliorating it simultaneously. How might we take this moment to understand instability and its effects, past and present, in radically different ways?

In the art world, instability is both catalyst and consequence. It is legible as a force that has shaped—and is actively reshaping—museum collections. It exists in the toppling of received art-historical hierarchies and the rewriting of dominant narratives, through means as diverse as academic scholarship and grassroots movements like Decolonize This Place. Artists of past centuries could not have foreseen that their work would be subject to the forces of instability, evolving over decades as its materials degrade. Conservators negotiate instability daily, paying attention to materials and environments in order to forecast and forestall deterioration. Some contemporary artists, meanwhile, deliberately flirt with instability as a creative force, experimenting with frailty, precariousness, organic materials, and viewer participation as ways of ceding control of their work.

The inaugural issue of the Art Institute Review invites you to interrogate instability in any of the multifarious ways it manifests in art objects, art history, and the art world. We seek proposals that critically engage instability in relation to technology, materiality, and making; narratives and identity; interpretive methodologies; museological concerns; and epistemologies of the field; and the intersection of these dimensions with social justice and equity. How has instability been not only a force to intervene against but also one that has fostered new, beneficial states or ways of being? In what ways is instability shaping new ways of practicing criticality, structuring our temporalities, or reframing our perceptions of conflict or compassion? Proposals may address art of any time or place. We especially welcome proposals focused on historically underrepresented objects or narratives and proposals from emerging scholars.

This issue is coedited by Delinda Collier, Associate Professor of Art History, Theory, and Criticism, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Robyn Farrell, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art, the Art Institute of Chicago.

To respond to the call for papers, please email a Word document to journal@artic.edu. Your proposal should contain the following:

• your name, email, and (if you wish) a link to your website
• which of the following formats your submission falls into: scholarly essay (4,000–6,000 words); conversation or dialogue (2,000–3,000 words); visual, textual, or sound art; other (please explain)
• working title
• a one- or two-sentence précis encapsulating the central idea of your contribution
• an abstract (no more than 250 words; see “What we’re looking for” at artic.edu/journal for more guidance)
• a brief description (no more than 100 words) of the ways, if any, in which your contribution will leverage the capabilities of digital presentation. Does your proposal require any features beyond text and individual static images?

Visit artic.edu/journal for further details on the journal and the submission process.

Call for Articles and Notes | Metropolitan Museum Journal

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on May 26, 2020

Metropolitan Museum Journal 56 (2021)
Submissions due by 15 September 2020

The Editorial Board of the Metropolitan Museum Journal invites submissions of original research on works of art in the Museum’s collection. The Journal publishes Articles and Research Notes. All texts must take works of art in the collection as the point of departure. Articles contribute extensive and thoroughly argued scholarship, whereas research notes are often smaller in scope, focusing on a specific aspect of new research or presenting a significant finding from technical analysis. The maximum length for articles is 8,000 words (including endnotes) and 10–12 images, and for research notes 4,000 words with 4–6 images.

The process of peer review is double-blind. Manuscripts are reviewed by the Journal Editorial Board, composed of members of the curatorial, conserva­tion, and scientific departments, as well as external scholars. Articles and Research Notes in the Journal appear both in print and online, and are accessible via MetPublications and the Journal‘s home page at the University of Chicago Press. The deadline for submissions for volume 56 (2021) is 15 September 2020.

Inspiration from The Met.

Submission guidelines are available here.

Please send materials to journalsubmissions@metmuseum.org.

New Book | The Classical Body in Romantic Britain

Posted in books by Editor on May 25, 2020

Distributed by Yale UP:

Cora Gilroy-Ware, The Classical Body in Romantic Britain (London: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art , 2020), 320 pages, ISBN: 978-1913107062, $50.

For many, the term ‘neoclassicism’ has come to imply discipline, order, restraint, and a certain myopia. Leaving the term behind, this book radically challenges enduring assumptions about the art produced from the late 18th century to the early Victorian period, casting new light on appropriations of the classical body by British artists. It is the first to foreground the intersections of gender, race, and class in discussions of British visual classicism, laying bare artists’ alternately politicizing and emphatically sensual engagements with Greco-Roman art. Rather than rely exclusively on subsequent scholarship, the book takes up the poet John Keats (1795–1821) as a theoretical framework. Eschewing the ‘Golden Age’ narrative, which sees J. M. W. Turner (1775–1851) as the pinnacle of the period’s artistic achievement, the book examines overlooked artists, such as Henry Howard (1769–1847) and John Graham Lough (1798–1876). The result is a fresh account of underappreciated works of British painting and sculpture.

Cora Gilroy-Ware is a scholar, artist, and curator currently working with Isaac Julien CBE RA.

Open Digital Seminar in Eighteenth-Century Studies, 2020

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on May 20, 2020

ODSECS presents live seminars with Q&A opportunities (advance registration required for participation). Recordings remain available after the fact. I would particularly note Freya Gowrley’s talk in July on “Anna Seward and the Poetics of Exchange,” with registration details here. CH

Open Digital Seminar in Eighteenth-Century Studies
Launched April 2020, ongoing

The Open Digital Seminar in Eighteenth-Century Studies brings together researchers in eighteenth-century literature and culture from across the globe for conversation, debate, and sociability. It aims to make the best new research available to the widest possible audience, and to facilitate a diverse and inclusive research culture.

ODSECS seminars take place live and are also recorded to ensure maximum accessibility. In each seminar, a twenty-minute paper delivered by an expert speaker is followed by a 20- to 30-minute question and answer session. All participants are welcome to contribute to the Q&A using a microphone or the typed chat function.

ODSECS is convened by Dr Rebecca Bullard, Associate Professor of English Literature at the University of Reading, UK. Please send enquiries about ODSECS to r.bullard@reading.ac.uk.

Seminar 1: Sophie Coulombeau (University of York), Unlocking the Mary Hamilton Papers
April 2020

In April 2020, a group of researchers came together to experiment with the format for ODSECS. Dr Sophie Coulombeau gave a wonderful paper about the research project, ‘Unlocking the Mary Hamilton Papers’. On this occasion, only the talk was recorded, not the question and answer session that followed it.

Seminar 2: Eugenia Zuroski (McMaster University), Haywood’s Fascinum
Monday, 18 May 2020, 4.00pm (UK time)

Eliza Haywood’s The Adventures of Eovaai is a curiously elaborate joke: an intricate oriental romance as vehicle for a relatively straightforward satire of Robert Walpole and his political ascendance. As Ros Ballaster has observed, the tale contains “anarchic and perverse comic energies” that tend to overwhelm, even counteract, the story’s political orientations. In this paper, I consider how, in its more anarchic and perverse moments, Eovaai theorizes “unseriousness” as an epistemological and political approach to the world—an unexpected utopian promise in the prospect of being “carried away” by literature’s most fascinating and least plausible objects. Tracing Haywood’s engagement with the Roman fascinum, I show the unexpected conceptual heights a well-deployed penis joke might take us.

Seminar 3: Nicholas Seager (Keele University), ‘The Celebrated Daniel De Foe’: The Reception and Publication History of Defoe’s Non-Fiction
Wednesday 17 June 2020, 4.00pm (UK time)

This paper examines unexplored aspects of Daniel Defoe’s (1660–1731) posthumous publication history in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It challenges prevalent understandings of his reception, as critics have assumed that “Defoe seems to have been little read or remembered in the years after his death,” and that until the twentieth century he was remembered as a “slapdash journalistic hack.” As well as trying to qualify or dispel such views, the paper argues that Defoe’s extensive publication history in numerous non-fiction genres—history, travel-book, conduct writing, journalism, polemical pamphlets, religious treatises, and more—reveals some ways in which generic change occurred across the period. Defoe’s non-fiction was subjected to acts of re-publication that amount to adaptation and appropriation, processes more commonly applied to Defoe’s fiction. Finally, the paper shows how the re-publication of Defoe’s non-fiction repeatedly engaged with British political, social, and economic history, from the Forty-Five to the French Revolution and beyond.

Seminar 4: Freya Gowrley (University of Derby), Anna Seward and the Poetics of Exchange: Portraiture, Poetry, and Gift Culture
Wednesday, 15 July 2020, 4.00pm (UK time)

This paper unpacks the complex networks of emotional, artistic, and poetic exchange that surrounded a highly emotional portrait-object: a printed version of George Romney’s painting Serena given to Lady Eleanor Butler (1739–1829) and Sarah Ponsonby (1755–1831)—the so-called ‘Ladies of Llangollen’—by the poet Anna Seward (1742–1809). Seward identified the image as a ‘perfect similitude’ of her deceased step-sister Honora Sneyd, so much so that the print played an active role in Seward’s commemoration of their lost friendship. Like Butler and Ponsonby’s own infamous ‘romantic friendship’, Seward and Sneyd enjoyed an intensely close and deeply affectionate relationship that flouted social norms, with both Sneyd’s marriage to Richard Edgeworth in 1751, and her eventual death in 1780, devastating the poet.

Discussing both Seward’s copy of the print, as well as Butler and Ponsonby’s facsimile, this paper places the image within two contexts: firstly, in relation to Seward’s volume of poetry, Llangollen Vale with Other Poems (1796), a sentimentalising series of verses dedicated to Seward’s intimate relationships with Butler, Ponsonby, and Sneyd; and secondly, within an intricate display of gifted portraits at Plas Newydd, Butler and Ponsonby’s home at Llangollen in Wales. Using methodologies from the history of the emotions, material culture and literary studies, and art history it will demonstrate the image’s deep embedment within Seward’s emotional and creative consciousness: on the one hand, allowing Seward to actively ruminate and comment upon her close connections with Sneyd, Butler, and Ponsonby; and on the other, functioning within a dynamic web of literary, material, and loving gestures enacted between Seward and her friends. In so doing, the paper will highlight the vibrant intermedial lives of this eighteenth-century print, and the urgency of an interdisciplinary approach to the art of this period.

Digital Project | Adam Grand Tour, Letters and Other Writings

Posted in resources by Editor on May 19, 2020

From the project website:

Robert & James Adams’ Grand Tour Letters and Writings, 1754–63
Organized by Adriano Aymonino and Colin Thom with Giles Bergel and Harriet Richardson

Charles-Louis Clerisseau (attributed), Capriccio, ca.1756–57 (London: Sir John Soane’s Museum, SM Adam volume 56/139, photograph by Hugh Kelly).

The digital project—Robert & James Adams’ Grand Tour Letters and Writings 1754–63—aims to present an online critical edition of all the known Adam brothers’ Grand Tour letters and writings as a freely available, open-access, fully searchable database. This will enable readers to view the letters in their original form alongside new and accurate transcriptions, with contextual scholarly annotations.

The website will be updated periodically as the project progresses through its various phases. The completed online edition of the letters will be hosted from 2022 by Sir John Soane’s Museum, custodians of most of the surviving Grand Tour and architectural drawings from the Adam brothers’ office, and will be licensed under a Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA licence.

The project is supported by a Digital Project Grant from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and is a collaboration between UCL’s Bartlett School of Architecture and the University of Buckingham’s Department of History and History of Art. It also has the support of Sir John Soane’s Museum, the National Records of Scotland, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Royal Institute of British Architects and London Metropolitan Archives/City of London. The editors and directors of the project are Dr Adriano Aymonino of the University of Buckingham and Colin Thom of the Survey of London at UCL’s Bartlett School of Architecture. The project’s technical manager is Dr Giles Bergel (UCL and Oxford). The project’s transcriber is Harriet Richardson.  Please send any comments or new information to us by email to: editors@adamgrandtour.online.

Call for Papers | Palaces in Eighteenth-Century Madrid

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on May 19, 2020

An earlier version of this announcement (from ArtHist.net) appeared yesterday; here’s a more complete version from the Call for Papers, which includes the Spanish. Also, please note the qualification of the date:

Palaces for Rent: Real Estate in Madrid in the Eighteenth Century / Palacios en alquiler: Patrimonio inmobiliario en el Madrid del siglo XVIII
Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED), Madrid, 12 November 2020*

Proposals due by 30 June 2020

This conference is the second in a series devoted to palaces in eighteenth-century European cities. The first conference, which focused on Rome, was hosted by the Art History Department at the UNED (Madrid) last year. In this second edition we seek to explore the case of Madrid during the eighteenth century. On the one hand, the majority of the nobility continued to live in rented palaces at the Court even though they owned properties within the city that they, in turn, rented out to other families. On the other, there was a discrepancy between the magnificence of the Spanish nobility and the quality and decoration of Madrid’s palaces. It was common for nobles to live in rundown old buildings, in most cases only slightly refurbished, which differed from other homes only in size. Over the course of the eighteenth century, and after the Alcázar was destroyed by fire, there was a noticeable change in the location of the city’s palaces. Firstly, the focus of the Court shifted towards the Buen Retiro, fostering the construction of new palaces on the eastern side of the Prado that conformed with both the canons of academic taste and the beautification and modernization of the capital promoted during the reigns of Ferdinand VI and, especially, Charles III. Secondly, during this period, domestic interiors underwent an important renewal as fashionable residences were adapted to new uses and social practices. This phenomenon, which reached its luxurious peak during the reign of Charles IV, provoked intense commercial activity as it spread to other social groups, such as the emerging bourgeoisie, the new administrative elite of the State, and the foreign diplomats who resided in the capital.

The purpose of this second conference is to gather specialists with different areas of expertise in order to delve into the uses and practices of housing in Madrid during the eighteenth century, taking into account the social and urban transformations of the city and the changes in the uses of domestic space in palaces, either coming whether by long-term residents (the nobility, the middle class, or public servants) or short-term ones (diplomats, travelers, businessmen, agents, etc.).

Potential topics for discussion could include but are not limited to:
• Palaces in Bourbon Madrid, architectural and artistic aspects.
• Internal organization of palaces, spaces and etiquette, from theory to practice.
• The palace as the place of courtly sociability and courtly society.
• Supply and demand in the housing market, sales or rentals.
• Decoration and interior design of the residences of the nobility.
• Structure of noble households in Madrid, servants, duties, etc.
• Ambassadors, legates, cardinals and other representatives and their Madrid residences.
• Topographies of noble and diplomatic power.

We invite scholars at all stages of their careers to propose 20-minute presentations, preferably focused on case studies. The official language for the conference is Spanish, but we accept English, Portuguese, Italian, and French. For the sake of clarity all communications with foreign colleagues, as well as their proposals, should be in English.

Candidates are invited to submit their proposals by 30 June 2020 to: palacesforrent@gmail.com. They should include an abstract (up to 500 words) and a brief CV with recent publications (max. 1 page). Unfortunately, it will not be possible to cover travel and accommodation costs for participants. Applicants will be notified of the final selection by 15 July 2020.

* The date could be subject to change in the following months due to COVID-19 crisis and the subsequent health regulations. In case there would be travel restrictions the organization of the congress would provide adequate solutions to allow e-participation for non local speakers.

Scientific Direction
Dra. Miriam Cera Brea, UNED
Dra. Pilar Diez del Corral Corredoira, UNED
Dr. Álvaro Molina Martín, UNED

Scientific Committee
Dra. Natalia González Heras, Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Dra. Giada Lepri, La Sapienza, Roma
Dr. Carlos Sambricio, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
Dra. Mercedes Simal, Universidad de Jaén
Dr. José Antonio Vigara Zafra, UNED

Call for Papers | The Myth of Versailles and European Courts

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on May 18, 2020

From the Château de Versailles:

The Myth of Versailles and European Courts, 18th and 19th Centuries
Château de Versailles, 17–19 June 2021

Proposals due by 31 October 2020

Étienne Allegrain, View of the Feasting Chamber Grove, 1688–93, oil on canvas (Château de Versailles, MV754).

In conjunction with 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 since 2017.

At the end of the feudal age, the royal and princely courts represented a European phenomenon in terms of political, social and cultural content: monopolisation of power for the benefit of a single figure, gathering of a group of individuals around a sovereign and their family (princes, courtiers, domestic and military officers), development of a specific sociability and way of life, governed by ceremonial procedures, the search for ostentation and entertainment. These courts were as numerous and diverse as the dynasties that ruled them; nevertheless, some acquired a prescriptive value, such as the Court of Burgundy in the 15th century and the Italian courts of the 16th century. In the 17th and 18th centuries, it was the French Court of the Bourbons, and in particular that of Louis XIV, that became archetypal: an illusionary world, based on a reality observed and experienced by the contemporaries of the kings of France, was constructed and maintained for a long time by European monarchies, up until their demise for the most part in the early 20th century, at a time when political configurations were changing, shifting from shared power with assemblies to the establishment of republics.

The two contradictory yet complementary elements that characterise the idea of myth—the real and the reconstruction of the real—are best embodied, in France at least, at Versailles. Both a royal residence, a mode of government and a social whole, Versailles is an architectural, administrative and spectacular expression of the ‘absolute’ power associated with the figure of Louis XIV. The objective of the programme Court Identities and the Myth of Versailles in Europe: Perception, Adherence, and Rejection (18th-19th Centuries), which will conclude this conference, is to analyse the modus operandi of the myth of Versailles in the monarchic Europe of the 18th and 19th centuries. Two fundamental questions must therefore be raised: how did the illusion surrounding Versailles among the contemporaries at court under the Ancien Régime and later visitors in the 19th century develop and what did it entail? And reciprocally, how did this illusion establish itself in the courts of Europe, with all possible nuances, ranging from imitation to rejection and simple adherence? The focus of this conference will therefore be twofold: understanding how the different aspects specific to the identity of Versailles have fuelled an illusion, but also discerning how this illusion gave rise to other accomplishments, whether architectural, ritual or political.

1. The production of the myth, from the real to the imaginary: creation, transformations, challenges (17th–19th centuries)

The myth of Versailles spread across the courts of Europe until the decline of parish civilisation in the early 20th century. It was built up through various accounts given by foreign visitors who established a personal relationship with the Bourbon Court, whether as contemporary witnesses direct from royal Versailles until 1789, or as curious visitors to the remains of a lost time, moved by a wide range of feelings, from nostalgia to castigation. This myth was developed on the basis of illusion, fed by an observed or imagined reality. It differs from the objective historical commentary: it is the subjectivity of the ‘visitor’ that gives rise to the myth.

In October 2019, the Centre de recherche du château de Versailles made available a database entitled Visitors to Versailles among its online resources. One of the aims of the conference will be to draw on this body of works in various ways:

A chronological approach
• Impressions of royal Versailles: contemporaries of the first Versailles of Louis XIV, changing views under Louis XV then Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, taking into account the legacy of Louis XIV as well as the changes to parish life and the spatial planning (word in the grounds, retreat to the Petit Trianon, creation of an English landscape garden, etc.).
• Versailles viewed after the Revolution: during the Empire, during the Restoration and in particular during the July Monarchy, a pivotal period that marked the shift from illusion to history with the construction of the musée de l’Histoire de France by Louis-Philippe and the accompanying literature (Alexandre de Laborde, etc…).

A sociological approach
• determine which actors participated in the development of the myth and acted as a vector. To understand their expectations and their perspectives, the discussion could cover the different criteria that forge that specific identity of visitors: their geographical origins, their social background, their language and their political, religious and national culture.

A thematic approach
• Ceremonial customs most often observed: the lever/coucher, public meals, mass, the movements of the king and the royal family between these various moments, as well as festivities and entertainment, etc.
• Locations that draw particular attention: the chateau façades, the Grande galerie, the Chambers of the king and queen, the State apartments, the chapel, the opera, the Petit and the Grand Trianon, the gardens and their ponds.
• More general elements that visitors systematically associate with Versailles: water system and the Machine de Marly, pomp and extravagant expenditure, the vanity of the kings of France and the idolatry of their subjects, Marie-Antoinette and her rural life in Trianon, and, after 1789, the consequences of the Revolution (damage, pillaging, sales, departure of the royal family for Paris).

2. The applications of the myth, from the imaginary to the real: receipt and vagaries of the Versailles paradigm (18th–20th centuries)

The second research focus aims to understand the effectiveness of this illusion of Versailles. By connecting the myth, as it was invented by visitors, to the accomplishments it gave rise to, we will seek to understand how a ‘model’ works and can (or not) become the norm. We therefore wish to examine the impact of Versailles on the courts of Europe by comparing the conduct and structure of these courts with the perceptions of their citizens with regard to the Versailles paradigm. With this in mind, the ways in which Versailles was experienced, transcribed, glamorised, denigrated, accepted, copied or refuted must be identified: how did the myth come about? Did it stimulate practices and creations, participate in the creation of a European and cosmopolitan spirit, while being both admired and hated? And if so, what were the motivations behind this? Why use Versailles as inspiration or conversely, reject it or remain unmoved?

Nevertheless, the aim is not to spark a comparative study, point by point, between a ‘model’ and its possible ‘imitation’ which would seek only to compare factual data. On the contrary: rather than approaching the question from the point of view of influence, we will consider it from the point of view of interactions, in order to understand the interplay between an illusion and its concrete applications in architecture, parish organisation, social and artistic practices (protocol, dance, theatre, music). The objective is to understand the underlying rationale, the motivations and the issues that presided over these dynamics of ownership: why in some cases draw on Versailles rather than on competing models, and conversely, why in other cases favour antagonistic trends over the Versailles paradigm? We must also ensure that this question is differentiated from that of a more global ‘French model’: which elements strike us at the Court of Versailles specifically?

Particular interest will go to proposals that examine European courts in the 18th century and even more so the 19th century, when Versailles had lost its initial vocation. We are notably looking for studies on the following themes:

• The means and challenges of variations on the theme of Versailles, as at Lunéville, Caserte and Herrenchiemsee.

• The legacy of Versailles in France, in the Imperial courts and in the ceremonial functioning of the Third Republic.

• The role of the myth of Versailles on the European stage throughout the 19th century, particularly with regard to recent monarchies: the Kingdom of Belgium (1831), the Kingdom of Greece (1833), the unified Kingdom of Italy (1861), the Kingdom of Romania (1881), the Tsardom of Bulgaria (1908), the Kingdom of Montenegro (1910), among others. The 19th century was the true century of courts, whose multiplication went hand in hand with the rise of nationalism. It was also the century of the dominance of new ‘models’—Prussian and Russian, in particular—to which Versailles could be compared.

Proposals for papers must be sent to Flavie Leroux, before 31 October 2020. The must include in 5,000 characters maximum, the title of the paper, the content of the paper (point of study, method used, sources used), biographical information, and the applicant’s contact details. These proposals for papers will be examined by the coordination committee and the steering committee. Applicants will receive a response regarding their participation in the conference by the end of December 2020.

Joint Coordination
• Gérard Sabatier, Professor Emeritus at the université de Grenoble II, project manager for the programme “Court identities and the myth of Versailles in Europe…”
• Mathieu da Vinha, Scientific Director of the Centre de recherche du château de Versailles
• Flavie Leroux, research fellow for the programme “Court identities and the myth of Versailles in Europe…”

Steering Committee
• Antonio Álvarez-Ossorio, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
• Maciej Forycki, Uniwersytet Adam Mickiewicz, Poznań
• Mark Hengerer, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich
• Christine Jeanneret, Centre de recherche du château de Versailles and Danish National Museum, Frederiksborg, Danemark
• Jean-Marie Le Gall, université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
• Francine-Dominique Liechtenhan, Centre national de la recherche scientifique
• Philip Mansel, The Society for Court Studies, President of the GIP-CRCV
• Andrea Merlotti, Centro Studi La Venaria Reale
• Friedrich Polleroß, Universität Wien
• José Luis Sancho Gaspar, Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid
• Marie-Christine Skuncke, Uppsala Universitet
• Jonathan Spangler, Manchester Metropolitan University
• Thomas W. Gaehtgens, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles


Exhibition | Japan: Courts and Culture

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on May 16, 2020

Press release (12 November 2019) for the exhibition from the Royal Collection Trust:

 Japan: Courts and Culture
The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London, 8 April 2022 — 26 February 2023

Curated by Rachel Peat

Arita, Hizen Province (Japan), Jar and Cover, 1690–1720, porcelain with moulded relief decoration and painted in underglaze blue, overglaze enamel, and gold; French mounts, 1780–1820, gilt bronze; 42.5 cm high, purchased for George IV in 1820 (Royal Collection Trust, RCIN 39239).

The Royal Collection contains one of the finest holdings of Japanese works of art in the Western world, significant for both the unique provenance and exceptional quality of the objects. Now, for the first time, highlights from the collection are brought together in the exhibition Japan: Courts and Culture, which tells the story of the diplomatic, artistic, and cultural exchanges between Britain and Japan from the reigns of James I to Queen Elizabeth II. Including rare examples of porcelain, lacquer, armour and embroidered screens, the exhibition offers a unique insight into the relationship between the imperial and royal courts over a period of 300 years.

The formation of the East India Company in 1600 paved the way for direct contact between Japan and England. In 1613, the first English ship to reach Japanese shores was captained by John Saris, who brought with him letters and gifts from James I for Shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu, the military leader who governed Japan on behalf of the imperial family. Saris returned with a letter granting the English permission to live and trade in Japan, and with gifts for the King. These included a samurai armour, the earliest to arrive in Britain and the first surviving non-European work of art to enter the Royal Collection.

This first contact between England and Japan was short-lived. From the 1630s, for some 220 years, Japan closed to the West in an attempt to regulate foreign influence. During this time, the Dutch were the only Europeans permitted to trade directly with Japan through one small enclave at Nagasaki. Demand for exotic East Asian wares remained high in Europe, where the secrets of porcelain and lacquer manufacture were yet to be discovered.

The British royal family led the way in collecting highly prized examples of Japanese lacquer, porcelain, and textiles—much of which was produced specifically for the export market. In the 17th century, Mary II displayed Japanese porcelain in her apartments at Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace. In the 18th century, Queen Caroline, consort of George II, formed a significant collection of Japanese lacquer. A century later, George IV incorporated Japanese porcelain into the opulent decorative schemes at Carlton House in London and the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. Many of the pieces acquired by the King were given new functions through the addition of elaborate gilt-bronze mounts, turning a simple jar into a pot-pourri vase and animal figures into incense burners.

When Japan reopened to the West in the 1850s, goods began to flow freely, and diplomatic and political links were re-established. Queen Victoria’s son, Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, was the first member of a European royal family to visit Japan when he arrived there in 1869 during a world naval tour. The Prince met the Emperor Meiji at the Imperial Palace, where an exchange of gifts took place, and was presented with samurai armour, including a helmet dating from 1537. In a letter to his mother, Alfred wrote: “To give you any account of this country, I feel quite at a loss. Every thing is so new & so quaint that I am quite bewildered.”

The next members of the British royal family to visit Japan were Queen Victoria’s grandsons Prince George of Wales (the future King George V) and his brother, Prince Albert Victor. In 1881, the teenage Princes were serving as midshipmen aboard HMS Bacchante and were granted shore leave to meet the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōken. They returned with presents for their family, including a teapot and cups for their father, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, and with diplomatic gifts from the Emperor. According to the official diary of the tour, compiled by their tutor, the Reverend John Dalton, the Princes had their arms tattooed during their visit to Japan—Albert Victor with ‘a couple of storks’ and George with a dragon and a tiger, a combination said to signify East and West.

In the early 20th century, a defensive Anglo-Japanese Alliance was formed to secure both nations’ interests in the Pacific. This was also a period of growing artistic exchange. The most significant cultural event was the 1910 Japan-British Exhibition in London, which included demonstrations of Japanese crafts, music, sports, and entertainments. More than eight million people visited the exhibition, including Queen Mary, consort of King George V, who was an enthusiastic collector of East Asian art.

The relationship between the Japanese and British imperial and royal families has continued to flourish through reciprocal royal visits, attendance at coronations, and the exchange of gifts. In 1902, Prince Komatsu Akihito attended the coronation of King Edward VII on behalf of the Emperor Meiji and presented the King with an embroidered folding screen of the four seasons. In 1911, Queen Mary received a coronation gift of a miniature cabinet bearing the imperial chrysanthemum crest, created by Akatsuka Jitoku, one of the most accomplished lacquerers of his generation. On the occasion of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, the Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito) sent Her Majesty a cosmetic box decorated with a heron by the great lacquer artist Shirayama Shōsai.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

In the United States and Canada, the catalogue is distributed by The University of Chicago Press:

Rachel Peat, ed., Japan: Courts and Culture (London: Royal Collection Trust, 2020), 320 pages, ISBN: 978-1909741683, $70.

Japan: Courts and Culture tells the story of three centuries of British royal contact with Japan, from 1603 to c.1937, when the exchange of exquisite works of art was central to both diplomatic relations and cultural communication. With discussions of courtly rituals, trade relationships, treaties, and other matters of concern between the two nations, this book provides important historical and political context in addition to granting a new look at the works of art in question. Featuring new research on previously unpublished works, including porcelain, lacquer, armor, embroidery, metalwork, and works on paper, this book showcases the unparalleled craftsmanship of these objects, and the local materials, techniques, and traditions behind them. Japan: Courts and Culture is published to accompany a spectacular exhibition of the same name, which opens at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, in June 2020. The book’s stunning photography, contextual essays, and historical insights offer a highly visual record of a royal narrative and history that has not yet been widely documented.

Rachel Peat is assistant curator of non-European works of art at Royal Collection Trust.


Foreword, HRH The Prince of Wales and Princess Akiko of Mikasa
British and Japanese Royal Family Trees
Map of Japan

1  Introduction, Rachel Peat
2  First Encounters, 1600–1639, Rachel Peat
3  Trade, 1639–1854, Rachel Peat
4  Porcelain, Melanie Wilson and Rachel Peat
5  Lacquer, Rachel Peat
6  Travel, 1854–1901, Rachel Peat
7  Samurai, Arms and Armour, Gregory Irvine
8  Metalwork, Kathryn Jones
9  Treaty, 1901–1937, Rachel Peat
10  Artistic Exchange, Kathryn Jones
11  Courtly Ritual, Caroline de Guitaut
12  Coda, Rachel Peat
13  Appendix: The Model of the Taitokuin Mausoleum, William H. Coaldrake

Timeline of Key Events

◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊

Note (added 8 April 2022) — The posting has been updated to indicate the revised dates of the exhibition, which was originally scheduled to be on view from 12 June until 8 November 2020.

New Book | Aesthetic Science

Posted in books by Editor on May 14, 2020

From The University of Chicago Press:

Alexander Wragge-Morley, Aesthetic Science: Representing Nature in the Royal Society of London, 1650–1720 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2020), 272 pages, ISBN: 978-0226680729 (hardcover), $120 / ISBN: 978-0226680866 (paper), $40. E-books are also available.

The scientists affiliated with the early Royal Society of London have long been regarded as forerunners of modern empiricism, rejecting the symbolic and moral goals of Renaissance natural history in favor of plainly representing the world as it really was. In Aesthetic Science, Alexander Wragge-Morley challenges this interpretation by arguing that key figures such as John Ray, Robert Boyle, Nehemiah Grew, Robert Hooke, and Thomas Willis saw the study of nature as an aesthetic project.

To show how early modern naturalists conceived of the interplay between sensory experience and the production of knowledge, Aesthetic Science explores natural-historical and anatomical works of the Royal Society through the lens of the aesthetic. By underscoring the importance of subjective experience to the communication of knowledge about nature, Wragge-Morley offers a groundbreaking reconsideration of scientific representation in the early modern period and brings to light the hitherto overlooked role of aesthetic experience in the history of the empirical sciences.

Alexander Wragge-Morley is clinical assistant professor of liberal studies and history at New York University.


1  Physico-Theology, Natural Philosophy, and Sensory Experience
2  An Empiricism of Imperceptible Entities
3  In Search of Lost Designs
4  Verbal Picturing
5  Natural Philosophy and the Cultivation of Taste
Conclusion: Embodied Aesthetics


Decorative Arts Trust Prize for Excellence and Innovation

Posted in opportunities, resources by Editor on May 14, 2020

From the Decorative Arts Trust:

Decorative Arts Trust Prize for Excellence and Innovation, $100,000
Application due by 30 June 2020 (extended from the original deadline in March)

To further the Decorative Arts Trust’s mission to foster appreciation and study of the arts, the Trust has established the $100,000 Decorative Arts Trust Prize for Excellence and Innovation. The Prize funds outstanding projects that advance the public’s appreciation of decorative art, fine art, architecture, or landscape.

Images from Old Salem and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.

The Prize shall be awarded to a non-profit organization in the United States or abroad for a scholarly endeavor, such as museum exhibitions, print and digital publications, and online databases. The Trust’s selection committee aims to recognize impactful and original projects that advance scholarship in the field while reaching a broad audience.

“This new award will advance the work of our talented mid- and late-career colleagues as a complement to our efforts to support young scholars through the Emerging Scholars Program,” states Matthew A. Thurlow, the Decorative Arts Trust’s Executive Director. “Thanks to the generosity of three lead donors, we are making a long-term commitment to furthering innovative scholarship in the arts while reinforcing the Trust’s mission and promoting our broader programs. We look forward to celebrating exceptional endeavors in the arts.”

Details and Deadlines

The deadline has been extended: Nominations and self-nominations should be submitted to thetrust@decorativeartstrust.org by June 30. Projects can extend 1–5 years for final completion after the prize is awarded, but no longer. Collaborative endeavors that unite multiple institutions are encouraged to submit nominations. Ongoing projects are suitable for nomination.

Nominations should include:
• clearly defined mission and outcomes
• budget
• timeline
• CVs of key personnel and list of collaborating partners (if applicable)
• list of current funders and other potential fundraising sources (if applicable)

Finalists will be notified by the end of 2020.

Endowing the Prize

The Trust is thrilled to embark on this initiative. We welcome additional contributions to endow the Prize, including appreciated securities and IRA and other retirement fund disbursements.

Read the blog post announcing the Prize.

%d bloggers like this: