Enfilade

Call for Papers | The Helvetic Republic and France

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on January 21, 2021

The 2022 meeting of the Swiss Society for the Study of the Eighteenth Century addresses relations between the Helvetic Republic and France. From the Call for Papers, via ISECS:

Le Corps helvétique et la France, 1660–1792: Transferts, asymétries, et interdépendances entre des partenaires inégaux
Colloque de la Société Suisse pour l’Étude du XVIIIe Siècle (SSEDS)
Château de Waldegg, Feldbrunnen-St. Niklaus (canton de Soleure), Switzerland, 28–30 April 2022

Proposals due by 31 March 2021

Organized by Simona Boscani-Leoni, Claire Gantet, André Holenstein, Timothée Léchot, Bérangère Poulain

Si le Corps helvétique et le royaume de France n’acquirent que dans la seconde moitié du XVIIe siècle une longue frontière commune, les relations politiques, diplomatiques et économiques entre les deux pays inégaux étaient déjà très étroites depuis le début du XVIe siècle. La Paix perpétuelle (1516) et l’alliance régulièrement renouvelée de 1521 à 1777 entre les cantons et le roi de France constituèrent l’épine dorsale des relations extérieures du Corps helvétique jusqu’en 1792. Rien ne manifeste mieux l’éminent intérêt du Roi très chrétien à des relations étroites avec le Corps helvétique que la présence d’un ambassadeur permanent de la France à Soleure (à partir de 1530). L’affirmation de la France en tant que grande puissance continentale sous Louis XIV attisa une discussion de plus en plus controversée sur les relations asymétriques entre ces partenaires inégaux. Tandis que les clients de la France saluaient Louis XIV comme un protecteur bénéfique de la liberté et de l’unité confédérées, le parti antifrançais dans les Cantons helvétiques percevait dans la politique offensive d’expansion (conquête de la Franche Comté en 1668/1674 et de Strasbourg en 1681) et dans la persécution des huguenots un danger imminent pour la Confédération. Contre les intérêts des entrepreneurs de guerre, des pensionnaires et des négociants tournés vers la France, il voulait contrebalancer la forte dépendance envers la France du Corps helvétique en le rapprochant de l’Empire, de l’espace néerlandais et de l’Angleterre. Ces tensions atteignirent un apogée en 1715 lorsque le roi — à l’encontre d’une politique qui traditionnellement visait l’accord entre les partis confessionnels — ne renouvela son alliance qu’avec les cantons catholiques. En 1777 seulement, la diplomatie française parvint à inciter l’ensemble des cantons divisés à renouveler leur alliance avec le roi, en tant que leur « plus vieil ami et allié » — une alliance qui fut unilatéralement résiliée par la France républicaine révolutionnaire en 1792.

Proximité et distance, dépendance et retrait : ces traits ne caractérisèrent pas seulement les relations politiques et diplomatiques du Corps helvétique et de la France. Ils caractérisèrent aussi les arts, la littérature, l’architecture et les pratiques culturelles, jusqu’à la mode et la consommation. D’un côté, la France exerça une grande influence sur le Corps helvétique en tant que grande puissance politique mais aussi modèle culturel, comme en témoignent la langue, la littérature, les modes de vie, l’architecture et les intérieurs des élites sociales. De l’autre, la puissance politique et culturelle du voisin provoqua des réactions de défense jusque dans ces domaines. Elles se manifestèrent dans la critique de l’artificialité, de la superficialité et de la frivolité «des Français», et dans l’éloge du «bon sens» anglais (Beat Ludwig von Muralt), dans la stylisation de la simplicité et du naturel républicains en tant que contre-modèles culturels à l’affectation de la société de cour, dans le déploiement d’une littérature suisse francophone distincte qui s’émancipait de la poésie classique française, ou dans une critique de ton de plus en plus national développée par des partisans des Lumières réformatrices à l’encontre du mode de vie aulique cosmopolite des patriciens confédérés, laquelle s’exprima notamment dans le rejet des voyages à l’étranger des jeunes patriciens et dans la revendication d’institutions éducatives en Suisse.

Le colloque veut éclairer les relations franco-suisses au XVIIIe siècle compte tenu de ces tensions entre proximité et distance, admiration et rejet, dépendance et émancipation. En élargissant les notions avancées dans la recherche récente de transferts culturels (Michel Espagne, Michael Werner) et de tropisme (Wolfgang Adam, Jean Mondot) — qui analysent les relations franco-allemandes dans une perspective avant tout littéraire et culturelle —, le colloque, conformément à la vocation interdisciplinaire de la Société Suisse pour l’étude du XVIIIe siècle, envisage tant pour sa conception que pour sa thématique le spectre entier des relations franco-suisses dans le siècle et demi qui s’écoula jusqu’à la Révolution française. Il sonde les dynamiques, conjonctures et crises des relations et perceptions réciproques des deux voisins. Cette interrogation ouvre la voie à quantité de thèmes : l’entreprise de guerre et les services étrangers ; les relations diplomatiques ; les relations commerciales et la contrebande ; les mouvements migratoires ; les appropriations, transferts et les critiques des modèles culturels dans les domaines de l’art, de l’architecture, de la littérature, de la consommation et de la mode ; les contacts et relations entre les lettrés ; le vécu et les perceptions des voyageurs ; la formation et les perceptions de la frontière commune ; la constructions d’images de soi et de l’autre notamment.

Les communications individuelles seront limitées à 25 minutes, les communications collectives à 40 minutes. Les projets de communications rédigés en français ou en allemand, ou en anglais (avec un maximum de 300 mots) peuvent être adressés jusqu’au 31 mars 2021 à Claire Gantet (claire.gantet@unifr.ch) ou André Holenstein (andre.holenstein@hist.unibe.ch). Le comité scientifique du colloque se prononcera jusqu’au 30 juin 2021.

Exhibition | DeWitt Clinton’s Broadsides of the Early Republic

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on January 19, 2021

From the Albany Institute of History & Art:

Fellow Citizens! DeWitt Clinton’s Broadsides of the Early Republic
Albany Institute of History & Art, 1 August 2020 — 14 March 2021

To the Freeholders of New-York, April 29, 1789, DeWitt Clinton Broadside Collection, GR 78-10.24

The Albany Institute of History & Art is home to what is likely the earliest collection of political material specifically assembled as a political collection—the DeWitt Clinton Broadside Collection, which encompasses over one hundred broadsides ranging in date from 1775 to 1813.

A broadside is a single sheet of paper printed with information on one side. Donated to the Albany Institute by Theodoric Romeyn Beck (1791–1855), the broadsides collection would be tucked away and forgotten about, rediscovered and acclaimed, and stored once more, hidden to the world at large, until a local political memorabilia collector learned about the Institute’s collection in 2018, and was thrilled by the discovery. Historically, broadsides were ephemeral sources of information created to serve specific, temporary purposes. After serving their purpose they were either thrown away or repurposed and since paper was a scarce commodity in early America, their survival today is rare.

Fellow Citizens! DeWitt Clinton’s Broadsides of the Early Republic exhibition focuses on five New York State gubernatorial elections, the context of American life at the time the broadsides were written, and the life and legacy of DeWitt Clinton. It will include a selection of nearly twenty political broadsides, along with contemporary paintings, artifacts from the era, and a rare map of New York from 1796.

Program and exhibition support is made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Season exhibition and program support is provided by Phoebe Powell Bender, Mr. and Mrs. George R. Hearst III, Charles M. Liddle III, Lois and David Swawite, and the Carl E. Touhey Foundation, Inc.

New Book | Race and Modern Architecture

Posted in books by Editor on January 18, 2021

From the U. of Pittsburgh Press:

Irene Cheng, Charles L. Davis II, and Mabel O. Wilson, eds., Race and Modern Architecture: A Critical History from the Enlightenment to the Present (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020), 424 pages, ISBN: 978-0822946052, $45.

Although race—a concept of human difference that establishes hierarchies of power and domination—has played a critical role in the development of modern architectural discourse and practice since the Enlightenment, its influence on the discipline remains largely underexplored. This volume offers a welcome and long-awaited intervention for the field by shining a spotlight on constructions of race and their impact on architecture and theory in Europe and North America and across various global contexts since the eighteenth century. Challenging us to write race back into architectural history, contributors confront how racial thinking has intimately shaped some of the key concepts of modern architecture and culture over time, including freedom, revolution, character, national and indigenous style, progress, hybridity, climate, representation, and radicalism. By analyzing how architecture has intersected with histories of slavery, colonialism, and inequality—from eighteenth-century neoclassical governmental buildings to present-day housing projects for immigrants—Race and Modern Architecture challenges, complicates, and revises the standard association of modern architecture with a universal project of emancipation and progress.

Irene Cheng is an architectural historian and associate professor at the California College of the Arts. Charles L. Davis II is an assistant professor of architectural history and criticism at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. Mabel O. Wilson is the Nancy and George E. Rupp Professor at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation and a professor in African American and African Diasporic studies at Columbia University.

C O N T E N T S

Acknowledgments

Introduction — Irene Cheng, Charles L. Davis II, and Mabel O. Wilson

I. Race and the Enlightenment
1  Notes on the Virginia Capitol: Nation, Race, and Slavery in Jefferson’s America — Mabel O. Wilson
2  American Architecture in the Black Atlantic: William Thornton’s Design for the United States Capitol — Peter Minosh
3  Drawing the Color Line: Silence and Civilization from Jefferson to Mumford — Reinhold Martin
4  From ‘Terrestrial Paradise’ to ‘Dreary Waste’: Race and the Chinese Garden in European Eyes — Addison Godel

II. Race and Organicism 
5  Henry Van Brunt and White Settler Colonialism in the Midwest — Charles L. Davis II
6  The ‘New Birth of Freedom’: The Gothic Revival and the Aesthetics of Abolitionism — Joanna Merwood-Salisbury
7  Structural Racialism in Modern Architectural Theory — Irene Cheng

III. Race and Nationalism
8  Race and Miscegenation in Early Twentieth-Century Mexican Architecture — Luis E. Carranza
9  Modern Architecture and Racial Eugenics at the Esposizione Universale di Roma — Brian L. McLaren
10  The Invention of Indigenous Architecture — Kenny Cupers

IV. Race and Representation
11  Erecting the Skyscraper, Erasing Race — Adrienne Brown
12  Modeling Race and Class: Architectural Photography and the U.S. Gypsum Research Village, 1952–1955 — Dianne Harris

V. Race and Colonialism
13  Race and Tropical Architecture: The Climate of Decolonization and “Malayanization” — Jiat-Hwee Chang
14  ‘Compartmentalized World’: Race, Architecture, and Colonial Crisis in Kenya and London — Mark Crinson
15  Style, Race, and a Mosque of the “Òyìnbó Dúdú” (White-Black) in Lagos Colony, 1894 — Adedoyin Teriba

VI. Race and Urbanism
16  Black and Blight — Andrew Herscher
17  And Thus Not Glowing Brightly: Noah Purifoy’s Junk Modernism — Lisa Uddin
18  Open Architecture, Rightlessness, and Citizens-to-Come — Esra Akcan

Notes
Bibliography
Contributors
Index

Online Panel | Print Culture and Propaganda in the American Revolution

Posted in lectures (to attend), online learning by Editor on January 17, 2021

Christie’s presents this free online panel (via Zoom) in conjunction with its Americana week:

Print Culture and Propaganda in the American Revolution: Selections from the Collection of Ambassador J. William Middendorf
Tuesday, 19 January 2021, noon (EST)

Moderated by Peter Klarnet, Senior Specialist, with a tribute by John Hays, Deputy Chairman

Panelists
• Philip Mead (Director of Curatorial Affairs and Chief Historian, Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia)
• Nancy Siegel (Professor of Art History and Museum Studies Coordinator, Towson University, Towson, Maryland)
• Allison Stagg
• Amy Torbert (Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Assistant Curator of American Art, Saint Louis Art Museum)

Image: Lot 306 of sale 18947. Phillip Dawe, engraver, The Bostonian’s Paying the Excise Man or Tarring and Feathering (London: Robert Sayer & John Bennett, 1774; Collection of Ambassador J. William Middendorf II).

Online Lecture | John Whitehead, Japanese Lacquer on French Furniture

Posted in lectures (to attend), online learning by Editor on January 16, 2021

From the FHS announcement:

John Whitehead, The Use of Japanese Lacquer on French 18th-Century Furniture
Furniture History Society Online Lecture, Sunday, 17 January 2021, 19.00 (GMT)

Japanese lacquer has been recognised in Europe as the best of all Asian lacquers since the seventeenth century, and in the eighteenth century it was much used to decorate furniture in France and elsewhere. Paris marchands-merciers and ébénistes clearly had no respect for the integrity of pieces, as we would have now, and created some delightful furniture with chopped-up pieces of lacquer. This subject was first discussed by the FHS at a memorable symposium in 1988 and continues to amuse us today.

John Whitehead is a dealer in French eighteenth-century decorative arts, with an emphasis on Sèvres porcelain. He is the author of The French Interior in the Eighteenth Century (1992) and two books on eighteenth century Sèvres porcelain (2010). With Oliver Impey, he has written on Japanese lacquer and French furniture, including the entry in the exhibition catalogue, William Beckford, 1760–1844: An Eye for the Magnificent (2001).

This event is free for FHS members and £5 for non-members; please contact events@furniturehistorysociety.org for tickets.

New Book | Past and Prologue

Posted in books by Editor on January 15, 2021

From Yale UP:

Michael Hattem, Past and Prologue: Politics and Memory in the American Revolution (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2020), 320 pages, ISBN: 978-0300234961, $40.

How American colonists reinterpreted their British and colonial histories to help establish political and cultural independence from Britain

In Past and Prologue, Michael Hattem shows how colonists’ changing understandings of their British and colonial histories shaped the politics of the American Revolution and the origins of American national identity. Between the 1760s and 1800s, Americans stopped thinking of the British past as their own history and created a new historical tradition that would form the foundation for what subsequent generations would think of as ‘American history’. This change was a crucial part of the cultural transformation at the heart of the Revolution by which colonists went from thinking of themselves as British subjects to thinking of themselves as American citizens. Rather than liberating Americans from the past—as many historians have argued—the Revolution actually made the past matter more than ever. Past and Prologue shows how the process of reinterpreting the past played a critical role in the founding of the nation.

Michael D. Hattem is Associate Director of the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. He has taught history at Knox College and Lang College at The New School.

C O N T E N T S

Acknowledgments

Prologue

Part I. Colonial History Culture in British America, 1730–1776
1  History Culture in Pre-Revolutionary British America
2  The Colonial Past in the Imperial Crisis
3  The British Past in the Imperial Crisis

Interlude: Natural Law, Independence, and Revolutionary History Culture, 1772–1776

Part II. National History Culture in the Early Republic, 1776–1812
4  The Expansion of Early National History Culture
5  The Colonial Past in the Early Republic
6  Creating a Deep Past for a New Nation

Epilogue

Notes
Index

At Christie’s | In Praise of America

Posted in Art Market by Editor on January 14, 2021

Lot 103: Carved and painted oak box (detail), attributed to the shop of Thomas Dennis (d. 1706), Ipswich, Massachusetts, 1670–1700 (estimate: $15,000–30,000).

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Press release from Christie’s (18 December 2020) as part of its Americana Week:

In Praise of America: Important American Furniture, Folk Art, Silver, Prints, and Broadsides
Christie’s, New York, 21–22 January 2021

In Praise of America: Important American Furniture, Folk Art, Silver, Prints, and Broadsides (18947) features several distinguished collections including 35 lots from the singular collection of Ambassador J. William Middendorf II, which includes some of the most important documents and images documenting the history of the United States from its 17th-century colonial origins through the American Revolution and the Founding Era. Highlighting the selection is a rare contemporary 1776 broadside edition of the Declaration of Independence (estimate: $600,000–800,000) as well as a fine copy of Paul Revere’s iconic engraving of the Boston Massacre (estimate: $200,000–300,000). These historical pillars are supported by a rich array of period broadsides and prints, objects that informed the world of their intended audience, while at times moving them to action. The objects in this selection not only help tell the rich and complex story of colonial and revolutionary America; they also help tell the story of those who produced them: printers, engravers, painters, and writers on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Siegmund collection of American folk art features 94 lots lovingly collected over a lifetime. All of Joanne and Fred Siegmund’s purchases were joint decisions except one surprise gift for Joanne’s 40th birthday: a pair of green Windsor chairs (estimate: $5,000–7,000). Joanne’s passion and commitment to the genre was recognized with her appointment to serve on the Board of Trustees at the American Folk Art Museum in New York. The Siegmund collection shows an appreciation of self-taught artistry and includes a Pair of Portraits of Silas and Rebecca Sherman by Samuel Addison Shute, possibly in collaboration with his wife, Ruth (estimate: $30,000–50,000) and a Pair of Portraits: Mr. and Mrs. Moffet by John Usher Parsons (estimate: $15,000–30,000), as well as painted furniture, weathervanes, and carved objects.

Lot 174: Chippendale Carved Mahogany Scallop-Top Card Table, attributed to John Townsend, Newport, 1760s (estimate: $150,000-250,000).

The important furniture offerings include a Newport card table attributed to John Townsend (estimate: $150,000–250,000), a set of six rosewood nesting tables by Duncan Phyfe from 1841 (estimate: $50,000–80,000), and a carved oak box attributed to the shop of Thomas Dennis (estimate: $15,000–30,000).

The robust folk art section includes portraits by Joshua Johnson and significant baskets by Dat So La Lee (estimates: $100,000 and $40,000–60,000). Also featured are thirty lots of early English ceramics from the Longridge Collection, including an important dated and initialed dish with a portrait of Charles II (estimate: $50,000–70,000).

The silver section encompasses works from the late 17th century through the 20th century, highlighted by The Governor Gurdon Saltonstall Basin, an Important American silver basin by Jeremiah Dummer (estimate: $30,000–50,000) and a Monumental American Silver-Plated Centerpiece Epergne shown at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial International Exhibition (estimate: $10,000–20,000). A selection of Tiffany is led by a set of twelve American 18-karat after dinner coffee cups, saucers, and spoons and an American silver and mixed-metal vase (estimate: $10,000–15,000). The section is further anchored by the collection of Mary M. and Robert M. Montgomery Jr., which includes eight lots of Gorham silver from their Art Nouveau Martelé line.

Williamsburg Receives Hennage Bequest of Decorative Arts

Posted in museums by Editor on January 13, 2021

Press release (12 January 2021) from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation:

Pepper Box, John Blowers, Boston, ca. 1741, silver (Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, bequest of Joseph and June Hennage).

Theirs was a love story of many dimensions: a love for one another, a love of America and its decorative arts, and a love of Colonial Williamsburg. The culmination of Joseph and June Hennage’s passion and evidence of their extraordinary philanthropic generosity is the bequest of their entire American decorative arts collection, which they amassed over 60 years, to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. The Hennage Collection is a singular gift that will transform the already renowned American furniture and furniture miniatures, silver, and ceramics collections at Colonial Williamsburg. Totaling more than 400 objects of various media, the Hennage Collection also includes paintings, prints, and antique toy animals, vehicles, and figures. To honor this significant bequest, an exhibition of highlighted objects from the bequest, A Gift to the Nation: The Joseph and June Hennage Collection, will open at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, one of the recently expanded Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, in the spring.

“Joe and June Hennage always sought objects of excellent quality and condition. Their gift consequently comes as an outstanding addition to Colonial Williamsburg’s collections. It includes superior examples of furniture from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, as well as silver by the major East Coast artisans of that day and a variety of other materials,” said Ronald L. Hurst, the Foundation’s Carlisle H. Humelsine chief curator and vice president for museums, preservation, and historic resources. “The Hennages’ decision to place the entire collection in a museum setting is a clear example of their public-spirited generosity.”

A Love Affair Begins

In 1945 after being discharged from the United States Navy, Joe Hennage (1921–2010) returned to Washington, D.C. and soon thereafter founded Hennage Creative Printers. When he found himself in need of secretarial help in 1946, he hired June Stedman (1927–2020) who had come to Washington to begin her career after finishing school in Virginia. They were married in 1947 and their partnership blossomed. In the late 1940s they made their first visit to Colonial Williamsburg, and their life-long love for the historic city began. Their first collecting passion was not antiques, but memorabilia relating to Joe’s hero, Benjamin Franklin, and books on printing, the profession the two men shared. June’s love of small objects extended to what she and Joe referred to as ‘penny toys’, or miniature animals, vehicles and figures, as well as miniature furniture, including tables, chests, chairs, and beds. By the early 1950s, they were also collecting antique Chinese bronzes, porcelain, snuff bottles, and netsuke. Although they did not begin attending the annual Antiques Forum, which began at Colonial Williamsburg in 1949, until later in the 1950s and more regularly in the 1960s, Joe often named this event as a great influence on them both. In 1965, Joe was asked to serve on the Fine Arts Committee of the State Department, a group formed to assist White House and State Department Curator Clement Conger in raising funds for the architectural renovation and furnishing of the diplomatic reception rooms and remained a member and sometime chairman of the Committee until 1996. By the early 1970s, the Hennages were collecting American antiques with increased fervor and attending Antiques Forum regularly.

“Joe and June were born-again patriots and their excitement in being American was demonstrated by their passion for American furniture in the 18th century,” said John A. Hays, deputy chairman, Christie’s, Inc. “They loved furniture that made a big statement, and their collection includes many pieces that boldly say ‘I am American.’”

The Love Affair Blossoms

High Chest, Philadelphia, ca. 1770, mahogany, sabicu, yellow pine, and tulip poplar (Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, bequest of Joseph and June Hennage, 1989-450).

Over the years Joe and June gave the State Department several exquisite pieces of American furniture and helped to transform the State Department diplomatic reception rooms significantly. Joe’s involvement with this effort led to his being asked to head similar Americana drives for the National Archives and for the Supreme Court. During the Bicentennial year, the Hennage’s philanthropic spirit provided numerous extraordinary gifts of important objects to various American institutions including Mount Vernon, Monticello, the White House, the National Portrait Gallery, and Colonial Williamsburg among others. The Hennages shared these gifts with such institutions, which are among the finest examples of American craftsmanship at its highest levels, not simply because they are masterpieces but in hopes of enhancing the public’s education about its material culture. Although gardening was among June’s greatest pleasures, her interest in and deep knowledge of art and antiques led to her also serving as a member of the Department of State Fine Arts Committee.

Colonial Williamsburg, however remained a special place to both Joe and June where they could learn about and relive American historical events, and this unique interest caused them to use their resources to help the Foundation flourish. They became charter and life members of the Foundation’s highest-level annual giving group, the Raleigh Tavern Society, as well as members of the President’s Council, a group dedicated to nurturing greater awareness of Colonial Williamsburg through philanthropic support. In 1985, the Hennage Auditorium at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, one of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, was named in their honor, and in 2019, the Foundation named a new gallery in the same museum the June Stedman Hennage Gallery in honor of June’s 90th birthday. By 1988, the Hennages completed a Georgian-style home in Williamsburg, which they named Hennage House, and they made this their home after relocating from Chevy Chase, Maryland. This home was where they lived with their extensive collections and viewed themselves as the custodians of the objects rather than their owners. Over time, they gave them to Colonial Williamsburg for safekeeping.

“Colonial Williamsburg inspires us all over time, but some take the message to new heights. That is true for Joe and June Hennage whose Georgian-style house on South England Street reflects the Governor’s Palace in Williamsburg and whose stunning collection of masterpieces inside—the furniture in particular—carries the analogy to conclusion,” said Philip Zea, president and CEO, Historic Deerfield in Massachusetts, and former curator of furniture at Colonial Williamsburg from 1999 to 2001. “The Hennages’ significant legacy and generosity secure their presence in Williamsburg and make it possible to use the present tense when we think about them for some time to come.”

The Love Endures

Joe and June Hennage’s passion for their American decorative arts and for Colonial Williamsburg led to the decision to bequeath their entire collection to the Foundation upon their deaths because they believed in Colonial Williamsburg’s unique ability to understand the objects’ significance to American history and make that story accessible to all. Their extraordinary assemblage of material culture is transformative. Already renowned for having the best in British and American fine and decorative arts from 1670–1840, the Wallace Museum will now make its furniture collection complete in its ability to show the full geographic spectrum from Maine to Louisiana through superlative pieces from major East Coast centers. Knowing of this promised gift has also helped to shape the American silver collection over the past decade as acquisitions were made with the Hennage collection in mind; these objects will now serve as the backbone of Colonial Williamsburg’s American silver holdings. The Hennage Chinese export porcelain objects will provide the Foundation with the first pieces from two different services bearing the insignia of the Society of the Cincinnati, a fraternal organization of American and French officers who served in the Revolutionary War. The miniature furniture from the bequest will nearly double the number of pieces currently in Colonial Williamsburg’s collection (separate from its doll house furniture and child’s chairs) and these objects, too, will be transformative in the variation of forms include in the Hennage collection, which includes blanket chests, chest of drawers, a high chest, a desk, chairs, tables, looking glasses, beds, and tall case clocks, as well as the exceptional quality of many of the pieces. These are but a few examples of how this bequest will significantly enhance the way in which the Art Museums can interpret America’s enduring story for its visitors each year.

According to Erik K. Gronning, Senior Vice President, Senior Specialist and Head of Americana Department at Sotheby’s, the Hennages formed “a collection for the ages assembled during the zenith of the 1970s and 1980s collecting period. With great advisors, such as the Israel Sack firm, they acquired many American masterpieces. Their passion for their collection never ceased; it wasn’t just a passing fancy for them…. They were among the very first people to build a new home in period style to display their collection to its fullest. They did it all and didn’t leave a stone unturned. They were ardent supporters of scholarship, and they believed it was their responsibility to further the knowledge about Americana and American history.”

As many have said, Joe and June Hennage were rare people and it was a privilege to know and learn from them. Their dedication to American decorative arts was immense, and their love of America even more so. Through this extraordinary bequest, this collection will live on for generations to come, and visitors to Colonial Williamsburg will have the opportunity to deepen their appreciation through these superlative objects of material culture.

Additional information on particular pieces, including the objects pictured here, is available from this press release addressing highlights of the collection.

Five-piece Garniture, Jingdezhen, China, ca. 1785, hard-paste porcelain
(Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, bequest of Joseph and June Hennage)

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Note (added 12 January 2021) — The original posting did not include the image of the five-piece garniture.

New Book | The Science of Abolition

Posted in books by Editor on January 12, 2021

From Yale UP:

Eric Herschthal, The Science of Abolition: How Slaveholders Became the Enemies of Progress (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2021), 352 pages, ISBN: 9780300236804, $33.

A revealing look at how antislavery scientists and black and white abolitionists used scientific ideas to discredit slaveholders

In the context of slavery, science is usually associated with slaveholders’ scientific justifications of racism. But this book demonstrates that abolitionists were equally adept at using scientific ideas to discredit slaveholders. Focusing on antislavery scientists and black and white abolitionists in Britain and America between the 1770s and 1860s, historian Eric Herschthal shows how these activists drew upon chemistry, botany, medicine, and mechanics to portray slavery as a premodern institution bound for obsolescence. These activists contended that slavery stood in the way of scientific progress, blinded slaveholders to scientific evidence, and prevented enslavers from adopting labor-saving technologies that might eradicate enslaved labor. Historians have recently begun to challenge the myth that slavery was premodern—backward—demonstrating slavery’s centrality to the rise of modern capitalism, science, and technology. This book demonstrates where the myth comes from in the first place.

Eric Herschthal is an assistant professor of history at the University of Utah. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Republic, The New York Review of Books, and other publications. He lives in Salt Lake City.

New Book | The Cabinet

Posted in books by Editor on January 11, 2021

From Harvard UP:

Lindsay Chervinsky, The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2020), 432 pages, ISBN 978-0674986480, $30 / £24 / €27.

The U.S. Constitution never established a presidential cabinet—the delegates to the Constitutional Convention explicitly rejected the idea. So how did George Washington create one of the most powerful bodies in the federal government?

On November 26, 1791, George Washington convened his department secretaries—Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Knox, and Edmund Randolph—for the first cabinet meeting. Why did he wait two and a half years into his presidency to call his cabinet? Because the U.S. Constitution did not create or provide for such a body. Washington was on his own. Faced with diplomatic crises, domestic insurrections, and constitutional challenges—and finding congressional help lacking—Washington decided he needed a group of advisors he could turn to. He modeled his new cabinet on the councils of war he had led as commander of the Continental Army. In the early days, the cabinet served at the president’s pleasure. Washington tinkered with its structure throughout his administration, at times calling regular meetings, at other times preferring written advice and individual discussions.

Lindsay Chervinsky reveals the far-reaching consequences of Washington’s choice. The tensions in the cabinet between Hamilton and Jefferson heightened partisanship and contributed to the development of the first party system. And as Washington faced an increasingly recalcitrant Congress, he came to treat the cabinet as a private advisory body to summon as needed, greatly expanding the role of the president and the executive branch.

Lindsay M. Chervinsky is Scholar in Residence at the Institute for Thomas Paine Studies at Iona College, Senior Fellow at the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies, and Professorial Lecturer at the School of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University.

C O N T E N T S

Introduction
1  Forged in War
2  The Original Team of Rivals
3  Setting the Stage
4  The Early Years
5  The Cabinet Emerges
6  A Foreign Challenge
7  A Domestic Threat
8  A Cabinet in Crisis
Epilogue

Citation and Abbreviation Guide
Notes
Acknowledgments
Index

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