Fellowships | Ecology, Ephemeral Architecture, and Imperialism

Posted in fellowships by Editor on November 16, 2021

The William Andrews Clark Memorial Library underwent a major renovation between 2015 and 2017, carried out by the Architectural Resources Group. As noted at the ARG website, “Donated to the University of California in 1926 during its construction, the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library was one of the earliest locally designated historic landmarks for the City of Los Angeles and has also been listed on the California Register of Historic Places. ARG served as Prime Architect for a rehabilitation of the building, which included a seismic retrofit, accessibility and fire-safety upgrades, and a new entry pavilion.” The project earned a Preservation Design Award from the California Preservation Foundation in 2018. Photograph by Stephen Schafer, from the ARG website.

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As noted at ASECS:

The Forgotten Canopy: Ecology, Ephemeral Architecture, and Imperialism in the Caribbean, South American, and Transatlantic Worlds
Ahmanson-Getty Postdoctoral Fellowships, 2022–2023
Center for 17th- and 18th-Century Studies and William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA

Organized by Stella Nair and Paul Niell

Proposals due by 1 February 2022

The 2022–23 core conference program to be held by the Center for 17th– & 18th-Century Studies at UCLA’s William Andrews Clark Memorial Library will convene scholars around the topics of “Ecology,” “Ephemeral Architecture,” and “Imperialism” in the early modern (16th–19th- century) world. The circum-Caribbean is our starting point, specifically we use this term to refer to the deep connections between the peoples and places of the Caribbean and South America, along with parts of North America. Due to national politics, language barriers, and scholarly divisions that have their roots in the European colonization of the Americas, the long and complex history of exchange among these regions and peoples have been greatly understudied. In truth, this history of entanglement across water and land stretches back millennia, resulting in a rich and diverse built environment that is deeply tied to ecological change. This dynamic did not end with the invasion of 1492, but rather continued to expand and accelerate when people, plants, and empires came from across the Atlantic. Using ephemeral architecture—in particular the complex and exquisite creation of thatch roofs as the leading thread in these tapestries of exchange—this series of conferences highlights the profound ways in which environmental practices, botanical knowledge, technological development, architectural innovation, and creative expression were deeply tied across these distinct regions and peoples, and impacted by imperial actions. This conference series brings an unusually diverse number of disciplines together in order to unpack these complex dynamics, which challenge how we understand the built environment, the early modern Atlantic world, and the intersections between the local and the global.

Topic 1: Ecologies
4–5 November 2022

Topic 2: Ephemeral Architectures
10–11 February 2023

Topic 3: Imperialism
14–15 April 2023

The theme-based resident fellowship program, established with the support of the Ahmanson Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Trust, is designed to promote the participation of junior scholars in the Center’s yearlong core program. Awards are for three consecutive quarters in residence at the Clark. Scholars must have received their doctorates in the last six years (2016–2022), and their research should pertain to the announced theme. Fellows are expected to make a substantive contribution to the Center’s workshops and seminars. The deadline for fellowship applications for the 2022–2023 year is 1 February 2022. Further details and a link to our online application can be found at the Center’s website.

The Center for 17th- and 18th-Century Studies provides a forum for the discussion of central issues in the field of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century studies. It organizes academic programs, bringing together scholars from the region, the nation, and the world, with the goal of encouraging research from as early as the time of Lope de Vega and William Shakespeare to the defeat of Napoléon and the death of Lord Byron. Established in 1985, the Center also administers the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, located on a historic property in the West Adams neighborhood of Los Angeles. The Clark serves as the research laboratory for a distinguished array of fellows working either in early modern studies or the fin-de-siècle world of Oscar Wilde. The Center also offers a range of cultural programs, including chamber music concerts, theatrical performances, and lectures.

UK Export Ban Placed on Tipu Sultan Throne Finial

Posted in Art Market by Editor on November 16, 2021

Press release (12 November 2021) from Gov.UK’s Department for Culture, Media & Sport:

Tiger’s Head Finial from the throne of Tipu Sultan of Mysore, 1787–93, with the plinth possibly made in Madras or Calcutta, ca. 1799–1800. Gold over a lac core; set with rubies, diamonds, and emeralds. The head is mounted on a black marble pedestal with gilt metal inscription and mounts, with four gilt metal feet and four gilded balls. The head is 6.9cm high; the total height is 17.5cm.

Valued at £1.5 million, a gold jewelled tiger head, which in the late 18th century adorned the gold-covered throne of Tipu Sultan, is at risk of leaving the UK unless a UK buyer can be found. Tipu Sultan (1750–1799), the ‘Tiger of Mysore’, was regarded as the greatest threat to the British East India Company until his defeat and death in 1799. As ruler of Mysore, Tipu identified himself and his personal possessions with tiger imagery, and this finial offers scholars the opportunity to illustrate the vibrant culture of Tipu’s court and closely examine British imperial history. Three surviving contemporary images of the throne are all in the UK. The finial is one of eight gold tiger heads that adorned the throne.

The finial—made of gold and set with rubies, diamonds, and emeralds—is a rare example of fully documented 18th-century South Indian goldsmiths’ work, and its existence was unknown until 2009. Its marble pedestal is unique among the five surviving finials known, and the meaning of its gold inscription is still a mystery. Following Tipu’s defeat, many objects from his treasury arrived in Britain, where they influenced poetry (John Keats), fiction (Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins), and artists (J.M.W. Turner), and were generally met with huge public interest.

Arts Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said: “This fascinating finial illustrates the story of Tipu Sultan’s reign and leads us to examine our imperial history. I hope a UK-based buyer comes forward so that we can all continue to learn more about this important period in our shared history with India.”

The Minister’s decision follows the advice of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA). The Committee agreed that it is an important symbolic object in Anglo-Indian history in the last years of the 18th century, with Tipu’s defeat having great historical importance to Britain’s imperial past and leading to a contemporary fascination with Tipu’s story and objects.

Committee Member Christopher Rowell said: “Tipu Sultan’s golden and bejewelled throne (c.1787–93) was broken up by the British army’s Prize Agents after Tipu’s defeat and death in defence of his capital, Seringapatam, in 1799. This tiger’s head is one of the original eight which were placed on the balustrade of the octagonal throne. Each gold tiger’s head from the railing is slightly differently set with gemstones, which makes this example both part of a set and unique in its design. Its quality attests to the expertise of Tipu’s goldsmiths and jewelers, in whose productions he took a close personal interest. The head of the large gold rock crystal tiger that supported the throne and a bejewelled huma bird that perched on the pinnacle of its canopy were presented to George III and Queen Charlotte (Royal Collection Trust). The tiger and its stripes were Tipu’s personal symbols. “Better to live one day as a tiger than 1,000 years as a sheep” he famously declared. His flirtation with Napoleonic France led to his downfall at British hands. This tiger’s head, one of four throne finials to survive, including a head in the Clive Museum at Powis Castle (NT), should remain in the country together with the other fragments of the throne, and I hope that every effort will be made to achieve this.”

The Committee made its recommendation on the grounds that the finial’s departure from the UK would be a misfortune because it is so closely connected with our history and national life and is of outstanding significance for the study of royal propaganda and 18th-century Anglo-Indian history. The decision on the export licence application for the finial will be deferred until 11 February 2022. This may be extended until 11 June 2022 if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase it is made at the recommended price of £1.5 million.

Provenance: Tipu Sultan of Mysore (1787–1799); Thomas Wallace, Baron Wallace of Knarsdale (ca.1800 or later)—listed in an 1843 inventory of the contents of Featherstone Castle (Northumberland), the family seat, and thence by descent; Bonhams, London, 2 April 2009 (lot 212); private collection.

Literature: Bonhams, London: 2 April 2009, lot 212; A Jaffer, ed., Beyond Extravagance (New York, 2013), pp. 189–90, cat. 61; N. N. Haidar, ed., Treasures from India (New York, 2014), pp. 46–7; Export of Objects of Cultural Interest 2010/11 (2011): Case 1, p. 23.

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