Abbot Hall Receives Screen Painted by George Romney

Posted in museums by Editor on April 30, 2022

From the press release (7 April 2022). . .

George Romney, Painted Screen, ca. 1760s (Kendal: Abbot Hall Art Gallery and Museum).

Lakeland Arts has received a four-paneled painted screen created by English portrait painter George Romney (1734–1802). The work has been allocated to Lakeland Arts for the nation through HM Government Acceptance in Lieu of Inheritance Tax Scheme by the Estate of Patricia Jaffé, administered by Arts Council England. The painted screen now enters the Abbot Hall Collection permanently, alongside several other Romney pieces acquired by Lakeland Arts throughout its 65-year history.

Dated by Alex Kidson as belonging to the early stages of the painter’s career, the screen is believed to have been painted during Romney’s early years in London, from 1762 onwards. The work takes its inspiration from the publication of engravings of wall paintings discovered in Pompeii in 1749 and circulated throughout Europe in Le Antichità di Ercolano Esposte (Antiquities of Herculaneum Exposed), first published in 1757. Romney has reworked the antique figures into poses of his own devising which echo their classical source. In doing so, the screen anticipates his later preoccupation with classical subject matter.

George Romeny, The Gower Family, The Children of Granville, 2nd Earl Gower, 1776–77, oil on canvas, 203 × 235 cm (Kendal: Abbot Hall Art Gallery and Museum).

Abbot Hall is home to one of the finest collections of Romney paintings in Britain, including the 1759–60 portrait of Captain Robert Banks, the 1796 group portrait The Four Friends, a pastel portrait of the Romantic poet Charlotte Smith, and several sketchbooks. Most significantly, the Collection holds claim to Romney’s masterpiece, the 1776–77 depiction of The Gower Family, the Children of Granville Leveson-Gower, 2nd Earl Gower. A direct line can be drawn between the dancer bearing a tambourine in the second leaf of the painted screen and Lady Anne’s posture in The Gower Family.

Romney was one of the most fashionable and sought-after artists of his time and is known for his engagement with classical themes. The son of a cabinet-maker, Romney was born in Dalton-in-Furness in Lancashire (now Cumbria) and received informal artistic training in his youth. His career began in earnest when he moved to Kendal aged 21 to begin an apprenticeship under the Cumbrian portraitist Christopher Steele and later established his own studio in the town. Romney married the daughter of his landlady, who remained in Kendal with their family when he moved to London to pursue his ambitions. Although he returned sporadically to Cumbria, he moved back permanently towards the end of his working career and was nursed by his wife through two years of ill health before passing away in 1802.

The permanent allocation of the screen will provide an unrivalled opportunity for Abbot Hall visitors to see the development of this important aspect of Romney’s art throughout his working life. The screen may be the earliest surviving piece to illustrate Romney’s exploration of antique themes, and The Gower Family is considered his finest example of this genre, in any UK public collection. It is therefore fitting for both works to be in the care of Lakeland Arts.

Rhian Harris, Chief Executive at Lakeland Arts, said: “We are absolutely delighted the Romney screen has been acquired by Lakeland Arts on a permanent basis. Our thanks go to Arts Council England, the Acceptance in Lieu panel and the Trustees of the Patricia Jaffé Estate for recognising the important connection between George Romney and Kendal in allocating this important piece to Abbot Hall.”

Edward Harley OBE, Chairman of the Acceptance in Lieu Panel said: “I am delighted that this remarkable piece dating from the early stages of George Romney’s career has been allocated to Lakeland Arts for Abbot Hall in Kendal. It is fitting that it returns to the town in which the artist spent the early years of his career. It will allow the work to be compared alongside his masterpiece The Gower Children.”

The screen was accepted in lieu of inheritance tax in the 2020–21 financial year but permanently allocated to Lakeland Arts for Abbot Hall in March 2022. In 2020–21, £54 million worth of objects—paintings, archives, and items of cultural importance—were accepted for the nation through the Acceptance in Lieu and Cultural Gifts Schemes and allocated to museums across the UK.

The British Museum Releases NFTs of Piranesi Drawings

Posted in Art Market, museums by Editor on April 29, 2022
Giovanni Battista Piranesi, A Classical Forum with Steps and a Column, ca.1748–52, pen and brown ink, grey-brown wash, and red chalk
(London: The British Museum, 1908,0616.10)

◊    ◊    ◊    ◊    ◊

From the press release, via Art Daily:

For its latest collaboration with The British Museum, LaCollection has announced a new NFT drop drawn from a selection of 20 pen and chalk drawings from The British Museum’s collection by the Venetian-born artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778).

Piranesi is regarded as one of the greatest Italian printmakers of the 18th century, best known for his atmospheric representations of Roman antiquity, and in later years, his celebrated series of fictional prisons, La Carceri. His exceptional work as a draughtsman is less well known; yet, his drawings reveal the evolution of his practice and the relentless experimentation and innovation that underpinned his virtuoso ability with the etching needle.

Works included in this drop chart the evolution of the artist from early scenographic drawings to his more elaborate fantasy interiors. The selection includes some of the earliest drawings in The British Museum’s collection relating to his Prima Parte (1743) series of etchings of imaginary temples, palaces and the ruins of Rome.

A Monumental Staircase in a Vaulted Interior with Column (1750–55) is one of the most impressive Piranesi drawings in technique and scale found at The British Museum. Showcasing a mastery of craft, Piranesi deconstructed classical architecture language and reinvented it through dynamic compositions that animate and exaggerate the space; the use of red chalk combined with brown ink is unique in the Museum’s collection.

Piranesi’s drawings were investigative tools for experimentation that explore complex exercises in perspective and spatial representation as well as compelling fantasies. One such example is Architectural Fantasy with Monuments, Sculpture, and Ruins (1760–65), a fantasy scene bringing together a creative selection of different Roman monuments interspersed with figures drawn in miniature to accentuate the grandeur of the landscape.

The 20 artworks will be sold across three scarcity levels:
• Six will be Ultra Rare (two editions, one of which will be retained by The British Museum).
• Nine will be Super Rare (ten editions, one of which will be retained by The British Museum).
• Five will be Open Edition (a maximum of 50 editions will be sold with the final edition number set at the end of the primary sales window; one edition will be retained by The British Museum).

Ultra Rare artworks will be sold by auction, with a starting price of €4,000. Super Rare and Open Edition artworks will be sold at fixed price, selling for €2,000 and €499 respectively. Three preview artworks will be available to purchase from 25 April with the main drop starting on 2 May. All public sale artworks will be dropped by 13 May and the primary sales window will close on 30 June; after this point, no further sales of these artworks will be made by The British Museum. There will be a preferential sales window, closing on 15 May, after which the price of each Super Rare artwork will increase to €3,000 and each Open Edition to €749. For all existing NFT collectors there will be a private drop on 28 April and a final one on 16 May; artworks available to purchase in these drops will not be available in the public sale.

◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊

Anyone looking for an introduction to NFTs might start with Kevin Roose, “What are NFTs? The Latecomer’s Guide to Crypto,” The New York Times (18 March 2022). Among the questions critics raise are the environmental impacts; some estimates place the carbon footprint of an NFT as equal to a month’s worth of electrical consumption for a person living in the EU, as noted by Justine Calma, “The Climate Controversy Swirling around NFTs,” Verge (15 March 2021). Also, see Charlotte Kent, “Can You Be an NFT Artist and an Environmentalist?” Wired (17 February 2022). CH

At Christie’s | Old Masters

Posted in Art Market by Editor on April 28, 2022

From the press release (via Art Daily) for the sale at Christie’s:

Maîtres Anciens: Dessins, Peintures, Sculptures, Sale 21059
Christie’s, Paris, 18 May 2022

Jacques Joseph André Aved (1702–1766), La dessineuse, oil on canvas, €150,000–250,000.

Ahead of the Salon du Dessin, which will be held from the 18th until the 23rd of May, Christie’s will present its sale dedicated to the Old Masters, led by an unpublished drawing by Michelangelo, one of the few still in private hands. The Old Masters sale will highlight a set of drawings, paintings, and sculptures carefully selected by our specialists. Major artists such as Théodore Gericault, Elisabeth Louise Vigée le Brun (whose painting has not been seen on the market since 1847), Jean-Baptiste Oudry, and Nicolas de Largillierre will be showcased in dialogue with the masters of drawing, such as Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Charles Natoire, and Jean-Antoine Watteau. The medium of sculpture will be represented including a splendid pyxis, enamelers such as Pierre Veyrier II, Jean II Pénicaud, and Léonard Limosin. The works will be exhibited alongside new creations by interior designer Hugo Toro. The sale consists of 264 lots for a global estimate of €6–9 million.


The Old Master and 19th-Century Drawings Department will be highlighted with the drawing by Michelangelo, a nude man (after Masaccio), and two figures behind, along with a selection of about a hundred sheets under the common theme of rediscovery. They begin in the 17th century, with three unseen drawings by Martin Fréminet (1567–1619), an emblematic painter of the Fontainebleau School: Sketch for a Ceiling with an Allegorical Figure of Faith (€70,000–100,000), Study for a Biblical King (€20,000–30,000), and Medallion with Two Harpies and Garlands (€7,000–10,000). These studies, rendered in graphite and brown wash, are preparatory sketches for the painted decoration of the Trinity Chapel of the Château de Fontainebleau.

The French school will be well represented with such artists as Charles de La Fosse (1636–1716), Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806), Charles Natoire, and Jean-Antoine Watteau (1732–1806)—including a red chalk representation of A Couple Walking in a Landscape (€100,000–150,000) and Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725–1805) with another beautiful ink and wash sheet representing Silenus’s March (€30,000–50,000). The latter drawing comes from the collections of Vincent Donjeux (1793), the Baron Charles de Vèze (1855), and François Walferdin (1860).


The Old Master Paintings Department will present some beautiful rediscoveries, including a charming Portrait of a Child by Jacques Joseph André Aved (1702–1766), which illustrates perfectly the sometimes profoundly intimate art of 18th-century portraiture. The painting, called the La dessineuse, also testifies to the close artistic links between Aved and his friend Jean Siméon Chardin (1699–1779). Coming straight from the descendants of the artist, this painting will be sold for the first time since its inception. Estimated at €150,000–250,000, it will be presented with another important work from the same collection.

Another highlight from the painting section is a rare oil painting by Nicolas de Largillierre (1646–1756), whose religious subject makes it stands out within the artist’s corpus. This Saint Barthélemy (ca. 1710), with naturalistic features and bathed in divine light, was attributed to the artist only in 2003 by Dominique Brême, on the occasion of the exhibition at the musée Jacquemart-André. Brême recognized in the painting one of the apostles that decorated the painter’s elegant Parisian home on the rue Geoffroy-l’Angevin. It is estimated at €60,000–80,000.

Finally, with a distinguished provenance (which includes Delacroix’s personal collection, as well as Prince Napoléon’s and the collection of the Elie de Rothschild), a portrait of a soldier titled Lancier from the 1er Régiment de Chevau-Léger-Lanciers de la Garde, called Polonais, by Théodore Gericault (1791–1824) will number among this sale’s exceptional works (€80,000–100,000). Here, we find a few of the themes that were so dear to the artist and which herald romanticism, such as horses, battle scenes, and soldiers—themes that celebrate the artist’s ideals of liberty, heroism, and wonder.


Alexandre Mordret-Isambert, new specialist in sculpture in Paris, presents a selection that includes a rare liturgical object executed in Limoges during the second half of the 13th century, A Virgin and Child forming a pyxis. No equivalent is known in museums or private collections. The sculpture, in a very good state of preservation, has remained hidden from view since being exhibited at the Universal Exhibition of 1900. The pyxis comes from prestigious collections: first the Frédéric Spitzer collection (1815–1890), then the Victor Martin Le Roy collection (1842–1918), then by descent to his daughter Jeanne, wife of Jean-Joseph Marquet de Vasselot (1871–1946), curator at the Louvre and then director of the Cluny museum, an important collector of medieval and Renaissance art objects. In November 2011, Christie’s sold 24 works from the Marquet-Vassselot collection, including a carved ivory group representing The Virgin and Child Enthroned for €6,337,000. The family still kept this treasure. Many objects from the collection are now in museums, including the Louvre and Cluny.

Exhibition | Louis Chéron (1655–1725)

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 27, 2022

The exhibition closed last month, but the catalogue is still available:

Louis Chéron: L’ambition du dessin parfait
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Caen, 4 December 2021 — 6 March 2022

Curated by François Marandet

Le musée des Beaux-Arts propose la première rétrospective consacrée à Louis Chéron, au travers d’une soixantaine d’œuvres issues de collections françaises et anglaises, couvrant une large période, de 1678 jusqu’aux années 1720.

Né à Paris en 1655, Louis Chéron quitte la France pour l’Angleterre en 1683. C’est à Londres qu’il vivra pendant trente ans, occupant là une place centrale au sein de la scène artistique. Les études académiques, les dessins d’invention, les projets d’illustration, les programmes pour de grands décors peints et les rares tableaux de chevalet conservés permettent de découvrir un artiste prolifique et précurseur. Contemporain de Louis Laguerre et de James Thornhill, à cheval sur deux siècles et deux nations, Cheron, souvent considéré comme un « suiveur de Charles Le Brun », reflète l’esprit classique français. Il annonce également, par ses dessins d’invention et sa peinture de chevalet proprement fantastiques, l’art de la génération suivante. En 1720, il crée sa propre école d’art à Londres, dont l’originalité est l’introduction de femmes nues comme modèles. Un peintre aussi célèbre que William Hogarth y suivra des cours.

The press packet is available as a PDF file here»

François Marandet, with prefaces by Emmanuelle Delapierre and Robin Simon, Louis Chéron (1655–1725): L’ambition du dessin parfait (Ballan-Miré: Illustria Librairie des Musées, 2022), 288 pages, ISBN: ‎978-2354040956, 30€.

Online Workshops | Egypt in Early-Modern Antiquarian Imagery

Posted in lectures (to attend), online learning by Editor on April 26, 2022

From the Antiquitatum Thesaurus research project:

Ägypten in der frühneuzeitlichen antiquarischen Bildwelt
Egypt in Early-Modern Antiquarian Imagery
Online Workshops, 5 May, 2 June, and 7 July 2022

Antiquitatum Thesaurus: Antiquities in European Visual Sources from the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

On the occasion of this year’s anniversaries of important milestones in the recent reception of Egypt, the academy project Antiquitatum Thesaurus devotes three digital workshops in the summer semester of 2022 to the perception of the land on the Nile in the early modern period. The focus will be on various personal motivations of some of the protagonists, the antiquarian or scientific methods they used, and a broad spectrum of media in which the engagement with Egyptian or Egyptianizing artifacts and images was reflected from the 15th to the 18th century. In addition, current research projects present their perspectives on the reception of Egypt.

Thursday, 5 May 2022, 4pm

• Michail Chatzidakis (Berlin), „Ad summam sui verticem pyramidalem in figuram vidimus ascendentes […] anti quissimum Phoenicibus caracteribus epigramma conspeximus“. Bemerkungen zu den ägyptischen Reisen Ciriacos d’Ancona
• Catharine Wallace (West Chester), Pirro Ligorio and the Late Renaissance Memory of Egypt in Rome
• Stefan Baumann (Trier), Project Presentation: Early Egyptian Travel Accounts from Late Antiquity to Napoleon

Please register at: https://bit.ly/3LQWgMB

◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊

Thursday, 2 June 2022, 4pm

• Maren Elisabeth Schwab (Kiel), Herodots Ägypten im Interessenshorizont italienischer Antiquare
• Alfred Grimm (München), Osiris cum capite Accipitris. Zu einem Objekt aus der Bellori-Sammlung und dem Barberinischen „Osiris“
• Florian Ebeling (München), Project Presentation: Handwörterbuch zur Geschichte der Ägyptenrezeption

Please register at: https://bit.ly/3O4dS9O

◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊

Thursday, 7 July 2022, 4pm

• Guillaume Sellier (Montréal), Oldest Egyptian Artefacts in Canada: The Quebec Palace Intendant’s Amulets
• Valentin Boyer (Paris), „Sphinxomanie“ durch die Ikonographie ägyptisierender Exlibris
• Nils Hempel, Timo Strauch (BBAW), Project Presentation: Antiquitatum Thesaurus. Antiken in den europäischen Bildquel­len des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts

Please register at: https://bit.ly/3rd7T8z

Call for Papers | Images & Institutions, Early Modern Scientific Societies

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on April 25, 2022

From ArtHist.net:

Images and Institutions: The Visual Culture of Early Modern Scientific Societies
Accademia dei Lincei, Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome (KNIR), and the Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History, Rome, 14–16 September 2022

Organized by Katherine Reinhart and Matthijs Jonker

Proposals due by 15 May 2022

One of the most important developments in early modern science was the foundation of institutions for collaborative research and the publication of knowledge, such as the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome (1603), the Accademia del Cimento in Florence (1657), the Royal Society in London (1660), the Académie Royale des Sciences in Paris (1666), and the Scientific Academy of St Petersburg (1725). The communication of knowledge was integral to early modern processes of knowledge production in these new sites of collaborative science. Within these institutions, knowledge was not only acquired and disseminated orally and textually, but also visually. From drawings which circulated in society meetings to the printed plates in their published books, images across all media were vital to the developing practices of early modern science.

A growing body of scholarship has convincingly shown the importance of images and image-making practices to early modern knowledge production. Scholars have shown, for instance, that early modern botanists, zoologists, and physicians used drawings and prints as visual narratives to prove an argument or the existence of a species, as substitutes for the objects described, as mnemonic aids, or as tools themselves (Dackerman, Daston, Kusukawa). Research has also been done showing the important relationships between artists, natural philosophers and their collections (Baldriga, Egmond, Tongiorgi Tomasi). However, these studies have focused on single institutions or individual practitioners, and we still lack a comprehensive and comparative understanding of the relationships between visual culture and the developing practices of collaborative science.

Therefore, this project, Images and Institutions, seeks to fill that gap by bringing together an international team of historians of art and science for a three-day symposium in Rome to gain a larger picture of these relationships. Within these early institutions, images functioned in diverse ways: they communicated new ideas, recorded new phenomena, demonstrated new instruments, and stood in for missing specimens. They expressed theories, clarified arguments, organized concepts, and persuaded colleagues. Some images were created from nature or ad vivum, while others portrayed scientific ideas allegorically. In bringing together an interdisciplinary group of scholars, this symposium will reevaluate the functions of images and image-making practices that were integral to the advancement of early modern science within its formative institutions. The symposium contributes to widening disciplinary boundaries by bringing scholars from different fields into conversation and by having a wide geographical perspective.

We are interested in how images and image-making practices contributed to the collective and collaborative production and dissemination of knowledge in scientific institutions from the 16th until the 18th century. Central questions for this symposium include: What common visual practices were shared among these institutions, and importantly, where did they diverge? How did differing national artistic contexts impact the visual culture of scientific institutions? And how did these relationships shift over time with new enlightenment societies founded in the 18th century? By comparing these institutions, this symposium will explore the ways in which images and image-making practices were integral to the advancement of early modern collaborative science.

The symposium will consist of 30-minute papers, which will be the basis for a published edited volume. The symposium will take place on 14–16 September 2022 in Rome, and some travel and lodging assistance is available. Scholars of art history, visual studies, and history of science and knowledge from all career phases are encouraged to apply. We welcome abstracts which explore visual strategies in early modern collaborative science, particularly in the context of Spain, Germany, Eastern Europe, as well as non-European regions.

To apply, please send an abstract of no more than 300 words, accompanied by a brief (2-page) CV to secretary@knir.it with the subject line: ‘Images and Institutions’. The deadline for abstracts is 15 May 2022. Applicants will be notified in early June. For queries, please contact Katherine Reinhart (kmreinhart@wisc.edu) or Matthijs Jonker (m.jonker@knir.it).

Scientific Committee
Irene Baldriga (Sapienza, Università di Roma), Sietske Fransen (Bibliotheca Hertziana), Matthijs Jonker (KNIR), and Katherine Reinhart (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

This symposium is made possible with support from the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome (KNIR), Bibliotheca Hertziana, Max Planck Institute for Art History in Rome, the Accademia dei Lincei (IT), the Association for Art History (UK), the Society for Renaissance Studies (UK), and The Huizinga Institute RNW History and Philosophy of Science (NL).

Call for Papers | The Cultural Ramifications of Water, 1650–1850

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on April 25, 2022

From the Call for Papers:

The Cultural Ramifications of Water in Early Modern Texts and Images, 1650–1850
A special issue of 1650–1850: Ideas, Aesthetics, and Inquiries in the Early Modern Era
Edited by Leigh G. Dillard and Christina Ionescu

Proposals due by 15 May 2022

This special issue offers a fresh, wide-ranging perspective on the agency of water in relation to knowledge, innovation, and individual or collective identity by investigating parallel and interconnected visual and/or textual representations of this fundamental element in the early modern period. We currently seek two more contributions to complete this issue that evolved from a series of panels at the 2021 virtual conference of the International Association of Word and Image Studies.

A number of bestselling novels of the early modern period include key episodes in which water—whether in the form of oceans, seas, ponds, lakes, torrents, springs, rivulets, falls, wells, or fountains—plays a crucial symbolic role, variously expressing the passions embodied by ‘nature’ or more cultivated versions of this dangerous element. Charged with significance and symbolism, these representations of water are sometimes used as a backdrop or setting to the main action, but at other times, they represent an active agent in the human dramas that unfold when characters interact with this element in its materiality and that interaction unexpectedly alters the course of their lives in consequential ways. The results are often deeply poignant—drowning, shipwreck, trauma, flooding, etc.—but they can also be positively transformative—self-discovery, spiritual healing, physical nourishment, even fulfilment, etc. Within fictional realms, water acts, moreover, as a marker of identity and place in literary cartographies, triggers vital memories and meanings, surreptitiously encodes libertine thoughts, and simultaneously separates and unifies peoples, countries, and continents. In early modern literary illustration, water is equally omnipresent, and its representation is endowed with a degree of complexity that invites a closer look from an interdisciplinary perspective.

As humans grappled with mechanisation and modernisation in the Age of the Industrial Revolution, water emerged from the background to become a key element in scientific and technical illustration. Technological innovations relying on the use of water, such as the stationary steam engine and the spinning frame, were prominently displayed and meticulously explained in encyclopedias, periodicals, and specialised treatises. Through empirical observation, both professional and amateur scientists lavished attention on natural phenomena such as geysers, waterfalls, and stalagmites and stalactites, often documenting their findings not only by conventional textual means but also inventive pictorial ones. At a time when the lack of water facilitated the spread of death and disease in overcrowded cities such as Hogarth’s London, bathing in thermal pools or exposure to seawater, which were strongly advocated in medical literature, were perceived by the wealthy as beneficial to health and healing. Prints depicting the age-old cult of water, watering-places, and structures designed to contain or manipulate the flow of water proliferated throughout Europe.

For this special issue of 1650–1850: Ideas, Aesthetics, and Inquiries in the Early Modern Era, we invite proposals engaging with texts and images that shed light on the cultural ramifications of water during this important timeframe. In particular, we are interested in the way in which images visually interpret and subtly challenge the sophisticated textual dynamics between nature and culture or investigate the multiple configurations of water. Examples of verbal and visual engagements with water and its materiality during this transformative historical period may be selected from a diverse range of fields, including angling, architecture, art, botany, garden design, geology, horticulture, hydraulics, literature, natural history, medicine, and print culture. Papers addressing word and image interaction through the following topics are particularly welcome: architecture and landscape designs as a nexus of space, place, identity, and water; connections through water between humans and the environment; and water as a healing agent, source of life, and force of nature. Proposals that engage with the topic diachronically and transnationally would enhance this special issue. Please send proposal to Leigh G. Dillard (leigh.dillard@ung.edu) and Christina Ionescu (cionescu@mta.ca) by May 15, 2022.

Het Loo Reopens after Renovations

Posted in on site by Editor on April 24, 2022

Construction at Apeldoorn, in the Netherlands, continues until at least 2023, but the palace interiors are once again open. From the press release, via Art Daily (18 April 2022). . .

Paleis Het Loo—the largest 17th-century palace of the House of Orange-Nassau and a national museum since 1984—is once again open for visitors. Built in the 1680s, it has been closed since 2018 for a thorough renovation. Kossmanndejong is working with the museum to give the palace a new lease on life. The design firm is still developing the exhibitions in the new underground extension, but you can now visit the renewed palace routes, with new audio tours, and watch a presentation on the history of Paleis Het Loo in the renovated historic palace.

New carpet runners are printed to match the historic floor coverings and include audio cues.

Visits now begin at the servants’ entrance, a room Kossmanndejong transformed to tell the history of Paleis Het Loo. A film brings a model of the palace and gardens to life with a journey through time, from the construction of the palace to the current renovation. Visitors can also admire traces left by residents of Paleis Het Loo over the past centuries. Most are everyday objects, from pots and shards to the water pipes from the gardens’ first fountains. Archaeologists discovered some of these objects during the renovation.

The palace rooms look the same as they did when the royals roamed them. To allow visitors to experience more fully this historic atmosphere, Kossmanndejong omitted as many ‘museum’ elements as possible. Unnecessary distractions, such as text signs, disappear. Kossmanndejong also examined how visitors should move through the space. While Paleis Het Loo is one of the most visited museums in the Netherlands, it’s also full of small corridors and narrow rooms. By adjusting the routes and audio tour length to support the expected number of visitors, Kossmanndejong ensures a smooth and comfortable visit.

“If you don’t notice we were there, that means we’ve done our job well.” –Robin Schijfs, lead designer for Kossmanndejong

To enhance the authentic palace experience, Kossmanndejong developed an ‘invisible’ runner that is almost indistinguishable from the original floors. Kossmanndejong photographed the floors and printed the patterns directly onto the runners. The route markers and audio stops are also printed on the carpet. This way, Kossmanndejong protects the palace’s historic floors while maintaining the rooms’ immersive qualities.

There are two routes in Paleis Het Loo. Along the East Route, visitors walk through the 17th-century palace, one of the great centres of power in early modern Europe. During the audio tour, William III’s best friend whispers the secrets of the Stadtholder-King. The West Route reveals how later generations of the royal family lived in the palace. You can choose between two stories: the comical family show At Home with the Royals or a more intimate tour focused on Queen Wilhelmina and her immediate family. Screenwriters wrote the three audio tours, imbuing each with its own character and transforming the narrative into a progressive story that builds along the route.

Exhibition | The Luxury of Clay: Porcelain Past and Present

Posted in exhibitions, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on April 23, 2022

Chris Antemann, An Occasion to Gather, 2021–22; porcelain, 48 × 96 × 24 inches, installed in Hillwood’s Dining Room 2022. 

◊    ◊    ◊    ◊    ◊

Now on view at Hillwood:

The Luxury of Clay: Porcelain Past and Present
Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, Washington, D.C, 19 February — 26 June 2022

Curated by Rebecca Tilles

Hillwood founder Marjorie Merriweather Post valued porcelain objects for their beauty, exquisite design, and historic associations. While most were crafted for specific uses, these items are valued objects in their own right. Featuring more than 140 objects, the exhibition will trace the remarkable development of porcelain, from its origins in China to its discovery in Europe in the early 18th century, leading to contemporary artistic interpretations of this material.

Often referred to as ‘white gold’, due to its natural color and high value, porcelain was originally produced by China in the 9th century. The exportation to Europe by the Portuguese and Dutch in the 16th century created a vast demand for these goods, heretofore unknown outside of Asia. The recipe for porcelain remained a mystery in Europe until the early 18th century, when the Meissen Manufactory in Saxony discovered the essential ingredient, kaolin, a soft white clay. From there, the secret traveled throughout Europe, to Vienna in 1718 under Claudius du Paquier and nationalized in 1744 by Empress Maria Theresa; to Saint Petersburg, Russia, in 1744 at the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory following Peter the Great’s visit to Saxony; to Berlin in 1763 at the Royal Porcelain Factory (KPM); and finally to France, at Sèvres in the late 1760s. With each new discovery came innovative colors, styles, and shapes, distinguishing factories from one another as each developed specialties. Moving chronologically through time, the exhibition will demonstrate how the discovery of this material in Europe shaped the luxury market and how the porcelain craze left a lasting impact on the art world.

Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887–1973) had an eye for beauty and a taste for exquisitely crafted objects when creating her collection. Beginning with Sèvres soft-paste porcelain, which she purchased in the 1920s–1960s, Post established herself as a cultivated and discerning collector of porcelain, later turning her attention to the collections of the Habsburg court and then acquiring Russian porcelain services during her time in the Soviet Union (1937–38), particularly diplomatic gifts and international commissions between Western European and Russian factories. At Hillwood, Post built the French and Russian porcelain rooms to house these treasures, displayed in special cases for all to see. Though Hillwood’s renowned collection of Sèvres was previously explored in the 2009 exhibition Sèvres: Then and Now, this is the first exhibition at Hillwood to investigate the full scope of her porcelain holdings.

The historical objects are complemented by a selection of modern-day examples. Drawing inspiration from examples from China, Germany, France, and more, contemporary artists such as Bouke de Vries, Cindy Sherman, and Roberto Lugo have continued the tradition of using porcelain to create beautiful works of art, and their pieces appear throughout the exhibition. Hillwood invited Chris Antemann to create new works to present in the dining and breakfast rooms in the mansion. In collaboration with Rebecca Tilles, curator, Antemann’s research led to large-scale porcelain centerpieces for the tables inspired by elements from the garden and collections at Hillwood. Additional works by Roberto Lugo and Eva Zeisel will be displayed in the entry hall, French porcelain room, and French drawing room.

New Book | Figures of the Enlightenment: Eighteenth-Century Meissen

Posted in books by Editor on April 23, 2022

Distributed by The University of Chicago Press:

Philip Kelleway and Tristan Sam Weller, Figures of the Enlightenment: A Catalogue of Eighteenth-Century Meissen from a Private Collection (London: Unicorn Publishing Group, 2022), 128 pages, ISBN: 978-1913491857, $45.

A compelling record of eighteenth-century taste through pieces of Meissen porcelain.

This book presents more than one hundred specially commissioned photographs of eighteenth-century Meissen porcelain from a significant private collection, illuminating what elite consumers of that era valued, aspired to, and found entertaining. With an expert eye, each object is showcased in the round and up close, highlighting all important features. Detailed entries accompany each item and an introductory essay helps to place them in their proper historical context. Anyone with an interest in the decorative arts of the eighteenth century will find this book a feast for the eyes.

Philip Kelleway is an art historian who has written widely on eighteenth-century porcelain, illustration, and landscape painting. Tristan Sam Weller is a photographer based in the United Kingdom.

%d bloggers like this: