Exhibition | Design around 1800

Posted in exhibitions, on site by Editor on June 23, 2022

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden:

Design around 1800 / Gestaltung um 1800
Schloss Pillnitz, Dresden

The Kaiserzimmer (imperial rooms) in Pillnitz Palace, still known to many as the Weinlig-Rooms, were reopened to the public in 2020 after several years of restoration. In the future, the new permanent exhibition Design around 1800 will be on display in the rooms steeped in history, showcasing outstanding arts and crafts pieces from the classicism period.

Centerpiece, French, ca. 1800, cast bronze, patinated and gilded, 49.7 cm high (Dresden: Kunstgewerbemuseum, 30982).

The time around 1800 was one of enormous dynamism: social, scientific, technological—the signs pointed everywhere to change, a new dawn, progress. Paradoxically, in the decorative arts the path to the future of design led back to classical antiquity. The excavations in Herculaneum and Pompeii from the middle of the 18th century and the beginning of intensive research triggered a new enthusiasm for antiquities. A decisive impulse for this came from Dresden. Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717–1768) shaped the ideas of German classicism with his writings like no other. After the organically growing, wildly bizarre play of forms of the Rococo, ancient art offered new starting points, not only because of its clear structure and the ornamental and decorative world that was completely contrary to the Rococo. According to Winckelmann, Greek art had reached an aesthetic perfection that now had to be imitated.

The permanent exhibition Design around 1800 makes this spirit of classicism tangible on two levels. On the one hand, the lavishly restored imperial rooms, together with the preserved original interior, are themselves a splendid example of classicist interior design. The window and door crowns alone, finely proportioned in individual fields, illustrate the wealth of antique formal language: rams’ heads and sphinxes from ancient Egypt, scenes from Greek and Roman mythology, and ornaments such as urns, mascarons, palmettes, lotus blossoms, and acanthus foliage used in a quotation-like manner speak a clear picture.

The exhibition uses this early classicist interior, which is so important for Saxon art history, to illuminate various facets of applied art around 1800 on a second level. Here, the Kunstgewerbemuseum presents outstanding pieces of Classicist design from its own collection, including ceramics, textiles, glass and metalwork, furniture, paper wallpaper and clocks. Special attention is paid to the Saxon developments, the players acting in the environment of the Dresden court and the local craftsmanship of the time. For this purpose, the exhibits of the Kunstgewerbemuseum are additionally supplemented by loans from the Porcelain Collection, the Green Vault, the Numismatic Collection, and the Sculpture Collection.

After the first quarter of the 19th century, ancient art lost its primacy as a model. However, it never fell into oblivion again. In the stylistic melting pot of historicism, numerous classicist elements can be found, impressively seen, for example, in the works of the late Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781–1841) and Gottfried Semper (1803–1879). Certain forms and ornaments also have a firm place in design, architecture and arts and crafts right up to the present day. In the exhibition, a separate room is dedicated to this classicist afterlife.

The archduke of Austria and Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II (1747–1792) was the name sponsor. On the occasion of the meeting with the Prussian King Frederick William II (1744–1797) in August 1791, the emperor took up residence in Pillnitz for a few days. The talks were later to go down in history as the Pillnitz Monarchs’ Meeting. As honored host for this event of European magnitude, the Saxon Elector Friedrich August III (1750–1827) had the wing buildings of the Bergpalais, which had been completed only a few months earlier, splendidly decorated. Just two years later, the palace inventory referred to the rooms in the west wing as ‘kayserliche Zimmer’.

The Imperial Rooms with their original wall paneling and carvings, mirrors, stove and fireplace are the only example of Early Classicist interior decoration around the Dresden court that has been preserved largely in its original state. During the extensive restoration of the rooms, the wall coverings in the two main rooms were also reconstructed with silk atlas fabric in the original color scheme, making the original design concept much more tangible again.

So far, there is no archival evidence of who designed the rooms. The attribution to and corresponding naming of the architect Christian Traugott Weinlig, which was valid for a long time due to stylistic analogies, is no longer supported by today’s research. Also in view of the approximation to the state of 1791 achieved during the restoration by the Sächsisches Immobilien- und Baumanagement (SIB), the name ‘Kaiserzimmer’, which was valid for a good 180 years, is now used again.

As the only object without a historical room reference, but with an all the stronger stylistic reference to Weinlig’s decorations, a new acquisition will be presented this fall, which the Kunstgewerbemuseum was able to realize with the support of the Ernst von Siemens Art Foundation: an early classicist chandelier in the shape of an egg. The chandelier is documented as a product of the Chursächsische Spiegelfabrik by a detailed review with accompanying pictorial plate in the March 1800 issue of the Journal des Luxus und der Moden. The piece is of outstanding quality, both in terms of design and technology. Its unconventional basket or egg shape is also a great unusual feature for the period of early classicism. The interplay of the gilded bronze frame with the richly varied Bohemian glass hanging is superb and testifies to the high level of Saxon craftsmanship of the time. In particular, the Chursächsische Spiegelfabrik was one of the leading Central European manufacturers of brass-mounted glassware and candlesticks around 1800.

Exhibition | Bernardo Bellotto at the Court of Saxony

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on June 23, 2022

From the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden:

Enchantingly Real: Bernardo Bellotto at the Court of Saxony
Zwinger, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden, 21 May — 28 August 2022
Royal Castle, Warsaw, 23 September 2022 — 8 January 2023

Coinciding with the 300th anniversary of his birth, the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister is holding a major monographic exhibition in celebration of the work of Venetian painter Bernardo Bellotto (1722–1780). The artist—who, like his uncle and teacher Antonio Canal, also called himself Canaletto—ranks as one of the most important 18th-century painters of city views or vedute. The Dresden retrospective is the culmination of a years-long conservation project and results from a cooperation with the Royal Castle in Warsaw. It features the Gemäldegalerie’s own collection of Bellotto’s paintings, itself the largest in the world.

The show presents Bellotto’s life and work by tracing the most important phases and milestones of his career. After formative years in Venice, he came to Dresden in 1747 and painted large-scale vedute for the Saxon elector and Polish king, Augustus III, as well as for his prime minister, Count Heinrich von Brühl. Bellotto’s paintings continue to offer unique insights into the architecture and life of the royal capital of Saxony as well as the nearby town of Pirna and the fortresses of Sonnenstein and Königstein. After working briefly at the courts of Vienna and Munich, in 1766 Bellotto took up residency in the royal city of Warsaw, painting numerous views of that city until his death in 1780.

Several etchings by the master present another side to Bellotto as printmaker and entrepreneur. The prints stem from Dresden’s Kupferstich-Kabinett, which boasts a remarkably complete collection of the artist’s printmaking oeuvre. Further enriched with drawings loaned from Warsaw and Darmstadt, the survey show reveals the range of Bellotto’s lively pictorial innovations. Also on view are books, porcelain objects, sculptures, and scientific instruments that together create a vivid snapshot of an era that Bellotto, as an artist, helped define.

Stephan Koja and Iris Yvonne Wagner, Zauber des Realen: Bernardo Bellotto am sächsischen Hof (Dresden: Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, 2022), 256 pages, ISBN: 978-3954986774, €48.

Exhibition | The Key to Life: 500 Years of Mechanical Amusement

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on June 23, 2022

From the press release (30 May 2022) from the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden:

The Key to Life: 500 Years of Mechanical Amusement
Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau, Dresden, 3 June — 25 September 2022

Automatons, androids and robots—they now dominate our professional and private environments and are expressions of the human desire to create artificial life. The Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon and the Museum für Sächsische Volkskunst and Puppentheatersammlung of Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD) are presenting roughly 70 of these artefacts in the exhibition The Key to Life: 500 Years of Mechanical Amusement on view from 3 June to 25 September 2022 in the Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau.

For the first time, the SKD is showing the full range of its unique collection of mechanical figurines and amusements in one exhibition, supplementing them with constructions of artificial life. Beside the unique wealth of mechanical objects spanning from the Renaissance to the present day from the inventory of the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salons, the Grünes Gewölbe, and the Puppentheatersammlung, the exhibition also features selected loans from the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, the Maximilianmuseum in Augsburg, and the Roentgen-Museum Neuwied, among others. Through several exhibition chapters on the mechanical figurines and tableaux from the period around 1600, 18th-century-androids and mechanical amusements in the 19th century, to the nickelodeons and slot machines of the early 20th century and contemporary moving art, the exhibition showcases how the mechanical has fascinated people for 500 years.

The items on display include complicated mechanical tableaux from the late 16th century that feature not only agile figurines and playing drummers, but also movements on the tableau itself. A fur-covered bear beats its drum every hour on the hour. The replica ‘iron hand’ of knight Götz von Berlichingen is an excellent example of early modern prosthetics. Contemporary research is also represented: the prototype ‘mika²’ from Dresden University of Technology’s historical acoustic and phonetic collection is a mechanical simulation of the main parts of the human vocal tract, which was developed at the Chair of Speech Technology and Cognitive Systems. The exhibition’s interactive design allows visitors to bring the amusements to life themselves and understand their movements. There will be a varied program of tours and workshops, including some during the school holidays and the Dresden Night of Museums.

Peter Plaßmeyer, Hagen Schönrich and Igor A. Jenzen, eds., Der Schlüssel zum Leben: 500 Jahre mechanische Figurenautomaten (Dresden: Sandstein Verlag, 2022), 224 pages, ISBN: 978-3954986828, €38.

Call for Papers | UAAC/AAUC 2022

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on June 23, 2022


Universities Art Association of Canada / l’association d’art des universités du Canada
In person, University of Toronto, 27–29 October 2022, and online, 4 November 2022

Proposals due by 30 June 2022

Each fall, UAAC-AAUC hosts Canada’s professional conference for visual arts-based research by art historians, professors, artists, curators, and cultural workers. This year’s conference includes three days of in-person meetings at the University of Toronto and one day of online panels.

Submit proposals by using the Call for Papers Proposal Form. Proposals are sent directly to the chair(s) of the session. The deadline for submission is 30 June 2022.

A very limited selection of sessions potentially related to the eighteenth century, including the HECAA panel, is provided below. The full listing is available here.

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26  Made Up: An Art History of Cosmetics (in person)
Hana Nikcevic (University of Toronto) and Tara Allen-Flanagan (Independent scholar), hana.nikcevic@utoronto.ca and tara.allen-flanagan@mail.mcgill.ca

Art has been acknowledged for centuries as the business of deception and artifice—spanning trompe l’oeil to parafiction—but it shares this storied past with a less-celebrated, heavily-gendered counterpart: cosmetics. Fascination with feminine art/artifice underpins the corpus of toilette paintings, but in these portrayals as in later iterations—from Boucher’s Pompadour to Vogue Beauty Secrets—the face-painter’s agency has been, through analogy with the artist, variably recouped and contested. Cosmetics likewise represent the spoils and vectors of globalization and imperialism; if Queen Elizabeth I’s chalky visage, asserted through portraiture, already reflected and advanced England’s imperial efforts, Angela Rosenthal confirmed the eighteenth-century coalescence of racial theory and complexion. This session interrogates cosmetics’ aesthetics, asking after global and historical conflations of and disparities between art and make-up; cosmetics’ conflicting capacities to subjugate and subvert; the entwined histories of beauty, complexion, racialization, imperialism, and oppression; and, most broadly, the understudied visual and material cultures of cosmetics.

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27  Monuments and Their Futures in North America (in person)
Cody Barteet (Western University), cbarteet@uwo.ca

Recently, monuments have received significant attention. Whether connected to their removal, conservation, and construction, individuals and organizations have used monuments to promote varying ideological concepts. In Canada, most of this conversation has been limited to the removal and vandalism of monuments associated with the long colonial legacy and its impact on Indigenous peoples. However, this conversation changed radically in late January 2022 when the so-called Freedom Convoy descended upon Ottawa to protest existing COVID-19 policies. During the occupation, several of Ottawa’s monuments were vandalized including those to Terry Fox and to fallen Canadian soldiers. Unlike previous vandalisms in Canada, the backlash against their defacement was immediate and universal. Informed by this shifting context concerning monuments, this panels queries the future and purposes of monuments through diverse methodologies: nationalism, racism, environmentalism, etc. In so doing this panel analyzes the current “monument discourse” and queries the needs and purposes of monuments.

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28  ‘My Strength, My Comfort, My Intense Delight’: Women, Art, and Lifewriting in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (in person)
Charles Reeve (OCAD University), creeve@ocadu.ca

Like her contemporary Eugène Delacroix, British watercolourist Elizabeth Murray left the ‘West’ in the early 1800s for the ‘Orient’, recording her adventures in extensive writings and images. However, while Delacroix’s journals and notebooks became widely celebrated, Murray’s account slid into obscurity—even though Delacroix’s journey lasted only six months and generated two articles, while Murray’s time in the region prompted her two-volume autobiography Sixteen Years of an Artist’s Life in Morocco, Spain, and the Canary Islands. Moreover, accounts by other women from that century—Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun and Elizabeth Butler—similarly languished, creating the sense that this era’s female artists neither left home nor published autobiographies. This panel aims to explode this misapprehension by convening discussions of lifewriting by women artists of the 1800s and earlier. We welcome proposals regarding all lifewriting forms (e.g. diaries, letters), with particular interest in accounts originating outside normative ‘Western’ narratives, and/or regarding now-obscure autobiographies.

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54  HECAA Open Session (online)
Christina Smylitopoulos (University of Guelph), csmylito@uoguelph.ca

HECAA works to stimulate, foster, and disseminate knowledge of all aspects of eighteenth-century visual culture. This open session welcomes papers that examine any aspect of art and visual culture from the 1680s to the 1830s. Special consideration will be given to proposals that demonstrate innovation in theoretical and/or methodological approaches.

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63  Women and the Arts in the Early Modern Period (online)
Andrea Morgan (Independent scholar), 14acm5@queensu.ca

Women have long faced challenges in pursuit of their engagement with the visual arts. While upper-class and aristocratic early modern women were often encouraged to dabble in or have some familiarity with the arts to make them amiable and polite companions, they were rarely afforded the same opportunities as their male counterparts. Yet, women such as Artemisia Gentileschi and Angelica Kauffmann excelled in their professional practice; still others persisted but remain relegated to the realm of the ‘amateur’. This panel seeks papers that highlight the life and work of both professional female artists as well as those lesser known, including women who worked in media other than painting. This session also encourages explorations of alternative ways women engaged with the art world in the early modern period, whether that be through art collecting or curating, broadly defined, and women in the commercial world who worked as art dealers or suppliers.

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