New Book | The Fountain of Latona

Posted in books by Editor on July 1, 2022

From Penn Press:

Thomas Hedin, The Fountain of Latona: Louis XIV, Charles Le Brun, and the Gardens of Versailles (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2022), 296 pages, ISBN: 978-0812253757, $70.

Ovid tells the story of Latona, the mother by Jupiter of Apollo and Diana. In her flight from the jealous Juno, she arrives faint and parched on the coast of Asia Minor. Kneeling to sip from a pond, Latona is met by the local peasants, who not only deny her effort but muddy the water in pure malice. Enraged, Latona calls a curse down upon the stingy peasants, turning them to frogs.

In his masterful study, Thomas Hedin reveals how and why a fountain of this strange legend was installed in the heart of Versailles in the 1660s, the inaugural decade of Louis XIV’s patronage there. The natural supply of water was scarce and unwieldy, and it took the genius of the king’s hydraulic engineers, working in partnership with the landscape architect André Le Nôtre, to exploit it. If Ovid’s peasants were punished for their stubborn denial of water, so too the obstacles of coarse nature at Versailles were conquered; the aquatic iconography of the fountain was equivalent to the aquatic reality of the gardens.

Latona was designed by Charles Le Brun, the most powerful artist at the court of Louis XIV, and carried out by Gaspard and Balthazar Marsy. The 1660s were rich in artistic theory in France, and the artists of the fountain delivered substantial lectures at the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture on subjects of central concern to their current work. What they professed was what they were visualizing in the gardens. As such, the fountain is an insider’s guide to the leading artistic ideals of the moment.

Louis XIV was viewed as the reincarnation of Apollo, the god of creativity, the inspiration of artists and scientists. Hedin’s original argument is that Latona was a double declaration: a glorification of the king and a proud manifesto by artists.

Thomas F. Hedin is Emeritus Professor of Art History at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He is the author, with Robert W. Berger, of Diplomatic Tours in the Gardens of Versailles, also published by University of Pennsylvania Press.


Note on Measurements
List of Illustrations

1  Foundations
2  Fountains in Context
3  Original State
4  Visual Narrative
5  Latona Group
6  Lycean Peasants
7  Panegyric and Manifesto

Appendix A: Execution of the Fountain
Appendix B: Mansart’s Marble Cone
Appendix C: Marsy’s Lecture of 7 December 1669
Appendix D: Nathan Whitman’s ‘Fronde Thesis’
Appendix E: Translations of Ovid
Appendix F: Elaborations of the Western Axis, Briefly

List of Abbreviations
Illustrations follow page 90

Call for Papers | G.L.F. Laves and Colleagues, 1770–1860

Posted in Calls for Papers, conferences (summary) by Editor on July 1, 2022

From the Call for Papers:

G.L.F. Laves and Colleagues: Architects as Designers of Interiors and Furniture, 1770–1860
Museum August Kestner, Hanover, 17–18 March 2023

Proposals due by 12 September 2022

Georg Ludwig Friedrich Laves (1788–1864), among the most important representatives of classicism in Germany, decisively shaped the image of the city of Hanover with his urban-planning designs and structures. Numerous secular buildings, including the Leineschloss in the city centre—the residence of the kings of Hanover from 1837 to 1866 and today the seat of the Landtag of Lower Saxony—as well as the reconstructed Schloss Herrenhausen and private palace, are reminders of this court architect of the Kingdom of Hanover. Building alterations and new constructions based on his designs have survived in various places in what is now Lower Saxony, including Schloss Derneburg and the Schloss Celle. As part of these projects, Laves also designed the corresponding interiors, which put him in line with his famous contemporaries Karl Friedrich Schinkel (Berlin), Leo von Klenze and Jean-Baptiste Métivier (Munich), and Johann Conrad Bromeis (Kassel). A majority of the interiors designed by Laves were destroyed in World War II—such as the representative halls of the Leineschloss (1834–36) and the living quarters of the royal family in the Palais an der Leinstrasse (ca. 1818 and later)—and the furniture scattered. Based on the research project of Thomas Dann, who has a comprehensive view of designs for furniture and interiors thanks to his many years of archival work and research around surviving furniture, the Museum August Kestner is showing the exhibition G. L. F. Laves—ein Hofarchitekt entwirft Möbel from 6 November 2022 to 26 March 2023. For the first time in Hanover, a selection of Laves’s drawings for furniture and interiors will be on view, together with examples of furniture created according to his designs.

Parallel to the exhibition, mobile – Gesellschaft der Freunde von Möbel- und Raumkunst e.V., the Museum August Kestner, and the Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte Paris are organizing an international conference that seeks to place Laves’s furniture and interior designs in a larger historical and cultural context. Among the well-known architects who were frequently encountered in the 19th century and who—like Laves in Hanover—designed interiors as well as furniture were the English architects Jeffry Wyatville, John Nash, and Thomas Hope, along with Charles Percier, Pierre François Léonard Fontaine, and Jakob-Ignatz Hittorff in France, and Pelagio Palagi in Italy. It is this special aspect of his work that is the focus of the conference Georg Ludwig Friedrich Laves and Colleagues: Architects as Designers of Interiors and Furniture, 1770–1860, with particular emphasis on the furniture designs. From an expanded European perspective, the question of the defining characteristics of architects’ furniture will be taken up.

Further themes and questions might include:
• What sources of inspiration/role models are called upon and what materials are preferred for the execution?
• What role do surrogate materials play, such as decoration in stucco or sheet iron and zinc?
• How did the transfer of knowledge transnationally between the architects and craftsmen work?
• What is the relationship between architect and client when it comes to the design of interior spaces?
• What sources are there on the collaboration between designers and the executing tradesmen?

The conference will take place on 17–18 March 2023 in the Museum August Kestner in Hanover and is geared towards junior and early career scholars. Proposals for a 20-minute presentation (abstract of 300 words maximum; the conference languages are German and English) together with a short biography (including email and physical address as well as institutional affiliation) should be emailed to the following address by 12 September 2022: laves@dfk-paris.org. You will be informed of the outcome of your submission by the beginning of October 2022 at the latest.

Conference Organizers
Mirjam Brandt (Museum August Kestner, Hanover), Andreas Büttner (Städtisches Museum Braunschweig), Jörg Ebeling (Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte Paris), Martin Glinzer (art historian, Berlin), Henriette Graf (Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg), Petra Krutisch (Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg), and Sally Schöne (Museum August Kestner, Hanover)

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Note (added 27 March 2023)— A summary of the conference (in German) by Meinrad von Engelberg can be found at ArtHist.net.

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