Lecture Series | Catholic Chapels in N. England / Adam and Chippendale

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on February 5, 2023

Upcoming lectures from the York Georgian Society:

Jan Graffius | From Borneo to York: The 18th-Century Chapels at Stonyhurst and the Bar Convent
York Medical Society, Saturday, 11 February 2023, 2.30pm

Interior view of a private chapel with green walls.

Bar Convent Chapel, completed in 1769. Established in 1686, the Convent of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin at Micklegate Bar in York is the oldest surviving convent in England.

This talk will examine the history and contents of two extraordinary 18th-century chapels in the North of England. Both chapels were hidden from view, but both reflected very different aspects of English Catholicism. The 1713 Stonyhurst Shireburn inventory lists luxury artefacts from China along with those of the European baroque, salvaged medieval material culture, and the latest English Georgian fashions, all demonstrating a confident seigneurial Catholicism in a deeply rural setting. The flamboyant but hidden 1769 Bar Convent chapel of Mother Ann Aspinal and its associated 16th- and 17th-century relics and vestments speaks of a different community—religious sisters and recusant schoolgirls—navigating the political challenges associated with an all-female community in a volatile urban setting.

Jan Graffius is Curator of Collections and Historic Libraries at Stonyhurst College.

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Kerry Bristol | Robert Adam and Thomas Chippendale at Nostell: A Matter of Equals?
York Medical Society, Saturday, 11 March 2023, 2.30pm

Painting of two men standing at a table.

Unknown British artist, A Cabinet Maker’s Office, ca. 1770, oil on canvas, 53 × 70 cm (London: V&A, P.1-1961).

Nostell, the ancestral home of the Winn family near Wakefield, has long been recognised as an important commission for both Robert Adam and Thomas Chippendale, one indicative of a close friendship between architect and patron and suggestive of a special relationship between the Otley-born cabinetmaker and a family who reputedly promoted his interests early in his career. Based on a fresh reading of the Nostell archive, this lecture will investigate the nature of the business relationship between Adam and Chippendale and query how and where they worked together at Nostell and when they worked independently of each other. Did the late 18th-century architect always have the upper hand, or could those who furnished a house exert more control?

Kerry Bristol is Senior Lecturer in the School of Fine Art at the University of Leeds.

Podcast | 18th-Century Dining with Ivan Day

Posted in resources by Editor on February 5, 2023

From Spotify:

Neil Buttery and Ivan Day, “18th-Century Dining with Ivan Day,” The British Food History Podcast, Season 5 (22 January 2023), 43 minutes.

Martha Bradley, The British Housewife (1760). From Ivan Day’s Instagram account.

For this episode, Neil’s guest is esteemed food historian Ivan Day. Ivan is a social historian of food culture and a professional chef and confectioner. He has contributed to dozens of TV and radio programmes over the years. He is the author of numerous books and papers on the history of food, and he has curated major exhibitions on food history in the UK, US, and Europe. This special episode compliments Neil’s upcoming book, a biography the 18th-century cookery writer Elizabeth Raffald. Ivan kindly invited Neil into his home to talk about all things 18th-century dining: ostentatious coronation feasts; the rise of female food writers, including Elizabeth Raffald; market gardens; the presentation of food at the table; jelly; flummery moulds; authenticity; and the practicalities of spit roasting—how crockery, cutlery and, well, the whole dining experience changed going into and out of the 18th century.

Information on Day’s courses for October, November, and December, offered through The School of Artisan Food, is available here»

Forthcoming from Pen and Sword History:

Neil Buttery, Before Mrs Beeton: Elizabeth Raffald, England’s Most Influential Housekeeper (Barnsley: Pen and Sword History, 2023), 224 pages, ISBN: 978-1399084475, £20 / $40.

Exhibition | Flora Danica: The World’s Wildest Dinnerware

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on February 5, 2023

From the Royal Danish Collection:

Flora Danica: The World’s Wildest Dinnerware / Verdens Vildeste Stel
Library Hall, Koldinghus, Kolding, 7 October 2022, ongoing

With 1,530 intact pieces, the Flora Danica dinnerware is not only the best-preserved luxurious porcelain service from the 18th century but also undoubtedly the world’s wildest dinnerware in terms of splendour, storytelling, and decorations. This grand exhibition of the Flora Danica dinnerware at Koldinghus offers a close look at the magnificent set and tells the story of the fascinating ideas and myths associated with it and their connections to national and international politics. With its numerous pieces and painstaking reproductions of wild Danish botany on fragile white porcelain, the service offers an important key to understanding Denmark during the Enlightenment. Like the Danish crown jewels, the dinnerware is still in use today for very special occasions in the Royal House.

The Origins of Flora Danica

The exhibition explores the origins of this historic porcelain service, which is inextricably linked with Flora Danica, the world’s most ambitious reference work on wild plants, which took more than 122 years to complete and features beautiful copperplate prints and precise descriptions of more than 3,240 plant species. The goal of the project was to collect knowledge and facilitate the use of wild plants, lending lustre to the absolute monarchy. Around 1789, it was decided to transplant this prestigious project to precious porcelain. No specific information has been preserved about when this wild idea first arose, who came up with the almost absurd notion of decorating porcelain with wild plants, or for whom this lavish service was intended. Indeed, our knowledge about the early chapters in the story of this magnificent service is as limited as the myths about it are numerous!

Wild Rumours and International Drama

Flower Basket from the Flora Danica set (Photo by Iben Kaufmann).

Even while the service was in production, rumours abounded about the purpose of this lavish dinnerware decorated with wild plants. Rumor spread like wildfire throughout Europe, and there was persistent speculation that it was intended for the Russian Empress Catherine the Great, a porcelain enthusiast. Indeed, the Flora Danica service may have been intended for her, as a diplomatic gift in a time of international tension. Or perhaps, the dinnerware with the wild plants were created for the table of the Danish king as a wild act of political nudging to promote a particular policy.

At the time, the dramatic state of international politics was easily matched by the drama surrounding the political direction of the monarchy in the Danish realm, where a fierce political battle was playing out between pro- and anti-reformists. The exact role and position of the Flora Danica service in the cross-fire of reforms, diplomacy, and wild rumour remain a mystery to this day. Around 1879, that mystery put forth an outstanding flower in the form of this stunning service, unparalleled in scale and wondrous decorations.

Poisonous Mushrooms and Sophisticated Advertising

Each of the many pieces of the Flora Danica service features images from one of the copperplate prints from the reference work, carefully reproduced in full scale. Tureens, wine coolers, and plates are covered in wild flora: from humble algae on Norwegian rocks to poisonous mushrooms in Danish forests and long grasses on the moors of Holstein.

While the copperplate images were easily transferred to the larger pieces, such as tureens and serving dishes, the porcelain painters needed all their skill and ingenuity when it came to the smaller pieces. Long stalks were cut, grasses were laid horizontally, and leaves were twisted to fit the floral decorations onto round and curvy small dishes, custard cups, and salt cellars. The mantra was accuracy above all else, with correct representations taking precedence over beauty. Thus, despite its impressive volume and splendour, the service was mainly conceived as PR for the underlying publication. In fact, it is so inextricably linked to the reference work that the service should not be seen as an independent artistic achievement by the Royal Danish Porcelain Factory but rather as a sophisticated advertising stunt.

The World’s Wildest Dinnerware

Since the large exhibition about the Flora Danica dinnerware in 1990 at Christiansborg Palace, it has not been possible to stage a comprehensive presentation of this wild service, which is almost as storied as it is voluminous. The upcoming exhibition will shed light on the wild myths surrounding the service and offer the audience an up-close look at the unusual decorations and the use of the historical service, which was first used in 1803 at the birthday banquet for Christian VII. Since then, it has been used on very special occasions in the Royal House. Most recently, it was in use at the golden jubilee of HM Queen Margrethe II in January 2022. No other Danish service can boast as long a legacy or a presence at such historic banquets as the Flora Danica service, which remains the world’s wildest dinnerware—in terms of history, storytelling, and decoration.

The exhibition is made possible by loans of items from the State Inventory and contributions from Royal Copenhagen and Georg Jensen Damask. It opened at Koldinghus on 7 October 2022 and will be followed up by events and communication initiatives to shed light on the history, use, and continued relevance of the porcelain service.

Jesper Munk Andersen, Flora Danica: The World’s Wildest Dinnerware (Copenhagen: Kongernes Samling / The Royal Danish Collection, 2022), 104 pages, ISBN: 978-8789542256. Also available in Danish.

More information is available here»

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