Mount Vernon Symposium | Decorative Arts in the French Atlantic World

Posted in conferences (to attend), online learning by Editor on March 27, 2023

French porcelain tea and coffee service made for George and Martha Washington, and gifted by the Comte de Custine de Sarreck, ca. 1782.

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From Mount Vernon:

‘Very elegant & much admired’: Decorative Arts in the French Atlantic World
George Washington Presidential Library, Mount Vernon, Virginia, 2–4 June 2023

After the American Revolution, George Washington resolved that he would no longer “send to England (from whence I formerly had all my goods) for anything I can get upon tolerable terms elsewhere.” He instead turned to the United States’ greatest ally, France, where he found the furniture, ceramics, textiles, and decorative objects to be “very elegant” and “much admired.”

The symposium will take place at the George Washington Presidential Library at Mount Vernon, in Virginia. The library opened in 2013.

The 2023 Mount Vernon Symposium will examine George and Martha Washington’s adoption of the French taste, as a catalyst to further explore the complex interchange of culture, decorative styles, and objects in the French-Atlantic World. Join leading curators and historians as they examine the diffusion of French style, from the Ancien Régime through the French Revolution to the French Empire, and from Paris to London, Philadelphia, Port-au-Prince, and New Orleans, to 20th-century Los Angeles. In-person participation cost is $400 ($375 for members and donors), which includes all lectures, meals, and tours. Virtual participation (in real-time or through recordings available until 4 July 2023) is $40.

F R I D A Y ,  2  J U N E  2 0 2 3

1:00  Registration

1:30  Welcome and Introductions

1:45  The Garde-Meuble de la Couronne: From its Creation to Revolutionary Sales — Stéphane Castelluccio
The Garde-Meuble de la Couronne was the administration in charge of furnishing the apartments of the members of the royal family in the residences of the French sovereign. King Henry IV created it in 1604 as part of his policy to reorganize the kingdom after the Wars of Religion. This talk will present the management, exercised by only three different families during a century and a half, as well as the functioning of this administration which took an increasing importance throughout the 18th century. It will explain the changes in its organization during the Revolution, and end with the reasons, principles and organization of the revolutionary sales of the Crown’s furniture, decided by the new Republic from 1793.

2:45  ‘A little French ease adopted would be an improvement”: Lessons in Sociability and Decorative Arts from 1780s Paris — Amy Hudson Henderson
After the American Revolution, an increasing number of American diplomats, businessmen, students, artists, and tourists found themselves in Paris mixing amongst themselves in the upper echelons of French society. It was a heady time, ripe with opportunities for forging new relationships and identities. Here, in 1784, a young Nabby Adams observed that Americans would do well to adopt “a little French ease” as an antidote to the stiffness and reserve that seemed to mar their social circles back home. What did she mean? This paper answers that question by exploring extant correspondence and household furnishings. By focusing on the acquisitions and behaviors of the prominent Americans who spent time in Paris during the 1780s, we deepen our understanding of the role of French decorative arts in both sociability and diplomacy and discover why these objects appealed to George and Martha Washington.

3:45  Break

4:00  Adam T. Erby – TBA

5:00  Henry Auguste: A Goldsmith in Revolutionary Paris — Iris Moon
This talk explores the unlikely career trajectory of the Parisian goldsmith Henry Auguste (1759–1816) during the French Revolution, drawing on new research published in Luxury after the Terror. Crafty, wily, and untrustworthy, but obviously talented with a hammer and chisel, Auguste started off as an apprentice to his well-known goldsmith father, who worked for Louis XVI. Beyond the French court, Auguste acquired a number of prestigious clients, including the British connoisseur William Beckford, for whom he fashioned an ewer made out of pure gold. Just as the volatile politics of the French Revolution sought to overturn the values of the Ancien Régime in favor of new ones, Auguste sought to refashion himself as more than a goldsmith during a moment of tremendous opportunity—and great risk.

6:30  Reception

7:15  Dinner

S A T U R D A Y ,  3  J U N E  2 0 2 3

7:30  Breakfast

8:45  Welcome and Introductions

9:00  Emerging Scholars’ Panel

10:00  Break

10:15  Revolutionary Things — Ashli C. White
During the late 18th century, a wide range of objects associated with the American, French, and Haitian revolutions crisscrossed the ocean. Furniture and ceramics; clothing and accessories; maps, prints, and public amusements—all circulated among diverse actors who wrestled with the political implications of these items. In this presentation we will examine the unique ways that transatlantic revolutionary things shaped how people understood contested concepts like equality, freedom, and solidarity. And, we will explore how these objects became a means through which individuals—enslaved and free, women and men, poor and elite—promoted, and sometimes tried to thwart, the realization of these ideals on the ground.

11:15  À la française: Designing French North America, 1700–1820 — Philippe Halbert
At its height, New France extended from eastern Canada, across the Great Lakes, and down the Mississippi River to Louisiana. Although its population remained small, French North America was no less dynamic in terms of artistic originality or creative output. Even after New France’s fall in 1763, areas of French settlement held fast to creole syntheses of Gallic aesthetics and vernacular tradition. This presentation will introduce a cross-section of objects and buildings whose stories reveal the vibrant legacies of French cultural identity as it took root in North America before 1800.

12:15  Lunch

1:45  An American in Paris: Walt Disney and France — Wolf Burchard
Walt Disney was about to turn 17 when he first set foot in France in December 1918. The buildings, the art and the atmosphere had a lasting impact on the animated world he would go on to create. Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts, an exhibition shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Wallace Collection in London and the Huntington Art Gallery in Pasadena, brought together the seemingly disparate worlds of 20th-century hand-drawn animation and 18th-century decorative arts, which upon closer inspection reveal remarkable similarities. Wolf Burchard will relate how the exhibition explored Disney’s fascination with European art and the impact it had on the studio’s output, especially the three French fairytales retold in hand-drawn animation: Cinderella (1950), Sleeping Beauty (1959), and Beauty and the Beast (1991).

2:45  Break

3:15  A Passion for Porcelain: Sèvres in the Wallace Collection — Helen Jacobsen
Ever since the early days of its development in the mid-18th century, the porcelain produced at the Sèvres Manufactory outside Paris has been a magnet for collectors, attracted by its vibrant colours, rich gilding, and innovative designs. The Sèvres collection at the Wallace Collection was put together in the 19th century, but its collectors were no less beguiled by its flamboyant luxury and exquisite craftsmanship. This lecture will follow the evolution of some of the most celebrated pieces ever produced at the manufactory and will explore the passions that gave shape to what is now one of the finest collections of Sèvres porcelain in the world, a testament to its enduring fascination.

4:15  James Monroe’s Use of French Furnishings in the White House and the Restoration of the Bellangé Suite — Melissa Naulin
Following its burning during the War of 1812, the President’s House required almost all new furnishings before it could reopen for President James Monroe’s use in 1817. Relying on his extensive knowledge of fashionable home goods gained through his two European diplomatic appointments, Monroe worked to secure a large number of these new furnishings from Paris. My talk will focus on these government-purchased French goods, many of which remain amongst the most-treasured objects in the White House collection. I will also detail the recent effort to restore the furniture suite made by Pierre Antoine Bellangé and purchased for Monroe’s “large oval room” (today’s Blue Room) to its original splendor.

5:45  Reception

7:00  Dinner

S U N D A Y ,  4  J U N E  2 0 2 3

9:00  Breakfast

9:30  From West to East: Huguenot Craft Communities in London’s Soho and Spitalfields — Tessa Murdoch
Drawing on research undertaken for her recent publication, Tessa will speak about the formation of Huguenot artisan communities in Soho and Spitalfields. Leading personalities, include engraver Simon Gribelin, resident in West London who married into the Spitalfields based Mettayer family. The complex history of the Courtauld family, established in West London, gravitates from silversmithing in Soho and the City to textile production in Spitalfields and beyond. Craft communities centered on conformist and non-conformist French speaking churches and were gradually assimilated into Anglican churches. Huguenot refugees developed mutual support systems, friendly societies, the French Hospital which still flourishes as almshouses and the Westminster French Protestant Charity School. These Huguenot charities document the contribution of Huguenot craftsmen and women to British culture.

10:15  Forging a New Vernacular: The Transformation and Triumph of a French Ébéniste in Federal New York — Peter M. Kenny
Charles-Honoré Lannuier (1779–1819) arrived in New York in the spring of 1803 a thoroughly-trained Parisian ébéniste who, according to his inaugural newspaper advertisement, had “worked at his trade with the most celebrated Cabinet Makers of Europe.” Well-versed in the elegant forms of the late Louis XVI period, which still held sway during the earliest period of his training in Paris, Lannuier’s design vocabulary at the time of his arrival also included the harder edged yet brilliant neoclassical style of post-Revolutionary France known as Directoire (1795–99), and the Consulat (1799–1804), a heavier more monumental style featuring the more archaeologically correct forms of le goût antique. This was Lannuier’s Parisian stylistic legacy. How he transformed this legacy, ultimately becoming one of the two principal leaders of the New York school of cabinetmaking alongside his greatest rival, Duncan Phyfe, is an inspiring and uniquely American story.

11:00  Break

11:15  Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte and the Material Creation of an Imperial Legacy — Alexandra Deutsch
Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte (1785–1879) is often remembered for her short, but remarkable marriage in 1803 to Napoleon’s youngest brother, Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte. Although their mésalliance resulted in divorce, their union set her and future generations of American Bonapartes on a path that allied them with France and an imperial legacy. Drawing from thousands of documents and a collection of more than 600 objects associated with the Bonapartes, this lecture charts the history of Elizabeth’s long life during which she meticulously created and documented a material world tethered to France. From her fashion to her silver, jewels, and furniture, Elizabeth’s self-presentation proclaimed her French connection. Her obsessive documentation of her possessions reveals a fascinating and complex narrative that spans multiple generations and reaches far beyond Baltimore.

Masterclass in Palermo | European Collectors as Patrons

Posted in on site, opportunities by Editor on March 27, 2023

Photograph of the Palazzo Butera with a view of the sea to the right.

The oldest portions of the Palazzo Butera date to the early eighteenth century, when the Duke of Branciforti constructed a grand house according to designs produced by the Palermo architect Giacomo Amato. In 1759, fire destroyed a portion of the palazzo. Prince Butera responded by acquiring the adjacent property and rebuilding, doubling the size of the Palazzo Butera. More information is available here»

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From ArtHist.net and the Palazzo Butera:

Masterclass in Palermo: European Collectors as Patrons
Palazzo Butera, Palermo, 28–30 June 2023

Applications due by 30 April 2023

European Collectors as Patrons is a three-day masterclass based in Palermo, Sicily focused on how patronage supports and defends artistic and cultural activity. Bertrand du Vignaud and Claudio Gulli will outline how over the last three centuries a range of historical and current European patrons have advocated for art and culture by building their own private collections. These individuals have contributed both to social progress and urban development. Examples will include the Roman Cardinals Alessandro Albani and Pietro Ottoboni, along with the English amateur-architects Lord Burlington and Sir John Soane, and the Spanish Count Alexandre Aguado. From more recent history, we will consider Harry Kessler, Vittorio Cini, and Calouste Gulbenkian. Professors Andrea Rurale and Piergiacomo Mion, of the SDA Bocconi School of Management, will discuss the economic longevity and long-term impact of these enterprises.

During these three days, lectures will take place at Palazzo Butera, and visits across the city will include both well-known and lesser known places. In the evenings, private dinners have been arranged in historic houses and other places of significant cultural importance. The dinners are designed as an integral part of the masterclass allowing for a greater depth of understanding. They also offer time for discussion and reflection on the days’ experiences and learning.

The use of Palazzo Butera as host to this masterclass is intentional as it represents a fine example of the sort of enlightened patronage being discussed. This eighteenth-century seafront palace, once the home of the Branciforti family, was purchased by Francesca and Massimo Valsecchi in 2016. The new owners privately undertook a complete restoration of the building and have transferred their art collection to the palazzo. Since the 1960s the Valsecchi’s collecting has been guided by a fascination in cultural exchanges and the cross-pollination of ideas. Assembled quietly over decades of intense research, the collection opened to the public in the spring of 2021. The main works in the collection arrived in Palermo after long-term loans to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (2016–2020).

Classes will be held in English. The course fee, excluding dinners, is €350; including dinners, the cost is €700. It is possible to receive a grant to cover €350 (applicants will be selected by Bertrand du Vignaud and Claudio Gulli). Lunch is included in the price, except on June 29, when lunch will take place at Villa Tasca. Registration is open to anybody, there is no age limit, and an educational qualification is not a requirement. To register, please send an email to info@palazzobutera.it. For those applying for a grant, please include your CV and a personal statement. We also advise staying in Palermo, if possible, some days prior to or after the course, so as to visit the city’s main points of interest.

W E D N E S D A Y ,  2 8  J U N E  2 0 2 3

10.00  Visit to the Francesca and Massimo Valsecchi Collection

12.00  Meet with Francesca and Massimo Valsecchi

15.00  Lecture by Bertrand du Vignaud and Claudio Gulli — European Collectors as Patrons, Part 1

18.30  Visit to the Chiaramonte Bordonaro Collection

Dinner at Villa Chiaramonte Bordonaro (optional)

T H U R S D A Y ,  2 9  J U N E  2 0 2 3

10.00  Visit to Villa Tasca

15.00  Lecture by Bertrand du Vignaud and Claudio Gulli — European Collectors as Patrons, Part 2

19.00  Visit to Palazzo Mazzarino

Dinner at Palazzo Mazzarino (optional)

F R I D A Y ,  3 0  J U N E  2 0 2 3

10.00  Lecture by Bertrand du Vignaud — Heritage at Risk

11.00  Lecture by Andrea Rurale — Art Orientation vs Market Orientation

12.00  Lecture by Piergiacomo Mion — A New Model for Cultural Business: Key Issues Faced by Art Managers

15.00  The Financing of Restorations, Museums, and Heritage. Attended by Bertrand du Vignaud, Claudio Gulli, Andrea Rurale, and Piergiacomo Mion (open to the public)

16.15  Walking Tour of Palermo’s Historical Center: Restored Churches and Churches To Be Restored, curated by Claudio Gulli

17.30  Gallery of Francesco Pantaleone

18.15  Meeting with Alexandre Giquello and Cocktails


Villa Chiaramonte Bordonaro alle Croci

In 1892, Ernesto Basile designs an extension for Gabriele Chiarmonte Bordonaro’s (1835–1914) villa to house his art collection. Assembled at the end of the 19th century, it included works by Giotto, Botticelli, and Van Dyck. Today you can still see many of these works here, even though the collection was divided in three parts in 1950.

Villa Tasca

The origins of Villa Tasca date from the 16th century, though it was restored with its current decorations beginning in 1855. It has since been called the ‘Villa Borghese of Palermo’ because of the eight hectares of surrounding park, preserved to this day. It includes a swan lake and a temple to Ceres. Richard Wagner was a long-time guest of the villa and during his stay in Palermo wrote much of Parsifal. The park opened to the public in 2020. The visit will be guided by Giuseppe Tasca owner and CEO of Villa Tasca.

Palazzo Mazzarino

Within walking distance of Teatro Massimo, Palazzo Mazzarino, belongs to Marquis Berlingieri. Historically it has been one of the city’s most important palazzi, because of its links to the Lanza family. In the Minerva Hall, where a sculpture of Valerio Villareale towers, you will also find butterfly paintings by Damien Hirst. The palazzo is a showcase for this type of cross-pollination between new and old. The visit will be guided by Marialda Berlingeri.


Contemporary art gallery founded in Palermo by Francesco Pantaleone in 2003, located at the Quattro Canti.

House of Alexandre Giquello

Alexandre Giquello is co-owner of the Parisian auction house Binoche-Giquello and president of Drouot. He owns an apartment in Palermo at the Quattro Canti.


Art historian Bertrand du Vignaud has been Chairman of Christie’s Monaco and Vice-Président of Christie’s France. Passionate about the safeguarding the world cultural heritage, he has been President of the World Monuments Fund organisations for Europe, France, and Italy. Currently, he advises the Fondation Evergète in Geneva and is the scientific advisor of Dassault Histoire et Patrimoine in France and is the President of the Comité International des Amis de la Bibliothèque Vaticane in Rome. For more than 40 years, he has launched numerous projects to save and restore masterpieces of cultural heritage in danger or in urgent need of work around the world: from baroque churches in Peru, Brazil, and Austria, to the Queens’ Theatre at Trianon, from the Carracci Gallery in Rome to the Palace of Dario in Persepolis; the most original and iconic of these was the reinstallation of the spectacular decors of an 18th-century mansion, the Hôtel de Voyer d’Argenson, or Chancellerie d’Orléans, in Paris. He is also a great nephew of the painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and through his writing and lectures, works to make the little-know aspects of this artist’s life better known to the public. His last book, Les Thellusson. was published in French and English by In Fine in 2021 and is dedicated to an important European family of collectors and art patrons.

Claudio Gulli was born in Palermo in 1987. He read History of Art at the Università degli Studi di Siena and gained his PhD at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, with a thesis on the late-nineteenth century Chiaramonte Bordonaro collection (published by Officina Libraria in 2021). Between 2009 and 2011, he worked in the Paintings Department of the Louvre Museum in Paris, where his contributions to the research on Leonardo da Vinci focused on the literary popularity of the master’s Saint John the Baptist (2009) and Saint Anne (2011). He is involved in the project of Palazzo Butera in Palermo, where he is now director, since the acquisition of the building by Francesca and Massimo Valsecchi

Andrea Rurale is a Lecturer at the Department of Marketing at Università Bocconi. At SDA Bocconi, he is the Director of the Master in Arts Management and Administration (MAMA). He has conducted research and education projects with major enterprises. His research activities focus on cultural marketing, consumer behaviour, experiential marketing, CRM, and marketing communication. He is the author of books and articles on his topics of interest. His works have been published in Psychology and Marketing. He has been a Visiting Professor in many international universities, including Simon Fraser in Vancouver (Canada), Tinsgua University in Beijing (China), SMU in Dallas (USA), UTS in Sydney (Australia), and Universidad de Aguascalientes (Mexico). He is President of the Istituto musicale superiore Monteverdi Conservatory in Cremona. Andrea earned a degree from Università Bocconi and a PhD in Marketing from Universitat de València. He is President of the Lombardy Delegation of FAI – Fondo Ambiente Italiano.

Piergiacomo Mion Dalle Carbonare is SDA Junior Lecturer of the Government, Health and Non-Profit Division and Coordinator of the Master in Arts Management and Administration (MAMA) at SDA Bocconi School of Management. He is Deputy Director of the Master of Science in Economics and Management for Arts, Culture, Media, and Entertainment (ACME) at Bocconi University where he also teaches courses related to Cultural Policies, Public Management, and Territorial Marketing. He holds a PhD in Marketing from the University of Valencia. He has been visiting scholar at SMU Dallas. Piergiacomo is also Head of the Milan Delegation of FAI – Fondo Ambiente Italiano.

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