Liotard Tome Reviewed at ‘Apollo Magazine’

Posted in books, reviews by Editor on May 2, 2010

From Apollo Magazine:

Marcel Roethlisberger and Renée Loche, Liotard: catalogue, sources et correspondance, 2 vols. (Doornspijk: Davaco, 2008), ISBN 907028808, £503.

Reviewed by Robert Oresko.

On 30 September 1762, 24-year-old Bostonian John Singleton Copley wrote to Jean-Étienne Liotard (1702-1789), by then aged nearly 60, whom he had previously met in London, asking for help in procuring ‘a sett of the best Swiss Crayons for drawing of Portraits’. Liotard’s cosmopolitanism was a hallmark of his career as an artist, but a request from pre-revolutionary Boston indicates how widely his fame had spread. This telling anecdote emerges from the section – of nearly 150 pages – of Liotard’s letters in the second volume of Marcel Roethlisberger and Renée Loche’s “Liotard,” a monumental, archivally-based study of the Genevan-born artist’s life and work.

Over 900 folio pages of text, spread over two volumes, document the career of one of the greatest of painters in pastel and establish
his position as a key figure in 18th-century cultural life. . . .

The full review can be found here»

Exhibition Review | Versailles and the Antique

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on January 24, 2013

Reviewed for Enfilade by Hélène Bremer

Versailles et l’Antique
Château de Versailles, 13 November 2012 — 17 March 2013

Curated by Alexandre Maral, Geneviève Bresc-Bautier, Jean-Luc Martinez, and Nicolas Milovanovic, with scenography by Pier Luigi Pizzi

Galerie de Pierre basse

Galerie de Pierre basse (Room 1) Versailles et l’Antique
© EPV / Th. Garnier

The entrance through the Gallerie de Pierre Basse (Room 1) of the Palace of Versailles has been changed dramatically for the exhibition Versailles and Antiquity. The public is usually barred from this part of the palace, allowed only to peek down a rather dark hallway containing a collection of sculpture dedicated to heroes of French history. Instead, for now, these statues are discretely draped with white tissue, and the public enters alongside a selection of masterpieces from Louis XIVth’s sculpture garden. The finest marble sculpture from the collections of the French court, now in the collections of the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles, suggest a new Rome, created at Versailles by the Sun King and presently revived by the exhibition curators. This exceptionally ambitious show brings together not only marbles, but also bronzes, tapestries, paintings, drawings, decorative and ephemeral objects to explore the relationship between Versailles and Antiquity.

Screen shot 2013-01-22 at 7.45.51 PMThe renowned opera-stage-designer Pier Luigi Pizzi is responsible for the scenography of the installation. He has described the exhibition as a play in which the works of art are the characters and the stage breathes the spirit of the seventeenth-century French court. The subject of the play is the taste of the insatiable collector, Louis XIV. Within the spaces of the palace, Pizzi has managed to accommodate these ‘actors’, which here communicate with each other and invite visitors to follow along, from one spectacular scene to the next (though I imagine many may fail to appreciate the full production with not a single explanatory panel to be found in the whole exhibition).

In early modern Europe, all important courts collected antiquities in order to suggest their magnificence. Materials like porphyry, marble, alabaster, and bronze enhanced the prestige of such collections while tapestries and paintings comparing sovereigns with Classical gods and goddesses symbolized the court’s power.

In France this mode of collecting began with François I. After he failed to acquire the Laöcoon group in 1515 (and again in 1520) from Pope Leo X, his agent Francesco Primaticcio finally gained permission to make casts from the work, and a bronze copy was made for the Palace at Fontainebleau. The French collection of antiques grew only slowly under Henry II, who received the sculpture of Diane chasseresse from Pope Paul IV in 1556 (it serves as the emblem of the exhibition), and subsequent sovereigns largely lost interest altogether. In the seventeenth century, however, cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin assembled large collections of antiquities, most of which eventually entered the collection of Louis XIV. While the king had long been interested in collecting antiquities (under the guidance of Mazarin), his ambitions were fueled by a remark made by Bernini in 1665 during the sculptor’s visit to France. After Louis XIV showed him the royal collection, Bernini judged that it consisted of “ornaments for ladies.” Embarrassed, the king hurried to improve the collection, adding important, large, masculine (read powerful) sculpture. At the time it was not necessary to display genuine antique marbles; but instead, reassembled works and contemporary sculpture inspired by the antique could do as well. Within a short time, the collection at Versailles grew steadily, and the newly built Hall of Mirrors was adorned with gods and goddesses in marble, vases in porphyry as well as with classically-themed ceiling and wall paintings. References to antiquity intensified among all art forms, with Versailles celebrated as the new Rome.

Salle du Maroc « Héros et héroïnes antiques » © EPV / Th. Garnier

Salle du Maroc (Room 3) Versailles et l’Antique
© EPV / Th. Garnier

This exhibition claims to reconstruct a Versailles not seen since the French Revolution. On offer is not, however, a display of antiquities as they appeared at the court of Louis XIV, but the creation of an ambiance. Walking from the sculpture garden in the Gallerie Basse up the stairs to the Salle de Constantine (Room 2) with its reconstructed Palais de Soleil would have been a rather different experience in the seventeenth century. The importance of antiquity is nonetheless clear from the enormous quantity of objects on display. Using the rooms of the palace instead of temporary exhibition spaces preserves the court’s atmosphere. One wanders from intimate cabinets (Rooms 4 and 5) filled with precious objects and paintings, into a light-filled sculpture gallery dedicated to the gardens of Marly (Room 6), to rooms containing mythological paintings (Rooms 7 and 8). The exhibition includes a historical sequence, and dixhuitièmists will be especially interested in the Quatrième Salle de Crimée (Room 8) dedicated to the persistence of antiquity in the eighteenth century. In particular, the room examines eighteenth-century taste through paintings by Nattier and Drouais of court ladies disguised as Diana or Flore, along with the changing relationship between politics and aesthetics.

Quatrième salle de Crimée « Permanence de l'Antique au XVIIIe siècle » © EPV / Th. Garnier

Quatrième salle de Crimée (Room 8) Versailles et l’Antique
© EPV / Th. Garnier

Near the show’s conclusion (Room 9), the presentation of the grand projet to reconstruct the palace during the eighteenth century is interesting for its references to the antique (especially to the monuments of Rome), but this architectural departure is probably a bit much for the average visitor at the close of such an extensive exhibition (180 of the 200 objects on display have already asked a lot of viewers’ attention). Showing this material in a separate venue may have helped insure it receives the attention it merits.

Finally, the Salle de la Smalah (Room 10), dedicated to the Fêtes à l’antique, displays an impressive table ornament in the form of a antique colonnade in front of a sculpture of Apollo, in turn flanked by an enormous barometer made for Louis XV and XVI. Rather, however, than providing a satisfying finale to the proposed play, this last installation left me feeling oddly alone on the middle of the stage, longing for a re-enactment.

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Alexandre Maral and Nicolas Milovanovic, eds., Versailles et l’Antique (Paris: Artlys, 2012), 336 pages, ISBN: 978-2854955125, 49€ / $95.

CatalogueVersailles was a new Rome in several ways: in its grandiose size, in its ambition to endure through the centuries, and in the many references to the great models of Antiquity. In the 17th century, Antiquity was an incomparable absolute, which the most ambitious sovereigns wished to rival: Louis XIV created Versailles as the seat of power to bring back the grandeur of Antiquity. The exhibition examines the presence of Antiquity in Versailles from two angles: the acquisition of antique fragments and commissions of copies by the kings, and the re-appropriation of antique models and figures by artists. It brings back to Versailles about fifty antiques that it possessed during the Ancien Régime. The interpretation of Antiquity and its mythology are evoked through about two hundred works from the principal French and foreign collections (the Louvre, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Besançon, Uffizi Gallery of Florence, Archaeological Museum of Naples, etc.): sculptures, paintings, drawings, engravings,
tapestries, pieces of furniture, objets d’art.

Available from ArtBooks.com»

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The website of the Palace of Versailles provides additional information, including a series of videos. Full descriptions of each section of the exhibition are available as a PDF file here»

April 2012 Issue of ‘Apollo Magazine’

Posted in books, exhibitions, journal articles, reviews by Editor on April 4, 2012

Eighteenth-century offerings from the latest Apollo Magazine (for the full text of each article, click on the images below). . .

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Anne Kapeller, “A Unique Heritage: Treasures of the Swiss National Museum in Nyon,” Apollo Magazine (April 2012).

. . . In 1741, the curate Johann Georg Sulzer carried out a series of excavations at Lunnern, in the Reuss Valley near Zurich, leading to the discovery of a Roman temple, baths and a necropolis. On 17 November, he uncovered a hoard consisting of 17 pieces of gold jewellery and 84 silver coins, hidden in a recess. Three days later news of the sensational discovery reached Zurich. The painter Johann Balthasar Bullinger was commissioned to visit the site and produce a picture of the excavations. It was preserved along with the jewels in the art collection of the Wasserkirche in Zurich, before becoming part of the collections of the SNM. . .

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Lucy Davis & Christoph Martin Vogtherr, “A Taste for Blue,” Apollo Magazine (April 2012).

The Wallace Collection is famous for its exceptional group of works from the French 18th century. A smaller collection of around 150 Dutch 17th-century paintings is of equally fine quality, including masterpieces by Frans Hals, Rembrandt, Gerard ter Borch, Pieter de Hooch, Jan Steen, Gabriel Metsu, Caspar Netscher, Jacob van Ruisdael, Nicolaes Berchem, Philips Wouwermans and other leading painters of the Golden Age. It is particularly rich in genre paintings, landscapes by the Dutch Italianates and the work of some outstanding artists – Rembrandt first of all, but also Steen, Metsu, Willem van de Velde, Meindert Hobbema and Willem van Mieris. The resulting view of Dutch art does not provide a systematic overview but follows the personal preferences of the collectors and the typical view of Dutch art during the 18th and early 19th centuries. Artists such as Jan van Goyen, Hercules Seghers and Vermeer, but also the earlier periods before Rembrandt, are hardly represented. They were only admitted to the canon
at a time when the Hertford family had stopped collecting Dutch art. . .

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Juliet Carey, “A House of Cards: Taking Time,” Apollo Magazine (April 2012).

Waddesdon Manor is temporarily home to a small but extraordinarily beautiful group of works by one of the most revered of all French painters. The exhibition Taking Time: Chardin’s ‘Boy Building a House of Cards’ and Other Paintings is prompted by the recent acquisition of one of four works by Jean-Siméon Chardin (1699–1779) of a subject that particularly fascinated him. The last to enter the public domain, the Waddesdon canvas, is united for the first time with three other variations on the theme, on loan from national collections in France, Britain and the United States. . .

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Humphrey Wine, “The Art of a Connoisseur: Review of Pierre Rosenberg and Laure Barthélemy-Labeeuw, Les Dessins de la Collection de Pierre-Jean Mariette (2011),” Apollo Magazine (April 2012).

Soon after the death of Pierre-Jean Mariette (1694–1774) his heirs had Pierre François Basan organise a sale of his collection. It included paintings (among them Poussin’s Nurture of Bacchus, c. 1628, now in the National Gallery, London), terracottas, antique marbles, bronzes and engraved gems; the bulk of the sale, however, comprised some 9,000 Italian, Dutch, Flemish and French drawings. It was not only size that distinguished Mariette’s collection of drawings – the earlier collection of Pierre Crozat, built with Mariette’s advice, had been twice as large – but also its quality and comprehensive nature. . . .

Reviewed: English Silver from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Posted in books, catalogues, reviews by Editor on May 29, 2011

Recently published by Apollo Magazine:

Christopher Hartop, A Noble Pursuit: English Silver from the Rita Gans Collection at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2011), 88 pages, ISBN 9780917046902, $25.

Reviewed by Martin Chaisin; posted 1 May 2011.

In 1988, Jerome (Jerry) and Rita Gans loaned their magnificent collection of English silver of the 17th and 18th centuries to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA). The collection was eventually gifted to the museum in 1997; a decade later, it was permanently housed in a beautifully designed installation, as celebrated in Christopher Hartop’s earlier overview, ‘A Noble Feast: The Jerome and Rita Gans Collection of English Silver’ (2007). Then, following Jerry’s death, Rita assembled a collection – reflecting her taste and engaging personal style – from which she donated an additional 50 pieces to the museum in 2009. Hartop’s present publication is a catalogue of that latter collection, as well as an illuminating discussion of collecting, connoisseurship and the design and uses of silver in 18th-century England. . . .

The full review is available here»

Reviewed: ‘Gem Engraving in Britain from Antiquity to the Present’

Posted in books, reviews by Editor on April 16, 2011

Recently published by Apollo Magazine:

Julia Kagan, Gem Engraving in Britain from Antiquity to the Present (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2010), ISBN 9781407305578, £80 / $160.

Reviewed by Diana Scarisbrick; posted 1 April 2011.

Neglected for years, the study of English glyptics has recently taken on a new lease of life. Following the publication of Professor Sir John Boardman’s ‘The Marlborough Gems’ (2009) and of his catalogue, co-authored by Kirsten Aschengreen Piacenti, of the collection of HM Queen Elizabeth II, it is now the turn of Julia Kagan. Here, she tells the whole story, from its roots in the mid-1st- century-BC Roman invasion up to modern times, bringing together in chronological sequence the many artists, patrons, collectors and scholars involved. Her narrative is easy to read, fully illustrated, with every statement supported by a reference, helpfully inserted into the text and not relegated to the back of the book. . . .

The full review is available here»

Book Review: ‘Thomas Roberts’ Catalogue

Posted in books, catalogues, reviews by Editor on February 12, 2011

From the February issue of Apollo Magazine:

William Laffa and Brendan Rooney, Thomas Roberts (1748-1777): Landscape and Patronage in Eighteenth-Century Ireland, exhibition catalogue (Tralee: Churchill House Press for the National Gallery of Ireland, 2009), 416 pages, ISBN: 9780955024634, $110.

Reviewed by Toby Barnard, Hertford College, Oxford University; posted 1 February 2011.

Thomas Roberts (1748–77) blazed briefly across the Irish skies in the 1770s. Little in Irish painting before that decade prepared for his sudden appearance on the scene. At that time in 18th-century Ireland, the techniques and subjects of Claude, Poussin and Salvator Rosa appealed to artists and collectors alike. A succession of painters – Willem van der Hagen, Robert Carver, John Lewis and Joseph Tudor – assimilated the conventions and demands of pastoral landscape painting, and created decorative but generalised images. Roberts, in contrast, applied these classical dressings to recognisable Irish scenes. The results, seen in a revelatory exhibition at the National Gallery in Dublin in 2009, encompass the mansions and demesnes of Protestant grandees and remoter views of the west, notably the modest townships of Ballyshannon and Belleek. . . .

The full review is available here»

Reviewed: ‘The Marlborough Gems’

Posted in books, reviews by Editor on January 8, 2011

From the December issue of Apollo Magazine:

John Boardman, The Marlborough Gems: Formerly at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), ISBN: 9780199237517, $325.

Reviewed by Lucia Pirzio Biroli Stefanelli; posted 1 December 2010.

In the February 2008 issue of ‘Apollo’, Sir John Boardman described how he was devoting himself to the reconstruction of the most important 18th-century English private collection of cameos and intaglios, that of George Spencer, 4th Duke of Marlborough (1739–1817). The result of this vast labour is a splendid and wonderfully rich volume written with the collaboration of Erika Zwierlein-Diehl, Claudia Wagner and Diana Scarisbrick, who contributed an analysis of the jewelled settings.

The Marlborough collection, comprising 800 intaglios and cameos covering all periods from antiquity to the late 18th century, became – along with telescopes – the duke’s main interest after he became disillusioned with the world of politics,
and retired. He kept his collection close at hand in Blenheim
Palace, where it remained until 1875 . . .

The full review is available here»

New Book | The Irish Aesthete: Ruins of Ireland

Posted in books by Editor on January 5, 2020

From Simon & Schuster:

Robert O’Byrne, The Irish Aesthete: Ruins of Ireland (London: CICO Books, 2019), 176 pages, ISBN: 978-1782496861, $25.

Fantastical, often whimsical, and frequently quirky, these atmospheric ruins are beautifully photographed and paired with fascinating text by Robert O’Byrne. Born out of Robert’s hugely popular blog, The Irish Aesthete, there are Medieval castles, Georgian mansions, Victorian lodges, and a myriad of other buildings, many never previously published. Robert focuses on a mixture of exteriors and interiors in varying stages of decay, on architectural details, and entire scenarios. Accompanying texts tell of the Regency siblings who squandered their entire fortune on gambling and carousing, of an Anglo-Norman heiress who pitched her husband out the window on their wedding night, and of the landlord who liked to walk around naked and whose wife made him carry a cowbell to warn housemaids of his approach. Arranged by the country’s four provinces, the diverse ruins featured offer a unique insight into Ireland and an exploration of her many styles of historic architecture.

Robert O’Byrne is a writer and lecturer specialising in the fine and decorative arts. He is the author of more than a dozen books, among them Luggala Days: The Story of a Guinness House, The Last Knight: A Tribute to Desmond FitzGerald, 29th Knight of Glin, Romantic Irish Homes, and Romantic English Homes. A retired Vice-President of the Irish Georgian Society and trustee of the Alfred Beit Foundation, he is currently a trustee of the Apollo Foundation and the Artists Collecting Society. Among other work he writes a monthly column for Apollo magazine, and is also a regular contributor to The Burlington Magazine and the Irish Arts Review. For the past five years, O’Byrne has written an award-winning blog, www.theirishaesthete.com.

DMA Names Julien Domercq Assistant Curator of European Art

Posted in museums by Editor on May 1, 2019

Press release (29 April 2019) from the DMA:

Julien Domercq has been named The Lillian and James H. Clark Assistant Curator of European Art at the Dallas Museum of Art. The appointment was announced today by Dr. Agustín Arteaga, the DMA’s Eugene McDermott Director. Domercq joins the DMA after serving as the Vivmar Curatorial Fellow at the National Gallery in London from 2016 to 2018. He will begin his new role in Dallas on May 14, 2019.

Under the direction of Dr. Nicole R. Myers, the Museum’s Barbara Thomas Lemmon Senior Curator of European Art, Domercq will actively contribute to the European department’s robust research, exhibition, and collection programs. The DMA’s European collection encompasses more than 1,900 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper from the Renaissance to the mid-20th century. Domercq will focus his efforts on the Old Master collection, rethinking its presentation and interpretation in the galleries and strategizing on collection growth in this area. Among his first exhibition projects are focused presentations of master paintings by Caravaggio and Frans Hals.

“Julien is a remarkable young talent, with impressive scholarship and international experience working in one of Europe’s most important public art institutions,” said Arteaga. “He has an incredible passion for making the presentation of European art exciting and accessible to a wide and multi-generational audience. This practice aligns well with the DMA’s mission to connect people and art. As we usher in a dynamic chapter in the European Art Department that was announced by the extraordinarily generous gift in 2013 of the Marguerite and Robert Hoffman Fund for European Art Before 1700, we are excited to welcome Julien to Dallas, and look forward to the work that he and Nicole Myers will accomplish together.”

At the National Gallery, London, Domercq curated the exhibition Drawn in Colour: Degas from the Burrell (2017), a presentation of 23 works by Edgar Degas loaned from the Burrell Collection in Glasgow paired with selections from the National Gallery’s collection. The Guardian praised the exhibition as “a ravishing, revealing window on Degas’s inner world.” He assisted in the final stages of the exhibition Painters’ Paintings: From Freud to Van Dyck (2016) and also worked on major redisplays of the post-1800 and Italian Renaissance galleries, including reimagining the presentation of the National Gallery’s paintings by Titian and Raphael.

“With his breadth in European Old Masters, Julien will bring fresh eyes and new scholarship to the extant collection while expanding our holdings to reflect the DMA’s encyclopedic aim. I am excited for us to work together to reinvigorate the Museum’s Old Master exhibition program, an area that has been relatively underserved,” added Myers. “We are thrilled to welcome him to the curatorial team.”

Additionally, Domercq has contributed to a number of catalogues published by the National Gallery, London; Houghton Hall, Norfolk; and the Royal Academy of Arts, London. He has written articles as well as online reviews for Apollo magazine.

Domercq earned his bachelor’s (with first class honors) and master’s (with distinction) degrees in art history from King’s College, Cambridge, where he is currently completing his PhD. While there, his doctoral research was supported by a prestigious Gates Scholarship. His dissertation research explores shifts in European depictions of indigenous people in the Pacific Islands at the end of the 18th century.

“I am delighted to be moving to Dallas to join the curatorial team of the DMA at a time it is being dynamically reimagined under Dr. Arteaga’s direction,” said Domercq. “From my very first visit to Dallas, I was impressed by the central role the Museum plays for its community. Today, I am thrilled to be joining this great civic institution, with encyclopedic collections that reflect the vibrant multicultural city it serves. I am looking forward to immersing myself in the Dallas community and to devising ambitious Old Master exhibitions in partnership with other institutions internationally, collaborating on innovative programming and research with my new colleagues, and caring for, interpreting, and growing the DMA’s European Old Master collection, making it ever more accessible to the people of Dallas, and beyond.”

Call for Papers | Masterpiece London: Museums and the Art Trade

Posted in books by Editor on April 30, 2018

Masterpiece Symposium: Museums and the Art Trade
Masterpiece London, 30 June 2018

Proposals due by 11 May 2018

Masterpiece London is delighted to host a day of lectures, seminars, and discussion sessions co-organised by the Fair and Dr Thomas Marks, editor of Apollo, to bring together the preeminent museum curators of tomorrow with the emerging stars of the art and antiques trade, with the aim of encouraging constructive discussion, networking, and the exchange of knowledge and practical advice. We invite art historians and members of the art trade to submit short academic papers (15–20 minutes) for presentation during the Masterpiece Symposium, or simply to attend the event. Please note that although spaces are free, we are limited to 100 delegates and so your early response is encouraged.

Applicants should submit a 200-word abstract and a brief biography to francesca.charltonjones@masterpiecefair.com by 11 May 2018. The papers will be reviewed by a selection committee: Philip Hewat-Jaboor (Chairman, Masterpiece London), Thomas Marks (Editor, Apollo), and Jocelyn Poulton (Head of Vetting, Masterpiece London). Travel bursaries will be available to applicants invited to speak.

Suggested paper topics for Masterpiece London Symposium 2018 include
• Significant historical art dealers, their business practices, client relationships, or premises
• The historical or current relationship between institutions and the art trade
• Art dealers who have worked as curators or curators who have worked collaboratively with art dealers—nationally and/or internationally
• The cultural philanthropic activity and impact thereof, of art businesses
• The impact and practices of art dealers in the historical acquisition of non-European objects or antiquities by museums
• The ethics of collaborative work between museums and the art trade