230th Anniversary of Robert Carter’s ‘Deed of Gift’

Posted in anniversaries, the 18th century in the news by Editor on September 6, 2021

Staggered over time, the manumission took decades to complete. A certificate of freedom for one of the freedmen reads, “Dennis Johnston, a Male Negro aged about twenty seven years of dark Complexion five feet ten or eleven inches, stout and well made liberated By Benjamen (sic) Dawson, trustee for Robert Carter by Deed dated the 3rd day of November 1799, and duly recorded in the County Court of Frederick. Registered this 2nd day of February 1809.” (Winchester, Virginia: Stewart Bell Jr. Archives, Handley Regional Library).

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As reported by Eliott McLaughlin for CNN, yesterday was the 230th anniversary of the start of the largest liberation of enslaved people in the United States prior to 1863.

Eliott C. McLaughlin, “Like Washington and Jefferson, He Championed Liberty. Unlike the Founders, He Freed His Slaves,” CNN (5 September 2021).

It was 230 years ago Sunday that Robert Carter III [1728–1804], the patriarch of one of the wealthiest families in Virginia, quietly walked into a Northumberland County courthouse and delivered an airtight legal document announcing his intention to free, or manumit, more than 500 slaves. He titled it the “deed of gift.” It was, by far, experts say, the largest liberation of Black people before the Emancipation Proclamation more than seven decades later.

On September 5, 1791, when Carter delivered his deed, slavery was an institution, a key engine of the new country’s economy. But many slaveholders—including founding fathers George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, who knew Carter—had begun to voice doubts. That was the extent of their umbrage. . . .

Today, descendants of both Carter and the men and women he freed say more must be done to propel the largely uncelebrated deed of gift into the national conscience.

Meriwether Gilmore, who grew up in Westmoreland County, where Carter’s Nomini Hall estate once spanned 2,000 acres, is related to Carter on her mother’s side. Her sister is named after his mother and oldest daughter, Priscilla. Her father worked with Black churches in the area to commemorate the deed of gift’s bicentennial in 1991.

“I think the story of Robert Carter III is incredibly important,” she said, “and not just to glorify another rich, White man, but to show how personal convictions can be stronger than the status quo, that doing the right thing is often hard but important and that people matter—that people are more important than the work that they perform.” . . .

A religious wanderer drawn later in life to integrated churches, Carter III was not the first to free his slaves. Others, middle-class Quakers and Baptists among them, had released a few slaves here, a few there, but none rivaled Carter’s deed, which established a schedule to free 511 slaves, starting with the oldest and later their children.

Carter also allowed the freedmen to choose their last names so they could keep families together and pass down wealth. He ensured they had salable skills, arranged for them to buy or lease land, and bought their wares. He also spent a great deal on transporting them from his plantations to the Northumberland courthouse, and on lawyers to guarantee his heirs—some none too happy he was paring their inheritance—didn’t undo his wishes. . . .

The full article is available here»

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As noted in the article, the Nomini Hall Slave Legacy Project works to chronicle the descendants of the enslaved Africans who were freed by Robert Carter III from his Nomini Hall estate.

For Carter’s biography, see Andrew Levy, The First Emancipator: The Forgotten Story of Robert Carter, the Founding Father Who Freed His Slaves (New York: Random House, 2005).

New Book | The Natural, Moral, and Political History of Jamaica

Posted in anniversaries, books by Editor on August 1, 2021

Today is Emancipation Day, a holiday celebrated in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean. On 1 August 1834, slavery was legally abolished in British colonies, resulting in freedom for some 311,00 enslaved people in Jamaica. From the University of Virginia Press:

James Knight, The Natural, Moral, and Political History of Jamaica, and the Territories thereon Depending: From the First Discovery of the Island by Christopher Columbus to the Year 1746, edited by Jack Greene (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2021), 832 pages, ISBN 978-0813945576 (ebook), $49 / ISBN: 978-0813945569 (cloth), $65.

Between 1737 and 1746, James Knight—a merchant, planter, and sometime Crown official and legislator in Jamaica—wrote a massive two-volume history of the island. The first volume provided a narrative of the colony’s development up to the mid-1740s, while the second offered a broad survey of most aspects of Jamaican life as it had developed by the third and fourth decades of the eighteenth century. Completed not long before his death in the winter of 1746–47 and held in the British Library, this work is now published for the first time. Well researched and intelligently critical, Knight’s work is not only the most comprehensive account of Jamaica’s ninety years as an English colony ever written; it is also one of the best representations of the provincial mentality as it had emerged in colonial British America between the founding of Virginia and 1750. Expertly edited and introduced by Jack Greene, this volume represents a colonial Caribbean history unique in its contemporary perspective, detail, and scope.

Jack P. Greene is Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities Emeritus at Johns Hopkins University and author of Settler Jamaica in the 1750s: A Social Portrait (Virginia).


Enfilade Turns Twelve! Buy an Art Book!

Posted in anniversaries, site information by Editor on June 22, 2021

From the Editor

As Enfilade turns twelve (22 June), I write with wholehearted thanks! With over 1.1 million views to date—more than 3400 subscribers and 10,000 clicks each month—the site still exists because you’re still reading. And so to celebrate . . .

1) Buy an art book this week. In the world of academic art history publishing, several hundred books sold over a few days is stellar. It’s an important way to communicate that the eighteenth century is a thriving field with a vital, engaged audience. The more people who buy books addressing the eighteenth century, the easier it will be to publish your next book on the eighteenth century.

2) Renew your HECAA membership. In the normal world $30 doesn’t really count as philanthropy. For a small academic society it does. Because HECAA is registered as a 501c3, all donations are tax deductible in the United States. So send in a contribution of $100 or $5. But donate something. Student memberships are just $10. More information is here.

3) Finally, send in news you’d like to see reported!  I’m glad to post announcements about conferences, forthcoming books, journal articles, exhibitions, fellowship opportunities, &c. Just about anything except job listings. The postings readers most enjoy are inevitably original content, reports of interesting collections, house museums, resources, and the like. CraigAshleyHanson@gmail.com.

-Craig Hanson

Online Conversation | Juneteenth

Posted in anniversaries, lectures (to attend), online learning by Editor on June 17, 2021


This CW Conversation is part of the Foundation’s Us: Past, Present, Future series (there are lots of terrific resources listed below; for course websites, I’m particularly excited about the timeline, which ranges from 1565 to 2020. CH).

Juneteenth: A Conversation with Deirdre Jones Cardwell, Richard Josey, and Michael Twitty
Online, Colonial Willamsburg Foundation, 19 June 2021, 4pm (EDT)

General Order Number Three, which officially informed enslaved Texans of their legal freedom, stated that emancipation involved “an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property.” Have we achieved the promises of Juneteenth, and how should it be observed? Join Deirdre Jones Cardwell, Programming Lead and Actor Interpreter with Colonial Williamsburg, Richard Josey, Founder and Principal Consultant for Collective Journeys LLC, and Michael Twitty, Culinary Historian, in a discussion about the story, significance, and meanings of Juneteenth.

Click here to join the livestream event on Saturday, 19 June 2021, at 4.00pm (EDT). You don’t have to have a Facebook Account to watch, but you will need to sign in to join the discussion.

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Whether you’re looking to read up on this topic before joining the conversation, or want some further reading afterward, here’s recommended reading from Colonial Williamsburg.

Colonial Williamsburg Juneteenth Resources

Colonial Williamsburg has created several related web resources, including an informational What is Juneteenth? page, a calendar of Juneteenth special events at Colonial Williamsburg, and a Juneteenth Historical Timeline that provides history and context for the commemoration.

The Colonial Williamsburg Resource Library provides access to numerous resources that explore relevant themes such as citizenship, civics, and government using video, lessons, and interactive web activities. The Resource Library features several relevant resources such as the When Freedom Came electronic field trip and Whose Emancipation?

Colonial Williamsburg’s YouTube Channel features 2020 productions “Juneteenth at Custis Square” and “Before Juneteenth.”

Juneteenth Resources from Other Cultural Institutions

• The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture offers “The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth.”
• The Library of Congress blog offers “The Birth of Juneteenth: Voices of the Enslaved” and “Emancipation Day in South Carolina . . .,” an 1863 illustration from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.
• The Library of Virginia’s The Uncommonwealth blog focuses on “Why Juneteenth?
• PBS features “What is Juneteenth?” with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
• The National Archives presents an online exhibit The Emancipation Proclamation, providing context on that document issued January 1, 1863.


• Annette Gordon-Reed. On Juneteenth. New York: Liveright Publishing, 2021.
• Angela Johnson. All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2014.

New Book | Venetian Drawings

Posted in anniversaries, books, catalogues by Editor on May 12, 2021

On this day (12 May) in 1797, Ludovico Manin, the last doge of Venice—in response to Napoleonic aggression—formally abolished La Serenissima after 1,100 years of existence. Notice of this SMK catalogue seems like a fine way to mark the anniversary. I didn’t provide a posting here at Enfilade when it was initially published in 2018, but copies are still available. Thomas Dalla Costa’s review of it appears in the current issue of Master Drawings (2021, volume 59, issue 1); it also was reviewed by Jörg Zutter for The Burlington in December 2019. CH

Chris Fischer, Venetian Drawings: The Royal Collection of Graphic Art (Copenhagen: Statens Museum for Kunst, 2018), 339 pages, ISBN 978-8775510719, 300 Danish Kroner (DKK), or about $50.

This catalogue is the first publication of all the Venetian drawings in the Royal Collection of Graphic Art at the National Gallery of Denmark (Statens Museum for Kunst). Few of these drawings have ever been published, and only a handful has been shown to the public within living memory. Research in connection with this catalogue has revealed that not only is the number of drawings from this geographic area surprisingly high, but the quality of the drawings is stupendous, counting some of the most beautiful sheets in the collection. Furthermore, the comprehensiveness of this part of the collection has proved extraordinary with very even coverage of the development of draughtsmanship in Venice and the Venetian mainland from the 1480s, when sketching on paper became common, through the lesser-known 17th century to the fall of the Venetian republic in 1797. The catalogue presents more than 200 fine drawings by Vittore Carpaccio, Moretto da Brescia, Domenico Campagnola, Jacopo Bassano, Paolo Farinati and Paolo Veronese, large groups of studies by Palma Giovane and Antonio Vassilacchi called Aliense, as well as sheets by 18th-century draughtsmen such as Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini, Gaspare Diziani, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and his son Domenico, Francesco Fontebasso, Francesco Guardi, and Giovanni Battista Piranesi.

It is available at the SMK Shop, and can be ordered in Danish bookstores and webshops such as Academic Books, Bog & Idé, Bogreolen, Buuks, Gucca, I Music, Plusbog og Saxo.

Napoleon Two Centuries Later

Posted in anniversaries, books, catalogues, exhibitions, the 18th century in the news by Editor on May 10, 2021

Two centuries after his death (the anniversary of which arrived last week on May 5), Napoleon’s legacy remains combustible. From the Musée de l’Armée:

Napoléon n’est plus / Napoleon Is No Nore
Musée de l’Armée Invalides, Paris, 31 March — 31 October 2021

The death of Napoleon I on 5 May 1821—although it went relatively unnoticed in the eyes of the world—was extremely well documented by his companions in exile. Despite the abundance of memories, letters, sketches, relics, and stories, this history nevertheless includes grey areas, uncertainties, contradictions. In this exhibition, we examine the major themes surrounding the death of Napoleon by changing the perspectives. By calling in new scientific disciplines (archaeology, medicine, chemistry) in order to complete already known historical sources and material evidence of this history, the musée de l’Armée provides visitors with all the necessary elements to enable them to conduct the investigation by themselves.

This exhibition is part of the 2021 Napoleon Season organised to celebrate the bicentenary of the Emperor’s death. The musée de l’Armée will present a rich and varied cultural offering evoking the end of Napoleon’s personal adventure, while opening up to the topicality and the current reality of his legacy to the world. . . .

Napoléon n’est plus (Paris: Gallimard, 2021), 296 pages, ISBN: 978-2072931604, 35€.

From the Musée de l’Armée:

Napoleon? Encore!
Musée de l’Armée Invalides, Paris, 7 May 2021 — 13 February 2022

Curated by Éric de Chassey and Julien Voinot

This contemporary art tour evokes the figure of Napoleon as well as his legacy. Thirty contemporary artists received carte blanche to question this symbolic and historical figure.

Echoing the commemorations of the bicentenary of the death of the Emperor, the musée de l’Armée is presenting, for the first time in its history, a contemporary art tour at Les Invalides. The presentation of pre-existing works and specially commissioned orders entrusted to renowned or emerging artists, from France and abroad, evokes the figure of Napoleon as well as the impact of his action in today’s world. Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Napoleon Is No More, the curation of this contemporary tour was entrusted to Éric de Chassey, Director of the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, and Julien Voinot, Collections Manager in the Department of 19th-Century and Symbolic Art of the musée de l’Armée.

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From The New York Times:

Roger Cohen, “France Battles over Whether to Cancel or Celebrate Napoleon,” The New York Times (5 May 2021). President Emmanuel Macron laid a wreath at the emperor’s tomb on the 200th anniversary of his death, stepping into a national debate over the legacy of Napoleon.

Jacques Chirac couldn’t stand him. Nicolas Sarkozy kept his distance. François Hollande shunned him. But on the 200th anniversary this week of Napoleon Bonaparte’s death, Emmanuel Macron has chosen to do what most recent presidents of France have avoided: honor the man who in 1799 destroyed the nascent French Republic in a putsch.

By choosing to lay a wreath Wednesday at Napoleon’s tomb under the golden dome of Les Invalides, Mr. Macron stepped into the heart of France’s culture wars. Napoleon, always a contested figure, has become a Rorschach test for the French at a moment of tense cultural confrontation.

Was Napoleon a modernizing reformer whose legal code, lycée school system, central bank and centralized administrative framework laid the basis for post-revolutionary France? Or was he a retrograde racist, imperialist, and misogynist?

By paying his respects to Napoleon, Mr. Macron will please a restive French right dreaming of lost glory and of a moment when, under its turbulent emperor, France stood at the center of the world. The French obsession with the romantic epic of Napoleon’s rise and fall is undying, as countless magazine covers and talk shows have underscored in recent weeks. But in the current zeitgeist, Napoleon’s decisive role as founder of the modern French state tends to pale beside his record as colonizer, warmonger and enslaver. . . .

The full article is available here»

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Rendering from Pascal Convert of his Memento Marengo as envisioned at Les Invalides in Paris.

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From Apollo Magazine:

Laura O’Brien, “The Celebrity Horse That’s Putting Napoleon in the Shade,” Apollo Magazine (6 May 2021).

On a cold December day in 1840, Napoleon Bonaparte’s body made its final journey through the streets of Paris for reburial at the Dôme church at Les Invalides. Nineteen years after his death on Saint Helena, on 5 May 1821, the former emperor’s remains had been repatriated to France. The procession to Les Invalides included a lone, riderless white horse. In the emotionally charged atmosphere of that day, some witnesses even believed for a moment that this was the emperor’s most famous mount: Marengo.

Now, 200 years after Napoleon’s death, Bonaparte and Marengo are to be reunited, albeit temporarily. As part of Napoleon? Encore!, an exhibition of contemporary art responding to Napoleon’s image and complex legacies [on view from 7 May 2021 to 13 February 2022], the French multimedia artist Pascal Convert has created Memento Marengo: a life-sized, 3D-printed copy of the skeleton of the Arab horse said to have been Napoleon’s favourite—or one of his favourites, at least. Convert had originally hoped to use the real skeleton, which is usually on display at London’s National Army Museum, but its fragility made this impossible. Memento Marengo will hang from the ceiling of the Dôme church, the equine skeleton suspended a few metres above the enormous red quartzite tomb of its ex-master. On 5 May, President Emmanuel Macron placed a wreath of red, white, and blue flowers at the foot of the tomb, as part of the official commemorations—not celebrations, as the Élysée Palace has carefully insisted—of Napoleon’s death. Memento Marengo was not in place during the solemn ceremonies at Les Invalides, but with these now completed, the artwork can be installed ahead of the planned reopening of the museum later this month. . . .

The full article is available here»

Online Lecture and Conference | Piranesi @300

Base of the Antonine Column from Piranesi’s Campo Marzio (Rome, 1762)
(British School at Rome Library)

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Clare Hornsby, Piranesi at the BSR: Thomas Ashby’s Curious Campo Marzio
Online Lecture, 6 May 2021, 18.00–19.30 CET

Piranesi @300
Online Conference, 19–21 May 2021

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Venice 1720 – Rome 1778) was one of the leading figures in 18th-century Italian and European culture. An artist, engraver, architect, merchant, intellectual, and polemicist, he was essential in the formation of modern aesthetic sensibility, for the birth of modern archaeology, for the theories of architecture and urbanism. His influence has been enduring, from Romanticism to the avant-garde movements of the 20th century, up to the present day.

The third centenary of Piranesi’s birth struggled to achieve resonance in 2020 due to the pandemic. Initiatives to celebrate the great artist’s work will resume in Rome in May 2021, accessible online internationally.

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On Thursday, May 6, the British School at Rome, will host an online lecture exploring Piranesi’s book Campo Marzio di Antica Roma of 1762, its magnificent map, and some of the curiosities of the copy of the volume held in the rare books collections of the library at BSR. This lecture by Clare Hornsby in collaboration with Valerie Scott BSR librarian will feature the recently launched initiative of BSR Library and Archive, the Digital Collections website, of which the Piranesi Campo Marzio volume will be a highlight.

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On 19, 20, and 21 May a group of Roman institutions—the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, British School at Rome, Villa Médicis-Académie de France, and the Centro di Studi sulla Cultura e l’Immagine di Roma—have organised an online conference, Piranesi@300, bringing together  more than 20 Italian and foreign scholars (from Brazil, the United States, Japan, Germany, France, England, Spain, etc.) to present new research and new analyses of some of the many aspects of Piranesi’s extraordinary personality and creativity.

During the week of the conference, further presentations will be made available via video recording; a highlight is The Digital Piranesi presented by a team from the University of South Carolina. Additionally, the YouTube channel of the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale will host contributions from a number of Piranesi experts, including the Director of the Vatican Museums Barbara Jatta and the restoration team which brought the church of Santa Maria del Priorato on the Aventine hill in Rome, Piranesi’s architectural masterpiece, back to its original beauty.

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Pre-recorded sessions (available all week)

Hosted on the website of the University of South Carolina

• Jeannie Britton, From Page to Screen: A New Look at Piranesi’s Annotated Images

• Zoe Langer, The Digital Piranesi: New Approaches to Translating the Opere

• Jason Porter, The Virtual Piranesi: New Methods of Immersive Literacy

• Michael Gavin, Piranesi’s Diagrammatic Sublime

Hosted on the YouTube channel of the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Rome

• Barbara Jatta (Direttore, Musei Vaticani), Piranesi in Vaticano

• Daniela Porro (Soprintendente Speciale archeologia, belle arti e paesaggio di Roma) Restauri della Soprintendenza alla piazza di S. Maria del Priorato

• Alessandro Mascherucci (Soprintendenza Speciale archeologia, belle arti e paesaggio di Roma), Problematiche tecniche del restauro al complesso piranesiano

• Giorgio Ferreri (Sovrano Militare Ordine di Malta), S. Maria del Priorato, i restauri

• John Wilton-Ely (Professor Emeritus, Hull University), Soane’s Attitude towards Piranesi

• Maria Cristina Misiti (Ministero della Cultura) and José Maria Luzon Nogué (Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid), Piranesi dal libro cartaceo all’opera multimediale

• Sergei Tchoban (Tchoban Voss architects, Berlin), Imprint of the Future: Destiny of Piranesi‘s City

• Pierluigi Panza (Politecnico di Milano), Piranesi alla Scala

W E D N E S D A Y ,  1 9  M A Y  2 0 2 1

Hosted by Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Roma

9.45  Welcome by Andrea De Pasquale (Direttore, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Roma) and Marcello Fagiolo (Presidente, Centro di Studi sulla Cultura e l’Immagine di Roma)

10.00  Piranesi’s Techniques: Drawing, Etching
Chairs: Mario (Bevilacqua (Università di Firenze / Centro di Studi sulla Cultura e l’Immagine di Roma) and Simonetta Prosperi Valenti Rodinò (Roma)
• Andrea De Pasquale (Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Roma), Piranesi e il suo torchio
• Giovanna Scaloni (Istituto Centrale per la Grafica, Roma), L’Istituto centrale per la grafica per Piranesi
• Lucia Ghedin (Istituto Centrale per la Grafica, Roma) and Sofia Menconero (Sapienza – Università di Roma), La tecnica di reflectance transformation imaging (RTI) applicata alle matrici calcografiche: una sperimentazione sulla serie delle Carceri piranesiane
• Ginevra Mariani (Roma), Progetto Piranesi: il catalogo generale delle matrici di Piranesi, 2010–2020. Nuovi dati e future prospettive sull’opera incisa di Giambattista Piranesi
• Stefan Morét (Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe), The Role of Drawn Copies after Antique Ornaments in Piranesi’s Workshop
• Bénédicte Maronnie (Università della Svizzera Italiana, Mendrisio), Pratiques graphiques dans l’atelier de Giovanni Battista Piranesi à l’exemple d’un dessin inédit conservé à Zurich

13.30  Lunch Break

14.30  Piranesi and European 18th-Century Collections
Chairs: Mario Bevilacqua (Università di Firenze / Centro di Studi sulla Cultura e l’Immagine di Roma) and Barbara Jatta (Vatican Museum)
• Ebe Antetomaso (Biblioteca Corsiniana e dei Lincei, Roma), Materiali piranesiani nella collezione Corsini: appunti dai bibliotecari
• Charleen Rethmeyer and Georg Schelbert (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), Piranesi in Prussia: Spotlights on a Variable Relationship
• Gudula Metze (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden), 1720–1778: Piranesi and the Kupferstich-Kabinett Dresden

16.45  Break

17.00  Keynote Address
• Delfin Rodriguez Ruiz (Universidad Complutense, Madrid), Piranesi e la Spagna

T H U R S D A Y ,  2 0  M A Y  2 0 2 1

Hosted by the British School at Rome

9.45  Welcome by Chris Wickham (Director, British School at Rome)

10.00  Piranesi: Architect, Antiquarian, and Theorist
Chairs: Clare Hornsby (BSR) and Caroline Barron (Birkbeck)
• Maria Grazia D’Amelio Università di Roma ‘Tor Vergata’) and Fabrizio De Cesaris Sapienza – Università di Roma), Giovan Battista Piranesi e l’architettura pratica
• Lola Kantor-Kazovsky (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Piranesi’s Carceri, Cartesian ‘Dream Argument’ and Scientific Interests in Early 18th-Century Venice
• Silvia Gavuzzo Stewart (Roma), La dedica di Piranesi a Lord Charlemont nella Tavola II delle Antichità Romane
• Paolo Pastres (Deputazione di Storia Patria per il Friuli), Fantasia al potere: Piranesi, Algarotti e la lezione di Antonio Conti
• Cristina Ruggero (Berliner-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Berlin), ‘Onde per riguardo della Pianta… non resta che l’indice ad incidersi’: Piranesi e Villa Adriana
• Eleonora Pistis (Columbia University, New York), Piranesi without Images: The Thinkability of Architecture

13.45  Lunch Break

14.30  From Venice to Rome: Piranesi as Artist, Dealer, and Entrepreneur
Chair: Harriet O’Neill (British School at Rome / Royal Holloway University of London)
• Enrico Lucchese (Univerza v Ljubljani), Pulcinella e poveri Cristi: Per Giambattista Piranesi disegnatore e i suoi rapporti con Giandomenico Tiepolo
• Francesco Nevola (Atene), Piranesi: Peritissimo in tutte le Arti Liberali

15.30  Keynote Address
• Heather Hyde Minor (University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana), Piranesi’s Epistolic Art

F R I D A Y ,  2 1  M A Y  2 0 2 1

Hosted by the Villa Médicis-Académie de France à Rome

9.45  Welcome by Sam Stourdzé (Direttore, Accademia di Francia a Roma)

10.00  Piranesi’s Influence: Europe and Beyond
Chair: Heather Hyde Minor (University of Notre Dame)
• Olga Medvedkova (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris), ‘La Dévideuse italienne’ ou habiter la ruine
• Valeria Mirra (Roma), Dalla fortuna di Giovanni Battista Piranesi in Francia allo stabilimento dei ‘Piranesi frères’ a Parigi
• Helena Perez Gallardo (Universidad Complutense, Madrid), Sotto il cielo di Parigi: Piranesi negli incisori e fotografi francesi nel 1850
• Angela Rosch Rodrigues (Universidade de São Paulo, Brasil), G. B. Piranesi at the Brazilian National Library: A Trajectory of the rovine parlanti from Rome to Rio de Janeiro
• Hiromasa Kanayama (Keio University, Tokyo), La raccolta piranesiana nel Giappone dell’Ottocento: le vicende della collezione Kamei

13.15  Lunch Break

14.30  Piranesi in the 20th Century
Chair: Francesca Alberti (Académie de France à Rome)
• Giacomo Pala (Universität Innsbruck) Piranesi: Posthumous Architect
• Angelo Marletta (Università degli Studi di Catania), Forma Urbis forma architecturae: Piranesi, Kahn e i frammenti di Roma
• Victor Plahte Tschudi (Oslo School of Architecture and Design), Alfred H. Barr and the Reinvention of Carceri as Modern Art

16.30  Break

17.00  Keynote Address
• Alain Schnapp, Piranèse, ruine des ruines



New Book | Culloden: Battle & Aftermath

Posted in anniversaries, books, lectures (to attend), online learning by Editor on April 13, 2021

Friday is the 275th anniversary of the battle of Culloden (fought on 16 April 1746). To mark the anniversary, the National Trust for Scotland will present a series of online events on Saturday, 17 April, entitled Culloden: A Place Worth Protecting. Paul O’Keeffe’s book is the latest to tackle the subject; from Penguin Press:

Paul O’Keeffe, Culloden: Battle & Aftermath (London: Bodley Head, 2021), 432 pages, ISBN: 978-1847924124, £25.

Charles Edward Stuart’s campaign to seize the British throne on behalf of his exiled father ended with one of the quickest defeats in history: on 16 April 1746, at Culloden, his 5,000-strong Jacobite army was decisively overpowered in under forty minutes. Its brutal repercussions, however, endured for months and years, its legacy for centuries.

Paul O’Keeffe follows the Jacobite army, from its initial victories over Hanoverian troops at Prestonpans, Clifton and Falkirk to their calamitous defeat on the field of Culloden. He explores the battle’s aftermath which claimed the lives, not only of helpless wounded summarily executed and fugitives cut down by pursuing dragoons, but also of civilians slaughtered by vengeful government patrols as they ‘pacified’ the Highlands. He chronicles the wild, nationwide celebration greeting news of the government victory, the London stage catering to patriotic fervour with new songs like ‘God Save the King’, popular musical theatre, and operas by Gluck and Handel. Meanwhile, the public was also treated to the grimmer spectacle of Jacobite prisoners, tried for high treason, paying for their participation on block and gibbet throughout the country. Many others—granted ‘the King’s mercy’—suffered the lingering fate of forced labour on fever-ridden plantations in the West Indies and Virginia.

O’Keeffe reveals the unexpected consequences of the rising—mapping the Scottish Highlands to aid military subjugation would eventually lead to the foundation of the Ordnance Survey—and traces the later careers of the battle’s protagonists: the Duke of Cumberland’s transformation from idolised national hero to discredited ‘butcher’ and Charles Edward Stuart’s from ‘Bonny Prince’ to embittered alcoholic invalid.

While in the long term the doomed Stuart cause acquired an aura of romanticism, the Jacobite Rising of 1745–46 remains one of the most bloody and divisive conflicts in British domestic history, which resonates to this day.

Paul O’Keeffe is a freelance lecturer and writer based in Liverpool. He gained his PhD with a scholarly edition of Wyndham Lewis’s Tarr, and won critical acclaim with his 2000 study of Lewis, Some Sort of Genius.

Exhibition | Beethoven Moves

Posted in anniversaries, books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on December 27, 2020

Installation view of the exhibition Beethoven Moves, with John Baldessari’s Beethoven’s Trumpet (with Ear) Opus #132, 2007, resin, fiberglass, bronze, aluminum, electronics. Photo by Mark Niedermann for Tom Postma Design.

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Press release, via Art Daily (26 December 2020) for the exhibition:

Beethoven Moves / Beethoven Bewegt
Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, 29 September 2020 — 24 January 2021

Curated by Andreas Kugler, Jasper Sharp, Stefan Weppelmann, and Andreas Zimmerman

The Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, in cooperation with the Archive of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, presents Beethoven Moves, an unusual homage to Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827), the great representative of the First Viennese School. Beethoven’s popularity remains unbroken, even 250 years after his birth. Beyond the music, his humanistic messages have influenced the history of art and culture. His early deafness shaped his image as a tragic genius.

Beethoven’s universal and unique reception, the epochal significance of his music, and the perception of his deified persona create numerous points of entry. High and popular culture, commerce, and politics all form an inexhaustible reserve of inspiration and appropriation. The exhibition brings together paintings by Caspar David Friedrich, sketchbooks by William Turner, graphic works by Francisco de Goya, Anselm Kiefer and Jorinde Voigt, sculptures by Auguste Rodin, Rebecca Horn and John Baldessari, a video by Guido van der Werve, and a new work developed for the exhibition by Tino Sehgal—all of which are brought into dialogue with the music and persona of Beethoven. The exhibition thus provides a poetic reflection of the composer and his work, as masterpieces of fine art form connections with music and silence.

The elaborately staged exhibition does not present any artworks from the Kunsthistorisches Museum collection. However, it is shown in the Picture Gallery in the context of the art and culture of many centuries, hundreds of works that precede Beethoven’s lifetime and in some ways also lead up to it.

Beethoven is one of the great influential figures in the history of music and culture, not only in Vienna but also internationally. As the largest museum in Austria, the Kunsthistorisches Museum addresses the anniversary of his 250th birthday. Museums are treasure houses, part of the cultural consciousness and tourist magnets; but beyond that, they are also discursive spaces for reflection and confrontation, laboratories for fantasy and the connection of ideas. These aspects become particularly clear in this exhibition project curated by Andreas Kugler, Jasper Sharp, Stefan Weppelmann, and Andreas Zimmerman.

The sequence of rooms in the exhibition relates to Beethoven’s life only in a very general sense. Divided according to themes, they are conceived as a series of tableaux, each based on distinct compositional principles. Indeed, the interplay between the various architectural settings is rather like that between the movements of an orchestral work. And this diversity in the rooms is matched by the variety of the listening experiences on offer, the media of the artworks, and the approaches taken by the artists. Accordingly, visitors will not find any directions telling them how they should move through each room. For a true experience of Beethoven depends on paying heed to one’s inner voice—as when listening to music in general. As we strive to emotionally relive the relations between music, words, imagery, and movement, we should just let our body find its place within the surrounding space. Beethoven Moves is thus intended as an invitation to enter into a very personal encounter with the great composer.

In Room 1 Beethoven’s powerful music immediately captures the imagination of visitors to the exhibition: they hear two of the piano sonatas written by the composer, himself an accomplished concert pianist until he lost his hearing: the Waldstein Sonata (C major, op. 53) and his final Piano Sonata in C minor, op. 111. Beethoven’s original autographs of these compositions are also on show. All of Beethoven’s thirty-two piano sonatas are present in this room, albeit in two very different artworks; in her thirty-two complex drawings, Jorinde Voigt analyzes Beethoven’s compositions, while Idris Khan’s monumental work compiles the scores of all his piano sonatas to create a menacing block-like structure. In the centre of the room, two more contrary sculptures have entered into an equivocal dialogue: Auguste Rodin’s human figure (The Bronze Age in plaster) and Rebecca Horn’s enigmatic grand piano (Concert for Anarchy). The composer’s character, too, was contradictory and highly complex, something that clearly functioned as a source of his creativity: his temperament allowed him to produce works that continue to move people from all parts of the world.

Room 2 is dedicated to silence and stillness, Beethoven’s increasing hearing loss and the associated pain, isolation and reflectiveness. However, we also learn about his admirable ability not to resign himself to his fate but through his art to triumph over his affliction. Los Caprichos, the engravings by Francisco de Goya (1746–1828)—another great artist who lost his hearing—are like pictorial equivalents of the inner fragmentation experienced by the ailing Beethoven. Strictly speaking, all that remains of Beethoven’s thoughts and his art are pages covered with scores and words. Other objects can only serve a superficial cult of remembrance, things like his ear trumpet or a piece of the parquet floor from the house in which he died in 1827. This plain surface, however, also resembles a stage, reminding us that Beethoven and his music have been used for the most varied ends.

To this day, his personality and oeuvre continue to be reinterpreted in politics and propaganda; some worship Beethoven as a revolutionary innovator while for others he is a genius in whose reflected glory nationalist mindsets of all kinds may bask. A work by Anselm Kiefer bears witness to the fact that cultural achievements are still prone to be injected with political content. The reception of Beethoven ranges from the banning of his music to the numerous quotations from his works in popular culture.

In Room 3 we look at Beethoven and his attitude towards nature, which for him was a source of inspiration and strength, offering an escape from his cramped lodgings and the freedom of long country walks regardless of the weather. He would often stop abruptly to jot down some musical idea in one of the sketchbooks he always carried in his pocket. In this room, the colour tones of Caspar David Friedrich and William Turner engage with Beethoven’s tonal colours. They all belong to a generation who witnessed the French Revolution, a radical new awakening whose promises and hopes were quickly scotched by the subsequent Restoration period.

Two symphonies can be heard in this room, both of which are linked in contrasting ways to Napoleon. Beethoven’s anger at Napoleon crowning himself Emperor of the French in 1804 led the composer to scratch out Bonaparte’s name from the title page of his Third Symphony (Eroica). His Seventh Symphony premiered in 1813, just a few weeks after the Battle of Leipzig in which the allied armies of Austria, Prussia, Russia, and Sweden had decisively defeated the emperor. Contemporaries often associated Napoleon with the mythical Prometheus, and Beethoven too was frequently linked with the titan who brought fire to mankind. Prometheus is very much present in a painting by Jan Cossiers, but Guido van der Werve’s video can be read as a complementary reflection of this figure prepared to take a high risk to liberate man: it is the artist himself who walks towards us across the ice, a huge icebreaker in his wake. Threatened with failure, his solitary and heroic actions nonetheless bring forth beauty.

Room 4 brings us full circle to individual, personal encounters with Beethoven. A new work by Tino Seghal, created especially for this exhibition, is permanently installed and on show in this room.

Andreas Kugler, ed., Beethoven Moves (Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2020), 224 pages, ISBN: 978-3775747493 (Engish edition), $55.

Grinling Gibbons Society Looks to Tercentenary in 2021

Posted in anniversaries, opportunities by Editor on November 21, 2020

The joys of thinking about next year! This announcement from the Grinling Gibbons Society:

Grinling Gibbons Society: Carving a Place in History

The Grinling Gibbons Society is a newly-formed membership organisation and charity at the centre of planning the celebration of Grinling Gibbons’ tercentenary in 2021.

The Gibbons 300 festival is a collaborative venture involving a wide network of museums, houses and collections, supported by the Mercers’ and Drapers’ Companies, architects, present-day carvers, designers, practitioners and individuals with an interest in Gibbons and his remarkable legacy. The festival will combine a programme of public events, creative projects, education, research, and collaborative scholarship between museums, collections, and institutions. A key part of the programme will be an important loan exhibition of Gibbons’ work from August 2021, which will also consider sculptors, carvers, and artists who have been inspired by his innovative genius across the passage of three hundred years, right up to the present day. Exploring the living legacy of Gibbons is a vital part of the exhibition’s purpose, as is engagement with contemporary practice, in furthering the Society’s objectives of outreach, education, and making links across the UK.

To this end, the Society is developing two education projects: a Traineeship in stone and wood-carving, enabling the exchange of skills and expertise from master carvers to emerging artists; and a National Award (linked to the exhibition) for emerging craftspeople and carvers, providing a prestigious platform for showcasing their work, with exposure to public and professional recognition and expert feedback.

The vision for the Society now goes well beyond 2021–22 and its aim is that it will provide an ongoing platform and focus for continued scholarship, education, and enjoyment of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century carving and sculpture, and the figures and associates around Gibbons who remain obscure in the field of study.

If you are interested in becoming a member of the Grinling Gibbons Society, being involved in the tercentenary programme, or in supporting us financially, we would be delighted to hear from you. Please email grinlinggibbonssociety@gmail.com for more information and a membership form.

We are also looking for a Membership Secretary and Treasurer. Both posts offer exciting opportunities for those with an interest in Gibbons and in furthering his legacy, or with a broader interest in the history of carving and sculpture, to be part of a new and ambitious Society. For more information please email grinlinggibbonssociety@gmail.com.

Hannah Phillip
Programme Director
Grinling Gibbons Tercentenary 2021

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