Jewish High Holidays

Posted in anniversaries, on site by Editor on September 25, 2012

On Site

With Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) beginning this evening at sundown, it seems like an appropriate time to note an exceptional piece of eighteenth-century English architecture: the Bevis Marks Synagogue in London, the oldest synagogue in Britain, with a history of continuous worship stretching back 311 years. I was one of 2000 fortunate people to visit the building on Sunday in conjunction with London’s annual Open House weekend.

Joseph Avis, The Bevis Marks Synagogue in London, 1701

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A short walk from the Aldgate Tube stop and historically just north of the actual gateway, the Bevis Marks Synagogue was completed in September 1701, the work of Joseph Avis, a Quaker carpenter who had previously worked with Christopher Wren on St Bride’s in Fleet Street. With a few exceptions, the interior and furnishings of this Grade I listed building are original. Some of the benches, in fact, date to the middle of the seventeenth century, when the community met in the upper floor of a house in nearby Creechurch Lane.

It was under Cromwell that these Spanish and Portuguese Jews–many of whom had strong ties to Amsterdam–were legally recognized and allowed to practice their faith openly (in addition to the right to a space for worship, they were granted permission to establish a cemetery). Services today are carried out almost entirely in Hebrew, though there are two exceptions: announcement are made in Portuguese, and prayers for the Queen are said in English.

Architecturally, the building relates to contemporary dissenting traditions and corresponds to the rebuilding of the fifty-one churches by Wren. One of the points I took away from the visit was simply how easy and useful it would be to include the Bevis Marks Synagogue when teaching Wren and the reconstruction of London following the Great Fire. It would provide a physically tangible way to engage the history of Jews in England, looking both backward and forward. One could, for instance, address the arrival of Jews with William the Conqueror, the expulsion under Edward I in 1290, and the migration of Jews from the Iberian Peninsula after 1492. Looking forward into the eighteenth century, I would like to know more about The Board of Deputies of British Jews, which was formally established on the accession of George III to the throne in 1760. With the synagogue, the character and limits of religious tolerance in the period are nicely introduced.  As I’m really just thinking aloud here, I’m sure many of you who teach have already been doing
this and doing it well in your classes–so by all means feel free to chime in
with suggestions.

To all those keeping the fast, G’mar Tov.


Display | Citizens of the World: David Hume and Allan Ramsay

Posted in anniversaries, exhibitions by Editor on August 2, 2012

On this day, August 10th, of 1784 Allan Ramsay died at the age of 70; October 2013 marks the tercentennial of his birth. From the Scottish National Portrait Gallery:

Citizens of the World: David Hume and Allan Ramsay
Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, 1 December 2011 — 31 December 2015

Scotland made a remarkable contribution to the European Enlightenment of the eighteenth century with many of her citizens contributing to the ferment of ideas and shifts in attitude which transformed the world. Two Scots, David Hume, the great philosopher, and Allan Ramsay, the outstanding painter, were at the centre of this cultural and intellectual revolution. This display explores their world, their friends, their families and their patrons.

Happy Bastille Day

Posted in anniversaries by Editor on July 14, 2012

Commentary from The Onion:

“I Think I’d Make A Pretty Good HBO Show,” The Onion (19 June 2012)
By 18th-Century France

I don’t think I’m talking out of turn here when I say that, as far as historical eras are concerned, I am probably one of the richest and most exciting periods in Western history. That’s not me bragging; it’s just a generally accepted truth at this point. After all, not every century of a nation’s past can boast successive international wars, a radical intellectual movement, and a bloody revolution, but I’ve got all of that and then some. In fact, one would be pretty hard-pressed to find a period more compelling and ripe for gripping drama than myself.

Which is why, when you think about it, it’s pretty crazy there hasn’t been an HBO original series about me about by now. Something like 40,000 people were beheaded during me, for God’s sake. Put that into a made-for-TV drama that weaves a rich tapestry of historical narrative with gritty tales of intrigue, murder, and sex, and I’m pretty much an untapped gold mine of programming, right?

I know, I know, everyone and their mother thinks they have a great idea for a cable television show, but stick with me on this one. Between sprawling aristocratic estates juxtaposed with sordid underworlds and political upheaval driven by ambitious but flawed political figures, I can deliver the full HBO package. You want elegant costumes? Check. Candelabras? Check. Beautiful women with moles? Check and check. I’m packed full of cool stuff. You could slot me in on, say, Sunday nights at nine and probably get a 2.5 Nielsen rating, easy. . .

The full article is available here»

Enfilade at Three — Buy a Book and Open a Door

Posted in anniversaries, books, opinion pages, site information by Editor on June 22, 2012

From the Editor

Enfilade turns three today, and to celebrate, I’m announcing a campaign to establish June 22 as Buy-an-Art-Book Day. As I’ve said repeatedly, you deserve credit for making this site so much more than I could have possibly envisioned when I stepped on-board several years ago as newsletter editor. With more than 220,000 hits on some 1300 posts, Enfilade attests to the global depth of interest in eighteenth-century art — both among scholars and a wider, engaged public. The site now receives around 10,000 hits each month with some 1500 from returning visits. In short, there are hundreds of you who read Enfilade on a regular basis, and the site’s success depends on you. Thank you!

With these numbers in mind, it seems to me that Enfilade readers could mobilize to make an impact — modest perhaps but still an impact. In transitioning from traditional print formats to the digital realm, academic publishing, particularly art historical publishing, faces tremendous challenges. With the ‘business’ of the academy more generally plagued by questions of sustainability, it’s easy to see how hard decisions about budgets have wreaked havoc on the sales of books (when major universities are cutting whole departments, declining library budgets may seem relatively benign, but in both cases, fewer books will be sold). For most of us, such gloomy observations are all too familiar, and you don’t turn to Enfilade for more bad news. Today is after all a birthday celebration!

So as a gesture of positive action, I’m asking all of you to buy a book today (and fellow bloggers to spread the word). It’s easy to think that it won’t matter, but it does. Most people are astounded to learn just how small the circulation numbers are for art history books published by university presses. However humbling it may be for those of us who spend years of our lives producing a book, it’s not uncommon for only 400 or 500 copies to be sold. Surpass 1000 and you’re a superstar. There’s a tendency to assume that university presses receive generous funding from their host universities. It’s almost never the case. If they’re not in the business to turn huge profits, they must still be economically viable. Several years ago, I heard Susan Bielstein, executive editor at the University of Chicago Press, give a talk on the nuts and bolts of publishing. How did she begin? By asking members of her audience (almost entirely composed of art historians) to go buy a book. She was entirely serious. So am I.

Many of you buy lots of art history books already. Bravo! Buying a book today won’t be any major change for you. As I think about my own buying habits, they tend to go something like this: I buy discounted display copies at conferences, I buy things I need for an upcoming talk, I buy remaindered copies of books I should have bought a year or two earlier, or I buy used copies I need for an article via Amazon. None of that’s what I have in mind in launching Buy-an-Art-Book Day. Those used books do nothing to help the authors or the university presses who produced them. For that matter, new purchases through Amazon often result in smaller royalties than buying from the publisher directly. Ever wonder who shoulders the expense of that reduced price? Yes, the publisher and the writer.

If 200 or 300 of you buy an art history book this week — ideally one treating the eighteenth century and, better yet, one written by a HECAA member — it would send a strong message that there is an eager audience for such books. Whether you spend $6 or $1000, buy a book.

I like the metaphor of an enfilade because of the way it suggests an open — almost limitless — vista, with each room leading to a deeper, more intimate experience. But such a vision is premised on those doors being opened. Reading a book — buying a book — is one way we turn the handle, one way we open doors to the eighteenth century.

-Craig Hanson

‘Gloriana’ to Lead the Flotilla for the Diamond Jubilee in London

The Gloriana launched in April 2012; from Leon Watson’s
story for the Mail Online, 19 April 2012; Photo by David Parker

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From The BBC (19 April 2012)

The £1m boat that will the lead the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant has been launched on the river. The 94ft (28.6m) royal barge Gloriana was escorted through the streets of London on the back of a truck. It had been transported from a unit in Brentford to Isleworth, west London, where it was placed in the Thames. A pageant of more than 1,000 boats involving some 20,000 people will sail down the river on 3 June to mark the Queen’s 60 years on the throne. . . .

Lord Sterling said: “I became enamoured with the idea of building something timeless and got inspiration from Canaletto’s paintings that showed the great barges of the 18th Century and decided to build one. If we had to give it a style, it would be Regency. Including 18 rowers, it will carry 52 people. No-one’s really built anything like this for 200 years and the way we’ve built it, it will last for 200 years if looked after” . . .

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From the official event website:

Photo from ‘Luxatic’; click image to access the article.

On Sunday 3rd June 2012, over one thousand boats will muster on the River Thames in preparation for Her Majesty The Queen to take part in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. The formal river procession will be between 2pm and 6pm, starting upriver of Battersea Bridge and finishing downriver of Tower Bridge. The boats will muster between Hammersmith and Battersea and disperse from Tower Bridge to West India Docks.

It will be one of the largest flotillas ever assembled on the river. Rowed boats and working boats and pleasure vessels of all shapes and sizes will be beautifully dressed with streamers and Union Flags, their crews and passengers turned out in their finest rigs. The armed forces, fire, police, rescue and other services will be afloat and there will be an exuberance of historic boats, wooden launches, steam vessels and other boats of note.

The flotilla will be bolstered with passenger boats carrying flag-waving members of the public placed centre stage (or rather mid-river) in this floating celebration of Her Majesty’s 60 year reign. The spectacle will be further enhanced with music barges and boats spouting geysers. Moreover, there will be specially constructed elements such as a floating belfry, its chiming bells answered by those from riverbank churches.

The opening ceremony of London’s Olympic Games will be just six weeks away and the public that crowd the riverbanks and bridges will give a rousing reception to the many boats that have travelled from far and wide to represent UK port cities, the Commonwealth countries and other international interests. Downriver of London Bridge, there will be a gun salute and the flotilla will pass through a spectacular Avenue of Sail made by traditional Thames sailing boats, oyster smacks, square riggers, naval vessels and other impressive ships.

The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant celebrates Her Majesty’s 60 years of service by magnificently bringing the Thames to life; making it joyously full with boats, resounding with clanging bells, tooting horns and sounding whistles; recalling both its royal heritage and its heyday as a working, bustling river.

Searching for Shelley’s Ghost on Shelley’s Birthday

Posted in anniversaries, on site by Editor on August 4, 2011

The storied poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, was born on this day in 1792. This exhibition helps explain how some of those stories were framed by his grieving wife in the wake of his death. From Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum:

Shelley’s Ghost: Reshaping the Image of a Literary Family
Wordsworth Museum and Art Gallery, Grasmere, Cumbria, 7 July — 30 October 2011

Curated by Stephen Hebron

ISBN: 9781851243396, $35

Few families have such a remarkable reputation for their contribution to the literary and intellectual life of Britain as the Godwins and the Shelleys. In the course of their lives, each of the important writers in these families accumulated an archive of letters, notebooks and literary papers. After their death, surviving family members pored over this material, publishing some records and withholding others in an attempt to control that reputation.

Now, parts of this archive material are being brought together for display from two great Shelley collections – the Bodleian Libraries in Oxford and the New York Public Library, home of the Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and his Circle. Shelley’s Ghost will open in the Wordsworth Museum on 7 July 2011, and show until 31 October. The exhibition provides a fascinating insight into the real lives of three generations of a family that was blessed with genius, marred by tragedy, and often surrounded by scandal. It begins with the relationship between Wordsworth’s radical friend William Godwin and the feminist campaigner Mary Wollstonecraft; it goes on to cover their daughter Mary’s elopement and subsequent relationship with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, whose expulsion from Oxford for the publication of The Necessity of Atheism and elopement four months later with the 16-year-old Harriet Westbrook had already caused notoriety; and it concludes with the roles played by the Shelleys’ only surviving child, Sir Percy Florence Shelley, and his wife Jane, Lady Shelley, as the guardians of the family papers.

A central theme of the exhibition is the effort made by the grieving Mary Shelley in 1822, immediately after Shelley drowned aged 29 in the Bay of Lerici, to collect and edit his work and create a compelling image of his character. Shelley expected posterity to judge him as a poet: the court, he said, was ‘a very severe one’, and he feared the verdict would be ‘guilty death’. Sir Percy and Lady Shelley went on to house the family manuscripts in a special ‘Shelley Sanctum’ alongside treasured family relics such as portraits, personal possessions and locks of hair. For years they guarded them closely, seeking to protect the images of Shelley and Mary that we see in the portraits: smiling, ethereal, other worldly. Much of this archive remained intact when it was gifted to the Bodleian in 1893, as a collection which now enables us to see the dramas of these years preserved in private letters and journals, written in times of great stress and recording the most painful emotions. The exhibition will therefore show how the deliberately selective release of the manuscripts on display, which have been the basis of many biographies, has shaped public knowledge of this great literary family. The exhibition will also include rare books and family possessions, the first draft of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and the best-known portrait of Shelley, painted in Rome by the amateur artist Amelia Curran in 1819.

The exhibition’s interactive website is available here»

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About Dove Cottage:

Dove Cottage was the home of William Wordsworth from December 1799 to May 1808, the years of his supreme work as a poet. As with many old buildings, the early history of Dove Cottage is difficult to trace accurately; although the date of its construction is not recorded, this is likely to have been during the early 17th century. Its original use is also unknown, but during the second half of the 18th century it became an inn called the Dove and Olive. Many of the building’s distinctive features date from this time; its white-washed walls, flagstone floors and dark, wood panelling. However, in the early 1790s, the Dove Cottage was closed down. It seems likely that the building remained empty for the next few years, until William and Dorothy Wordsworth arrived as tenants on 20th December 1799.

In the building’s time as a pub, the downstairs bedroom would have been used as a drinking room, but for the Wordsworths, it was always used as a bedroom. Initially this is where Dorothy slept and it would have been here that she wrote much of her ‘Grasmere Journals’. In the summer of 1802 this became William’s bedroom in preparation for his marriage to Mary Hutchinson in October. The washstand displayed in this room belonged to William and Mary and is a rare example of a double washstand. (more…)

The Royal Society Turns 350 in November!

Posted in anniversaries, exhibitions by Editor on September 28, 2010

On now at the National Portrait Gallery:

Science, Religion and Politics: The Royal Society
National Portrait Gallery, London, 11 September — 5 December 2010

Sir Godfrey Kneller, "Portrait of Sir Christopher Wren," 1711 © National Portrait Gallery, London.

Marking the 350th anniversary of the foundation of the Royal Society, this display celebrates a key moment in the development of modern science. The Society was founded on 28 November 1660 when a dozen men gathered to hear the young Christopher Wren give a lecture on astronomy. In the discussion that followed they decided to form ‘a Colledge for the Promoting of Physico-Mathematicall Experimentall Learning’. They rejected the classical ideal that knowledge could be acquired through contemplation alone. Instead, they drew on the ‘new philosophy’ devised by Sir Francis Bacon to pursue knowledge through first hand observation, data collection and experimentation. This revolutionary approach to investigating the world laid the foundations for three and a half centuries of scientific discovery and innovation. The display features key figures in the early history of the Royal Society including Sir Christopher Wren, Robert Boyle, Samuel Pepys and Sir Isaac Newton. The Royal Society has generously loaned two important early portraits from its collection.

Thomas Arne and The Newberry Consort

Posted in anniversaries by Editor on September 26, 2010

Rule Britannia! Celebrating the Tercentenary of Thomas Arne
The Newberry Consort, Chicago, 1-3 October 2010

The Newberry Consort, Chicago’s premier early music ensemble, kicks off its new season with a tribute to one of eighteenth-century England’s most popular and successful composers. Thomas Arne’s works run the gamut from pleasure garden songs for Vauxhall to the first Italian-style opera seria written in English. Plumbing the Newberry Library collections, we’ve recreated his colorful orchestrations for strings, baroque flute, and continuo to perform our selection of Shakespeare songs, opera arias, and chamber pieces. You’ll be invited to join in singing the evening’s finale!

Friday, October 1, 2010, 8:00 pm, Sanctuary, Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago
Saturday, October 2, 2010, 8:00 pm, Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, Hyde Park
Sunday, October 3, 2010, 3:00 pm, Lutkin Hall, Northwestern University

Pre-concert lectures begin one hour before the concerts. Student tickets: $5 at the door, cash only. General admission: $28 in advance, $30 at the door. Purchase tickets online at http://www.newberryconsort.org or call 312.255.3610

Happy Birthday, Enfilade!

Posted in anniversaries, site information by Editor on June 22, 2010

From the Editor

Keven Law, Wikimedia Commons

As I’ve said in the past, I’m extremely grateful to all of you for visiting the site and especially to Enfilade’s regular readers — all the more so on this one-year anniversary! What I envisioned as a convenient forum for sharing the occasional news item for HECAA members has surpassed my wildest expectations. To be sure, Enfilade is still a work in progress, and based on feedback from others, I’m optimistic about the future of this experiment.

I’m especially happy to welcome aboard Jennifer Ferng as our first Correspondent staff member. A former practicing architect, Jennifer is a Ph.D. candidate in the History, Theory, & Criticism of Architecture and Art program at MIT. Her dissertation focuses on the intersections between architecture, the decorative arts, and geology during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Britain and France. From 2009 until 2011 she is based in Paris at the INHA as a Kress Fellow. Particularly in light of how many of you think of France as the geographical, intellectual, and artistic center of your work, I’m thrilled about the addition.

As I’ve also emphasized in the past, Enfilade readers are genuinely interested in what HECAA members are doing. So please continue to send reports regarding your own publications and research activities along with general notices of news items that relate to the art and visual culture of the long eighteenth century.

Finally, let me put in a plea for your financial support. The cost of an annual HECAA membership is just $20 (only $5 for students). If you’re not a member or if your membership has expired, please consider joining or renewing now (additional financial support is also most welcome). HECAA is affiliated with two scholarly organizations (the College Art Association and the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies), but anyone interested in the eighteenth century is most welcome here. Your payment will help fund the work of graduate students and junior scholars. Moreover, in being counted as a HECAA member, you help make the case that the eighteenth century really does matter for how we think about art history, visual culture, and the history of the built environment in general (in our world where keeping count becomes increasingly important, membership size is itself an indication of support).

Thanks again, and I leave with you an assortment of statistics:

  • 396: number of postings published in the first year
  • 44,600: total number of views Enfilade received in the first year
  • 12,512: number of individual visitors to Enfilade during the second quarter of 2010
  • 1516: number of views from returning visitors during the second quarter of 2010
  • 2804: total number of views from returning visitors

Craig Hanson

Happy (Belated) Birthday, Dr. Sloane!

Posted in anniversaries, books, conferences (to attend), resources by Editor on April 25, 2010

In the midst of the disruptions from the volcanic ash cloud, I failed to note the birthday of Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753), who would have turned 350 years this past Friday (April 16). The physician was an important naturalist, bibliophile, and collector. As outlined in his will, the bequest of his vast collections to the nation provided the foundation of the British Museum. To mark the anniversary, a series of events have been organized at the British Museum, London’s Natural History Museum, and the Old Operating Theatre Museum, as well as in the Northern Ireland village of Killyleagh, where Sloane was born. Although most events took place last week, in June a major conference will be held at the British Library (see below for the schedule). For whatever it’s worth, I have a hunch that Sloane would have been thrilled to have his birthday marked by the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull -C.H.

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In addition, the Sloane Printed Books Catalogue, is an outstanding new online resource. As noted on the BL’s website:

Sloane’s library of approximately 40,000 volumes, now dispersed within the collections of the British Library and other research libraries, is being identified. Bibliographical descriptions are enhanced with information about pre-Sloane provenance, annotations and other copy-specific information. The information accumulated is being made available through a web-accessible database, the Sloane Printed Books Catalogue, maintained by the British Library. The work of this project will form a significant research resource for medical, scientific and intellectual historians of the period.

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From Books to Bezoars: An International Conference Celebrating the 350th Anniversary of the Birth of Sir Hans Sloane, Physician, Naturalist and Collector
British Library, London, 7-8 June 2010


9:30 Registration

10:00 Plenary Session

  • James Delbourgo (Rutgers University), Collecting Sir Hans Sloane

10:45 Coffee

11:05 Sloane’s Origins, Life and Work

  • Mark Purcell (National Trust), “Settled in the north of Ireland”, or Where did Sloane come from?
  • Pratik Chakrabarti (University of Kent), The Voyages of Hans Sloane: A colonial history of gentlemanly science
  • Lisa Smith (University of Saskatchewan), Sir Hans Sloane: Physician of the family

12:15 Lunch

1:10 Specimens and Classification

  • Charlie Jarvis, Mark Spencer, and Rob Huxley (Natural History Museum), Sloane’s plant specimens at the Natural History Museum
  • Savithri Preetha Nair (Independent Scholar), Botanising on the Coromandel coast in the seventeenth century
  • Jill Cook (British Museum), Sloane, elephants and climate change

3:00 Tea

3:20 Sloane and the West Indies

  • James Robertson (University of the West Indies), Knowledgeable readers- Jamaican critiques of Hans Sloane’s botany
  • Julie Chun Kim (Fordham University), The African and Amerindian sources of Atlantic medicine
  • Wendy Churchill (University of New Brunswick), Hans Sloane’s perspectives on the medical knowledge and health practices of non-Europeans
  • Tracy-Ann Smith and Katherine Hann (Natural History Museum), Sloane, slavery and the natural world: New perspectives from community programming

6:30 Reception in the Enlightenment Gallery of the British Museum


10:00 Plenary Session

  • Kim Sloan (British Museum), Sir Hans Sloane’s ‘Paper Museum’

10:45 Coffee

11:05 The Culture of Collecting

  • Kathryn James (Beinecke Library, Yale), Hans Sloane and the public performance of natural history
  • Barbara Benedict (Trinity College, Hartford), Sloane’s Ranges: Shifts in Sir Hans Sloane’s literary representation in the eighteenth century
  • Eric Jorink (Huygens Instituut), Sloane and the Dutch connection

12:15 Lunch

1:15 Catalogues, Books, and Manuscripts

  • Alison Walker, The Sloane Printed Books Project
  • Marjorie Caygill (British Museum), Sloane’s catalogues in the British Museum
  • Arnold Hunt, Sloane as a manuscript collector

2:20 Tea

2:50 Sloane’s Book Collections

  • John Goldfinch (British Library), A rediscovered volume of printed and mss fragments from Sloane’s library
  • Julianne Simpson (Wellcome Library), The dispersal of Sir Hans Sloane’s library: A case study from the Medical Society of London collection
  • Stephen Parkin (British Library), Sloane’s Italian books
  • Will Poole (New College, Oxford), Sloane’s books at the Bodleian Library

4:20 Concluding Remarks