New Book | Highland Retreats

Posted in books by Editor on October 23, 2017

From Rizzoli:

Mary Miers, Highland Retreats: The Architecture and Interiors of Scotland’s Romantic North (New York: Rizzoli, 2017), 288 pages, ISBN: 978 08478 44760, $65.

Featuring breathtaking photographs of some of Scotland’s most remarkable and little-known houses, this book tells the story of how incomers adopted the North of Scotland as a recreational paradise and left an astonishing legacy of architecture and decoration inspired by the romanticized image of the Highlands. Known as shooting lodges because they were designed principally to accommodate the parties of guests that flocked north for the annual sporting season, these houses range from Picturesque cottages ornées and Scotch Baronial castles to Arts and Crafts mansions and modern eco-lodges. While their designs respond to some of Britain’s wildest and most stirring landscapes, inside many were equipped with the latest domestic technology and boasted opulent decoration and furnishings from the smartest London and Parisian firms. A good number survive little altered in their original state, and some are still owned by descendants of the families that built them.

Images from the famous Country Life Picture Library and specially commissioned photographs evoke the dramatic settings and arresting detail of these houses, making the book as appealing to decorators and architectural historians as it is to travelers and sportsmen.

Mary Miers commutes between her home in the Scottish Highlands and the London offices of Country Life magazine, where she works as fine arts and books editor. Her books include American Houses: The Architecture of Fairfax & Sammons and The English Country House.

Paul Barker was one of England’s premier interior and architectural photographers, whose books included English Country House Interiors, The Drawing Room, and English Ruins.

New Book | Travel and the British Country House

Posted in books by Editor on October 20, 2017

From Oxford UP:

Jon Stobart, ed., Travel and the British Country House: Cultures, Critiques, and Consumption in the Long Eighteenth Century (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2017), 272 pages, ISBN: 978 15261 10329, $115.

Travel and the British Country House explores the ways in which travel by owners, visitors, and material objects shaped country houses during the long eighteenth century. It provides a richer and more nuanced understanding of this relationship and how it varied according to the identity of the traveller and the geography of their journeys. The essays explore how travel on the Grand Tour, and further afield, formed an inspiration to build or remodel houses and gardens, the importance of country house visiting in shaping taste amongst British and European elites, and the practical aspects of travel, including the expenditure involved. Suitable for a scholarly audience, including postgraduate and undergraduate students, but also accessible to the general reader, Travel and the British Country House offers a series of fascinating studies of the country house that serve to animate the country house with flows of people, goods and ideas.

Jon Stobart is Professor of History at Manchester Metropolitan University.


1  Introduction: Travel and the British Country House, Jon Stobart
2  From Rome to Stourhead and Thence to Rome Again: The Phenomenon of the Eighteenth-Century English Landscape Garden, John Harrison
3  Virtual Travel and Virtuous Objects: Chinoiserie and the Country House, Emile de Bruijn
4  Gentlemen Tourists in the Early Eighteenth Century: The Travel Journals of William Hanbury and John Scattergood, Rosie MacArthur
5  A Foreign Appreciation of English Country Houses and Castles: Dutch Travel Accounts on Proto Museums Visited en Route, 1683–1855, Hanneke Ronnes and Renske Koster
6  ‘Worth Viewing by Travellers’: Arthur Young and Country House Picture Collections in the Late Eighteenth Century, Jocelyn Anderson
7  ‘Enjoying Country Life to the Full—Only the English Know How To Do That!’: Appreciation of the British Country House by Hungarian Aristocratic Travellers, Kristof Fatsar
8  Magnificent and Mundane: Transporting People and Goods to the Country House, c. 1730–1800, Jon Stobart
9  On the Road (and the Thames) with William Cavendish, 1st Earl of Devonshire 1597–1623, Peter Edwards
10  ‘No Lady Could Do This’: Navigating Gender and Collecting Objects in India and Scotland, c. 1810–50, Ellen Filor


New Book | William Hunter

Posted in books by Editor on October 18, 2017

From Routledge:

Helen McCormack, William Hunter and His Eighteenth-Century Cultural Worlds: The Anatomist and the Fine Arts (New York: Routledge, 2017), 208 pages, ISBN: 978 14724 24426, $150.

The eminent physician and anatomist Dr William Hunter (1718–1783) made an important and significant contribution to the history of collecting and the promotion of the fine arts in Britain in the eighteenth century. Born at the family home in East Calderwood, he matriculated at the University of Glasgow in 1731 and was greatly influenced by some of the most important philosophers of the Scottish Enlightenment, including Francis Hutcheson (1694–1746). Hunter quickly abandoned his studies in theology for Medicine and, in 1740, left Scotland for London where he steadily acquired a reputation as an energetic and astute practitioner; he combined his working life as an anatomist successfully with a wide range of interests in natural history, including mineralogy, conchology, botany, and ornithology; and in antiquities, books, medals, and artefacts; in the fine arts, he worked with artists and dealers and came to own a number of beautiful oil paintings and volumes of extremely fine prints. He built an impressive school of anatomy and a museum which housed these substantial and important collections. William Hunter’s life and work is the subject of this book, a cultural-anthropological account of his influence and legacy as an anatomist, physician, collector, teacher, and demonstrator. Combining Hunter’s lectures to students of anatomy with his teaching at the St Martin’s Lane Academy, his patronage of artists, such as Robert Edge Pine, George Stubbs, and Johan Zoffany, and his associations with artists at the Royal Academy of Arts, the book positions Hunter at the very centre of artistic, scientific, and cultural life in London during the period, presenting a sustained and critical account of the relationship between anatomy and artists over the course of the long eighteenth century.

Helen McCormack is a Lecturer in Art, Design, History and Theory at Glasgow School of Art. She studied Art History at Birkbeck College, University of London, and the History of Design and Material Culture at the Victoria and Albert Museum and Royal College of Art, London. She was the David Carritt Scholar in the History of Art at the University of Glasgow where she completed her PhD on the subject of William Hunter as a collector of the fine arts.


List of Figures

Introduction: Art, Science, Curiosity and Commerce
1  Forming the Museum: Context and Chronology
2  The Great Windmill Street Anatomy School and Museum
3  Patronage and Patriots: Hunter and a National School of Artists
4  Collecting Ambitions (1770–83) The Grand Tour Paintings
5  Pursuing the Imitation of Nature in and beyond the Royal Academy of Arts



New Book | Empire of Ruin: Black Classicism

Posted in books by Editor on October 17, 2017

From Oxford UP:

John Levi Barnard, Empire of Ruin: Black Classicism and American Imperial Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 248 pages, ISBN: 978 019066 3599, $75.

From the US Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and the 9/11 Memorial Museum, classical forms and ideas have been central to an American nationalist aesthetic. Beginning with an understanding of this centrality of the classical tradition to the construction of American national identity and the projection of American power, Empire of Ruin describes a mode of black classicism that has been integral to the larger critique of American politics, aesthetics, and historiography that African American cultural production has more generally advanced. While the classical tradition has provided a repository of ideas and images that have allowed white American elites to conceive of the nation as an ideal Republic and the vanguard of the idea of civilization, African American writers, artists, and activists have characterized this dominant mode of classical appropriation as emblematic of a national commitment to an economy of enslavement and a geopolitical project of empire. If the dominant forms of American classicism and monumental culture have asserted the ascendancy of what Thomas Jefferson called an “empire for liberty,” for African American writers and artists it has suggested that the nation is nothing exceptional, but rather another iteration of what the radical abolitionist Henry Highland Garnet identified as an “empire of slavery,” inexorably devolving into an “empire of ruin.”

John Levi Barnard is an Assistant Professor of English at The College of Wooster.

1  Phillis Wheatley and the Affairs of State
2  In Plain Sight: Slavery and the Architecture of Democracy
3  Ancient History, American Time: Charles Chesnutt and the Sites of Memory
4  Crumbling into Dust: Conjure and the Ruins of Empire
5  National Monuments and the Residue of History




Exhibition | The King of Spain’s Grandchildren by Mengs

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on October 16, 2017

From the Uffizi Galleries:

The King of Spain’s Grandchildren: Anton Raphael Mengs at the Pitti Palace
Pitti Palace, Florence, 19 September 2017 — 7 January 2018

Curated by Matteo Ceriana and Steffi Roettgen

Anton Raphael Mengs, Double Portrait of the Archdukes Ferdinando (1769–1824) and Maria Anna (1770–1809) di Asburgo Lorena, 1770–71 (Florence: Uffizi Galleries).

Barely twenty days after the opening of an exhibition at the Uffizi devoted to the purchase of two preparatory paintings by Luca Giordano and Taddeo Mazzi, the Uffizi Galleries are now launching a second exhibition to present the prestigious acquisition of yet another important painting in 2016, by Anton Raphael Mengs (1728–1779), portraying Ferdinando and Maria Anna, two of the children of Archduke of Tuscany Pietro Leopoldo of Lorraine and of his consort María Luisa de Borbón y Sajonia, dressed in contemporary costume and depicted inside the Pitti Palace.

Eike D. Schmid: “The task of a living museum is to safeguard works of art, to preserve memory and to transmit culture through exhibitions and research, but also to allow its collections to ‘breathe’ with targeted additions closely linked to the story of the city, of its hinterland and of the collection of which they are going to become a part. Acquisitions, especially if they are so subtly motivated, are a crucial part of a museum’s life, particularly if they are the product of research guaranteeing both their provenance and a fertile interaction with the museum’s existing heritage.”

When this unfinished painting appeared on the antique market, it was instantly clear that it had to enter the collections of the Gallerie degli Uffizi so that we could showcase it in the Pitti Palace, because even if Anton Raphael Mengs did not paint the picture entirely in the palace, he certainly conceived it there. The young princes lived in the Pitti Palace with their family, under the watchful eye of governesses and tutors, of course, but more especially under that of their own parents, while the Boboli Garden was their playground.

We were eager to celebrate the new acquisition, which would not have been possible without the generous cooperation of the Galleria Virgilio in Rome, with an exhibition illustrating the historical and artistic environment in which the portrait was painted.

Mengs was born in Bohemia but soon moved to the west, becoming an adoptive Italian and Spaniard. He sought permission from King Charles III of Spain to travel to Rome so that he could both work and pursue his study of Classical antiquities and of the great Renaissance artists, chiefly that of Raphael after whom he had been named. The Spanish King, who loved Italy and had once almost governed Tuscany himself (eventually becoming the King of Naples), granted Mengs permission to make the trip but only on condition that he send him portraits from Florence of his young grandchildren, the children of his daughter María Luisa de Borbón y Sajonia and of Pietro Leopoldo of Lorraine. The pictures, loaned to the exhibition by the Museo del Prado where they normally hang, were painted while Mengs was in the Tuscan capital from April 1770 to January 1771. The portraits show us Pietro Leopoldo’s two extremely young children dressed in Spanish court attire with the marks of royalty (the Golden Fleece) in the traditional dress of the Infantes, as reported in the Gazzetta Toscana published on 29 September 1770. Once finished, but before they were packed up and shipped to the Spanish court, the portraits were shown to the Florentine public in the Pitti Palace, where they were much admired both for their sparkling technique and for their accurate rendering of the sitters’ features.

Anton Raphael Mengs, Double Portrait of the Archduke Ferdinand (1769–1824) and Maria Anna (1770–1809), 1770–71 (Madrid: Museo del Prado).

At the same time as Mengs was painting these portraits of the children for their grandfather, the Spanish King, however, he must also have produced the picture recently purchased by the Uffizi Galleries portraying Ferdinando and Anna Maria with a totally different approach and in a very different spirit. The two children portrayed here, looking happier than the children depicted in many of Mengs’s other works, are shown in contemporary clothing, and the choice of full, resonant hues such as the green and pink of their attire instantly reveals this new spirit. The prince is dressed in boy’s costume and the feather hat in his right hand is the kind of headgear one might have worn for strolling or hunting, thus introducing a touching note of daily intimacy into the picture—a far cry from the stiff, ceremonial approach evinced in the official portraits now in Madrid. The painting must have been very much to the liking of Pietro Leopoldo, a man of stern tastes, an enlightened sovereign, a reformer, in fact a thoroughly ‘modern’ (not to say bourgeois) monarch in both his public and his private life. We are drawn to the picture because we can not only see the lesson of Velázquez in it, but we actually get a foretaste of Goya, a great admirer of Mengs, and even of Manet.

Johan Zoffany, Francis I, Grand Duke of Tuscany of the House of Lorraine (1708–1765), 1775 (Vienna: Kunsthistorisches Museum).

The official court portrait painter to Pietro Leopoldo, however, was another German—albeit a naturalised Englishman—called Johann Zoffany. The exhibition showcases the portrait that he painted of Pietro Leopoldo’s first-born son Francis, the first Grand Duke of Tuscany of the House of Lorraine, which was painted for Francis’s paternal grandmother, the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, and which has been loaned by the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Having doffed the dazzling turquoise attire of a Spanish Infante, we discover him in the courtyard of the Pitti Palace leaning against the majestic rustication, a small man fairly split between his government duties, his arms and his studies. This very fine portrait, which has returned to Florence for the first time since it was despatched to Vienna, depicts a boy who, while he may appear a little melancholic, is already very much aware of his imperial destiny.

The exhibition opens with portraits of the sitters’ grandparents, parents, and little cousins from Naples and Parma and closes with the self-portraits of the two painters from the Uffizi’s celebrated collection: Mengs’s famous, heroic self-portrait, bursting with emotion even though it is not yet Romantic, and Zoffany’s subtly ironic self-portrait in which he portrays himself with his small dog a painting that will come as a pleasant surprise to visitors after being specially restored for the exhibition.

Matteo Ceriana and Steffi Roettgen, I Nipoti del Re di Spagna: Anton Raphael Mengs a Palazzo Pitti (Livorno: Sillabe, 2017), 184 pages, ISBN: 978 888347 9687, $35.








Exhibition | Becoming a Woman in the Age of Enlightenment

Posted in books, catalogues, conferences (to attend), exhibitions by Editor on October 15, 2017

While, as a rule, I don’t re-post announcements, because this one now includes important details that were previously omitted—additional information regarding the catalogue, venues, and the conferences—I’m glad to make an exception. I wish I could be there next weekend for what sure to be an amazing conference!  CAH

Jacques-Antoine-Marie Lemoine, Woman Standing in a Garden, 1783, black chalk and brush with gray wash on off-white laid paper; Antoine Vestier, Allegory of the Arts, 1788, oil on canvas; and Louis-Léopold Boilly, Conversation in a Park, oil on canvas. All on loan from The Horvitz Collection.

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From the Harn Museum of Art:

Becoming a Woman in the Age of Enlightenment: French Art from The Horvitz Collection
Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida, Gainesville, 6 October — 31 December 2017
Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 26 January — 8 April 2018
Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, 13 May — 19 August 2018
Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA, dates TBA

Curated by Melissa Hyde and Mary D. Sheriff
Organized by Alvin Clark

Becoming a Woman in the Age of Enlightenment: French Art from the Horvitz Collection is primarily an exhibition of drawings but will include pastels, paintings, and sculptures selected from one of the world’s best private collections of French drawings. The exhibition will feature nearly 120 works by many of the most prominent artists of the eighteenth century, including Antoine Watteau, Nicolas Lancret, François Boucher, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, as well as lesser-known artists both male and female, such as Anne Vallayer-Coster, Gabrielle Capet, François-André Vincent, Philibert-Louis Debucourt. Ranging from spirited, improvisational sketches and figural studies, to highly finished drawings of exquisite beauty, the works included in the exhibition vary in terms of style, genre, and period.

Becoming a Woman will be organized into thematic sections that address some of the most important and defining questions of women’s lives in the eighteenth century. These include: how the stages of a woman’s life were measured; what cultural attitudes and conditions in France shaped how women were defined; what significant relations women formed with men; what social and familial rituals gave order to their lives; what pleasures they pursued; and what work they accomplished. The aim is to bring new insights to the questions of what it meant to be a woman in this period, by offering the first exhibition to focus specifically on representations of women of a broad range of ages and conditions.

The exhibition will offer fresh perspectives on a subject that still has direct relevance to our times but that has not been the focus of a significant exhibition for decades. Through its conceptual framework, thematic organization, and its emphasis on historical context, the exhibition will provide viewers opportunities to consider what issues pertaining to women’s lives seem to have changed or persisted through time and across space. Although the circumstances and the specifics have changed, many issues remain with us today and can still provoke contentious debates. Pay equity, reproductive rights, gender-discrimination, violence against women, work-family balance, the ‘plight’ of the alpha-female, and the devaluation of the stay-at-home mom, are but a few of the women’s issues that are still hotly contested in the media, in cultural production of all kinds, in politics, and in public and private life.

Becoming a Woman is curated by Melissa Hyde, Professor of Art History, University of Florida Research Foundation Professor, University of Florida, and the late Mary D. Sheriff, W.R. Kenan J. Distinguished Professor of Art History, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; the exhibition is organized by Alvin L. Clark, Jr, Curator, The Horvitz Collection and The J.E. Horvitz Research Curator, Harvard Art Museums/Fogg.

The catalogue is available from ArtBooks.com:

Melissa Hyde, Mary D. Sheriff, and Alvin Clark, Becoming a Woman in the Age of Enlightenment: French Art from The Horvitz Collection (Boston: The Horvitz Collection, 2017), 208 pages, ISBN: 978 099126 2526, $39.

François Boucher, Young Travelers, black chalk on cream antique laid paper, framing line in black ink, laid down on a decorated mount, 295 × 188 mm; Jacques-Louis David, Andromache Mourning the Death of Hector, pen with black ink and brush with gray wash over traces of black chalk on cream antique laid paper, 293 × 248 mm; Jean-Baptiste Greuze, The Chestnut Vendor, brush with gray and brown wash on cream antique laid paper, 385 × 460 mm. All works on loan from The Horvitz Collection.

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From the Lecture and Symposium Schedule:

Thinking Women: Art and Representation in the Eighteenth Century
A Symposium in Honor of Mary D. Sheriff

Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida, Gainesville, 20–22 October 2017

• Keynote Address: “The Woman Artist and the Uncovering of the Social World,” Lynn Hunt, Distinguished Research Professor, University of California, Los Angeles

Art, women, and society came together in surprising ways at the end of the eighteenth century. ‘Society’ only began to be conceptualized as an object for study at the end of the 1700s, in particular in reaction to the French Revolution. Art, especially engraving and painting, helped make society visible to itself. Women could join the art world but rarely as fully fledged members, and as a consequence they occupied a kind of in-between position that made them especially attuned to social relations. The life and work of Marie-Gabrielle Capet will be highlighted to show how the social world could be uncovered.

• “Fashion in Time: Visualizing Costume in the Eighteenth Century,” Susan Siegfried, Denise Riley Collegiate Professor of the History of Art and Women’s Studies, Department of Art History, University of Michigan

• “Beauty Is a Letter of Credit,” Nina Dubin, Associate Professor, Department of Art and Art History University of Illinois, Chicago

• “Chardin: Gender and Interiority,” Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, William Dorr Boardman Professor of Fine Arts, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University

• “The Global Allure of the Porcelain Room,” Meredith Martin, Department of Art History, New York University

• “Pictured Together? Questions of Gender, Race, and Social Rank in the Portrait of Dido Elizabeth Belle and Lady Elizabeth Murray,” Jennifer Germann, Associate Professor, Department of Art History, Ithaca College

• “Becoming an Animal in the Age of Enlightenment,” Amy Freund, Associate Professor & Kleinheinz Family Endowed Chair in Art History, Southern Methodist University

• “Marguerite Lecomte’s Smile: Portrait of a Woman Engraver,” Mechthild Fend, Reader in the History of Art, Department of History of Art, University College London

• “Exceptional, but not Exceptions: Women Artists in the Age of Revolution,” Paris Spies Gans, Doctoral Candidate, Department of History, Princeton University

The final program, with times, is available here»

At the Ackland Art Museum at UNC, Chapel Hill, there will be a sister symposium in Mary’s honor entitled “Taking Exception: Women, Gender, Representation in the Eighteenth Century,” 1–3 February 2018.





Exhibition | Visitors to Versailles, 1682–1789

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on October 14, 2017

Press release for the exhibition:

Visiteurs de Versailles, 1682–1789
Château de Versailles, 24 October 2017 — 25 February 2018
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 9 April — 29 July 2018

Curated by Bertrand Rondot and Daniëlle Kisluk-Grosheide

With nearly 10 million visitors per year, Versailles is one of the most visited historic sites in the world. The palace and gardens of Versailles have attracted visitors ever since the small hunting lodge built by Louis XIII was transformed by Louis XIV into one of the most stunning residences in Europe, open to everyone according to the King’s will.

Cosmopolitan Versailles has welcomed French and foreign travellers, princes, ambassadors, artists, writers, and philosophers, architects, scholars, tourists on the ‘Grand Tour’, and day trippers from near and far. While some came to Versailles to see the King or win his favour, others were received officially by the Sovereign in the Palace, a place of intensive diplomatic activity. From the ambassadors of Siam in 1686 to the ambassadors of the Indian Kingdom of Mysore in 1788, representatives from almost every continent came to Versailles. Each visit was an opportunity to discover beautiful national dress and the originality of the gifts visitors brought with them. Gazettes, literary journals, and official memoires bore testimony to the most important visitors and the parties held in their honour.

The exhibition is the first on this subject and will turn the spotlight on these visitors through more than 300 works from the late 17th century to the French Revolution. With portraits and sculptures, court attire, travel guides, tapestries, Sevres and Meissen porcelain, display weapons and snuffboxes, the exhibition will reveal what visitors discovered upon arriving at Versailles, the sort of welcome awaiting them, what they saw and their impressions, the gifts or memories they left with. Visitors today will discover the palace through the eyes of those who have gone before them over the course of history.

Bertrand Rondot, Head Curator at the Palace of Versailles, in charge of furniture and objets d’art
Daniëlle Kisluk-Grosheide, Curator at the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Department of The Metropolitan Museum of Art





New Book | The Cinematic Eighteenth Century

Posted in books by Editor on October 13, 2017

From Routledge:

Srividhya Swaminathan and Steven Thomas, eds., The Cinematic Eighteenth Century: History, Culture, and Adaptation (New York: Routledge, 2018), 196 pages, ISBN: 978 11386 33995, $150.

This collection explores how film and television depict the complex and diverse milieu of the eighteenth century as a literary, historical, and cultural space. Topics range from adaptations of Austen’s Sense and Sensibility and Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (The Martian) to historical fiction on the subjects of slavery (Belle), piracy (Crossbones and Black Sails), monarchy (The Madness of King George and The Libertine), print culture (Blackadder and National Treasure), and the role of women (Marie Antoinette, The Duchess, and Outlander). This interdisciplinary collection draws from film theory and literary theory to discuss how film and television allows for critical re-visioning as well as revising of the cultural concepts in literary and extra-literary writing about the historical period.

Srividhya Swaminathan is Professor of English at LIU Brooklyn in New York. Her primary field of research is the rhetoric of eighteenth-century slavery studies and social movements. Her monograph, Debating the Slave Trade (Ashgate 2009), and co-edited collection, Invoking Slavery in the Eighteenth-Century British Imagination (Ashgate 2013), engage with slavery in a transatlantic context.

Steven W. Thomas is Associate Professor of English at Wagner College in New York, where he teaches American literature, theory, and film studies. He has published several scholarly essays about the transatlantic eighteenth century and in 2016, he was a Fulbright Scholar in the graduate film program at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia.


List of Figures

Srividhya Swaminathan and Steven Thomas, Introduction: Representing and Repositioning the Eighteenth Century on Screen
1  Ula Lukszo Klein, Fashionable Failures: Ghosting Female Desires on the Big Screen
2  Dorothée Polanz, Portrait of the Queen as a Celebrity: Marie Antoinette on Screen, a Disappearing Act, 1934–2012
3  Elizabeth Kraft, The King on the Screen
4  Jennifer Preston Wilson, ‘I Have You in My Eye, Sir’: The Spectacle of Kingship in The Madness of King George
5  Sarah B. Stein and Robert Vork, Blackadder: Satirizing the Century of Satire
6  Colin Ramsey, Disney’s National Treasure, the Declaration of Independence, and the Erasure of Print from the American Revolution
7  Courtney A. Hoffman, How to Be a Woman in the Highlands: A Feminist Portrayal of Scotland in Outlander
8  Kyle Pivetti, The King of Mars: The Martian’s Scientific Empire and Robinson Crusoe
9  Srividhya Swaminathan, The New Cinematic Piracy: Crossbones and Black Sails
10  Jodi L. Wyett, Sex, Sisterhood, and the Cinema: Sense and Sensibility(s) in Conversation
11  Steven W. Thomas, Cinematic Slavery and the Romance of Belle

List of Contributors




New Book | The Building Site in Eighteenth-Century Ireland

Posted in books by internjmb on October 11, 2017

From Four Courts Press:

Arthur Gibney, The Building Site in Eighteenth-Century Ireland, edited by Livia Hurley and Edward McParland (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2017), 368 pages, ISBN: 978 184682 6382, €35.

This study by the late Arthur Gibney takes you among labourers, craftspeople, contractors, builders, and designers as they populate the building sites of eighteenth-century Ireland. Gibney tells a story that has never been told so comprehensively before. What kind of contracts bound those involved? How much did it cost to bring a cargo of oak to the Dublin docks from Riga or Shillelagh—or of fir from Trondheim—and what kind of roof trusses or floor framing was it used for? What was distinctively Irish about these structural features? What did plumbers do? How did roofers choose between slates and shingles and pantiles, and how did this choice affect the profile of a roof? Based on extensive documentary research and on a lifetime of experience of building and conservation, Gibney takes the interested layperson, the student, the architect, and the conservationist behind the facades to give us an understanding of paint colours such as Venetian red and Spanish brown, the manufacture of stucco, the variations of Irish, English, and French glass, the composition of masonry walls, and much more, in our great legacy of Georgian buildings.


Arthur Gibney was one of Ireland’s most notable twentieth-century architects. Livia Hurley is an architect and architectural historian in private practice in Dublin. She is one of five editors and principal authors of Architecture, 1600–2000, volume IV of Art and Architecture of Ireland (2014), and she teaches at the School of Architecture, UCD. Edward McParland is a fellow emeritus of TCD. His publications include James Gandon, Vitruvius Hibernicus (1985) and Public Architecture in Ireland, 1680–1760 (2001).



Exhibition | Monochrome: Painting in Black and White

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on October 9, 2017

Press release (August 2017) from The National Gallery:

Monochrome: Painting in Black and White
The National Gallery, London, 30 October 2017 – 18 February 2018
Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, 21 March — 15 July 2018

Curated by Lelia Packer and Jennifer Sliwka

At the National Gallery this autumn, journey through a world of shadow and light. With more than fifty painted objects created over 700 years, Monochrome: Painting in Black and White is a radical new look at what happens when artists cast aside the colour spectrum and focus on the visual power of black, white, and everything in between.

Paintings by Old Masters such as Jan van Eyck, Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt van Rijn, and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres appear alongside works by some of the most exciting contemporary artists working today including Gerhard Richter, Chuck Close, and Bridget Riley. Olafur Eliasson‘s immersive light installation Room for One Colour (1997) brings a suitably mind-altering coda to the exhibition. With major loans from around the world and works from the National Gallery’s Collection, Monochrome reveals fresh insights into the use of colour as a choice rather than a necessity.

As Lelia Packer and Jennifer Sliwka, curators of Monochrome: Painting in Black and White, explain: “Painters reduce their colour palette for many reasons but mainly as a way of focusing the viewer’s attention on a particular subject, concept, or technique. It can be very freeing—without the complexities of working in colour, you can experiment with form, texture, mark making, and symbolic meaning.”

Monochrome: Painting in Black and White guides visitors through seven rooms, each addressing a different aspect of painting in black, white and grey, also known as grisaille.

Sacred Subjects

The earliest surviving works of Western art made in grisaille were created in the Middle Ages for devotional purposes, to eliminate distractions and focus the mind. As colour pervades daily life, black and white can signal a shift to an otherworldly or spiritual context. For some, colour was the forbidden fruit and prohibited by religious orders practising a form of aesthetic asceticism. Grisaille stained glass, for example, was created by Cistercian monks in the 12th century as an alternative to vibrant church windows, with its translucent greyish panels sometimes painted with images in black and yellow. Light and elegant in appearance, grisaille glass such as this window panel made for the Royal Abbey of Saint-Denis, Paris (1320–24, Victoria and Albert Museum, London) gained popularity outside the order and eventually became de rigueur in many French churches.

Studies in Light and Shadow

From the 15th century onward artists made painted studies in black and white to work through challenges posed by their subjects and compositions. Eliminating colour allows artists to concentrate on the way light and shadow fall across the surface of a figure, object or scene before committing to a full-colour canvas. The beautiful Drapery Study (possibly study for Saint Matthew and an Angel), (about 1477, Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin) attributed to Domenico Ghirlandaio is a template work which an artist could reuse in multiple finished colour paintings. This particular motif for example reappeared in a frescoed vault in San Gimignano, Italy.

Independent Paintings in Grisaille

Increasingly, paintings in grisaille were made as independent works of art, complete unto themselves. This section explores the inspiration and desire for such paintings, prized for their demonstration of artistic skill, for the insights they provide into the artist’s craft, and for their profound consideration of a particular subject.

Jan van Eyck’s Saint Barbara (1437, Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp) is the earliest known example of a monochrome work on panel, drawn in metalpoint, India ink, and oil on a prepared ground. Although there has been ongoing debate as to whether a master colourist such as van Eyck intended Saint Barbara as a sketch in preparation for a painting in colour or a as a finished drawing, the panel was admired and collected as early as the 16th century suggesting that a taste for independent monochrome pictures existed from an early date.

Jacob de Wit, Jupiter and Ganymede, 1739 (Hull: Ferens Art Gallery).

Monochrome Painting and Sculpture

For centuries artists have challenged themselves to mimic the appearance of stone sculpture in painting. In Northern Europe, a taste for illusionistic decorative elements—such as decorative wall painting and sculpted stucco—may have helped give rise to stunning works of trompe l’oeil painted on panel or canvas. Jacob de Wit excelled at this practice and his Jupiter and Ganymede (1739, Ferens Art Gallery, Hull) could easily be mistaken for a three-dimensional wall relief.

Monochrome Painting and Printmaking

Beginning in the 16th century, painters developed ingenious ways to compete with new developments in printmaking. An exceptionally rare grisaille work by Hendrik Goltzius, Without Ceres and Bacchus, Venus Would Freeze (1606, the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg) for example, dazzled viewers who could not fathom how it was made, as it very much looks like a print but was drawn by hand on prepared canvas.

Black-and-White Painting in the Age of Photography and Film

Similarly, the invention of photography in 1839, and that of film much later, prompted painters to imitate the effects of these media, in order to respond to, or compete with their particular qualities. Gerhard Richter employed a press photograph of a prostitute who had been brutally murdered as the foundation of his painting Helga Matura with Her Fiancé (1966, Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf). The grey palette—for Richter, “the ideal colour for indifference”—removes any sentimentality about Helga’s murder. By deliberately blurring the photograph, the artist makes the viewer aware that this is an altered image, contrasting with the crispness and apparent objectivity of the original.

Étienne Moulinneuf, after Jean-Siméon Chardin, Back from the Market (La Pourvoyeuse), ca. 1770, oil on canvas, 46 × 38 cm (Los Angeles: LACMA).


Abstract and installation artists have often been drawn to black and white. When artists have ready access to every possible hue, the absence of colour can be all the more shocking or thought-provoking. In 1915, Kiev-born artist Kazimir Malevich painted the first version of his revolutionary work, Black Square (in the exhibition is the 1929 version from the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow)—an eponymous black square floating within a white painted frame—and declared it to be the beginning of a new kind of non-representational art. Works by Josef Albers, Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, and Cy Twombly all exemplify the use of minimal colour for maximum impact.

Artists intrigued by colour theory and the psychological effects of colour (or its absence) manipulate light, space, and hue to trigger a particular response from the viewer. In this way, Olafur Eliasson brings the exhibition to a close with his large-scale, immersive light installation, Room for One Colour (1997). In a room illuminated with sodium yellow monofrequency lamps, all other light frequencies are suppressed and visitors are transported to a monochrome world.

National Gallery Director, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, says: “Artists choose to use black and white for aesthetic, emotional, and sometimes even for moral reasons. The historical continuity and diversity of monochrome from the Middle Ages to today demonstrate how crucial a theme it is in Western art.”

Exhibition organised by The National Gallery in collaboration with Museum Kunstpalast, Dusseldorf.

Lelia Packer and Jennifer Sliwka, Monochrome: Painting in Black and White (London: The National Gallery, 2017), 240 pages, ISBN: 978 18570 96132 (hardback), £35 / ISBN: 978 18570 96132 (paperback), £20.

Lelia Packer is Acting Curator of Paintings, Watercolours, Miniatures, and Manuscripts (excluding France) at the Wallace Collection, London. She was formerly McCrindle Curatorial Assistant at The National Gallery.

Jennifer Sliwka is Deputy Director of the Visual Commentary on Scripture Project and Senior Research Fellow, King’s College London. She was formerly Ahmanson Curator of Art and Religion at The National Gallery.