Exhibition | In Her Majesty’s Hands: Medals of Maria Theresa

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on August 17, 2017

Matthäus Donner / Andreas Vestner, Maria Theresa Box Medal (Schraubmedaille) containing hand-coloured drawings; silver, hand-coloured drawing on paper inside the medal (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Coin Collection, inv.no. 5955/1914B).

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Press release (via Art Daily) for the exhibition now on view at the KHM:

In Her Majesty’s Hands: Medals of Maria Theresa
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, 28 March 2017 — 18 February 2018

Curated by Anna Fabiankowitsch and Heinz Winter

The Kunsthistorisches Museum’s Coin Collection holds both the largest and by far the most important collection of coins minted under Maria Theresa; it is the best place, and now is the best time, to host an exhibition that presents the monarch’s life in medals to celebrate what would have been her 300th birthday.

The exhibition focuses on the most important topoi in Maria Theresa’s private and public life. It presents her in the company of her large family, running the gamut of events from dynastic marriages to heart-breaking calamities. It showcases her role as a ruler forced to fight several wars for her inheritance and, together with her son and co-regent Joseph II, as a pioneering social reformer. The artefacts on show also illustrate the extent of Maria Theresa’s realm, which comprised many different ethnicities and cultures.

All these topoi are reflected in medals that emblematise historical events with the help of allegories. Maria Theresa was already widely glorified and celebrated during her lifetime, but the exhibition also documents how she was portrayed by her enemies. So-called satirical medals, which were passed around in private, turned Maria Theresa into an object of derision.

The exhibition focuses, too, on the historical background of medal production to illustrate the requisite technical skills, expenditure, and effort; introduce the most important protagonists; and document the range, purview, and media-value of Maria Theresa’s medals.

Maria Theresa (1717–1780) became a legend during her lifetime, and few female rulers were depicted more frequently or diversely. Her many likenesses—among them portraits, engravings, medals, and medallions—were designed to preserve her memory for posterity, turning her into an 18th-century media-star.

Medals played a central role in this propaganda effort controlled by the imperial court. Among the period’s foremost artistic mass media, medals were minted under the aegis of the court, and they continue to reflect the ruler’s political aims and the way she saw herself. Over three hundred different medals were produced during Maria Theresa’s reign to commemorate or celebrate either members of the imperial family or political events, both national and international.

Medals functioned as a way to commemorate important events of her reign, and as they were minted in large numbers, the material is noted for its longevity and their handy format made it easy to disseminate them, they were regarded as a historical record that would last forever. Contemporaries called these miniature memorials show- or commemorative coins, and they evolved into much sought-after and frequently exchanged collectors’ pieces. The monarch presented them as signs of imperial favour, in recognition of the recipient’s merits or achievements, or to strengthen diplomatic ties, and the majority of the medals produced in Vienna were destined for the court—ending up in Her Majesty’s hands.

Zuhanden Ihrer Majestät: Medaillen Maria Theresias (Vienna: Kunst Historisches Museum, 2017), 100 pages, 15€.

Curator Anna Fabiankowitsch during preparations for the exhibition
Photo by Lukas Beck


The Burlington Magazine, August 2017

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions, journal articles, obituaries, reviews by Editor on August 11, 2017

The eighteenth century in The Burlington:

The Burlington Magazine 159 (August 2017)


• “Reflected Glory: University Art Collections in Britain,” p. 599.


• Simon Jervis, “Rudolf Hermann Wackernagel (1933–2017),” p. 639. His great article, “Carlton House Mews: The State Coach of the Prince of Wales and of the Later Kings of Hanover, A Study in the Late-Eighteenth-Century ‘Mystery’ of Coach-Building, in Furniture History 31 (1995) remains the most authoritative statement on London coach building in the late eighteenth century. But his crowning achievement was the massive two-volume Staats- und Galawagen der Wittelsbacher (Stuttgart, 2002). This is a catalogue of the wonderful collection of the Marstallmuseum at Schloss Nymphenburg, outside Munich, where he generously deposited part of his own extensive and systematic archive on coaches and carriages…


• Gauvin Alexander Bailey, Review of Christine Casey, Making Magnificence: Architects, Stuccatori and the Eighteenth-Century Interior (Yale University Press, 2017), pp. 642–43.
• Ayla Lepine, Review of Julian Holder and Elizabeth McKellar, eds., Neo-Georgian Architecture, 1880–1970: A Reappraisal (Historic England, 2016), pp. 643–44.
• Michael Hall, Review of Pauline Prévost-Marcilhacy, ed., Les Rothschild: une dynastie de mécènes en France, 1873–2016 (Somogy éditions d’Art, 2016), pp. 644–46.
• Francis Russell, Review of the exhibition Canaletto and the Art of Venice (London: The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, 2017), pp. 651–52.
• Matthi Forrer, Review of the exhibition Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave (London, The British Museum; and Osaka: Abeno Harukas Art Museum, 2017), pp. 652–53.
•Eric Zafran, Review of the exhibition America Collects Eighteenth-Century French Painting (Washington: D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 2017), pp. 669–70.

R E C E N T  A C Q U I S I T I O N S

Recent acquisitions (2007–17) by regional university collections in Britain

Joshua Reynolds, Maria Marow Gideon and Her Brother, William, 1786–87 (Birmingham: The Barber Institute of Fine Arts), January 2013.

Rosalba Carriera, Portrait of Gustavus Hamilton, 2nd Viscount Boyne, ca. 1730–31; pastel, heightened with white bodycolour on paper (Birmingham: The Barber Institute of Fine Arts), 2009.

John Opie, The Death of Archbishop Sharpe, 1797; oil on canvas (University of St Andrews), 2008.








Exhibition | Basic Instincts

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

Joseph Highmore, The Angel of Mercy, ca. 1746; oil on canvas, 59.7 × 48.3 cm (New Haven: Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, B1981.25.362).

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Press release from The Foundling Museum:

Basic Instincts
The Founding Museum, London, 29 September 2017 — 7 January 2018

Curated by Jacqueline Riding

A highly successful artist and Governor of the Foundling Hospital, Joseph Highmore (1692–1780) is best known as a portrait painter of the Georgian middle class. However, during the 1740s Highmore’s art radically shifted as he turned his focus to societal attitudes towards women and sexuality. Curated by Highmore expert, Dr Jacqueline Riding, Basic Instincts explores this ten-year period and his disruptive commentary, reflecting his engagement with the work of the new Foundling Hospital and its mission to support desperate and abused women. On public display in the UK for the first time is a remarkable painting that still retains the power to shock.

In 1744 Highmore created a series of 12 paintings on his own initiative inspired by Samuel Richardson’s international bestseller, Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded. First published in 1740, the novel’s sixth edition of 1742 included illustrations by Hubert Gravelot and Francis Hayman. However, unlike the commissioned illustrations, Highmore’s paintings explicitly make reference to the abuse and sexual violence at the heart of Richardson’s story of a virtuous young maidservant fighting off the unwanted advances of her predatory master. Highmore and Richardson became friends, and Highmore subsequently illustrated Richardson’s masterpiece, Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady, whose tragic heroine avoids a forced marriage, but dies having been abandoned by her family, duped by an admirer, drugged and raped.

Unlike William Hogarth, Highmore’s representation of Georgian society favoured realism over broad humour and theatricality, so his nuanced articulation of social attitudes towards women and sexuality means that modern audiences can miss his challenging commentary. However, at the heart of Basic Instincts is a remarkable painting that has never before been publically displayed in the UK and which does not fail to shock. The Angel of Mercy (c.1746) depicts a desperate mother in the act of killing her baby, with the distant Foundling Hospital presented as an alternative solution. This painting is unique in western art for showing maternal infanticide as a contemporary reality. The fashionably dressed mother is free from direct biblical or mythological allusion, unlike Hagar and Ishmael (1746) the large canvas Highmore donated to the newly established Hospital, which represents an Old Testament story of maternal abandonment. Instead The Angel of Mercy confronts the ‘elephant in the room’ in terms of the Hospital’s campaign; that without Christian compassion and practical support, even respectable women will be driven to murder.

Basic Instincts curator Jacqueline Riding said: “This is the first major Highmore exhibition for 50 years and nowhere can his life and work have greater resonance than at the Foundling Museum: an organisation at the forefront of the public display, interpretation and appreciation of early-Georgian art. Setting The Angel of Mercy, the Pamela paintings and Hagar and Ishmael among Highmore’s most tender portraits of mothers and children, family and friends, uniquely demonstrates the artist’s depth and variety, while indicating the true breadth of British Art in a period still labelled ‘The Age of Hogarth’.”

Foundling Museum director Caro Howell said: “Basic Instincts demonstrates that in the eighteenth century, the Foundling Hospital’s impact on contemporary artists went far beyond a simple donation of art. For Joseph Highmore it sparked a radical engagement with the issue of women’s vulnerability to sexual assault and society’s unwillingness to support them, culminating in a work of quite exceptional power.”

Basic Instincts explores the limits and narratives around female respectability in Georgian society, and reveals the complexity of Highmore’s engagement with issues surrounding women’s vulnerability to male exploitation. The first major publication dedicated to Joseph Highmore and written by Dr Riding will be published by Paul Holberton publishing to coincide with the exhibition. The exhibition is supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.

On display in the Museum’s historic rooms, a series of nine previously unseen sculptures by acclaimed contemporary artist Rachel Kneebone provide a highly charged counterpoint to Basic Instincts. Exploiting porcelain’s history as a material of refinement and rococo exuberance, Kneebone subverts viewers’ expectations by creating works that are simultaneously delicate and visceral. Raft of the Medusa’s tumbling limbs and fractured swags are at once coquettish and sinister; their gleaming white surfaces and exquisite detail belie scenes of collapse and dismemberment. Displayed amongst the Museum’s historic Collection, these works distil and abstract the Foundling Hospital’s suppressed narratives of sexual desire, emotional damage, and female strength.

Jacqueline Riding specialises in Georgian history and art. She read History and Art History at the universities of Leicester, London, and York and has over twenty-five years’ experience working as a curator and consultant within a broad range of museums, galleries, and historic buildings, including the Guards Museum, Tate Britain, and Historic Royal Palaces. From 1993 until 1999 she was Assistant Curator of the Palace of Westminster and later founding Director of the Handel House Museum in London. She has published widely on early-Georgian art and history, including her major book Jacobites: A New History of the ’45 Rebellion (Bloomsbury 2016). She is currently writing a biography of William Hogarth (Head of Zeus). She was the consultant historian and art historian on Mike Leigh’s award-winning film Mr. Turner (2014) and is the consultant historian on his next feature film, Peterloo. Jacqueline Riding is Associate Research Fellow in the School of Arts, Birkbeck College, University of London and a Fellow of the Clore Leadership Programme.

Rachel Kneebone (b. 1973) lives and works in London. Recent solo exhibitions include Rachel Kneebone at the V&A, London (2017); 399 Days, White Cube Bermondsey (2014) and London; and Regarding Rodin, Brooklyn Museum, New York (2012). Group exhibitions include Obsession, Maison Particulière, Brussels and Flesh, York Art Gallery (2016); Lust for Life, Galleri Anderson Sandstrom, Stockholm and Ceramix at Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht (2015); 3am: Wonder, Paranoia and the Restless Night, The Bluecoat, Liverpool and Chapter, Cardi (2013–14); The Surreal House, Barbican Centre, London (2010); Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London (2008); and Mario Testino at Home, Yvon Lambert, New York (2007). In 2005, Kneebone was nominated for the MaxMara Art Prize and this year has been nominated for the breakthrough award for the 2017 South Bank Show Sky Arts Award.

The accompanying book is published by PHP:

Jacqueline Riding, Basic Instincts: Love, Passion, and Violence in the Art of Joseph Highmore (London: Paul Holberton Publishing, 2017), 120 pages, ISBN: 978 1911300 281, £25.

Published to coincide with the exhibition at the Foundling Museum in London, this fascinating book will re-introduce Joseph Highmore (1692–1780), an artist of status and substance in his day, who is now largely unknown. It takes as its focus Highmore’s small oil painting known as The Angel of Mercy (ca. 1746, Yale), one of the most shocking and controversial images in 18th-century British art.

The painting depicts a woman in fashionable mid-18th-century dress strangling the infant lying on her lap. A cloaked, barefooted figure cowers to the right as an angel intervenes, pointing towards the Foundling Hospital, the recently built refuge for abandoned infants, in the distance. The image attempts to address one of the most disturbing aspects of the Foundling Hospital story—certainly a subject that many (now as then) would consider beyond depiction. But if any artist of the period had attempted such a subject it would surely be William Hogarth, not the portrait painter Joseph Highmore? In fact, the painting was attributed to Hogarth for almost two centuries, until its reattribution in the 1990s. Even so, it is surprising that despite the wealth of scholarship associated with Hogarth and the ‘modern moral subject’ of the 1730s and 1740s, The Angel of Mercy has received little attention until now. The book and exhibition seeks to address this, while encouraging greater interest in, and appreciation for, this significant British artist.

Jacqueline Riding sets this extraordinary painting within the context of the artist’s life and work, as well as broader historical and artistic contexts. This includes exploration of superb examples of Highmore’s portraiture, such as his complex, monumental group portrait The Family of Sir Eldred Lancelot Lee and the exquisite small-scale ‘conversations’ The Vigor Family and The Artist and his Family, juxtaposed with analysis of key subject paintings, including the Foundling Museum’s Hagar and Ishmael and Highmore’s Pamela series, inspired by Samuel Richardson’s bestselling novel. Collectively they tackle relevant and highly contentious issues around the status and care of women and children, master/servant relations, motherhood, abuse, abandonment, infant death, and murder.





Exhibition | Visual Voyages: Images of Latin American Nature

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on August 6, 2017

Press release from The Huntington:

Visual Voyages: Images of Latin American Nature from Columbus to Darwin
The Huntington Art Gallery, San Marino, 16 September 2017 — 8 January 2018

Curated by Catherine Hess and Daniela Bleichmar

A sweeping international loan exhibition at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens will explore how the depiction of Latin American nature contributed to art and science between the late 1400s and the mid-1800s. Visual Voyages: Images of Latin American Nature from Columbus to Darwin, on view in the MaryLou and George Boone Gallery from September 16, 2017 to January 8, 2018, will feature more than 150 paintings, rare books, illustrated manuscripts, prints, and drawings from The Huntington’s holdings as well as from dozens of other collections. Many of these works will be on view for the first time in the United States.

Visual Voyages will be complemented by a richly illustrated book, along with an array of other programs and exhibitions, including a sound installation by Mexican experimental composer Guillermo Galindo. The exhibition is a part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative, an exploration of Latin American and Latino art that involves more than 70 arts institutions across Southern California.

“Despite notorious depredation of people and resources during the period, the brilliant work of a number of Latin Americans and Europeans helped to illuminate our understanding of the natural world,” said Catherine Hess, chief curator of European art at The Huntington and co-curator of Visual Voyages. “We aim to shed light on this relatively unexamined piece of the story—to show how beautiful, surprising, and deeply captivating depictions of nature in Latin America reshaped our understanding of the region and, indeed, the world—essentially linking art and the natural sciences.”

Visual Voyages looks at how indigenous peoples, Europeans, Spanish Americans, and individuals of mixed-race descent depicted natural phenomena for a range of purposes and from a variety of perspectives: artistic, cultural, religious, commercial, medical, and scientific. The exhibition examines the period that falls roughly between Christopher Columbus’s first voyage in 1492 and Charles Darwin’s publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859, a work based largely on Darwin’s own voyage to the region in the 1830s.

“Information and materials circulated at an unprecedented rate as people transformed their relationship to the natural world and to each other,” said Daniela Bleichmar, associate professor of art history and history at the University of Southern California (USC) and co-curator of the exhibition. “Images served not only as artistic objects of great beauty but also as a means of experiencing, understanding, and possessing the natural world. These depictions circulated widely and allowed viewers—then and now—to embark on their own ‘visual voyages’.”

Bleichmar, who was born in Argentina and raised in Mexico, is an expert on the history of science, art, and cultural contact in the early modern period. Her publications include the prize-winning book Visible Empire: Botanical Expeditions and Visual Culture in the Hispanic Enlightenment (The University of Chicago Press, 2012).

The Huntington’s three collection areas—library, art, and botanical—all contribute to Visual Voyages. Its Library is one of the world’s greatest research institutions in the fields of British and American history, art, and the history of science, stretching from the 11th century to the present, and includes such riches as the first European depiction of a pineapple and a rare 16th-century manuscript atlas that includes three stunning maps of the Americas. From The Huntington’s art holdings, Frederic Edwin Church’s monumental painting Chimborazo (1864) will be on display, depicting a Latin American landscape both real and imaginary. The Huntington’s 120 acres of gardens include several thousand plant species from Latin America, including pineapple, vanilla, cacao, and various orchids and succulents.

Designed by Chu+Gooding Architects of Los Angeles, Visual Voyages engages visitors through an evocative installation that includes interactive media, display cases of specimens and rare materials, and two walls almost completely covered with grids of visually arresting depictions of botanical specimens and still lifes.

The exhibition opens with a playful display of taxidermy mounts to make vivid the rare animals that captured the imagination of Europeans and were avidly collected during the period. Visual Voyages then begins with a section on “Rewriting the Book of Nature,” in which manuscripts, maps, and publications show how nature came to be reconsidered in the first century of contact. This section includes a copy of the 1493 letter Christopher Columbus wrote to the King and Queen of Spain while on the return leg of his first voyage to the New World. He writes that the region is “so fertile that, even if I could describe it, one would have difficulty believing in its existence.” This section highlights the many contributions of indigenous Americans to the exploration of New World nature, among them two large-scale maps painted by indigenous artists in Mexico and Guatemala; a volume from the Florentine Codex, a 16th-century Mexican manuscript on loan from the Laurentian Library, Florence; and a spectacular feather cape created by the Tupinambá of Brazil.

Next, a gallery called “The Value of Nature” explores the intertwining of economic and spiritual approaches to Latin American nature. Commercial interests resulted in the investigation, depiction, and commercialization of such natural commodities as tobacco and chocolate. Indigenous religions considered the natural world to be infused with the divine, while Christian perspectives led observers to envision Latin American nature as both rich in signs of godliness as well as marked with signs of the devil—and needing eradication. Various depictions of the passion flower, a New World plant, show how the flower’s form recalled to missionaries the instruments of Christ’s Passion.

A third section, “Collecting: From Wonder to Order,” shows how the ‘wonder’ that European collectors held for the astonishing material coming from the New World became a desire to possess and, later, to “order” this material, following systems of taxonomy and classification. On view will be a spectacular set of large paintings depicting Brazilian fruits and vegetables by the Dutch painter Albert Eckhout (ca.1610–1665) as well as 30 artful, vivid, and detailed drawings of botanical specimens painted by artists from New Granada (present-day Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Venezuela, Peru, northern Brazil, and western Guyana), never before seen in the United States.

The final section of the exhibition, called “New Landscapes,” examines scientific and artistic perspectives on Latin America created in the 19th century, a period when a new wave of voyagers explored the region and independence wars resulted in the emergence of new nations. The Romantic and imperial visions of artists and scientists from Europe and the U.S. are juxtaposed with the patriotic and modernizing visions of artists and scientists from Latin America, who envisioned nature as an integral part of national identity. This juxtaposition can be seen visually in the pairing of The Huntington’s monumental Chimborazo by Church with the equally monumental Valley of Mexico (1877) by Mexican painter José María Velasco, on loan from the Museo Nacional de Arte in Mexico City.

Gallery text is in Spanish and English.

Daniela Bleichmar, Visual Voyages: Images of Latin American Nature from Columbus to Darwin (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017), 240 pages, ISBN: 978 030022 4023, $50.

Visual Voyages: Images of Latin American Nature from Columbus to Darwin is accompanied by a hardcover book of the same title written by Daniela Bleichmar, co-curator of the exhibition. In a narrative addressed to general audiences as well as students and scholars, Bleichmar reveals the fascinating story of the interrelationship of art and science in Latin America and Europe during the period.

More information is available from Yale UP.

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The Huntington will present an array of public programs to complement Visual Voyages, including a lecture, a curator tour, and focused exhibitions.

Guillermo Galindo Installation and Performance
16 September 2017 — 8 January 2018

Experimental composer, sonic architect, and performance artist Guillermo Galindo will create an outdoor sound installation and performance at The Huntington during the run of the exhibition. The program is part of USC Annenberg’s Musical Interventions, a series of public events organized for Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA by Josh Kun, historian of popular music and recently named a MacArthur Fellow.

Nuestro Mundo
16 September 2017 — 8 January 2018

About two dozen paintings by students of Art Division make up this installation of works inspired by Visual Voyages. Art Division is a non-profit organization dedicated to training and supporting underserved Los Angeles youth who are committed to studying the visual arts. Flora-Legium Gallery, Brody Botanical Center (weekends only).

In Pursuit of Flora: Eighteenth-Century Botanical Drawings
28 October 2017 — 19 February 2018

European exploration of other lands during the so-called Age of Discovery revealed a vast new world of plant life that required description, cataloging, and recording. By the 18th century, the practice of botanical illustration had become an essential tool of natural history, and botanical illustrators had developed strategies for presenting accurate information through exquisitely rendered images. From lusciously detailed drawings of fruit and flowers by Georg Dionysius Ehret (1708–1770), a collaborator of Linnaeus, to stunning depictions of more exotic examples by the talented amateur Matilda Conyers (1753–1803), In Pursuit of Flora reveals the 18th-century appreciation for the beauty of the natural world.

Symposium: Indigenous Knowledge and the Making of Colonial Latin America
The Getty Center, Los Angeles, 8-10 December 2017

This symposium will bring together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to explore the ways in which indigenous knowledge contributed to the making of colonial Latin America. A dozen talks will examine practices related to art, architecture, science, medicine, governance, and the study of the past, among other topics. Curator-led visits to two related exhibitions—Visual Voyages at The Huntington and Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas at The J. Paul Getty Museum—will allow participants to view magnificent examples of work by indigenous artists and authors, including more than half a dozen rare pictorial manuscripts (codices). The symposium is organized by Daniela Bleichmar, co-curator of Visual Voyages and Kim Richter, co-curator of Golden Kingdoms and senior research specialist at the Getty Research Institute, with funding from the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute, the Seaver Institute, and the Getty Research Institute



The Burlington Magazine, July 2017

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions, journal articles, reviews by Editor on July 27, 2017

The eighteenth century in The Burlington:

The Burlington Magazine 159 (July 2017), Decorative Arts


• “Furniture History: The Digital Future,” p. 519.
On the eve of the 300th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Chippendale in 2018, the editorial addresses the British and Irish Furniture Makers Online Project (BIFMO), which updates the The Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660–1840, edited by Geoffrey Beard and Christopher Gilbert and published by the Furniture History Society in 1986. The BIFMO—a collaboration between the FHS and the Centre for Metropolitan History (CMH) at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London—is an open-access searchable database of all the entries from The Dictionary, together with the names of furniture makers from Laurie Lindey’s recent PhD thesis (Lindey, as a post-doctoral research fellow is overseeing the project at the IHR with Mark Merry of the CMH). The first phase of the BIFMO’s launch is scheduled for 30 September.


• Koenraad Brosens and Astrid Slegten, “Creativity and Disruption in Brussels Tapestry, 1698–1706: New Data on Jan van Orley and Judocus de Vos,” pp. 528–35.
• Francesco Morena, “The Emperor of Mexico’s Screen: Maximilian I’s ‘Biombo’ in Trieste,” pp. 536–43.


• Simonetta Prosperi Valenti Rodinò, Review of Sabina de Cavi, ed., Dibujos y ornamento: Trazas y Dibujos de Artes decorativas entre Portugal, España, Italia, Malta y Grecia: Estudio en honor de Fuensanta García de la Torre (De Luca Editori d’Arte, 2015), pp. 559–60.
• Pierre Terjanian, Review of A. V. B. Norman and Ian Eaves, Arms & Armour in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen, European Armour (Royal Collection Trust, 2016),” pp. 560–61.
• Robin Hildyard, Review of Brian Gallagher, Barbara Stone Perry, Letitia Roberts, Diana Edwards, Pat Halfpenny, Maurice Hillis and Margaret Ferris Zimmerman, British Ceramics, 1675–1825: The Mint Museum (D. Giles, 2015), pp. 561–62.
• Gauvin Alexander Bailey, Review of Christopher M.S. Johns, China and the Church: Chinoiserie in Global Context (University of California Press, 2016) and Marco Musillo, The Shining Inheritance: Italian Painters at the Qing Court, 1699–1812 (Getty Publications, 2016),” pp. 562–63.
• Philippa Glanville, Review of James Rothwell, Silver for Entertaining: The Ickworth Collection (Philip Wilson, 2017), pp. 563–64.
• Humphrey Wine, Review of the exhibition Le Baroque des Lumières: Chefs-d’œuvre des églises parisiennes au XVIIIe siècle (Paris: Petit Palais, 2017), pp. 572–73.
• Patrick Bade, Review of the exhibition La Quête de la ligne: Trois siècles de dessin en Allemagne (Hamburg: Kunsthalle, 2016 and Paris: Fondation Custodia, 2017), pp. 574–75.
• Jamie Mulherron, Review of the exhibition Marie Madeleine: La Passion révélée (Bourg-en-Bresse: Monastère Royal de Brou; Carcassonne: Musée des Beaux Arts; and Douai: Musée de la Chartreuse, 2017), pp. 577–79.
• Elsje van Kessel, Review of the newly refurbished gallery of Portuguese painting and sculpture at the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (MNAA), pp. 579–80.
• Philippe Bordes, Review of the exhibition Charles Percier: Architecture and Design in an Age of Revolutions (New York, Bard Graduate Center Gallery; and Château de Fontainebleau, 2016–17), pp. 583–84.

Judocus de Vos, after Lambert de Hondt, Lucas Achtschellinck, and Jan van Orley, Naval Battle from the Art of War series, ca. 1715–20; wool and silk, 344 × 400 cm (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum).




Exhibition | Fragonard: The Fantasy Figures

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

Jean Honoré Fragonard, Sketches of Portraits, ca. 1769, drawing, 23 × 35 cm
(Private Collection, Paris)

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From the press release (11 July 2017) for the exhibition:

Fragonard: The Fantasy Figures
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 8 October — 3 December 2017

Curated by Yuriko Jackall

Combining art, fashion, science, and conservation, the revelatory exhibition Fragonard: The Fantasy Figures brings together—for the first time—a newly discovered drawing by Jean Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806) and some 14 of his paintings that have been identified with it including the Gallery’s own Young Girl Reading (c. 1769). Fragonard is considered among the most characteristic and important French painters of his era, and this series casts light on the development of his career, the identity of his sitters and patrons, and the significance of his innovative imagery. Fragonard: The Fantasy Figures and the fully illustrated catalog that accompanies it not only present new art-historical and scientific research into this series but also examine the 18th-century Parisian world in which these paintings were created. The exhibition may be seen only at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in the West Building, from October 8 through December 3, 2017.

Jean Honoré Fragonard, Young Girl Reading, ca. 1769, oil on canvas, framed: 104.9 × 89.5 cm (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Gift of Mrs. Mellon Bruce in memory of her father, Andrew W. Mellon).

Covered with 18 thumbnail-sized sketches and apparently annotated in the rococo artist’s own hand, the drawing now known as Sketches of Portraits emerged at a Paris auction in 2012 and upended several long-held assumptions about the fantasy figures—a series of rapidly executed, brightly colored paintings of lavishly costumed individuals.

“The first exhibition to unite the fantasy figures with the recently discovered drawing focuses on this aspect of Fragonard’s production in a powerful and intimate way,” said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art, Washington. “We are grateful to the public and private collections, both here and abroad, that have generously lent to this exhibition, as well as to Lionel and Ariane Sauvage whose gift supported the catalog’s publication.”

Fragonard: The Fantasy Figures explores the many interpretations of this series in the context of the artist’s career. Fragonard strove to create a specific portrait type that showcased the painterly skill for which he was renowned. The fantasy figures also enabled him to experiment and to refine his ideas of artistic reference and emulation. Created within the competitive atmosphere of the Parisian art world, these works were influenced by a range of events, artworks, and visitors to his studio.

The fantasy figures depict men and women posed at leisure or employed in various pursuits, such as acting, reading, writing, playing instruments, or singing. Wearing extravagant attire, these figures are dressed in what was known in 18th-century France as à l’espagnole (Spanish style)—plumed hats, slashed sleeves, ribbons, rosettes, ruffs, capes, and accents of red and black. Shaped by artistic imagination, these paintings pushed the boundaries of accepted figure painting at the time.

Jean Honoré Fragonard, The Writer, ca. 1769, oil on canvas, framed: 115 x 91 cm (Paris: Musée du Louvre, Département des Peintures).

Exhibited for the first time is the newly discovered Sketches of Portraits (c. 1769), a thin sheet of paper with three rows of 18 small sketches—all but one are annotated with a name, 14 have been identified with one of Fragonard’s painted fantasy figures, and four remain unknown. The emergence of Sketches of Portraits prompted a two-year investigation of Young Girl Reading, conducted as a collaborative effort by the Gallery’s Yuriko Jackall, assistant curator of French paintings, John K. Delaney, senior imaging scientist, and Michael Swicklik, senior conservator of paintings. Published in the April 2015 issue of The Burlington Magazine, the findings established Young Girl Reading as a part of the fantasy figure series and shed light upon Fragonard’s approach to the ensemble as a whole.

Other works in the exhibition include the rarely lent, privately held portraits of the Harcourt brothers François-Henri, duc d’Harcourt (c. 1770) and Anne-François d’Harcourt, duc de Beuvron (c. 1770)—which are on view together for the first time since the 1987 exhibition Fragonard at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Musée du Louvre—as well as The Vestal (c. 1769–71), The Actor (c. 1769), and The Singer (c. 1769). Also on view is the Louvre’s M. de La Bretèche (c. 1769), which depicts the wealthy brother of one of Fragonard’s most devoted patrons, Jean-Claude Richard, abbé de Saint-Non.

The exhibition is curated by Yuriko Jackall, assistant curator, department of French paintings, National Gallery of Art.

Yuriko Jackall ed., with essays by Carole Blumenfeld, Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, Jean-Pierre Cuzin, John Delaney, Elodie Kong, Satish Padiyar, and Michael Swicklik, Fragonard: The Fantasy Figures (London: Lund Humphries, 2017), 160 pages, ISBN: 978 184822 2489, £40 / $50.

The fully illustrated catalog includes an overview and technical examination by Yuriko Jackall with John K. Delaney and Michael Swicklik, all at the National Gallery of Art, and essays by Carole Blumenfeld, research associate at the Palais Fesch-Musée des Beaux-Arts d’Ajaccio; Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, fashion historian; Jean-Pierre Cuzin, former director of the department of paintings at the Musée du Louvre, Paris; Elodie Kong, an art historian specializing in the collecting habits of financiers in 18th-century Paris; and Satish Padiyar, senior lecturer in 19th-century European art at The Courtauld Institute of Art, London.


Lecture and Book Signing
An Introduction to the Exhibition—Fragonard: The Fantasy Figures
October 8, 2:00pm
East Building Auditorium
Yuriko Jackall, assistant curator, department of French paintings, National Gallery of Art

Fashion à la Figaro: Spanish Style on the French Stage
November 26, 2:00pm
Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, fashion historian

New York Opera Society
November 26, 3:30pm
West Building, East Garden Court
New York Opera Society performs The Three Lives of Rosina Almaviva






Exhibition | Alexandre-Eìvariste Fragonard

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

Now on view in Grasse:

Alexandre-Eìvariste Fragonard: Une Collection Grassoise
Villa-Musée Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Grasse, 1 July — 1 October 2017

Curated by Rebecca Duffeix with Côme Fabre

Né à Grasse le 26 octobre 1780 et mort le 11 novembre 1850 à Paris, Alexandre Evariste Fragonard est le fils de Jean-Honoré. Considéré comme un enfant prodige, il expose au Salon à Paris dès 13 ans et est placé par son père dans l’atelier de David. Ses deux influences, néoclassique avec David et celle de la peinture amande et hollandaise qui lui vient de son père, vont être présentes dans ses œuvres tout au long de sa longue et proli que carrière de peintre, de sculpteur et de décorateur.
Artiste of ciel très actif, il accepte de nombreuses commandes pour la manufacture de Sèvres et participe à plusieurs réalisations pour l’État sous l’Empire et la Restauration. Rattaché au courant Troubadour, son style demeure tout de même très enlevé et tumultueux. Il va également travailler dans le domaine de la gravure et participer notamment à l’édition des Voyages pittoresques et romantiques dans l’ancienne France du baron Taylor.

Injustement oublié aujourd’hui, Alexandre Eivariste Fragonard et son œuvre méritent largement d’être remis en lumière. Cette exposition estivale, du 1er juillet au 1er octobre 2017, a l’ambition de faire découvrir plus largement sa carrière à travers ses dessins et ses tableaux conservés dans notre collection grassoise.

Depuis la création des musées de Grasse dans les années 20 et l’ouverture de la Villa-musée Jean- Honoré Fragonard en 1977, les collections n’ont cessé de s’enrichir de dessins et de peintures de cet artiste pour constituer aujourd’hui une des collections publiques les plus importantes en France qui lui soit consacrée. Nous aurons ainsi le plaisir de présenter plusieurs dessins inédits, notamment des feuilles préparatoires à ses plafonds peints du Louvre, toujours en place, commande prestigieuse sous la Restauration pour le musée Charles X.

Le commissariat de l’exposition est assuré par Rebecca Duffeix, Docteur en Histoire de l’art et spécialiste de l’artiste, et nous avons eu l’honneur de béné cier également de la contribution de Côme Fabre, conservateur des peintures au Musée du Louvre.

The press release is available here»

The catalogue is available from ArtBooks.com:

Rebecca Duffeix and Olivier Quiquempois, Alexandre-Eìvariste Fragonard: Une Collection Grassoise (Milan: Silvana, 2017) 48 pages, ISBN: 978  88366  36303, $23.




Exhibition | Caroline, Sister of Napoleon, Queen of the Arts

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on July 15, 2017

Now on view at the Palais Fesch (as noted at Napoleon.org). . .

Caroline, Sister of Napoleon, Queen of the Arts
Palais Fesch, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Ajaccio, Corsica, 30 June — 2 October 2017

Curated by Jehanne Lazaj and Maria Teresa Caracciolo with Laëtitia Giannechini

François Gérard, Portrait of Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples (Ajaccio: Palais Fesch, Musée des Beaux-Arts / Gérard Blot).

Caroline Bonaparte (1782–1839) was a woman of a complex and difficult temperament, yet she won over hearts by her beauty, culture, and spirit, along with a deep political intelligence that reflected her ambition. Napoleon affirmed in this respect: “Of all my family, she is the one that resembles me the most.” And while her political strategy has been much criticized, her keen intelligence, her great literary culture, her relationship with the artistic sphere, and her talents as a patron and collector have long been hidden.

If this exhibition intends to honour the younger sister of Napoleon, who has often been considered the ‘capricious’ one, its primary aim is to offer the widest possible panorama of the taste of an era and to give back to Caroline Murat the place which she deserves, that of a sovereign from both a political and artistic point of view. As a princess and later a dazzling queen, despite her almost tragic destiny, she embodied the giddy era in which she lived and which allowed her to encourage artistic creation as well as to enjoy the luxury, refinement, and strategies that power allowed her.

The exhibition is divided into five thematic sections presenting works and objects from the collections of the Palais Fesch and the Mobilier National, as well as loans from private collectors and large institutions including the Musée du Louvre, the Palace of Versailles, and the Museum of Capodimonte of Naples.

The press release is available here»

The catalogue is available from ArtBooks.com:

Maria Teresa Caracciolo and Jehanne Lazaj, Caroline, Soeur de Napoléon, Reine des Arts (Milan: Silvana, 2017), 300 pages, ISBN: 978 88366 36426, $45.





Exhibition | Homage to the Grand Duke

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on July 10, 2017

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Now on view at the Pitti Palace, with a catalogue published by Sillabe and available from ArtBooks.com:

Homage to the Grand Duke: Memories of Silver Plates for the Feast of St. John
Omaggio al Granduca: Memorie dei piatti d’argento per la festa di San Giovanni
Palazzo Pitti, Florence, 24 June — 24 September 2017

The precious items in the Tesoro dei Granduchi include a number of 18th-century moulds of the now lost ‘St. John’s plates’, a nostalgic echo of masterpieces of the Roman silversmith’s art in the age of the Baroque. The fifty-eight magnificent silver ewers were intended as a gift for Grand Duke Cosimo III (1642–1723) and, after him, for Gian Gastone (1671–1737), his successor on the throne of Tuscany. One ewer was presented every year on 24 June, the feast of St. John, from 1680 until the Medici dynasty became extinct in 1737.

The silver ewers—weighing some fifteen pounds (or five kg) and worth 300 Roman scudi each—were meticulously embossed and chased with scenes celebrating the most illustrious members of the House of Medici from Lorenzo the Magnificent down to the reigning Grand Dukes. It was probably the fact that the ewers depicted the unusual subject of her family’s history that prompted the Electress Palatine Anna Maria Luisa (1667–1743) to do everything in her power to safeguard them from the threat of destruction at the hands of the House of Lorraine, who succeeded the Medici on the throne of Tuscany and whose military expenditure meant that they were regularly strapped for cash.

The ewers were jealously guarded in the Wardrobe in Palazzo Vecchio, leaving the premises only from 1789 to 1791 for display in the ‘Medal Room’ in the Galleria degli Uffizi. Sent back to the Wardrobe as their popularity declined, they set off down the path to oblivion. It is only thanks to casts commissioned by the Marchese Carlo Ginori and made in his Manufactory in Doccia between 1746 and 1748 that we can appreciate at least a pale reflection of their splendour today.

Rita Balleri and Maria Sframeli, eds., Omaggio al Granduca: Memorie dei piatti d’argento per la festa di San Giovanni (Livorno: Sillabe, 2017), 328 pages, ISBN: 978 8883 479595, 35€ / $60.



Exhibition | Sampled Lives

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on July 7, 2017

Press release for the exhibition now on view at The Fitzwilliam:

Sampled Lives: Samplers from the Fitzwilliam Museum
The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 6 May 2017 — 8 April 2018

Coloured silks and metal threads, white-work, and needle lace… Over 120 beautifully embroidered samplers—some hundreds of years old—have gone on display in Cambridge in the exhibition Sampled Lives: Samplers from the Fitzwilliam Museum. Each one meticulously stitched by a girl or young woman, the samplers and accompanying book give a glimpse of past lives: from mid-17th-century English Quakers to early 20th-century school pupils. The skill employed in making them is remarkable—works by girls as young as nine years old are shown.

Very rarely seen due to their fragility and sensitivity to the light, several samplers have been newly conserved and cleaned for the show. This will be the first time so many fine examples from The Fitzwilliam’s outstanding collection of samplers have gone on display together.

The sampler was an essential part of a young woman’s education. It showed much more than just her ability with a needle and thread—it was a stitched CV, representing her competence to run a future home, or for seeking employment where such needle skills would be to her advantage. Samplers were also a work of creativity and pride, some containing hidden messages in the symbols and images used, referring to the girls’ political or religious beliefs. Many are stitched with names and ages. In some cases it is the only surviving document to record the existence of an ordinary young woman.

As the centuries progressed the sampler also became part of exercises towards literacy. Stitched prayers and odes to charity and faith adorned the fabric alongside alphabets and numerals. The displays highlight the importance of samplers as documentary evidence of past lives, revealing their education, employment, religion, family, societal status, and needlework skills. A fully- illustrated catalogue by Carol Humphrey, Honorary Keeper of Textiles, includes new high resolution photography to reveal the intricacy of the coloured silk stitches. It explores some of the personal stories that archival and genealogic research has revealed, as well as showing the evolution of different embroidery styles. It is hoped that the exhibition and book of Sampled Lives will stimulate further research, revealing more about the hidden histories of their makers.

Carol Humphrey commented: “The samplers are a stunning example of the needlework of the past and a masterclass for anyone interested in the changing fashions and styles of embroidery over the centuries. Much has changed in the study of samplers during the last thirty years or so. Now samplers can be seen as a valid means of studying the circumstances and material culture of their makers. When researched in depth, they can reveal not only personal details about an individual girl but also provide a key to family histories. We hope that visitors will enjoy discovering more about the techniques and past lives revealed in the exhibition and the book, and that further discoveries will come to light in the future.”

Carol Humphrey, Sampled Lives: Samplers from the Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge: The Fitzwilliam Museum, 2017), 242 pages, ISBN: 978  1910731  079, £20.