Exhibition | Renoir: Rococo Revival

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on July 12, 2022

I’m sorry to have missed notice of this exhibition earlier. There is an excellent ‘digitorial‘ component, and the catalogue is still available. CH

Renoir: Rococo Revival
Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, 2 March — 19 June 2022

Curated by Alexander Eiling, Juliane Betz, and Fabienne Ruppen

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919) was one of the outstanding painters of French Impressionism—and far more than that. For the first time the Städel Museum addressed the surprising references in his art to Rococo painting in a large-scale special exhibition. Whereas Rococo painting was considered frivolous and immoral after the French Revolution, it underwent a revival in the nineteenth century and was widely visible in Renoir’s lifetime.

Having trained as a porcelain painter, Renoir was intimately acquainted with the imagery of artists such as Antoine Watteau, Baptiste Siméon Chardin, François Boucher, and Jean-Honoré Fragonard. He shared the Rococo’s predilection for certain subjects, among them promenaders in the park and on the riverbank, moments of repose in the outdoors, and the garden party. Renoir also frequently devoted himself to the depiction of domestic scenes and family life as well as intimate moments such as bathing, reading, or making music. Yet he not only took orientation from the motifs of the Rococo, but also particularly admired its loose and sketchy manner of painting as well as its brilliant palette, aspects that would have a formative influence on him and many other artists in the Impressionist circle.

Trenchant juxtapositions of Renoir’s art with works of the eighteenth century as well as his own contemporaries—Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, and Berthe Morisot—provided an overview of Impressionism’s intense artistic examination of the Rococo. The exhibition showed a total of some 120 outstanding paintings, works on paper and handcrafted objects from international museums such as the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the National Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, as well as private collections.

Dr. Alexander Eiling (Head of Modern Art, Städel Museum), Dr. Juliane Betz (Deputy Head of Modern Art, Städel Museum), Dr. Fabienne Ruppen (Research Assistant, Modern Art, Städel Museum)

Alexander Eiling with Juliane Betz and Fabienne Ruppen, eds, Renoir: Rococo Revival (Stuttgart: Hatje Cantz, 2022), 328 pages, ISBN 978-3775751346 (English edition), ISBN 978-3775751339 (German edition), €50. Text by Michela Bassu, Juliane Betz, Alexander Eiling, Guillaume Faroult, Marine Kisiel, Matthias Krüger, Mary Morton, Astrid Reuter, and Fabienne Ruppen.

Exhibition | Japan—Arts and Life: The Montgomery Collection

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on July 8, 2022

From MUSEC and Skira:

Japan—Arts and Life: The Montgomery Collection
Museo delle Culture, Lugano, 10 February 2022 — 8 January 2023

Japan—Arts and Life, a major exhibition dedicated to the Jeffrey Montgomery Collection, is now on view at the Museo delle Culture in Lugano. At home in Lugano for over fifty years, it is one of the largest and best-known collections of Japanese art outside Japan. With this project, MUSEC celebrates a passion for collecting and a heritage of great artistic and cultural value—a heritage that brings prestige to Lugano, consolidating the Ticino city’s historic ties with Swiss and international private art collecting.

Installed throughout two floors of the Villa Malpensata, home of MUSEC, the exhibition presents 170 works dating from the 12th to the 20th centuries—including textiles, furniture, paintings, religious and everyday-objects—each carefully selected from the over one thousand objects collected over a lifetime by Jeffrey Montgomery.

Known worldwide, the Montgomery Collection displays an extraordinary richness and a singular substance. The experience and sensitivity of the collector are at the heart of the project developed by MUSEC and mark its originality, compared to the way in which the collection has been interpreted until now. As Francesco Paolo Campione, director of MUSEC, writes in his introduction to the exhibition catalogue, “art collections can only have meaning and deep value if they are linked to an existential dimension and the human experience of those who wanted, planned, and consolidated them around themselves. The collector is indispensable to the collection: not only because he created it, but also because he guarantees its originality, interpreting the spirit of the times.”

Paolo Campione teaches Cultural Anthropology at the University of Insubria and is the Director of MUSEC. Moira Luraschi, anthropologist, is curator of the Japanese collections and the photographic collection of the Yokohama School at MUSEC.

Francesco Paolo Campione and Moira Luraschi, eds., Japan—Arts and Life: The Montgomery Collection (Milan: Skira, 2022), 288 pages, ISBN: 978-8857247724, $54.

• Francesco Paolo Campione — An Impermanent Journey between Art and Life
• Matthi Forrer — Collecting Japanese Art Objects
• Rossella Menegazzo — The Other Side of Japan: The Jeffrey Montgomery Collection between Art, Crafts, and Folklore
• Giorgio Amitran — Japan, the Beautiful, and Ourselves
• Imogen Heitmann — The Museographical Display as a Creative ‘Meta-work’

Catalogue Entries
• Paintings
• Woven Objects
• Hooks and Counterweights
• Ceramics
• Fabrics
• Lanterns
• Masks
• Furniture
• Signs
• Kettles and Pourers
• Sculptures
• Lacquers

Author Biographies

Conference | Portrait Miniatures

Posted in books, catalogues, conferences (to attend), exhibitions by Editor on June 28, 2022

From the Tansey Miniatures Foundation and the conference programme:

Portrait Miniatures: Artists, Functions, and Collections
Celle Castle, Tansey Miniatures Foundation, Celle Castle (near Hanover), 9–11 September 2022

This conference will take place in conjunction with the seventh exhibition of the Tansey Miniatures Foundation and the publication of the accompanying catalogue Miniatures from the Time of Napoleon in the Tansey Collection. 23 speakers from 11 different countries will address a range of topics related to portrait miniatures:
• Individual miniaturists, specific workshop contexts, and places of production
• Use and functions of both court and private types and their protagonists
• Iconographic aspects in the context of representation or intimacy
• Evolution of techniques and materials
• Private and public collections

The conference will be in English. The presentations will subsequently be published in a richly illustrated book. Admission is free. Both conference venues are within walking distance (20 minutes) from the railway station. Trains from Hannover take approximately 25 to 45 minutes (Deutsche Bahn, Metronom, and S-Bahn). For registration, please contact Juliane Schmieglitz-Otten, The Tansey Miniatures Foundation, juliane.schmieglitz-otten@tansey-miniatures.com. For more information, please contact Bernd Pappe, The Tansey Miniatures Foundation, bernd.pappe@tansey-miniatures.com.

F R I D A Y ,  9  S E P T E M B E R  2 0 2 2

16.00  Registration

18.00  Welcome and Opening Lectures
• Juliane Schmieglitz-Otten, Realism and Modernism in the Likenesses of a New Epoch: Highlights of the Exhibition Miniatures from the Time of Napoleon
• Bernd Pappe, Making a Small Man Great: Miniatures of Napoleon I
• Birgitt Schmedding, Two Views: The Power of Seeing

S A T U R D A Y ,  1 0  S E P T E M B E R  2 0 2 2

9.00  Objects, Agencies, and Social Practices
• Gerrit Walczak (Berlin), Icons of Intimacy: Sex, Agency, and the Portrait Miniature
• André and Anne-Marie Regnard-Denis (Belgium), Gestures and Their Meaning in Portrait Miniatures
• Karin Schrader (Bad Nauheim), ‘Telling Objects’: Miniatures in 18th-Century Courtly Portraits
• Lea C. Stephenson (Philadelphia), Racial Capital: Peter Marié’s Miniatures and Gilded Age Whiteness
• Jann Matlock (London), The Museum of Lost Portraits: Paris, 1794–1805
• Damiët Schneeweisz (London), Shipped, Worn, or Carried: Portrait Miniatures in the Atlantic Ocean World

13.00  Lunch

14.15  Politics and Representation
• Juliane Schmieglitz-Otten (Celle), Pictorial Family Ties: Series of Portrait Miniatures Serving Political Networks
• Martin Miersch (Ulm), Fashion and Political Statement: Portrait Miniatures from the Time of the French Revolution
• Maxime Charron (Paris), Examples of Intimate Portraits from the Royal and Imperial Courts of France during the First Half of the 19th Century
• Agnieszka Fulińska (Krakow), A Reputed Portrait Miniature of the King of Rome and Images of Children from Napoleon’s Entourage
• Marina Vidas (Copenhagen), Portrait Miniatures Set in Jewellery and Objects of Personal Adornment Connected to Queen Louise of Denmark and Her Daughter, Maria Feodorovna, Empress of Russia

17.30  Special Techniques and Materials
• David Hradil, Janka Hradilová, and Olga Trmalová (Prague), Benefits of Non-Invasive Macro X-Ray Fluorescence Scanning for the Analysis of Materials in Portrait Miniatures

S U N D A Y ,  1 1  S E P T E M B E R  2 0 2 2

9.00  Special Techniques and Materials
• Christine Slottved Kimbriel, Paola Ricciardi, and Flavia Fiorillo (London), Unlocking the English Portrait Miniature: The Materiality of Isaac Oliver’s Oeuvre
• Alan Derbyshire and Lucia Burgio (London), The William Wood Manuscripts

10.00  Miniature Painters
• Martin Spies (Giessen), In Search of Charles Townley, Painter of Miniatures and Engraver to the King of Prussia
• Luise Schreiber Knaus and Peter Knaus (Bodelshausen), The Miniature Painter Jeremiah Meyer: His Life and Career during the Reign of King George III
• Sonja Remensberger (Winterthur), Pierre-Louis Bouvier (1765–1836): Life and Work of a Geneva Miniature Painter whilst Working Abroad
• Nathalie Lemoine-Bouchard (Paris), Ambroise Charlemagne Victor Le Chenetier: When a 19th-Century Artist Hides Another One

13.00  Lunch

14.15  Collections of Portrait Miniatures
• Stephen Lloyd (Liverpool), Horace Walpole’s Recently Discovered Plan for Displaying His Miniatures and Enamels in the Cabinet of the Tribuna at Strawberry Hill
• Maria Dunina (Moscow), The Collection of Miniatures of the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow
• Tatiana Udras (Moscow), Portrait Miniatures of the Romanoff Family in Russian and Foreign Collections
• Cecilia Rönnerstam (Stockholm), On Origins and Originals: The History of a Collection
• Blythe Sobol (Kansas City), An Outsized Passion for Miniatures: The Starr Collection of Portrait Miniatures at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Exhibition | Miniatures from the Time of Napoleon

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on June 28, 2022

From the Tansey Miniatures Foundation:

Miniatures from the Time of Napoleon / Miniaturen der Zeit Napoleons
Tansey Miniatures Foundation, Bomann-Museum, Celle, from 26 June 2020

The Tansey miniatures, now held by the Bomann Museum in Celle, represent one of the most significant collections of European miniature paintings. This exhibition showcases a total of 150 works from the time of Napoleon I (1795–1815). These tiny portraits, which were generally intended for personal use, date from the ‘golden age’ of miniature painting. They exhibit a high degree of artistic skill and refined craftsmanship. Unlike the staged, theatrical portraits of absolutism, now for the first time we see realistic likenesses of people who appear ‘modern’—a gallery of women, men, and children from a period of political upheaval dominated by wars.

The accompanying bilingual catalogue (in German and English) provides comprehensive insight into the art of miniature painting in this magnificent era. Specialists have contributed detailed and richly illustrated introductory essays. This volume joins earlier entries in the series, exploring the collection in key periods and presenting new photographic reproductions of the miniatures at actual size.

Bernd Pappe and Juliane Schmieglitz-Otten, with photography by Birgitt Schmedding, Miniatures from the Time of Napoleon in the Tansey Collection (Munich: Hirmer Verlag, 2022), 452 pages, ISBN: 978-3777436098, €58 / $65.

Exhibition | Bernardo Bellotto at the Court of Saxony

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on June 23, 2022

From the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden:

Enchantingly Real: Bernardo Bellotto at the Court of Saxony
Zwinger, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden, 21 May — 28 August 2022
Royal Castle, Warsaw, 23 September 2022 — 8 January 2023

Coinciding with the 300th anniversary of his birth, the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister is holding a major monographic exhibition in celebration of the work of Venetian painter Bernardo Bellotto (1722–1780). The artist—who, like his uncle and teacher Antonio Canal, also called himself Canaletto—ranks as one of the most important 18th-century painters of city views or vedute. The Dresden retrospective is the culmination of a years-long conservation project and results from a cooperation with the Royal Castle in Warsaw. It features the Gemäldegalerie’s own collection of Bellotto’s paintings, itself the largest in the world.

The show presents Bellotto’s life and work by tracing the most important phases and milestones of his career. After formative years in Venice, he came to Dresden in 1747 and painted large-scale vedute for the Saxon elector and Polish king, Augustus III, as well as for his prime minister, Count Heinrich von Brühl. Bellotto’s paintings continue to offer unique insights into the architecture and life of the royal capital of Saxony as well as the nearby town of Pirna and the fortresses of Sonnenstein and Königstein. After working briefly at the courts of Vienna and Munich, in 1766 Bellotto took up residency in the royal city of Warsaw, painting numerous views of that city until his death in 1780.

Several etchings by the master present another side to Bellotto as printmaker and entrepreneur. The prints stem from Dresden’s Kupferstich-Kabinett, which boasts a remarkably complete collection of the artist’s printmaking oeuvre. Further enriched with drawings loaned from Warsaw and Darmstadt, the survey show reveals the range of Bellotto’s lively pictorial innovations. Also on view are books, porcelain objects, sculptures, and scientific instruments that together create a vivid snapshot of an era that Bellotto, as an artist, helped define.

Stephan Koja and Iris Yvonne Wagner, Zauber des Realen: Bernardo Bellotto am sächsischen Hof (Dresden: Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, 2022), 256 pages, ISBN: 978-3954986774, €48.

Exhibition | The Key to Life: 500 Years of Mechanical Amusement

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on June 23, 2022

From the press release (30 May 2022) from the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden:

The Key to Life: 500 Years of Mechanical Amusement
Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau, Dresden, 3 June — 25 September 2022

Automatons, androids and robots—they now dominate our professional and private environments and are expressions of the human desire to create artificial life. The Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon and the Museum für Sächsische Volkskunst and Puppentheatersammlung of Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD) are presenting roughly 70 of these artefacts in the exhibition The Key to Life: 500 Years of Mechanical Amusement on view from 3 June to 25 September 2022 in the Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau.

For the first time, the SKD is showing the full range of its unique collection of mechanical figurines and amusements in one exhibition, supplementing them with constructions of artificial life. Beside the unique wealth of mechanical objects spanning from the Renaissance to the present day from the inventory of the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salons, the Grünes Gewölbe, and the Puppentheatersammlung, the exhibition also features selected loans from the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, the Maximilianmuseum in Augsburg, and the Roentgen-Museum Neuwied, among others. Through several exhibition chapters on the mechanical figurines and tableaux from the period around 1600, 18th-century-androids and mechanical amusements in the 19th century, to the nickelodeons and slot machines of the early 20th century and contemporary moving art, the exhibition showcases how the mechanical has fascinated people for 500 years.

The items on display include complicated mechanical tableaux from the late 16th century that feature not only agile figurines and playing drummers, but also movements on the tableau itself. A fur-covered bear beats its drum every hour on the hour. The replica ‘iron hand’ of knight Götz von Berlichingen is an excellent example of early modern prosthetics. Contemporary research is also represented: the prototype ‘mika²’ from Dresden University of Technology’s historical acoustic and phonetic collection is a mechanical simulation of the main parts of the human vocal tract, which was developed at the Chair of Speech Technology and Cognitive Systems. The exhibition’s interactive design allows visitors to bring the amusements to life themselves and understand their movements. There will be a varied program of tours and workshops, including some during the school holidays and the Dresden Night of Museums.

Peter Plaßmeyer, Hagen Schönrich and Igor A. Jenzen, eds., Der Schlüssel zum Leben: 500 Jahre mechanische Figurenautomaten (Dresden: Sandstein Verlag, 2022), 224 pages, ISBN: 978-3954986828, €38.

The Burlington Magazine, May 2022

Posted in books, catalogues, journal articles, reviews by Editor on June 13, 2022

The eighteenth century in the May issue of The Burlington . . .

The Burlington Magazine 164 (May 2022)


• “The Rustat Memorial,” p. 443.

When the statue of Edward Colston was defaced and thrown into Bristol harbour on 7th June 2020 the resulting publicity was so enormous that it seemed likely that a wholesale assault on memorials to men who took part in the slave trade or were racist would inevitably follow. In fact, remarkably little has happened. . . .

Little more has been done in the case of church monuments. . . . Only one such case is outstanding, an application by St Peter’s church, Dorchester, to move a late eighteenth-century wall memorial to the slave owner John Gordon from the church to Dorchester Museum. If such an application is contested the matter is referred to the judgment of a diocesan Chancellor in a Consistory Court. This was the result of the ecclesiastical case that has attracted most attention, the application by the Master and governing body of Jesus College, Cambridge, to remove the monument to Tobias Rustat (1608–94) from the college chapel, which was opposed by a group of former members of the college. The case was heard in February by David R. Hodge, Deputy Chancellor of the Diocese of Ely, who in March dismissed the application. Last month the college announced that it would not appeal against his decision. . .


• Antoinette Friedenthal, “Prince Eugene of Savoy’s Rembrandt Drawings: A Newly Discovered Provenance,” pp. 450–61.

• Pascal-François Bertrand and Charissa Bremer David, “Paintings in Beauvais Tapestry, 1764–67,” pp. 462–72. In 1764, at a time when the Royal Tapestry Manufactory at Beauvais was short of work, its directors, Laurent and André Charlemagne Charron, initiated the weaving of small tapestry panels based on designs by François Boucher. Intended as inexpensive, independent works of art, they were in essence a short-lived marketing venture. Records of their weaving in the firm’s payment registers allow a number of surviving examples to be identified.

• Sofya Dmitrieva, “Carle Van Loo at the 1737 Salon,” pp. 473–77. Although not pendants in the traditional sense, since they were painted for different patrons, it is argued here that Carle Van Loo’s A Pasha Having His Mistress’s Portrait Painted and The Grand Turk Giving a Concert to His Mistress, shown at the Salon of 1737, were meant to be read as a pair|—as portraits of the artist and his wife and as allegories of Painting and Music. By linking the paintings, Van Loo, may have intended them to make a statement on the changing relations between art and patronage.


• Duncan Robinson, Review of Susan Sloman, Gainsborough in London (Modern Art Press, 2021), pp. 478–85.

• Satish Padiyar, Review of the exhibition Jacques-Louis David: Radical Draftsman (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2022), pp. 492–95.

• Kee Il Choi, Jr., Review of the exhibition Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Wallace Collection, and The Huntington, 2022–23), pp. 504–07.

• Camilla Pietrabissa, Review of the re-installation of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Venetian paintings at the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice (from August 2021), pp. 507–09.

• Stefania Girometti, Review of Joachim Jacoby, Städels Erbe: Meisterzeichnungen aus der Sammlung des Stifters (Sandstein Verlag, 2020), pp. 529–30. Comprehensive analysis of “the collection of drawings assembled by Johann Friedrich S (1728–1816), the founder of the art institute and museum in Frankfurt that bears his name.”

• Christoph Martin Vogtherr, Review of the exhibition catalogue Watteau at Work: La Surprise (Getty, 2021), pp. 530–31.

• Hugo Chapman, Review of Cristiana Romalli, Cento Disegni dalla Collezione della Fondazione Marco Brunelli (Ugo Bozzi, 2020), pp. 531–32.

Exhibition | Indian Textiles: 1,000 Years of Art and Design

Posted in books, catalogues by Editor on May 31, 2022

Fragment of chintz, coastal southeast India, 1700–30, made for a Dutch market but found in Japan (Washington, DC: The George Washington University Museum and the Textile Museum, T-2864; Bruce M. White Photography). 

◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊

Closing this week at The Textile Museum at The George Washington University (with videos of past programming and the catalogue still available) . . .

Indian Textiles: 1,000 Years of Art and Design
The Textile Museum, The George Washington University, Washington DC, 22 January — 4 June 2022

Vibrant textiles have long been synonymous with Indian culture. Their distinctive abstract, floral, and figurative patterns have inspired countless variations. Featuring masterworks from The Textile Museum Collection and the private collection of Karun Thakar, this major exhibition and accompanying publication showcase court weavings, folk embroideries, and other fabrics from the eighth through the early 20th centuries.

The Indian subcontinent is home to some of the world’s most ancient and illustrious textile traditions. Over the centuries, Indian textile artists have developed an enduring design vocabulary—from simply woven stripes to floral motifs to complex narrative scenes. Indian Textiles: 1,000 Years of Art and Design presents a stunning array of fabrics patterned with India’s most distinctive designs: abstract, floral, and figurative.

Some of the region’s oldest known textiles feature abstract patterns such as circles, stripes, and zigzags. Examples in the exhibition range from a fragment of a block-printed cloth traded to Egypt around the 15th century to intricately embroidered dresses made in present-day Pakistan’s Swat Valley in the 1800s and 1900s.

Floral patterns in Indian textiles became increasingly widespread in the 13th century, and artists excelled in adapting them for global markets. Embroidered caps from Bengal, for example, were fashionable ‘at home’ wear in 18th-century Europe; a man would often don one in the evening after removing his wig.

Figurative patterns provide a window into different religious beliefs across South Asia. A 15th-century narrative cloth from Gujarat depicts deities and other figures central to the Jain religion. A shrine cloth from Uttar Pradesh honors Sayyid Salar Mas’ud, a Muslim warrior-saint venerated by Muslims and Hindus alike.

The exhibition is accompanied by a gallery guide and a catalogue.

Karun Thakar, Rosemary Crill, Steven Cohen, Avalon Fotheringham, and Sylvia Houghteling, Indian Textiles: 1,000 Years of Art and Design (London: Hali Publications, 2021), 391 pages, ISBN: ‎978-1898113966, $80.

Installation view of Indian Textiles: 1,000 Years of Art and Design at the George Washington University Museum and the Textile Museum, featuring on the back wall (center, top) a ceremonial cloth crafted in India for Indonesian buyers; late 18th or 19th century, Karun Thakar Collection (Dave Scavone/The George Washington University Museum and the Textile Museum).

Exhibition | Luis Paret (1746–1799)

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on May 29, 2022

Luis Paret y Alcázar, The Shop of Geniani, 1772, oil on panel, 49 × 57 cm
(Madrid: Museo Lázaro Galdiano)

◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊

Now on view at the Prado:

Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 24 May — 21 August 2022

Curated by Gudrun Maurer

In the words of Javier Solana, President of the Royal Board of Trustees of the Museo Nacional del Prado: “Luis Paret is possibly the 18th-century Spanish artist who most deserved a major exhibition of the type now opening at the Museo del Prado.” With the invaluable collaboration of private and public lenders and the support of Fundación AXA, the Prado has thus reunited most of the artist’s known paintings. They include Masquerade, The Puerta del Sol, Paret’s Daughters, View of Bermeo, and The Annunciation to Zacharias, in addition to a remarkable group of drawings such as Hannibal at the Temple of Hercules in Cadiz and The Oath of Allegiance to don Fernando as Prince of Asturias, which together allow for an appreciation of the richness and variety of a painter alert to the changes of his day and one characterised by a remarkable originality and versatility.

In this first monographic exhibition on Paret organised by the Prado, Gudrun Maurer, the museum’s Curator of 18th-century Painting and Goya and the curator of the exhibition, has surveyed Paret’s professional career with the aim of singling out the excellent technical level and striking originality with which the artist depicted his chosen subjects while also presenting the new information on Paret’s working method obtained from the scientific analysis of his paintings undertaken by the Museum’s technical department.

The exhibition offers a complete survey of Paret’s career and is divided into nine sections. The first provides a unique opportunity to compare a key drawing from his early period with the first documented painting by his celebrated fellow-Spaniard Francisco de Goya, who, like Paret, was born in 1746. The two artists started their careers (Paret in fact five years before Goya) after being singled out in competitions organised by different Fine Arts Academies: Paret by the Academia de San Francisco in Madrid and Goya by the one in Parma, Italy. Those two works which brought the artists recognition—both, in fact on the subject of Hannibal—are now on display in the exhibition, one loaned from the Academia de San Fernando and the other in the Prado’s collection. In general, the two paintings reveal the importance of both academic competitions and the period of training in Italy for artists’ careers. The comparison with Goya also emphasises Paret’s notable technical and compositional skills at this early date while the marked artistic personalities of the two artists are evident in the different styles of their works.

Luis Paret y Alcázar, Masquerade, detail, ca. 1767, oil on panel
(Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado)

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The next section starts with a small group of early drawings by Paret from the collection of the Prado and the Biblioteca Nacional de España. They reveal the artist’s originality in his inventive and versatile approach to the subjects and the modernity of his choices. Subjects include The Necromancer, The Glory of Anacreon, and Roman Military Trophy. The principal work in this room is one of Paret’s earliest known paintings, Masquerade of 1767 from the Prado’s collection. It once again reveals Paret’s modernity in the context of his time, as an artist who from the outset was able to respond to the new demand for images of society in the public and private space and which reflected the varied fashions and customs of the different social classes. Displayed here are other small-format cabinet paintings on innovative subjects in the context of Spanish art of this period, such as Scene of a Boudoir (previously Play Rehearsal) from the Prado; The Letter from the Musée Goya in Castres; Geniani’s Shop from the Museo Lázaro Galdiano; and The Puerta del Sol from the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de Cuba. In addition, paintings on rarely depicted episodes from life at the Spanish court, such as The Royal Couples and Charles III dining before the Court (both in the Prado), offer a panoramic view of different facets of contemporary society and also demonstrate the success Paret enjoyed between 1766 and 1775, the year he was exiled.

Luis Paret y Alcázar, Zebra, 1774, Black pencil, gouache brush and opaque pigment gouache (Madrid: Museo Nacional del Prado).

The third section presents one of the artist’s exquisite coloured drawings of birds alongside Zebra from the Prado’s collection and a private collection respectively, works executed by Paret for the Natural History Cabinet of the Infante don Luis, Charles III’s brother, who appointed Paret his painter in 1774. They reveal the artist’s ability to combine an almost scientific depiction of his subjects with landscape settings of great subtlety and refined beauty.

The fourth section focuses on Paret’s few known portraits, which are notable for their exquisite technique and personal, intimate nature. They also mark the transition between the artist’s Madrid phase and his years in Bilbao. The four known Self-portraits of around 1770–75 to 1780 reflect the painter’s powerful, self-confident personality but also his different states of mind. This is evident during his exile in Puerto Rico when he portrayed himself not just as a jíbaro or local peasant in 1776 but also in the melancholy Self-portrait in the Studio of 1777 which Paret sent to a trusted individual in Madrid, as the inscription detected by the recent X-radiograph reveals. Shown alongside these works are other portraits such as those of the artist’s wife and their daughters, compositions enhanced by complex floral ornamentation; a portrait of a typical Enlightenment gentleman (on loan from the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando); and that of Antonio Sancha from the Biblioteca Nacional de España. Finally, there are compositions on the theme of motherhood, such as the small painting of The Virgin and Child from the Abelló Collection, The Orange Seller from Patrimonio Nacional, and the two floral bouquets from the Prado. Flowers were an enormously important motif in Paret’s work and one that reveals the virtuosity characteristic of all the paintings in this section.

The fifth section opens with a painting of The Circumspection of Diogenes which Paret sent from Bilbao in 1780 to the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando and which led to his nomination as an Academician of Merit. His subsequent enhanced reputation is evident in the large-format religious compositions that he executed in Bilbao, such as The Invention of the True Cross painted for the Gortázar family and their family chapel (private collection) and The Martyrdom of Saint Lucy for the parish church of Santa María in Larrabezúa (now in the Museo Diocesano de Arte Sacro in Bilbao). These exceptionally exquisite paintings of great technical and compositional delicacy demonstrate Paret’s importance in the context of 18th-century Spanish art. Their presence in the exhibition makes it possible to appreciate his mastery in devising subjects that were unusual in the context of the day and his ability to create scenes of a monumental nature with extremely dynamic figures. Furthermore, they reveal the artist’s extensive knowledge of classical sculpture and the work of the Old Masters such as Rubens, as well as his exceptional manner of combining grandiose, classical beauty with lighter Rococo resources such as a markedly pastel palette. The juxtaposition of these works with small-format paintings and drawings on religious subjects—including The Apparition of Saint Michael to Charles VIII of France and Saint Francis of Paula (private collection), a unique subject in Spanish art—and with a number of his designs for religious monuments in Bilbao further reveals Paret’s multifaceted nature in this pictorial genre.

Luis Paret y Alcázar, Self-portrait Attired in Blue, ca. 1780, oil on paper affixed to canvas (Colección Abelló).

The next section is devoted to paintings and drawings on bucolic subjects and classical, erotic ones produced for private clients. These reveal Paret’s enormously original powers of invention, including The Triumph of Love over War from the Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao and the drawings of The Eclogue from the Prado, which are shown together with paintings on similar subjects from real life, albeit with a certain critical element, such as Gallant Scene of High Society and Gallant Scene of Low Life (private collection), Saying the Rosary from Patrimonio Nacional and the drawing of The Procuress and the Lovers from the Prado. The small painting of Young Woman asleep in a Hammock from the Prado establishes a connection between the two worlds through references to classical sculpture and modern society, the latter including the exoticism of the Caribbean.

The seventh section features eight of the nine currently known views of the Basque Country painted by Paret, executed for the Prince of Asturias, for private clients and as commissions for Charles III. These are now divided between museums in Spain, France, and the UK. The group constitutes a striking survey of landscape and also of the variety of society of the day, its different working and leisure activities and the region’s ports and coastline. These notably complex paintings in both technical and compositional terms are among Paret’s most important creations from his time in Bilbao. Also on display are the two fine drawings of ports in the Basque country, loaned from private collections, which reveal the artist’s masterly ability in the use of different media, such as black chalk, pen, and brush, which he employed to capture the characteristics of these landscapes and the brilliant effects of light observed in nature.

The eighth section focuses on two oils on canvas executed by the artist for the chapel of San Juan del Ramo in the church of Santa María de la Asunción in Viana: The Annunciation to Zacharias and The Visitation of the Virgin to Saint Elizabeth. In these striking paintings, which are among the last produced by Paret during his Bilbao period, the remarkable quality and technical and compositional complexity achieved by the artist reaches its peak. Furthermore, they reveal the original way in which he made use of models to add liveliness and expressivity to his figures and scenes, as well as the excellent technique that he employed to describe all the details in his works with enormous naturalness and variety. Also evident is the way in which Paret applied a modern, art historian’s eye to make use of the Baroque and Neo-classical styles in order to emphasise the era of the scenes depicted. Finally, this section includes a group of excellent preparatory drawings for one of these paintings (private collection) and for the mural decoration of this chapel (Museo del Prado).

Luis Paret y Alcázar, The Oath of Allegiance to Ferdinand VII as Prince of Asturias, 1791, oil on canvas, 237 × 159 cm (Madrid: Museo Nacional del Prado).

Following his return to Madrid in 1789, in 1792 Paret was appointed Vice-secretary of the Academia de San Fernando and Secretary to its Architectural Committee, receiving few commissions for paintings but producing numerous drawings of beautiful scenes and figures for book illustrations and other projects. The paintings from the end of the artist’s career are displayed in this ninth section of the exhibition. They include three allegories of one of the provinces of Spain, works of enormous classical beauty which are the only ones now known from a series of ten paintings executed in 1789 for the headquarters of the Five Major Guilds in Madrid (private collection and Museo del Prado). The one in the Prado was only rediscovered five years ago and was acquired for the Museum. Finally, visitors will be able to appreciate an example of Paret’s creative process through the painting of The Oath of Allegiance to don Fernando as Prince of Asturias, its remarkable preparatory drawing in the Louvre, two preliminary drawings of details for that work (Biblioteca Nacional), and an infrared reflectograph that reveals an excellent underdrawing. Other equally important examples are shown in a video.

The exhibition closes with an unfinished painting of The Botanical Garden from the Paseo del Prado. It depicts the entrance to the garden, located close to the Museo del Prado.

This extremely comprehensive survey of Paret’s career furthers an analysis of his approach and techniques while promoting his recognition as the most important Spanish artist of the 18th century alongside Goya.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue by the curator  Gudrun Maruer with texts written by her, by other specialists, and by the technical staff of the Museo del Prado and the Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao.

Gudrun Maurer, ed., Paret (Madrid: Prado, 2022), 288 pages, €28.

Exhibition | Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on May 26, 2022

Press release for the exhibition now on view at the V&A:

Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear
Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 19 March — 6 November 2022

Curated by Claire Wilcox and Rosalind McKever

Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear is the first major V&A exhibition to celebrate the power, artistry, and diversity of masculine attire and appearance. The show traces how menswear has been fashioned and refashioned over the centuries, and how designers, tailors, and artists—together with their clients and sitters—have constructed and performed masculinity, and unpicked it at the seams.

Fashioning Masculinities will present around 100 looks and 100 artworks, displayed thematically across three galleries. Contemporary looks by legendary designers and rising stars will be displayed alongside historical treasures from the V&A’s collections and landmark loans: classical sculptures, Renaissance paintings, iconic photographs, and powerful film and performance. From looks by Harris Reed, Gucci, Grace Wales Bonner and Raf Simons, to paintings by Sofonisba Anguissola and Joshua Reynolds, contemporary artworks by Robert Longo and Omar Victor Diop, to an extract from an all-male dance performance by Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, the exhibition will showcase the variety of possible masculinities across the centuries from the Renaissance to the global contemporary. Outfits worn by familiar faces will be interspersed throughout, from Harry Styles, Billy Porter and Sam Smith, to David Bowie and Marlene Dietrich. Innovative creations and diverse representations will highlight and celebrate the multiplicities of masculine sartorial self-expression, dressing beyond the binary.

Claire Wilcox and Rosalind McKever, co-curators of Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear, said: “Masculine fashion is enjoying a period of unprecedented creativity. It has long been a powerful mechanism for encouraging conformity or expressing individuality. Rather than a linear or definitive history, this is a journey across time and gender. The exhibition will bring together historical and contemporary looks with art that reveals how masculinity has been performed. This will be a celebration of the masculine wardrobe, and everyone is invited to join in.”

Fashioning Masculinities opens with a Craig Green SS2021 ensemble of a deconstructed suit, alluding to the construction and deconstruction of both the masculine body and conventions of masculinity, a central theme throughout the show. The three main galleries—’Undressed’, ‘Overdressed’, and ‘Redressed’—follow, with the exhibition design by JA Projects. ‘Undressed’ explores the male body and underwear in a utopian dreamscape, whilst ‘Overdressed’ takes visitors into the elite masculine wardrobe in a sumptuous, immersive space with courtly grandeur, featuring oversized silhouettes, abundant colour, and lavish materials. The third section, ‘Redressed’, explores the construction and dissolution of the suit, with the exhibition design conveying the idea of an urban reawakening.

‘Undressed’ explores the male body and underwear, looking at how classical European ideals of masculinity have been perpetuated and challenged over the centuries. Plaster casts of the Apollo Belvedere and the Farnese Hermes—which highlight a tradition of depicting idealised male bodies draped in textiles that reveal more than they conceal—are juxtaposed with modern and contemporary representations of the body, from prints and photography by David Hockney, Lionel Wendt, Zanele Muholi, and Isaac Julien, to a Calvin Klein advertisement.

Also on display is a film of Matthew Bourne’s Spitfire (1988) performed by New Adventures dancers, which takes place in the world of men’s underwear advertising and mail order catalogue photography, whilst contemporary ensembles highlight how designers are appropriating sheer fabrics to create ensembles, alluding to a new honesty about menswear. Fashion’s fascination with the body has seen it support changing masculine ideals from evoking classical drapery, to sculpting flesh—as seen in garments by Jean-Paul Gaultier and A- COLD-WALL*—to celebrating body diversity. This is exemplified in the exhibition by excerpts of Arrested Movement by Anthony Patrick Manieri, an inclusive portrait series and awareness initiative celebrating and promoting positive body image. ‘Undressed’ ends with Auguste Rodin’s Age of Bronze sculpture, and Tiresias, a performance by Cassils, in which the artist melts a neoclassical torso carved in ice with their body heat.

Installation view, V&A.

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The second gallery, ‘Overdressed’, explores the elite masculine wardrobe, epitomised by oversized silhouettes, lavish materials like silks and velvet in daring colours, and symbolic patterns to express status, wealth, and individuality. Drawing synergies across the centuries, the section will feature armoured breastplates to silky smoking suits, sweeping capes to ribbons and lace, including Grinling Gibbons’ wooden carving imitating a Venetian needlepoint lace cravat, displayed alongside real lace, and a Dolce & Gabbana cape juxtaposed with a Sofonisba Anguissola painting. The section also includes grooming, with makeup and shaving equipment.

Historically, menswear was full of pattern and colour, and a section on scarlet and pink highlights the return of this masculine colour to popularity. Aristocratic sitters in oil paintings by Joshua Reynolds and Jean-Baptiste Perronneau are displayed alongside pink ensembles by Harris Reed and Grace Wales Bonner among others. Nearby, a custom Randi Rahm ensemble—a suit and full-length embroidered cloak with a hot pink lining—worn by Billy Porter at the Golden Globes in 2019, complement the selection. Internationally traded textiles, imported silks, and floral patterns reflect their wearers relationship to the world. Through the lens of contemporary fashion, from Kim Jones for Fendi and Alessandro Michele for Gucci to Rahemur Rahman, Ahluwalia and Orange Culture, ‘Overdressed’ shows how historic ideas begin to shift, with a full rainbow of masculine outfits on display.

Left: Harris Reed Fluid Romanticism 001 (Courtesy Harris Reed; photo by Giovanni Corabi). Right: Joshua Reynolds, Portrait of Charles Coote, 1st Earl of Bellamont (1738–1800), in Robes of the Order of the Bath, 1773–74 (Dublin: National Gallery of Ireland).

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The third gallery, ‘Redressed’, pieces together the modern masculine uniform of the suit, from Beau Brummell to the contemporary runway. ‘Redressed’ opens with a reflection on English country tailoring and the origins of the suit—with historic garments from the V&A collection shown alongside contemporary reimaginings, including a kilt by Nicholas Daley—before exploring how military attire influenced civilian dress.

In the twentieth century an abundance of mass-produced suits bred creativity as Mods, Teddy Boys, and all manner of subcultures looked to define their styles through tailoring, explored in the exhibition through garments and photography. A section on leather shows how designers like Tom Ford for Gucci and Donatella Versace took their interest in leather to a new place, whilst a series of frock coats from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day include examples by Prada, Alexander McQueen, and Raf Simons. ‘Redressed’ also includes paintings as well as extensive photography showing changing styles and attitudes, from Oscar Wilde, Claude Cahun, and Cecil Beaton to The Beatles and Sam Smith.

Robert Longo’s 1981 drawing from the series Men in the Cities introduces the final part of the section about the dissolving of the suit. A new wave of fashion designers from Rick Owens to JW Anderson to Comme des Garçons to Lesiba Mabitsela are slashing away at conventions, both for menswear and masculinity.

Claire Wilcox and Rosalind McKever, eds., Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear (London: V&A Publishing, 2022), 272 pages, ISBN: ‎978-1838510114, $60.

Catalogue cover image: Jean-Baptiste Belley, by Omar Victor Diop, 2014, pigment inkjet print on Harman by Hahnemühle paper (Courtesy MAGNIN-A Gallery, Paris © Omar Victor Diop).
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