Enfilade

Exhibition | Royal Blue: William and Mary’s Finest Delftware

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on June 18, 2020

Tile from Princess Mary’s kitchen apartment in Palace Het Loo, ca. 1685
(Paleis Het Loo)

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Now on view at The Hague (with details on the related online lecture below). . .

Royal Blue: William and Mary’s Finest Delftware / Koninklijk Blauw: Het mooiste Delfts aardewerk van Willem en Mary
Kunstmuseum den Haag, 1 June — 22 November 2020

Curated by Suzanne Lambooy

Delft Blue, the iconic Dutch earthenware, is known all over the world. It remains popular to this day, and although we think we know its history, we continue to discover new things about it. Many of the greatest masterpieces of Delftware are in collections abroad, and so are seldom, if ever, seen in the Netherlands. That is all about to change this spring, however, as Kunstmuseum Den Haag brings many of them together for the first time in an exhibition that will include top items from Hampton Court Palace and the V&A in London. The public will be able to discover some of the finest Delftware ever commissioned: the Royal Blue made for William and Mary. To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Delftware, and as an ode to the friendship between Britain and the Netherlands, this spring Kunstmuseum Den Haag will present a story of Orange in blue and white, a tale of fragile diplomacy and breathtaking grandeur. Royal Blue will show how a 17th-century English queen continues to colour the Netherlands’ identity today.

British-Dutch Ties

Pyramid-shaped Flower Vases, ca. 1690, Delft (Kunstmuseum den Haag).

From tall flower pyramids to garden vases and preserve dishes: in the late seventeenth century the potteries of Delft made the most beautiful tin-glazed earthenware in Europe. The heyday of Delftware coincided with the reign of William III (1650–1702) and Mary II Stuart (1662–1695). They collected both Chinese porcelain and the attractive, refined ceramic ware from Delft. Indeed, they were leading champions of the earthenware made in Delft. Mary, in particular, was a true ambassador for Delftware, and she commissioned special pieces from De Grieksche A pottery for her own collection. The exhibition will focus on the period 1689–1702, when stadtholder William III and Mary II Stuart were also king and queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Royal Blue will introduce visitors to the rich cultural heritage that grew out of the ties between the Netherlands and Britain in the seventeenth century.

Popular Collector’s Item

Chinese porcelain was occasionally seen in Europe from the fifteenth century onwards, but it was rare and costly. The United East India Company’s trade with Asia in the seventeenth century increased imports to the Netherlands, and ‘China’ became popular with collectors. Mary’s grandmother, Amalia van Solms, had a lot of porcelain on display in her residences. Mary, too, was an avid collector, and there were porcelain objects in every one of her eight palaces in the Dutch Republic. But she also collected Delftware. She admired the imitations of Chinese blue-and-white porcelain made by the potteries in Delft, which had succeeded in producing fine imitations of the shapes, colours, and decorations of porcelain. Fragments of the earliest blue-and-white ceramics collected by Mary have survived at Het Loo Palace.

Het Loo Palace

The exhibition has come about thanks to a unique collaboration with Het Loo Palace, which William and Mary had built in Apeldoorn in 1685–86 for use on hunting trips. The decorative arts, including ceramics, played an important role in the interior design of the palace. No complete Delftware objects have survived there, but the many fragments dug up in the gardens of Het Loo, and the similar items purchased on this basis, give a unique glimpse of the kind of Delftware that once graced the halls and chambers of the palace. These archaeological finds are quite extraordinary as they are the only surviving examples of Delftware owned by William and Mary anywhere in the world, and the earliest examples of royal Delftware in the Netherlands. Het Loo Palace is currently undergoing renovations and alterations, so its unique collection of Delftware is temporarily in The Hague. The baroque gardens of Het Loo will be open again from 31 March 2020, and the Delftware garden vases based on the seventeenth-century ones owned by the royal couple will be displayed there in their original setting from 1 June.

English Grandeur

Mary probably had a role in the creation and development of some exceptional pieces of Delftware. Decorations featuring crowns, the Orange-Nassau family coat of arms, and the monograms of William and Mary lend royal allure to the Delftware produced after they were crowned King and Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland. The influence of court-appointed designer Daniel Marot (1660/61–1752) can clearly be seen in this ‘Royal Blue’. Many other European monarchs followed Mary’s example in ordering personalised earthenware items from Delft.

Several of Mary’s flower pyramids from England are now kept at Hampton Court Palace. Mary had a pavilion in the garden there, known as the Water Gallery, which was decorated with Delftware. Besides highlights from Hampton Court Palace, the exhibition will also reunite the Delftware wall tiles from the Water Gallery which are currently in the collections of five different museums. Loans from Het Loo Palace, the Rijksmuseum, Museum Prinsenhof Delft, and many international museums will bring William and Mary’s Delftware together again for the first time.

Royal Symbol

Two magnificent pieces from Kunstmuseum Den Haag’s own collection—Delft Blue vases in the shape of William and Mary—will form the centrepiece of the exhibition. They were separated for 40 years in two different private collections until the museum reunited them in 2015. In Royal Blue they symbolise the important role the couple played in popularising Delft Blue. The commissions that De Grieksche A is known to have produced for Mary as queen are part of the Netherlands’ internationally renowned cultural heritage. They are still imitated in contemporary royal commissions, like the new state banquet dinner service Blossom Panache made in 2017, the design sketches and several pieces of which will be included in the exhibition, and also in an installation inspired by the wall coverings made for the Blue Drawing Room at Huis ten Bosch Palace in 2019.

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Suzanne Lambooy, Royal Blue: William and Mary’s Finest Delftware
French Porcelain Society Online Lecture, Saturday, 20 June 2020, 19.00 (BST)

The French Porcelain Society continues its series of weekly online lectures with Suzanne Lambooy, who will walk us through her exciting new exhibition Royal Blue: William and Mary’s finest Delftware, which opened on 1 June 2020 at the Kunstmuseum, in the Hague (formerly known as the Gemeentemuseum) and runs until 22 November 2020. It was one of the first museum exhibitions to open following lockdown! We hope that you can all join us. Members will receive an email invitation with instructions on how to join the online lecture. If you want to join, please contact us for more details on FPSenquiries@gmail.com.

Award Winning Exhibition | Spaces of Wonder, Wonder of Spaces

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on June 18, 2020

Recently announced by the Association of College and Research Libraries, with a full list of winners here. Congratulations, Christina Smylitopoulos! More information on the Bachinski / Chu Print Study Collection is available here.

The exhibition catalogue Spaces of Wonder, Wonder of Space: Encountering the Eighteenth Century in Image, Object, and Text, edited by Christina Smylitopoulos, has been selected as a winner of the Katharine Kyes Leab & Daniel J. Leab Exhibition Award (Division Three) by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS). This collaborative, multi-venue show was developed in conjunction with the 2018 Société canadienne d’étude du dix-huitième siècle / Canadian Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies conference held in Niagara Falls, Ontario, which was organized jointly by Mount Allison University (MAU; Sackville, New Brunswick) and the University of Guelph (Guelph, Ontario).

The show, which featured works from the Bachinski / Chu Print Study Collection and objects from the McLaughlin Library’s Archival & Special Collections and the Barker Museum of Veterinary History (October 2018 – April 2019) was funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada project Wonder in the Eighteenth Century (Christina Ionescu / Christina Smylitopoulos) and reflects the work of undergraduate students pursuing experiential learning opportunities, graduate students in Art/History, and faculty and curatorial colleagues from Mount Allison University the UofG’s College of Arts.

“The content and conceit of this publication is commendable. The central thesis concatenating the objects was compelling and original, offering a discussion not just of objects but also how they are perceived. The committee appreciated the collaborative approach to this topic, which gave space to a wide range of voices and approaches from students to faculty.” –Leab Awards Committee

Newly Installed British Galleries at The Met

Posted in exhibitions, museums by Editor on June 13, 2020

Press release (24 February 2020) from The Met, with the audio guide here:

A highlight of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 150th anniversary in 2020 is the opening of the Museum’s newly installed Annie Laurie Aitken Galleries and Josephine Mercy Heathcote Gallery—11,000 square feet devoted to British decorative arts, design, and sculpture created between 1500 and 1900. The reimagined suite of 10 galleries (including three superb 18th-century interiors) provides a fresh perspective on the period, focusing on its bold, entrepreneurial spirit and complex history. The new narrative offers a chronological exploration of the intense commercial drive among artists, manufacturers, and retailers that shaped British design over the course of 400 years. During this period, global trade and the growth of the British Empire fueled innovation, industry, and exploitation. Works on view illuminate the emergence of a new middle class—ready consumers for luxury goods—which inspired an age of exceptional creativity and invention during a time of harsh colonialism.

Installation view of The Met’s New British Galleries, Lansdowne Dining Room (Photo by Joseph Coscia, February 2020).

The British Galleries are reopening with almost 700 works of art on view, including a large number of new acquisitions, particularly works from the 19th century that were purchased with this project in mind. This is the first complete renovation of the galleries since they were established (Josephine Mercy Heathcote Gallery in 1986, Annie Laurie Aitken Galleries in 1989). A prominent new entrance provides direct access from the galleries for medieval European art, creating a seamless transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. A 17th-century staircase with exquisite naturalistic carvings—brought to The Met in the 1930s from Cassiobury House, a now-lost Tudor manor—has been meticulously conserved and re-erected in the new galleries. Three magnificent 18th-century rooms from Kirtlington Park, Croome Court, and Lansdowne House have been transformed by new lighting and painstaking conservation and remain at the heart of the galleries.

“The Met’s extraordinary collection of British decorative arts is unparalleled on this side of the Atlantic, and the redesigned galleries will breathe new life into the collection in compelling and unexpected ways,” said Max Hollein, Director of The Met. “Especially on the occasion of The Met’s 150th anniversary, we are thinking deeply about the stories told in our galleries and how every object on display is an outstanding work of art but also embodies a history that can be read from multiple perspectives: a beautiful English teapot speaks to both the prosperous commercial economy and the exploitative history of the tea trade. The curators have created a new narrative for the galleries that sheds light on four centuries of extraordinary artistic achievement alongside the realities of colonial rule. The result is a thoughtful examination of the British Empire and its astonishing artistic legacy.”

Sarah Lawrence, the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Curator in Charge of The Met’s Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, said: “This ambitious narrative of bold creativity in an entrepreneurial society will have particular resonance in New York, where historic hubs of manufacture have recently been reinvigorated by new design practices and an innovative economy. The installation will demonstrate that this is a history that remains highly relevant, and that these extraordinary objects speak to us today with genuine eloquence.”

Hanging Depicting a European Conflict in South India, before 1763; Indian, Coromandel Coast, for British Market; cotton, plain weave (drawn and painted resist and mordant, dyed), 117 × 103 inches (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art).

Wolf Burchard, Associate Curator of British Furniture and Decorative Arts and lead curator for the new galleries, added: “One of the main reasons why The Met can justify having galleries of this scale dedicated solely to British art is that it is such an international story. It appears particularly timely to ask oneself the question of how best to convey Britain’s culture of creativity at a moment when the United Kingdom is reassessing its role on the European and global stage. We are reminded that the history of British art is far from an isolated one. For centuries, London’s flourishing economy encouraged the trading of foreign luxury goods and attracted countless artists and craftsmen from abroad, many of whom will be represented in The Met’s new British Galleries. Our aim is to present British decorative arts, sculpture, and design beyond royal and country house patronage, focusing on the ways craftsmen and manufacturers had to think outside the box, how to use new technologies, and how to market themselves. The galleries’ design creates an extremely stimulating new stage for our works of art to perform to their best of abilities and an excellent platform to shed new light on British art.”

The Collaboration

To create a narrative-rich setting that befits The Met’s impressive collection, the Museum collaborated with the design firm Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors, recipient of the 2018 Sir John Soane Visionaries Award and 2014 National Design Award for Interior Design. This is the first museum project undertaken by the design firm, whose work—which ranges from homes and hotels to shops and a furniture collection—is characterized by a sensitivity to historical materials, period references, and the use of rich, layered colors. The stimulating partnership between these designers and The Met’s curators appropriately mirrors the collaborative spirit that developed between British designers, makers, and retailers.

The Narrative

From 1500 to 1900, Britain transformed itself from an isolated island nation into a dominant world power. Global trade stimulated wealth, created a cultural and economic elite beyond the aristocracy, broadened local tastes, and introduced new markets to resourceful British makers. Artists, manufacturers, and retailers—men and women—responded vigorously to these opportunities, developing new materials and technologies, adapting European and Asian styles, and taking bold, imaginative risks.

As early as the 16th century, Britain’s international trade produced a new class of professionals with luxury appetites and ready cash, exemplified in the first gallery’s carved oak paneling from Norfolk, commissioned by William Crowe, a merchant from Great Yarmouth. Foreign artisans started to arrive in England as the Protestant Crown sought to compete with the glories of papal Rome and the French courts. These foreigners had more formal training than their English peers, who still operated within the medieval guild system. Florentine Pietro Torrigiano (1472–1528) was just one of the many European artists and craftsmen who made their way across the English Channel and established themselves in Britain. His naturalistically painted terracotta bust, probably representing Cardinal John Fisher (executed for resisting Henry VIII’s Protestant Reformation), has just been conserved and greets visitors in the first gallery.

Paul de Lamerie (British, 1688–1751, active 1712–51), Silver Sugar Box, 1744/45 (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art).

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the British Empire’s expansion delivered excitement, curiosity, and ruthlessness. A gallery devoted to “Tea, Trade, and Empire” explores the period’s visual exuberance with 100 English teapots displayed in a pair of ten-foot-tall semicircular cases. Presiding over this display is a small but powerful figure of a merchant from 1719, modeled in China by the Cantonese artist Amoy Chinqua (active after 1716). Jaunty, prosperous, and proud, the East India Company entrepreneur who posed for this portrait represents the commercial interests that drove the expansion of the Empire. The goods they brought from China, India, and the West Indies included tea, sugar, coffee, and chocolate, as well as porcelain, cotton, mahogany, and ivory. Produced at great material and human cost, and then transported thousands of miles, these commodities were now affordable for a new middle class. The perimeter of this gallery examines the exploitation of both human and natural resources that accompanied that abundance.

With both the political and monetary power of British monarchs strictly curbed by Parliament, British artisans did not receive the same level of court patronage as their counterparts in Paris, Dresden, and St. Petersburg. Instead, 18th-century design in Britain was shaped by entrepreneurs who had the cleverness, technical expertise, and business acumen necessary to succeed. Nicolas Sprimont (1713–1771) founded the Chelsea Porcelain factory; James Cox (ca. 1723–1800) sold precious table ornaments, some for export to Turkey and China; Josiah Wedgwood (1730–1795) perfected the production of his pioneering pottery, achieving wide distribution within Continental markets; and Matthew Boulton (1728–1809) brought engineering skills to the manufacture of elaborate metalwork. All of these businessmen employed designers in the modern sense of the word: master sculptors, painters, architects, and draftsmen of immense skill and visual sophistication.

The final section of the galleries explores the massive shifts in scale, pace, and taste brought about by the Industrial Revolution during the 19th century. Once again, aesthetic and commercial priorities adapted to an immense new world of methods and customers. A highlight of this section are works acquired specifically for the new galleries, including a stunning marble portrait bust of literary giant Mary Shelley by Camillo Pistrucci, as well as objects by the visionary designer Christopher Dresser (1834–1904) that highlight his limitless creativity and mastery of industrial manufacturing in practically any medium imaginable. Examples by the great Gothic Revival designer A.W.N. Pugin (1812–1852) reveal his impassioned assertion of a national style. Other works represent movements against industrialization, revolts against labor abuses, and the demise of pure craft.

Support

Funding for the renovation included leadership commitments from Mr. and Mrs. Richard L. Chilton, Jr., Howard and Nancy Marks, the Estate of Marion K. Morgan, the Annie Laurie Aitken Charitable Trust, Irene Roosevelt Aitken, Mercedes T. Bass, Candace K. and Frederick W. Beinecke and The Krugman Family, Drue Heinz, Alexia and David Leuschen, Annette de la Renta, Kimba Wood and Frank Richardson, Denise and Andrew Saul, and Dr. Susan Weber.

Credits

The project’s curatorial team is led by Sarah Lawrence, the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Curator in Charge, and Wolf Burchard, Associate Curator, both of The Met’s Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts. Prior to their arrival in early 2019, the project was overseen by Ellenor Alcorn (now Chair and Eloise W. Martin Curator of European Decorative Arts at the Art Institute of Chicago) and Luke Syson (now Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, United Kingdom), with the assistance of Elizabeth St George (now Assistant Curator at the Brooklyn Museum).

Exhibition | Japan: Courts and Culture

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on May 16, 2020

Press release (12 November 2019) for the exhibition from the Royal Collection Trust (stay tuned for updates on the schedule; listed are the original dates). . .

 Japan: Courts and Culture
The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London, 12 June — 8 November 2020

Curated by Rachel Peat

Arita, Hizen Province (Japan), Jar and Cover, 1690–1720, porcelain with moulded relief decoration and painted in underglaze blue, overglaze enamel, and gold; French mounts, 1780–1820, gilt bronze; 42.5 cm high, purchased for George IV in 1820 (Royal Collection Trust, RCIN 39239).

The Royal Collection contains one of the finest holdings of Japanese works of art in the Western world, significant for both the unique provenance and exceptional quality of the objects. Now, for the first time, highlights from the collection are brought together in the exhibition Japan: Courts and Culture, which tells the story of the diplomatic, artistic, and cultural exchanges between Britain and Japan from the reigns of James I to Queen Elizabeth II. Including rare examples of porcelain, lacquer, armour and embroidered screens, the exhibition offers a unique insight into the relationship between the imperial and royal courts over a period of 300 years.

The formation of the East India Company in 1600 paved the way for direct contact between Japan and England. In 1613, the first English ship to reach Japanese shores was captained by John Saris, who brought with him letters and gifts from James I for Shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu, the military leader who governed Japan on behalf of the imperial family. Saris returned with a letter granting the English permission to live and trade in Japan, and with gifts for the King. These included a samurai armour, the earliest to arrive in Britain and the first surviving non-European work of art to enter the Royal Collection.

This first contact between England and Japan was short-lived. From the 1630s, for some 220 years, Japan closed to the West in an attempt to regulate foreign influence. During this time, the Dutch were the only Europeans permitted to trade directly with Japan through one small enclave at Nagasaki. Demand for exotic East Asian wares remained high in Europe, where the secrets of porcelain and lacquer manufacture were yet to be discovered.

The British royal family led the way in collecting highly prized examples of Japanese lacquer, porcelain, and textiles—much of which was produced specifically for the export market. In the 17th century, Mary II displayed Japanese porcelain in her apartments at Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace. In the 18th century, Queen Caroline, consort of George II, formed a significant collection of Japanese lacquer. A century later, George IV incorporated Japanese porcelain into the opulent decorative schemes at Carlton House in London and the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. Many of the pieces acquired by the King were given new functions through the addition of elaborate gilt-bronze mounts, turning a simple jar into a pot-pourri vase and animal figures into incense burners.

When Japan reopened to the West in the 1850s, goods began to flow freely, and diplomatic and political links were re-established. Queen Victoria’s son, Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, was the first member of a European royal family to visit Japan when he arrived there in 1869 during a world naval tour. The Prince met the Emperor Meiji at the Imperial Palace, where an exchange of gifts took place, and was presented with samurai armour, including a helmet dating from 1537. In a letter to his mother, Alfred wrote: “To give you any account of this country, I feel quite at a loss. Every thing is so new & so quaint that I am quite bewildered.”

The next members of the British royal family to visit Japan were Queen Victoria’s grandsons Prince George of Wales (the future King George V) and his brother, Prince Albert Victor. In 1881, the teenage Princes were serving as midshipmen aboard HMS Bacchante and were granted shore leave to meet the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōken. They returned with presents for their family, including a teapot and cups for their father, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, and with diplomatic gifts from the Emperor. According to the official diary of the tour, compiled by their tutor, the Reverend John Dalton, the Princes had their arms tattooed during their visit to Japan—Albert Victor with ‘a couple of storks’ and George with a dragon and a tiger, a combination said to signify East and West.

In the early 20th century, a defensive Anglo-Japanese Alliance was formed to secure both nations’ interests in the Pacific. This was also a period of growing artistic exchange. The most significant cultural event was the 1910 Japan-British Exhibition in London, which included demonstrations of Japanese crafts, music, sports, and entertainments. More than eight million people visited the exhibition, including Queen Mary, consort of King George V, who was an enthusiastic collector of East Asian art.

The relationship between the Japanese and British imperial and royal families has continued to flourish through reciprocal royal visits, attendance at coronations, and the exchange of gifts. In 1902, Prince Komatsu Akihito attended the coronation of King Edward VII on behalf of the Emperor Meiji and presented the King with an embroidered folding screen of the four seasons. In 1911, Queen Mary received a coronation gift of a miniature cabinet bearing the imperial chrysanthemum crest, created by Akatsuka Jitoku, one of the most accomplished lacquerers of his generation. On the occasion of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, the Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito) sent Her Majesty a cosmetic box decorated with a heron by the great lacquer artist Shirayama Shōsai.

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In the United States and Canada, the catalogue is distributed by The University of Chicago Press:

Rachel Peat, ed., Japan: Courts and Culture (London: Royal Collection Trust, 2020), 320 pages, ISBN: 978-1909741683, $70.

Japan: Courts and Culture tells the story of three centuries of British royal contact with Japan, from 1603 to c.1937, when the exchange of exquisite works of art was central to both diplomatic relations and cultural communication. With discussions of courtly rituals, trade relationships, treaties, and other matters of concern between the two nations, this book provides important historical and political context in addition to granting a new look at the works of art in question. Featuring new research on previously unpublished works, including porcelain, lacquer, armor, embroidery, metalwork, and works on paper, this book showcases the unparalleled craftsmanship of these objects, and the local materials, techniques, and traditions behind them. Japan: Courts and Culture is published to accompany a spectacular exhibition of the same name, which opens at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, in June 2020. The book’s stunning photography, contextual essays, and historical insights offer a highly visual record of a royal narrative and history that has not yet been widely documented.

Rachel Peat is assistant curator of non-European works of art at Royal Collection Trust.

C O N T E N T S

Foreword, HRH The Prince of Wales and Princess Akiko of Mikasa
British and Japanese Royal Family Trees
Map of Japan

1  Introduction, Rachel Peat
2  First Encounters, 1600–1639, Rachel Peat
3  Trade, 1639–1854, Rachel Peat
4  Porcelain, Melanie Wilson and Rachel Peat
5  Lacquer, Rachel Peat
6  Travel, 1854–1901, Rachel Peat
7  Samurai, Arms and Armour, Gregory Irvine
8  Metalwork, Kathryn Jones
9  Treaty, 1901–1937, Rachel Peat
10  Artistic Exchange, Kathryn Jones
11  Courtly Ritual, Caroline de Guitaut
12  Coda, Rachel Peat
13  Appendix: The Model of the Taitokuin Mausoleum, William H. Coaldrake

Glossary
Timeline of Key Events
Bibliography
Acknowledgements
Index

Exhibition | The Curator’s Bookcase

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on May 7, 2020

Fredrik Boye, Målare-lexikon til begagnande såsom handbok för Konstidkare och Taflesamlare, Painter’s Dictionary
(Stockholm, 1833)

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Now installed (if not on view) at the Nationalmuseum:

The Curator’s Bookcase: Stories from the Archives
Stockholm, Nationalmuseum, 19 February — 28 June 2020

Using examples from the Art Library’s older collection of books, The Curator’s Bookcase gives an insight into the emergence of art history as an academic discipline in the 19th century. General handbooks on art, biographies, and other examples of literature that kept the museum professionals of that time up to date are exhibited along with photographic reproductions from the Image Archive.

In the 19th century, art history emerged as an academic discipline. This took place in the first half of the century in Germany, and mid-century in Sweden and had a decisive impact on museum practices. Being an artist or a well-read connoisseur was no longer sufficient—academic studies were also required to become a curator. Thus, the museum practice was professionalised. The curators used a scientific approach to analyse, identify, and classify objects of art putting them in a historic context. The collections were presented chronologically and geographically in different schools. The Nationalmuseum gave the most space to the Italian, Dutch, French, and Swedish schools, which dominated the Royal collection donated in 1792 to the Museum, then known as the Royal Museum, one of the first public museums in northern Europe.

The growing interest in art history is reflected in the many books on this subject that were published and spread. Subjects of special interest were the Greco-Roman period and national ideals. Swedish museum curators had lively contacts with colleagues abroad, and it was part of their job to keep abreast with the latest research. The books displayed in this exhibition are from the Art Library’s older collection. They are mainly textbooks on art history, general handbooks, and monographic biographies. The books give an idea of the literature that would have been found in a curator’s bookcase. Several of these books are exquisitely and artistically bound and were published in limited, numbered editions. The exhibition also includes examples of older displays of the collections as photographic reproductions from the Image Archive.

The masterpieces of art have always been of great importance to museum professionals and artists. In the current exhibition on the 6th floor Inspiration: Iconic Works you can discover more about how contemporary artists have been inspired by the old masters. The Curator’s Bookcase is on display in the Old Library.

Exhibition | Hidden Valuables: Early-Period Meissen Porcelains

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 10, 2020

The catalogue is published by Arnoldsche and distributed by ACC Art Books:

Hidden Valuables: Early-Period Meissen Porcelains from Swiss Private Collections
Musée Ariana, Geneva, 7 February — 6 September 2020

Switzerland is well-known for its host of remarkable collections of eighteenth-century European porcelain. Exemplary representatives of these are such extraordinary collector personalities as Albert Kocher or Dr Marcel Nyffeler. A number of these magnificent collections can be found today in Switzerland’s renowned institutions, and the ‘white gold’ from Saxony still fascinates Swiss connoisseurs. This exhibition is dedicated to their passionate collecting and exceptional treasures, while the catalogue is enriched with essays by renowned art historians and porcelain experts.

Sarah-Katharina Andres-Acevedo, Alfredo Reyes, and Röbbig München, eds., Hidden Valuables: Early-Period Meissen Porcelains from Swiss Private Collections (Stuttgart: Arnoldsche, 2020), 416 pages, ISBN 978-3897905863, £78 / $135.

New Book | Becoming America

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 5, 2020

Distributed by Yale UP (portions of the collection have been on view at The Huntington since October 2016) . . .

James Glisson, ed., with contributions by John Demos, Jonathan and Karin Fielding, Robin Jaffee Frank, James Glisson, Stacy Hollander, Christina Nielsen, Sumpter Priddy, Elizabeth V. Warren, and David Wheatcroft, Becoming America: Highlights from the Jonathan and Karin Fielding Collection of Folk Art (San Marino: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, 2020), 264 pages, ISBN: 9780300247565, $50.

Becoming America offers a multifaceted view of one of the foremost collections of 18th- and 19th-century American folk and decorative art from the rural Northeast. Essays by leading specialists discuss the culture of furniture workshops, exuberant painted decoration, techniques of sewing and quilting, and poignant stories about the families depicted in the portraits. The collection itself includes Shaker boxes, a beaded Iroquois hat, embroidered samplers, metalwork, scrimshaw, handwoven rugs, ceramics, and a weather vane. The majority of these works have never before been published. With lively essays and profuse illustrations, this handsome volume brings to life the aesthetic of early Americans living in the countryside and is an essential exploration of the period’s taste and style.

James Glisson is interim chief curator of American art at The Huntington. Jonathan Fielding is the former director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and Distinguished Professor at UCLA. Karin Fielding is a trustee of the American Folk Art Museum in New York.

The Burlington Magazine, March 2020

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions, journal articles, reviews by Editor on March 30, 2020

The eighteenth century in The Burlington:

The Burlington Magazine 162 (March 2020) — Drawings

Luigi Valadier, Pyx, 1769–71, gilt silver, 22 × 11 cm, one of eighteen pieces of a pontifical mass service belonging to the cathedral of Portalegre, Portugal (Church of S. Miguel, Castelo Branco).

A R T I C L E S

• Teresa Leonor M. Vale “A Portuguese Bishop’s Pontifical Mass Service by Luigi Valadier,” pp. 196–203. A gilt silver pontifical mass service belonging to the cathedral of Portalegre, Portugal, is here identified as the work of the celebrated Roman silversmith Luigi Valadier and dated 1769–71. It is closely similar to a contemporary service owned by Cardinal Domenico Orsini and both services can be linked to a group of drawings from Valadier’s workshop.

S H O R T E R  N O T I C E S

Kee Il Choi, Jr., “Ornament from China: Sources for a Garden Folly Design by Jean-Jacques Lequeu,” pp. 216–19.

R E V I E W S

• Kirstin Kennedy, Review of Carolina Naya Franco, Joyas y alhajas del Alto Aragón: esmaltes y piedras preciosas de ajuares y tesoros históricos (2018).

• Stéphane Loire, Review of Nicola Spinosa, ed., Francesco Solimena (1657–1747) e le Arti a Napoli (2018).

• Aileen Dawson, Review of Claudia Bodinek (with contributions by Peter Braun, Tobias Pfeifer-Helke und Claudia Schnitzer), Raffinesse im Akkord: Meissener Porzellanmalerei und ihre Grafischen Vorlagen (2018).

• David Bindman, Review of the exhibition Canova Thorvaldsen: The Birth of Modern Sculpture (Milan: Gallerie d’Italia, 2019–20).

• Daniel Stewart, Review of the exhibition Troy: Myth and Reality (London: British Museum, 2019–20).

• Christiane Elster, Review of the exhibition History in Fashion: 1500 Years of Embroidery in Fashion (Leipzig: GRASSI Museum of Applied Arts, 2019–20).

• Philippa Glanville, Review of the exhibition Feast and Fast: The Art of Food in Europe, 1500–1800 (Cambridge: Fitzwilliam Museum, 2019–20)

• Kamila Kocialkowska, Review of the exhibition Peter the Great: Collector, Scholar, Artist (Moscow Kremlin Museums, 2019–20).

• Eckart Marchand, Review of the exhibition Near Life: The Gipsformerei: 200 Years of Casting Plaster (Berlin: James-Simon-Galerie, 2019–20).

Exhibition | Power Mode: The Force of Fashion

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on March 22, 2020

Now installed at the Fashion Institute of Technology:

Power Mode: The Force of Fashion
The Museum at FIT, New York, 10 December 2019 — 9 May 2020

Curated by Emma McClendon

Today, we see a multitude of sartorial power symbols, from ‘power suits’ to ‘power heels’. But what makes a garment ‘powerful’? According to sociologist and political theorist Steven Lukes: “We speak and write about power, in innumerable situations, and we usually know, or think we know, perfectly well what we mean … And yet, among those who have reflected on the matter, there is no agreement about how to define it, how to conceive it, how to study it, and, if it can be measured, how to measure it.”

If we think of power in terms of kinetic force (for example, electrical power or a person’s physical power over another), clearly an inanimate item of clothing does not have actual power. The force of fashion is symbolic. It is social. It lies in the sphere of interpersonal relations and cultural dynamics. There is no single, universally accepted definition of power. Power means different things to different people at different times. As such, its connection to fashion is multifaceted, and a multifaceted approach is necessary for considering the role fashion plays in power dynamics both historically and today.

The exhibition is organized into five thematic sections, each devoted to a particular type of sartorial ‘power’. In each section, men’s and women’s clothing are considered side by side, and pieces from as early as the eighteenth century are juxtaposed with looks from contemporary collections.

The exhibition opens with a display of military and military-inspired ensembles, including a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel’s ‘dress blue’ uniform, a World War II–era ‘Ike’ jacket, and looks from Yves Saint Laurent, Burberry, and Ralph Lauren. Modern military uniforms combine tailoring with an elaborate code of patches, braiding, stripes, colors, and metalwork that makes the soldier a walking extension of the state’s power. In fashion, a company logo replaces the state’s seal, but uniform-inspired silhouettes, colors, textiles, and buttons become visual shorthand for the power, strength, and authority of the military. It is the power of association.

The next section focuses on different modes of status dressing that have emerged over the last 250 years, from ermine capes and luxurious brocade fabrics to contemporary “It” bags and logo-covered products. Aspiration, wealth, and Thorstein Veblen’s theory of “conspicuous consumption” are key to understanding the role status dressing plays in modern society. An 18th-century robe à la française demonstrates the importance of ornate, expensive textiles to courtly dress, while a Balenciaga puffer coat shows the way brand names have become crucial decorative elements in luxury fashion today.

From status dressing, the exhibition moves to consider the history of the suit. The sharply tailored suit is perhaps the most conventional example of ‘power dressing’. Indeed, the term power dressing was often used to describe the big-shouldered suits worn by upwardly mobile business men and women during the 1980s. However, the history of the suit is more nuanced. Anne Hollander points out, “Heads of state wear suits … and men accused of rape and murder wear them in court to help their chances of acquittal.” In court rooms and office spaces, the suit isn’t just a symbol of authority. It is also a sign of blending in—submitting to established norms and dress codes.

The fourth section considers the role of resistance dressing. Blue jeans, printed T-shirts, and black leather jackets have become some of the most common symbols of resistance in clothing. They signal a certain type of power that is subversive of established authority. It is the power of protest and rebellion. There is a tension between resistance clothing and ‘fashion’, with the later often being dismissed as surface-level commodification. But the relationship is not so simple—fashion can also be a vehicle for protest as seen in the recent work of Kerby Jean-Raymond for his label Pyer Moss.

Finally, the fifth section analyzes objects that are culturally coded as ‘sexy’. Corsets, leather, lingerie, and high-heeled boots are but a few examples. The power dynamics of these garments are inherently complex. How a garment is interpreted can fluctuate between dominance and subjugation. As fashion critic Holly Brubach once said of Versace’s famous 1992 bondage collection, it “riles women who think this is exploitative and appeals to women who think of his dominatrix look as a great Amazonian statement. It could go either way.”

Power Mode is a curatorial experiment. It aims to combine theory with history and object analysis in order to better understand the complex nature of power in fashion as well as the ways fashion can be key to a broader understanding of power dynamics in culture. The exhibition is organized by Emma McClendon, associate curator of costume.

Emma McClendon, ed., Power Mode: The Force of Fashion (Milan: Skira, 2019), 128 pages, ISBN: 978-8857239873, $45 / €39.

A more in-depth discussion of the themes represented in the exhibition is articulated in the lavishly illustrated accompanying book, also titled Power Mode: The Force of Fashion, edited by exhibition curator Emma McClendon and published by Skira. The book delves deeper into theory and history to investigate how certain garments have come to be culturally associated with power, as well as how their meanings have evolved over time. It also examines how fashion designers have interpreted these stylistic archetypes—both to convey and to subvert power. Chapter texts by McClendon are joined by object-based essays from renowned fashion scholars Valerie Steele, Christopher Breward, Jennifer Craik, and Peter McNeil, as well as Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Robin Givhan. The book also includes an essay by Kimberly M. Jenkins on the intersection of race, fashion, and power. This collection of texts will offer readers a variety of perspectives to help form a theoretical framework for considering the power dynamics inherent in fashion objects.

Art Market | The Bachofen von Echt Ukiyo-e Collection

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on March 16, 2020

Scheduled to correspond with New York Asia Week, exhibitions like this one at Scholten Japanese Art may still be on view this week, though the auctions have been postponed until June, as noted by The Art Newspaper (also see this press release, published at Art Daily on 17 March). . .

The Baron J. Bachofen von Echt Collection of Golden Age Ukiyo-e
Scholten Japanese Art, New York, 12–21 March 2020

Scholten Japanese Art is pleased to participate in Asia Week 2020 with an extraordinary offering of Japanese woodblock prints: The Baron J. Bachofen von Echt Collection of Golden Age Ukiyo-e. The collection is comprised of a highly selective group of twenty-two figural woodblock prints produced during a period considered the highpoint of the genre, known as the ‘golden age’ of ukiyo-e, reaching its peak in the last decade of the 18th century. The prints depict bijin-ga (literally ‘beautiful person’), the influencers of their time—famous courtesans, waitresses, and beloved actors—with works by the most acclaimed ukiyo-e artists of the late 18th and early 19th century. There are works in this collection that are possibly unique, or one of only a handful of recorded examples, with connections to some of the most prominent early collectors and dealers of ukiyo-e. In many cases, these are the only examples still remaining outside of museum collections.

Kitao Shigemasa, Geisha and Maid Carrying a Shamisen Box, unsigned, with seal Hayashi Tadamasa, ca. 1777.

The term ukiyo (literally ‘floating world’) references an older Buddhist concept regarding the impermanence of life, but during the prosperity of the Edo Period in Japan the term began to be used to encompass and embolden everyday indulgences because of that impermanence.  One of the tangible records of those indulgences was the production of nishiki-e (literally ‘brocade pictures’), the full-color prints that we recognize today as ukiyo-e—images of the floating world celebrating youth and beauty, which began in ca. 1765.  After the advent of full-color woodblock printing, the market for nishiki-e, accessible to everyday people, steadily grew, and the materials and methods used to create this art rapidly evolved. A significant change that came about in the 1770s was that the craftsmen involved with production developed techniques for full-color printing on larger sheets of paper, and, as a result, this led to the general adoption of the standard ‘oban’ (approximately 15 by 10 inches) size by publishers. Larger paper was followed by an increase of the scale of the figures within compositions.  An excellent example of this is the earliest print in the group, a ca. 1777 design by Kitao Shigemasa (ca. 1739–1820), Geisha and Maid Carrying a Shamisen Box (15 by 10 1/8 inches). Shigemasa was primarily a designer of illustrated books, producing over 250 in his lifetime, many of which were erotic in nature.  With a comparatively small output of single sheet designs, the scarcity of extant Shigemasa prints belies his talent and influence on the genre. He worked with over twenty publishers, often with the innovative Tsutaya Juzaburo (1750–1797), whose impact looms large in the ‘golden age’ and likewise, in the Bachofen Collection. In 1774, the first book published by Tsutaya, Thousands at a Glance (Hitome senbon), featured illustrations by Shigemasa.  Approximately three years later Tsutaya published an untitled series depicting full-length images of geisha of which this is a part.

Eishosai Choki, Woman and Servant in Snow (Sechu sho shiki jo), this impression unsigned and without censor or publisher seals, published by Tsutaya Juzaburo, ca. 1790.

One of the finest prints included in this show, Woman and Servant in Snow, ca. 1790 (14 1/2 by 10 inches), is by an artist whose work is particularly rare to the market: Eishosai Choki (fl. ca. 1780–1809). Also published by Tsutaya Juzaburo, the print demonstrates one of the hallmarks of golden age prints—the introduction of lavish printing techniques such as mica ground printing. The print is from an untitled group of four portraits of beauties presented in a dramatic outdoor setting that are among the most reproduced and coveted works in all of the ukiyo-e genre. The designs are distinctive in the way that Choki positions the figure off to the side, roughly occupying only two-thirds of the composition. In this print we see a beauty pausing beneath an open umbrella which shields her from the fat flakes of falling snow, shimmering (or shivering) against a cold mica background. She leans on the back of her burly servant who is bending over, reaching beyond the frame of the composition to clean the clumps of heavy wet snow off of her geta.  Although they are a study in contrasts, she is lovely and delicate, he is solid with rough whiskers on his face, Choki conveys a sense of quiet intimacy shared between the two.

An example of a lavish printing is by Hosoda Eishi (1756–1829), Selection of Beauties from the Pleasure Quarters: Hanamurasaki of the Tamaya in Procession (15 by 10 inches), which utilizes both an incredibly dramatic dark mica background as well as metallic printing on the hem of the sauntering courtesan, Hanamurasaki. This design was formerly in the esteemed collection of the French connoisseur Henri Vever (1854–1942) and was the subject of extensive research by the American collector Louis V. Ledoux (1880–1948), who had a variant impression which he identified as a later state of the print. His research led him to conclude that there may have been four states of this scarce print, of which this (the Vever impression) is the earliest and (he thought) one of only three extant examples. Current research clarifies that this one is one of only two recorded impressions of the earliest version of the print.

Another development in print production was the issuance of multi-panel prints- most typically in the format of triptychs.  One of the most stunning works in the show which shares the Vever Collection provenance is a triptych by a student of Eishi, Chokosai Eisho (fl. ca. 1795–1801) titled A Glimpse of the Ogiya: Hashidate, Nanakoshi and Hanabito (triptych 15 by 28 inches). This breath-taking composition presents three beautiful women who are seated in a brothel reception room decorated with an elaborate painting of a peacock covering the background wall. The three women are identified from right to left as the well-known and high-ranking courtesans: Hashidate, Nanakoshi, and Hanabito. The title places them at the Ogiya brothel located in the Yoshiwara. All three courtesans worked at the Ogiya and seem to be engrossed in a private conversation away from their customers. Perhaps they are sharing an amusing story related to the folded love letter which Hashidate is handing to Nanakoshi. There are few copies of this triptych extant and almost all are now in museum collections.

The bijin-ga of ukiyo-e were represented by beautiful women and beautiful men, and kabuki actors enjoyed celebrity-worship that would surely resonate with that of today. The Bachofen Collection includes three prints depicting kabuki actors, including a powerful bust-portrait by Utagawa Kunimasa (1773–1810), Actor Ichikawa Yaozo III as a Bandit (15 by 10 inches). This intense okubi-e portrait of Ichikawa Yaozo III (Suketakaya Takasuke II, 1747–1818) shows the actor in the role of a yamagatsu (lumberjack), who is actually a legendary warrior in disguise. The print was made at the time of Yaozo’s performance in a play that was staged at the Miyako-za theater in the 11th lunar month of 1796. The artist Kunimasa died at the young age of only 37 with approximately 125 recorded designs with few impressions extant. Of the four known examples of this print, this is the only one currently in private hands.

The Bachofen Collection has several highly important works by Kitagawa Utamaro (1753–1806), arguably the leading painting and print artist of his time who practically owned the market for images of beauties in the 1790s and early 1800s, until his untimely death in 1806 which marks the close of the ‘golden age’ period. In most ukiyo-e collections just one of these works would be the treasured highlight, in this collection there are nine Utamaro prints, including three okubi-e (‘big head’ or bust portraits) and one half-length portrait, each one a masterpiece in and of itself.

Kitagawa Utamaro, Seven Women Applying Make-up before a Full-length Mirror (Sugatami shichinin kesho), signed Utamaro ga with censor’s seal kiwame (approved) publisher’s mark of Tsutaya Juzaburo (Koshodo), sealed Wakai Hayashi, and oval WS (Schindler) collector’s seal on verso, ca. 1792–93. The title indicates this print is one from an intended series of seven, although only this one design is recorded.

The earliest Utamaro print in the exhibition is a compositional tour-de-force. Dated to around 1792–93, the print, Seven Women Applying Make-up Before a Full-length Mirror (14 1/4 by 9 1/2 inches), was issued at the beginning of a productive period for Utamaro during which he designed a number of ambitious half-length and bust portrait images of beauties primarily in collaboration with the publisher Tsutaya. The title in the bookmark-shaped cartouche indicates this print is one from an intended series of seven, although only this one design is recorded.  While the term ‘sugatami’ in the title refers to a full-length mirror, the composition is that of a reflection of a bust portrait of a beauty as seen from over her shoulder. The effect is to both share her gaze into the mirror, while simultaneously appreciating her coiffure from behind as well as a titillating view of her erikubi (the nape of her neck). Her facial features and the crest on her kimono suggest that this is a portrait of one of Utamaro’s favorite subjects, the teahouse waitress Naniwa Okita. Tsutaya spared no expense with this production, generously embellishing the print with mica both on the background and on the mirror. The red seal to the left of the signature sheds light on the print’s provenance of having been in the hands of Wakai Kenzaburo (1834–1908), a highly influential Japanese art dealer and collector who was vital to the formation of ukiyo-e collections in Paris in the 1870s and 1880s. Wakai’s seal confirms that this exact impression was illustrated in Dr. Julius Kurth’s 1907 monograph on Utamaro (the first in a European language) when it was in the hands of Rex & Co in Berlin, an early importer of Asian art; it then passed into the hands of Werner Schindler (1905–1986) of Bienne, Switzerland. Highlights from the Schindler Collection were exhibited in several cities in Japan in 1985, and this print was illustrated on the cover of the exhibition catalogue.

In about 1792–93, the publisher Tsutaya began producing print series by Utamaro depicting half-length portraits of beauties with glittering full-mica backgrounds. These lavish images elevated print production to new aesthetic heights, establishing both Utamaro and Tsutaya as pre-eminent ukiyo-e artist and publisher, respectively. The portrait of Wakaume of the Tamaya in Edo-machi itchome, kamuro Mumeno and Iroka (14 1/2 by 9 5/8 inches) is dated to around 1793–94 and is associated with a group of three portraits that were likely intended as an informal triptych, each featuring a courtesan identified in the title cartouche with her house and naming her two kamuro (child attendants) with an accompanying kyoka poem. Of the three designs, this composition functions best at the central panel because the figure’s body faces one way while she turns to look in the opposite direction, and one of her kamuro peeks out from behind in a rare instance of frontal portraiture. The courtesan is Wakaume of the zashiki-mochi (‘having her own suite’) rank of the Tamaya house, and two kamuro, Mumeno and Iroka, are mentioned in the cartouche along with a poem playing on the literal meaning of her name, Wakaume, or White Plum.

The ca. 1795–96 bust portrait, Painting the Eyebrows (15 by 10 inches), is another masterpiece by Utamaro included in this group. It depicts a beauty leaning forward in concentration while applying make-up to her eyebrows. We catch a glimpse of her reflection from another angle in her hand-mirror, which is highlighted with mica to suggest the polished surface. This print was produced by a rather small publishing house, Isemago, about whom very little is known, which may explain why this design is extremely scarce. Of the three recorded impressions of this design, this is the only one currently in private hands.

The final Utamaro okubi-e in the exhibition is a delightful portrait of the famous courtesan Komurasaki of the Tamaya House after a Bath (15 by 10 inches) from around 1797–99. The portrait is of the famous courtesan Komurasaki, who held the highest rank of yobidashi (‘on call’), which meant she only could be seen by making an appointment through a teahouse, the same rank as her ‘house sister’ Hanamurasaki featured in the full-length mica-ground print by Eishi. This print bears the collector’s seal of the artist Paul Blondeau (ca. 1860–1920) and was later in the collection of Charles Haviland (1839–1921), which was sold in Paris in 1922. This print is one of only two recorded impressions of this design.

The exhibition will feature twenty-two woodblock prints including works by major ukiyo-e artists such as: Kitao Shigemasa (1739–1820), Torii Kiyonaga (1752–1815), Katsukawa Shuncho (fl. ca. 1780–1795),  Eishosai Choki (fl. ca. 1780–1809), Hosoda Eishi (1756–1829), Chokosai Eisho (fl. ca. 1795–1801), Chokyosai Eiri (fl. ca. 1795–1800), Ichirakutei Eisui (fl. ca. 1795–1803), Utagawa Toyokuni I (1769–1825), Katsukawa Shunei (1762–1819), and Kitagawa Utamaro (1753–1806).

Katherine Martin, Highlights of Japanese Printmaking: Part Six, The Baron J. Bachofen von Echt Collection of Golden Age Ukiyo-e (2020), $40.

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Note (added 17 March 2020)— The original posting did not include the link to the press release posted at Art Daily.