Enfilade

Exhibition | Lives Bound Together: Slavery at Mount Vernon

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on May 19, 2017

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Now on view at Mount Vernon:

Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon
The Donald W. Reynolds Museum, Mount Vernon, 1 October 2016 –30 September 2017

Mount Vernon was George Washington’s home. It was also home to hundreds of enslaved people who lived and worked under Washington’s control: in 1799, there were 317 men, women, and children enslaved at Mount Vernon’s five farms, which covered 8,000 acres. They made up more than 90% of the population of the estate.

House Bell, ca. 1784–88; Copper alloy, iron (Mount Vernon).

Through household furnishings, art works, archaeological discoveries, documents, and interactive displays, the exhibition, which spans 4,400 square feet throughout all seven galleries of the Donald W. Reynolds Museum, demonstrates how closely intertwined the lives of the Washingtons were with those of the enslaved. Nineteen enslaved individuals are featured throughout the exhibit, represented with life-size silhouettes and interactive touchscreens providing biographical details.

More than 350 items are on view—seeds and animal bones, ceramic fragments, and metal buttons unearthed from archaeological excavations around the estate, as well as fine tablewares and furniture from the Washington household, providing insights into the enslaved community’s daily lives and work. Guests gain a better understanding of Washington’s changing views towards slavery, culminating in his landmark decision to include in his will a provision freeing the slaves that he owned. Visitors will have an opportunity to view original manuscript pages from George Washington’s will, written in July 1799, showing his decision to free the slaves he owned. The exhibition profiles 19 individuals enslaved at Mount Vernon, using George Washington’s extensive records to piece together what is known of their lives in interactive displays.

Susan P. Schoelwer, ed., with an introduction by Annette Gordon-Reed, Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon (2016), 172 pages, ISBN: 978  970931  9170, $20.

Lives Bound Together provides fresh research on this important topic, with brief biographies of 19 enslaved individuals, 10 essays, and 130 illustrations, including paintings, prints, and household furnishings from the Mansion, artifacts excavated by archaeologists from the slave quarters, documents, maps, and conjectural silhouettes that suggest the presence of the enslaved.

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Exhibition | The Treasury Collection: Works by Maria Sibylla Merian

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on May 18, 2017

Now on view at the Cromhouthuis (with thanks to Hélène Bremer for noting it and the related symposium). . .

The Treasury Collection: Works by Maria Sibylla Merian
Cromhouthuis, Amsterdam, 31 March — 18 June 2017

This year is the 300th anniversary of the death of naturalist and artist Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717). On view at the Cromhouthuis, The Treasury Collection: Works by Maria Sibylla Merian features her colourful paintings and illustrations of caterpillars, butterflies, and other insects. This valuable and fragile collection is part of the Artis Library Collection from the University of Amsterdam.

Maria Sibylla Merian was born in Frankfurt in 1647 and moved to Amsterdam in 1691. Merian was an independent woman with modern ideas that she carried over into her research as a naturalist. For example, she felt it was important to see the creatures she was researching in their natural environment. This conviction lay at the basis of her journey to Surinam where she worked on her most well-known book, Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium. The focus of this richly illustrated work, just as in her book Raupen wunderbare Verwandlung, is the metamorphosis of caterpillar to butterfly. The exhibition illustrates beautifully how Merian worked on the interface between art and science.

The exhibition was designed by Florian Seyd and Ueli Signer from The Wunderkammer. They took their inspiration from the antique books and original prints in the collection of the Artis Library (UvA) and combined this with specimens and objects from nature. British writer Redmond O’Hanlon made a special audio guide for the exhibition, available for free at the entrance.

To commemorate the 300th anniversary of the death of Merian, the Maria Sibylla Merian Society is holding an international symposium on her work, 7–9 June. The exhibition—a collaboration between Artis Library, the University of Amsterdam, and the Amsterdam Museum—is part of the symposium programme.

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Exhibition | Peter the Great: A Tsar in France, 1717

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

Press release for the exhibition at Versailles, with thanks to Elizabeth Jane Timms for noting it:

Peter the Great: A Tsar in France, 1717
Grand Trianon, Château de Versailles, 30 May — 24 September 2017

Cuarated by Gwenola Firmin, Thierry Sarmant, and George Vilinbakhov

The exhibition Peter the Great: A Tsar in France, 1717 will be on display in the Grand Trianon from 30 May to 24 September 2017. It is dedicated to Tsar Peter the Great’s trip in and around Paris in May and June 1717 and will commemorate the 300th anniversary of this diplomatic visit. The fruit of exceptional collaboration between the Palace of Versailles and the Hermitage Museum, the exhibition will present over 150 works including paintings, sculptures, decorative artworks, and tapestries, as well as plans, medallions, scientific instruments, books and manuscripts, two thirds of which belong to the collections of the prestigious museum in Saint Petersburg.

A member of the house of Romanov and son of Tsar Alexis Mikhailovich (1645–1676) and Nataliya Naryshkina (1651–1694), Peter I (1672–1725) embarked on a second journey to the West twenty years after the Grand Embassy, which took him to Europe for the first time in 1697–98. He arrived in France on 21 April 1717 and remained until 21 June. He stayed at Versailles twice and was accommodated in the Grand Trianon, from 24 to 26 May and from 3 to 11 June. The exhibition will lead visitors step by step through the trip, which, although official, nonetheless allowed a certain amount of freedom since Peter I, being little accustomed to French etiquette and with his imposing figure and unpredictability, departed from protocol on multiple occasions. His encounter with Louis XV particularly shocked onlookers when, flouting the ceremonial custom of the court, he spontaneously took the young king, aged 7, in his arms. A number of memorialists, including Saint-Simon, the Marquis de Dangeau and Jean Buvat, left precious testimonies allowing us to retrace the journey.

Although there were political and economic aims to the stay—a project for an alliance with France against Sweden and the signature of a trade agreement—the reforming Tsar and founder of modern Russia most particularly wanted to see the finest of France in order to adapt certain models for his own empire. During the two months that Peter the Great spent in Regency Paris, his visits and discussions with French people provided him with food for thought and had an influence on the works he started in 1703 in Saint Petersburg and the surrounding area.

Pierre le Grand: Un Tsar en France, 1717 (Paris: 2017), 240 pages, ISBN: 978  23590  62014, 38€.

Curators
• Gwenola Firmin Curator in charge of paintings from the 18th century at the Palace of Versailles
• Thierry Sarmant Chief curator, head of the Archives historic Center, historic department of the Defence
• George Vilinbakhov Vice-director of the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg

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Exhibition | The Lure of Italy: Artists’ Views

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on May 12, 2017

Giovanni Battista Lusieri, A View of the Bay of Naples, Looking Southwest from the Pizzofalcone towards Capo di Posilippo, 1791; watercolor, gouache, graphite, and pen and ink on six sheets of paper; unframed: 102 × 272 cm  (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 85.GC.281).

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Press release (20 April 2017) for the exhibition now on view at The Getty:

The Lure of Italy: Artists’ Views
The Getty Center, Los Angeles, 9 May — 30 July 2017

Curated by Julian Brooks with Annie Correll

For centuries, Italy has fascinated travelers and artists alike. From the crumbling ruins of ancient Rome to the crystal-clear light of Venice, artists have found inspiration not only in the cities but also in the countryside and in Italy’s rich history and culture. The Lure of Italy: Artists’ Views explores the numerous ways Italy’s topography, history, and culture have motivated artists to create works of extraordinary beauty and resonance. The exhibition, selected from the Getty Museum’s permanent collection of drawings and watercolors, includes several important recent acquisitions, including works by Francesco Guardi and Richard Parkes Bonington.

Claude-Joseph Vernet, The Entrance to the Grotto at Posillipo, ca. 1750; pen and brown ink with brown and gray wash over black chalk, 34 × 49 cm (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 97.GG.53).

“For many, Italy represented—and still represents today—a stunningly lush treasure of scenic wonder, with picturesque ancient sculptures, historic buildings, and dramatic landscapes,” says Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “This exhibition bears witness to the long-standing love affair that artists have had with the country of Italy.”

Italy—a collection of city-states until unification in the 1800s—has captured the imagination of artists for centuries, yet interest in the country peaked in the 1700s, when the region became a prime destination for wealthy travelers embarking on the Grand Tour from England, France, the Netherlands, Germany, and beyond. Artists journeying with them or working for them used pencil, ink, and watercolor to capture celebrated views and preserve vivid memories, creating works that encapsulate the essence and spirit of Italy.

Italian natives such as Guardi, Canaletto, and Giovanni Battista Lusieri responded to the tourist demand for souvenirs by crafting their own masterpieces. Guardi’s A Regatta on the Grand Canal (about 1778), a recent acquisition for the Getty, conveys with freshness and spontaneity the lively atmosphere of the annual gondola race (regatta) in Venice. The finish line is at left and spectators crowd the balconies of the nearby Palazzo Balbi, while the water bustles with decorated gondolas.

Further south, the Bay of Naples was another favorite destination of Grand Tourists. Lusieri’s huge, nearly nine-foot wide panorama, A View of the Bay of Naples (about 1791) is meticulously executed in tiny detail with watercolor. It was painted over a period of two years from the residence of Sir William Hamilton, the British envoy to the court of Naples, who commissioned it for his London home. The view looks towards the Capo di Posillipo and the so-called grotto there, a feat of ancient-Roman engineering.

Other highlights include sketches of enchanting sites with plunging perspectives through the rich Italian countryside, capriccio scenes caught between fantasy and reality, studies of ancient ruins, Roman landmarks and lauded works of art, and views of the most picturesque and awe-inspiring sights that Italy has to offer.

During his only visit to Venice, two years prior to his death at age 25 from tuberculosis, Richard Parkes Bonington made numerous pencil sketches and a handful of oil and watercolor studies of the city. The jewel-like Riva degli Schiavoni, from near San Biagio, Venice (1826) emphasizes his renowned ability to capture the effects of calm water and dramatic cloud formations in watercolor. This match of subject and media helped to make the magical atmosphere of the city the real subject of his work. “The extraordinary character of Italian cityscapes and landscapes pushed artists to the limits of their potential,” says Julian Brooks, senior curator of drawings at the J. Paul Getty Museum. “To render them effectively, the choices of media and technique became crucial.”

The Lure of Italy: Artists’ Views is curated by Brooks, with the assistance of Annie Correll, graduate intern in the Department of Drawings. The exhibition is presented in conjunction with Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe (9 May — 30 July 2017) on view in the Special Exhibitions Pavilion at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

The exhibition checklist is available as a PDF file here»

S E L E L E C T E D  P R O G R A M M I N G

Peter Björn Kerber, Venice vs. Rome: A Capital Contest
Saturday, May 13, 3:00pm
Pitting gilded gondolas against sumptuous coaches, Venice and Rome sought to surpass each other in staging the eighteenth century’s most spectacular festivals and celebrations. Peter Bjorn Kerber, curator of the exhibition Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe, explores the pictures Canaletto, Panini, and other leading painters produced to record these dazzling occasions.

Julian Brooks, The Bumpy Road to Beautiful Italy
Sunday, June 4, 3:00pm
With one eye on the practicalities and perils of travel in Italy in past centuries, Julian Brooks, senior curator of drawings at the Getty, discusses some of the works of art made by visitors to the country, and how they responded to—and fueled—the lure of Italy.

From The Getty Shop:

Julian Brooks, The Lure of Italy: Artists’ Views (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2017), 96 pages, ISBN: 978  160606  5198, $20.

For centuries Italy has fascinated travelers and artists. From the crumbling ruins of ancient Rome to the crystal-clear light of Venice, artists have found inspiration not only in the cities but also in the countryside and in the deep history and culture. From as early as the 1500s, artists visiting from France, England, the Netherlands, and Germany drew sketches to preserve vivid memories, often creating work of extraordinary atmosphere and beauty in the process. A growing number of tourists in the subsequent centuries fueled a further demand for souvenir views, spurring local artists to craft their own masterpieces.
This lovely book is a narrated assemblage of some of these beautiful views, which transport the reader effortlessly to Italy, rekindling memories, setting intentions, or provoking curiosity. The text provides new insights into the topographical renditions of Italian scenes over the centuries, while compelling illustrations of works from the Getty collection by artists such as Richard Parkes Bonington, J. M. W. Turner, Claude Lorrain, Giovanni Battista Lusieri, Canaletto, and many more capture the essence and spirit of Italy.

Julian Brooks is senior curator and head of the Department of Drawings at the J. Paul Getty Museum, where he has organized and co-organized numerous exhibitions. Among his many publications are Andrea del Sarto: The Renaissance Workshop in Action (Getty Publications, 2015) and Master Drawings Close-Up (Getty Publications, 2010).

 

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Exhibition | Showstoppers: Silver Centrepieces

Posted in exhibitions, lectures (to attend) by Editor on May 10, 2017

Thomas Pitts, Epergne, London, 1759
(Leeds Museums and Galleries)

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Opening this weekend at Temple Newsam:

Showstoppers: Silver Centrepieces
Temple Newsam House, Leeds, West Yorkshire, 13 May — 16 October 2017

Curated by Rachel Conroy

Silver is a seductive, glamorous material and the centrepiece is one of its most wondrous uses. Showstoppers takes two iconic eighteenth-century centrepieces from Temple Newsam’s renowned historic silver collection and presents them alongside contemporary masterpieces by artists Junko Mori and Miriam Hanid. The exhibition showcases the continuation and reinvention of traditional silversmithing techniques and celebrates women in silver, as makers and owners.

S A T U R D A Y ,  1 0  J U N E  2 0 1 7

Silversmithing Demonstration
An exciting opportunity to see artist silversmith Miriam Hanid demonstrating chasing and engraving in the Great Hall. 11.00–12.00 and 12.30–1.30. Free with general admission.

Surtouts, Epergnes and Grands Platts Menages: Silver and Ceramic Centrepieces
Join James Lomax for a survey of the wondrous array of silver and ceramic centrepieces produced in England during the eighteenth century. 2.00–3.00. Free with general admission, but booking required.

Exhibition Tour
Join exhibition curator, Rachel Conroy, for a tour of the exhibition. 3.00–3.45. Free with general admission, but booking required.

O T H E R  E V E N T S

Artist Talk: Miriam Hanid
9 June, 2.00–3.00
Miriam will explain how she started her silversmithing journey and how her capabilities have now developed into creating large commissions for a range of collectors and private clients. Followed by a tour of the exhibition. £7 (including admission), booking required.

Silver and Yachts: The Glamorous Possessions of Women at Temple Newsam
5 July, 2.00–3.00
Curator Rachel Conroy will tell the stories behind some of the most luxurious objects in the collection that were owned by or connected to women. Free with general admission, but booking required.

Shining Silver Commissions from the Sheffield Assay Office Collection: The Work of Junko Mori
16 September, 2.00–3.00
Emma Paragreen (Sheffield Assay Office) will give a brief introduction to the history and work of the Sheffield Assay Office and then focus on two examples of work commissioned by Sheffield Assay Office from Junko Mori. Free with general admission, but booking required.

An Eye for Design: Rosalinde Gilbert, Fashion Designer and Collector
14 October, 2.00–3.00
In this talk, Hanne Faurby (V&A) will introduce Rosalinde Gilbert, a fashion designer working in wartime London. Charlotte Johnson (V&A) will then discuss the Gilbert Collection, formed by Rosalinde and her husband Arthur, examining how Rosalinde’s background in design may have informed their collecting practices. Free with general admission, but booking required.

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Exhibition | We the People: American Folk Portraits

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on May 10, 2017

Press release (27 March 2017) from Colonial Williamsburg:

We the People: American Folk Portraits
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, Colonial Williamsburg, from 6 May 2017

Jacob Frymire, Portrait of Daniel Clarke, ca. 1791, oil on canvas (Colonial Williamsburg: 2016.100.2, gift of Julie Lindberg).

Before there were photographs, people in the late 18th century to the middle 19th century who wanted images of themselves and their family members commissioned portraits from a broad range of artists, many of whom had little or no academic training. Today, we characterize these types of paintings that fall outside of academic tradition as folk portraiture. These often naïve depictions of individuals, children, families and couples are beloved for their charming characterizations. The world-class assemblage of these portrayals in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum (AARFAM), one of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, is among the most popular with visitors. The museum celebrates its diamond anniversary in 2017 with We the People: American Folk Portraits, a long-term exhibition of more than 30 portraits which will open on May 6, 2017. The show will highlight new accessions on view for the first time as well as constant favorites.

“Colonial Williamsburg is blessed with one of the nation’s finest and most geographically diverse collections of American folk portraits. With their deeply human qualities, they are in many ways the heart of the Foundation’s folk art collection. It is highly fitting that they be featured in this special anniversary year,” said Ronald Hurst, the institution’s Carlisle H. Humelsine chief curator and vice president for collections, conservation, and museums.

Several portraits recently acquired by the AARFAM will be shown in We the People. Among them is an oil-on-canvas, Portrait of Daniel Clarke by Jacob Frymire, an itinerant painter who made this portrait in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, probably in 1791. While the young gentleman depicted has long been identified as Daniel Clarke, his name could refer to several men of the same name and appropriate age who lived in the region where Frymire worked. The well-dressed man, the red drapery behind him and the substantial brick building in the background suggest that either the subject was wealthy or the setting may have been aspirational. Portrait of the Jennison Family by Jefferson Gauntt (1805–1864) is another recently acquired painting to be shown. Gauntt depicts the close connections between the siblings in this strikingly unified composition. Each of the eight children born to the prosperous merchant William Jennison (1795–1866) is portrayed here physically connected or overlapping: a baby in arms, arms around shoulders, hand in hand. The group portrait descended in the family of the young male sitter to the far right of the canvas.

The itinerant artist John James Trumbull Arnold (1812–1865) painted another of the highlighted works to be displayed for the first time in We the People. Portrait of Mary Mattingly, an 1850 painting made in Mt. Savage, Maryland is one of three that the artist painted of this family’s members. Mary Mattingly is of the young daughter of Ellen and Sylvester Mattingly. She never married but lived independently and sold ice cream from her shop in Cumberland, Maryland. On the reverse of this portrait, like many of Arnold’s paintings, is the artist’s fancifully written signature and date; he used the same ornate script on his pen-and-ink self-portrait (also in the Colonial Williamsburg collection). Arnold described himself as a “professor of penmanship,” an occupation which may have predisposed him to a heavy reliance on linear definition of hands and facial features in his portraits.

“The beauty of this exhibition is that it provides us with the platform to exhibit long-term favorite portraits from the collection alongside new acquisitions,” said Laura Pass Barry, Juli Grainger curator of paintings, drawings and sculpture. “We have been fortunate over the past few years to acquire some wonderful examples of the form and we are thankful to the individuals who have helped to make this happen.”

Two Children, America, ca. 1810, oil on pine panel (Colonial Williamsburg: 1954.100.2, from the collection of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, gift of the Museum of Modern Art).

Included in We Are One are several favorites in the collection; one such example is Portrait of Mrs. Seth Wilkinson by The Wilkinson Limner, probably painted between 1827 and 1830 in New York State. Twenty portraits are attributed to the artist who painted Mrs. Seth Wilkinson, and because her likeness was among the first studied and possibly remains the best known, her name was adapted to identify her portrait painter. In this case, ‘limner’ means ‘painter’. Evidence about The Wilkinson Limner suggests that he began his career as a portraitist while incarcerated at the state prison in Charlestown, Massachusetts. About 1827, he began creating more opulent settings for his sitters, perhaps as a reflection of his newly regained freedom. It is also only fitting that an exhibition celebrating the 60th anniversary of the AARFAM includes a portrait that comes from the Mrs. Rockefeller’s collection. Such is the case with Two Children, an unusual American portrait painted ca. 1810. It is remarkable in several aspects including the placement of the two subjects within the painting’s overall design, which focuses on the children even as the darkened room, open door and temporarily-placed bench or chair in the background creates an air of mystery around them. The children seem to bridge two worlds; their setting seems to imply that they yearn to go outside but cannot.

We the People will not only offer a visual feast but will also debunk common misconceptions about American folk portraits, including whether or not the sitters are actually smiling and are wearing the same or stock clothing or costumes in their depictions. The topics of why subjects often appear with one hand in their coat pocket as well as whether or not the heads were added to pre-painted bodies will also be set straight. Research about many of the sitters and their portrait painters will also be shared throughout the exhibition to offer visitors a sense of who these people were.

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Exhibition | Eyewitness Views: Making History

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on May 8, 2017

Antonio Joli, Departure of Charles III from Naples to Become King of Spain, 1759, oil on canvas
(Madrid: Museo Nacional del Prado)

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Opening tomorrow at The Getty:

Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe
The Getty Center, Los Angeles, 9 May — 30 July 2017
Minneapolis Institute of Art, 10 September — 31 December 2017
The Cleveland Museum of Art, 25 February — 20 May 2018

Curated by Peter Björn Kerber

From Paris to Venice to Rome, Europe’s most iconic cities have played host to magnificent ceremonies and dramatic events—and artists have been there to record them. During the eighteenth century, princes, popes, and ambassadors commissioned master painters such as Canaletto and Panini to record memorable moments, from the Venetian carnival to eruptions of Vesuvius, inspiring what became the golden age of view paintings.

Giovanni Paolo Panini, The Musical Performance in the Teatro Argentina in Honor of the Marriage of the Dauphin, 1747, oil on canvas (Paris: Musée du Louvre)

This is the first exhibition to focus on view paintings as depictions of contemporary events. These reportorial works visually record occasions ranging from royal celebrations to state visits, religious ceremonies, sporting contests, and natural disasters. Their dates correspond to the golden age of European view painting from the beginning of the eighteenth century to the eve of the French Revolution. Through immersive compositions and a wealth of acutely observed detail, artists skillfully created the illusion that the viewer is present on the scene as history is made.

Memory & Manipulation

Members of the highest echelons of European society, from kings and popes to doges and ambassadors, commissioned view painters to commemorate the spectacular events staged at their command or for their benefit. In many cases, these noble patrons are themselves portrayed in the resulting canvases. While artists cultivated the impression that they were faithful chroniclers capturing an event on canvas just as they had witnessed it, they were in fact not above manipulating or ‘improving’ upon reality in order to meet the expectations of their status-conscious clientele.

Civic & Religious Ritual

In Europe’s major cities, the populace gathered throughout the year to commemorate local historic events, celebrate religious feast days, or participate in public rituals. Whether sacred or secular in character, these occasions were always imbued with civic pride. They were also among the few times when the different social classes interacted with each other and shared a common experience. Religious processions typically involved a revered object—such as the Blessed Sacrament, a relic, or a statue—that was carried through the streets with pomp and fanfare. A city’s deliverance from devastating epidemics of bubonic plague was commemorated with recurring festivals of thanksgiving and supplication, since the threat of a resurgence remained very real in the eighteenth century.

Festival & Spectacle

In eighteenth-century Europe, Venice was the undisputed capital of pageantry and entertainment. Undaunted by its political and economic decline, the Serene Republic and its aristocracy invested vast sums in maintaining its traditional ceremonies and dazzling its visitors—for example, by commissioning a new version of the Bucintoro, the lavishly gilded state barge used only on Ascension Day. Financial considerations were also brushed aside to provide extravagant entertainments for kings or princes staying in the city. The grandest of these special events was a ceremonial regatta. In Rome, a comparable level of opulence was seen in the French embassy’s celebrations of royal births and marriages.

Disaster & Destruction

Images of tragic events satisfied a desire for paintings that stimulated the imagination. Whether they showed devastation caused by warfare, fire, natural disaster, or political turmoil, these works offered viewers the thrill of witnessing a catastrophe. They stand apart from most other reportorial paintings in that they downplay the presence of rulers and nobility in favor of depicting the lower classes. Such figures were rarely intended to be recognizable likenesses of actual people. Instead, they serve as proxies through which viewers are able to funnel their own reactions to unfolding calamity.

From The Getty Store:

Peter Björn Kerber, Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2017), 252 pages, ISBN: 978-160606  5259, $45.

Canaletto, Bernardo Bellotto, Luca Carlevarijs, Giovanni Paolo Panini, Francesco Guardi, Hubert Robert—these renowned view painters are perhaps most famous for their expansive canvases depicting the ruins of Rome or the canals of Venice. Many of their most splendid paintings, however, feature important contemporary events. These occasions motivated some of the greatest artists of the era to produce their most exceptional work. Little explored by scholars, these paintings stand out by virtue of their extraordinary artistic quality, vibrant atmosphere, and historical interest. They are imbued with a sense of occasion, even drama, and were often commissioned by or for rulers, princes, and ambassadors as records of significant events in which they participated.

Lavishly illustrated and meticulously researched, this volume provides the first-ever comprehensive study—in any language—of this type of view painting. In examining these paintings alongside the historical events depicted in them, Peter Bjorn Kerber carefully reconstructs the meaning and context these paintings possessed for the artists who produced them and the patrons who commissioned them, as well as for their contemporary viewers.

Peter Björn Kerber is assistant curator of paintings at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

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Exhibition | Cross-Pollination

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on April 26, 2017

Dish from Chelsea Porcelain Factory, ca.1760; glazed porcelain with enamel; approximately 10 × 8 inches (Saint Louis Art Museum, Gift of Melanie Redler from the collection of Dr. and Mrs. Irving Redler, 188:2015).

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Opening next month at the Saint Louis Art Museum (along with Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715–2015, which was previously on view in Los Angeles and Sydney) . . .

Cross-Pollination: Flowers in 18th-Century European Porcelain and Textiles
Saint Louis Art Museum, 26 May — 26 November 2017

Curated by Genevieve Cortinovis

Intoxicated by scientific discovery, the fervor for natural science, particularly botany, reached new heights in 18th-century Europe. Botanical gardens and nurseries flourished, as did expertly illustrated albums describing flora and fauna of the Old and New World in tantalizing detail. Naturalism triumphed across the decorative arts, but especially in textiles and porcelain, where the media’s vibrant colors and painterly effects allowed for particularly artful and accurate botanical imagery.

The exhibition will feature a number of artworks never before exhibited at the Museum. Outstanding recent acquisitions include a rare silk damask by the English textile designer Anna Maria Garthwaite and an exceptional porcelain tureen and stand from a little-known Meissen dinner service. Two mid-18th-century dresses made of exquisite floral silk will be presented alongside recent gifts of Chelsea porcelain delicately painted with sprays of lilies, roses, and violets.

Cross-Pollination also examines potential sources for floral imagery by presenting rare illustrated books and plant specimens on loan from the Missouri Botanical Garden. The result is an interdisciplinary look at the dialogue between fashionable goods, nature, and natural science in the 18th century.

Cross-Pollination is curated by Genevieve Cortinovis, assistant curator of decorative arts and design at the Saint Louis Art Museum.

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Exhibition | The Luther Effect

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 19, 2017

Johann Valentin Haidt, First Fruits (Erstlingsbild),1748
(Herrnhut: Unitätsarchiv der Evangelischen Brüder-Unität, GS 463)

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From the exhibition website:

The Luther Effect: Protestantism—500 Years in the World
Der Luthereffekt 500 Jahre Protestantismus in der Welt
Deutsches Historisches Museum at Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, 12 April — 5 November 2017

The German Historical Museum (DHM) welcomes Martin-Gropius-Bau visitors on a trip through five centuries and across four continents. Marking the Reformation’s 500th anniversary, The Luther Effect shows the diversity and history, as well as the conflict potentials of Protestantism in the world. What impact has Protestantism had on other denominations and religions? How did Protestantism change through these encounters? And not least, how have people of different cultures adopted, shaped, and lived Protestant doctrine? Starting with Reformations in the 16th century, the exhibition highlights a global history of effect and counter-effect as seen in the examples of Sweden, the United States, South Korea, and Tanzania.

An impressive display of around 500 original exhibits in an exhibition space measuring some 3,000 square meters (32,000 square feet), the exhibition includes exceptional artworks and compelling, meaningful everyday objects from the era. Many of these extraordinary exhibits are being shown in Germany for the first time, to mark the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Modern media is used to give background information, enriching the exhibition.

Reformations, 1450–1600

The Reformation was a European event. Since the 16th century, various paths of reform had been leading to a renewal of the Church and life in general. Martin Luther’s Reformation was one of these. However, from a global perspective, other paths such as the Reformed Church or the Anglican Church in England were more influential. The Catholic Church also underwent a process of reform.

Undisputed beliefs and centuries-old practices were called into question. Soon proponents and opponents of reform were fighting not only against each another but also among themselves. The more radical movements like the Anabaptists were persecuted and marginalised not only by Catholics, but by Lutherans and the Reformed as well. The competition forced Luther, the Reformed, Anabaptists, Anglicans, and Catholics to clarify their own positions and to set themselves apart from others. The different reform paths developed into denominations that continue to evolve dynamically to this day.

One Land, One Religion: Sweden as a Lutheran Great Power, 1500–1750

King Gustav Vasa of Sweden, influenced by the Lutheran Reformation, broke with the Pope in Rome in 1527. This contributed to the spread of various reformist ideas in the Swedish Empire. But it was the Synod and the Parliament of Uppsala in 1593 that first established the Lutheran Church as the binding confession of Sweden, resulting in a Lutheran State Church and a confessionally unified state in Sweden.

The Swedish State Church brought the evolution of a new religious culture. The community that emerged saw itself as the protective power of Lutheranism. Swedish rulers and their armies fought on Europe’s battlefields for Sweden’s great power status and Luther’s doctrines. At home in Sweden, the State Church became increasingly restrictive. Church discipline, and the conversion of the Sámi who lived in the north of the country, were intended to consolidate the Lutheran faith and foster a common identity.

The United States of America: The Promised Land?, 1600–1900

Protestantism was brought to the British colonies of North America, later the United States, through the immigration of various groups, churches, and confessions, which accounts for the diversity of American Protestantism. A state church does not exist in the United States; instead, there is a vast landscape of independent churches. Protestantism in the USA developed its unique profile under the influence of charismatic revivalist preachers beginning in the 18th century. This gave rise to new confessions and numerous social reform movements. The so-called Black Churches of African Americans also emerged in the course of this development. Protestantism contributed significantly to the creation of the American nation and the formation of its self-understanding. It shaped the notion of America as the Promised Land, and of Americans as the Chosen People. These concepts gave rise to ideas that continue to influence American society to the present day.

Korea: Boom Land of Protestantism, 1850–2000

In the Republic of Korea (South Korea), numerous religions lead a relatively peaceful coexistence. Almost 30 percent of South Koreans consider themselves Christian, and slightly fewer than two-thirds of them are Protestant. This makes South Korea the only East Asian country where a significant proportion of the population is Protestant.

Protestant missionaries could not settle permanently in Korea until the mid-1880s. At this time, the first Protestant communities, founded by Korean laypeople, already existed. Using the Korean alphabetic script Han’gul to translate the Bible proved to be an important instrument for the missions. After the division of the land and the Korean War 1950–53, most Christians fled the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) to the South. Since the 1960s, South Korea has developed rapidly into an industrialised state. At the same time, the religious landscape has changed drastically: in 1950, three percent of South Koreans were Protestant, and by 1995 the number had already risen to around 20 percent. The relation to North Korea, including the possible reunification of the country, is a key issue in South Korea, and for the Protestant churches as well. On such questions the churches take very diverse positions.

Tanzania: Mission and Self-Reliance Today

The country of Tanzania has been shaped by migration and by the more than 130 ethnic groups who coexist there in a largely peaceful atmosphere. Among the many forms of Tanzanian Protestantism, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) plays a major role. With more than 6 million members in 24 dioceses, the ELCT is now the largest Lutheran Church in Africa and the second largest in the world. It traces its origins back to German, Scandinavian, and American missionary societies that were active in the region which had become the colony known as German East Africa (then encompassing today’s Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, and part of Mozambique). In addition, the Moravian Brethren, the Anglican Church, and charismatic movements were instrumental in the spread of Protestant faith communities.

A variety of Protestant churches rapidly developed, driven forward by devout Tanzanians. From the outset, the missions aimed to establish financially independent churches and parishes. Today, their influence extends beyond Tanzania’s borders. Missionaries from Tanzania work throughout the continent. With a heedful view of the European churches, they see themselves as preserving the original Lutheran ideals.

Transformation and Schism: Installation by Hans Peter Kuhn

Exclusively for the exhibition, the Berlin artist Hans Peter Kuhn transforms the atrium of the Martin-Gropius-Bau into a gigantic artwork out of aluminum tubing, light, and sound. The installation Transition approaches the worldwide effects of the Reformation from an artistic perspective and makes the processes of the transformation of the relationship of Man to God and the schism of the Church doctrines triggered by the Reformation palpable and perceptible.

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Published by Hirmer, the catalogue is distributed in North America and Japan by The University of Chicago Press:

The Luther Effect: Protestantism—500 Years in the World (Munich: Hirmer Verlag, 2017), 400 pages, ISBN: 978  37774  27225, $54.

To mark the occasion of the five-hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in 2017, The Luther Effect offers a vivid and rich journey across five centuries and four continents, detailing the visual history of the growth of Protestantism around the world. The book examines how Protestantism has affected—and been affected by—encounters with diverse denominations, cultures, and lifestyles throughout the centuries. It explores how Protestantism has adapted and transformed and how different people around the world have adopted, modified, and followed its doctrine. Including two hundred and fifty stunning color plates and looking specifically at the art and cultural objects created in response to and in celebration of the religious movement, The Luther Effect presents the first comprehensive global history of Protestantism’s influence, reverberations, and reception.

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Now Open: American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

Posted in exhibitions, museums by Editor on April 18, 2017

From the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation:

2017 is a pivotal year at Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, two premier living-history museums in two corners of America’s Historic Triangle that offer year-round experiences, compelling special exhibitions, events, and programs that immerse visitors into the story of America’s beginnings.

The Grand Opening Celebration of the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown March 23–April 4 culminates the museum’s 10-year transformation from the Yorktown Victory Center. The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown presents a renewed national perspective on the meaning and impact of the Revolution through introductory film, timeline, expansive gallery exhibits with nearly 500 artifacts, interactive displays and experiential theaters, and new settings for hands-on interpretive experiences in expanded re-creations of a Continental Army encampment and Revolution-era farm. The celebration launches the new museum with daily highlights of one of America’s 13 original states in the order that they ratified the Constitution, with a dedication ceremony on April 1. Patriotic festivities include gallery tours, living-history programs, artillery firings, flag-raising ceremonies, military musical performances, military re-enactments, lectures, and children’s activities.

Located next to Yorktown National Battlefield, the Yorktown Victory Center opened in 1976 as one of three Virginia visitor centers for the Bicentennial of the American Revolution. Structural and exhibit improvements were implemented in the 1990s, broadening the museum’s focus to encompass the entire Revolution. The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown is the realization of a master plan adopted in 2007. The plan called for replacing the 1976 facility, with the new building positioned on the 22-acre site to allow for continued operation throughout construction, and repositioning and reconstructing the encampment and farm. A new 80,000-square-foot building opened in March 2015, with a theater for showings of Revolution-theme films, an illustrated timeline spanning the second half of the 18th century, and a gift shop and cafe. An important element of the new building is an education center, with five classrooms and a separate entrance, to serve student groups and the general public with dynamic, interactive learning experiences.

The museum’s inaugural special exhibition—AfterWARd: The Revolutionary Veterans Who Built America—debuts June 10 and follows the post-war stories of veterans of the Siege of Yorktown and how they went on after the war to shape the America we know today. A series of plays, performances and public lectures June through November feature Revolutionary War veterans James Lafayette, Alexander Hamilton, the Marquis de Lafayette and Henry Knox as well as issues facing modern-day veterans.

At Jamestown Settlement, a museum of 17th-century Virginia history and culture, visitors this spring can experience new interactive gallery exhibits exploring the Powhatan Indian, English and west central African cultures that converged in the 1600s. As part of a phased gallery enhancement, touch-screen panels allow visitors to compare and contrast each culture’s language, religion, government, economy and family structure. Jamestown Settlement’s expansive gallery exhibits debuted in 2006 in time for America’s 400th Anniversary commemoration in 2007, and are now being refreshed a decade later with new technology.

Four hundred years after the 1617 death of Pocahontas in England, her image and legend live on. Using depictions of Pocahontas from across the centuries, Jamestown Settlement presents Pocahontas Imagined, a special exhibition opening July 15 that illuminates the reasons behind her enduring legacy as well as her impression on popular culture and art. The six-month exhibition features Pocahontas memorabilia, advertisements, and interactive experiences.

Outdoors, visitors can examine artistic patterns, lines, and colors in objects found in Jamestown Settlement’s re-created Powhatan Indian village, ships and fort. Public lectures in partnership with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts take place September 5, September 13, and October 3.

Jamestown Settlement is located on Route 31 at the Colonial Parkway next to Historic Jamestowne, administered by the National Park Service and Jamestown Rediscovery (on behalf of Preservation Virginia). The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown is located on Route 1020 in Yorktown near Yorktown Battlefield, administered by the National Park Service.

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