Exhibition | The Furniture of Isaac Vose

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on August 19, 2018

Now on view at the Massachusetts Historical Society:

Entrepreneurship and Classical Design in Boston’s South End: The Furniture of Isaac Vose and Thomas Seymour, 1815–1825
Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, 11 May — 14 September 2018

Virtually forgotten for 200 years, Isaac Vose and his brilliant furniture are revealed in a new exhibition and accompanying volume. Beginning with a modest pair of collection boxes he made for his local Boston church in 1788, Vose went on to build a substantial business empire and to make furniture for the most prominent Boston families. The exhibition and catalog restore Vose from relative obscurity to his rightful position as one of Boston’s most important craftsmen.

Robert Mussey and Clark Pearce, Rather Elegant Than Showy: The Classical Furniture of Isaac Vose (Boston: David R Godine, 2018), 312 pages, ISBN: 978-1567926194, $50.


Dennis M. Fiori

Robert D. Mussey, Jr.
• Introduction: Isaac Vose Forgotten, Rediscovered
• Early Career and Partnerships, 1788–1819
• Boston’s Classical Style Matures: The Salisbury Group
• The Global Elite: Vose & Son and the World of Imports
• Demanding the Finest
• A Hero Returns, an Era Ends

Clark Pearce
• By These Signs You Will Know Them: Connoisseurship and Construction of Vose Furniture

Appendix 1: Labeled, Signed, and Documented Furniture by Isaac Vose
Appendix 2: Vose’s Partners, Journeymen, Subcontractors, and Apprentices


Exhibition | Laurent Amiot: Canadian Master Silversmith

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on August 16, 2018

Now on view at the National Gallery of Canada:

Laurent Amiot: Canadian Master Silversmith
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 11 May — 23 September 2018

Curated by René Villeneuve

Laurent Amiot: Canadian Master Silversmith brings together an exceptional selection of silver pieces from the collection of the National Gallery of Canada, as well as from various public and private collections around the world. Considered one of the most influential Canadian silversmiths of the 18th and 19th centuries, Laurent Amiot (1764–1839) completely redefined his craft, turning it into an art form. Visitors to the National Gallery of Canada can explore the brilliance and delicacy of his work through the presentation of nearly a hundred key works, most exhibited for the first time. In addition to religious vessels, accessories, and commemorative and domestic objects, the exhibition features a unique set of preparatory drawings by the artist, as well as several portraits of patrons and paintings providing further context for Amiot’s life and work.

More information is available here»

René Villeneuve, Laurent Amiot: Canadian Master Silversmith (Vancouver: Figure 1 Publishing, In partnership with the National Gallery of Canada, 2018), 240 pages, ISBN: 978-1773270418, $50. Also available in French.

Laurent Amiot was born in Quebec City in 1764, and after a first apprenticeship stayed in Paris for five years, just before the French Revolution, to perfect his artistic training. He returned to his hometown in the spring of 1787, acquainted with the latest European stylistic trends, mastering the art of composition and possessing a solid technique. He opened a workshop in the Old City the following year, inaugurating a fruitful practice that spans five decades. This illustrated catalog, containing some 80 works on display, is published on the occasion of the presentation of the first retrospective devoted to the artist. Three chapters highlight the fundamental role of Amiot’s contribution to the development of art in Canada. The first two scrutinize his training, his practice, the operation of the workshop, the role of the collaborators and relationships with patrons. The third analyzes the work, trying to advance knowledge of the society in which it blossomed.

Exhibition | The Genius of Grinling Gibbons

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on August 10, 2018

Now on view at Fairfax House:

The Genius of Grinling Gibbons: From Journeyman to King’s Carver
Fairfax House, York, 14 April – 14 September 2018

Grinling Gibbons, King David Panel, ca. 1670, boxwood (York: Fairfax House).

Fairfax House is delighted to announce the recent acquisition of Grinling Gibbons’s King David Panel the earliest-known, surviving work by Gibbons—made in York. Saved from international export and potential obscurity in a private collection, this magnificent work now forms part of the permanent collection at Fairfax House.

To celebrate the ‘home-coming’ of this exquisite piece of craftsmanship and to illuminate the extraordinary skill of Grinling Gibbons—the ‘Michelangelo of Wood’—Fairfax House will be mounting a major new exhibition in 2018, The Genius of Grinling Gibbons: From Journeyman to King’s Carver. Opening on the 370th anniversary of Grinling Gibbons’ birth, this exhibition also marks the 350th year of his arrival in York. Drawing on new research and bringing together artworks and sculpture by the hand of this iconic individual from across the country (including St Paul’s Cathedral, Hampton Court Palace, the Sir John Soane Museum, and the V&A), The Genius of Grinling Gibbons celebrates Grinling Gibbons’s unequalled talent, his visionary genius, and his ability to transform the medium of wood into something magical. It will explore his development from an obscure journeyman through to becoming the country’s most celebrated master-carver, working for the King himself.

Exhibition | Masterpieces of French Faience

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on August 8, 2018

Press release for the exhibition opening this fall

Masterpieces of French Faience: Selections from the Sidney R. Knafel Collection
The Frick Collection, New York, 9 October 2018 — Autumn 2019

Curated by Charlotte Vignon

This fall, an exhibition at the Frick will draw from the holdings of Sidney R. Knafel, who has one of the world’s finest and most comprehensive private collections of French faience. With seventy-five objects, the presentation in the Portico Gallery tells the fascinating and complex history of an aspect of European decorative arts that warrants greater attention. The production of faience, a colorful tin-glazed earthenware, spans a vast history of more than two centuries. The earliest French examples were made in Lyon in the sixteenth century, while works from France’s Golden Age of production were made in Nevers and Rouen in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Production in the eighteenth century expanded to other locations, including Marseille, Moustiers, Sinceny, and Moulins. Comments Charlotte Vignon, the Frick’s Curator of Decorative Arts and organizer of the exhibition, “Faience was largely commissioned by a local regional aristocracy, and the result is another wonderful chapter in the history of ceramics that developed quite apart from the centers of political power and artistic innovation in Versailles and Paris. The Frick has never before exhibited such a large and impressive body of French faience, and we are delighted to illuminate the topic through such a distinguished collection.” The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue published in hard and softcover editions by the Frick, in association with D Giles Ltd.

As with other types of earthenware, faience remains porous after firing and therefore must be covered with a glaze. The glazes used include a tin oxide that creates the opaque white surface that covers the color of the underlying clay and also creates a stable surface for painting. The Knafel Collection comprises pieces decorated exclusively with the grand feu (literally, “ high fire”) technique, in which metal oxides are mixed with water and applied to the tin-glazed surface before firing at a temperature of about 1650° F. The palette is necessarily limited to those oxides that can withstand such extreme heat: cobalt (blue), antimony (yellow), manganese (purple and brown), iron (red-orange), and copper (green).

The production of faience in France corresponds to the arrival in Lyon, during the second half of the sixteenth century, of several Italian maiolica potters and painters seeking opportunities outside Italy. This influence is reflected in the French word faience, which derives from the northern Italian city of Faenza, an important center of maiolica production during the Renaissance. French faience draws inspiration from multiple sources, with decoration simultaneously indebted to Italian maiolica, Asian porcelain, and contemporary engravings, while the forms derived mostly from European ceramics and silver.

The function of a piece of French faience depended on the nature of the commission, the patron who first owned it, and its price. During the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, objects in faience were costly and therefore acquired, collected, and gifted exclusively by those at the highest levels of French society. Consequently, earlier pieces from Lyon and Nevers in the Knafel Collection were originally intended only for display, to be admired by their owners and guests. The spread of faience workshops in Nevers, Rouen, and elsewhere in France during the eighteenth century inevitably changed the status of these objects and hence their function. One of the most important changes was the later use of faience as dishware, on which to eat or serve food. To ensure the success of their workshops, French potters—beginning with those in Rouen—closely followed the culinary developments occurring in France at the time. Multiple dishes in different shapes and sizes were created in response to the requirements of the service à la française, which necessitated serving various dishes of a particular course at the same time. As the eighteenth century progressed, faience was increasingly used at all times of the day. In the morning, small faience boxes and jars stored pomades, powders, and other accessories of make up, alongside silver and porcelain vessels on a dressing table for ‘la toilette’.

Charlotte Vignon, Masterpieces of French Faience: Selections from the Sidney R. Knafel Collection (London: D. Giles, 2018), 72 pages, ISBN: 978-1911282310.


Frick Acquires Vase by Luigi Valadier

Posted in exhibitions, museums by Editor on August 8, 2018

Press release from The Frick:

Luigi Valadier (1726–1785), Vase, ca. 1770s, Rosso Appennino marble and gilt silver, approximately 9 × 6 × 4 inches (New York: The Frick Collection; photo by Michael Bodycomb).

Luigi Valadier was the preeminent silversmith in Rome during the second half of the eighteenth century. His work was admired by popes, royalty, and aristocrats throughout Europe. His oeuvre will be the subject of an upcoming monographic exhibition and publication at The Frick Collection, Luigi Valadier: Splendor in Eighteenth-Century Rome (31 October 2018, through 20 January 2019). Inspired by this project—the second in a series of much-needed exhibitions to focus on decorative artists who deserve fresh scholarship—the museum has purchased a unique vase by the artist. The vase, believed to be a special commission, is the only known marble example attributed to Valadier that was executed with gilt-silver mounts, rather than his more typical gilt bronze. The marble used for the vase is also unusual, a rarely used blood-red variety identified as Rosso Appennino. The vase is currently on view in the museum’s Library gallery.

The design of the vase—an ovoid body on a square base, with lanceolate leaves at the bottom and two lion heads with rings in their jaws at the neck—appears in a number of Valadier drawings: two sheets in the Museo Napoleonico, Rome, and one in the Museo di Roma. They all illustrate marble or alabaster vases to be used for flowers or as candlesticks, with lion heads on their sides. Four vases in alabaster following this design were given by the Roman senator Abbondio Rezzonico to Cardinal Giuseppe Doria Pamphilj and are still preserved in the family palace in Rome. One of the drawings in the Museo Napoleonico shows measurements in Genoese palmi, suggesting that this specific design was made for the work done about 1779, at Palazzo Spinola in Genoa, by the French architect Charles de Wailly, who was collaborating with Valadier at the time.

Professor Alvar González-Palacios, the world’s expert on Valadier and the curator of the Frick’s upcoming exhibition, believes that the marble vase may have been carved by Francesco Antonio Franzoni (1734–1818), a sculptor known for producing precious objects, often in bizarre and uncommon materials. The precious materials used for this vase—Rosso Appennino marble and gilt silver—and the quality of the chasing of the metal suggest that it was a private commission for an important aristocrat. The top, unlike the lids of other vases of similar design by Valadier, is not detachable, indicating that the vase was ornamental rather than utilitarian. The finial also differs from the other vases depicted in the drawings by Valadier; whereas the other finials are pine cones, the finial of the Frick vase is an acorn. Professor González-Palacios suggests that this may have heraldic significance and allude to one of Rome’s most prominent aristocratic families, the Chigi, whose coat of arms included oak branches and acorns. Prince Sigismondo Chigi (1736–1793) was one of Valadier’s most important patrons in the 1770s and early 1780s.

Sometime after 1716, Valadier’s father, André, moved from Avignon, in the south of France, to Rome, where he established a silversmith workshop that became one of the best known in the city. Luigi inherited his father’s business in 1759, and his unsurpassed technical expertise combined with his aesthetic taste led to a successful career marked by the production of extraordinary objects in gold, silver, and bronze. Antique sculptures, cameos, architectural details, and ruins of Roman monuments served as the inspiration for his imaginative candelabra, tableware, church altars, and centerpieces. The financial state of the Valadier workshop, however, was often precarious, and it seems the artist suffered as a result of commissions that were never paid. He committed suicide in 1785, drowning himself in the Tiber, presumably because of the debts he had accumulated.

Comments Xavier F. Salomon, Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator, “An exceptional object by Valadier, this vase is an excellent example of the silversmith’s art and a superb object to represent him at The Frick Collection. We are thrilled to add it to our holdings, as it perfectly complements our works by Pierre Gouthière, Valadier’s contemporary in France. It provides a wonderful introduction to New Yorkers as a part of the forthcoming exhibition.”

Exhibition | Peintures des lointains

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on August 4, 2018

Now on view at the Musée du Quai Branly:

Paintings from Afar: The Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac Collection
Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, 30 January 2018 — 6 January 2019

Curated by Sarah Ligner

For this initial exhibition devoted to the painting collection at the quai Branly, Paintings from Afar (Peintures des lointains) brings together nearly two hundred canvases and graphic works selected from among the five hundred works in the entire collection and dating from the late 18th century to the mid-20th century. It is a composite and largely unknown collection, where Ange Tissier’s odalisque sits alongside portraits of American Indians by George Catlin and scenes of day-to-day life in Cairo by Émile Bernard stand shoulder to shoulder with prints and drawings of Tahiti by Matisse and Gauguin.

This collection tells the story of an encounter with the Other and the Elsewhere, questioning the evolution of the artistic perspective of the unknown. In a rapidly expanding colonial Europe, Western art takes different paths when faced with the shock of a world that welcomes it in, first succumbing to the temptation of exoticism, where the exaltation of colour and light fuels dreams of a luxurious and exquisite Eastern world, before later coming to represent a more realistic, ethnographic perspective that is mindful of the Other. From oneirism and naturalism, fantasy to documentary and romanticism to colonial propaganda, the collection offers a reflection of artistic and political history.

The exhibition is curated by Sarah Ligner, Head of the Historic and Contemporary Globalisation Heritage Unit at the Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac.

Exhibition | Fray Manuel Bayeu

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on August 2, 2018

Now on view in Huesca, with a 24-page press kit, which includes a checklist arranged according to the major sections of the exhibition, available as a PDF file here:

Friar Manuel Bayeu: Carthusian, Painter, and Witness of His Time
Sala de exposiciones de la Diputación Provincial de Huesca, 21 July — 4 November 2018

Curated by José Ignacio Calvo Ruata

Desde el año 2015 la Diputación Provincial de Huesca es propietaria de la cartuja de Nuestra Señora de las Fuentes (Sariñena, Huesca), declarada Bien de Interés Cultural y uno de los principales monasterios de Aragón. Aunque fundada en 1507, el monumento tal como hoy lo conocemos fue levantado de nueva planta en el siglo XVIII. Posee un extenso conjunto de pinturas murales que cubren los muros y bóvedas de sus dependencias más nobles, indisolublemente unidas a los valores arquitectónicos del monasterio. Fueron realizadas por el cartujo y pintor fray Manuel Bayeu Subías (Zaragoza, 1740–¿1809?). La revalorización que vive hoy la cartuja y el interés que suscita el pintor invita a acercarnos a su obra y a su figura a través de una exposición monográfica.

Hermano de los afamados pintores de cámara Francisco y Ramón Bayeu y cuñado del universal Francisco de Goya, Manuel se formó como ellos en el lenguaje del barroco tardío, que mantuvo dentro de un estilo personal bastante estable a lo largo de toda su producción. Una concisa selección de obras de aquellos artistas y de otros como José Luzán, Corrado Giaquinto, Manuel Eraso y Diego Gutiérrez nos hablan en la exposición de las raíces artísticas de Manuel Bayeu.

De la actividad del artista en la cartuja monegrina dan cuenta algunos bocetos preparatorios para los grandes murales con arreglo a una manera metódica de trabajar que era habitual en la época. También realizó para su casa de profesión numerosos cuadros de caballete, como los que ilustran la vida de san Bruno, fundador de la Orden Cartujana. Autor muy prolífico y con enorme capacidad de trabajo, acometió asimismo muchos encargos para el exterior, entre los que destacan varios lienzos para la catedral de Huesca y la iglesia de Chodes o la decoración del nuevo ábside mayor de la catedral de Jaca, de cuyas trazas arquitectónicas también se hizo cargo y cuyos bocetos se han conservado en su totalidad. De todas estas obras da cuenta la exposición.

El conocimiento que tenemos de Manuel Bayeu nos brinda un atractivo añadido que es su faceta personal. A través de los documentos se adivina que fue hombre campechano y expansivo, y su condición de hermano cartujo no le impidió viajar y entablar relaciones muy cordiales con gentes diversas. Especial mención merece su amistad con Martín Zapater, el rico comerciante zaragozano que fue íntimo amigo de Goya. Manuel Bayeu le escribió numerosas cartas que conserva el Museo del Prado, doce de las cuales han sido seleccionadas para la exposición para retratar su perfil más humano a través de multitud de asuntos y anécdotas. También se conocen testimonios de las relaciones que tuvo con los hermanos Comenge de Lalueza, generosos benefactores de la cartuja, con algunos canónigos de Jaca, con la familia Ric de Fonz y con las monjas de Sijena, entre otras. Sin olvidar que con motivo de su viaje a Mallorca para pintar en la cartuja de Valldemosa mantuvo afectuoso trato con Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos, eminente figura de la Ilustración española. No son pocos los cuadros de tema religioso, retratos y pinturas de otros géneros que surgieron precisamente en el marco de las amistades cultivadas por el artista cartujo.

La exposición dedicada a fray Manuel Bayeu no se limita a una selección de lienzos, sino que incluye grabados, documentos, libros, esculturas y otros objetos al servicio de recrear un contexto que contribuye a ofrecer una visión globalizadora del personaje y a poner de relieve su cualidad de atento espectador del mundo que le tocó vivir, más allá de lo meramente artístico.

José Ignacio Calvo Ruata (Zaragoza, 1959), doctor en Historia del Arte. Dedicó su tesis al estudio de la vida y la obra del pintor fray Manuel Bayeu (Universidad de Zaragoza, 1998). Es especialista en pintura del siglo XVIII. Sus libros, artículos y conferencias abarcan también temas diversos de arte aragonés. Ha comisariado exposiciones, entre ellas las que llevan por título genérico Joyas de un patrimonio, dedicadas al patrimonio restaurado de la Provincia de Zaragoza, y recientemente la exposición Goya y Buñuel. Los sueños de la razón. Ha sido becario de investigación del Instituto de Estudios Altoaragoneses y profesor asociado de Historia del Arte de la Universidad de Zaragoza. Es Jefe de la Sección de Restauración de Bienes Muebles de la Diputación Provincial de Zaragoza, académico correspondiente de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Luis, Patrono de mérito de la Fundación Goya en Aragón, Director de Centro de Investigación y Documentación de la Fundación Goya en Aragón y miembro de Vestigium (grupo de investigación consolidado de la Universidad de Zaragoza).

José Ignacio Calvo Ruata, Elena Barlés Báguena, Carlos E. de Corbera y Tobeña, and Juan Carlos Lozano López, Fray Manuel Bayeu: Cartujo, pintor y testigo de su tiempo (Huesca: Diputación Provincial de Huesca, 2018), 300 pages, ISBN: 978-8492749676, 30€ / $70.

• Prólogo
• José Ignacio Calvo Ruata, Semblanza de fray Manuel Bayeu, cartujo y pintor
• Juan Carlos Lozano López, Pintar en los claustros (siglos XVII y XVIII)
• Elena Barlés Báguena, El siglo de oro de la cartuja de Nuestra Señora de las Fuentes
• José Ignacio Calvo Ruata, Fray Manuel Bayeu en la cartuja de Nuestra Señora de las Fuentes
• José Ignacio Calvo Ruata, El monasterio de Sijena y la familia Ric en las andanzas de fray Manuel Bayeu
• Carlos E. de Corbera y Tobeña, Heráldica y genealogía en la pintura de fray Manuel Bayeu
• José Ignacio Calvo Ruata, Obras de fray Manuel Bayeu en exposición
• Catálogo general de la exposición
• Bibliografía

Exhibition | Captive Bodies: British Prisons, 1750–1900

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on July 30, 2018

Joseph Wright of Derby, The Prisoner, 1787–90, oil on canvas, 41 × 47 cm (New Haven: Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, B1981.25.715).

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From the YCBA:

Captive Bodies: British Prisons, 1750–1900
Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 27 August — 25 November 2018

Curated by Courtney Skipton Long

Drawing on objects from across the Center’s collections, this exhibition focuses on the experience of prisoners in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the structures that confined them. Featuring iconic representations of life under lock and key by Sir Joshua Reynolds, Joseph Wright of Derby, George Romney, and Francis Wheatley, these images were conceived at a time when prisons were coming under intense scrutiny.

In 1773 the penal reformer John Howard began four years surveying the prisons of England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and northern Europe before publishing in 1777 his State of the Prisons in England and Wales, an unprecedented study of the woeful conditions in which convicts were confined. The impact of his demand for sweeping reform is reflected not only in the popularity of the theme of incarceration and emancipation in the work of contemporary artists but also in the architectural drawings and designs included in this exhibition. George Dance the Younger’s iconic Newgate Prison (1769), a rusticated fortress of punishment, is contrasted with a pioneering design for a new jail on a progressive, radial plan by Sir Jeffry Wyatville, itself based on the ‘scientific’ Panopticon of Jeremy Bentham. This in turn is juxtaposed to Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin’s critique of the extension of the radial prison plan to the architecture of the workhouse for the indigent poor and his own proposals for a more humane and less utilitarian structural alternative in his 1841 publication, Contrasts.

This exhibition will also include prison ephemera, cell keys, and a collection of mugshots from the Nottingham House of Correction, as well as a photographic record of the West Riding Prison and its officers from the 1880s. Taken together, the representations of both prisons and prisoners in this exhibition will aid to illustrate the historical thinking about justice, imprisonment, and punishment.

Captive Bodies: British Prisons, 1750–1900 has been organized and curated at the Center by Courtney Skipton Long, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Art Collections.

Exhibition | Gainsborough and the Theatre

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on July 29, 2018

This fall at The Holburne Museum:

Gainsborough and the Theatre
The Holburne Museum, Bath, 5 October 2018 — 20 January 2019

Curated by Hugh Belsey and Susan Sloman

Thomas Gainsborough, Portrait of Mrs, Siddons, 1785 (London: The National Gallery).

By bringing together some of Thomas Gainsborough’s finest portraits of his friends in the theatre, this exhibition will create a conversation between the leading actors, managers, musicians, playwrights, designers, dancers, and critics of the 1760s–80s. Gainsborough and the Theatre explores themes of celebrity, naturalism, performance, and friendship through some of the most touching likenesses by ‘the most faithful disciple of Nature that ever painted’. The exhibition will include 37 objects, including 15 oil portraits by Gainsborough, works on paper (including satires, views of theatres, and playbills), and ephemera from public and private collections across the UK.

Following the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, theatre became an increasingly popular pastime, with existing playhouses enlarged and others newly commissioned throughout London and the provinces—particularly in Bath, where the Holburne Museum is located. In 1759, 32-year-old Gainsborough arrived in Bath, accompanied by his wife and two daughters. Having already garnered a reputation as a skilled portraitist, he soon found a keen clientele among Bath’s fashionable (and well-off) visitors. Gainsborough’s arrival in the West Country coincided with the rising wealth and social status of leading actors, such as James Quin and David Garrick, both of whom he painted. His friendship with the pair opened more doors for him, both in Bath and then later in London. The two actors also enabled Gainsborough to explore naturalism in portraiture, just as they and their contemporaries were turning to less artificial forms of performance in theatre, music, and dance.

Gainsborough & the Theatre is supported by Bath Spa University, Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel, and a publications grant from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art—with Farrow and Ball as the exhibition paint partner.

Hugh Belsey and Susan Sloman, Gainsborough and the Theatre (London: Philip Wilson, 2018), 112 pages, ISBN: 978-1781300664, $20.

Based on new research this book draws together a group of works from public and private collections to examine, for the first time, the relationship that Gainsborough had with the theatrical world and the most celebrated stage artists of his day. His advocate Henry Bate, editor of the Morning Herald, wrote one of the most successful theatrical afterpieces of the period.

Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788) was linked with the stage through personal friendships with James Quinn, David Garrick and Sarah Siddons, the most renowned actors of the eighteenth century. He painted notable portraits of these and twenty others, including dramatists, dancers and composers.

Not long after Gainsborough moved from Bath to London in 1774 the management of the Drury Lane Theatre passed to the artist’s friends Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Thomas Linley. At this period London’s theatres were undergoing regular refurbishment to take account of technical innovations in lighting and stage machinery. At the King’s Theatre in Haymarket in 1778 the ‘elegant improvements’ included frontispiece figures emblematic of Music and Dancing painted in monochrome by Gainsborough.

The book establishes the artist’s place within Bath and London’s theatrical worlds. It will show why the art of ballet, and in particular Gainsborough’s sitters Gaetan Vestris, Auguste Vestris, and Giovanna Baccelli rose to prominence in 1780, and examines parallels between Gainsborough’s much admired painterly naturalism and the theatrical naturalism of David Garrick and Mrs. Siddons.

Hugh Belsey formed a collection of the artist’s work at Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury much of which was published in Gainsborough at Gainsborough’s House (2002). During his time at the museum he organised many exhibitions most notably Gainsborough’s Family (1988) and, with Felicity Owen, From Gainsborough to Constable (1991).

Susan Sloman is an independent researcher and writer. Since her first article on Gainsborough in 1992 she has contributed new research on the painter in The Burlington Magazine and published Gainsborough in Bath (2002) and Gainsborough’s Landscapes (2011) and has contributed to both Sensation and Sensibility (ed. Ann Bermingham, 2005) and Gainsborough’s Family (ed. David Solkin, 2018).

Exhibition | On a Pedestal

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on July 25, 2018

Alessandro Galilei and Edward Lovett Pearce, Castletown House, Celbridge, County Kildare, ca. 1722–29, built for William Conolly, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons; extensive rennovations were made by Lady Louisa Conolly starting in 1759 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons).

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Now on view at Castletown:

On a Pedestal: Celebrating the Contemporary Portrait Bust
Castletown House, Celbridge, County Kildare, 1 July – 31 August 2018
Dublin Castle, 8 September — 4 November 2018

Curated by Mary Heffernan, Hélène Bremer, and Nuala Goodman

Inspired by the classical busts in Castletown’s Long Gallery, this exhibition brings together works from an international group of contemporary artists who explore the genre of the portrait bust in a variety of media: from wood to stone, from marble to ceramics, from stainless steel to more ephemeral materials such as sugar. Initiating a dialogue between past and present, classic and modern art, the diversity of materials and techniques used by the artists represented in the exhibition will inspire visitors this summer.

Among those included in the exhibition are Irish artists Ursula Burke, Janet Mullarney and Kevin Francis Gray. International artists include Sir Tony Cragg, Giulio Paolini, and Ah Xian. Curated by Mary Heffernan, General Manager Castletown House; Hélène Bremer, Dutch art historian and curator; and Nuala Goodman, Milan-based Irish artist and curator.

Installation view of the exhibition On a Pedestal: Celebrating the Contemporary Portrait Bust at Castletown House.

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From Aidan Dunne’s article for The Irish Times (3 July 2018). . .

This year, observes Mary Heffernan, the general manager of Castletown House, is the 275th anniversary of the birth of “the great heroine of the story of Castletown,” Lady Louisa Connolly. On a Pedestal, an exhibition of portrait busts at Castletown, is intended as an homage to Louisa, and “the magical Long Gallery she created.”

Anne Valerie Dupond, ‘Lady Louisa Connolly’, 2018.

In 1743 Louisa was born into privileged circumstances: her father was the second Duke of Richmond, and her childhood was spent in great houses, including Richmond House in Whitehall, Goodwood House in Sussex and, after her parents died within a year of each other, Carton House in Co Kildare. She married Thomas Connolly of Castletown, the wealthiest man in Ireland, in 1758.

Inspired by the many houses she knew and loved, she set about making changes to Castletown, including a new cantilevered staircase, La Franchini plasterwork, the print room, diningroom and the Long Gallery. The gallery, which she referred to as her livingroom, housed her library with busts and murals of classical writers, philosophers, gods and goddesses, including the nine muses. Compare it to the collection in the Long Gallery in Trinity College Dublin, initiated in 1743, which historian Hélène Bremer describes as the most significant single influence on Louisa’s project .…

The full article is available here»