Exhibition | Joshua Johnson: Portraitist of Early American Baltimore

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 12, 2021

The exhibition opens this Saturday; from the press release:

Joshua Johnson: Portraitist of Early American Baltimore
Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, Hagerstown, Maryland, 17 April — 24 October 2021

Curated by Daniel Fulco

This exciting exhibition, organized by the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts and curated by Daniel Fulco, Agnita M. Stine Schreiber Curator, is the first monographic look at the work of the enigmatic and compelling African American artist Joshua Johnson (ca. 1763–1824) since 1988. Often considered the first professional Black artist in America, Johnson was a freed slave who achieved a remarkable degree of success as a portraitist in his lifetime by painting affluent patrons in his native Baltimore. Johnson’s subjects consisted of politicians, doctors, clergymen, merchants, and sea captains.

Joshua Johnson: Portraitist of Early American Baltimore contextualizes Johnson both historically and culturally and explores further the key forms of natural symbolism represented in his paintings. Featuring works by Johnson and his contemporaries, key loans come from the Maryland Center for History & Culture, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. This exhibition also will include a fully illustrated scholarly interpretive catalogue and a diverse range of related educational programs. Museum Director Sarah J. Hall says, “This exhibition has been in planning for three years, and has ended up being a particularly timely investigation of both art history and Black history. Additionally, it adds to our understanding of regional history in terms of both the practice of portraiture and our understanding of those who made and commissioned portraits. Happily, the exhibition will be on view for a full six months in order to allow as many people as possible to enjoy Johnson’s work and the wide variety of related public programs scheduled.”

An artist whose ancestry was both African and European, Johnson was primarily a self-taught painter. He was especially adept at capturing his sitters’ features and the details of their clothing, which offered subtle insights into their personalities. Johnson’s attention to detail and extensive inclusion of moths, fruits, and flowers in his paintings indicate that he carefully absorbed techniques and motifs from traditional European portraiture to create symbolic meaning. Furthermore, Johnson combined these elements with the latest trends in his genre, responding closely to work of the Peales, Charles Peale Polk, and Mid-Atlantic limners such as Frederick Kemmelmeyer and Caleb Boyle.

Given his background and the era in which he lived, Johnson was impelled to overcome many racial and social hurdles in pursuing his profession and he persevered remarkably in that endeavor. As described in an advertisement in the Baltimore Intelligencer from 1798, Johnson referred to himself in the third person as “A self-taught genius, deriving from nature and industry his knowledge of the Art; and having experienced many insuperable obstacles in the pursuit of his studies, it is highly gratifying to him to make assurances of his ability to execute all commands with an effect, and in a style, which must give satisfaction.”

Joshua Johnson, Portrait of the James McCormick Family, 1804–05, oil on canvas, 51 × 69 inches (Collection of Maryland Center for History and Culture, Baltimore, gift of Dr. Thomas C. McCormick, 1920.6.1).

Such issues of race in Early American society still remain relevant and while a compelling and important theme to consider in relation to Johnson’s life and work, the exhibition also examines how his work engages with key developments in Maryland’s artistic heritage from approximately 1760 until 1840. Joshua Johnson: Portraitist of Early American Baltimore also explores issues related to politics, slavery, abolitionism, and society in antebellum Maryland.

As a complement to the Joshua Johnson: Portraitist of Early American Baltimore, the Museum will be installing a companion exhibition. Face to Face: Portraits from the 18th and 19th Centuries (April–October 2021), featuring European and American portraits from the permanent collection. These works expand the context of the Johnson exhibition and allow for a deeper understanding of the artist’s portraiture both before and during his lifetime.

Joshua Johnson: Portraitist of Early American Baltimore is organized by the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. This exhibition is generously supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Art Dealers Association of America Foundation, Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area, Maryland Marketing Partnership, and Community Foundation of Washington County Maryland, Inc. This exhibition also is made possible with the support of an anonymous donor, Mr. and Mrs. James N. Holzapfel, Dr. & Mrs. George E. Manger, Dr. and Mrs. Robert S. Strauch, and Mr. & Mrs. Thomas B. Riford.

Daniel Fulco, ed., with David Taft Terry and Mark B. Letzer, Joshua Johnson: Portraitist of Early American Baltimore (Hagerstown, MD: Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, 2021), 106 pages, ISBN: 978-09144950301 (paperback), $25 / ISBN: 978-09144950408 (ebook), $10.

Daniel Fulco is Agnita M. Stine Schreiber Curator at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. David Taft Terry is Associate Professor in the Department of History and Geography and Coordinator, Museum Studies & Historical Preservation Program at Morgan State University. Mark B. Letzer is President & CEO of the Maryland Center for History and Culture.

A variety of engaging complementary on-line programs are scheduled to enhance enjoyment of the exhibition, including discussions, lectures, and lesson-plans for use in classroom or at home. Check wcmfa.org, or the Museum’s social media pages for more information on registration and access.

About the Museum
Located in beautiful City Park, Hagerstown, Maryland, the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts was founded in 1931, the legacy of Hagerstown native Anna Brugh Singer and her husband, Pittsburgh-born artist William Henry Singer, Jr. Featuring a collection of more than 6,000 objects, the Museum has important holdings of American painting, Old Masters, decorative arts, and sculpture. The Museum schedules an ambitious program of exhibitions, lectures, concerts, tours, and talks featuring national and international artists, and annually organizes and hosts the Cumberland Valley Artists and Cumberland Valley Photographers exhibitions, as well as a yearly showcase of the art of K-12 students in Washington County Public Schools. Its free youth art education programs have served four generations of local families. The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts has been free to the public since 1931.

Exhibition | Bound for Versailles

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on April 3, 2021

Opening this summer at The Morgan:

Bound for Versailles: The Jayne Wrightsman Bookbindings Collection
The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, 25 June — 26 September 2021

Binding by Jacques-Antoine Derome for Marie Leczinska, with the queen’s arms under mica. Le Pseautier de David, traduit en francois, avec des notes courtes, tirées de S. Augustin, & des autres Peres. Nouvelle edition, Paris: Chez Louis Josse et Charles Robustel, 1725. W 1028.

In the spring of 2019 Jayne Wrightsman bequeathed to the Morgan an exceptional collection of books bound for the highest echelons of 18th-century French society. Owned by kings, queens, dukes, and duchesses, the books are monuments of fine printing, elegant engraved illustration, and artistic binding by the most renowned craftspeople. Elaborately decorated bookbindings provided a canvas for an individual to signal their wealth and taste through bookbinders who reflected the trends and developments in contemporary artistic styles.

The books on display showcase the important role women—such as Madame Adélaïde (daughter of King Louis XV) and Queen Marie-Antoinette—had as book owners and collectors. Book illustrations by François Boucher, Jean-Baptiste Oudry, and Charles-Nicolas Cochin capture the visual ethos of the 18th century, while the artisan binders (male and female) at the workshops of Luc-Antoine Boyet, Antoine-Michel Padeloup, Nicolas-Denis Derome, and others produced bindings worthy of the shelves at Versailles. This exhibition honors Mrs. Wrightsman’s gift and her collecting acumen in recognizing the important role bookbinding played in the decorative arts and the cultural life of the Ancien Régime.

Bound for Versailles: The Jayne Wrightsman Bookbindings Collection is made possible with support from the Jamie and Maisie Houghton Fund and the Parker Gilbert Fund, and with assistance from the Malcolm Hewitt Wiener Foundation.

Exhibition | Bibiena Drawings from the Jules Fisher Collection

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 3, 2021

Opening in May at The Morgan:

Architecture, Theater, and Fantasy: Bibiena Drawings from the Jules Fisher Collection
The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, 28 May — 12 September 2021

For nearly a century, members of three generations of the Bibiena family were the most highly sought theater designers in Europe. Their elaborate stage designs were used for operas, festivals, and courtly performances across Europe: from their native Italy to cites as far afield as Vienna, Prague, Stockholm, St. Petersburg, and Lisbon. Beyond these performances, the distinctive Bibiena style survives through their remarkable drawings. This exhibition is the first in the United States in over thirty years to celebrate these talented draftsmen and marks the promised gift to the Morgan of a group of Bibiena drawings from the collection of Jules Fisher, the Tony-winning lighting designer. These drawings demonstrate the range of the Bibienas’ output, from energetic sketches to highly finished watercolors. With representations of imagined palace interiors and lavish illusionistic architecture, this group of drawings will highlight the visual splendor of the baroque stage.

Arnold Aronson, Diane Kelder, John Marciari, and Laurel Peterson, Architecture, Theater, and Fantasy: Bibiena Drawings from the Jules Fisher Collection (London: Paul Holberton, 2021), 96 pages, ISBN: 978-1913645045, £17 / $25.

Arnold Aronson is professor of theatre in the MFA Theatre Program at the Columbia University School of the Arts. Diane Kelder is professor emerita of art history at the Graduate Center, CUNY, and consulting curator of the Fisher collection. John Marciari is the Charles W. Engelhard Curator of Drawings and Prints and curatorial chair at the Morgan Library & Museum. Laurel Peterson, formerly the Moore Curatorial Fellow at the Morgan Library & Museum, is an independent scholar.


Exhibition | Taming the Tongue in the Heyday of English Grammar

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on March 24, 2021

From the press release for the exhibition:

Taming the Tongue in the Heyday of English Grammar, 1711–1851
The Grolier Club, New York, 4 March — 15 May 2021

The exhibition Taming the Tongue in the Heyday of English Grammar (1711–1851), is on display March 4 through May 15, 2021, at the Grolier Club. It offers a revelatory glimpse into a time when English grammar was taught and studied with a grim fervor unthinkable to us now. Sales of books on grammar were second only to those of the Bible. The subject was so serious that grammar books, when illustrated, often showed pictures of children being caned or whipped, perhaps for sins such as dangling their participles.

Some grammarians offered beautiful tributes to the language; others came for battle, armed with claims of invincibility against allegedly incompetent rivals. This exhibition tells the colorful story of these books and the extraordinary characters who wrote them. Highlights from the English-grammar collection of Bryan A. Garner, a grammarian, lexicographer, law professor, and Grolier member, are on view in the second-floor gallery.

The exhibition also explores issues central to our literary history. For instance, it sheds new light on the rivalry between Noah Webster, the “father of the American dictionary,” and Lindley Murray, the “father of English grammar.” One previously unknown document connects the two men in a failed business transaction in New York—a real-estate contract that Webster breached. It helps explain how the two men came to detest each other.

There’s more:
• Elizabeth Elstob, who in 1715 wrote the first Old English grammar despite being raised by an uncle who disapproved of female education. The book is an amazing feat.
• William Cobbett, a populist politician who became a grave-robber, digging up Thomas Paine’s bones in hopes of rallying the English around political reform. Passionate about linguistic correctness, he would have gone to prison (where he often found himself), had the need arisen, in defense of his grammatical views.
• Samuel Kirkham, the best-selling grammarian who inspired Abraham Lincoln. Kirkham was also a phrenologist who bequeathed his own skull to his widow, and then to his son. His obituary began with its precise measurements.

One of the grammars, by John Comly (1808), contains the first-known (now widely repudiated) prohibition of the split infinitive. Another, by Ann Fisher (1762), first laid down the still-controversial ‘rule’ that the masculine pronoun includes the feminine.

The catalogue tells some extraordinary stories, such as the member of Congress—a Pennsylvania Whig—who in 1847 wrote a grammar filled with racial animus; the Ohio gubernatorial contender who in 1835 wrote a grammar rife with plagiarism, which helped get him booted from his church; and a cult leader who, once excommunicated, decided in 1826 to write a grammar “to liberate this important branch of science from long-received errours [sic].” Then there’s the best-selling grammar with the big-print typo on the title page: “ENGISH GRAMMAR.”

This is not your father’s grammar—nor your mother’s. It’s your great-great-great-great grandparents’ grammar. And it’s all on display at the Grolier Club, accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue from Oak Knoll Press.

Bryan Garner, Taming the Tongue in the Heyday of English Grammar, 1711–1851 (New York: The Grolier Club, 2021), 301 pages, ISBN: 978-1605830926, $45.

An online version is available here»

Exhibition | Yinka Shonibare CBE: End of Empire

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on March 21, 2021

Yinka Shonibare CBE, End of Empire, 2016; fiberglass mannequins, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, metal, wood, motor, globes, and leather; 116 × 201 × 39 inches.

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Opening this spring at the Museum der Moderne:

Yinka Shonibare CBE: End of Empire
Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, 22 May — 12 September 2021

Curated by Thorsten Sadowsky and Marijana Schneider

One of the most prominent and versatile artists working in the UK today, Yinka Shonibare CBE (b. London, 1962) makes work that scrutinizes the legacy of Western colonialism and its lingering traces. The British-Nigerian artist rose to renown with installations featuring headless life-sized figures in historic costumes tailored out of colorful batik-dyed fabrics. A self-described ‘postcolonial hybrid’, Shonibare zooms in on episodes from art and history, primarily from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe, employing subversive creative strategies to visualize them in tragicomic scenes of human activity. Shonibare’s multimedia oeuvre probes constructions of race, class, and national and cultural identities through a sustained study of the historic interdependencies between Africa and Europe. The retrospective gathers ca. sixty works from the past thirty years.

The catalogue is distributed in North American by The University of Chicago Press:

Thorsten Sadowsky, ed., Yinka Shonibare CBE: End of Empire (Munich: Hirmer Publishers, 2021), 256 pages, ISBN: 978-3777435893, $45.

Since the 1990s, the British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare CBE has developed opulently executed sculptures and installations, colorful collages, and theatrically staged photographs and films. The signature material in Yinka Shonibare’s multimedia artworks, so-called African fabric, is a cipher. Originally produced in Manchester and intended for sale in Indonesia, the brightly colored fabric gained its name after British imperialists shifted their focus to colonial Africa. Featuring this product of both colonization and self-identification, Shonibare’s sculptures and installations revisit the conflicted legacy of many historical artifacts in order to explore the complex hybridity of postcolonial life with unique irony. Illustrated by two hundred full-color reproductions of his work, Yinka Shonibare CBE: End of Empire offers an up-close encounter with the tensions and history that motivate this singular artist, tracing colonialism and its consequences for leaders, worldviews, and body images in his oeuvre.

Thorsten Sadowsky is director of the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg, Austria.


Exhibition | Thomas Lawrence: Coming of Age

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on March 14, 2021

From The Holburne Museum:

Thomas Lawrence: Coming of Age
The Holburne Museum, Bath, 9 January — 3 May 2021 (currently closed)

When he arrived in Bath in 1780, aged just eleven, Thomas Lawrence (1769–1830) was already being hailed as a prodigy in the mould of Renaissance masters such as Raphael, Dürer, and Michelangelo. The Holburne Museum’s new exhibition, Thomas Lawrence: Coming of Age, focuses on works made when the artist was between the ages of ten and twenty-two, giving visitors fresh insights into the early development of one of Britain’s greatest portrait painters and the range of his uniquely prodigious talent. The show includes some of Lawrence’s earliest and most brilliant works in pencil, pastel, and oil—several of which have been rarely seen in public.

When the Royal Academy’s 22nd annual exhibition opened in April 1790, its most sensational paintings included twelve portraits by Lawrence. Visitors and critics could scarcely believe that the artist was only 20 (he was due to celebrate his 21st birthday the following week); in fact, one reviewer published Lawrence’s birth certificate to prove that the creator of several of the exhibition’s most outstanding and original works had yet to come of age.

The Holburne exhibition presents fifteen works, following the future President of the Royal Academy over a period of twelve years, from childhood to his early-twenties. Seven of these years were spent in Bath, where he learned the professional skills of a portrait painter, and five in London where, despite his youth, he produced some of his most brilliant and memorable work. The show begins in 1779 as Lawrence, the Bristol-born son of an innkeeper from Devizes in Wiltshire, makes his debut as a child prodigy in Oxford. It follows him to the competitive and colourful world of Bath, where he made friends with actors such as David Garrick and writers, including the famed diarist Fanny Burney, and other influential patrons. Bath being Bath, his sitters included some of the most famous and glamorous members of British high society, including the legendary Georgiana Spencer, later Duchess of Devonshire, whose 1782 pastel on paper portrait has been kindly loaned to the exhibition by the Chatsworth House Trust. The story ends in the early 1790s shortly before his election as a full member of the Royal Academy, aged 25.

Thomas Lawrence, Head of Minerva, 1779, pencil drawing (Private Collection).

Lawrence had demonstrated an aptitude for sketching when he was around the age of four and had begun producing saleable work aged six. It is known from the few surviving early portraits that he began working in graphite pencil, drawing quick, small-scale head and shoulder profiles on vellum. Coming of Age features several such portraits: the earliest, a Head of Minerva (private collection) made in 1779 during his brief sojourn in Oxford; an accomplished and imaginative profile portrait of his sister Anne (British Museum), drawn in 1781; and a sketch of his cousin, Miss Hammond (British Museum), made in the same year, vividly capturing the young girl’s character and energy.

The artist’s father, recognising his son’s artistic gifts, had taken Thomas to Oxford and London on something of a promotional tour. It was in the capital that Lawrence met the preeminent English painter and President of the Royal Academy, Sir Joshua Reynolds, who is said to have pronounced the youngster as his successor and, according to Fanny Burney’s account from 1780: “The most promising genius he had ever met with.”

Lawrence’s father was declared bankrupt in 1779, and the family relocated to Bath, a thriving city with a wealthy and fashionable society, which would afford the putative artist ample opportunity to demonstrate his skills and make money.

Near the time of his eighteenth birthday, Lawrence moved to London where, despite his youth, he produced some of his most brilliant and memorable work, a fine example of which is the Holburne’s own preparatory sketch for a portrait (now in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art), of Arthur Atherley (1791). Five years after leaving Bath, Lawrence exhibited his final three-quarter-length portrait of Arthur Atherley at the Royal Academy. At the time, he was just three years older than his nineteen-year-old sitter, who had recently left Eton College. The Holburne portrait of Atherley is both striking and memorable, showing the determined the youngster as he launches into the adult world.

Thomas Lawrence, Portrait of Elizabeth Carter, pastel on vellum, ca. 1788–89, 35 × 30 cm (London: National Portrait Gallery).

Coming of Age charts Lawrence’s development as an artist, showing his use of different materials and burgeoning technical craft. As his ability in oil and chalk grew, he gradually abandoned pastel portraits. His last and best head in crayons is a likeness of the elderly classical scholar Elizabeth Carter (ca. 1788–89, National Portrait Gallery). Carter was renowned as a woman of exceptional intellectual powers and also possessed great warmth as a person, which Lawrence’s portrait evokes, revealing her combination of the cerebral and the grandmotherly, deftly using pastel to convey the soft plumpness of her face and the elaborately trimmed and starched cap, while her thoughtful expression suggests a mind tuned to higher things.

The Holburne’s Director, Chris Stephens, says: “Thomas Lawrence did as much as any other artist, before or after him, to define the age in which he lived. The Holburne is renowned for celebrating local creativity and bringing the best of world art to the region, and this is perfectly encapsulated in the study of Thomas Lawrence’s youthful works, a true Bath story. He is our very own answer to Raphael. The exhibition was inspired by our acquisition of one of Lawrence’s greatest works, his Portrait of Arthur Atherley, 1791. It is one of a number of portraits by Lawrence of young men, and women, in their late teens, on the cusp of adulthood. This is, perhaps, a unique phenomenon of an artist portraying young adulthood when he was, himself, not much older than the sitters. It is around this idea of young people facing a rite of passage, confronting the hopes and fears of leaving adolescence for adulthood, that we find some of the contemporary resonances in Lawrence’s art.”

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Amina Wright, Thomas Lawrence: Coming of Age (London: Philip Wilson Publishers, 2021), 112 pages, ISBN: 978-1781300947, £18.



1  Portrait of the Artist as a Young Prodigy
2  Striking Likenesses
3  Old Masters and New Horizons
4  Risking my Reputation
5  The Most Hazardous Step
6  Gleams of Power

Select Bibliography
Image Credits

Exhibition | Canaletto: Painting Venice

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on March 14, 2021

Canaletto, Grand Canal looking East from Palazzo Bembo to Palazzo Vendramin-Calergi, 1733–36
(Woburn Abbey Collection)

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From The Holburne Museum:

Canaletto: Painting Venice
The Holburne Museum, Bath, 22 January — 5 September 2021 (currently closed)

In 2021, the Holburne Museum in Bath will present the most important set of paintings of Venice by Canaletto (1697–1768), which will leave their home at Woburn Abbey—one of world’s most important private art collections—for the first time in more than 70 years. This once in a lifetime exhibition will enable art lovers to enjoy and study up-close twenty-three beautiful paintings, in a fascinating exhibition that also explores Canaletto’s life and work, alongside themes of 18th-century Venice and the Grand Tour. This is one of the rare occasions that any of the successive Dukes of Bedford and Trustees of the Bedford Estates have lent the set of paintings since they arrived in Britain from Canaletto in the 1730s.

The pictures were commissioned by the 4th Duke of Bedford, who was evidently attracted by Canaletto’s burgeoning reputation for producing precise and atmospheric views of the Italian city’s most iconic views and landmarks. The Duke, then Lord John Russell, was in Venice on the Grand Tour in 1731, and presumably met Joseph Smith, Canaletto’s newly appointed agent, who was a Venetian resident and later British consul there. Three bills from Smith to the Duke survive in the family papers; dated 1733, 1735, and 1736, they add up to just over £188 (about £16,000 today), and must be incomplete, judging from what we know of the prices Canaletto commanded.

Created over a four-year period, when the artist was at the pinnacle of his career, the Woburn Abbey paintings are the largest set of paintings that Canaletto ever produced, and much the largest that has remained together. The Holburne exhibition provides a unique and unprecedented opportunity to see these exceptional paintings at viewing height, as they normally hang three high in the setting in the Dining Room they have occupied at Woburn since the late eighteenth century. The set features not only classic views of the Grand Canal and the Piazza S. Marco but also some of the city’s less well-known nooks and crannies, rarely captured by other artists and revealing new historical and cultural perspectives on Venice in its last decades as the ‘most serene Republic’.

Combining both his eye for accuracy and composition, Canaletto: Painting Venice celebrates some of La Serenissima’s most recognisable views, whilst also referring to the city’s historical importance as a trading centre, not least with the Ottoman Empire and other eastern nations.

To complement the show, the Holburne will also host Precious and Rare: Islamic Metalwork from The Courtauld, an exhibition of ten highlights from The Courtauld’s world-class collection of medieval Islamic metalwork. This exceptional group of objects date from the 13th to the 16th centuries and are some of the finest examples of this intricate craft from the Middle East. The most spectacular piece in the show is the Courtauld Bag, made in Mosul (present-day northern Iraq) in around 1300-30 for a noble lady of the Persian-Mongol court. It is recognised as one of the finest pieces of Islamic inlaid metalwork in existence and the only surviving object of its kind. The display will also include two Venetian artefacts, a dish with arms of the Giustiniani or Sagredo families (ca. 1530–50) and a pair of candlesticks (early 16th century), exploring the role of Venice as a pivotal juncture between the East and West.

“Woburn Abbey is currently undergoing its biggest refurbishment since it first opened to the public in 1955. The renovations have therefore provided an ideal opportunity for The Duke and Duchess of Bedford generously to share a selection of Woburn’s greatest treasures with a wider audience, so they can be enjoyed in a different context with new narratives,” explains the Holburne’s Director, Chris Stephens. “We are honoured that this wonderful, unrivalled set of Canaletto paintings will come to the Holburne, the perfect setting for visitors to study the paintings closely in way that has never been possible before. It is very exciting to think that they are leaving the dining room in Woburn Abbey for the first time in more than 70 years.”

Print Quarterly, March 2021

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions, journal articles, reviews by Editor on March 12, 2021

Marco Carloni, Franciszek Smuglewicz, and Vincenzo Brenna, plate nine from Vestigia delle Terme di Tito e Loro Interne Pitture, 1776–78, hand-coloured etching (London: The British Museum).

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The eighteenth century in the latest issue of Print Quarterly:

Print Quarterly 38.1 (March 2021)


Francesca Guglielmini, “Ludovico Mirri’s Vestigia and Publishing in Eighteenth-Century Rome”, pp. 29–49.

This article is a detailed study of the publishing activities and business model of the erudite antiquarian, art dealer and print publisher Ludovico Mirri (1738–1786). His ambitious project Vestigia delle Terme di Tito e Loro Interne Pitture (The Remains of the Baths of Titus and Their Paintings) is discussed in detail alongside eight previous unpublished images of hand-coloured etchings of grotesque wall decorations taken from antique ruins in Rome and surroundings, now in the British Museum, here proposed as an extension of the original Vestigia. Four appendices contain a compilation of uncoloured and coloured impressions of the Vestigia etchings; a description of the contents of the Vestigia and Giuseppe Carletti’s accompanying booklet; known copies of the Vestigia in public collections; and a list of supplementary plates, including those eight mentioned in the British Museum collection.

David Stoker, “The Marshall Family’s Print Publishing Business”, pp. 50–63.

This article explores the little researched late activities of the Dicey print publishing business which was run by members of the Marshall family into the nineteenth century after Cluer Dicey (1715–1775) retired in 1770. The article discusses various publications produced by each member of the Marshall family, from Dicey’s partner Richard Marshall (d. 1779) to his grandson John II Marshall (b. 1793).

N O T E S  A N D  R E V I E W S

Antony Griffiths, Review of The Lost Library of the King of Portugal (2019), pp. 72–74.

This review sheds light on new research uncovered about the lost library of John V, King of Portugal, specifically archival documents. A significant portion of this review tells the fascinating story of how orders were sent to the Portuguese ambassadors in various European capitals in 1724 for an impression of every available print in those countries. These indeed happened but the various volumes of prints disappeared in the cataclysm of 1755, except for three volumes representing British, French, and Italian prints which were rediscovered in recent decades.

Domenico Pino, “Anton Maria Zanetti II and Limited Editions in Venice, c. 1734,” pp. 74–76.

This note seeks to interpret a handwritten inscription found on the verso of a print by Anton Maria Zanetti the Younger (1706–1778) in the British Museum. The inscription provides important evidence on early exploitation of limited editions in printmaking among the Zanetti clan and their contemporaries.

Antoinette Friedenthal, Review of La vita come opera d’arte: Anton Maria Zanetti e le sue collezioni (2018), pp. 108–14.

This review of an exhibition catalogue exploring Anton Maria Zanetti the Elder (1680–1767) offers an overview of his intellectual and artistic interests. His admiration for Parmigianino is discussed in detail, as well as his own reconstruction of the technique of chiaroscuro woodcuts. The review concludes with a few paragraphs on his forays into publishing.

Exhibition | The Great Divide: Footwear in the Age of Enlightenment

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on March 8, 2021

Woman’s Shoe, 1730–40, English (Toronto: Bata Shoe Museum). One way working women acquired footwear was through the cast-off clothing given to them by the people they served. These ‘gifts’ would often be altered by the new wearer. This shoe originally had thin latchets that most likely were tied with a bow over the tongue but were updated to feature more fashionable straps by a later wearer.

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From the press release (12 August 2020) for the exhibition at Toronto’s BSM (the museum is currently closed, but stay tuned). And a very happy International Women’s Day to everyone!

The Great Divide: Footwear in the Age of Enlightenment
Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, 12 August 2020 — 28 February 2022

The Bata Shoe Museum is excited to announce its newest exhibition, The Great Divide: Footwear in the Age of Enlightenment. The first of three exhibitions in the museum’s 25th anniversary lineup, The Great Divide explores several timely issues from gender and race to imperialism and colonization. Featuring extraordinary 18th-century artefacts from the permanent collection, the exhibition highlights complex stories about privilege, oppression, danger, desire, revolution, and resistance that are as relevant today as they were 300 years ago.

The Age of Enlightenment was a period in European history from the end of the 17th to the end of the 18th century when Western philosophers and scientists wrestled with concepts of ‘human nature’ and ‘natural rights’. Some argued that all people had inherent social and political rights, but many more advocated for the reordering of social hierarchies using ‘scientific’ proof to divide people through the identification of ‘natural’ differences such as gender and race. Much of the oppression and imperialism that marked the period was supported by these ideas.

“Throughout the 18th century, Western fashion, including footwear, was central to the ‘naturalization’ of difference in Europe,” says Elizabeth Semmelhack, Creative Director and Senior Curator at the Bata Shoe Museum. “Distinctions between men and women, children and adults, Europeans and ‘Others’ became increasingly codified through clothing. Yet, European fashion was also used to blur the lines between classes as social mobility and access to consumable goods grew as a result of imperialism.”

The exhibition was thoughtfully designed by the award-winning designers Arc + Co who focused on creating a space that engages with the powerful themes and issues of the 18th century explored in this gallery. With loans from Toronto’s Gardiner Museum, the design also includes a look at contemporary footwear, asking visitors to reflect on shoes and society today.

Highlights include:
• Moccasins said to have belonged to Myaamia leader Mishikinawa, also known as Little Turtle, who resisted the incursion into Myaami territory by delivering one of the worst defeats in U.S. history at the Battle of Wabash in 1791.
• Late 18th-century shoes that began as Indian jutti but were transformed into a pair of English women’s shoes that embody British Imperialism in India.
• An early 18th-century silver side-saddle stirrup made for a woman from a powerful colonial Spanish family in Peru. Roughly 85 percent of the world’s silver was mined by conscripted Indigenous people and imported enslaved Africans in Spanish-held South America.

Man’s Shoe, 1760–80, English (Toronto: Bata Shoe Museum). This shoe would have been used to express both gender and class. Its low heel conveyed that it was masculine and the expensive fabric and ostentatious bow conveyed that it was upper class. The use of pink might confuse us today, but in the 18th century pink was not gendered.


Online Talk | Fortune and Folly in 1720

Posted in books, exhibitions, lectures (to attend) by Editor on March 2, 2021

Wednesday evening on Zoom, from the BGC:

Nina Dubin, Meredith Martin, and Madeleine Viljoen | Fortune and Folly in 1720: Picturing the World’s First Bubble Economy
Françoise and Georges Selz Lectures on Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century French Decorative Arts and Culture
Online, Bard Graduate Center, New York, 3 March 2021, 6.00pm

This talk will explore The New York Public Library’s upcoming exhibition Fortune and Folly in 1720 (Fall 2021) and its accompanying publication Meltdown! Picturing the World’s First Bubble Economy (Harvey Miller/Brepols, 2020). Co-curated and co-authored by Dubin, Martin, and Viljoen, they tell two parallel stories: one of the spectacular rise and fall of the first bubble economy, and another of the enterprising art industry that chronicled its collapse. The Mississippi and South Sea Bubbles, spawning the invention of French banknotes as well as joint-stock companies built on fantasies of New World trade, imposed on everyday Europeans a crash course in new financial products. In turn, a bubbling print market relentlessly caricatured the meltdown of 1720, offering viewers an entertaining primer on the otherwise bewildering realities of modern economic life. Three hundred years later, our current moment offers a uniquely fitting vantage point from which to reconsider the significance of the bubbles and of the artworks that channeled the fears and desires they unleashed.

The event will be live with automatic captions. It will be held via Zoom; a link will be circulated to registrants by 3pm on the day of the event.

Nina L. Dubin is an associate professor of Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Specializing in European art since 1700, she has published widely on the production of art within an economy of risk.
Meredith Martin is an associate professor of Art History at New York University and the Institute of Fine Arts. Specializing in European art of the long eighteenth century, she has published widely on gender and architectural patronage as well as maritime art, mobility, and exchange in the early modern world.
Madeleine C. Viljoen is Curator of Prints and the Spencer Collection at The New York Public Library. Responsible for the Library’s collection of prints and rare illustrated books, she has published widely on early modern printed images, with special attention to the goldsmith-engraver, the reproductive print, and ornament.