Scene of textile printing, adapted from a French copperplate-printed textile of the 1780s
(The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg)
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Printed Fashions: Textiles for Clothing and the Home, 1700–1820
DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, Colonial Williamsburg, 25 March 2017 — March 2019
Curated by Linda Baumgarten
In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, early printed textiles with their luminous colors and attractive designs were widely sought for fashionable clothing and home furnishings. Eighty examples of these stunning printed cottons and linens, many of which have never been exhibited before, will go on view in Printed Fashions: Textiles for Clothing and Home at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, one of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, opening March 25, 2017. The exhibition will illustrate the design, history, and techniques of printed textiles during this formative era; these objects played their own important role in history, not just for their obvious aesthetic qualities, but also for their economic importance as trade goods and as examples of technological advances. Printed Fashions will remain on view through March 2019.
“Textiles are among the most fragile objects that survive from the past. They also afford us particularly detailed views into the lives of our forbearers,” said Ronald L. Hurst, Colonial Williamsburg’s Carlisle H. Humelsine chief curator and vice president for collections, conservation, and museums. “Thanks to decades of effort and scholarship on the part of our textile curator Linda Baumgarten and her predecessors, the Foundation is home to a remarkably large and complete collection of printed textiles. This exhibition provides an opportunity to employ many of those beautiful objects to tell these very human stories.”
“The history of printed textiles may sound modern to today’s consumers,” says Linda Baumgarten, Colonial Williamsburg’s senior curator of textiles and costumes who organized the exhibition. “Traders shipping goods from the other side of the world in ships, domestic workers trying their best to respond to foreign competition, people making the effort to dress in up-to-date styles despite their limited means and the importance of chemistry and mechanical expertise in the production of consumer goods: All of these concepts could easily represent textile production today as well as it did centuries ago.”
Although fashionable Indian chintzes had inspired European printers to begin developing competing technologies as early as the seventeenth century, it was during the eighteenth century that most of the technical advances were realized. Rather than using the Indian method of painstakingly hand-painting chemical fixatives known as mordants and then dyeing the textiles, Europeans developed laborsaving techniques to expedite the process. Blocks, copperplates, and rollers allowed printers to apply pattern at a faster rate, often with delicate and intricate linear effects rivaling prints on paper. Experiments with chemicals yielded pencil blue and china blue techniques to solve the difficult challenges of pattering textiles with indigo blue.
Printed Fashions will include a variety of objects dating between 1700 and 1820 from India, England, France, and colonial America. Among them will be men’s and women’s garments, women’s accessories, a doll dressed in original clothing from the 1770s, quilts and an Indian ‘palampore’ bedcover in brilliant colors, a trunk linked with rare, early printed cotton, case covers for chairs, curtains and valances for tall-post beds, plus study documents that show printing techniques, advances in printing chemistry, and trends in design. Among the exhibition’s highlights is a stunning bed quilt, never previously exhibited, incorporated into which is a printed panel from India as the center focus. This panel, or ‘palampore’, was too small for the finished quilt, so the unknown quilt maker enlarged the bedcover with fine silk borders and then quilted the whole with closely spaced running stitches. The flowering tree at the center of the palampore is patterned with a large tree bursting with floral blooms, growing from the hilly ground. Later known as a ‘tree of life’, this design influenced English and American appliquéd quilts for a century after the first palampores entered the West.
Another featured object in Printed Fashions is a gentleman’s banyan made of stylish and expensive cotton from India. The delicate floral design was mordant-painted-and-resist-dyed, creating a colorful yet comfortable garment suitable for relaxing at home. By donning his imported chintz banyan, the man at leisure signaled his wealth and fashion sense. A textile swatch or sample book from 1783 is yet another must-see object in the exhibition; it unrolls to reveal more than seven feet of swatches with 430 samples in all. The colorful printed cottons were available for sale in a single year by a Manchester, England printing establishment. In less than a century, British manufacturers went from rudimentary early attempts at copying Indian imports to becoming a major printing industry.
This exhibition was made possible through the generosity of Mary and Clinton Gilliland and the Turner-Gilliland Family Fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation; the DeWitt Wallace Fund for Colonial Williamsburg; and Mr. and Mrs. Jay E. Frick. Ellan and Charles Spring funded the purchase of mannequins.
To celebrate the opening of Printed Fashions, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation will host a symposium of internationally known scholars, March 26–28, 2017. Guest speakers will include Rosemary Crill, honorary research associate, Victoria and Albert Museum; Linda Eaton, John L. & Marjorie P. McGraw director of collections & senior curator of textiles, Winterthur Museum; Susan Greene, author and independent researcher whose lecture is generously sponsored by Windham Fabrics, Inc.; Philip Sykas, research associate, Manchester School of Art, United Kingdom; and Barbara Brackman, independent scholar and researcher. In addition, twenty scholars from the United States and England will present juried papers on all aspects of textile printing and usage. The program will take place in the Hennage Auditorium at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. More information is available here.
An exhibition in formation for more than a decade, Printed Fashions: Textiles for Clothing and Home is certain to fascinate and delight decorative arts aficionados, fashion historians, and design enthusiasts who will appreciate the many patterns that could easily have modern interpretations.
Attributed to Sir John Baptiste de Medina, The Family of John Hay, 1st Marquess Tweeddale, Lord High Chancellor of Scotland, ca. 1695, oil on canvas, 141 × 184 cm (Scottish National Portrait Gallery, purchased with the aid of the Art Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund 1999).
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Now on view at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery:
The Tweeddales: Power, Politics and Portraits
Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, 23 April 2016 — 28 May 2017
Wealthy, influential, and politically savvy the Tweeddale family was at the heart of Scottish society in the second half of the seventeenth century. At the head of the family was John Hay (1626–1697), 2nd Earl and later 1st Marquess of Tweeddale. His marriage to Lady Jean Scott (1629–1688), second daughter of the Borders landowner Walter Scott, 1st Earl of Buccleuch, brought him wealth, opportunity, and a large family—the couple had several children. Members of the Tweeddale dynasty married into some of the noblest families in Scotland and England.
While several members of the Tweeddale family are acknowledged for their contribution to politics, the military, and for their strategic marriage matches, their role as patrons of the arts and architecture is often overlooked. The family were enthusiastic art collectors who commissioned portraits and landscapes by established and little-known artists, particularly those of Dutch, Flemish, and German origin including Sir Anthony van Dyck, Sir Peter Lely, Gerard Soest, and Sir John Baptiste de Medina. Paintings by each these artists feature in the exhibition. The highlight of the exhibition is the fascinating group portrait of the Marquess and his family, attributed to the Flemish artist Sir John Baptiste de Medina, which was painted around 1695.
From the Lewis Walpole Library:
The Land without Music: Satirizing Song in Eighteenth-Century England
The Lewis Walpole Library, Farmington, CT, 1 March — 29 September 2017
Curated by Amy Dunagin
Music pervaded public and private spaces in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England; yet, in 1904, German critic Oscar Adolf Hermann Schmitz, heightening long-standing aspersions, dismissed England as a “land without music.” This unflattering epithet pointed to England’s meager contributions to the western musical canon during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—no English Gluck, Mozart, or Verdi; no English operatic or symphonic tradition that could rival those that flourished on the continent. The English, critics like Schmitz suggested, were importers rather than producers—tasteless consumers and dilettantes rather than discerning, proficient practitioners. This view did not originate with continental nationalists; in the eighteenth century the English often presented themselves as uniquely unmusical in print and in visual satire. At once self-effacing and boastful, this representation asserted a national character too sensible, too chaste, too sober to permit the excesses of musical genius. Bringing together satirical prints and documents pertaining to English music makers and listeners, this exhibition explores English attitudes toward music as lascivious, feminine, foreign, frivolous, and distinctly un-English.
Curated by Amy Dunagin, Postdoctoral Associate, European Studies Council, Yale University, and Managing Editor, Eighteenth-Century Studies
The exhibition brochure, which includes a full checklist, is available as a PDF file here»
William Heath, Military Dandies or Heroes of 1818, published by M. Cleary.
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Opening this summer in Brighton:
Jane Austen by the Sea
Royal Pavilion, Brighton, 17 June 2017 — 8 January 2018
Curated by Alexandra Loske
A new display at the Royal Pavilion will explore Jane Austen’s relationship with coastal towns and life in Brighton during her time, to mark the bicentenary of her death. The display will reassess Austen’s relationship with the town in the light of a long-term misunderstanding, arising from a hand-written letter of 8 January 1799. Curator Dr Alexandra Loske said, “For many years, Austen has been quoted as having written: ‘I assure you that I dread the idea of going to Brighton as much as you can do..’, but her sentence actually referred to Bookham, a village in Surrey, rather than Brighton. We now know that Austen may not have felt as negatively about the town as has been thought.”
Jane Austen by the Sea will look at the seaside context of Austen’s plots and paint a picture of the leading resort of Brighton in the early 1800s, when it was a fashionable ‘watering place’ featured in novels like Pride and Prejudice. George IV, who created the Royal Pavilion and spent long periods living there when he was Prince Regent, was a high-profile fan of Austen’s—and although she seemed not to approve of his lifestyle she was encouraged to dedicate Emma to him in 1815.
• The King’s personal, specially-bound copy of Emma—on display at the Royal Pavilion for the first time (generously lent by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection)
• A mourning brooch containing a lock of Jane Austen’s hair
• The manuscript of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel, Sanditon, set in a seaside town in Sussex
• Examples of Regency costume and accessories, including a wedding dress that has never been on show before and a dress in the style of the ‘Brighton Walking Dress’ featured in a London fashion magazine in 1817
• Letters from Jane Austen to the Prince Regent’s librarian, James Stanier Clarke
• One of Jane Austen’s music books
• Prints, paintings, and caricatures of the resorts and fashions popular with seaside visitors
• Rare images of Brighton as it looked in Jane Austen’s lifetime
Jane Austen by the Sea will form part of our Regency Season in 2017, which will also include the exhibition Constable and Brighton and the display Visions of the Royal Pavilion Estate (both at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery).
Visions of the Royal Pavilion Estate
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, 14 March — 3 September 2017
Curated by Alexandra Loske
A new display at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery will showcase rarely-seen views of the Royal Pavilion Estate dating back to the 1760s, as well as cutting-edge digital reconstructions of how it might have looked. According to curator Dr Alexandra Loske,“This display will survey the Royal Pavilion and its estate as it was and might have been, featuring rarely-seen views alongside discarded designs and recent digital re-creations. It will give visitors an opportunity to see unfamiliar, unusual and lost images, sourced almost exclusively from the city’s own archives and collections.”
Illustrations from the earliest printed books about the estate will sit beside unrealised designs, early municipal maps, and 20th-century plans and images. Highlights include
• Images of the Estate before the Royal Pavilion was built, and early designs commissioned by the Prince Regent by Henry Holland (1786, Marine Pavilion).
• Unrealised designs by Humphry Repton (published 1808), who George, as Prince of Wales, appointed to apply his romantic style to the Marine Pavilion and its grounds. When his beautiful, hand-produced ‘Red Book’ of designs failed to win him a commission, he had the book published for commercial sale, with fewer than 250 copies thought to have been printed. Delicate ‘overlays’ pasted onto the images provided before-and-after perspectives, with Repton’s ambitious proposals including a glass corridor around the entire East Lawn, an aviary, a pheasantry, a water feature and a clearer view of the sea.
• Lost designs and aquatints giving a lively impression of the Royal Pavilion Estate in the 18th and 19th century, sourced from the city’s collection and early popular guide books.
• Depictions of fashionable Georgian society in and around the Estate, in rare watercolours, prints and drawings from the city’s collection.
• 1830s drawings by Joseph Henry Good, who was commissioned by William IV to survey the Royal Pavilion Estate and drew up around 200 architectural plans. Detailed plans of now-lost servants’ quarters and the area around the South Gate will give a new perspective on everyday life for staff on the estate.
• Detailed digital 3D images of lost areas and structures of the Royal Pavilion Estate by RPM volunteer Colin Jones, largely based on the Good plans (will also be available online).
• Photography of the Estate’s use in the 20th century, including images from World War II and never-before-seen inter-war designs for the Royal Pavilion Garden.
• Real and imagined views of the Estate in popular culture, including illustrations and cover designs for books like Malcolm Saville’s children’s adventure story The Long Passage (1954) and Georgette Heyer’s popular novel Regency Buck (1935).
Alexandra Loske has sourced almost all the display’s inclusions from the city of Brighton & Hove’s own archives and collections. She said, “We’re keen to really make use of the city’s incredible collections and keep making new items available for the public to see.”
The display will accompany RPM’s project to digitise Humphry Repton’s Designs for the Pavilion at Brighton (1808) and John Nash’s The Royal Pavilion at Brighton (1826) and to publish the books online. It also comes as RPM works with Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival and Brighton & Hove City Council to realise a future vision for the Royal Pavilion Estate, starting with a major refurbishment of Brighton Dome’s Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre. Visions of the Royal Pavilion Estate will form part of Royal Pavilion & Museums’ Regency Summer season in 2017, which will also include Jane Austen by the Sea at the Royal Pavilion and Constable and Brighton at Brighton Museum.
Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, Punchinellos Hunting Waterfowl, ca. 1800, pen and ink with wash over charcoal (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, Gift of Dian Woodner, 2006).
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The Woodner Collections: Master Drawings from Seven Centuries
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 12 March — 16 July 2017
Curated by Margaret Morgan Grasselli
Ian Woodner (1903–1990) assembled an extraordinary collection of over 1,000 old master and modern drawings, making him one of the 20th century’s most important collectors. More than 150 works from his collection now reside at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. While Ian Woodner gave some works himself in the 1980s, the majority have been donated by his daughters, Dian and Andrea. His daughters have also made other gifts and have pledged works from their personal collections. The Woodner Collections: Master Drawings from Seven Centuries brings together for the first time the best of Ian Woodner’s collection with some of the works given and promised by Dian and Andrea Woodner. More than 100 major works of art will be on view in the West Building of the National Gallery of Art from March 12 through July 16, 2017.
The Woodner Collections includes some 100 drawings dating from the 14th to the 20th century executed by outstanding draftsmen such as Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Dürer, Raphael, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Edgar Degas, and Pablo Picasso, among many others. Two highlights in the exhibition are Ian Woodner’s greatest acquisitions, known as his ‘crown jewels’: Giorgio Vasari’s Libro de’ Disegni (sheets probably 1480–1504 and after 1524) and A Satyr (1544/45) by Benvenuto Cellini. Vasari’s Libro de’ Disegni consists of ten drawings by the Renaissance masters Botticelli, Filippino Lippi, and Raffaellino del Garbo arranged harmoniously on both sides of the sheet. It is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful and impressive of the few pages surviving intact. Cellini’s monumental nude is a finished study of a bronze sculpture designed to stand at the entrance to the French royal palace at Fontainebleau.
“Included in the exhibition are many impressive works by well-known artists, all acquired by the Woodner family with an intrepid spirit and exquisite taste. A visit to the exhibition will offer a remarkable journey through many facets of European draftsmanship, revealing the broadly diverse ways the artists responded to their individual worlds and expressed their unique creativity,” said Margaret Morgan Grasselli, curator and head of the department of old master drawings, National Gallery of Art.
The earliest works in the exhibition are two rare sheets from the 14th century: a page from a model book by an unknown Austrian artist, and the other, attributed to the Paduan painter Altichiero da Zevio, shows a band of knights in armor storming a medieval castle. Nearly half of the exhibition is devoted to works from the 15th and 16th centuries, including drawings by Raphael, Leonardo, and Albrecht Dürer. The most important figure in German Renaissance art, Dürer is represented by an outstanding group of five drawings: four figurative works and one vividly colored book illumination, A Pastoral Landscape with Shepherds Playing a Viola and Panpipes (1496/97). Leonardo’s petite Grotesque Head of an Old Woman (1489/90) is both touching and comical. The study of Eight Apostles (ca. 1514), a fragment of a preparatory drawing for a tapestry cartoon, shows the classical rhythms and expressive qualities that are typical of the ‘divine’ Raphael. By contrast, a rare study by Pieter Bruegel the Elder humorously depicts a musician tipping precariously on a three-legged stool. It combines the artist’s lively pen strokes with a keen eye for pose and expression and captures both the boisterous spirit and the clumsy charm of the peasants that populate so many of Bruegel’s compositions.
Among the small group of works by the 17th-century artists, Rembrandt’s evocative View of Houtewael near the Sint Anthoniespoort (ca. 1650) demonstrates his remarkable ability to express space, light, and atmosphere with an economy of means. The 18th century is particularly rich in examples by many French and Venetian artists, including François Boucher, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, and Jean-Honoré Fragonard. A more emotional tone is struck in a drawing of Satan Defying the Powers of Heaven by the Swiss-Anglo artist Henry Fuseli and in two enigmatic compositions by the great Spaniard, Francisco de Goya.
The 19th-century drawings include three elegant works by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and the eerie, powerful image Cactus Man (1881) by French symbolist Odilon Redon, one of Woodner’s favorite artists. Several works from the 20th century close the exhibition: three masterly drawings by the young Pablo Picasso, Two Fashionable Women (1900), a blue-period Head of a Woman (c. 1903), and a cubist Standing Nude (summer 1910); an imposing study of a female nude by Georges Braque (1927); and three drawings by Louise Bourgeois, including M is for Mother (1998), a drawing of a large, red letter M that conveys both maternal comfort and maternal control.
Press release (14 December 2016) from the Royal Collection Trust:
Canaletto and the Art of Venice
The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London, 19 May — 12 November 2017
The Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, TBA
In 1762 the young monarch George III purchased virtually the entire collection of Joseph Smith, the greatest patron of art in Venice at the time. Thanks to this single acquisition, the Royal Collection contains one of the finest groups of 18th-century Venetian art in the world, including the largest collection of works by Giovanni Antonio Canal, better known as Canaletto.
Through over 200 paintings, drawings, and prints from the Royal Collection’s exceptional holdings, Canaletto and the Art of Venice presents the work of Venice’s most famous view-painter alongside that of his contemporaries, including Sebastiano and Marco Ricci, Rosalba Carriera, Francesco Zuccarelli, Giovanni Battista Piazzetta, and Pietro Longhi and explores how they captured the essence and allure of Venice for their 18th-century audience, as they still do today.
Joseph Smith (c.1674−1770) was an English merchant and later British Consul in Venice, a post dealing with Britain’s maritime, commercial, and trading interests. He had moved to Italy in around 1700 and over several decades built up an outstanding art collection, acting as both patron and dealer to many contemporary Venetian artists. Smith was Canaletto’s principal agent, selling his paintings to the wealthy Grand Tourists who were drawn to Venice’s cultural attractions. His palazzo on the Grand Canal became a meeting place for collectors, patrons, scholars, and tourists, where visitors could admire his vast collection and commission their own versions of Canaletto’s views to take home.
One of the most important of Smith’s commissions from Canaletto was the series of 12 paintings of the Grand Canal, which together create a near complete journey down the waterway. Canaletto’s sharp-eyed precision makes these views seem powerfully real; yet he rearranged and altered elements of each composition to create ideal impressions of the city. Two larger paintings are of festivals, including the ‘Sposalizio del Mar’, or ‘Wedding of the Sea’, which took place on Ascension Day and attracted crowds of British visitors. The Grand Canal was a subject frequently captured by Canaletto, including in a series of six drawings, among them Venice: The central stretch of the Grand Canal, c.1734. Intended as works of art in their own right, rather than as preparatory studies for paintings, the drawings are carefully constructed and rich in tone and detail.
Alongside the grand public entertainments, Venice boasted a thriving opera and theatre scene, especially during carnival season. The need to create stage sets within a very short period of time provided plentiful employment for Venetian artists. Both Marco Ricci and Canaletto worked for the theatre, where they learned how to manipulate perspective to heighten drama. The exhibition includes several of Ricci’s designs for the Venetian stage, such as A room with a balcony supported by Atlantes, c.1726. Marco Ricci also produced caricatures of opera singers, such as the drawing of the internationally famed castrato Farinelli, which were circulated among Joseph Smith and his fellow Venetian collectors and opera aficionados.
On display together for the first time are personifications of the Four Seasons by Rosalba Carriera, whose pastels were highly prized by European collectors. They were intended to be hung in private domestic spaces, such as dressing rooms, bedrooms, or small antechambers. Carriera was one of the first artists to develop a commercial relationship with Joseph Smith, and her sensual pastel of Winter, c.1726, an allegorical female figure wrapped in furs, was one of the most admired works in Smith’s collection.
Canaletto, Marco Ricci, and Francesco Zuccarelli all contributed to the development of the genre known as the capriccio—scenes combining real and imaginary architecture, often set in an invented landscape, to create poetically evocative works. Ruins of ancient Rome in both Ricci’s Caprice View with Roman Ruins, c.1729, and Zuccarelli’s pastoral Landscape with Classical Ruins, Cattle and Figures, c.1741–42, convey a sense of the irrevocable loss of a great age.
There was a major revival in printmaking in Venice in the 18th century, with many publishers recruiting established artists, such as Giovanni Battista Piazzetta and Antonio Visentini, to provide designs for their publications. Joseph Smith was an enthusiastic print collector and one of the major supporters of contemporary printmaking in Venice. Smith financed and directed the Pasquali press, which contributed to the circulation of Enlightenment ideas, such as those of Isaac Newton, and imported banned foreign texts into Venice, including the work of Voltaire. Visentini was the chief draughtsman for the press, providing many hundreds of pen and ink drawings of initials and tailpieces, several of which will be on display in the exhibition.
The catalogue is distributed by The University of Chicago Press:
Lucy Whitaker and Rosie Razzall, Canaletto and the Art of Venice (London: Royal Collection Trust, 2017), 320 pages, ISBN: 978 190974 1409, $60.
Sérénissime! Venise en fête, de Tiepolo à Guardi
La Serenissima: Celebrating Venice, from Tiepelo to Guardi
Musée Cognacq-Jay, Paris, 25 February — 25 June 2017
Curated by Rose-Marie Herda-Mousseaux and Benjamin Couilleaux
In the eighteenth century, the political and economic stability of the Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia gave rise to the last golden age of Venice, which would end with the Napoleonic conquest of 1797. This last chapter of a millenary history was marked by an unprecedented deployment of public and private events. Festivities, celebrations, regattas, and other spectacles set the tempo of city life and attracted the curious from all over Europe. Much more than simple amusements, these festivities were part of a political and religious pageant designed to promote Venice. Immortalized by some of the great names in painting—Tiepolo, Guardi, Longhi—they created a lasting impression and made known the charms of the City of the Doges throughout Europe. Over forty paintings, engravings, and drawings from prestigious French and European collections are presented to the public, bringing to life once again, for the duration of the exhibition, the opulence of the Most Serene Republic of Venice in the Age of Enlightenment.
The exhibition layout focuses on four themes related to Venetian celebrations:
Festivities Large and Small
Dance and music were highly esteemed by Venetian society, among both the aristocracy and the people.
From City to Stage
In the eighteenth century, the commedia dell’arte achieved unprecedented popularity, in particular with playwright Carlo Goldoni. Opera also benefited from majestic settings, the most famous of which is still La Fenice.
Power as Spectacle
Both secular and sacred institutions in the Most Serene Republic encouraged the crowds to attend major festivities that crystallized the image of Venice as a powerful and sumptuous city. Receptions for foreign princes, notably French, also provided an opportunity to organize extraordinary celebrations on Piazza San Marco or the Grand Canal.
At the Carnival
What would Venice be without its carnival? Dating from the Middle Ages, this colorful masked festival brought together an eighteenth-century cosmopolitan crowd that loved the open-air fairground attractions as much as it did the more discreet amusements of the Ridotto, the ancestor of the casino.
Rose-Marie Herda-Mousseaux and Benjamin Couilleaux, Sérénissime: Venise en fête, de Tiepolo à Guardi (Paris: Editions Paris Musées, 2017), 176 pages, ISBN: 978 27596 03428, 30€.
Jean-Baptiste Lepaute, Mantel clock, detail, 1781
(London: The Wallace Collection)
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Gilded Interiors: French Masterpieces of Gilt Bronze
The Wallace Collection, London, 4 May — 30 July 2017
Curated by Helen Jacobsen
Often designed by leading architects and modeled by important sculptors, gilt bronze was used to create beautiful yet functional objects such as clocks, candelabras, and firedogs and to decorate and embellish highly refined furniture and porcelain. This exhibition showcases luxurious artworks commissioned and owned by the wealthiest patrons and collectors, including leading figures of pre-revolutionary France like Marie-Antoinette, the duc d’Aumont, and the comte d’Artois as well international patrons such as the Prince of Wales (later George IV). Artists such as Pierre Gouthière, François Rémond, and Claude Pition, who ran the finest chasing and gilding workshops, created beautiful works, equal in expense and craftsmanship to some of the greatest paintings and sculpture of the period.
Largely drawn from The Wallace Collection, home to one of the world’s most important collections of French eighteenth-century gilt bronze, these exceptional objects include the exquisite perfume burner by Gouthière once owned by Marie-Antoinette and a pair of candlesticks made for the French Queen to celebrate the birth of her son. The Wallace Collection works will be shown alongside loans from other world-class collections including drawings from the Bibliothèque Municipale in Besançon.
The exhibition will feature drawings by Pierre-Adrien Pâris, one of the foremost architects and interior designers of the period. His highly-detailed works, never before seen in the UK, illustrate how buildings from ancient Rome were used as a fertile source of design for gilt-bronze masterpieces and reveal how the antique world provided artists with contemporary ideas for architecture and decorative art. Architects and designers who travelled to Rome took inspiration from the classical ruins with which they were surrounded and their drawings of architecture and Antique monuments provided the basis for some of the greatest gilt-bronze works ever created.
Gilded Interiors: French Masterpieces of Gilt Bronze will be an opportunity for visitors to engage more fully with these magnificent works, which will be given centre stage in the special exhibition galleries. Well-lit and with the works fully visible ‘in the round’, the exhibition will enable the viewer to experience these works of art in a different way, allowing the exquisite beauty and technical accomplishments of these pieces to be properly admired and enjoyed.
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From I. B. Tauris:
Helen Jacobsen, Gilded Interiors: Parisian Luxury and the Influence of Rome, 1770–1790 (London: Philip Wilson, 2017), 112 pages, ISBN: 978 178130 0589, £20 / $30.
The Wallace Collection has an internationally-renowned collection of French eighteenth-century art but perhaps lesser known today is their stunning collection of gilt-bronze objects. These bronzes d’ameublement—from clocks and mounted Sevres porcelain to wall lights and candelabra—epitomise the levels of luxury achieved in Parisian interiors. Highly expensive and expertly wrought, they illustrate the heights of skilled craftsmanship achieved by French bronze workers in the eighteenth century as well as showcasing the wealth and connoisseurship of their owners. Lavishly illustrated with new photography, this publication will be a book of ‘highlights’ to include the very best of what the Wallace Collection has to offer in this field.
Helen Jacobsen is senior curator and curator of French eighteenth-century decorative arts at the Wallace Collection.
Jacques-Louis David, The Combat of Diomedes, 1776
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Now on view at the Albertina:
Poussin to David: French Drawings at the Albertina
Poussin bis David: Französische Zeichnungen der Albertina
Albertina, Vienna, 25 January — 25 April 2017
Whether poetic love stories or mythological epics, whether atmospheric portrait studies or picturesque ruins—today, the masterpieces of French Baroque art are more enthralling than ever. 70 major works selected from the Albertina’s rich holdings of drawings sweep visitors into the dreamy and multi-layered cosmos of French art from the Baroque and Rococo periods: the works on display include Nicolas Poussin’s breath-taking free landscape studies as well as Claude Lorrain’s light-drenched depictions of nature, and playful masterpieces by François Boucher and Jean-Honoré Fragonard likewise assume their rightful places here, as do the lovely scenes of Jean-Baptiste Greuze. The crowning conclusion of this showing, which reflects two centuries of French art, is provided by the imposing creations of Jacques Louis David.
Christine Ekelhart, ed., From Poussin to David: French Drawings at the Albertina (Munich: Hirmer, 2017), 176 pages, ISBN: 978 37774 28369, $45.