Exhibition | Spain: Highlights from The Bowes Museum

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on August 21, 2019

This fall at the Meadows Museum (a variation of the exhibition on view at The Wallace two years ago). . .

El Greco, Goya, and a Taste for Spain: Highlights from The Bowes Museum
Meadows Museum, SMU, Dallas, 15 September 2019 — 12 January 2020

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, Interior of a Prison, 1793–94, oil on tin plate, (County Durham: The Bowes Museum, B.M.29).

The Bowes Museum in County Durham, UK, is home to the largest collection of Spanish painting in the British Isles. The collection represents the life-work of John and Joséphine Bowes, who, through key connections with dealers in Paris, amassed a collection noted for its depth and breadth, quality and quantity during the second half of the nineteenth century. Their museum opened to the public in 1892, and continues to serve the people of northern England with an engaging series of exhibitions and public programs. This focused exhibition—it consists of just under a dozen works—showcases the finest of the Bowes’s collection of Spanish painting. The exhibition will feature artists such as Juan de Borgoña (c. 1470–1536), El Greco (1541–1614), and Francisco de Goya (1746–1828), and paintings on panel and canvas ranging from the early sixteenth to late eighteenth centuries. This was a crucial period in the history and development of Spanish art as artists transitioned from producing large, gold-encrusted retable panels of saints to intimate portraits and scenes taken from life, as is the case with Goya’s harrowing Interior of a Prison (1793–94). It is an exhibition of three centuries of saints and sinners, secular and sacred likenesses meant to inspire devotion, admiration, and at times discomfort. El Greco, Goya, and a Taste for Spain: Highlights from The Bowes Museum will explore these and other issues within the context of the history of art while also taking a closer look at John and Joséphine Bowes’s role in the history of the collection and display of Spanish art outside of Spain.

Exhibition | Goya’s Visions in Ink

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on August 21, 2019

Now on view at the Meadows Museum, at Southern Methodist University:

Goya’s Visions in Ink: The Centerpiece of the Meadows Drawings Collection
Meadows Museum, SMU, Dallas, 30 April — 3 November 2019

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, Visions, ca. 1819-23; brush and black and gray ink with scraping on paper, 24 × 15 cm (Dallas: Meadows Museum, SMU; museum purchase with funds from The Meadows Foundation, with additional support from Cyrena Nolan, MM.2019.01).

This exhibition highlights the Meadows’s recent acquisition of Francisco de Goya’s exceptional ink drawing Visions (c. 1819–23) from his “Witches and Old Women” album. This important acquisition is the first drawing by Goya to enter the museum’s collection, which already includes key paintings and prints by the Spanish master. The Meadows Museum now joins only a handful of institutions worldwide that can boast such significant holdings of the artist’s work across media.

The very personal, technically accomplished drawing will be featured alongside a selection of Goya’s prints containing related subject matter from the Disparates series, completed ca. 1815–23, nearly simultaneously to the drawing itself. Didactic materials will offer insight into the singular technical qualities of the drawing’s creation and its fascinating provenance. Additional examples from the museum’s collection of works on paper will serve to highlight the uniquely intimate nature of drawings, as well as offer supporting insight into the multifaceted ways in which artists have employed the medium. The exhibition will demonstrate Goya’s achievements as a draftsman and situate Visions as a noteworthy central point of the museum’s collection of drawings.

Exhibition | Wild and Majestic: Romantic Visions of Scotland

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on August 18, 2019

John Knox, Landscape with Tourists at Loch Katrine, 1815, oil on canvas
(Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland)

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From the press release (25 June 2019) for the exhibition:

Wild and Majestic: Romantic Visions of Scotland
National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, 26 June — 10 November 2019

Curated by Patrick Watt

A major exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland this summer tells the fascinating story of how tartan, bagpipes, and rugged, wild landscapes became established as enduring, internationally recognised symbols of Scottish identity and how Scotland became established in the popular imagination as a land of wilderness, heroism, and history. Wild and Majestic: Romantic Visions of Scotland spans the period from the final defeat of the Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 to the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. The exhibition explores the efforts made to preserve and revive Highland traditions in the wake of post-Jacobite persecution, depopulation, and rapid socio-economic change. It shows how Scotland’s relationship with the European Romantic movement transformed external perceptions of the Highlands and was central to the birth of tourism in Scotland. These developments would in turn influence the relationship between the Hanoverian royal family and Scotland, particularly George IV and, later, Queen Victoria.

Pompeo Battoni, Portrait of Colonel William Gordon of Fyvie, 1766 (National Trust for Scotland, Fyvie Castle).

Over 300 objects will be on display, drawn from the collections of National Museums Scotland and 38 lenders across the UK. The objects tell a story with a stellar cast, including Queen Victoria and Prince Albert; King George IV; Sir Walter Scott; Robert Burns; J.M.W. Turner; Henry Raeburn; Felix Mendelssohn; William and Dorothy Wordsworth; Ludwig Van Beethoven; and Lord Byron, whose 1807 poem Lachin y Gair (Lochnagar) is quoted in the exhibition’s title. Prominent Highlanders featured include the Ossian author-translator James Macpherson, the soldier-historian David Stewart of Garth, the clan chief Mac Mhic Alasdair (Alasdair Macdonnel of Glengarry), and the folklorists Alasdair Gilleasbaig MacGilleMhìcheil (Alexander Carmichael) and Iain Òg Ìle (John Campbell of Islay).

Dr Patrick Watt, exhibition curator, said: “This is a contested, complex history, and also a fascinating one. There are competing claims, still, over the extent to which those symbols of Scotland we see today are Romantic inventions or authentic expressions of an ancient cultural identity. Using material evidence, we will examine the origins and development of the dress, music, and art which made up the Highland image. We will show how cultural traditions were preserved, idealised, and reshaped to suit contemporary tastes against a background of political agendas, and economic and social change.”

Through rich displays reflecting the colour and flamboyance of the Highland image, visitors will encounter key developments such as the Ossian controversy, the overturning of the ban on Highland dress, the pageantry around King George IV’s visit to Edinburgh in 1822, the Highland tourism boom, and the creation of a Romantic idyll for Queen Victoria at Balmoral.

National Museums Scotland has partnered with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig College on Skye, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), on the production of content for the major summer exhibition. Throughout the exhibition, the influence of Gaelic language and culture, and the impact of these developments on it will be shown through objects, text, and film. The primary exhibition text will be presented in both English and Gaelic.

The Romantic period undoubtedly coloured perceptions, both at the time and to this day to the extent that the popular images of Highland culture are sometimes dismissed as a 19th-century fabrication. However, the exhibition will stress the deep historical roots underpinning the Romantic image. The heritage of clan tartans is introduced in portraiture in the extravagant dress of the Laird of Grant’s piper and champion painted by Richard Waitt in 1714. The bagpiping tradition is introduced by oldest known Scottish chanter, which belonged to Iain Dall Mackay, a piper and composer born on Skye in 1656.

Following the final defeat of the Jacobites in 1746 at the Battle of Culloden, there were reprisals across the Highlands. The power of the Clans was dismantled, male civilians were banned from wearing Highland dress, and Gaelic culture was disparaged. The ban on tartan did not apply to those men who enlisted in the newly raised Highland Regiments of the British Army. The heroic image of the tartan-clad Highland soldier went on to become an icon of the military power of the British Empire, and the ideal of the heroic Highland warrior would recur throughout the nineteenth century.

In the 1760s the literary culture of the Scottish Highlands and Islands was introduced to the world. Highland schoolmaster and poet, James Macpherson, claimed to have researched, collected and translated the fragments of ancient poetry of Ossian, a legendary 3rd-century Gaelic bard. Despite a raging controversy over its authenticity, MacPherson’s work was translated into multiple languages and admired by many influential European writers, artists, and composers. A first edition volume will be shown, as well as artwork inspired by Ossian, and the Red Book of Clanranald, one of the Gaelic manuscript sources Macpherson consulted. Robert Burns travelled the Highlands, looking for poetic inspiration. His publisher, George Thomson, commissioned major European composers to set Scottish songs to music, including a version of Burns’ Highland Harry scored in the original hand of Ludwig Van Beethoven.

From the late 18th century, visitors were drawn to Scotland in increasing numbers, attracted to locations depicted in romantic paintings, prints, and literature. Many artists, writers, and musicians visited, often on personal pilgrimages inspired by the lasting influence of Ossian, or the fame of Burns, Sir Walter Scott and others. Works by major figures, including Wordsworth, Turner and Mendelssohn—all of whom met with Scott during their travels—inspired more people to seek out the places evoked in music, art, and literature for themselves. Dorothy Wordsworth’s travel journal, Mendelssohn’s sketchbook and his original score of the Hebrides Overture, and a silver urn gifted from Byron to Scott after the two literary giants met in 1815 all feature in the exhibition.

Edwin Landseer, The Monarch of the Glen, ca. 1851 (Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland).

Seeing change all around them, influential Highlanders made efforts to preserve elements of traditional Gaelic culture, even as they promoted a new rural economy whose human impact we now know as the Highland Clearances. The exhibition will look at the early Highland societies, and their material legacies, including the standardisation of the Great Highland Bagpipe which we know today, and the codification of clan tartans, through the first gathered samples dating to 1815. The Highland Society of London championed the image of the Highland soldier, commemorating military exploits through the commissioning of medals and trophies, and successfully campaigned for the repeal of the legal ban on Highland dress in 1782. The Repeal of the Act of Proscription was issued in both English and Gaelic, and the Gaelic version will be shown.

With the Jacobite cause extinguished as a political and military threat, the Hanoverian Royalty began to embrace and champion their own Stuart lineage, and gestures were made towards healing the divisions of the previous century.  This was shown most vividly in the Highland pageantry associated with the events stage-managed by Sir Walter Scott during King George IV’s visit to Edinburgh in 1822. A parade of ceremonial costume will give a flavour of this spectacular, if controversial, event along with contemporary accounts and the tartans and weaponry which Sir Walter Scott encouraged people to wear for the occasion.

It was the young Queen Victoria who took this royal fascination to new heights. Following a series of royal visits to the Highlands, the Queen and Prince Albert acquired the Balmoral estate.  Later, with the death of Prince Albert, the estate became a Highland retreat from the realities of court and government for Queen Victoria. Balmoral helped to ensure that the ideal of the Scottish Highlands which emerged from the culture and politics of the late 18th century would endure, even as fashions and attitudes to history changed. Among the objects on display will be a tartan dress worn by a young Victoria, a brooch she gifted to famed piper John Ban Mackenzie and a mourning pin she had made to commemorate her Highland servant, friend, and confidant John Brown.

The exhibition is sponsored by Baillie Gifford Investment Managers. It will be supported by a publication and programme of public events. Sarah Pittman, Sponsorship Manager at Baillie Gifford said: “We are delighted to continue our successful association with National Museums Scotland by supporting Wild and Majestic: Romantic Visions of Scotland. The exhibition promises a unique and beautiful array of objects which together will tell a fascinating story of how the Romantic movement drew on the real traditions and history of Highland culture to form an enduring international image of Scotland.”

Wild and Majestic: Romantic Visions of Scotland is part of Edinburgh Art Festival, taking place between 25 July and 25 August 2019. edinburghartfestival.com @EdArtFest #EdArtFest.

Patrick Watt and Rosie Waine, Wild and Majestic: Romantic Visions of Scotland (Edinburgh: National Museum of Scotland, 2019), 80 pages, ISBN: 978-1910682241, £10.

Exhibition | Angelika Kauffmann: Unknown Treasures

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on August 9, 2019

On view last year in Wörlitz at Louise of Brandenburg-Schwedt’s Grey House, the exhibition is now split between two Austrian venues:

Angelika Kauffmann: Unknown Treasures from Vorarlberg Private Collections
Haus der Fürstin, Wörlitz, 8 July — 21 October 2018
Vorarlberg Museum, Bregenz, 15 June — 6 October 2019 [second venue, part 1]
Angelika Kauffmann Museum, Schwarzenberg, 16 June — 3 November 2019 [second venue, part 2]

Curated by Bettina Baumgärtel

Angelika Kauffmann, Portrait of Louise Herzogin von Anhalt-Dessau, 1796, oil on canvas (Kulturstiftung Dessau-Wörlitz).

Ist erstmals eine umfangreiche Ausstellung zur schweizerisch-österreichischen Malerin Angelika Kauffmann (1741–1807) im Haus der Fürstin in Wörlitz zu sehen. Die Präsentation zahlreicher Kunstwerke wie Ölgemälde, Zeichnungen, Druckgraphiken, Skulpturen und schriftlicher Dokumente verdeutlicht die Vielfalt ihres künstlerischen Wirkens und Lebens. Die Ausstellung ist Ergebnis der Kooperation zwischen zwei österreichischen Privatsammlungen aus Vorarlberg, dem UNESCO-Welterbe Gartenreich Dessau-Wörlitz in Sachsen-Anhalt, dem Bregenzer vorarlberg museum, dem Angelika Kauffmann Museum in Schwarzenberg im Bregenzerwald und dem Angelika Kauffmann Research Project (AKRP).

1741 im schweizerischen Chur geboren, wurde Angelika Kauffmann in Italien und in Vorarlberg im Bregenzerwald ausgebildet. Bereits in jungen Jahren knüpfte sie europaweit Kontakte bis in die höchsten Kreise und unterhielt zuerst ein erfolgreiches Atelier in London, später in Rom, wo sie ebenso einen vielbesuchten Salon führte.

Das Herausragende der Schau ist die besondere Beziehung der Künstlerin zum Gartenreich Dessau-Wörlitz und die Seelenverwandtschaft mit Fürstin Louise von Anhalt-Dessau (1750–1811). Diese begegnete der Malerin erstmals während ihrer Reise nach England mit Leopold III. Friedrich Franz von Anhalt-Dessau (1740–1817) im Jahr 1775. Im Schloss Luisium kam ihre Verehrung für Angelika Kauffmann durch die Präsentation zahlreicher Graphiken und eines bedeutenden Gemäldes bestens zum Ausdruck. Während die Kulturstiftung heute noch über das von Angelika Kauffmann gemalte Porträt der Fürstin verfügt, wurde das Bild Amor und Psyche vor rund 100 Jahren verkauft. Für die Dauer der Ausstellung kehrt dieses Gemälde aus dem Kunsthaus Zürich in das Gartenreich zurück.

Eine Auswahl von hochkarätigen Leihgaben aus öffentlichen und weiteren privaten Sammlungen vertiefen die Auseinandersetzung mit Angelika Kauffmann. Nach der “Erstausgabe” der Ausstellung im Gartenreich wird sie 2019 bei den PartnerInnen des vorarlberg museums in Bregenz und des Angelika Kauffmann Museums in Schwarzenberg zu sehen sein. Kuratiert wird die Ausstellung von der international renommierten Kunsthistorikerin Dr. Bettina Baumgärtel. Sie ist Leiterin des Angelika Kauffmann Research Project (AKRP) sowie der Gemäldesammlung im Museum Kunstpalast Düsseldorf.

Gleichzeitig und gleichsam als Kontrapunkt zur Angelika-Kauffmann-Ausstellung wird vor dem Haus der Fürstin im Wörlitzer Kirchhof die von dem zeitgenössischen österreichischen Künstler Peter Baldinger gestaltete Garten-Installation Amor sucht Psyche präsentiert, die sich auf eines der Hauptwerke der Ausstellung bezieht. Ein weiterer Teil der Intervention des Künstlers ist im Park Luisium zu sehen.

Bettina Baumgärtel, Angelika Kauffmann: Unbekannte Schätze aus Vorarlberger Privatsammlungen (Munich: Hirmer Verlag, 2018), 304 pages, ISBN: 978-3777430843, 40€.

Exhibition | George IV: Art & Spectacle

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on August 7, 2019

Press release for the exhibition, opening this fall:

George IV: Art & Spectacle
The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London, 15 November 2019 — 4 May 2020

Sir Thomas Lawrence, Coronation Portrait of George IV, 1821, oil on canvas, 295 × 205 cm (Royal Collection Trust, RCIN 405918).

George IV (1762–1830) was the collector and commissioner of many of the finest works of art in the Royal Collection. He turned Buckingham House into a Palace, radically remodelled Windsor Castle inside and out, and built the Royal Pavilion at Brighton, an oriental-style pleasure palace by the sea. In London, his architectural vision extended to the laying out of Regent Street and Regent’s Park.

From 1811, George ruled as Regent, due to the decline in the mental health of his father, George III. By the time he came to the throne in 1820, aged 57, he was intensely disliked by a nation tired of his extravagant lifestyle. Today he is perhaps best known as the rotund, gout-ridden, drunken buffoon lampooned by the satirists of the day for his acrimonious marriage to Princess Caroline of Brunswick and his many mistresses.

Set against the backdrop of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, and a period of unprecedented global exploration, George IV: Art & Spectacle considers the Monarch’s public image, taste for the theatrical and exotic, admiration of French style and all-consuming passion for collecting. It will present George as a man of extreme contrasts: on the one hand, a recklessly profligate showman, and on the other, a connoisseur with intellectual interests whose endless acquisitions made him one of the most important figures in the formation of the Royal Collection.

As Prince of Wales, George lived at Carlton House on London’s Pall Mall. Within ten years of taking possession of his residence, he had run up debts of around £400,000 (around £31 million today). He bought the best works available by the 17th-century Dutch and Flemish painters whose reputations had been established in French aristocratic circles. The walls of Carlton House were hung with luminous works by Aelbert Cuyp, the lively interiors of Adriaen van Ostade, intimate domestic scenes by Jan Steen, and David Teniers’s depictions of village life, which appealed to George’s taste for narrative subject matter. In 1811, George purchased Rembrandt’s The Shipbuilder and his Wife, 1633, for 5,000 guineas, the most expensive painting he ever acquired.

Upheavals on the Continent following the French Revolution flooded the market with works of art that had belonged to the French aristocracy. With the help of agents and friends, George acquired the finest examples of 18th-century French decorative arts, including bronzes and furniture mounted with pietra dura panels by André-Charles Boulle. He had a particular passion for Sèvres porcelain. His most important acquisition of works by the French factory was the Louis XVI service, 1783–92, the most costly service ever created by Sèvres and so extensive that it was delivered to George in batches over 23 years.

George IV’s coronation at Westminster Abbey was the greatest theatrical production of his life and came at a cost of £240,000. He personally oversaw the designs for his elaborate coronation robes and the Diamond Diadem, made for the occasion by the goldsmiths Rundell, Bridge & Rundell. At the coronation banquet in Westminster Hall, the great Shield of Achilles, 1821, designed by John Flaxman, was among many pieces of spectacular dining and buffet silver-gilt on display from the Grand Service.

The King was among the leading patrons of British artists of the day, favouring the work of Sir Thomas Lawrence, Sir Joshua Reynolds and Richard Cosway. In 1784, he commissioned Sir Thomas Gainsborough to paint his three eldest sisters, the Princesses Charlotte, Augusta and Elizabeth, and after the artist’s death purchased Gainsborough’s only surviving mythological painting, Diana and Actaeon, c.1785–88. George’s favourite pastimes were equestrian, as captured in George IV, when Prince of Wales, 1791, an elegant portrait by George Stubbs. The everyday subject matter of the painter David Wilkie appealed to the King as modern-day versions of the 17th-century Dutch genre paintings he so admired. In a vibrant sketch, Wilkie recorded the King’s arrival at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in 1822, the first visit to Scotland by a reigning monarch since Charles I.

George IV positioned himself at the forefront of the European political stage, in direct competition with Napoleon Bonaparte. Following the French Emperor’s abdication in April 1814, George invited several of the allied leaders and commanders to London, and commissioned Britain’s pre-eminent portraitist, Sir Thomas Lawrence, to paint them. After Napoleon’s final defeat at Waterloo, Lawrence travelled to the Congress of Peace at Aix-la-Chapelle, then to Vienna and Rome to complete the series. The paintings were later installed in the purpose-built Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle. In George’s mind he was one of this cast of heroes, as responsible for the victory over Napoleon as the Duke of Wellington.

As Prince Regent or Monarch, George never travelled beyond Europe, but amassed a large collection of artefacts from the wider world. Between 1800 and 1830, he assembled the most important group of Asian porcelain in Britain. To harmonise with the gilded interiors of his residences, these pieces were augmented by elaborate gilt-bronze mounts—converting a simple jar into an incense burner, candelabrum, or even a clock. His taste for the oriental found its greatest expression in the Royal Pavilion at Brighton, designed by John Nash in 1815–33.

Many of the finest non-Western pieces in George’s collection were received as diplomatic gifts, among them a red and yellow feather cape (‘ahu’ula) from King Kamehameha II and Queen Kamamalu of the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii), and a First Nations coat of caribou skin. His collection of arms and armour covered almost every part of the world, from a Maori club brought from Hawaii by Captain Cook’s ship Resolution, to a Persian sabre and a samurai sword.

George’s IV’s print and book collection reveals a more measured side to the Monarch in the variety of his intellectual pursuits. The books that he acquired for his Carlton House library, including a copy of Emma sent to him by Jane Austen’s publisher following the writer’s visit to the royal residence, highlight his interest in literature, geography, theology, European history, and the antique.

Despite the King’s efforts to control his image, satirical artists of the day mocked him mercilessly in widely circulated prints. The caricatures of Thomas Rowlandson, John Doyle, and Robert Seymour share the recurring themes of George’s excesses in food, fashion, and sex. Although George collected some satirical prints of himself when Prince of Wales and King, these were of the gently comic kind. At the same time, he tried to suppress the more hostile images, threatening legal action and, through his agents, bribing publishers not to criticise him or his mistresses, with little success.

Kate Heard and Kathryn Jones, George IV: Art & Spectacle, ISBN: 978-1909741607 (London: Royal Collection Trust, 2019), £30.


Exhibition and Book | Mudlarking

Posted in books, exhibitions, lectures (to attend) by Editor on August 4, 2019

As noted in Salon, the newsletter of the Society of Antiquaries of London, issue 432 (30 July 2019) . . .

Foragers of the Foreshore
Bargehouse on Bankside, London, 25–29 September 2019

Curated by Florence Evans

Mudlarking is gaining new attention. It is an old profession, a term applied especially to people who once lurked on the banks of the Thames in London searching for things they could sell, washed up on the tide or rising from the mud and sewage . . . The poor became less visible and scavengers faded away, but more recently detectorists and collectors have returned to the river, for the thrill and fascination of discovery and contact with people from the past.

Modern mudlarkers need a three-year permit, issued by the Port of London Authority (PLA) for £80, and must report all their finds to the Portable Antiquities Scheme’s Finds Liaison Officer at the Museum of London. . . .

Lara Maiklem is more communicative about mudlarking than many practitioners. She has tens of thousands of followers on social media, where she posts striking photos of her finds (often to be left where they are)—Instagram is made for determined mudlarkers—and has written a book, Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames. Though not be released until 22 August, on Amazon it is already at no 1 in ‘Urban & rural planning’ and no 7 in ‘Social science human geography’. It will be Radio 4 Book of the Week from 12 August. And now there is to be an exhibition.

For five days, writes Karen Hearn FSA, Foragers of the Foreshore will be at the Bargehouse on Bankside (25–29 September), part of a Totally Thames festival. Curated by Florence Evans, says the blurb, this will be “the most expansive exhibition on Mudlarking that has ever taken place.” It will feature new art, photographic portraits of mudlarkers taken by Hannah Smiles, and “a chance to meet Mudlarker in Residence Nicola White.” Museum of London Archaeology’s Thames Discovery Programme, Thames21, and Unruly Heritage will explain inter-tidal archaeology. Maiklem is among event speakers.

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From Bloomsbury:

Lara Maiklem, Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019), 320 pages, ISBN: 978-1408889213, £19.

For thousands of years human beings have been losing their possessions and dumping their rubbish in the River Thames, making it the longest and most varied archaeological site in the world. For those in the know, the muddy stretches provide a tangible link with the past, a connection to the natural world, and an oasis of calm in a chaotic city.

Lara Maiklem left the countryside for London in her twenties. At first enticed by the city, she soon found herself cut adrift, yearning for the solace she had known growing up among nature. Down on the banks of the River Thames, she discovered mudlarking: the act of scavenging in the mud for items discarded by past generations of Londoners. For the next fifteen years her days would be dedicated to and dictated by the tides, in pursuit of the objects that the river unearthed: from Neolithic flints to Roman hair pins, medieval shoe buckles to Tudor buttons, Georgian clay pipes to discarded war medals. Moving from the river’s tidal origins in the west of the city to the point where it reaches the sea in the east, Mudlarking is the story of the Thames and its people as seen through these objects. A fascinating search for peace through solitude and history, it brings the voices of long-forgotten Londoners to life.

Lara Maiklem moved from her family’s farm to London in the 1990s and has been mudlarking along the River Thames for fifteen years. She now lives with her family on the Kent coast within easy reach of the river, which she visits as regularly as the tides permit. This is her first book.


Exhibition | Triumph & Tragedy: Catherine, the Romanovs, and Fabergé

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on August 3, 2019

Attributed to Giacomo Quarenghi (Italy 1744–1817), designer, Pair of ‘Hercules’ armchairs, ca. 1795, Russia, gilt wood, and silk upholstery.

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From the press release, via Art Daily, for the exhibition:

Triumph & Tragedy: Catherine, the Romanovs, and Fabergé
The David Roche Collection, Adelaide, 12 July — 21 December 2019

A new exhibition, Triumph & Tragedy: Catherine, the Romanovs, and Fabergé, showcases 150 pieces of some of Russia’s most opulent pieces of decorative art from the 18th and 19th centuries, many of which have never been seen before.

David Roche was enchanted by the Russia, its people and its art. He spent the last two decades of his life—with the assistance of Martyn Cook—assembling a collection of nearly 100 pieces of the best Russian art. This collection remains the most significant collection of its type in Australia said Robert Reason, Museum Director of The David Roche Foundation House Museum.

For the first time, Roche’s items are on display together alongside some of the finest Russian pieces from other Australian collections, private and public. The exhibition covers the period from Catherine the Great through to the fall of the Romanov dynasty in 1917, and the tragic end of the Imperial family. Roche was particularly captivated with Catherine the Great—famed for her expansion of the Russian Empire, her attempts to Westernise Russia, and her enthusiastic collecting of art.

Roche first travelled to Russia in 1994 and was overwhelmed by the opulent art and palaces of St Petersburg said Robert Reason. This subsequently turned to a passion for collecting Russian art, and in almost 20 years he amassed a singularly unique collection in Australia.

This is one of the most significant exhibitions the Foundation has staged. People will have the opportunity to view not just imperial portraits, exquisite porcelain and objects that once furnished the palaces of Catherine the Great, the Romanovs and Russia’s elite but see the work of Fabergé from the finest private collections in Australia. Official portraits of Catherine the Great and Emperor Nicholas I reside alongside the personal hand seal of Emperor Alexander I and porcelain especially commissioned for the Hermitage and Pavlovsk Palace. Highlights from the exhibition include precious objects in malachite, glass and gilt-bronze from the Romanov period which highlights the internationalism of 19th century Russia. The final decades of the Russian Empire are remembered for the work of Fabergé.

Robert Reason said Roche’s Fabergé parasol handle from the collection of Queen Anne of Romania, the Fabergé miniature eggs, and precious vases and plates from the Imperial Porcelain Factory are some of the most magnificent works in this exhibition. One of the works in the exhibition is a masterpiece that Roche considered himself privileged to own: a magnificent ormolu mounted glass vase on pedestal with delicately cut edges trimmed by frosted neoclassical garlands and a base said to imitate flowing water.


Exhibition | 2000 Years of Organ Building and Playing

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on July 18, 2019

Press release (via Art Daily) for the exhibition now on view at MK&G:

Manufacturing Sound: 2000 Years of Organ Building and Organ Playing
Manufaktur des Klangs: 2000 Jahre Orgelbau und Orgelspiel
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, 5 July — 3 November 2019

Johannes Rusch (1728‒1791) / Hermann Seyffarth (1846–1933), Positive Organ, 1777 / 1898 (Musikinstrumentenmuseum der Universität Leipzig; photo by Christina Körte).

With over 300 organs, Hamburg is home to a unique and widely varied organ landscape. In addition to those in the city’s churches, there are numerous other instruments located in schools, in the Elbphilharmonie, in the studio of the NDR public broadcasting station, in the State Opera House, at the University, and even in the prisons. To mark the 300th anniversary of the death of Arp Schnitger (1648–1719), one of the world’s most famous organ builders, the city of Hamburg has declared 2019 the Year of the Organ, with the motto ‘Hamburg Pulls Out All the Stops’. Concerts and events through-out the city, along with a major exhibition at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, are arousing public curiosity about this impressive instrument and its history. The exhibition Manufacturing Sound: 2000 Years of Organ Building and Organ Playing invites visitors to learn more about the design, construction, and technical finesse of the marvellous invention that is the organ. The show is centred around organ construction and organ music, which UNESCO added to its List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2017. Over 30 exhibits, including 14 historic instruments and reconstructions, allow visitors to immerse themselves interactively into the cosmos of the organ. How does an organ actually work? Where does the ‘organ wind’ come from? What are stops? What do the different organ pipes sound like? The exhibition answers these and many other questions by means of models, interactive displays, media presentations, and films that make the mysterious technology of the instrument visible. Using a model constructed especially for the exhibition, guests can try out the interplay of bellows, windchest, and pipes and produce sounds for themselves. An organ simulator allows them to operate organ keys and pedals and experiment with ‘registration’ techniques. Using photographs of spectacular organ constructions as inspiration, visitors can even design their own unique organs with the help of virtual reality glasses.

Gladiator Battles and Court Ceremonies

Over 2000 years ago, the Greek mathematician Ctesibius invented a vertically adjustable mirror for his father’s barber shop in ancient Alexandria. Its technical highlight was a pressure pump. This stroke of genius was the precursor to the construction of an instrument called the organon hydraulikon, which was capable of producing sounds. As part of the exhibition, a reconstruction of an ancient water organ (hydraulis) from the third century demonstrates how this hydraulic pump system worked. At a height of up to 2 metres, the organs of this period were comparatively small and transportable. Historical sources and archaeological findings from antiquity attest to the instrument’s great popularity. Whereas in ancient Greece, this often took the form of musical organ-playing competitions, in ancient Rome, the organ more often served as musical accompaniment to sports events—such as the famous gladiator fights—and was heard in the villas of wealthy Romans at social receptions and banquets. After the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century, knowledge of organ construction was preserved in the Byzantine Empire. There, instruments such as the double organ—a replica of which can be seen in the exhibition—accompanied public events such as horse races and was played at court ceremonies.

The Move to the Cathedrals

Only in the Middle Ages, thanks to the influence of educated clergy, did organs enter into Christian cathedrals, where they were put to use for the musical elaboration of the liturgical programme. The still relatively small, movable organs of this period were transportable instruments—so-called ‘positive’, or even smaller ‘portative’ organs which players could hold on their knees or hang around their shoulders with a strap. The exhibition demonstrates what such a portative organ might have looked like with a reconstructed portativ organetto, built according to plans written by the polymath Arnaut de Zwolle (ca. 1400–1460). For the reconstruction, the Dutch organ builder Winold van der Putten also referred to depictions in paintings by Flemish masters such as Jan Van Eyck (1390–1441), and Hans Memling (1433–1494). The pipes of medieval organs were generally all equal in diameter. Another reconstructed organ in the exhibition, which followed a ‘pigeon’s egg scale’, illustrates a type of objects that were used to measure them at that time.

The Organ as Status Symbol

During the baroque period, large-scale organ-building projects served as demonstrations of wealth and power, even within the church. Increasingly lavish and imposing instruments were constructed. In Europe, regional building styles also emerged during this period. In addition to the monumental church organs, smaller types of organs continued to spread in popularity. They were prized by the nobility and the bourgeoisie as prestigious additions to their homes. Examples of these from the exhibition include a processional organ, which ranks among the most valuable transportable organs of the Italian baroque period, and a cabinet organ from the workshop of Johannes Stephanus Strümphler (1736–1807) in Amsterdam. A truly eye-catching piece from the rococo period is a positive organ adorned with gilded carvings, built by the Bohemian instrument-maker Johann Rusch (1728‒1791). Rare historical sources document the development of organ construction during this period. On display are the Spiegel der Orgelmacher und Organisten, a treatise on organ building and organ playing by Arnolt Schlick (before 1460–after 1521), of which only a few copies exist worldwide; the baroque-era book on music theory and instruments, Syntagma musicum, by Michael Praetorius (1571‒1621); the comprehensive work on music theory, Musurgia universalis, by the polymath Athanasius Kircher (1602–1680); and the standard eighteenth-century text on organ construction, L’Art du facteur d’orgues, by Dom François Bedos de Celles (1709–1779), illustrated with detailed engravings.

Arp Schnitger (1648–1719), Design of an Organ for the Reformed Church in Altona, ca. 1686, watercolour and pen drawing (Staatsarchiv Hamburg).

Arp Schnitger and North German Organ Building

It was in this period that Hamburg grew to be one of the most important organ-building cities in Europe. Wealthy merchants commissioned the best organ builders and treated themselves to veritable luxury organs. With his sophisticated, tonally powerful instruments, Arp Schnitger represented the zenith of the baroque North German organ-building tradition. His workshop produced a total of 170 organs, of which 47 survive to this day. At its completion in 1687, his organ in Hamburg’s St. Nikolai Church—with 67 stops and more than 4000 pipes—was the largest in the world and made Schnitger famous well beyond his home region. The organ was destroyed in a fire that swept the city in 1842. Today, the organ in Hamburg’s St. Jacobi church, completed in 1693 and restored multiple times, is the largest functioning baroque organ of the North German type, with 43 stops. An early console, whose stop knobs are decorated with carved portraits of famous organ lovers of the period, bears witness to part of its eventful history.

Hans Henny Jahnn and the ‘German Organ Movement’

Prior to the First World War, Albert Schweitzer (1875–1965), who was a trained organist, campaigned for a re-orientation in organ building, and in the 1920s, Hamburg became the centre of an effort at reform that later became known as the ‘German Organ Movement’. The head of this movement was the Hamburg author Hans Henny Jahnn (1894–1959), who also designed several organs and who successfully campaigned for the preservation of the Schnitger organ in Hamburg’s St. Jacobi Church. For Jahnn, this baroque organ, with its ‘honest’, clear tone, was the counter-design to the ‘symphonic’ organ type that predominated at the time, and whose romantic sound he perceived as excessively ornate, dark and opulent. Thanks to a film produced expressly for the exhibition, an organ designed by Jahnn—located at the Heinrich-Hertz School in Hamburg-Winterhude—can be heard playing in the MKG.

The Allure of Organ Design

To this day, the organ has lost none of its fascination: all over the world, organ builders, architects, and designers continue to create spectacular instruments. A photo wall in the exhibition presents selected organ constructions of the past and present which illustrate the close relationship between the craft of organ building and the disciplines of design and architecture. The best-known example of this may be the thrilling design by star architect Frank Gehry (b. 1929) for the organ in the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, which was completed in 2004. Whether they are traditional or futuristic, the varying methods of construction serve as inspiration to exhibition visitors, who are invited to try their hand at building their own organs with the help of virtual reality glasses. The fact that nearly every organ is one of a kind—conceived for a specific space as part of its unique architecture—means that there are (almost) no limits to what present-day organ builders can do. Proof of this can be seen in the spectacular organ constructions of the recent past—such as the organ built for Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie (opened in 2016) with its approximately 5000 pipes. A media presentation allows exhibition visitors to discover the fascinating instrument in Hamburg’s most famous concert hall.

The exhibition is a collaboration between the MKG and the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg, in cooperation with Orgelstadt Hamburg e. V. and the Musikfest Bremen. The project receives additional support through the close cooperation with Rudolf von Beckerath Orgelbau, Hamburg; Johannes Klais Orgelbau GmbH & Co. KG, Bonn; the MultiMediaKontor Hamburg GmbH; and the Evangelisch-Lutherischen Kirche in Norddeutschland.

Lenders to the exhibition: Catalina Vicens, Basel | Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin | Johannes Klais Orgelbau GmbH & Co. KG, Bonn | Marienbibliothek Halle, Halle an der Saale | Staatsarchiv der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg | Elbphilharmonie Hamburg | Hans Henny Jahnn Verein e. V., Hamburg | Hauptkirche St. Jacobi Hamburg | Orgelstadt Hamburg e. V. | Römerkastell Saalburg, Bad Homburg | Georg Ott, Kirchensittenbach | Musikinstrumentenmuseum der Universität Leipzig | Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Archäologie, Mainz | Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Norddeutschland | Aug. Laukhuff GmbH & Co. KG, Weikersheim | Winold van der Putten, Winschoten

Exhibition | Freedom! The Eternal Reconquest

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on July 14, 2019

The exhibition is now on view in Bordeaux:

Liberté ! L’éternelle reconquête
Archives Bordeaux Métropole, 24 June 2019 — 24 April 2020

Gravée au fronton des édifices publics et placée en tête de la devise nationale, solennellement affirmée en 1789 dans la Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen, la liberté semble une évidence. Pourtant, elle demeure un bien fragile qu’il a fallu conquérir et, parfois, reconquérir. Une pièce exceptionnelle prêtée par les Archives nationales, la plaque originale de la Déclaration de 1789, visible pendant les 3 premiers mois de l’exposition en donne une vision frappante. Ce texte fondamental de la Révolution française, gravé sur une plaque d’airain en 1792, fut rangé dans un coffre de bois de cèdre pour être placé dans la première pierre de la colonne de la Liberté imaginée sur les ruines de la Bastille. Mais la chute de la monarchie et l’avènement de la Convention en septembre 1792 rend ce texte obsolète : la plaque est pilonnée le 5 mai 1793. Pourtant, elle est conservée, en l’état, et déposée aux Archives nationales « pour l’édification des générations futures ». La déclaration de 1789 réapparaît et éclipse les deux versions postérieures, à telle enseigne qu’elle constitue le fondement de la déclaration universelle des droits de l’homme de 1948 et le préambule de la Constitution de la Ve République.

Autour de ce symbole unique, les Archives Bordeaux Métropole proposent d’explorer des fragments d’histoire bordelaise de quelques lieux emblématiques de l’espace public. Construits, détruits, malmenés ou préservés, ces monuments témoignent de l’appétence des Bordelais pour la liberté sous toutes ses formes. Le cadre chronologique couvre une large période, de 1789 au début du XXIe siècle.

À partir de la très symbolique Déclaration des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen est évoqué le contexte révolutionnaire, inscrit dans l’espace public bordelais : attribution de nouveaux noms de rues particulièrement évocateurs, fêtes de la liberté, projets architecturaux ambitieux en lieu et place de l’ancien Fort de la Révolution, le Château Trompette.

L’expression de cette liberté se fait l’écho des changements de régimes politiques et se montre destructrice : du dépeçage de la statue équestre de Louis XV en 1792 à la disparition de la statue de Napoléon III le 4 septembre 1870, jusqu’à la fonte de la statuaire particulièrement imposante de la IIIe République dans les années 1940. Les statues de la Liberté de Bartholdi, de Vercingétorix de Mouly ou du président de la République Sadi Carnot de Barrias sont ainsi sacrifiées. L’emblématique Monument aux Girondins échappe quant à lui à la destruction totale, mais, amputé de ses fontaines en 1943, il fait l’objet d’une restauration d’envergure en 1983.

Cette incarnation vigilante d’une liberté fragile se poursuit encore en ce début du XXIe siècle, du Mémorial de l’Armée des Ombres érigé en 1988 au buste de Toussaint Louverture inauguré le 10 juin 2005… Illustration parfaite d’une éternelle reconquête.

Exhibition | Antoine-Jean Gros: Drawings from the Louvre

Posted in books, exhibitions by Editor on July 14, 2019

Now on view at the Louvre:

Antoine-Jean Gros (1771–1835): Dessins du Louvre
Musée du Louvre, Paris, 27 June — 30 September 2019

Curated by Laura Angelucci

One of Jacques-Louis David’s (1748–1825) most famous pupils, and known as the painter of the Napoleonic epic, Antoine-Jean Gros is rightly considered a forerunner of Romanticism. Early on, his drawings, more so than his paintings, began to reveal a gradual shift away from David’s teachings, leading to a definitive break with neoclassical aesthetics and a distinct style heralding the new artistic movement. In his most dramatic drawings, executed in pen and ink, Gros’s free, impetuous style and liberal use of wash accentuate the strength and originality of his art, which led Delacroix to single the artist out from David’s other pupils and consider him the first painter of the new school.

Organized to accompany the publication in June 2019 of the Inventaire général des dessins d’Antoine-Jean Gros (1771–1835) au Louvre, this exhibition features about forty drawings, as well as paintings from the museum’s collection and the Musée Delacroix. It offers an overview of Gros’s career, from his training to the peak of his artistic maturity, and highlights his draftsmanship, of which the public knows very little.

Organized by Laura Angelucci, documentary researcher, Department of Prints and Drawings, Musée du Louvre.