Enfilade

The Burlington Magazine, March 2020

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions, journal articles, reviews by Editor on March 30, 2020

The eighteenth century in The Burlington:

The Burlington Magazine 162 (March 2020) — Drawings

Luigi Valadier, Pyx, 1769–71, gilt silver, 22 × 11 cm, one of eighteen pieces of a pontifical mass service belonging to the cathedral of Portalegre, Portugal (Church of S. Miguel, Castelo Branco).

A R T I C L E S

• Teresa Leonor M. Vale “A Portuguese Bishop’s Pontifical Mass Service by Luigi Valadier,” pp. 196–203. A gilt silver pontifical mass service belonging to the cathedral of Portalegre, Portugal, is here identified as the work of the celebrated Roman silversmith Luigi Valadier and dated 1769–71. It is closely similar to a contemporary service owned by Cardinal Domenico Orsini and both services can be linked to a group of drawings from Valadier’s workshop.

S H O R T E R  N O T I C E S

Kee Il Choi, Jr., “Ornament from China: Sources for a Garden Folly Design by Jean-Jacques Lequeu,” pp. 216–19.

R E V I E W S

• Kirstin Kennedy, Review of Carolina Naya Franco, Joyas y alhajas del Alto Aragón: esmaltes y piedras preciosas de ajuares y tesoros históricos (2018).

• Stéphane Loire, Review of Nicola Spinosa, ed., Francesco Solimena (1657–1747) e le Arti a Napoli (2018).

• Aileen Dawson, Review of Claudia Bodinek (with contributions by Peter Braun, Tobias Pfeifer-Helke und Claudia Schnitzer), Raffinesse im Akkord: Meissener Porzellanmalerei und ihre Grafischen Vorlagen (2018).

• David Bindman, Review of the exhibition Canova Thorvaldsen: The Birth of Modern Sculpture (Milan: Gallerie d’Italia, 2019–20).

• Daniel Stewart, Review of the exhibition Troy: Myth and Reality (London: British Museum, 2019–20).

• Christiane Elster, Review of the exhibition History in Fashion: 1500 Years of Embroidery in Fashion (Leipzig: GRASSI Museum of Applied Arts, 2019–20).

• Philippa Glanville, Review of the exhibition Feast and Fast: The Art of Food in Europe, 1500–1800 (Cambridge: Fitzwilliam Museum, 2019–20)

• Kamila Kocialkowska, Review of the exhibition Peter the Great: Collector, Scholar, Artist (Moscow Kremlin Museums, 2019–20).

• Eckart Marchand, Review of the exhibition Near Life: The Gipsformerei: 200 Years of Casting Plaster (Berlin: James-Simon-Galerie, 2019–20).

Exhibition | Power Mode: The Force of Fashion

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on March 22, 2020

Now installed at the Fashion Institute of Technology:

Power Mode: The Force of Fashion
The Museum at FIT, New York, 10 December 2019 — 9 May 2020

Curated by Emma McClendon

Today, we see a multitude of sartorial power symbols, from ‘power suits’ to ‘power heels’. But what makes a garment ‘powerful’? According to sociologist and political theorist Steven Lukes: “We speak and write about power, in innumerable situations, and we usually know, or think we know, perfectly well what we mean … And yet, among those who have reflected on the matter, there is no agreement about how to define it, how to conceive it, how to study it, and, if it can be measured, how to measure it.”

If we think of power in terms of kinetic force (for example, electrical power or a person’s physical power over another), clearly an inanimate item of clothing does not have actual power. The force of fashion is symbolic. It is social. It lies in the sphere of interpersonal relations and cultural dynamics. There is no single, universally accepted definition of power. Power means different things to different people at different times. As such, its connection to fashion is multifaceted, and a multifaceted approach is necessary for considering the role fashion plays in power dynamics both historically and today.

The exhibition is organized into five thematic sections, each devoted to a particular type of sartorial ‘power’. In each section, men’s and women’s clothing are considered side by side, and pieces from as early as the eighteenth century are juxtaposed with looks from contemporary collections.

The exhibition opens with a display of military and military-inspired ensembles, including a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel’s ‘dress blue’ uniform, a World War II–era ‘Ike’ jacket, and looks from Yves Saint Laurent, Burberry, and Ralph Lauren. Modern military uniforms combine tailoring with an elaborate code of patches, braiding, stripes, colors, and metalwork that makes the soldier a walking extension of the state’s power. In fashion, a company logo replaces the state’s seal, but uniform-inspired silhouettes, colors, textiles, and buttons become visual shorthand for the power, strength, and authority of the military. It is the power of association.

The next section focuses on different modes of status dressing that have emerged over the last 250 years, from ermine capes and luxurious brocade fabrics to contemporary “It” bags and logo-covered products. Aspiration, wealth, and Thorstein Veblen’s theory of “conspicuous consumption” are key to understanding the role status dressing plays in modern society. An 18th-century robe à la française demonstrates the importance of ornate, expensive textiles to courtly dress, while a Balenciaga puffer coat shows the way brand names have become crucial decorative elements in luxury fashion today.

From status dressing, the exhibition moves to consider the history of the suit. The sharply tailored suit is perhaps the most conventional example of ‘power dressing’. Indeed, the term power dressing was often used to describe the big-shouldered suits worn by upwardly mobile business men and women during the 1980s. However, the history of the suit is more nuanced. Anne Hollander points out, “Heads of state wear suits … and men accused of rape and murder wear them in court to help their chances of acquittal.” In court rooms and office spaces, the suit isn’t just a symbol of authority. It is also a sign of blending in—submitting to established norms and dress codes.

The fourth section considers the role of resistance dressing. Blue jeans, printed T-shirts, and black leather jackets have become some of the most common symbols of resistance in clothing. They signal a certain type of power that is subversive of established authority. It is the power of protest and rebellion. There is a tension between resistance clothing and ‘fashion’, with the later often being dismissed as surface-level commodification. But the relationship is not so simple—fashion can also be a vehicle for protest as seen in the recent work of Kerby Jean-Raymond for his label Pyer Moss.

Finally, the fifth section analyzes objects that are culturally coded as ‘sexy’. Corsets, leather, lingerie, and high-heeled boots are but a few examples. The power dynamics of these garments are inherently complex. How a garment is interpreted can fluctuate between dominance and subjugation. As fashion critic Holly Brubach once said of Versace’s famous 1992 bondage collection, it “riles women who think this is exploitative and appeals to women who think of his dominatrix look as a great Amazonian statement. It could go either way.”

Power Mode is a curatorial experiment. It aims to combine theory with history and object analysis in order to better understand the complex nature of power in fashion as well as the ways fashion can be key to a broader understanding of power dynamics in culture. The exhibition is organized by Emma McClendon, associate curator of costume.

Emma McClendon, ed., Power Mode: The Force of Fashion (Milan: Skira, 2019), 128 pages, ISBN: 978-8857239873, $45 / €39.

A more in-depth discussion of the themes represented in the exhibition is articulated in the lavishly illustrated accompanying book, also titled Power Mode: The Force of Fashion, edited by exhibition curator Emma McClendon and published by Skira. The book delves deeper into theory and history to investigate how certain garments have come to be culturally associated with power, as well as how their meanings have evolved over time. It also examines how fashion designers have interpreted these stylistic archetypes—both to convey and to subvert power. Chapter texts by McClendon are joined by object-based essays from renowned fashion scholars Valerie Steele, Christopher Breward, Jennifer Craik, and Peter McNeil, as well as Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Robin Givhan. The book also includes an essay by Kimberly M. Jenkins on the intersection of race, fashion, and power. This collection of texts will offer readers a variety of perspectives to help form a theoretical framework for considering the power dynamics inherent in fashion objects.

Art Market | The Bachofen von Echt Ukiyo-e Collection

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on March 16, 2020

Scheduled to correspond with New York Asia Week, exhibitions like this one at Scholten Japanese Art may still be on view this week, though the auctions have been postponed until June, as noted by The Art Newspaper (also see this press release, published at Art Daily on 17 March). . .

The Baron J. Bachofen von Echt Collection of Golden Age Ukiyo-e
Scholten Japanese Art, New York, 12–21 March 2020

Scholten Japanese Art is pleased to participate in Asia Week 2020 with an extraordinary offering of Japanese woodblock prints: The Baron J. Bachofen von Echt Collection of Golden Age Ukiyo-e. The collection is comprised of a highly selective group of twenty-two figural woodblock prints produced during a period considered the highpoint of the genre, known as the ‘golden age’ of ukiyo-e, reaching its peak in the last decade of the 18th century. The prints depict bijin-ga (literally ‘beautiful person’), the influencers of their time—famous courtesans, waitresses, and beloved actors—with works by the most acclaimed ukiyo-e artists of the late 18th and early 19th century. There are works in this collection that are possibly unique, or one of only a handful of recorded examples, with connections to some of the most prominent early collectors and dealers of ukiyo-e. In many cases, these are the only examples still remaining outside of museum collections.

Kitao Shigemasa, Geisha and Maid Carrying a Shamisen Box, unsigned, with seal Hayashi Tadamasa, ca. 1777.

The term ukiyo (literally ‘floating world’) references an older Buddhist concept regarding the impermanence of life, but during the prosperity of the Edo Period in Japan the term began to be used to encompass and embolden everyday indulgences because of that impermanence.  One of the tangible records of those indulgences was the production of nishiki-e (literally ‘brocade pictures’), the full-color prints that we recognize today as ukiyo-e—images of the floating world celebrating youth and beauty, which began in ca. 1765.  After the advent of full-color woodblock printing, the market for nishiki-e, accessible to everyday people, steadily grew, and the materials and methods used to create this art rapidly evolved. A significant change that came about in the 1770s was that the craftsmen involved with production developed techniques for full-color printing on larger sheets of paper, and, as a result, this led to the general adoption of the standard ‘oban’ (approximately 15 by 10 inches) size by publishers. Larger paper was followed by an increase of the scale of the figures within compositions.  An excellent example of this is the earliest print in the group, a ca. 1777 design by Kitao Shigemasa (ca. 1739–1820), Geisha and Maid Carrying a Shamisen Box (15 by 10 1/8 inches). Shigemasa was primarily a designer of illustrated books, producing over 250 in his lifetime, many of which were erotic in nature.  With a comparatively small output of single sheet designs, the scarcity of extant Shigemasa prints belies his talent and influence on the genre. He worked with over twenty publishers, often with the innovative Tsutaya Juzaburo (1750–1797), whose impact looms large in the ‘golden age’ and likewise, in the Bachofen Collection. In 1774, the first book published by Tsutaya, Thousands at a Glance (Hitome senbon), featured illustrations by Shigemasa.  Approximately three years later Tsutaya published an untitled series depicting full-length images of geisha of which this is a part.

Eishosai Choki, Woman and Servant in Snow (Sechu sho shiki jo), this impression unsigned and without censor or publisher seals, published by Tsutaya Juzaburo, ca. 1790.

One of the finest prints included in this show, Woman and Servant in Snow, ca. 1790 (14 1/2 by 10 inches), is by an artist whose work is particularly rare to the market: Eishosai Choki (fl. ca. 1780–1809). Also published by Tsutaya Juzaburo, the print demonstrates one of the hallmarks of golden age prints—the introduction of lavish printing techniques such as mica ground printing. The print is from an untitled group of four portraits of beauties presented in a dramatic outdoor setting that are among the most reproduced and coveted works in all of the ukiyo-e genre. The designs are distinctive in the way that Choki positions the figure off to the side, roughly occupying only two-thirds of the composition. In this print we see a beauty pausing beneath an open umbrella which shields her from the fat flakes of falling snow, shimmering (or shivering) against a cold mica background. She leans on the back of her burly servant who is bending over, reaching beyond the frame of the composition to clean the clumps of heavy wet snow off of her geta.  Although they are a study in contrasts, she is lovely and delicate, he is solid with rough whiskers on his face, Choki conveys a sense of quiet intimacy shared between the two.

An example of a lavish printing is by Hosoda Eishi (1756–1829), Selection of Beauties from the Pleasure Quarters: Hanamurasaki of the Tamaya in Procession (15 by 10 inches), which utilizes both an incredibly dramatic dark mica background as well as metallic printing on the hem of the sauntering courtesan, Hanamurasaki. This design was formerly in the esteemed collection of the French connoisseur Henri Vever (1854–1942) and was the subject of extensive research by the American collector Louis V. Ledoux (1880–1948), who had a variant impression which he identified as a later state of the print. His research led him to conclude that there may have been four states of this scarce print, of which this (the Vever impression) is the earliest and (he thought) one of only three extant examples. Current research clarifies that this one is one of only two recorded impressions of the earliest version of the print.

Another development in print production was the issuance of multi-panel prints- most typically in the format of triptychs.  One of the most stunning works in the show which shares the Vever Collection provenance is a triptych by a student of Eishi, Chokosai Eisho (fl. ca. 1795–1801) titled A Glimpse of the Ogiya: Hashidate, Nanakoshi and Hanabito (triptych 15 by 28 inches). This breath-taking composition presents three beautiful women who are seated in a brothel reception room decorated with an elaborate painting of a peacock covering the background wall. The three women are identified from right to left as the well-known and high-ranking courtesans: Hashidate, Nanakoshi, and Hanabito. The title places them at the Ogiya brothel located in the Yoshiwara. All three courtesans worked at the Ogiya and seem to be engrossed in a private conversation away from their customers. Perhaps they are sharing an amusing story related to the folded love letter which Hashidate is handing to Nanakoshi. There are few copies of this triptych extant and almost all are now in museum collections.

The bijin-ga of ukiyo-e were represented by beautiful women and beautiful men, and kabuki actors enjoyed celebrity-worship that would surely resonate with that of today. The Bachofen Collection includes three prints depicting kabuki actors, including a powerful bust-portrait by Utagawa Kunimasa (1773–1810), Actor Ichikawa Yaozo III as a Bandit (15 by 10 inches). This intense okubi-e portrait of Ichikawa Yaozo III (Suketakaya Takasuke II, 1747–1818) shows the actor in the role of a yamagatsu (lumberjack), who is actually a legendary warrior in disguise. The print was made at the time of Yaozo’s performance in a play that was staged at the Miyako-za theater in the 11th lunar month of 1796. The artist Kunimasa died at the young age of only 37 with approximately 125 recorded designs with few impressions extant. Of the four known examples of this print, this is the only one currently in private hands.

The Bachofen Collection has several highly important works by Kitagawa Utamaro (1753–1806), arguably the leading painting and print artist of his time who practically owned the market for images of beauties in the 1790s and early 1800s, until his untimely death in 1806 which marks the close of the ‘golden age’ period. In most ukiyo-e collections just one of these works would be the treasured highlight, in this collection there are nine Utamaro prints, including three okubi-e (‘big head’ or bust portraits) and one half-length portrait, each one a masterpiece in and of itself.

Kitagawa Utamaro, Seven Women Applying Make-up before a Full-length Mirror (Sugatami shichinin kesho), signed Utamaro ga with censor’s seal kiwame (approved) publisher’s mark of Tsutaya Juzaburo (Koshodo), sealed Wakai Hayashi, and oval WS (Schindler) collector’s seal on verso, ca. 1792–93. The title indicates this print is one from an intended series of seven, although only this one design is recorded.

The earliest Utamaro print in the exhibition is a compositional tour-de-force. Dated to around 1792–93, the print, Seven Women Applying Make-up Before a Full-length Mirror (14 1/4 by 9 1/2 inches), was issued at the beginning of a productive period for Utamaro during which he designed a number of ambitious half-length and bust portrait images of beauties primarily in collaboration with the publisher Tsutaya. The title in the bookmark-shaped cartouche indicates this print is one from an intended series of seven, although only this one design is recorded.  While the term ‘sugatami’ in the title refers to a full-length mirror, the composition is that of a reflection of a bust portrait of a beauty as seen from over her shoulder. The effect is to both share her gaze into the mirror, while simultaneously appreciating her coiffure from behind as well as a titillating view of her erikubi (the nape of her neck). Her facial features and the crest on her kimono suggest that this is a portrait of one of Utamaro’s favorite subjects, the teahouse waitress Naniwa Okita. Tsutaya spared no expense with this production, generously embellishing the print with mica both on the background and on the mirror. The red seal to the left of the signature sheds light on the print’s provenance of having been in the hands of Wakai Kenzaburo (1834–1908), a highly influential Japanese art dealer and collector who was vital to the formation of ukiyo-e collections in Paris in the 1870s and 1880s. Wakai’s seal confirms that this exact impression was illustrated in Dr. Julius Kurth’s 1907 monograph on Utamaro (the first in a European language) when it was in the hands of Rex & Co in Berlin, an early importer of Asian art; it then passed into the hands of Werner Schindler (1905–1986) of Bienne, Switzerland. Highlights from the Schindler Collection were exhibited in several cities in Japan in 1985, and this print was illustrated on the cover of the exhibition catalogue.

In about 1792–93, the publisher Tsutaya began producing print series by Utamaro depicting half-length portraits of beauties with glittering full-mica backgrounds. These lavish images elevated print production to new aesthetic heights, establishing both Utamaro and Tsutaya as pre-eminent ukiyo-e artist and publisher, respectively. The portrait of Wakaume of the Tamaya in Edo-machi itchome, kamuro Mumeno and Iroka (14 1/2 by 9 5/8 inches) is dated to around 1793–94 and is associated with a group of three portraits that were likely intended as an informal triptych, each featuring a courtesan identified in the title cartouche with her house and naming her two kamuro (child attendants) with an accompanying kyoka poem. Of the three designs, this composition functions best at the central panel because the figure’s body faces one way while she turns to look in the opposite direction, and one of her kamuro peeks out from behind in a rare instance of frontal portraiture. The courtesan is Wakaume of the zashiki-mochi (‘having her own suite’) rank of the Tamaya house, and two kamuro, Mumeno and Iroka, are mentioned in the cartouche along with a poem playing on the literal meaning of her name, Wakaume, or White Plum.

The ca. 1795–96 bust portrait, Painting the Eyebrows (15 by 10 inches), is another masterpiece by Utamaro included in this group. It depicts a beauty leaning forward in concentration while applying make-up to her eyebrows. We catch a glimpse of her reflection from another angle in her hand-mirror, which is highlighted with mica to suggest the polished surface. This print was produced by a rather small publishing house, Isemago, about whom very little is known, which may explain why this design is extremely scarce. Of the three recorded impressions of this design, this is the only one currently in private hands.

The final Utamaro okubi-e in the exhibition is a delightful portrait of the famous courtesan Komurasaki of the Tamaya House after a Bath (15 by 10 inches) from around 1797–99. The portrait is of the famous courtesan Komurasaki, who held the highest rank of yobidashi (‘on call’), which meant she only could be seen by making an appointment through a teahouse, the same rank as her ‘house sister’ Hanamurasaki featured in the full-length mica-ground print by Eishi. This print bears the collector’s seal of the artist Paul Blondeau (ca. 1860–1920) and was later in the collection of Charles Haviland (1839–1921), which was sold in Paris in 1922. This print is one of only two recorded impressions of this design.

The exhibition will feature twenty-two woodblock prints including works by major ukiyo-e artists such as: Kitao Shigemasa (1739–1820), Torii Kiyonaga (1752–1815), Katsukawa Shuncho (fl. ca. 1780–1795),  Eishosai Choki (fl. ca. 1780–1809), Hosoda Eishi (1756–1829), Chokosai Eisho (fl. ca. 1795–1801), Chokyosai Eiri (fl. ca. 1795–1800), Ichirakutei Eisui (fl. ca. 1795–1803), Utagawa Toyokuni I (1769–1825), Katsukawa Shunei (1762–1819), and Kitagawa Utamaro (1753–1806).

Katherine Martin, Highlights of Japanese Printmaking: Part Six, The Baron J. Bachofen von Echt Collection of Golden Age Ukiyo-e (2020), $40.

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Note (added 17 March 2020)— The original posting did not include the link to the press release posted at Art Daily.

Exhibition | Turner: Paintings and Watercolours from Tate

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on March 16, 2020

From the Jacquemart-André, which is—like most other public museums—currently closed until further notice in response to the Coronavirus pandemic: 

Turner: Paintings and Watercolours from Tate
Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, 13 March — 20 July 2020

In 2020 the Musée Jacquemart-André will present Turner, peintures et aquarelles, a major retrospective of the oeuvre of Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851). Undoubtedly the greatest representative of the golden age of English watercolours, he experimented with the effects of light and transparency on English landscapes and Venetian lagoons. Celebrated by his contemporaries, Turner still has many admirers. Thanks to exceptional loans from Tate Britain in London, which houses the largest collection of Turner’s works in the world, the Musée Jacquemart-André will hold an exhibition of sixty watercolours and ten oil paintings, some of which have never been exhibited in France.

Apart from his finished works intended for sale, Turner kept a considerable collection of works for himself, which were kept in his house and studio. With their unique qualities, these sketches, which were more expressive and experimental, were certainly closer to nature than those he painted for the public. In 1856, after the artist’s death, an enormous collection of works was bequeathed to the British nation, comprising many oil paintings, unfinished studies, and sketches, as well as thousands of works executed on paper: watercolours, drawings, and sketchbooks.

John Ruskin, who was one of the first to study the entire bequest, observed that Turner had executed most of these works for his “own pleasure and delight.” Now held at Tate Britain, the collection highlights the incredible modernity of the great Romantic painter. The exhibition will display part of this private collection, which provides illuminating perspectives about Turner’s mindset, imagination, and private works. The young Turner, who came from relatively humble beginnings, taught himself to draw; an insatiable traveller, he gradually freed himself from the conventions of the pictorial genre and developed his own technique. A chronological itinerary enables visitors to discover every phase of his artistic development: from his youthful works—which attest to a certain topographical realism and which he sent to the Royal Academy—to his mature works, which were more radical and accomplished, as fascinating experiments with light and colour. Displayed in this exhibition alongside various finished watercolours and oil paintings to illustrate their influence on Turner’s public pictures, these highly personal works are as fresh and spontaneous as they were when first set them down on paper.

David Blayney Brown, Jobert Barthelemy, Pierre Curie, Turner: Peintures et aquarelles de la Tate (Brussels: Mercatorfonds, 2020), 192 pages, ISBN: 978-9462302204, 40€.

Exhibition | Turner and the Thames: Five Paintings

Posted in exhibitions, on site by Editor on March 12, 2020

I noted here at Enfilade back in 2014 that plans were established to preserve Turner’s house, but I realize that I never followed up. Turner’s House opened to the public in 2017 after a £2.4 million restoration, and it’s now hosting its first exhibition of original oil paintings by the artist. CH

Turner and the Thames: Five Paintings
Sandycombe Lodge, Twickenham, 10 January — 30 April 2020 (extended from the original March closing date)

Turner’s House Trust are thrilled to announce their first exhibition of J.M.W. Turner’s original oil paintings in the house he designed for himself. Thanks to a generous loan from Tate, the exhibition opened on January 10th and will run until 30th April 2020. Turner and the Thames: Five Paintings features rare oil sketches, seldom seen by the public. The works have been chosen for their depictions of scenes close to his house near the river and feature riparian landscapes from Isleworth to Windsor. The Thames enticed Turner to buy a plot of land in Twickenham on which to build a retreat for him and his father in the 1800s, and he designed the villa so that he could glimpse the river from his bedroom window. Turner spent a lot of time on the Thames both working and fishing, keeping his catch in two ponds in what was then a large, country garden.

The exhibition is included in the price of general admission to the house. Special tours may also be purchased for up to ten people for £120 and the group will have the house to themselves. These tours would make excellent presents for special occasions for friends and family. If you are interested in booking on of these tours please contact Ricky Pound at housedirector@turnershouse.org.

Conservation of The Blue Boy Completed

Posted in exhibitions, museums by Editor on March 11, 2020

Press release from The Huntington (27 February 2020) . . .

The conservator removed dirt trapped underneath the varnish (as seen on the cotton swab), which clouded the clarity of Gainsborough’s masterful brushwork (The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens).

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens announced today that the extensive 18-month initiative to analyze, conserve, and restore The Blue Boy (ca. 1770) by Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788) is complete, and the iconic painting will go back on view Thursday, March 26, in the Thornton Portrait Gallery. With much of the process carried out in public view during the Project Blue Boy exhibition (22 September 2018 — 30 September 2019), the major undertaking involved high-tech data gathering and analysis as well as more than 500 hours of expert conservation work to remove old overpaint and varnish, repair and reattach the lining and other structural materials, and inpaint areas of loss as a result of flaking and abrasion. Now, minute shades of color, fine brushstroke textures, and nuanced details of the famous figure of a young man in a blue satin costume, as well as the landscape in which he stands, are once again legible and closer to what Gainsborough intended.

The Blue Boy has been a star of The Huntington’s collections since we opened as the first old masters museum in Los Angeles in 1928, when visitors flocked to see this magnificent work of 18th-century British portraiture,” said Huntington President Karen R. Lawrence. “Now the painting is again the center of a joyous occasion, as we celebrate the completion of a robust and thoughtful conservation project. A well-attended exhibition showcasing the conservator at work, more than 100 public talks, and the convening of experts in the field all helped to define Project Blue Boy as an ambitious and successful project with an educational focus.”

More than 217,000 people visited the Project Blue Boy exhibition. Christina O’Connell, The Huntington’s Mary Ann and John Sturgeon Senior Paintings Conservator and leader of the project, gave about 170 gallery talks, emphasizing the guidelines and code of ethics in the field of conservation as she responded to visitor questions on topics ranging from the history of the painting, to details of the technical study, to the structural elements of the work.

The conservation project involved slowly removing several uneven layers of dirt and discolored varnish with small cotton swabs to reveal Gainsborough’s original brilliant blues and other pigments. Then, with tiny brushes, the artist’s brushstrokes were reconnected across the voids of past damage as part of the inpainting process.

As O’Connell worked on the painting, she became intimately aware of Gainsborough’s every brushstroke. “It’s been an incredibly deep professional experience,” she said. “Conservation work is very much a process of discovery. I’ve not only had a view of the painting at the microscopic level, but I was also able to observe each stroke as the true colors of Gainsborough’s palette were revealed from underneath many layers of dirt and discolored varnish.” During the process, O’Connell discovered that although Gainsborough painted The Blue Boy on a recycled canvas (as revealed in earlier X-rays), he made considerable use of a complex network of paint layers and pigments to create a painting that truly showed off his skills.

“We have to remember that this painting wasn’t commissioned, but rather was produced by Gainsborough for the express purpose of showing off his prowess at the Royal Academy exhibition of 1770—where it would be seen next to the work of his rivals,” said Melinda McCurdy, The Huntington’s associate curator for British art and co-curator of Project Blue Boy. “Gainsborough intended it to grab attention, and conservation work has revealed the incredible technical skill he brought to this showpiece.”

Other discoveries made over the course of the project, which was supported by a grant from Bank of America as a part of its global Arts Conservation Project, include one relating to the painting’s lining. After observation and analysis, conservators determined that the lining adhesive for The Blue Boy correlated to a historic recipe for a paste made of rye flour and ale. O’Connell enlisted the help of a food historian to recreate the paste with modern ingredients to construct a mock-up in order to observe how the materials for the lining behaved. More discoveries should be forthcoming once the copious data that was collected during the project is analyzed. Information was gathered via X-radiography, infrared reflectography, cross-section microscopy, and macro X-ray fluorescence scanning. The results of the analysis will take several more months.

Conservation was funded by a grant from the Bank of America Art Conservation Project.  Additional generous support for this project was provided by the Getty Foundation, Friends of Heritage Preservation, and Haag-Streit USA

Print Quarterly, March 2020

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions, journal articles, reviews by Editor on March 10, 2020

The eighteenth century in the current issue of Print Quarterly:

Print Quarterly 37.1 (March 2020)

Antoine Trouvain and Pierre Lepautre after Bon Boullogne, Thesis Print of François Bourgarel for Mathematics, 1695, engraving, top 336 x 540 mm, bottom 462 x 540 mm (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France).

N O T E S  A N D  R E V I E W S

• John Roger Paas, Review of Simon Turner, ed., The New Hollstein German Engravings, Etchings, and Woodcuts, 1400–1700: Johann Stridbeck the Elder and the Younger, compiled by Dieter Beaujean and based on the research material of Josef H. Biller, parts 1–4 (Ouderkerk aan den IJssel: Sound & Vision Publishers, 2018), pp. 72–73.

The fact that artists are prolific and find a market in their lifetime is no guarantee that their work will enjoy critical acclaim in the long run or be avidly sought after by collectors. Such is the case of the Stridbecks, Johann the Elder (1641–1716) and Johann the Younger (1666–1714), Augsburg printmakers active from the late seventeenth century to the second decade of the eighteenth. . . . [But] their prints help to give us a deeper understanding of the print market and of public taste at the time, and we are fortunate that the more than a thousand prints of the Stridbecks have now been carefully collected and catalogued.

• Louis Marchesano, Review of Véronique Meyer, Pour la plus grand gloire du roi: Louis XIV en theses (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2017), pp. 73–75.

This book provides an insightful account of the thesis print phenomenon by focusing on prints dedicated to the French king. It explores the function of these prints in the candidate’s life at university and outside, the production, reception and diffusion of the sheets and analyses the king’s image and its evolution in the period from his birth in 1638 to his death in 1715.

• Niklas Leverenz, “Isidore-Stanislas Helman and J. Pélicier,” pp. 75–76.

This short note focuses on a recently discovered signature of J. Pélicier on the proof state of a 1787 print previously attributed to Isidore-Stanislas Helman (1742–1809). This evidence suggests that Helman must have relied on a team of etchers for his large body of work, unusually allowing some of them to put their name on the plates.

P U B L I C A T I O N S  R E C E I V E D

• Who is Who Chez les Colbert? La collection d’estampes de Joseph de Colbert, exhibition catalogue (Sceaux: Musée du Domaine départemental de Sceaux / Ghent: Éditions Snoeck, 2019), p. 96.

• Sandra Pisot, ed., Goya, Fragonard, Tiepolo: Die Freiheit der Malerei, exhibition catalogue (Hamburg: Hamburger Kunsthalle / Munich: Hirmer Verlag, 2019), p. 96.

• Laurent Baridon, Jean-Philippe Garric, and Martial Guédron, eds., Jean-Jacques Lequeu: Bâtisseur des Fantasmes, exhibition catalogue (Paris: Petit Palais, Bibliothèque Nationale de France / Éditions Norma, 2018), p. 97.

J. Pélicier, Emperor Qianlong Welcoming the Elderly Citizens of his Empire for a Celebration in their Honour, 1787, etching, 303 x 428 mm (Private Collection).

Exhibition | Angelica Kauffman

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on March 5, 2020

Now on view at the Kunstpalast and coming to London’s RA in June:

Angelica Kauffman: Artist, Superwoman, Influencer
Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, 30 January — 24 May 2020
Royal Academy of Arts, London, 28 June — 20 September 2020

Angelica Kauffman was a founding member of the Royal Academy and an artist who defied convention. In this major exhibition we trace her trajectory from child prodigy to one of the most sought-after painters of her time. Born in Switzerland in 1741, Angelica Kauffman (1741–1807) was quickly recognised as a child prodigy, before receiving further artistic training in Italy. Arriving in London in 1766, she enjoyed an unprecedented career as a history painter and portraitist before moving to Rome in 1782, where her studio became a hub of the city’s cultural life. Kauffman’s career was unusual for a female artist in the late 18th and early 19th century. A highly acclaimed portraitist, she identified herself primarily as a history painter, working for patrons across Britain and the continent, including Catherine the Great amongst others. This exhibition will focus on Kauffman’s work at the height of her career, tracing the life and work of this celebrated artist.

The catalogue is published by Hirmer and distributed in North America by The University of Chicago Press:

Bettina Baumgärtel, ed., with contributions by B. Baumgärtel, I. M. Holubec, J. Myssok, and H. Valentine, Angelica Kauffman (Munich: Hirmer Publishers, 2020), 208 pages, ISBN: 978-3777434629, £35 / $45.

The Burlington Magazine, February 2020

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions, journal articles, reviews by Editor on February 28, 2020

The eighteenth century in The Burlington:

The Burlington Magazine 162 (February 2020) — Northern European Art

Anton von Maron, Portrait of Johann Joachim Winckelmann, 1767, oil on canvas, 136 × 99 cm (Weimar: Stadtschloss).

E D I T O R I A L

• “The National Trust at 125,” p. 87.

A R T I C L E S

• Gauvin Alexander Bailey, “A Bavarian Pilgrimage Shrine in Seventeenth-Century Paraguay,” pp. 115–25. The Jesuit priest Anton Sepp was one of the first Germanic missionaries to be admitted to the Spanish territories in South America. Arriving in 1691, he brought with him a copy of the miracle-working sculpture of the Virgin of Altötting in Bavaria, and in 1697 he emphasised the German character of his mission by commissioning a version of the octagonal chapel in which the original was housed.

• Clare Hornsby, “J. J. Winckelmann and the Society of Antiquaries of London: New Documents,” pp. 126–35. Three new documents in the archive of the Society of Antiquaries, published here for the first time, provide evidence about Winckelmann’s aspirations for promoting his works in antiquarian circles in England. They include the first statement in English of his theory of art history, written in 1761.

R E V I E W S

• Arthur Wheelock, Review of the exhibition De Wind is Op!: Climate, Culture and Innovation in Dutch Maritime Painting (New Bedford Whaling Museum, 2019–20), pp. 150–52.

• Olivier Bonfait, Review of Gaëtane Maës, De l’expertise artistique à la vulgarisation au siècle des Lumières: Jean-Baptiste Descamps (1715–1791) et la peinture flamande, hollandaise et allemande (Brepols, 2016), pp. 171–72.

• Anna Arabindan Kesson, Review of Sarah Thomas, Witnessing Slavery: Art and Travel in the Age of Abolition (Yale University Press, 2019), pp. 172–74.

 

Exhibition | De Wind is Op!

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on February 28, 2020

Johanes de Blaauw, Whaleship D’Vergulde Walvis (‘The Golden Whale’) Passing the Tollhouse at Buiksloot on the IJ River, North of Amsterdam, 1759, oil on canvas, 55 × 68 cm (New Bedford Whaling Museum, Kendall Whaling Museum Collection, 2001.100.4604).

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Now on view at the New Bedford Whaling Museum:

De Wind is Op! Climate, Culture and Innovation in Dutch Maritime Painting
New Bedford Whaling Museum, 2 July 2019 — 15 May 2020

Curated by Christina Connett Brophy and Roger Mandle

De Wind is OP! explores our extraordinary collections of Golden Age Dutch and Flemish paintings through a fresh lens. These works interpret around the themes of wind, climate, and sea as the drivers behind a uniquely Dutch national identity represented in maritime works of art of this period. Dutch artists arguably invented seascape painting, and were the first to specialize in this genre. Their influence reverberates in all that followed, from the work of J.M.W. Turner to Winslow Homer to New Bedford artists William Bradford and Albert Pinkham Ryder. The exhibition includes up to 50 paintings, prints, and other related artifacts drawn from the Museum’s Dutch collections, one of the largest and important of this genre outside of the Netherlands. There will also be a complementary exhibition in the fall of 2019 of European and American prints, paintings, and charts related to wind and climate themes.

The sea and seafaring shaped the Dutch collective identity. They were a political entity without precedence, and the art world followed the new cultural and societal models unique to the newly formed Dutch Republic. The Dutch were a dominant superpower in all things maritime, including worldwide trade, military strength, and whaling. They were a world emporium, trading timber, grain, salt, cloth, luxury materials throughout the global waterways. This was a time of great artistic production to keep up with a high demand for collecting, when a baker was as likely to have fine artwork in his home as a banker. Popular taste was for greatly refined compositions, exquisiteness of detail, and plausible reality. Dutch openness to innovation allowed them to manipulate their own watery landscapes with dams and wind power and to design ship modifications that maximized successful access to the Northern seas and the dramatic fluctuating climate during the Little Ice Age. Vulnerability to tidal deluge and to tempests at sea carried moral and nationalistic themes in paintings from this era. These themes and others are the foundation of the exhibition.

This exhibition was timed to coincide with the inaugural Summer Winds 2019 run by the New Bedford group Design Art Technology Massachusetts (DATMA), a creative and educational city-wide platform for discussion and exploration of wind energy. Multiple partners in the cultural sector contributed programs, exhibitions, and educational events to this initiative throughout the summer. De Wind is Op! is a major contribution to the Summer Winds project and serves as a cornerstone of summer programming events. The Museum partnered with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), Harvard Art Museums, and the Dutch Culture USA Program of the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to collaborate on a major symposium in fall 2019 to examine Dutch maritime artwork in accordance with the major exhibition themes.

Curators
Dr. Christina Connett Brophy, The Douglas and Cynthia Crocker Endowed Chair for the Chief Curator
Dr. Roger Mandle, Co-Founder of Design Art Technology Massachusetts (DATMA); Former Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the National Gallery of Art; and former President of the Rhode Island School of Design

A 41-page catalogue is available as a PDF file from the museum website.