Exhibition | A Return to the Grand Tour: Micromosaic Jewels

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 26, 2019

Opening this weekend at the VMFA:

A Return to the Grand Tour: Micromosaic Jewels from the Collection of Elizabeth Locke
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, 27 April — 2 September 2019
The Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, 2020

Curated by Susan Rawles

The wide range of subjects depicted in these 92 intricately crafted works of art—precious souvenirs designed for Grand Tour travelers of the mid-18th to late-19th centuries—include Renaissance paintings, architecture, birds, animals, historical sites, landscapes, and portraits. These micromosaic jewels reflect the sophisticated pursuits of elite Europeans for whom travel was a rite of passage.

Diminutive forms of ancient Roman, Grecian, and Byzantine mosaics, ‘micromosaics’—a term coined in the 1970s by collector Sir Arthur Gilbert—are made using a painstaking technique that involves tesserae, small pieces of opaque enamel glass. The tiny mosaics were first developed with regularity in the second half of the 18th century by the Vatican Mosaic Workshop. By the 19th century, numerous independent studios devoted to the production of these small keepsakes were established to meet travelers’ demands and to capitalize on the increasing popularity of micromosaics as symbols of status, sophistication, and social polish. For an English traveler to Rome, Venice, or Milan, for example, a micromosaic of an Italian Renaissance painting or ancient architectural monument captured the journey and today reflects that era’s fascination with the classics and societal requisite travel to the ‘cradle of western civilization’.

The works of art on view in this exhibition, which are predominantly stunning pieces of jewelry, are dazzling in their exquisite detail and craftsmanship. In addition to the tiny enameled glass that forms the mosaic, eye-catching designs include gold, precious stones, and diamonds. VMFA is pleased to present this decorative arts exhibition and to share these fine works of art from the Elizabeth Locke Collection of Micromosaics.

The exhibition is organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and curated by Dr. Susan J. Rawles, Associate Curator of American Painting and Decorative Arts, VMFA.

Susan Rawles, with a foreword by John Guare, A Return to the Grand Tour: Micromosaic Jewels from the Collection of Elizabeth Locke (Richmond: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2019), 118 pages, ISBN: 978-1934351154, $25.

New Book | Joseph Rose: Working Drawings. Facsimile of a Sketchbook

Posted in books, exhibitions by Editor on April 23, 2019


Joseph Rose: Working Drawings. Facsimile of a Sketchbook at Harewood House, with an introduction by Ashleigh Murray (Frome, Somerset: Kate Holland, 2019). Limited edition of 50, of which 48 are ‘ordinary’ (£150) and 2 ‘extraordinary’ (£3000).

The two extraordinary copies are bound in full alum tawed calfskin with hand dyed calfskin inlays and blind and gold tooling. A plasterwork rosette by Hayles and Howe, gilded by Glenny Thomas, is inset into the front board. Hand coloured edges. Hand sewn silk endbands. Printed endpapers from an original watercolour.

This book came about following an invitation to Kate Holland to exhibit as one of the 26 makers selected to feature in the inaugural celebration of contemporary craft at Harewood House, Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters, on view from 23 March until 1 September 2019. A preliminary visit to the house culminated in a behind-the-scenes tour of the archives. In one drawer was a small, nondescript, slightly battered book that revealed a series of working drawings by both Joseph Rose Senior (ca. 1723–1780) and Joseph Rose Junior (1745–1799).

The Roses were the pre-eminent master plasterers of their day and worked closely with Robert Adam (1728–1792) on the ceilings at Harewood in the 1760s as well as on many other big houses, several of which feature in this book. The sketchbook gives a fascinating glimpse into the minds of two incredible craftsmen working on highly significant commissions with some of the foremost architects and interior designers of their time. It is the perfect record of the link between commissioner, designer, and craftsman. Particularly because craftsmen too often fade into the background, Holland wanted to celebrate them especially for this celebration of craft.

As well as the facsimile sketchbook, there is also included an introduction by Ashleigh Murray, currently the academic expert on Joseph Rose in the UK. There are also contemporary images from the workshop floor of Hayles and Howe in Bristol, who still use the same techniques as Joseph Rose today—as well as a full list of plates, transcribed from the manuscript titles, as written by Joseph Rose.

This book is intended to serve not only as an important reference tool for those researching ornamental plasterwork or the work of Robert Adam but also to appeal to a wider audience with an interest in Georgian architecture or the history of interior design and craftsmanship.

For those visiting Harewood House, copies are available at the gift shop. Mail order copies can be arranged by contacting Kate Holland directly, katehollandbookbinder@gmail.com.

More information on the exhibition Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters is available here.

Exhibition | Souvenirs of Italy: An English Family Abroad

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on April 20, 2019

Now on view at Audley End:

Souvenirs of Italy: An English Family Abroad
Library at Audley End House, Essex, 1 April — 31 October 2019

Curated by Peter Moore, Abigail Brundin, and Dunstan Roberts

George Romney, Portrait of Richard Aldworth Neville, later 2nd Baron Braybrooke, oil on canvas, ca.1779 (On loan from a private collection; photograph by Mark Asher).

We learn relatively little about Richard Griffin (formerly Richard Aldworth Neville, 1750–1825), second Baron Braybrooke, when we visit or read about Audley End House. He seems to have spent limited time at the house and left it largely unchanged on his death. Recent research in the Library has thrown fascinating new light on this family member, including a European tour that was initiated in the wake of a bereavement and left a lasting personal and cultural legacy at Audley End. Richard’s experiences abroad have much to tell us about the importance of multiculturalism and multilingualism in eighteenth-century England.

The exhibition revolves around the European tour undertaken by Richard Aldworth Neville from 1771 until 1774, when he was in his early twenties. It focuses on the family circumstances that led to the tour, the family’s multilingualism, Richard’s experiences in France, Switzerland, and Italy and what he brought home with him—both materially and culturally—which later found its way into Audley End House and its library. Books, manuscripts, paintings, drawings, and personal items from the house are brought into conversation through the exhibition with archival loans from Essex Record Office that shed light on Richard’s upbringing, his family relationships, and his reactions to his experiences abroad.

The broad aim is twofold. First the exhibition will help to bring into a focus a member of the family and owner of Audley End House who currently does not feature very much in the existing public engagement materials. Second the focus on the Grand Tour allows us to build a narrative about European engagement, through language learning, travel and the consumption of foreign literature and material culture, which enriched the lives of those who lived in and passed through Audley End.

The exhibition is curated by Dr Peter Moore (Curator of Collections & Interiors, Audley End); Dr Abigail Brundin (Reader in Early Modern Literature and Culture, Department of Italian, University of Cambridge); and Dr Dunstan Roberts (Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of English, University of Cambridge). The exhibition is funded by the University of Cambridge and the Friends of Audley End.

Exhibition | Prospects of India

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on April 15, 2019

Thomas Daniell (British, 1749–1840), On the Ganges, ca. 1788, watercolor (San Marino: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, Gilbert Davis Collection).

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Now on at The Huntington:

Prospects of India: 18th- and 19th-Century British Drawings from The Huntington’s Art Collections
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, 2 March — 10 June 2019

The drawings in this exhibition take as their subject the landscape of India. They were made by British artists, some of whom traveled there on their own in hopes of finding new and ‘exotic’ subject matter. As these drawings attest, the history of Britain’s engagement with South Asia is a complicated one. It covers a spectrum of motivations that ranges from trade and mutually beneficial cultural exchange to violent imperial conquest. The fifteen images on view hint at this complexity, revealing a fascination and admiration for the Indian landscape and the people who lived there, as well as attitudes of cultural superiority and ownership. Works by professional artists such as George Chinnery and Thomas and William Daniell, hang alongside examples by accomplished, though amateur, draftsmen like Col. George Francis White, revealing both the range of artists who sought to depict the scenery of India and the diversity of the landscape itself.

Exhibition | Image Control: Understanding the Georgian Selfie

Posted in exhibitions, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on April 14, 2019

Now on view at No. 1 Royal Crescent:

Image Control: Understanding the Georgian Selfie
No. 1 Royal Crescent, Bath, 13 April 2019 — 5 January 2020

As the Age of Instagram erodes our mental well-being with manipulated and curated images of ideal lifestyles and standards, Image Control explores the way Georgians manipulated their own images to convey certain messages. By using these techniques, we aim to create our own manipulated images of historical figures to show how easy it is to create a fictionalised version of our lives today.

The exhibition is supported by new art commissions: we have commissioned three artists to create a portrait of Henry Sandford—the house’s first resident—to be displayed in the main house. There is an exhibition guide showing a recommended route, starting with the exhibition room and leading into the house, giving visitors a deeper understanding of the portraits and images throughout.

The project team included Lizzie Johansson-Hartley, Museum Manager, No.1 Royal Crescent; Dr Amy Frost, Senior Curator, Bath Preservation Trust; Isabel Wall, Assistant Curator, Bath Preservation Trust; Polly Andrews, Learning and Engagement Officer, Bath Preservation Trust; Katie O’Brien, Gallery Director, 44AD; and Amina Wright, Art Lecturer and Historian.

The earlier, working title of the project was Image Control: The Power of Perception Then and Now. The artist’s brief is available as a PDF file here.


Exhibition | Art in Focus: Blue

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on April 13, 2019

William Gilpin, leaves 33v–34r (with color chart laid in) from “Hints to form the taste & regulate ye judgment in sketching landscape,” ca. 1790, manuscript, with pen and ink and watercolor (New Haven: Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection). More information on the manuscript is available here.

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Now on view at YCBA:

Art in Focus: Blue
Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 5 April — 11 August 2019

Curated by Merritt Barnwell, Sunnie Liu, Sohum Pal, Jordan Schmolka, and Muriel Wang, led by Linda Friedlaender and Jennifer Reynolds-Kaye

This exhibition uses the color blue to trace a visual and material history of British exploration, trade, and colonialism. Starting from a consideration of Britain’s growing control over maritime trade, this display proceeds to examine how blue was used to depict the landscapes and peoples of the ‘Orient’ in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and concludes with a consideration of the postcolonial interventions of Anish Kapoor.

Art in Focus is an annual initiative for members of the Center’s Student Guide Program, providing Yale undergraduates with curatorial experience and an introduction to all aspects of exhibition practice. The student guide curators for Art in Focus: Blue are Merritt Barnwell, SY ’21; Sunnie Liu, JE ’21; Sohum Pal, BR ’20; Jordan Schmolka, SM ’20; and Muriel Wang, TC ’20. In researching and presenting the exhibition, the students have been led by Linda Friedlaender, Senior Curator of Education, and Jennifer Reynolds-Kaye, Curator of Education and Academic Outreach.

This exhibition and the accompanying brochure—available in the gallery and online—have been generously supported by the Marlene Burston Fund and the Dr. Carolyn M. Kaelin Memorial Fund.

Exhibition | Homer

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on April 6, 2019

Press release for the exhibition:

Homer / Homère
Musée du Louvre-Lens, 27 March — 22 July 2019

Curated by Alain Jaubert, Alexandre Farnoux, Vincent Pomarède, Luc Piralla, and Alexandre Estaquet-Legrand

The Musée du Louvre-Lens presents one of the most ambitious exhibitions ever devoted to Homer, the ‘prince of poets’, author of two celebrated epics, The Iliad and The Odyssey, that have been an integral part of Western societies since antiquity. It explores the origins of Homer’s fascinating influence on Western artists and culture down the centuries and sheds light on its many mysteries.

Achilles, Hector, Ulysses: these names continue to resonate in people’s minds today. From antiquity to the Renaissance, artists borrowed from Homer’s stories a multitude of fundamental subjects that have shaped the history of art. What is the reason for this uninterrupted success? This exhibition of international scope sets out to explore how artists drew on Homer and the heroes of The Iliad and The Odyssey. It also provides an opportunity to examine numerous questions: Did Homer exist? Was he the sole author of these monumental works? Where and when did he live?

‘Homeromania’ has led the Homeric poems to be used repeatedly as sources of inspiration. The exhibition explores the various aspects of this phenomenon and analyses its diverse manifestations in language, literature, the sciences, the arts, morality, and life. Through almost 250 works, dating from antiquity to the present day, the exhibition offers an unprecedented immersion in the riches of the Homeric world. It presents a selection of works as dense and varied as Homer’s influence, ranging from paintings and objects from ancient Greece, sculptures and casts, and tapestries to paintings by Rubens, Antoine Watteau, Gustave Moreau, André Derain, Marc Chagall, and Cy Twombly.

After a prelude devoted to the gods of Olympus, visitors begin their visit by discovering the ‘prince of poets’ and above all the mysteries that surround him. They then begin their visit in the company of the principal heroes of The Iliad and The Odyssey: archaeological objects and modern works evoke the way in which these seminal sagas, reconsidered, reinterpreted, and updated so many times, have been captured in images over time. The exhibition includes a detour by way of other poems from the Epic Cycle that were lost over the course of time and which contained narratives recounting the most famous scenes of the Trojan War, including the Trojan horse, the death of Achilles, and the abduction of Helen. These episodes reveal the full extent of the ancient epic literature and the miraculous nature of the conservation of Homer’s work. The adventure ends with an exploration of the phenomena of ‘Homeromania’ that has marked the science of archaeology and inspired works and behaviour, based on the extensive imitation of Homer that even extended to everyday life.

Curators: Alain Jaubert, writer and filmmaker, Alexandre Farnoux, director of the École Française d’Athènes, Vincent Pomarède, assistant general administrator of the Louvre, Luc Piralla, assistant director of the Musée du Louvre-Lens, assisted by Alexandre Estaquet-Legrand.

Exhibition | Canova and the Antique

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 6, 2019

Now on view in Naples at the MANN:

Canova and the Antique
Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, Naples, 28 March — 30 June 2019

Curated by Giuseppe Pavanello 

The magnificent art of Antonio Canova (1757–1822) has rightly earned him praise as “the last of the ancients and the first of the moderns.” This exhibition focuses on Canova’s constant, intense, and fruitful relationship with classical antiquity, which made him known as “the new Phidias” among his contemporaries. Throughout the course of his artistic activity, Canova followed Winckelmann’s call “to imitate but not to copy the ancients” in order to “become inimitable.”

Antonio Canova, Dancer with Hands on Hips, 1811–12 (Saint Petersburg: State Hermitage Museum).

The exhibition is organised on two floors and displays over 110 works by Canova, including drawings, sketches, paintings, plaster casts, and marble sculptures. It showcases some of Canova’s greatest masterpieces, such as the famous group of The Graces on loan from the Hermitage State Museum in Saint Petersburg. The National Archaeological Museum of Naples is in a uniquely privileged position to present this complex and fascinating dialogue between Canova’s works and the great works of antiquity, with stunning pieces that can delight the modern spectator as thoroughly as they did Canova’s contemporaries.

The two installations dedicated to Canova in the entrance hall of the Museum are hosted in theatre-like round structures with a six-metre diameter. The visual journey takes the visitor through virtual imagery and scientific study, going from a single detail to a bird’s eye view, from the butterfly of Cupid and Psyche, to Hercules hurling Lichas, the great myths sculpted in marble and the polychrome paintings on a dark background, dedicated to dance. Adriano Giannini’s voice and the original soundtrack by the cello-player Giovanni Sollima contribute to a show that mixes deep emotion and accurate knowledge.

Canova visited Naples in 1780 to admire the beauties of the city and the antiquities of Herculaneum and Paestum. In his second Quaderno di Viaggio he writes about Naples: “everywhere is like Heaven.” He also reports of his visits to the Sansevero Chapel—where he appreciated the Dead Christ (Veiled Christ) by Giuseppe Sammartino—to the Gallery of Capodimonte, and to the Museum of Portici, where all the antiquities from the Vesuvian area had been gathered. Among the bronzes from the Villa of Papyri of Herculaneum he praises the Seated Mercury for “its wonderful beauty.” Canova obtained permission to draw the nude at the Academy (of Fine Arts), then in the area of San Carlo alle Mortelle. Today, in the Academy’s Gipsoteca, it is possible to admire some of Canova’s plaster models. The master returned to Naples in 1787 and carved for Francesco Maria Berio the marble group Venus and Adonis, to be placed in a little temple in the garden of the marquis’ palace, along via Toledo. The work, inscribed in the genre “delicate and gentle,” is today in Geneva. For the Neapolitan Onorato Caetani he sculpted the group Hercules and Lichas, classified in the genre “strong” or “fierce,” taking inspiration from the ideal model of the Farnese Hercules and from the composition of Hector and Troilus—both on display at the MANN. The Herm of a Vestal, commissioned by the count Paolo Marulli d’Ascoli, would leave Naples for Switzerland first and for the Getty Museum of Los Angeles later. After the short life of the Parthenopean Republic, the Bourbon king Ferdinand IV asked Canova to sculpt for him a portrait-statue. In 1821, as suggested by the master himself, it was placed in the niche of the monumental staircase of the Royal Bourbon Museum, today Museo Archeologico Nazionale. During the French decade Canova carved the marble busts, today lost, of Caroline and Joachim Murat, known through their plaster models. In the same period, the king Joseph Bonaparte and his successor Joachim Murat commission an Equestrian Monument to Napoleon, but, with the French domination coming to an end, the work was never completed. When the Bourbon king of Naples Ferdinand I regained the throne as king of the two Sicilies, he asked Canova to complete the piece with the statue of his father, Charles III. The monument can be admired today in Piazza Plebiscito.

Blasco Pisapia and Valentina Moscon, Canova e l’Antico (Milan: Electa, 2019), 360 pages, ISBN: 978-8891825063.

Antonio Canova, Theseus and Pirithous in the Temple of Diana Ortia See Diana Dancing, between Two Dancers, in Front of the Figure of Artemis of Ephesus (Abduction of Helen), 1799, tempera (Possagno: Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova). The painting is one of 34 works inspired by Pompeiian wall paintings.

Exhibition | Éloge du sentiment et de la sensibilité

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 4, 2019

From the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes:

Éloge du sentiment et de la sensibilité: Peintures françaises du xviiie siècle des collections de Bretagne
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes et le Musée d’Arts de Nantes, 15 February — 12 May 2019

Dans le cadre des collaborations entre musées du Grand-Ouest, le Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes et le Musée d’Arts de Nantes présentent de février à mai 2019 une exposition en coproduction intitulée Éloge du sentiment et de la sensibilité: Peintures françaises du xviiie siècle des collections de Bretagne. Cet événement présente l’originalité de se dérouler simultanément dans les deux institutions avec un catalogue commun.

Le propos général de l’exposition est une découverte de l’ensemble de la production picturale du Siècle des Lumières à travers le prisme du sentiment et de la sensibilité. Dans la seconde moitié de ce siècle, littérature et peinture reflètent une nouvelle vision de l’Homme et de son environnement. Sentiment et sensibilité deviennent de nouvelles qualités de l’âme, donnant une liberté inédite de ressentir le monde. Diderot s’interroge sur le sentiment dans la peinture et au théâtre, Rousseau porte aux nues la sensibilité dans la Nouvelle Héloïse et théorise une nouvelle forme d’éducation dans l’Émile, Voltaire s’émerveille de l’impact de la nature sur ses sens et son âme… La peinture offre un écho enthousiaste et inspiré à ces préoccupations inédites.

Le choix des oeuvres a été réalisé essentiellement dans les riches collections conservées aux musées de Brest, Nantes, Quimper et Rennes avec des compléments apportés par les collections publiques (musées, églises, bâtiments municipaux) de Morlaix et de Lamballe. La réunion de ces collections permet de représenter l’ensemble des grands artistes du siècle tels qu’Antoine Watteau, François Boucher, Carle Vanloo, Charles Joseph Natoire, Jean Siméon Chardin, Hubert Robert, Jean-Baptiste Greuze ou Jean Honoré Fragonard.

L’exposition en deux parties organisée à Rennes et à Nantes, Éloge du sentiment et Éloge de la sensibilité, permet d’embrasser l’évolution de la peinture française sur un siècle, depuis Antoine Watteau jusqu’au début du xixe siècle. À Rennes s’expose la grande histoire, antique, religieuse et mythologique. Nantes met à l’honneur les différents genres, du grand portrait d’apparat aux sensibles natures mortes. Ce partage des oeuvres s’appuie sur une division ancienne bien connue, que les hasards des collections semblent avoir reproduite dans nos musées : Rennes conserve davantage de peintures d’histoire que Nantes, qui s’illustre plus dans la peinture de genres.

Un premier ensemble d’environ 70 tableaux, réuni à Rennes autour de la notion de sentiment, évoquera en quatre sections l’évolution de la peinture à sujet historique (biblique, mythologique, antique et contemporaine).

Un second ensemble d’environ 70 oeuvres présente en six sections au Musée d’arts de Nantes un parcours autour de la notion de sensibilité à travers la peinture de genre (portraits, scènes galantes, paysage, natures mortes…).

Cet événement inédit fait suite à l’organisation en 2013, par les musées de Quimper et de Rennes, de l’exposition De Véronèse à Casanova, qui, selon le même principe faisait le bilan des richesses des musées bretons dans le domaine de la peinture italienne. Les restaurations et les recherches menées à l’occasion de cet événement ont permis d’apporter un éclairage nouveau sur de nombreuses oeuvres et quelques découvertes importantes dans les réserves de certains musées.

Guillaume Kazerouni and Adeline Collange-Perugi, Éloge du sentiment et de la sensibilité: Peintures françaises du xviiie siècle des collections de Bretagne (Paris: Snoeck, 2019), 367 pages, ISBN: 978-9461615138, 35€.

Exhibition | Bernard Picart (1673–1723)

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 4, 2019

Now on view at the Musée National de Port-Royal des Champs, near Versailles:

Bernard Picart (1673–1723), Dessinateur, de Paris à Amsterdam
Musée National de Port-Royal des Champs, Magny-les-Hameaux, 21 March — 23 June 2019

Curated by Corentin Dury and Philippe Luez 

Bernard Picart (1673–1723), issu d’une famille janséniste, s’installe à Amsterdam en 1710 et y occupe une place majeure dans l’édition hollandaise illustrée. Mais on le connaît moins comme dessinateur. La présente exposition permet de découvrir ce pan inconnu de son activité et lui rend sa place parmi les grands dessinateurs des débuts du règne de Louis XV.

En collaboration avec le Salon international du dessin de Paris et avec la participation du Rijksmuseum d’Amsterdam

Corentin Dury, conservateur du patrimoine, musée des Beaux-arts d’Orléan, et Philippe Luez, conservateur général du patrimoine, directeur du musée national de Port-Royal des Champs

Corentin Dury and Philippe Luez, Bernard Picart (1673–1723), Dessinateur, de Paris à Amsterdam (Paris: Snoeck, 2019), 175 pages, ISBN: 978-9461615459, €25.