Online Lecture | Diana Davis on Furniture for the Anglo-Gallic Interior

Posted in books, lectures (to attend) by Editor on June 23, 2020

The Green Drawing Room of the Earl of Essex at Cassiobury, by William Henry Hunt, 1823
(New York: Cooper Hewitt Museum, Thaw Collection, 2007-27-4)

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From the FHS announcement:

Diana Davis, Raiding the Past: Furniture for the Anglo-Gallic Interior, 1800–1865
Furniture History Society Online Lecture, Sunday, 28 June 2020, 19.00 (BST)

In December 1836, the dealer George Gunn advertised his “BUHL and MARQUETERIE FURNITURE, clocks, bronzes, carved salons, consoles, ancient chimnies, tapestry, and every description of property connected with the time and taste of Louis XIV.” It reflected a radical change in collecting practice, an opulent Anglo-Gallic decorative style that combined the contrasting taste of two rival nations. This talk by Dr Diana Davis investigates the role of dealer cabinetmakers such as Edward Holmes Baldock and Robert Hume, who transformed ancien régime furniture into cherished heirlooms for a new century and then created their own new and modified furniture inspired by it. By examining this furniture from the patron’s perspective and in the context of the interiors for which it was made, the dealer emerges centre stage as trader, maker, and tastemaker. The lecture is to accompany the publication of Dr Davis’s exciting new book, The Tastemakers: British Dealers and the Anglo Gallic Interior, 1785–1865, and we will be disclosing some discount codes, for 20% off the RRP, on the evening.

Diana Davis specializes in the interface between collectors, dealers, and the art market in the nineteenth century. She co-edits the French Porcelain Society Journal and has lectured for Christie’s Education, the Furniture History Society, the French Porcelain Society, the Wallace Collection, the National Trust, at the Jewish Country House Conference, and at Masterpiece.

Join Zoom Meeting https://zoom.us/j/92489818630?pwd=SWlGdE5EZ0pnb3AzLzJ2TndlamY1dz09
Meeting ID: 924 8981 8630 Password: 119856
Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/adR8w0b1xy

Attendees will be admitted from the waiting room from 18.45. Please make sure that you are muted and that your camera is turned off. For security reasons we will lock the meeting at 19.20, so please make sure you have joined by then. The lecture will be followed by a round of Q&A; please use the chat message box at the bottom of your Zoom window. Zoom has increased its security and you may be required to install an update. The FHS has decided to invite the members of other like-minded societies around the world. If you are not yet a member but would like to join the society, please see our website.

Masterpiece Online 2020, Panel Discussions

Posted in Art Market, lectures (to attend) by Editor on June 21, 2020

From the schedule:

Masterpiece Online, Panel Discussions
22–28 June 2020

Masterpiece Online showcases our exhibitors’ knowledge and passion, reproducing that sense of discovery that sparks new conversations at the fair. Join us for live panel discussions with leading cultural institutions, watch interviews and learn from experts, join live private views with friends, and buy works of art from Masterpiece exhibitors. Book your place at one of our live-streamed panel discussions with leading institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Gallery, Design Museum, and Hong Kong Museum of Art. All talks are free to attend, and we encourage you to make a donation to support our cultural partners in these challenging times.

Broadly, Deeply, Passionately: Living with Collections
24 June 2020, 5pm BST (12pm EST)

Decorated rooms say one thing, while collected rooms say quite another. Join Mitchell Owens, the decorative arts editor of Architectural Digest, with scholar Justin McGuirk (Chief Curator, Design Museum) and designers Rose Heyman (Director / Founder Rose Uniacke) and Boris Vervoordt (Director, Axel Vervoordt) as they discuss the allure of interiors that celebrate personal connoisseurship over commonplace style.
• Moderator: Mitchell Owens (Decorative Arts Editor, Architectural Digest)
• Rose Uniacke (Director/Founder, Rose Uniacke)
• Justin McGuirk (Chief Curator, Design Museum)
• Boris Vervoordt (Director, Axel Vervoordt)

Register for this talk

Art and Experience in the Digital Era: Balancing the Virtual and the Physical
25 June 2020, 11am BST (6am EST)

How are museums and commercial galleries using technology to engage their audiences during the Covid-19 crisis? And in the aftermath of the pandemic, what strategies will they use to maintain that audience in a cash-strapped consumer culture that increasingly values experience above the appreciation and possession of individual objects?
• Moderator: Scott Reyburn (Journalist, The New York Times and The Art Newspaper)
• Rebecca Lyons (Director of Collections and Learning, Royal Academy of Arts)
• Helen Jacobsen (Senior Curator and Curator of French 18th-Century Decorative Arts, The Wallace Collection)
• Francis Sultana (HE Ambassador of Culture for Malta, Designer, and CEO, David Gill Gallery)

Register for this talk

Engaging Audiences, Old and New: How to Attract and Inspire Museum Visitors Today
25 June 2020, 5pm BST (12pm EST)

As museums face increased questions over their place and purpose in the 21st century, what initiatives have been put in place to expand their audiences? How best to strike a balance between reaching out to new visitors and keeping existing supporters onside? What lessons have been learnt from the lockdown and its forced move to virtual visiting? And what financial structures and support will enable museums to survive and thrive in truly challenging times? Melanie Gerlis, art market writer for the Financial Times, hosts leading figures from public and private institutions on both sides of Atlantic, Wolf Burchard (Associate Curator, The Metropolitan Museum of Art), Tristram Hunt (Director, V&A Museum) and Ian Wardropper (Director, The Frick Collection).
• Moderator: Melanie Gerlis (Art market writer, Financial Times)
• Wolf Burchard (Associate Curator, The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
• Tristram Hunt (Director, V&A Museum)
• Ian Wardropper (Director, The Frick Collection)

Register for this talk

Public, Private Delights: Sculpture Today
26 June 2020, 11am BST (6am EST)

What does sculpture mean to us today—be it public or private—and has its status changed in contemporary times?
• Moderator | Farah Nayeri (Journalist, The New York Times)
• Polly Bielecka (Gallery Director, Pangolin London)
• Simon Martin (Director, Pallant House Gallery)
• Zak Ové (Artist)

Register for this talk

Women Artists, Then and Now
26 June 2020, 5pm BST (12pm EST)

Examining the role of women in art from the Renaissance up until the present day. This talk, moderated by Katy Hessel (of @thegreatwomenartists Instagram and podcast), will speak to National Gallery curator, Letizia Treves, on staging shows of the women of the Baroque; gallerist Richard Saltoun who has established a reputation for promoting and exhibiting the work of female artists; Jo Baring, Director of the Ingram Collection, and Sarah Turner, Deputy Director of the Paul Mellon Centre, (both also of Sculpting Lives podcast); Corrie Jackson, Senior Curator for the Royal Bank of Canada art collection; and Zoé Whitley, Director, The Chisenhale Gallery, about the women who challenged and continue to challenge art history, and getting the recognition they so rightly deserve.
• Moderator: Katy Hessel (of @thegreatwomenartists Instagram and podcast)
• Jo Baring (Director, The Ingram Collection; co-host of the Sculpting Lives: Women & Sculpture podcast)
• Corrie Jackson (Senior Curator, Royal Bank of Canada art collection)
• Letizia Treves (The James and Sarah Sassoon Curator of Later Italian, Spanish, and French 17th-Century Paintings, The National Gallery, London)
• Richard Saltoun (Director, Richard Saltoun)
• Sarah Turner (Deputy Director for Research at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in London; co-host of the Sculpting Lives: Women & Sculpture podcast)
• Zoé Whitley (Director, The Chisenhale Gallery)

Register for this talk

Collecting Pre-Contemporary Art Online: New Ways to Look, Learn, and Buy
27 June 2020, 11am BST (6am EST)

The coronavirus lockdown hit has forced us all to recalibrate how we view, collect and sell art as exhibitions, auctions and even art fairs have been forced online—and fast. It’s a steep learning curve for both buyers and sellers in all fields, but particularly for those in the traditionally analogue world of pre-contemporary art, where issues of provenance, authenticity and trust are all the more complex, and the audience perhaps less digitally savvy. Our panel of experts will discuss the challenge of becoming ‘digital connoisseurs’, taking in the latest developments, good and bad, in the shift to online, the questions to ask and pitfalls to avoid when buying historical art via jpegs, and the big question of whether you should you ever buy a work sight unseen, even now?
• Moderator: Anna Brady (Art Market Editor, The Art Newspaper)
• Katrin Bellinger (Dealer and Old Master drawings collector)
• Philip Hewat-Jaboor (Chairman, Masterpiece)
• Philip Mould (Art dealer, writer and broadcaster)
• Orlando Rock (Chairman, Christie’s UK)

Register for this talk

Museums and Mentors, Scholarship and Friendship: Stories from the World of Fine Ceramics
27 June 2020, 5pm BST (12pm EST)

The French Porcelain Society has always valued the scholarship and insight of dealers who contribute so much to its publications, events, and lectures. Martin P. Levy of H. Blairman & Sons, leads a discussion on the influence of dealers past and present with four long–standing European ceramics exhibitors at Masterpiece London: Michele Beiny, Errol Manners, Adrian Sassoon, and John Whitehead. Their stories speak of inspirational and sometimes eccentric mentors: museum curators, collectors, auctioneers, and forebears in the antiques trade. Join us for some thought-provoking conversations on the art of dealing.
• Moderator: Martin Levy (Director, H. Blairman & Sons Ltd)
• Michele Beiny Harkins (Director, Michele Beiny)
• Errol Manners (Director, E&H Manners)
• Adrian Sassoon (Director, Adrian Sassoon)
• John Whitehead (Art dealer, lecturer, and writer)

Register for this talk

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Note (added 21 June 2020) — The original version of this posting omitted information for the June 26 sculpture session.

Online Lecture | Amelia Rauser, Black Bodies and Neoclassical Whiteness

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on June 17, 2020

Agostino Brunias, ‘A Negroes Dance in the Island of Dominica’, 1779, engraving on laid paper
(Lewis Walpole Library, 779.02.15.01)

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From the Lewis Walpole Library:

Amelia Rauser, Black Bodies and Neoclassical Whiteness in the Age of Undress
Online lecture organized by the Lewis Walpole Library, 24 June 2020

Registration due by 22 June 2020

Women who wore the high-waisted, white muslin dress fashionable in the 1790s strove to participate in the elevated aesthetics of neoclassicism and to construe themselves as living statues, Pygmalions to their own Galatea. The dress articulated an anti-fashion stance that created space for women’s artistic expression. But neoclassical dress was also enmeshed with emergent concepts of race in the 1790s—not via a simple mapping of whiteness onto classicism, but rather, and perhaps unexpectedly, by invoking the plantation culture of the West Indies. In this talk, Dr. Amelia Rauser, Professor of Art History at Franklin & Marshall College, will argue that several elements of the neoclassical ensemble, including gold earrings, madras-cloth accessories, headwraps, and especially the materiality of muslin itself, specifically articulated the wearer’s racialized whiteness. Yet at the same time, the idea of metamorphosis inherent in the living statue undermined racial binaries and provided space to explore a spectrum of embodiment.

Dr. Rauser will be introduced by Joseph Roach, Sterling Professor Emeritus of Theater, Professor Emeritus of English, Yale University. Panel discussants Dr. Carolyn Day, Associate Professor of History, Furman University, and Dr. Jennifer Germann, Associate Professor and Department Chair, Art History, Ithaca College, will lead a Q&A. Registered attendees will be invited to submit questions and comments through chat.

The lecture is scheduled for Wednesday, 24 June 2020, at 1.00pm EDT; registration is required by Monday, 22 June 2020.

The talk presented in connection with the exhibition Artful Nature: Fashion and Theatricality, 1770–1830, which was co-curated by Laura Engel, Professor of English, Duquesne University, and Amelia Rauser. Other related online content includes:
Artful Nature exhibition
• Keynote Lecture “Fashionable Friends: Glamour as Argument, 1770–1830,” delivered by Joseph Roach on 6 February 2020
• Exhibition video tour with the curators

Dr. Rauser’s new book, The Age of Undress: Art, Fashion, and the Classical Ideal in the 1790s, is now available from Yale University Press.



Online Lecture | Wolf Burchard on The Met’s New British Galleries

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on June 13, 2020

From The Furniture History Society’s Instagram account:

Wolf Burchard, The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s New British Galleries
Online Lecture, 14 June 2020

Installation view of the Met’s new British Galleries, featuring the 17th-century Cassiobury Staircase (Photo by Joseph Coscia, February 2020).

Please join us for the free-of-charge inaugural FHS online lecture via Zoom on Sunday, 14 June 2020, at 19.00 British Summer Time (14.00 Eastern Standard Time) with Dr. Wolf Burchard of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, entitled, “The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s New British Galleries.”

The Met’s renovated British Galleries, which opened earlier this year (for the museum’s 150th anniversary) now tell a nuanced story about Britain’s imperial past and its dealings with the rest of the world. Ten galleries, including three historic interiors, devoted to decorative arts and sculpture from the 16th to the 19th century have been completely reimagined. They present British art and design from a fresh perspective, exploring Britain’s creativity and entrepreneurship. The lecture is open to all; for links and passwords, please contact events@furniturehistorysociety.org. Information about joining the FHS is available here.

Wolf Burchard is responsible for British furniture and decorative works of art, with the exception of ceramics and textiles. Prior to joining The Met in 2019, he was furniture research curator at the National Trust of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland (2015–18) and curatorial assistant at the Royal Collection Trust (2009–14), where he co-curated the exhibition The First Georgians: Art & Monarchy, 1714–1760 at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace (2014). He studied history of art and architecture at the universities of Tübingen, Vienna, and The Courtauld Institute of Art in London, from which he holds an MA and PhD. He is the author of The Sovereign Artist: Charles Le Brun and the Image of Louis XIV (2016), and sat on the executive committees of the Georgian Group (2014–19) and the Society for Court Studies (2011–17); he is a member of the council and editorial panel of the Furniture History Society.

Online Lecture | Cassidy-Geiger on Friedrich Christian’s Grand Tour

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on June 12, 2020

Rosalba Carriera, Portrait of the Elector Frederick Christian of Saxony), 1740, pastel on paper, 63.5 × 51.5 cm
(Dresden: Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister)

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From The French Porcelain Society:

Maureen Cassidy-Geiger, The Grandest of Tours: Fragile Diplomacy Meets the Grand Cure
Online Lecture, 13 June 2020

The French Porcelain Society continues its series of weekly online lectures with Maureen Cassidy-Geiger on the incredible two-year Grand Tour of the Elector Friedrich Christian of Saxony in the mid-eighteenth century. We hope you can join us on Saturday, 13 June 2020, 19:00pm (British Summer Time). Members will receive an email invitation with instructions on how to join the online lecture. If you want to join, please contact us for more details on FPSenquiries@gmail.com.

Elector Friedrich Christian of Saxony (1722–1763), who succeeded King August III in 1763 for just 74 days, was afflicted from birth with profound physical disabilities which prevented him from standing or walking without assistance and made simple tasks like eating and dressing difficult. The marriage of his sister Maria Amalia to the King of Naples in 1738 inspired their parents to send the fifteen-year-old heir to the throne on an impromptu journey to Italy for life-saving medical treatments. This exceptional two-year adventure was amply documented, allowing us to precisely reconstruct the prince’s route and daily experiences as he travelled from Dresden to Naples, Rome, Florence, Milan and Venice along pilgrimage routes and post roads, returning via his mother’s court capital, Vienna. Like the able-bodied Grand Tourists he met along the way, he also travelled incognito (‘Comte de Lusace’) with an entourage, enjoyed celebrity status, and collected art, relics, books and souvenirs for shipment home, many of them gifts from his hosts along the way. A selection was featured together with archival documentation in The Grand Cure / Die Grande Kur 1738–1740 (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, 2018). In return, wagonloads of porcelain from the Royal Porcelain Manufactory at Meissen were shipped abroad to serve as thank yous from King August III and to celebrate the Naming Day of dowager Empress Wilhelmine Amalie, the prince’s grandmother. Many of these porcelain gifts have survived and were showcased in the exhibition and catalogue Fragile Diplomacy: Meissen Porcelain for European Courts, ca. 1710–63 (YUP/BGC, New York, 2007–08). Some were customized with coats of arms or apt painterly compositions, a few items were repurposed from Japanese Palace stock, and others were simply on hand and included in the shipments; the Meissen porcelain table service that accompanied the prince across Italy was understandably damaged and depleted from use at the lunches and dinners he routinely hosted so a replacement was sent via courier to meet him in Vienna, together with a selection of the king’s silver plate.

Maureen Cassidy-Geiger has twice driven the prince’s itinerary and has researched his sojourns in Naples, Rome, Venice and Vienna on various residential fellowships. Transcriptions of the travel diaries, composed mostly in French, and related research and documentation are posted on the website comtedelusace.wordpress.com.

Online Public Lecture Course | Georgian Provocations

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on June 5, 2020

From PMC:

Georgian Provocations: Six Iconic Works of Art from Eighteenth-Century Britain
Paul Mellon Centre, London, 28 May — 9 July 2020

Georgian Provocations is a one-off summer public lecture course, delivered online, and designed to provide an accessible and stimulating introduction to the art of the period. In this series of six 30-minute lectures, Hallett and Postle focus on six seminal paintings from the Georgian era and investigate their contents, contexts, and impact. Together, they reveal many of the ideas and issues that coursed through British visual culture between the 1730s and the 1790s, and demonstrate the riches that continue to be gained from looking intensively at an individual work of art. Lectures will be released weekly from 28 May to 2 July at 3pm (GMT).

An associated conversation on July 9 will be streamed live via Zoom Webinar at 6pm (GMT), providing a Q&A session with series presenters Mark Hallett and Martin Postle, who will talk about the pictures they focused upon in their lectures and their respective approaches to discussing the works in question.

28 May 2020
Mark Hallett, Walking the Streets: William Hogarth’s The Four Times of Day by William Hogarth (1736–38)

4 June 2020
Martin Postle, Variations on a Theme: Richard Wilson’s The White Monk (ca. 1755–65)

11 June 2020
Martin Postle, All Done from Nature: George Stubbs’s Whistlejacket (1762)

18 June 2020
Martin Postle, The Artist as Intellectual: Joshua Reynolds’s Self-Portrait as President of the Royal Academy (1780)

25 June 2020
Mark Hallett, Displaying the Hero: John Singleton Copley’s The Death of Major Peirson (1784)

2 July 2020
Mark Hallett, Making an Impact: Thomas Lawrence’s Arthur Atherley (1792)

9 July 2020
Georgian Provocations: A Conversation, streamed live via Zoom Webinar at 6pm (GMT); register via Eventbrite here.

Open Digital Seminar in Eighteenth-Century Studies, 2020

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on May 20, 2020

ODSECS presents live seminars with Q&A opportunities (advance registration required for participation). Recordings remain available after the fact. I would particularly note Freya Gowrley’s talk in July on “Anna Seward and the Poetics of Exchange,” with registration details here. CH

Open Digital Seminar in Eighteenth-Century Studies
Launched April 2020, ongoing

The Open Digital Seminar in Eighteenth-Century Studies brings together researchers in eighteenth-century literature and culture from across the globe for conversation, debate, and sociability. It aims to make the best new research available to the widest possible audience, and to facilitate a diverse and inclusive research culture.

ODSECS seminars take place live and are also recorded to ensure maximum accessibility. In each seminar, a twenty-minute paper delivered by an expert speaker is followed by a 20- to 30-minute question and answer session. All participants are welcome to contribute to the Q&A using a microphone or the typed chat function.

ODSECS is convened by Dr Rebecca Bullard, Associate Professor of English Literature at the University of Reading, UK. Please send enquiries about ODSECS to r.bullard@reading.ac.uk.

Seminar 1: Sophie Coulombeau (University of York), Unlocking the Mary Hamilton Papers
April 2020

In April 2020, a group of researchers came together to experiment with the format for ODSECS. Dr Sophie Coulombeau gave a wonderful paper about the research project, ‘Unlocking the Mary Hamilton Papers’. On this occasion, only the talk was recorded, not the question and answer session that followed it.

Seminar 2: Eugenia Zuroski (McMaster University), Haywood’s Fascinum
Monday, 18 May 2020, 4.00pm (UK time)

Eliza Haywood’s The Adventures of Eovaai is a curiously elaborate joke: an intricate oriental romance as vehicle for a relatively straightforward satire of Robert Walpole and his political ascendance. As Ros Ballaster has observed, the tale contains “anarchic and perverse comic energies” that tend to overwhelm, even counteract, the story’s political orientations. In this paper, I consider how, in its more anarchic and perverse moments, Eovaai theorizes “unseriousness” as an epistemological and political approach to the world—an unexpected utopian promise in the prospect of being “carried away” by literature’s most fascinating and least plausible objects. Tracing Haywood’s engagement with the Roman fascinum, I show the unexpected conceptual heights a well-deployed penis joke might take us.

Seminar 3: Nicholas Seager (Keele University), ‘The Celebrated Daniel De Foe’: The Reception and Publication History of Defoe’s Non-Fiction
Wednesday 17 June 2020, 4.00pm (UK time)

This paper examines unexplored aspects of Daniel Defoe’s (1660–1731) posthumous publication history in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It challenges prevalent understandings of his reception, as critics have assumed that “Defoe seems to have been little read or remembered in the years after his death,” and that until the twentieth century he was remembered as a “slapdash journalistic hack.” As well as trying to qualify or dispel such views, the paper argues that Defoe’s extensive publication history in numerous non-fiction genres—history, travel-book, conduct writing, journalism, polemical pamphlets, religious treatises, and more—reveals some ways in which generic change occurred across the period. Defoe’s non-fiction was subjected to acts of re-publication that amount to adaptation and appropriation, processes more commonly applied to Defoe’s fiction. Finally, the paper shows how the re-publication of Defoe’s non-fiction repeatedly engaged with British political, social, and economic history, from the Forty-Five to the French Revolution and beyond.

Seminar 4: Freya Gowrley (University of Derby), Anna Seward and the Poetics of Exchange: Portraiture, Poetry, and Gift Culture
Wednesday, 15 July 2020, 4.00pm (UK time)

This paper unpacks the complex networks of emotional, artistic, and poetic exchange that surrounded a highly emotional portrait-object: a printed version of George Romney’s painting Serena given to Lady Eleanor Butler (1739–1829) and Sarah Ponsonby (1755–1831)—the so-called ‘Ladies of Llangollen’—by the poet Anna Seward (1742–1809). Seward identified the image as a ‘perfect similitude’ of her deceased step-sister Honora Sneyd, so much so that the print played an active role in Seward’s commemoration of their lost friendship. Like Butler and Ponsonby’s own infamous ‘romantic friendship’, Seward and Sneyd enjoyed an intensely close and deeply affectionate relationship that flouted social norms, with both Sneyd’s marriage to Richard Edgeworth in 1751, and her eventual death in 1780, devastating the poet.

Discussing both Seward’s copy of the print, as well as Butler and Ponsonby’s facsimile, this paper places the image within two contexts: firstly, in relation to Seward’s volume of poetry, Llangollen Vale with Other Poems (1796), a sentimentalising series of verses dedicated to Seward’s intimate relationships with Butler, Ponsonby, and Sneyd; and secondly, within an intricate display of gifted portraits at Plas Newydd, Butler and Ponsonby’s home at Llangollen in Wales. Using methodologies from the history of the emotions, material culture and literary studies, and art history it will demonstrate the image’s deep embedment within Seward’s emotional and creative consciousness: on the one hand, allowing Seward to actively ruminate and comment upon her close connections with Sneyd, Butler, and Ponsonby; and on the other, functioning within a dynamic web of literary, material, and loving gestures enacted between Seward and her friends. In so doing, the paper will highlight the vibrant intermedial lives of this eighteenth-century print, and the urgency of an interdisciplinary approach to the art of this period.

Book Launch | The Art of the Jewish Family

Posted in books, lectures (to attend) by Editor on March 8, 2020

This month at BGC:

Book Launch—Laura Leibman, The Art of the Jewish Family
Bard Graduate Center, New York, 23 March 2020, 6:00–7:30pm

Author Laura Leibman in conversation with Jonathan Sarna and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, moderated by Dean Peter N. Miller, to celebrate the publication of The Art of the Jewish Family: A History of Women in Early New York in Five Objects.

Laura Arnold Leibman, The Art of the Jewish Family: A History of Women in Early New York in Five Objects (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2020), 350 pages, ISBN: 978-1941792209, $35.

In order to rethink early Jewish American women’s lives, The Art of the Jewish Family examines five objects owned by Jewish women who lived at least a portion of their lives in early New York between 1750 and 1850. Each chapter creates a biography of a single woman through her object, but also uses her story to shed light on larger changes in Jewish American women’s lives. The women Leibman discusses are diverse: some rich, some poor; some Sephardi, some Ashkenazi; some born enslaved, and some who were slave owners themselves. In creating these biographies, Leibman proposes a new methodology for early American Jewish women’s history, one which could be applied to other areas in Jewish history for which records on women are sparse. This method looks at both material objects and fragmentation as important evidence for understanding the past. What social and religious structures, Leibman asks, caused early Jewish women to disappear from the archives?

The objects she considers span the 1750s through the 1850s. They are (1) a letter written in 1761 by an impoverished Hannah Louzada requesting assistance from Congregation Shearith Israel; (2) a famous set of silver cups owned by Reyna Levy Moses (1753–1824); (3) a beautiful ivory miniature of Sarah Brandon Moses (1798–1829), who was born enslaved in Barbados but became one of the wealthiest Jewish women in New York; (4) a commonplace book created by Sarah Ann Hays Mordecai (1805–1894); and (5) a family silhouette of Rebbetzin Jane Symons Isaacs (1823–1884) and her young brood.

Looking past texts to material culture, Leibman expands our ability to understand early Jewish American women’s lives and restores some of their agency as creators of Jewish identity. While the vast majority of early American texts about Jewish women were written by men with men as the primary intended audience, objects made for and by Jewish women help us consider women as consumers and creators of identity. Everyday objects provide windows into those women’s daily lives, highlighting what they themselves valued, how they wanted their contemporaries to see and understand them, and how they passed identity on to their children and grandchildren.

Laura Arnold Leibman is professor of English and humanities at Reed College.

Art of the Jewish Family is published in Cultural Histories of the Material World, a series dedicated to publishing monographs, works in translation, and collective project volumes that mark out the frontiers of BGC’s knowledge map. All books derived from the Leon Levy Foundation lectures in Jewish Material Culture will be published in this series.

Lecture | Wendy Wassyng Roworth on Angelica Kauffman

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on March 6, 2020

At SLAM (and conveniently enough, coinciding with ASECS) . . .

Wendy Wassyng Roworth, Angelica Kauffman: An Enterprising Artist in 18th-Century Britain
Saint Louis Art Museum, 20 March 2020

Angelica Kauffman, Woman in Turkish Dress, 1767, oil on canvas, 25 × 20 inches (Saint Louis Art Museum, Funds given by Dr. E. Robert and Carol Sue Schultz 704.2018).

Angelica Kauffman (1741–1807), an Austrian-Swiss artist, began her career in Italy, where her clients included British tourists who encouraged the young painter to pursue her profession in England. Over the fifteen years she worked in London, Kauffman achieved fame and fortune and returned to Italy as an international celebrity. Celebrating a portrait recently acquired by the Museum, this lecture will discuss Kauffman’s life and work in England as a fashionable painter and member of the Royal Academy of Arts, a rare distinction for a woman, and how she used her talents to advantage.

Friday, 20 March 2020, 7pm, Farrell Auditorium at the Saint Louis Art Museum. The lecture is offered free of charge, thanks to the Mary Strauss Women in the Arts Endowment. Tickets are, however, required. Advance tickets are recommended and may be reserved in person at the Museum’s Information Centers or through MetroTix, 314.534.1111 (all tickets reserved through MetroTix incur a service charge).

Wendy Wassyng Roworth is Professor Emerita of Art History, University of Rhode Island.

Lecture | Kate Smith, On Loss and Dispossession

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on February 25, 2020

From Eventbrite:

Kate Smith, Loss and Dispossession in the Long Eighteenth Century
University of Edinburgh, 17 March 2020

Dr Kate Smith (University of Birmingham) delivers the inaugural lecture for the Material Culture in the 17th and 18th Centuries Research Group. Histories of material culture have often focused on questions of presence: how objects in the past were made, purchased, used and repaired. In contrast, Kate Smith’s paper will explore what happened when objects were absent. More particularly, it will examine how eighteenth-century Britons developed systems to deal with loss and what such systems required of them. It will show that, when faced with loss, individuals were called upon to recall their possessions and describe them in full. To make their possessions recognisable to others, and thus increase the possibilities of reclamation, eighteenth-century Britons had to draw out the salient features of missing things. In doing so, they reveal much about what they imagined their possessions to be. The paper considers questions of description, attention, memory and the self to show the complex knowledge, practices and systems constructed and utilised in response to loss. Register here.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020, 17.30–19.00
Playfair Library Hall
South Bridge, Edinburgh