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

Lecture | Steven Parissien, On George IV and the Horse

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

George Stubbs, George IV, when Prince of Wales, detail, 1791, oil on canvas, 103 × 128 cm
(Royal Collection Trust, RCIN 400142)

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

In connection with the exhibition George IV: Art & Spectacle now on view at Buckingham Palace:

Steven Parissien, George IV and the Horse
The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, 26 February 2020

One of George IV’s greatest passions was horseracing. In this lunchtime lecture, Steven Parissien, Chief Executive of Palace House, Newmarket, examines the ways in which George utilised the image of the thoroughbred horse to define and bolster his royal image. 13:00–14:00

Lecture | Jane Raisch on Early Modern Facsimiles

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

This month at UT Austin’s Ransom Center:

Jane Raisch, Original Copies: The Facsimile before Photography
Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin, 27 February 2020

Called “the nightmare of book collectors” by John Carter and Nicolas Barker, facsimiles do not hold a particularly revered position in bibliography and book history. The opposite of the venerated ‘original’, facsimiles are seen as a compromise at best and downright deception at worst. And, yet, people have long been driven to make reliable copies of old documents. Raisch’s lecture will delve into the pre-history of today’s digital reproductions, looking in particular at the creative technical strategies that 16th- through 18th-century scholars and printers devised to reproduce the visual qualities of inscriptions and manuscripts. It will ask how and why early print copied material objects that came before—and, in the process, it will rethink and expand our understanding of what facsimile can mean today. Lecture in the Prothro Theater. Reception to follow. Thursday, 27 February, 4.30–7.00pm.

Jane Raisch, PhD is Lecturer in the Department of English at The University of York in the United Kingdom.


Research Lunch | Rebecca Tropp on the Picturesque and Country Houses

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on February 4, 2020

This spring at the Mellon Centre:

Rebecca Tropp, Accommodating the Picturesque: The Country Houses of James Wyatt, John Nash, and Sir John Soane, 1793–1815
Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London, 20 March 2020

James Wyatt, Ashridge House, commissioned by the 7th Earl of Bridgewater.

Whilst much has been written about the development of Picturesque theory at the end of the eighteenth century, regarding both the landscape itself and prescriptions for the siting of buildings within it, these discussions have generally been limited to two-dimensional snapshots, such as those represented in Humphry Repton’s Red Books. This paper, based upon ongoing research for my doctoral dissertation, seeks to push beyond the visual to investigate some of the physical implications and repercussions of the Picturesque ideal—the intersection between the visual two-dimensional picture-plane and the practical three-dimensional architectural response—on the design and construction of country houses at the turn of the nineteenth century.

Focusing on the work of James Wyatt (1746–1813), John Nash (1752–1835), and Sir John Soane (1753–1837), and limiting my investigation to those country houses designed during the pivotal period from 1793 to 1815, I investigate two specific implications related to the lowering of the principal floor from piano nobile to ground level, as part of a general repositioning of the house within the landscape. First is the use of level changes within the ground floor—the inclusion of a few steps up or down in entrance halls or between rooms, as distinct from staircases between floors—considering some possible reasons for their incorporation and the purposes they served. Second, and sometimes connected to these level changes, is an increase in permeability between interior and exterior, through the use of full-length windows, loggias and attached conservatories—social/botanical spaces that were first incorporated into the design of the house during this period. Taken together, these developments furthered the evolving relationship between house and landscape and, as a result, the experience of moving through and between those spaces.

Research Lunches are a series of free lunchtime research talks. All are welcome, but please book a ticket in advance. 1:00–2:00pm, Seminar Room, Paul Mellon Centre.

Rebecca Tropp is a fourth-year PhD student in History of Art at St John’s College, University of Cambridge, working under the supervision of Dr Frank Salmon. She completed her MPhil in History of Art and Architecture at Cambridge in 2015, investigating recurring spatial arrangements and patterns of movement in the country houses of John Nash. Prior to commencing postgraduate studies in the UK, she received her bachelor’s degree from Columbia University in New York, where she majored in the History and Theory of Architecture.

Public Lecture Course | Ceramics in Britain

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on February 1, 2020

This spring at the Mellon Centre:

Public Lecture Course, Ceramics in Britain, 1750 to Now
Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London, Thursdays, 5 March — 2 April 2020

Registration opens 3 February 2020

While the story of ceramics is a global one, Britain has played a leading role in the last three centuries, a period in which British invention has shaped developments and brought constant renewal to the industry. This course, delivered by experts in the subject, will explore five key influential developments in the history of British ceramics since the mid-eighteenth century, examining the multiple ways in which innovators, entrepreneurs and artists have reinvigorated the field. No prior art historical knowledge is necessary. There will be a brief drinks reception from 6:30 to 7:00pm. The lectures will begin promptly at 7:00pm.

Registration will open on 3 February at 10:00am on the Paul Mellon Centre website. Please note you will need to sign up for each week individually and in order to ensure consistency attendance, we overbook. If you find you can no longer attend after signing up, please let us know so your place can be offered to someone else. On the night, admission will be made on a first-come, first-served basis.

Thursday, 5 March
Patricia Ferguson (Project Curator, British Museum), Pots with Attitude: British Satire on Ceramics, 1750–1820

Thursday, 12 March
Catrin Jones (Chief Curator, Wedgwood Museum), Josiah Wedgwood: Experimentation and Innovation

Thursday, 19 March
Rebecca Wallis (Curator, National Trust, London and South East), ‘Blue China’: A Nineteenth-Century British Obsession

Thursday, 26 March
Simon Olding (Director of the Crafts Study Centre, University for the Creative Arts, Farnham), ‘Beyond East and West’: The Founding of British Studio Ceramics

Thursday, 2 April
Neil Brownsword (Artist and Professor of Ceramics, Staffordshire University), Obsolescence and Renewal: Reimagining North Staffordshire’s Ceramic Heritage

Lecture | David Pullins, On the Sofa and French Painting

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on January 31, 2020

Next month at BGC:

David Pullins, The Sofa: Furnishing Moral Tales in Eighteenth-Century French Painting
Bard Graduate Center, New York, 18 February 2019

Etched frontispiece from Le Sopha: conte moral (Paris: edition of 1774).

David Pullins will deliver a Françoise and Georges Selz Lecture on Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century French Decorative Arts and Culture on Tuesday, February 18, at 6pm. His talk is entitled “The Sofa: Furnishing Moral Tales in Eighteenth-Century French Painting.” The success of Crébillon fils’s exoticist novel The Sofa: A Moral Tale (1742) suggests the blend of celebrity and infamy that marked this relatively new furniture form, inspired by traditional Ottoman culture. Pullins’s talk links the sofa and its often opulent upholstery to the rise of new domestic spaces and new forms of bodily comportment, while tracing its innovation representations in images such as François Boucher’s Lady on her Daybed (1743) and Blonde Odalisque (1752), Gabriel de Saint-Aubin’s Private Academy (c.1755), and the contemporary genre subjects and tableaux de mode popularized by Nicolas Lancret and Jean-François de Troy.

David Pullins is an Associate Curator in the Department of European Paintings at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He received his MA from the Courtauld Institute of Art and PhD from Harvard University with a dissertation that addressed the training and workshop practices of eighteenth-century French painters but which took many methodological cues from the study of the decorative arts. His research has been supported by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Dumbarton Oaks, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA). Previously an Assistant Curator at The Frick Collection, he has published in The Burlington Magazine, Journal of Art Historiography, Master Drawings, Oxford Art Journal, Print Quarterly, Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, as well as exhibition catalogs and edited volumes including Renoir: Between Bohemia and Bourgeoisie: The Early Years (Kunstmuseum, Basel: 2011) and Histories of Ornament. From Global to Local, edited by Gülru Necipoğlu and Alina Payne (Princeton University Press: 2016).

This event will be livestreamed. Please check back to the BGC website the day of the event for a link to the video. To watch videos of past events please visit our YouTube page.

Exhibition | Artful Nature: Fashion and Theatricality, 1770–1830

Posted in exhibitions, lectures (to attend) by Editor on January 28, 2020

Opening next week at the Lewis Walpole Library:

Artful Nature: Fashion and Theatricality, 1770–1830
Lewis Walpole Library, Farmington, CT, 6 February — 22 May 2020

Curated by Laura Engel and Amelia Rauser

G. M. Woodward, ‘The Art of Fainting in Company’, 1797, hand-colored etching, Plate 7 from ‘An Olio of Good Breeding: With Sketches Illustrative of the Modern Graces!!’ (London, 1797).

Between 1770 and 1830, both fashionable dress and theatrical practice underwent dramatic changes in an attempt to become more ‘natural’. And yet this desire was widely recognized as paradoxical, since both fashion and the theater were longstanding tropes of artifice. In this exhibition, we examine this paradox of ‘artful nature’ through the changing conception of theatricality during these decades, as mirrored and expressed in fashionable dress. Theater and performance practices in the late eighteenth-century, including the vogue for private theatricals, reinforced the blurred lines between the theater and everyday life. Classical sculpture became a reference point for women, as its artistic excellence was acclaimed precisely because it seemed so ‘natural’. But when actresses, dancers, painters, or just regular fashionistas posed themselves as classical statues come to life, they acted as both Pygmalion and Galatea, both the genius artist and the living artwork. ‘Artful Nature’ refers simultaneously to the theatricality and deception typically attributed to fashionable women in the late eighteenth century, and at the same time to the potential survival strategies employed by women artists, authors, and actresses to craft their own parts. The exhibition is curated by Laura Engel, Professor of English at Duquesne University, and Amelia Rauser, Professor of Art History at Franklin & Marshall College.


Joseph Roach, Fashionable Enemies: Glamour as Argument, 1770–1830
Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Thursday, 6 February, 5.30pm

Joseph Roach, Sterling Professor Emeritus of Theater and Professor Emeritus of English, Yale University, will deliver a keynote lecture in association with the opening of the exhibition Artful Nature: Fashion and Theatricality, 1770–1830.

Amelia Rauser and Laura Engel, Artful Nature
Lewis Walpole Library, Farmington, Wednesday, 13 May, 7.00pm

Amelia Rauser and Laura Engel, the curators of Artful Nature: Fashion and Theatricality, 1770–1830, discuss the exhibition. The talk is presented in collaboration with the Farmington Libraries. Space is limited, and registration is required.

Performance: Mary Berry’s Fashionable Friends
Cowles House, Lewis Walpole Library, Farmington, Friday, 15 May

Under the direction of Laura Engel, a performance based on Mary Berry’s Fashionable Friends, acted as an amateur theatrical at Strawberry Hill in November 1801, is planned for May 15, 2020 in the newly restored eighteenth-century Cowles House on the campus of The Lewis Walpole Library in Farmington, Connecticut.

Lecture | Michelle Erickson on the Art and Politics of Clay

Posted in lectures (to attend), today in light of the 18th century by Editor on January 19, 2020

Tuesday evening at BGC:

Michelle Erickson, Making History: The Art and Politics of Clay
Bard Graduate Center, New York, 21 January 2020

Michelle Erickson, Patriot Jug, 2018, creamware (wheel thrown and lathe turned earthenware, modeled and press molded spout and handle extruded through a custom cut brass die), 9.5 × 9.5 inches (Photo by Robert Hunter).

Michelle Erickson will present at the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Seminar on New York and American Material Culture on Tuesday, January 21, at 6pm. Her talk is entitled “Making History: The Art and Politics of Clay.”

Erickson will discuss her practice as a studio potter in the fields of contemporary art, historical archaeology, and studio ceramics. Her oeuvre is renowned for its historical depth, technological virtuosity, and incisive commentary. She will explain how her work gives dynamic relevance to the legacy of ceramics as a form of social expression, referencing how makers and users have deployed ceramics to advocate for political change and social justice as well as to document epic events in human experience.

Michelle Erickson has a BFA from the College of William and Mary and is an independent ceramic artist and scholar. Internationally recognized for her mastery of techniques used during the American colonial era, her work reinvents historical ceramics to construct contemporary social, political, and environmental critiques. Her pieces are in the collections of major museums in the United States and Britain, including the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City, the Seattle Art Museum, the Potteries Museums in Stoke-on-Trent, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. She has lectured and demonstrated at these institutions as well as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Profiles of Erickson’s erudite artistry appear in numerous national and international publications. Her interdisciplinary studies of seventeenth- and eighteenth- century ceramic techniques, grounded in historical research and object-making, have been featured in such journals as the Chipstone Foundation’s Ceramics in America. Erickson also has designed and produced ceramics for many museums, institutions, and collectors as well as major motion pictures such as The Patriot (2002) and HBO’s series John Adams (2008).

The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation Seminar in New York and American Material Culture fosters thought-provoking discussions of current research on New York and American Material Culture. Talks by leading scholars draw upon a wide array of material evidence, including artifacts of daily life and ranging from decorative arts, prints, and photographs to architecture, interiors, and urban design. A key aspect of the series is the broad spectrum of disciplinary frameworks at play, including history, art history, anthropology, and archaeology as well as specialized studies of race, ethnicity, gender, class, region, and nationhood.

This event will be livestreamed. Please check back the day of the event for a link to the video. To watch videos of past events please visit our YouTube page.