Lecture | Mark Purcell on the Country House Library

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on April 5, 2018

Booking information is available through Eventbrite:

Mark Purcell | The Country House Library
Art Workers’ Guild, London, 10 April 2018

The Society for the History of Collecting are delighted to announce their next event which sees Mark Purcell discusses his new book The Country House Library.

Country Houses are normally studied by art, architectural, and social historians for the prosopography of their ownership, the details of the house, the modifications and motivations thereof, and the chattels (art and furnishings). However, when it comes to the actual contents of the library, often considered the most important room in house, the books themselves are overlooked. This is perhaps due to a general and historic lack of understanding of the history of the book, although the value of the books could equal that of the rest of the chattels in a house. Mark Purcell has remedied this oversight in his majestic survey of country house libraries, those that are and even those that once were but have been dispersed. Mark demonstrates that the country house libraries were not standard appendages, underappreciated and under read by their owners, but that they encompassed a vast range of form and function. His immensely successful book will be a sourcebook for art historians and those interested in the history of collections for decades to come.

Tuesday, 10 April, 6:00pm, Art Workers’ Guild, 6 Queen Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3AT. The lecture will be followed by drinks. Please book as soon as possible as places are limited.

Mark Purcell is Deputy Director, Research Collections, University of Cambridge, University Library. Formerly he was responsible for all the libraries within the National Trust (1999–2015) that comprise much beyond the country house, ranging from vernacular buildings to industrial in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Mark has studied the NT collections and has published numerous gems within. Responsible for a thorough cataloging of that vast corpus, he is perhaps the world’s expert on libraries once privately held in the UK.

Lecture Series | Thinking about Exhibitions

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on March 12, 2018

This spring’s public lecture course at the Mellon Centre:

Thinking about Exhibitions: Interpretation, Reconstruction, and Curation
Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London, Thursdays, 8 March — 12 April 2018 (excluding 29 March)

This five-part lecture course explores an exciting behind-the-scenes look at the research, writing, borrowing, design, and installation processes involved in putting on a major exhibition. Thinking about Exhibitions will use as case studies exhibitions held at major institutions around the world. Viewers can watch the lectures live on our Livestream page. Videos of the lectures will then be made available on our website 24 hours after the lecture.

8 March 2018
Mark Hallett | Looking Back: Three Eighteenth-Century Exhibitions

15 March 2018
Mark Hallett and Christine Riding | Looking Back: Hogarth, 2006–07 (Paris: Musée du Louvre; London: Tate Britain; and Barcelona: Caixa Forum)

22 March 2018
Mark Hallett and Sarah Victoria Turner | Looking Forward: The Great Spectacle: 250 Years of the Summer Exhibition, 2018 (London: Royal Academy)

5 April 2018
Mark Hallett and George Shaw | Looking Forward: George Shaw: A Corner of a Foreign Field, 2018–19 (New Haven: Yale Center for British Art; and Bath: Holburne Museum)

12 April 2018
Looking Back: Curating and Scholarship

The syllabus is available here»

Week One features our Director of Studies, Mark Hallett, discussing the history of exhibitions in Britain and reconstructs three eighteenth-century exhibitions.

Exhibition | Fresh Goods: Shopping for Clothing

Posted in exhibitions, lectures (to attend) by Editor on March 3, 2018

Now on view at the Concord Museum:

Fresh Goods: Shopping for Clothing in a New England Town, 1750–1900
Concord Museum, 2 March — 8 July 2018

Curated by Jane Nylander and Richard Nylander with David Wood

The Concord Museum unveils a portion of its extensive historic clothing collection for the first time, along with textiles and decorative arts in a new exhibition, Fresh Goods: Shopping for Clothing in a New England Town, 1750–1900, on view from March 2 until July 8, 2018.

As part of the state-wide MASS Fashion collaborative project, the exhibition examines questions about the sources and context of small-town Massachusetts fashion through the Museum’s extensive historic clothing, textile, and decorative arts collection, as well as probate inventories, account books, advertisements, photographs, and letters and diaries of the period. Material culture historians Jane and Richard Nylander are the consulting curators for the exhibition. In careers spent reconstructing New England’s material past, the Nylanders have unearthed remarkable historical evidence and developed fresh and original interpretations on a wide variety of subjects.

Clothing conveys information about the wearer’s gender, age, rank, and wealth, as well as clues about subtler categories, such as taste, education, marital status, and aspiration. Through twenty evocative documented outfits, the exhibition will consider the shopping habits of Concordians in the 18th and 19th centuries. Included in the exhibition are pieces made at home with fabric purchased at shops on Concord’s main street, or made at the local workplaces of seamstresses, tailors, and milliners; or purchased in Boston, New York, London, or Paris. Through close looking at these rare and rarely-displayed artifacts, visitors will be encouraged to compare their own conventions for consuming clothing to people’s practices in the past.

The accessories and services available through the 18th- and 19th-century shops on Concord’s Milldam (the main street of the town), including mantua (dress) makers, tailors, hatters, and boot and shoe makers, will also be explored. In addition, visitors will be able to virtually ‘shop’ the Museum’s historic clothing collection through a specially designed interactive experience that utilizes an online shopping platform.

The title, Fresh Goods, is taken from a November 1816 newspaper ad for the Concord shop of Josiah Davis announcing the sale of fabrics such as figured flannels, crimson bombazettes, and white and black cambricks. The exhibition will be accompanied by a broad range of engaging public programs for both adults and children.

S E L E C T E D  P R O G R A M M I N G

The Indigenous Look: Attire in 18th-Century Massachusetts
Thursday, 3 May 2018, 7:00pm

Aquinnah Wampanoag artist and designer Elizabeth James-Perry will discuss the period from 1750 to 1900 in terms of Indigenous Massachusetts attire and jewelry. While preferences often continued for use of soft smoked deerskin, elk and textured moose for clothing and sturdy footwear, along with a variety of furs and indigenous textiles, decreasing availability of some materials—especially in the 18th century—led to interesting combinations and substitutions of Native and Euro-American styles and materials. Click here for more information.

Transgressing the Color Line: Depictions of Free Blacks in the Popular Press
Thursday, 10 May 2018, 7:00pm

Join writer and historian Jonathan Michael Square as he analyzes images of free Africans Americans in New York City, Philadelphia, and Boston that appeared in the popular press. Specifically, a series of cartoons published in the early nineteenth century used to arouse Northern anti-black fears that free blacks might be threatening the racial, sexual, and class hierarchies. Fashion will be the central analytic as free blacks were often depicted as dandified buffoons. He will show how the overly fashioned bodies of the free blacks in northern metropolises transgressed and threatened the, until then, established slavocratic order. In partnership with the Robbins House. Click here for more information.

Shift, Stays, and Pannier
Thursday, 31 May 2018, 7:00pm

Join historians and living history interpreters Linda Greene and Michele Gabrielson for an in depth look at how women got dressed every day in the 1700s. They will explore the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of a typical 18th-century woman’s dress from a common, lower to middling class status to an upper class persona. Each layer of clothing will be discussed with a focus on fabric, style, and purpose. Perfect for anyone interested in colonial era costume or the lives of women in the 18th century. Click here for more information.

Seminar | Alden Gordon on the French Financial Crises, 1760s–70s

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on February 24, 2018

From the seminar flyer:

Alden Gordon | ‘Heureux ceux qui ont un coeur de bronze…’: The French Financial Crisis in the late Reign of Louis XV and Its Impact on Royal Manufactures and Royal Patronage
The Wallace Collection, London, 26 February 2018

Louis Tocqué, Portrait of the Marquis de Marigny, 1755 (Paris, Musée Carnavalet).

The French Royal Treasury experienced a crisis which began during the Seven Years’ War and persisted through the end of the reign of Louis XV and into that of Louis XVI. This particularly affected the Direction des Bâtiments du Roi which saw its allowances for the payments to the employees of the Gobelins and the entrepreneurs who maintained the many properties of the Maison du Roi cut to the bone in the 1760s and 1770s. To try to keep his skilled workforce intact, the Marquis de Marigny, Directeur-Général des Bâtiments, Arts, Académies et Manufactures du Roi, was forced to resort to exceptional tactics in paying employees while balancing the fulfillment of projects most essential to statecraft and the priorities of the royal family.

Notable among the projects pending during these years were the preparations for the marriage of the future Louis XVI to the Austrian princess Marie-Antoinette. The financial crisis forced Marigny to confront difficult choices in assigning new commissions while witnessing the distress of his loyal artists and craftsmen. His secretary, Jean Étienne Montucla, wrote of the emotional distress in Marigny’s inner circle saying that “I am saddened to give you such frightful news; happy those who, under these circumstances, have a heart of bronze, and who would suffer a whole world to perish without experiencing any movement of sensibility.”

This talk will address the archival evidence for understanding the financial crisis of the late 1760s and early 1770s and chronologically synchronize the actions on behalf of workers with simultaneous royal commissions. This research points to Marigny’s anguish over the fiscal starvation of his administration as the real motivation for his repeated efforts to resign his post rather than the often stated hypothesis that he had lost influence with Louis XV in the years after the death of his sister, the Marquise de Pompadour.

Alden Gordon is the Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of Fine Art at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. This research forms part of the book in preparation on The Life and Career of the Marquis de Marigny: Patron in the Enlightenment.

Monday, 26 February 2018, 5.30pm, The Wallace Collection Lecture Theatre. Admission is free, and booking is not required. More information and details of future seminars can now be found here.

Lectures at The Clark, Spring 2018

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on February 8, 2018

A selection of lectures this spring at The Clark in Williamstown, MA (in addition to those associated with the exhibition Drawn to Greatness: Master Drawings from the Thaw Collection). . .

Lauren Cannady | Rococo Thought Patterns
13 February 2018, 5:30pm

If eighteenth-century curiosity cabinets were repositories for the dead and ossified, the garden was a parallel cabinet that provided a space for the viable, for living curiosities. Given that the organizing principle of the garden parterre was applied not only to plants, but equally to naturalia in the cabinet, this lecture will map the ways in which pattern and design within these different spaces served as one model in early modern empirical thinking and knowledge transmission.

Lauren R. Cannady is assistant director of the Research and Academic Program and Manton Research Fellow at the Clark Art Institute. She was previously a fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte in Paris, and the Columbia University/NYU Consortium for Intellectual and Cultural History. She has published on eighteenth-century aesthetic philosophy and systems of the decorative and is preparing a book manuscript titled Natural Seduction: Thinking through the Early Modern French Garden. Her second project considers artisanal practice, collaboration, and exploitation in the global eighteenth century.

Nina Dubin | Master of the World
17 April 2018, 5:30pm

In the wake of the world’s first international financial crisis, Cupid claimed pride of place in French eighteenth-century art. The naked, winged infant deity personified not only the folly of love, but also the forces of inconstancy, mutability, and flightiness that were viewed as hallmarks of a modernizing credit economy.

Nina Dubin is associate professor of art history at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the author of Futures & Ruins: Eighteenth-Century Paris and the Art of Hubert Robert (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2010; 2012). Her work has been supported by institutions including the Getty Research Institute and the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, where she was a Samuel H. Kress Senior Fellow from 2013 to 2014. A specialist in European art since 1700, she is currently writing a book on love letter pictures in eighteenth-century France.

Queen’s House Lecture Series: Remarkable Women

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on January 30, 2018

From Royal Museums Greenwich:

Queen’s House Lecture Series: Remarkable Women
Queen’s House, Greenwich, Thursdays in March 2018

Hear about the lives of five remarkable women through our Queen’s House lecture series this National Women’s History Month. Spanning the Elizabethan and Victorian Ages, follow the lives of five extraordinary women: matriarch and entrepreneur Bess of Hardwick, poet and writer Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, local Deptford businesswoman Mary Slade, antiquarian collector Sarah Sophia Banks, and the world traveller Annie Russell-Cotes. Thursdays in March, 10.30–12.30, £8 (concession £6), Orangery & South Parlours.

1 March
Christine Riding (Royal Museums Greenwich) — Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

8 March
Arlene Leis — Sarah Sophia Banks (1744–1818): A ‘Truly Interesting Collection of Visitor Cards and Co.’

15 March
David Taylor (National Trust) — Exalting the Divine: Bess of Hardwick’s Picture Collection at Hardwick Hall

22 March
Margarette Lincoln — Mary Slade and Working Women in Eighteenth-Century Deptford

29 March
Amy Miller — Annie Russell-Cotes

Peter Kerber on Blasphemy, Irenicism, and Collecting

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on January 25, 2018

From the Mellon Centre:

Peter Björn Kerber | Blasphemy, Irenicism, and Collecting: The Improbable Friendship of Francis Dashwood and Antonio Niccolini
Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London, 21 February 2018

Pier Leone Ghezzi, Antonio Niccolini, ca. 1725, pen and ink over graphite on laid paper, 306 × 218 mm (Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Joseph F. McCrindle Collection, 2009.70.126).

In February 1740, the cardinals convened in Rome to elect a successor to Pope Clement XII. In an open mockery of the ritual, Sir Francis Dashwood (1708–1781) and a group of fellow Grand Tourists staged a parody of the conclave. The irreverent young Englishman impersonated Pietro Ottoboni, Dean of the College of Cardinals and one of the greatest art collectors of his day. At the same time and in spite of the public scandal erupting over his blasphemous behaviour, Dashwood struck up a friendship with Antonio Niccolini (1701–1769), a Florentine nobleman closely connected to the family of the recently deceased pontiff and friend of the soon-to-be-elected Benedict XIV.

The two men were multifaceted characters: Dashwood was a notorious rake fond of satirising religious ceremonies, yet he compiled (together with Benjamin Franklin) and privately printed a simplified version of the Book of Common Prayer. Niccolini, a lawyer and theologian charged with a secret irenic mission to reconcile the Church of Utrecht with the Holy See, was an important behind-the-scenes contributor to the monumental Museum Florentinum, Anton Francesco Gori’s catalogue of Florentine antiquities and paintings. While spending almost two years in London in 1746–48, Niccolini frequented major collectors such as Henry Howard, 4th Earl of Carlisle, and Sir Hans Sloane in addition to Dashwood. This paper will retrace the intellectual, religious and artistic dimensions of the ill-matched pair’s twenty-year friendship and consider how Niccolini’s influence is reflected in the art collection Dashwood assembled at West Wycombe Park.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018, 18:00–20:00, at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, Bedford Square, London. Book here.

Peter Björn Kerber is a curator at Dulwich Picture Gallery and author of Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe. As a member of the Paul Mellon Centre’s research project Collecting and Display: The British Country House, his focus is the art collection at West Wycombe Park.

Christopher Ridgway on Picture Displays at Castle Howard

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on January 25, 2018

From the Mellon Centre:

Christopher Ridgway | The Lives and After-lives of Picture Displays at Castle Howard
Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London, 28 February 2018

Whilst tracing the whereabouts of paintings in the Castle Howard collection at a given moment is a relatively straightforward matter, comprehending the changing relationships between individual pictures (and artists), and their neighbours on the walls gives rise to more complicated enquiries. Collections and their hangs are always in flux, but just what are the motives for, and consequences of, moving pictures?

Wednesday, 28 February 2018, 18:00–20:00, at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, Bedford Square, London. Book here.

Christopher Ridgway is curator at Castle Howard and has lectured and published on its architecture, collections, landscapes, and archives. He is Chair of the Yorkshire Country House Partnership, and Adjunct Professor at Maynooth University. His most recent publication, co-edited with Terence Dooley and Maeve O’Riordan, is Women and the Country House in Ireland and Britain (Four Courts Press, 2018).

Martin Postle on Portraits by Reynolds and Northcote

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on January 25, 2018

From the Mellon Centre:

Martin Postle | Patrons and Painters: Portraits by Joshua Reynolds and James Northcote at Trewithen, Cornwall
Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London, 7 March 2018

James Watson, after Sir Joshua Reynolds, The Rev. Mr. Zachariah Mudge, Prebend of Exeter &c., mezzotint (New Haven: Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection).

Among the pictures in the collection at Trewithen, Cornwall are two portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds and four by his pupil James Northcote. The portraits feature for the most part members of the Mudge family and were painted in Plymouth—the home of the Mudges and the birthplace of both Reynolds and Northcote. The group comprises a portrait of the cleric Zachariah Mudge and his wife Kitty, by Joshua Reynolds; portraits by Northcote of the philosopher William Ferguson and Thomas Mudge; as well as Northcote’s self portrait and his copy of Reynolds’s portrait of John Mudge. These portraits remain virtually unknown beyond the confines of Trewithen and those acquainted with the house and its collection. Nor have they been subjected to any significant research in the modern period. The intention in this talk is to explain the context for their creation and the light they shed on an important source of local patronage, which had a profound impact on the careers of Reynolds and his pupil James Northcote.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018, 18:00–20:00, at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, Bedford Square, London. Book here.

Lecture | Marie-Antoinette and Josephine as Garden Patrons

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on January 20, 2018

From the BGC:

Susan Taylor-Leduc | Designing Legacy: Marie-Antoinette and Josephine as Garden Patrons
Bard Graduate Center, New York, 7 February 2018

During the tumultuous forty years from 1774 until 1814, when the French government was transformed from monarchy to empire, Queen Marie-Antoinette and Empress Josephine Bonaparte created picturesque gardens at the Petit Trianon, Versailles, and Malmaison respectively. The captivating life stories of both women have elicited critiques of their garden patronage, suggesting that they pursued insatiable desires unfettered by financial constraints, detached from political and social realities. This talk suggests an alternative reading: Taylor-Leduc contends that both women constituted living legacies of female empowerment that were essential to the creation and dissemination of the picturesque garden and as such contributed to the evolution of modern landscape architecture in France. This Brown Bag Lunch presentation is scheduled for Wednesday, February 7, at 12:15pm.

Susan Taylor-Leduc earned both her masters and doctoral degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. Since 1992, she has worked as a teacher, curator, university administrator, and tour guide in Paris. A specialist in eighteenth-century French gardens, she is currently working on a book tentatively entitled Designing Legacy: Marie-Antoinette, Josephine and the French Picturesque Garden 1774–1814.

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 the BGC YouTube page.