Enfilade

Reopened: August the Strong’s State Apartments and Porcelain Cabinet

Posted in museums, on site by Editor on October 3, 2019

Audience Room of the State Apartments of Dresden’s Residenzschloss (28 September 2019)
Photo by Oliver Killig

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Press release (26 September 2019) from the SKD:

August the Strong’s Royal State Apartments (Paraderäume) and the Porcelain Cabinet in the Turmzimmer (Tower Room) were opened on Saturday, 28 Saturday 2019, marking the culmination of the restoration of Dresden’s Residenzschloss, which started in 1986. The prestigious suite of rooms in the west wing—conceived by the Elector-King personally as a ceremonial centrepiece of his residence—takes visitors to the pinnacle of ostentatious princely splendour on their tour of the museum palace.

Together with original artworks from several of Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden’s museums, the painstakingly restored rooms form a unique ensemble of museum-grade rooms. The harmonious interplay of wall textiles, paintings, precious ornamental furniture and porcelains, magnificent robes of state, and August the Strong’s royal insignia let visitors experience both the standard of European artistry in the early 18th century and the ceremonial court culture.

Porcelain Cabinet in the Tower Room of Dresden’s Residenzschloss (28 September 2019); photo by Oliver Killig.

August the Strong opened the State Apartments exactly 300 years ago, in September 1719, to celebrate the wedding of Crown Prince Friedrich August and daughter of the Emperor and Archduchess Maria Josepha of Austria. The construction and craft works continued from March 1717 to 2 September 1719—the day on which the Habsburgian daughter-in-law of August the Strong and his wife Christiane Eberhardine was welcomed in the new staterooms. Not only were the nine rooms of the State Apartments built in the west wing to mark this occasion, the entire second floor of the palace was renovated. The resulting ceremonial, prestigious suite began at the Englische Treppe (English Staircase) and led on through the Riesensaal (Hall of the Giants) and the Turmzimmer (Tower Room) to the west wing.

It housed the most important ceremonial and splendid rooms in the residence, enabling the Prince-Elector of Saxony to prove that his palace was truly the palace of a king, rivalling the residences of other European kings and the Emperor. The interiors grow increasingly luxurious from room to room: Whether in the corner state room to the two antechambers, to the audience chamber and the state bedroom, the rooms seemed to outdo one another in the number and splendour of the candelabras, wall textiles and furniture. This prestigious suite combined touches of the ceremonial style of the French royal court at Versailles with that at the imperial court of Vienna, whereby the state bedroom in the Viennese tradition was used as the most private ceremonial venue, and not for the opulent lever, the morning reception, as was the case under Louis XIV.

Johann Joachim Kaendler, Johann Friedrich Eberlein, Elementvase Luft aus dem fünfteiligen Satz der Elementvasen, Meissen, 1742
(Porzellansammlung der SKD; photo by Adrian Sauer).

In 1997, the Saxon State Government decided that the ceremonial rooms, which had been completely destroyed in the Second World War, should be rebuilt as far as possible. The present meticulous restoration of the rooms to their historic, 18th-century condition is an immense achievement by Staatsbetriebe Sächsische Immobilien- und Baumanagement (Saxon Real Estate and Construction Management, SIB) and many regional and international artists and craftspeople. Comprehensive records allowed the rooms to be restored as closely as possible to the original. For instance, Louis de Silvestre’s monumental ceiling paintings were recreated based on colour photographs taken in 1942/1944. The preserved baroque ornamental textiles of the audience chamber with pilasters adorned in intricate gold embroidery and trim were restored and the crimson silk velvet was reproduced to cover the entire wall surface with ‘thread-true’ recreations based on a fragment. Lost tapestries were replicated based on comparable examples. Overall, 300 craft firms from around Europe that have preserved the traditional skills worked together on this project.

Thanks to timely removal for safekeeping, many of the precious items of furniture from the early 18th century and the following decades, which were in the ceremonial rooms’ inventory, were preserved. They had been stored by the Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) since the end of the Second World War: the throne, rare silver furniture from Augsburg, French ornamental furniture using the Boulle marquetry technique. Paintings and overdoors by Louis de Silvestre from Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister now complete the current restoration project. As surviving historical pieces, the preserved originals tell the tale of the original interior and the rooms’ eventful past.

In four other rooms that, like the restored State Apartments, are in the west wing, exhibits from the Rüstkammer (Armoury) showcase the overwhelming splendour with which August the Strong staged his own persona and power. The two retirades (private refuges)—a suite of rooms leading from the corner state room to the state bedroom—house an exhibition on the ‘Royal Wardrobe’ of the Elector-King. The robes of state reflect his biography and significant events in his reign. Precious royal baroque fashions from the baroque period share space with August the Strong’s favourite weapons and diplomatic gifts received from the kings of Europe and the Czar. The picture cabinets located behind the audience chamber are dedicated to his royal majesty August the Strong and his son Augustus III. Besides the royal insignia of the Saxon-Polish union, the figurine dressed in the coronation regalia of 1697 with the face of August the Strong from the life mask of 1704 is particularly impressive. Other royal artefacts, like the Saxon electoral hat and the ceremonial royal flags and swords of Poland and Lithuania, reveal the European dimension of the linked Saxon and Polish monarchy.

The route to the State Apartments also takes visitors through the 100 m² Turmzimmer (Tower Room) in Hausmannsturm of the Residenzschloss. At the time of the wedding, August the Strong displayed his state treasury in the form of the exceptionally precious monumental silver vessels on pedestals and wall shelves there. In the 1730s under August III, the silver buffet was turned into a porcelain cabinet that went on to serve as a prominent showroom for the electoral and royal porcelain collection for 200 years. Now hosting a selection of porcelain, the recreated room has regained its historical function. It houses unique masterpieces from the manufactory in Meissen, like the Johann Joachim Kaendler’s outstanding, highly sculptural vases depicting the elements, returning to their original home after more than 75 years in the depot.

Eva-Maria Stange, State Minister for Higher Education, Research and the Arts: “Restoring the State Apartments to their resplendent former glory, gives the Residenzschloss its soul back. Visitors to the rooms get a great impression of life in the royal court. We must also remember that the principality and its prosperity were built on the work and hardships of the miners who extracted the silver that made Saxony rich, among other things. Even at that time, the economy, science and the arts stimulated one another, creating the admirable halo effect that is still maintained today.”

Marion Ackermann, Director General of Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden: “When opened in 1719, August the Strong’s State Apartments and the Tower Room were the expression of an axiomatically European understanding of culture. Influences from many European countries inspired the efforts to attain perfection and outstanding artistic achievements. 300 years later, we can experience this phenomenon again: It was only the cooperation of many extraordinary Saxon and European craftspeople, artists and restorers, who still master the ancient techniques at a high level that made restoration of the State Apartments, and the Tower Room as a Porcelain Cabinet possible. With respect and admiration, I would like to thank everyone who worked on the project under the guidance of Staatsbetrieb Sächsisches Immobilien- und Baumanagement and collaborated to complete this unique architectural masterpiece.”

Dirk Syndram, Director of Grünes Gewölbe and Rüstkammer: “Nowhere else can you feel as close to August the Strong as in the State Apartments. And no other rule of baroque Europe left behind so many, so magnificent and so personal material testimonies to his time. These many originals make the splendour with which August the Strong surrounded himself directly tangible.”

Exhibition | City Women in the 18th Century

Posted in exhibitions, on site by Editor on September 25, 2019

From the exhibition:

City Women in the 18th Century: An Outdoor Exhibition of Women Traders in Cheapside, London
Cheapside, London, 21 September — 18 October 2019

Curated by Amy Erickson

In the 18th century, many women worked in luxury manufacturing and sales in the Cheapside area between St Paul’s and the Royal Exchange. They were not only employed to make the clothing, jewellery, prints, fans, trunks and furniture on sale; they also ran some of the businesses. These women, all of whom were members of London’s livery companies, employed thousands more in their trades. Some of these elite employers produced highly ornamental trade cards to advertise their business. These represent only a fraction of all the business women trading over the 18th century. Others we know of through their printed products (e.g., Sarah Ashton, fanmaker), or an insurance policy (Eleanor Coade, merchant), or livery company records (Martha Gurney, printer).

Most of the surviving business cards are in two collections in the British Museum. The first collector was Sarah Sophia Banks (1744–1818). The sister of Joseph Banks, who collected items of natural history, she collected material relating to the social history of her own day. The second collector was Ambrose Heal (1872–1959), arts and crafts furniture designer and heir to Heal’s furniture shop which had been established in Tottenham Court Road since the 1850s. This outdoor exhibition, over a 700-metre trail, explores the important role of women in commerce and manufacturing in 18th-century City.

Amy Louise Erickson, the curator of the exhibition, is Reader in Economic History at the University of Cambridge, and the author of Women and Property in Early Modern England and articles on women trading in 18th-century London. Her current project is reconstructing female labour force participation in early modern Britain. She co-directs the ‘Occupational Structure of England and Wales, 1379–1911’ research programme at the Cambridge Group for the History of Population & Social Structure.

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In addition to the virtual exhibition, organized around eight sites, the exhibition includes the following programming:

Mary Owen, jeweller and goldsmith, printed her card as a widow in the mid-18th century. Her husband (dead by 1745) had also been a goldsmith, but was a member of the Fishmongers’ Company; as his widow, Owen traded as a member by courtesy.

Talk | City Women in the 18th Century
London Metropolitan Archives, 17 September, 14.00

Dr Amy Erickson, from the Faculty of History at the University Cambridge, will be discussing her exhibition, City Women in the 18th Century, at the London Metropolitan Archives.

Guided Tours
Paternoster Square, 29 September, 10.30; and 6 October, 15.00

Join Dr Amy Erickson on a tour of the exhibition. Booking required (29 September or 6 October).

Talk | Women in the Luxury Trades
Goldsmiths’ Centre in Clerkenwell, 19 November, 18.00

Learn about the women who traded as goldsmiths, silversmiths, milliners, fan-makers, and printers along the length of Cheapside, from Paternoster Square to the Royal Exchange, through their ornately engraved business cards. Further details.

 

A Looking Glass from Mount Vernon Recreated by Eli Wilner & Co.

Posted in on site by Editor on July 3, 2019

Press release, via Art Daily (29 June 2019) . . .

Reproduction of George and Martha Washington’s Front Parlor Looking Glass, made in 2018–19 by Eli Wilner & Co. (Photo by Gavin Ashworth).

In early 2017, Curator Adam Erby contacted Eli Wilner & Company about recreating a looking glass from an archival photo for the front parlor at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Mr. Erby was already familiar with the firm’s capabilities in working from photos, including recreating a large pair of lost overmantle mirrors for Lyndhurst Mansion, a National Trust for Historic Preservation site in Tarrytown, New York.

In this case, the frame in the photo is in fact still in existence, but it is in the possession of another institution, and for various reasons, unavailable for long term loan. George and Martha Washington purchased the original elaborate English neoclassical looking glass from New York City merchants J. & N. Roosevelt on April 15, 1790, during the brief period of time the United States capital was in New York. They moved the mirror with them to Philadelphia for the duration of the presidency and then back to Mount Vernon where it took pride of place in the front parlor. Martha Washington thought so highly of the looking glass that she bequeathed it to her granddaughter Eleanor ‘Nelly’ Parke Custis Lewis in her will as “the large looking glass in the front Parlour.” It remained in the hands of descendants until they sold it to an institution in the 1870s. The original looking glass had lost many of its original elements and recreating them in the new mirror required careful research and coordination between Erby and the Wilner team.

After several months of discussion and establishing agreements as to how to financially and logistically make this unique project happen, an on-site meeting was arranged to view the original frame in storage in Washington D.C. There, Mr. Erby, along with Williamsburg, Virginia based conservator Thomas Snyder and two members of the Wilner team, took detailed measurements and discussed various observations on the original looking glass, particularly where there appeared to be missing elements and prior restoration attempts. Due to various circumstances, including the missing design elements, this replica would have to be an “inspired copy”.

In January of 2018, Mr. Erby and Senior Curator Susan Schoelwer personally met with the Wilner team at their studio in Long Island City, New York to finalize some subtle details regarding the overall flow of the elaborate crest design. With agreement from all involved regarding the scale and design of the inner frame, the wood profile was shaped and a system designed for securing the mirrored glass into the interior sections of the frame. After carving the lamb’s tongue ornament on the inner frame, and creating rows of beads to be applied, work on the elaborate crest elements was begun. This incredibly intricate and fragile design incorporated wire armature elements to support the delicate hand carved details.

The various elements of the frame and crests were then water gilded in the same manner as the original frame would have been. First, multiple layers of gesso were painted and sanded. This smooth surface was then painted with layers of ochre and red clay to recreate a similar tone to the original. Next gold leaf was applied with a squirrel hair brush and a water/alcohol/glue mixture known as ‘gilder’s liquor’, and the entire surface was selectively burnished. At the curator’s direction, the surface should look “15 years old”, therefore the finishers did minimal rub to the gilding. This was an unusual challenge for the Wilner studio, as normally the artisans are tasked with making a replica frame look older, rather than newer.

In January of 2019, during a follow up on-site visit to the Wilner studio, one last decision was handed over to Mr. Erby and Dr. Schoelwer to choose from two options of corner straps. Both of the existing frames that were being used as studies for the design were missing their original straps, so further research was done by the Wilner team to offer historically and aesthetically appropriate choices. Though these elements are purely superficial and do not actually function structurally, the width is critical to cover the edges of the glass contained inside. The straps needed to be sufficiently wide for tiny nails to be hammered through to the wood substrate, while maintaining an aesthetic delicacy consistent with the rest of the object. The straps on the original frames were most likely lost because they were only adhered with glue which dried out over time.

Within hours of this final decision, the frame was fully assembled, corner straps and all. The looking glass was then immediately secured inside a travel crate, ready to be shuttled to Mount Vernon by a trusted fine art shipper. In February 2019, the looking glass was officially installed in the front parlor at Mount Vernon and the fully restored room was reopened to the public shortly thereafter on February 16th, 2019, just in time for President’s Day weekend.

Coincidentally, just as the Wilner staff were wrapping up this two-year long project, they were contacted by Abigail Horrigan, Director of Marketing Partnerships, and Carrie Villar, ​Acting Vice President of Historic Sites​ from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, to advise on the restoration of frames enclosing four important portraits at Woodlawn Mansion.

Woodlawn, the first site operated by the National Trust, was originally part of George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate. In 1799, he gave the site to his nephew, Lawrence Lewis, and Lewis’ new bride, the aforementioned Eleanor ‘Nelly’ Parke Custis, Martha Washington’s granddaughter, in hopes of keeping Nelly close to Mount Vernon. The newly-married couple built the Georgian/Federal house designed by William Thornton, architect of the U.S. Capitol.

The frames sent to Eli Wilner & Company for restoration hold portraits of former owners of Woodlawn. In addition to two paintings of Nelly, there is a companion portrait of her husband Lawrence in a matching frame. The fourth frame was for a portrait of Senator Oscar Underwood from Alabama, who lived at the mansion from 1925 until his death in 1929.

The Nelly and Lawrence portraits are always on exhibit and are key parts of the site’s public tour interpretation. The condition of the frames, which included much cracking and losses to ornaments and gilding was beginning to detract from Woodlawn’s overall appearance and visitor experience.

At the Wilner Studio, the four frames were treated as thoughtfully as possible in order to retain the original character of the gilded surfaces. After gentle cleaning and various structural reinforcements, all losses to the ornaments were filled and then patinated to cosmetically blend with the original surface. In April 2019, the frames were reunited with the paintings and are now back on view to the public.

Eli Wilner & Company is extremely proud to add all of these projects to their list of framing accomplishments that have helped in preserving iconic moments and individuals in American History. Their most notable projects include: reframing Emanuel Leutze’s monumental Washington Crossing the Delaware for the Metropolitan Museum of Art , a total of 22 projects for the White House, and pairing the flag salvaged from Custer’s Last Stand with a period frame.

George Washington’s Mount Vernon and the National Historic Trust for Historic Preservation sites Woodlawn and Lyndhurst Mansion all directly benefited from Eli Wilner & Company’s philanthropic outreach and museum funding programs. All not-for-profit and government-supported public institutions are invited to submit proposals for historical picture framing projects on an ongoing basis. Proposals are reviewed daily.

Exhibition | Showpiece from the Palmwood Wreck

Posted in exhibitions, on site by Editor on March 15, 2019

I’m posting this seventeenth-century exhibition, showcasing what may be a late sixteenth-century cup, to draw attention to the Museum Kaap Skil more generally; Texel, located some 50 miles north of Amsterdam, was a crucial anchorage, particularly for large VOC vessels. Visiting the Vasa Museum in Stockholm a few years ago (many of you have been there) helped me grasp just how much ‘material culture’ was taken up by ships in the early modern period. Inventory lists—indeed, even seascapes crowded with ships—now come to life for me in a way that they didn’t previously. On the grounds of the Kaap Skil museum, there’s also a working windmill used to process grain: the Traanroeier, which dates to 1727 (originally located on the Weer, at the intersection with the Traanroeyer ditch, it was moved to Texel in 1902). CH

Now on view at Museum Kaap Skil, from the press release:

Diving in Details: Showpiece from the Palmwood Wreck
Museum Kaap Skil, Texel, Netherlands, 9 March — 9 September 2019

Gilt silver cup, likely made in Neurenberg around the end of the 16th century; it was recovered in 2016 from the Palmwood wreck.

An exceptional object from the Palmwood wreck [palmhout, or boxwood] can be seen for the next six months at Museum Kaap Skil—in Oudeschild on the island of Texel. A gilt silver cup, expertly restored after almost four centuries on the sea bottom, is being displayed in the exhibit Diving in Details. Expert Jan Beekhuizen, known from the television program Kunst & Kitsch (Art & Fake), notes that it is “exceptional, if not unique, that such a find surfaces from a ship wreck.”

A specially designed showcase allows the viewer to observe the gilt cup from all sides. Details can be seen and enlarged on a touchscreen. The cup is decorated with driven flower patterns and mascarons, ornaments representing faces. The cup was unveiled at the Rijksmuseum on March 7 by deputy Jack van der Hoek and museum manager Corina Hordijk, together with the presentation of a report on the Palmwood wreck collection.

The discovery of the Palmwood wreck by divers from Texel and the unusually rich finds surfaced from this wreck created a worldwide sensation in 2016. The lovely silk dress and other luxury garments and personal belongings from the wreck made it clear that the cargo being transported by the ship belonged to very wealthy, perhaps even royal people. Even the gilt silver cup fits this picture. Only the richest could afford such an object.

The wreck of the ship and almost four centuries lying in the sea bottom have taken their toll: the cup surfaced partially flattened and broken into three parts. In addition, there were dark corrosive bumps on the surface. Experts from the restoration workshop Restaura have carefully removed the deposits, reattached the loose parts, and restored the cup to its original shape. The war god Mars, standing on the lid of the cup, has lost his shield, but otherwise the cup is more or less whole.

The exhibition Diving in Details also features a 17th-century painting depicting such a cup, showing how such objects were used to display wealth. The Palmwood wreck was once a heavily armed fluyt (‘straatvaarder’), destined for trade in the Mediterranean. The ship sank in the 17th century on the Roads of Texel. It is still unknown who the owner of the ship and the cargo was.

Documentation of the recovered objects has just been published; from the Museum Kaap Skil:

Arent D. Vos et al., edited by Birgit van den Hoven and Iris Toussaint, Wereldvondsten uit een Hollands schip: Basisrapportage BZN17/Palmhoutwrak (Haarlem: Provincie Noord-Holland, 2019), 443 pages, ISBN: 978-9492428134, €20.

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More information about the discovery of the ship—including its mistaken association in 2016 with a ship that was in 1642 part of a royal British fleet—comes from Jessamyn Hatcher, “Treasure Island: The Extraordinary Finds of an Amateur Diving Club in Holland,” The New Yorker (19 September 2017). Hatcher quotes “Arent Vos, a marine archeologist who specializes in the Texel Roads, [who] estimates that up to a thousand ships wrecked off the island’s coast between 1500 and 1800.”

Also see, Tracy Robey, “Global Cargo,” Archaeology (May/June 2018), where the Palmwood Wreck (Burgzand Noord 17) is described as “the richest cargo of seventeenth-century luxury goods ever found underwater,” owing to its “stunning collection of silk garments and velvet textiles, leather book covers, and pottery.”

Edinburgh’s Collective Opens on Calton Hill

Posted in museums, on site by Editor on December 26, 2018

Press release (via Art Daily) for Collective in Edinburgh:

Collective—a new centre for contemporary art—opened in Edinburgh after a major restoration project at one of the capital’s World Heritage sites. Situated on top of Calton Hill, overlooking the city, Collective includes the restored City Observatory, designed by William Playfair in 1818, a new purpose-built exhibition space with panoramic viewing terrace, and a destination restaurant, The Lookout by Gardener’s Cottage. For the first time in its 200-year history the City Observatory site is freely open to the public.

The opening marks a fresh chapter in the history of the Observatory site and for Collective, an organisation active on the Scottish arts scene since 1984. Collective positions itself as a new kind of observatory, inviting the public to view the world around them through the lens of contemporary art. A selection of international and Scotland-based artists, commissioned specially for the opening, are exhibiting their work at Collective as part of an inaugural exhibition. Affinity and Allusion draws on themes connected to Calton Hill’s rich history and features the work of artists Dineo Seshee Bopape, James N Hutchinson, Alexandra Laudo, Tessa Lynch, Catherine Payton, and Klaus Weber.

The City Observatory, designed by William Playfair in 1818, played a key role in the history of astronomy and timekeeping in Edinburgh. The original telescope, installed in the Observatory in 1831, is on display. The Observatory will houses Collective’s new shop, Collective Matter, selling unique artist editions and specially commissioned products.

The Hillside is a brand-new exhibition and office space embedded in the hillside in front of the City Observatory. The space will primarily exhibit work from Collective’s Satellites Programme for emerging artists and producers in Scotland. A panoramic viewing terrace on the roof of The Hillside allows visitors to soak up the stunning views north across Leith and the Firth of Forth. The nearby City Dome, completed in 1895 as a subsidiary to the main Observatory, has been restored and will play host to a changing programme of international artists showing their work in Scotland for the first time.

A purpose-built restaurant, The Lookout, has been constructed on the northeast corner of Collective and is being managed by local partners The Gardener’s Cottage. The Lookout specialises in seasonal cooking using locally-sourced ingredients. Panoramic views from the upper floor dining area, which is cantilevered to partially float above the hillside, complete an extraordinary dining experience.

The final building to be restored as part of Collective is the Transit House. Originally used as an observatory, the building now serves as a learning and education space for visiting schools and groups. The original ‘Politician’s Clock’, so-called because it has two faces, is back on display. Before the installation of the time-ball in the nearby Nelson monument, sailors from the Port of Leith would ascend Calton Hill and use the clock (accurately set by celestial observations) to set their chronometers.

The £4.5m redevelopment is the result of a partnership between Collective and City of Edinburgh Council. Collective moved to the site in 2013 and began fundraising for the project. Funders include City of Edinburgh Council, Creative Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Edinburgh World Heritage, William Grant Foundation, WREN, The Wolfson Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, Sylvia Waddilove Foundation UK, Pilgrim Trust, Architectural Heritage Fund, Hope Scott Trust, Idlewild Trust, Craignish Trust, and the invaluable support of many trusts, funds, and individual donors.

Launch of the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust

Posted in on site by Editor on November 16, 2018

From the Wentworth Woodhouse press release, via Rotherham Business News:

The Yorkshire launch of the The Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust’s (WWPT) masterplan took place on Friday, 9 November 2018, with a host of civic dignitaries, local MPs, and representatives of heritage and arts experts from Yorkshire, Derbyshire, and Worksop in attendence. A New Life, the 500-page masterplan, aims to create a world-class visitor attraction with local heritage and culture exhibitions and a focus firmly on the restoration task. Visitors will be able to view heritage and culture exhibitions, explore more of the house and take ‘hard hat and Hi Viz’ tours onto the rooftop to witness restoration work as it happens. . .

For the main house, the future uses will include the main visitor attraction, commercial units, catering and luxury holiday accommodation. A café in the North Wing could be joined by a fine dining restaurant for approx 118 covers towards the East Front with private dining space within Octagonal game larder. State Bedrooms could be home to two suites for exclusive overnight accommodation to support events. A 5–6 bedroom guesthouse for holiday let and self-contained apartments for holiday let, could be created in the North and South Pavilions.

Fourteen commercial units suitable for small businesses are earmarked for the South Wing, and events space and administrative space for the Trust are also in the plans for the house. The plans for the former stable block and riding school, once palatial surroundings, include a range of visitor facilities, events space suitable for weddings, further events space in the courtyard, retail units for artisan crafts and fifteen self-contained apartments. . .

Concluding the masterplan, Sarah McLeod, CEO of WWPT, said: “Through investment, innovative thinking and an audience-focused approach, Wentworth Woodhouse will be a testament to the grit and fortitude of a region that has changed radically over the last century. It will be a beacon for learning. For new approaches to integrating heritage and business. It will be an iconic reminder of the passion, pride and power of the people who pulled together to make this happen.”

The BBC’s coverage of the masterplan is available here»

East front of Wentworth Woodhouse, in South Yorkshire, May 2015 (Photo by Andrew Rabbott, Wikimedia Commons). With construction of the east front starting around 1735, it is the longest façade (606 feet) of any country house in England.

 

New Gravestone for William Blake

Posted in on site by Editor on August 14, 2018

As reported by AFP (via Art Daily, 13 August 2018). . .

Lida Cardozo Kindersley, Gravestone of William Blake, Bunhill Fields, London, unveiled on 12 August 2018 (Photograph by Lida Cardozo Kindersley).

The lost resting place of British poet and artist William Blake was finally marked Sunday [12 August 2018] with a gravestone, almost 200 years after he died.

Despite his influence today, Blake died in obscurity in 1827 and was buried in an unmarked common grave in Bunhill Fields, a London cemetery. Only a plain memorial stone recorded that he was buried nearby, much to the dismay of two devotees who visited, and who decided to find his exact resting place. Luis and Carol Garrido had as their guide the original coordinates of his burial, which were based on a grid of graves but became confused when parts of the cemetery were converted into gardens. After two years of research and some painstaking work with a tape measure, they found it, and the Blake Society—of which they were members—began fundraising for a new memorial to mark the spot. . .

The full article is available here»

 

AWA and Art Restoration in Florence

Posted in museums, on site by Editor on July 17, 2018
“The Lady Who Paints,” an 11-minute video produced by Bunker Films, addresses the work of Advancing Women Artists Foundation, focusing on the Virgin Mary Presents the Christ Child to Santa Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi by Violante Siries Cerroti, located in the sacristy of the church of Santa Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi in Florence. Severely damaged in the 1966 flood, the painting was restored by Nicoletta Fontani and Elizabeth Wicks in 2016. More information is available in this book available from the AWA Foundation: I. Ciseri, J. Fortune, P. Masse, and E. Wicks, The Lady Who Paints: Violante Siriès Cerroti (1709–1783) (Pisa: Pacini Editore, 2016), 106 pages, ISBN: 978-8869951145 (English and Italian), €20.

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CAA’s listserv newsletter from yesterday noted this ArtNet News article:

Kate Brown, “How a Female-Led Art Restoration Movement in Florence Is Reshaping the Canon,” ArtNet News (12 July 2018).

Sometimes, all it takes is for someone to ask the right question.

That is exactly what Jane Fortune did on a visit to Florence 12 years ago. While touring the Renaissance city’s exquisite museums and fresco-covered churches, the American philanthropist began to wonder, “Where are the women?” Her search for an answer set Fortune on a passionate quest to restore the lost legacies and artworks of Florence’s forgotten female artists, digging into museums’ archives and dusty deposits with her organization, Advancing Women Artists (AWA). . .

Since the foundation launched more than 10 years ago, AWA has restored some 53 artworks. By September, that number will jump to 58. The nonprofit has become the go-to for Florentine curators who want to research their own collections, which house many works by women (AWA has inventoried 2,000 so far) that have been unseen for centuries. “That’s half the population that’s not being heard,” Fortune says. “I want to give them a voice.”

AWA has some ground rules for museums that engage them for help: If the work in question comes out of storage, it doesn’t go back into storage. It goes on the wall. And if a work needs to be restored, the vast majority of projects are carried out by female conservators.

Linda Falcone, the director of AWA, explains that the majority of restorers in Florence are in fact women, but that it was not always this way. The shift was caused by a devastating flood that struck in 1966, which led to the loss or damage of millions of artworks and books, including many masterpieces. A group of scholars, art students, and other art experts dubbed the “Mud Angels” flocked to the city to help with the restoration effort, as did the so-called “Flood Ladies”—female artists who donated art to replace lost masterworks.

Art historians like Kirsten Aschengreen Piacenti, who came from Denmark, were eager to help. In turn, they established a female-led network of experts, many of whom are still active today. Piacenti went on to become the head of Florence’s Museum Stibbert until 2012, and she is among an impressive number of female curators who work in the city’s institutions.

“It was the first time women began wearing trousers in Florence,” Falcone says. “Women’s liberation in Florence is deeply linked to the art restoration effort.” . . .

The full article is available here»

New Exhibitions at Monticello Include Life of Sally Hemings

Posted in museums, on site by Editor on June 17, 2018

Sarah Stockman reports on the Sally Hemings exhibition for The New York Times (16 June 2018), and the Monticello website now provides extensive information on Hemings. From the press release (7 June 2018) from Monticello:

On June 16, in conjunction with national Juneteenth events, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello will welcome a gathering of descendants of enslaved families, commemorate 25 years of its Getting Word Oral History Project, and unveil new exhibits and restored spaces, including a groundbreaking exhibit on Sally Hemings.

The opening marks the conclusion of a five-year restoration initiative, known as The Mountaintop Project. Initiated by a transformational gift from David M. Rubenstein in 2013, the project has made possible a total of nearly 30 new restored or recreated spaces and exhibits. Iconic rooms, on every level of the house, received updated interpretation or were restored for the first time. On Mulberry Row, buildings were physically and virtually restored or reconstructed. Together, these spaces illuminate the stories of individuals and families, and reveal how the lives of the free and enslaved were interwoven.

“In Jefferson’s words, we ‘follow truth wherever it may lead,’” said Leslie Greene Bowman, president and CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. “This transformation of Monticello—made possible by decades of research, hundreds of descendants, and thousands of donors—brings forward a more honest, relevant, and inclusive view of our history.”

On June 16, six new exhibits and restored spaces will open for the first time, including:
The Life of Sally Hemings — an immersive digital exhibit, anchored in the South Wing where she once lived, that relies on the words of her son, Madison, to explore her life and legacy;
The Getting Word Oral History Project — an exhibit on the enslaved families of Monticello and their descendants;
Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson — an exhibit which provides fresh insights into the life of Jefferson’s wife, located in the first building erected at Monticello;
The Granger-Hemings Kitchen — an exhibit on Monticello’s first kitchen and new archaeological discoveries that reveal the stories of enslaved cooks, Ursula Granger, James Hemings, and Peter Hemings;
The Dairy — a restored, period room where enslaved workers made cream, butter and soft cheese for the household; and
The Textile Workshop — a restored ca. 1775 structure featuring an exhibit about Mulberry Row and a room depicting the factory where enslaved women and children turned cotton, hemp, and wool into cloth for enslaved people and enterprise.

For years, visitors have learned about Sally Hemings on tours of Monticello. Now, for the first time, her story will have a dedicated physical space on the mountaintop.

“It represents a different chapter in public history at Monticello,” said Annette Gordon-Reed, author of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family and professor of history at Harvard University. “It will have a ripple effect on the way people think about slavery on the mountain overall and that’s actually very exciting.”

To commemorate the occasion and celebrate 25 years of the Getting Word Oral History Project, Monticello is hosting a free public event and a gathering for descendants of enslaved families. The gathering is expected to be the largest reunion of descendants of enslaved families in modern history.

The Look Closer opening event will feature Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Annette Gordon-Reed and Jon Meacham, violinist Karen Briggs, patriotic philanthropist David M. Rubenstein, national policy analyst Melody Barnes, and more. Visitors will also have the opportunity to see a rare version of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by Abraham Lincoln and generously loaned by David M. Rubenstein. It will be on view in the Robert H. and Clarice Smith Gallery at the David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center from June 11 through July 11, 2018.

Bedford Square Festival, 2018

Posted in lectures (to attend), on site by Editor on May 19, 2018

From the Paul Mellon Centre:

Bedford Square Festival: Share the Square
London, 4–7 July 2018

The Paul Mellon Centre is proud to be taking part in the Bedford Square Festival for the second year. Weaving together literature, art, architecture, history, film, theatre, and education, Share the Square is composed of more than forty free events taking place between July 4 and 7.

As its title suggests, this year’s theme aims to encourage greater engagement within the local community of Bloomsbury and beyond, with a focus on inspiring new creative collaborations between institutions, businesses, and individuals in this pocket of London. Bedford Square’s beautifully preserved Georgian buildings and garden are not usually open to the public, but this annual festival represents a chance for the Square’s residents to throw open their doors, revealing a fascinating enclave that is full of artistic and scientific knowledge, beautiful spaces, amazing stories and remarkable histories.

The Paul Mellon Centre will host over 15 events during the four-day festival. A full list is available here.