Enfilade

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.

London History Day 2018 — 31 May 2018

Posted in lectures (to attend), on site by Editor on May 1, 2018

From Historic England:

London History Day 2018
31 May 2018

On Thursday 31 May 2018, more than 70 of London’s museums, galleries, and cultural spaces will open their doors to reveal special behind the scenes tours, rarely seen exhibits and one off events, celebrating the capital’s unique identity. 2018 is the year of courage, with many special events for London History Day touching on the pioneering spirit, heroism, initiative, and kindness layered in our history.

An example of programming as presented by the Mellon Centre:

Mark Hallett | The Suffering Soldier: Depictions of Courage in Eighteenth-Century British Art
Paul Mellon Centre, London, 31 May 2018, 12.30–14.00

The Paul Mellon Centre is taking part in London History Day by offering a special talk by the Director of the Centre, Mark Hallett. His lecture will focus on a few especially powerful examples of eighteenth-century British art to explore the ways in which artists dealt with, and depicted, the subject of courage. Mark Hallett, a leading authority on art in the Georgian period, will concentrate in particular on images of the heroic, tragic, and pitiful soldier, produced by artists as varied as John Singleton Copley, Benjamin West, and Joseph Wright of Derby. Doing so will reveal the very different ways in which courage could be conceptualised and represented during a century in which Britain was regularly at war. This talk is free and a light lunch is provided. Booking details are available here.

Newly Redeveloped RA Campus Opens on 19 May 2018

Posted in museums, on site by Editor on April 27, 2018

From the press release:

The Royal Academy of Arts, the world’s foremost artist and architect-led institution, will open its new campus to the public on Saturday 19 May 2018 as part of the celebrations of its 250th anniversary year. Following a transformational redevelopment, designed by internationally- acclaimed architect Sir David Chipperfield CBE RA and supported by the National Lottery, the new Royal Academy will open up and reveal more of the elements that make the RA unique—sharing with the public historic treasures from its Collection, the work of its Royal Academicians and the Royal Academy Schools, alongside its world-class exhibitions programme.

One of the most significant outcomes of the redevelopment is the link between Burlington House and Burlington Gardens, uniting the two-acre campus. This will provide 70% more space than the RA’s original Burlington House footprint, enabling the RA to expand its exhibition programme and to create new and free displays of art and architecture across the campus for visitors year-round. From dedicated galleries to surprising interventions, a dynamic series of changing exhibits and installations will present the living heritage of the Royal Academy; exploring its foundation and history in training artists as well as showcasing contemporary works by Royal Academicians and students at the RA Schools. To animate the displays, a new range of free tours, taster talks and object handling stations will be available to visitors.

Tacita Dean: LANDSCAPE (19 May — 12 August 2018) will inaugurate the new Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries in Burlington Gardens. With Art Fund support, the exhibition is part of an unprecedented collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery in London. It will showcase the internationally-renowned visual artist and Royal Academician Tacita Dean who will explore the genre of landscape in its broadest sense: intimate collections of natural found objects, a mountainous blackboard drawing and a major new, two screen 35mm film installation, Antigone, that uses multiple exposures to combine places, people and seasons into the single cinematographic frame. Antigone was funded in part through the support of the Laurenz Foundation-Schaulager and its founder Maja Oeri; and VIA Art Fund.

The magnificent new Royal Academy Collection Gallery will present The Making of an Artist: The Great Tradition highlighting works from the RA Collection, including the Taddei Tondo by Michelangelo and the RA’s almost full-size sixteenth-century copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, along with paintings by Reynolds, Kauffman, Thornhill, Constable, Gainsborough, and Turner. Selected by the President of the Royal Academy, Christopher Le Brun, it will focus on the first sixty years of the RA, juxtaposing masterpieces from the RA’s teaching collection with Diploma Works by past Royal Academicians. The display of the RA Collection has been supported by the Blavatnik Family Foundation.

The Architecture Studio within The Dorfman Senate Rooms will provide a creative space that invites audience engagement with innovative and critical ideas on architecture and its intersection with the arts. It will open with Invisible Landscapes (19 May 2018 — March 2019), explored in three ‘Acts’ of immersive interventions looking at the impact and future of technology in people’s environments. In contrast, recently conserved historical architectural casts on display in The Dorfman Architecture Court will convey the history of teaching architecture: the tradition of learning to draw from casts of buildings.

Located at the entrance to the Weston Bridge, which connects Burlington Gardens into Burlington House, The Ronald and Rita McAulay Gallery will stage site-specific installations by Royal Academicians. The first major work will be Tips for a Good Life by Bob and Roberta Smith RA (September 2018 – September 2019), on the subject of gender in the history of the RA.

Moving through to Burlington House, visitors will arrive at the Weston Studio. Located within the heart of the Royal Academy Schools, the Weston Studio will bring the ethos and thinking of the RA Schools’ postgraduate programme to a changing contemporary series of two displays a year and projects developed by students and graduates. It will open with a group exhibition of works by first year students, revealing their rich use of subjects, approaches, methods, and materials.

Going back in time, The Vaults will exhibit The Making of an Artist: Learning to Draw a formidable selection of plaster casts from the early years of the RA Schools displayed together with works on paper from the RA’s teaching collection, illustrating the RA’s role in the teaching of art since the RA Schools’ foundation in 1769. Works will include anatomical casts and casts of antique sculptures, such as the Venus de Milo and Farnese Hercules, juxtaposed with recent works on related themes by RA Schools graduates. Works on paper include a special display From the Child to the President by John Everett Millais PRA, who aged 11 started in the RA Schools where he was known as ‘The Child’.

Further interventions in Burlington House will include:
• An impressive installation of three dimensional details from buildings designed by current architect Academicians, curated by Spencer de Grey RA, which will be displayed across a three-story vertical wall, an affirmation of British architecture both today and in the future.
• Yinka Shonibare’s Cheeky Little Astronomer, 2013, which will take pride of place in the sculpture niche outside the Grand Café.
An Allegory of Painting: A Project by Sarah Pickstone, which will feature two new wall and ceiling paintings by Sarah Pickstone (September 2018 – September 2019). A graduate of the RA Schools, she will celebrate the work of Angelica Kauffman RA, one of the two female founding members of the Academy.
• Already open to the public, Richard Deacon RA Selects presents his own selection of sculptures by Royal Academicians from the RA Collection, spanning over 200 years.

Alongside the transformation of the RA’s physical space, the first phase of a new online platform has launched to open up the RA Collection to be more accessible to audiences worldwide. Comprising paintings, sculptures, artists’ letters and books from the RA Collection, over 10,000 items have been newly digitised with the support of the National Lottery. The RA worked with Fabrique, the award-winning designers of the Rijksmuseum’s website.