The Coach Gallery at Versailles Open Once Again

Posted in museums, on site by Editor on June 6, 2016


Baptism Sedan of the Duc of Bordeaux 
(Château de Versailles)

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The coaches at Versailles are once again on view:

The Coach Gallery of the Palace of Versailles, situated in the King’s Great Stables and closed to the public since 2007, will once again be opening its doors in the spring of 2016, thanks to sponsorship by the Michelin Corporate Foundation. This recently restored collection of coaches is one of the largest in Europe but is still very little known by the general public, and will be on display in a new and fully redesigned space.

Designed to be noticed, the carriages of Versailles are artistic masterpieces. Ostentatiously luxurious and extravagantly decorated with gold and sculpted detail, they were produced by the best artists of the French Court, including architects, carpenters, sculptors, cabinet-makers, bronze workers, chasers, gilders, upholsterers, embroiderers, and trimmings suppliers.

Besides its artistic quality, the collection is also a sort of ‘Vehicle Exhibition from the 18th and 19th centuries’, containing the finest prototypes and cutting-edge advances in French coach-making in terms of comfort, level of performance, and technique including traction, steering and suspension, and the first coupés and convertibles.

In addition, each coach tells a bit of French history through dynastic or political events such as christenings, marriages, coronations or funeral ceremonies. Above all else, the collection is a living testimony to life in the French Court and sumptuousness during the Ancien Régime, the French Empire, and the Restoration.

Visitors will discover these magnificent vehicles up close, such as the Berlins from the marriage of Napoleon I, the coach from the coronation of Charles X and the funeral carriage for Louis XVIII. They will also see finely decorated harnesses with gilded bronze, litters, the small coaches belonging to Marie-Antoinette’s children and an incredible collection of fantastical sledges made during the reign of Louis XV.

During the Ancien Régime the royal stables were located in the King’s Small Stables and Great Stables, a pair of buildings built opposite the Palace of Versailles by Jules Hardouin-Mansart. Pearls of classic French architecture, these two constructions were designed to house the horses and coaches of the King and the Court as well as the thousand or so people who formed the Institution, including horsemen, drivers, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, saddlers, doctors and even musicians.

At the time of the revolution, hundreds of vehicles that once served the King and Court were sold and dispersed, and then re-used during the War in the Vendée and to serve the needs of the revolutionary government. In 1837, when Louis-Philippe turned the Palace of Versailles into a museum dedicated to ‘All the glory of France’, he re-assembled the collection of historical Coaches.

The success of the exhibition Roulez Carrosses! in 2011–13 at the Arras Musée des Beaux-Arts revealed both the richness of the exhibition and the public’s interest in these works of art. It also brought to light the need to exhibit them in the Palace of Versailles and make them permanently available to the public.

The exhibition space is composed of two galleries and currently covers nearly 1000 m², allowing the collection to be comfortably spread out. The scenography will respect the spirit and architecture of the setting: the Royal Stables built by Jules Hardouin-Mansart between 1679 and 1682.

New Book | Fashionable Encounters

Posted in books, on site by Editor on June 5, 2016

This collection of essays appeared in 2014, but I learned of it just a a few days ago—thanks to Michael Yonan’s Instagram: he’s in Denmark this week, participating in Attingham’s Study Programme. I’m hoping to start a list of Instagram feeds relevant to eighteenth-century art and architecture in the coming weeks, so please feel free to send me any of your favorites! -Craig Hanson

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From Oxbow Books:

Tove Engelhardt Mathiassen, Marie-Louise Nosch, Maj Ringgaard, Kirsten Toftegaard, and Mikkel Venborg Pederson, eds., Fashionable Encounters: Perspectives and Trends in Textile and Dress in the Early Modern Nordic World (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2014), 256 pages, ISBN: 978-1782973829, £40.

9781782973829_1At the heart of this anthology lies the world of fashion—a concept that pervades the realm of clothes and dress, appearances and fashionable manners, interior design, ideas and attitudes. Here sixteen papers focus on the Nordic world (Denmark, Norway, Sweden Finland, Iceland, the Faroe Isles and Greenland) from 1500 to 1850. This was a period of rapid and far-reaching social, political and economic change, from feudal Europe through political revolution, industrialisation, development of international trade, religious upheaval, and technological innovation—changes impacting on every aspect of life and reflected in equally rapid and widespread changes in fashion at all levels of society. These papers present a broad image of the theme of fashion as a concept and as an empirical manifestation in the Nordic countries in early modernity, exploring a variety of ways in which that world encountered fashionable impressions in clothing and related aspects of material culture from Europe, the Russian Empire, and far beyond. The chapters range from object-based studies to theory-driven analysis. Elite and sophisticated fashions, the importation of luxuries and fashion garments, christening and bridal wear, silk knitted waistcoats, woollen sweaters and the influence of the whaling trade on women’s clothing are some of the diverse topics considered, as well as religious influences on perceptions of luxury and aspects of the garment trade and merchant inventories.

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Prologue (Mikkel Venborg Pedersen)
1  The World of Foreign Goods and Imported Luxuries: Merchant and Shop Inventories in Late 17th-Century Denmark-Norway (Camilla Luise Dahl and Piia Lempiäinen)
2  Foreign Seductions: Sumptuary Laws, Consumption and National Identity in Early Modern Sweden (Eva I. Andersson)
3  Fashion from the Ship: Life, Fashion and Fashion Dissemination in and around Kokkola, Finland in the 18th Century (Seija Johnson)
4  Creating fashion: Tailors’ and Seamstresses’ Work with Cutting and Construction Techniques in Women’s Dress, ca. 1750–1830 (Pernilla Rasmussen)
5  Silk Knitted Waistcoats: A 17th-Century Fashion Item (Maj Ringgaard)
6  Fashioning the Early Modern Swedish Nobility, Mirrored in Preserved 17th-Century Liturgical Textiles (Lena Dahrén)
7  Reflections on Dress Practices and How to Get to Know the Past (Bjørn Sverre Hol Haugen)
8  The Queen of Denmark: An English Fashion Doll and Its Connections to the Nordic Countries (Cecilie Stöger Nachman)
9  At the Nordic Fringe of Global Consumption: A Copenhagen Bourgeois’ Home and the Use of New Goods in the Mid-18th Century (Mikkel Venborg Pedersen)
10  The Theft of Fashion: Circulation of Fashionable Textiles and Garments in 18th-Century Copenhagen (Vibe Maria Martens)
11  Bolette-Marie Harboe’s Bridal Dress: Fashionable Encounters Told in an 18th-Century Dress (Kirsten Toftegaard)
12  Luxurious Textiles in Danish Christening Garments: Fashionable Encounters across Social and Geographical Borders (Tove Engelhardt Mathiassen)
13  Fish-bones and Fashion: The Influence of Whaling on Women’s Clothes in Early Modern Europe (Christina Folke Ax)
14  From Doll Cups to Woollen Sweaters: Trends, Consumption, and Influentials in early 19th-Century Southern Disko Bay, Greenland (Peter Andreas Toft and Maria Mackinney-Valentin)
15  Abundance to Asceticism: Religious Influences on Perceptions of Luxury in Denmark and Great Britain in the 18th Century (Juliane Engelhardt)
16  Circulating Images of Unmanliness and Foreignness: Collector Niclas Holterman and European Caricatures in Sweden around 1800 (Patrik Steorn)


Replica of the ‘Gotheborg’ for Sale

Posted in on site by Editor on May 28, 2016


The Gothenburg III on its journey to China, October 2005
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

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As reported by AFP, via Art Daily (27 May 2016) . . .

The world’s largest seaworthy wooden ship of its class, a replica of a merchant vessel that sank in 1745 off the coast of Sweden for reasons still unknown, is up for sale after years on the seas. The Swedish foundation that owns the vessel Gotheborg, a replica of the 18th-century galleon from the Swedish East India Company, announced Thursday it could no longer afford the upkeep.

“This is a tough decision that we’ve been forced to make,” said Lars Malmer,  chairman of the Ostindiefararen Gotheborg foundation. “We would have preferred it to continue sailing, but can confirm that the financial conditions do not exist,” he said in a statement.

The original, the East Indiaman Gotheborg, sank in 1745 within sight of its home port of Gothenburg on Sweden’s west coast after nearly completing a two-year voyage home from China. . .

The full article is available here»

Study Day | Kimbolton Castle, Huntingdonshire

Posted in on site, opportunities by Editor on May 16, 2016

From the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain:

SAHGB Study Day: Kimbolton Castle
Huntingdonshire (Cambridgeshire), 13 July 2016

4129733_origPete Smith and Nora Butler (Kimbolton School) will be leading a Study Day at Kimbolton Castle on Wednesday 13th July 2016. Kimbolton Castle was purchased by Sir Henry Montagu in around 1605. He was created Earl of Manchester by Charles I. It was his great-grandson Charles, the 4th Earl who inherited in 1683 and who, between 1690 and 1720, entirely rebuilt the original courtyard house. This rebuilding was carried out in three phases. The first possibly by Henry Bell of Kings Lynn between 1691 and 1696, the second by Sir John Vanbrugh between 1707 and 1710 and finally the east portico was added in 1719, this is usually assigned to Alessandro Galilei though recently discovered evidence suggests it may have been designed by Thomas Archer. Antonio Pellegrini decorated the staircase with paintings of The Triumph of Caesar in 1711–12. A new service range and gateway was added by Robert Adam for the 4th Duke of Manchester in around 1764. In the 1860s William Montagu, the 7th Duke, employed William Burn to modernize the house including new ceilings in the Dining Room and Saloon. He added an attic storey to the central section of north front and built a new stable block 1869–70. The 10th Duke of Manchester sold the castle to Kimbolton School in 1949. The school employed Marshall Sisson to restore the castle including the re-instatement of the glazing bars to all the sash windows. Cost: £35 (£25 students).

New Book | The Mansion House, Dublin

Posted in books, on site by Editor on April 12, 2016

Published by Four Courts Press:

Mary Clark, ed., The Mansion House, Dublin: 300 Years of History and Hospitality (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2015), 180 pages, ISBN: 978-1907002199, €25 / $65.

SetRatioSize745550-clark-mansion-houseDublin’s Mansion House is the only mayoral residence in Ireland and is older than any surviving in Great Britain. Originally the town house of merchant and property developer Joshua Dawson, it was purchased by the Dublin City Assembly in April 1715 and since then has been the home of each lord mayor during their term of office. This is the first major work on the Mansion House and includes essays on its history, architecture, and antique furnishings, along with an account of one year in the residence, which gives a vivid picture of how the building is used.

Mary Clark is the Dublin City Archivist and is curator of the Dublin Civic Portrait Collection. Fanchea Gibson is the Administrator of the Mansion House and oversees the day-to-day running of the mayoral residence. Nicola Matthews is architectural Conservation Officer with Dublin City Council and her research interests include the historic fabric of Merrion Square. Susan Roundtree was Senior Executive Architect with Dublin City Council and was responsible for the care and conservation of the Mansion House. Patricia Wrafter is Senior Executive Council and is responsible for the historic furnishings of the Mansion House.

Royal Collection Trust Announces £37-Million ‘Future Programme’

Posted in museums, on site by Editor on April 7, 2016


Windsor Castle, Upper Ward Quadrangle panoramic view, with the State Entrance shown in the center (Wikimedia Commons: Diliff, 4 November 2006).

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For anyone who has ever been bewildered by the plan and circulation route at Windsor, this is excellent news! The State Apartments will make much more sense with the alignment of the visitor’s entrance and the State Entrance (pictured under the clock in the photo above). The project also serves as a useful reminder that the palace today looks like the ‘perfect’ medieval castle largely because of renovations undertaken by George III and even more so by George IV in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. CH

Press release from The Royal Collection Trust (5 April 2016). . .

The Royal Collection Trust today announced a £37-million investment at Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse to fund a series of projects that will transform the experience of visitors. Collectively known as Future Programme, the projects will deliver significant improvements to the way visitors are welcomed on arrival, interpret the buildings in new ways, create dedicated Learning Centres and open up new spaces to the public. Work will begin on site in 2017 and is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2018. Both palaces will remain open to visitors throughout the development.

Windsor Castle and Holyroodhouse have been royal palaces since the 12th century and have welcomed visitors for hundreds of years. Today they are official residences of Her Majesty The Queen and in full use as the setting for State Visits, Investitures and Garden Parties. One and a half million people visit the palaces each year, enjoying these historic buildings and the great works of art from the Royal Collection.

At Windsor Castle, Future Programme will
• Increase public access to the ground floor of the State Apartments, incorporating the State Entrance into the visit and for the first time opening up the 14th-century Undercroft to the public as the Castle’s first café
• Reinstate the Castle’s Georgian Entrance Hall, creating a proper sense of arrival and linking the current visitor entrance on the North Terrace with the State Entrance on the south side of the Castle
• Introduce new interpretation and a choice of thematic routes through the State Apartments, replacing the current single, linear route
• Create a dedicated Learning Centre to enable more schoolchildren, families and adults to engage with the Palaces and Royal Collection first hand

At the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Future Programme will
• Introduce new interpretation in the State Apartments, exploring the rich history of the Palace, from its foundation by King David I in the 12th century and occupation by Mary, Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie, to the role of the Palace today
• Introduce a new Family Room inside the Palace, and restore the interiors of the Abbey Strand buildings, just outside the Palace gates, creating a Learning Centre within them
• Include plans to make more of the Palace’s outside spaces, in partnership with Historic Environment Scotland, including the Abbey, the grounds and Forecourt, re-connecting the Palace to the city

Funded by The Royal Collection Trust from admissions to the official residences of The Queen and associated retail income, Future Programme is part of the continuing investment by the charity in the presentation and interpretation of the royal palaces and the Royal Collection. Future Programme is the most significant investment by The Trust since the creation of The Queen’s Galleries at Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which opened to the public in 2002.

Today’s announcement coincides with the appointment of the architectural practices Purcell and Burd Haward Architects as the Lead Designers for Future Programme at Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse respectively.

Jonathan Marsden, Director, Royal Collection Trust, said, “Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh’s royal palace, are two of the most important historic buildings in Britain and home to some of the greatest works of art. Future Programme represents an important investment to enhance everyone’s enjoyment of the Palaces and the Royal Collection and to deliver the best-possible experience of visiting these royal residences.”

Andrew Clark, Chairman, Purcell, said, “It is a great privilege to be appointed as Lead Designer for Future Programme at Windsor Castle. We are excited to be part of the work which will celebrate this royal residence, improve the presentation of the spectacular collections on display there, and transform the experience of visiting this wonderful historic building for the hundreds of thousands of people who do so each year.”

Catherine Burd, Director, Burd Haward Architects, said, “We are delighted to be appointed Lead Designer for Future Programme at the Palace of Holyroodhouse and to be working with Royal Collection Trust across a number of projects that will enable this hugely important building and the works of art on display there to be better understood and enjoyed by all.”

Sir Neil Cossons OBE, former Chairman, English Heritage and a member of the Master Plan Steering Group for Windsor Castle, said, “Windsor Castle is the most important—and perhaps best-known—secular building in England. Twenty years after the completion of the exemplary restoration work following the near-catastrophic fire in 1992, this new investment will introduce an outstanding programme of improvements to increase everyone’s understanding of the Castle and all that it represents as part of the nation’s history, and their enjoyment of the spectacular works of art from the Royal Collection.”

Ian Rankin OBE, author and a member of the Master Plan Steering Group for the Palace of Holyroodhouse, said, “As an Edinburgh resident and a visitor to the Palace of Holyroodhouse (often in the role of amateur guide for visiting friends), I am delighted that there are to be significant developments with the onus on education and information. This will prove invaluable, I hope, to visitors, no matter how much (or how little) they already know or think they know!”

Capability Brown Festival 2016 Marks Designer’s 300th Birthday

Posted in anniversaries, conferences (to attend), on site by Editor on March 14, 2016


Blenheim Palace

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Press release for the Festival, which includes events throughout the year:

Capability Brown Festival 2016

The Capability Brown Festival 2016 is the first-ever nationwide celebration of the work of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (1716–1783). It marks the 300th anniversary of his birth in August 1716. The Festival unites 19 partner organisations, in the UK’s largest festival of its kind to date. It is funded with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, with additional match funding, and funding in kind, from the Festival’s partners and supporters. The Festival is managed by the Landscape Institute.

Richard Cosway, Portrait of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, ca.1770–75 (Private Collection/Bridgeman Images)

Richard Cosway, Portrait of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, ca.1770–75 (Private Collection/Bridgeman Images)

The Festival has two key strands. The first is about increasing audiences and public access to the sites Brown worked or advised on. People will be able to explore and engage with Brown’s legacy landscapes, features and houses. The Festival will encourage as many Brown sites as possible to open in 2016, including those not ordinarily open to the public, and will support site owners and guardians in interpreting their landscapes for visitors. The second strand of the project is to discover more about Brown’s work and how he created his amazing landscapes and management systems with the tools available in the eighteenth century. Researchers, volunteers, independent groups and individuals, universities and sites themselves are being encouraged to undertake research projects on Brown and his work. This will be collated and shared through exhibitions, websites, social media and a range of events.

The Capability Brown Festival 2016 will
• Celebrate Capability Brown as an artist and landscape designer
• Encourage an increased number of people and a more diverse audience to visit, learn about and enjoy Brown’s landscapes
• Commission a range of interesting and innovative projects to encourage sites and people to get involved across the country
• Encourage a greater appreciation of our designed landscape heritage.

stowe_mapTo achieve this the Festival project team will
• Offer a comprehensive programme of support to owners of Brown sites, aiming to open as many as possible during Festival year, including those not normally open to the public
• Develop a network of hub sites across England to support and engage the Brown sites in their area or region
• Work with sites, with a special focus on those in urban areas and those commissioned to run projects, to bring Brown to new audiences
• Interpret all or as many sites as possible, using research by volunteers who will be trained and supported by the Festival
• Use media, PR, partner and central communication opportunities to promote understanding of Brown’s art and design influence
• Stimulate new research, and create a definitive record of Brown sites
• Ensure that the Festival’s findings, research and learning resources are accessible to as many people as possible, and share learning as it develops through a programme of regional seminars
• Engage volunteers in all aspects of the 2016 celebrations.

Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown changed the face of eighteenth-century England, designing country estates and mansions, moving hills and making flowing lakes and serpentine rivers. Brown was baptised on 30 August 1716 at Kirkharle, Northumberland, the fifth of the six children of William Brown, a yeoman farmer and Ursula, née Hall, who had worked in the big house on the Kirkharle estate. He went to the village school at Cambo, and then began work as a gardener at Kirkharle, leaving in 1739. In 1741 he reached Stowe, Buckinghamshire where he rapidly assumed responsibility for the execution of both architectural and landscaping works in the famous garden. It was at Stowe in 1744 that Brown married Bridget Wayet, with whom he eventually had nine children. While at Stowe, Brown also began working as an independent designer and contractor and in autumn 1751, shortly after Cobham’s death, he was able to move with his family to the Mall, Hammersmith, the market garden area of London. His nickname of ‘Capability’ is thought to have come from his describing landscapes as having ‘great capabilities’.

Brown’s style derived from the two practical principles of comfort and elegance. On the one hand there was a determination that everything should work, and that a landscape should provide for every need of the great house. On the other his landscapes had to cohere and look elegant. While his designs have great variety, they also appear seamless owing to his use of the sunk fence or ‘ha-ha’ to confuse the eye into believing that different pieces of parkland, though managed and stocked quite differently, were one. His expansive lakes, at different levels and apparently unconnected, formed a single body of water as if a river through the landscape, that like the parkland itself, ran on indefinitely. This effortless coherence is taken for granted today in a way that was predicted in his obituary: ‘where he is the happiest man he will be least remembered, so closely did he copy nature his works will be mistaken’.

Brown offered a number of different services to his clients: for a round number of guineas, he could provide a survey and plans for buildings and landscape, and leave his client to execute his proposal; more frequently he provided a foreman to oversee the work, which would be carried out by labour recruited from the estate. Even in 1753, when he opened his account with Drummond’s Bank, Brown was employing four foremen and by the end of the decade he had over twenty foremen on his books. Finally, he could oversee and refine the work himself, usually by means of visits for a certain number of days each year. He also practiced architecture, and during the 1750s contributed to several country houses, including Burghley House, Blenheim, Chatsworth and Harewood. However, his architecture played second fiddle to his ‘place-making’. In 1764 he was appointed to the gardens of Hampton Court, Richmond and St James’s, and he then moved to Wilderness House, Hampton Court.

Brown had suffered from asthma all his life, and his habit of the constant travel, together with his practice of not always charging for work (he would sometimes allow his client to determine the value of what he had done and seems frequently to have submitted plans and surveys without a bill), did affect both his health and finances. He continued to work and travel however until his sudden collapse and death on February 6th, 1783. He died at his daughter Bridget Holland’s house in London, but was buried at Fenstanton, in Cambridgeshire, the only place he is known to have owned property and where he became Lord of the Manor.

Brown is best remembered for landscape on an immense scale, constructing not only gardens and parkland, but planting woods and building farms linked by carriage drives, or ‘ridings’, many miles from the main house. Although his work is continually reassessed, every landscape gardener and landscape architect since, both in Britain and across the developed world, has been influenced in one way or another by Brown. Over two centuries have passed since his death, but such are the enduring qualities of his work that over 150 of the 260 or so landscapes with which he is associated remain worth seeing today. The images that Brown created are as deeply embedded in the English character as the paintings of Turner and the poetry of Wordsworth.

Founding Partners
The Landscape Institute
The National Trust
The Historic Houses Association (HHA)
English Heritage
Historic England
The National Garden Scheme
The Gardens Trust
The National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies (NADFAS)
Parks & Gardens UK

Festival Partners
Blenheim Palace
The Royal Horticultural Society
Bridgeman Images
The Embroiderers’ Guild

Festival Supporter
The Georgian Group

Festival Funder
Heritage Lottery Fund

Redwood Library Acquires Collection of Early Modern Architecture Books

Posted in on site, resources by Editor on February 18, 2016


Redwood Library and Athenaeum in Newport, Rhode Island, with Harrison’s Mirror mounted on the front pediment of the 1750 building, designed by Peter Harrison; the mirror was one element of the installation exhibition To Arrive Where We Started by Peter Eudenbach (July 2012 — July 2013).

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From Art Daily (17 February 2016) . . .

The Redwood Library and Athenaeum—a hybrid historic site, museum, rare book repository, and the oldest continuously operating lending library in America (1747)—has acquired a comprehensive collection of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British architecture books and building manuals from the antiquarian bookseller Charles Wood. Comprising 53 titles, the collection deepens the Library’s already significant holdings of material devoted to early modern architecture and design, one of its cornerstone collecting areas. The acquisition was made possible by a grant from the B.H. Breslauer Foundation, as well as from donations from a number of local and national benefactors.

newport-2-“By virtue of what the Redwood is—the country’s oldest public Neo-Classic structure and a touchstone of the nation’s architectural patrimony—we are duty bound to remain a center for the study of early American architecture,” said Benedict Leca, Executive Director of the Redwood Library. “This collection dovetails perfectly with our existing holdings, notably the Cary Collection of supremely rare eighteenth-century pattern books, and exemplifies our commitment to the scholarly interpretation of our own building and those of colonial Newport.”

Newport’s historic center of learning and a designated national landmark, the Redwood Library has been serving New England and beyond as a resource supporting the range of intellectual pursuit for nearly three hundred years. In a city especially known today as a hub of historic preservation, garden design and place making, the Redwood endures as a locus of research in these domains through a constellation of related collections, making this acquisition especially pertinent.

The Redwood’s Newport Collection, an indispensable trove when researching Newport and Aquidneck Island, comprises over 5,000 books and hundreds of archives and manuscripts. The Doris Duke Preservation Collection focuses on New England colonial and nineteenth-century architecture, with an emphasis on the preservation and restoration of both the exterior architectural structure, including windows, doors and moldings, and on interior decorative elements, such as wallpaper and textiles. The Dorrance Hamilton Gardening Collection currently holds over 500 titles of landscape architecture, classic ‘how-to’ guides by important historic designers, such as Geoffrey Jellicoe and Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, as well as a number of discerning treatments of historic world gardens. The Cynthia Cary Collection, collected over decades by Mr. and Mrs. Guy Fairfax Cary, Sr., contains nearly 200 fifteenth- to mid-nineteenth-century English and continental pattern books of furniture, decoration, and ornament. All of these collections are a resource for scholars from all over the world, and continue to grow through the acquisition of primary works and authoritative scholarly titles.

“This outstanding collection is particularly noteworthy as it is a blend of builder’s manuals on one hand, and of illustrated, so-called gentlemen’s folios on the other,” specified Benedict Leca. “It gives us a window not only on period building techniques, but also on the diffusion of architectural knowledge, its styles and fashions, by way of some real rarities. The Scamozzi Mirror of Architecture, for example, was often used practically by builders and thus literally consumed; for this reason it rarely survives complete. Of appeal to the connoisseur rather than the builder is a very rare suite of nine copperplate engravings of Chinese lattice designs by William Halfpenny, with the only two other known copies at the British and Avery libraries.”

Further highlights from the collection include a number of rare manuals and pamphlets, including Henry Cook’s Patent artificial slate manufactory (1786), one of only three copies listed in the National Union Catalog (NUC); Abraham Fletcher’s The Universal Measurer (1766), one of only six copies on OCLC; and The Rudiments of Architecture or the Young Workman’s Instructor (1775), one of only two known copies, the Redwood’s having an eighteenth-century Boston provenance. The folios include a copy of the now scarce pattern book produced by Abraham Swan, The British architect or the builder’s treasury of stair-cases (1765?); and Christopher Wren Jr’s Parentalia: or memoirs of the family of Wrens (1750), an exceptional copy complete with the often-missing mezzotint frontis portrait of Wren.

Study Day | Exploring Lee Priory: A Child of Strawberry Hill

Posted in conferences (to attend), lectures (to attend), on site by Editor on January 28, 2016

Lee Priory Banner

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From Eventbrite:

Exploring Lee Priory: A Child of Strawberry Hill
Taddington Manor, Taddington, Near Cutsdean, Gloucestershire, 1 March 2016

Organized by Peter Lindfield

This study day, based at Architectural Heritage, Taddington Manor, Gloucestershire, explores the architecture of James Wyatt (1746–1813), the most famous architect of late Georgian Britain. The day will feature talks by experts on the architecture, interiors and furniture by James Wyatt, including the development of his architecturally-aware Gothic style at Lee Priory, Kent, before his most famous house, Fonthill Abbey, Wiltshire.

The relationship between Lee Priory and the most famous Gothic Revival house in Georgian Britain, Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill, will also be addressed. The conservator who worked on Strawberry Hill and a second, previously unknown, room saved from Lee Priory before its demolition in 1953, will speak about Wyatt’s work.

The highlight of the day will be the close examination of the second surviving room from Lee Priory, the Library Ante-Chamber. This room is currently for sale and the study day offers perhaps the last chance to be able to get up close and examine, under the guidance of experts, one of the most exciting Wyatt-related discoveries of the recent past.

Registration (£25) includes lunch and refreshments at Taddington Manor. Please do not hesitate to get in contact with the organiser, Dr Peter N. Lindfield, at: peter.lindfield@stirling.ac.uk. At time of booking, please advise of dietary or access requirements. Tuesday, 1 March 2016 from 10:30 to 16:30.

Exhibition | Reading, Writing, and Publishing Black Books

Posted in exhibitions, on site by Editor on January 18, 2016


Interior of the African Meeting House in Boston, completed in 1806,
as restored by Shawmut to its 1855 state.

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As noted at History of the Book at Harvard:

Freedom Rising: Reading, Writing, and Publishing Black Books
African Meeting House, Museum of African American History, Boston, 8 January 2015 — May 2016

The Museum of African American History’s Black Books exhibition and complementary programming examine historical and cultural implications of learning to read and write, as well as publishing the works of free and formerly enslaved African American voices. Free black communities from Boston and beyond began sharing books, newspapers, periodicals, poems, and other writings to advance campaigns for freedom from the Colonial period through the 19th century and for personal expression and enjoyment. These pioneering wordsmiths continue to inspire gifted writers to use their published works as agents for social change. To celebrate their passion for free speech and draw parallels across the ages, Black Books places 18th- and 19th-century African American authors from the Museum’s collection of rare books in dialogue with more contemporary works. The exhibit and programs feature a wide array of selected genres, including poetry, fiction, autobiography, medicine, military experience, sociology, and music. Lead partners: National Park Service, Boston African American National Historic Site and Suffolk University’s Mildred F. Sawyer Library, where the Museum’s book collection is housed.

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From a November 2011 press release, celebrating the restoration and reopening of the African Meeting House:

The African Meeting House, built and opened in 1806, is the oldest extant African American church building in the nation constructed primarily by free black artisans. Over more than 200 years, this three-story brick structure has served diverse communities in Boston, as a church, school, and vital meeting place in the 1800s, and a synagogue in the 20th century. In 1967, Sue Bailey Thurman, wife of the Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman, founded the Museum of African American History, which acquired the African Meeting House in 1972. This National Historic Landmark is the crown jewel in the Museum’s collection of historic sites on Boston’s Beacon Hill and Nantucket. . . .

The Museum of African American History is New England’s largest museum dedicated to preserving, conserving and accurately interpreting the contributions of people of African descent and those from Boston and across the nation who found common cause with them in the struggle for liberty, dignity, and justice for all. Founded in 1967 and opened in 1986, its Boston and Nantucket campuses feature two Black Heritage Trails and four historic sites; three are National Historic Landmarks. They tell the story of organized black communities from the Colonial Period through the 19th century. Exhibits, programs, and educational activities showcase the powerful history of individuals and families who worshipped, educated their children, debated the issues of the day, produced great art, organized politically, and advanced the cause of freedom through a strategic network of Northern coastal communities. . . .