In the News | ‘Prize Papers’ in UK’s National Archives

Posted in resources, the 18th century in the news by Editor on March 13, 2023

Photograph from The Prize Papers Project.

◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊

From The NY Times (and Art Daily) . . .

Bryn Stole, “Long-Lost Letters Bring Word, at Last,” The New York Times (9 March 2023). Researchers are sorting through a centuries old cache of undelivered mail that gives a vivid picture of private lives and international trade in an age of rising empires.

In a love letter from 1745 decorated with a doodle of a heart shot through with arrows, María Clara de Aialde wrote to her husband, Sebastian, a Spanish sailor working in the colonial trade with Venezuela, that she could “no longer wait” to be with him.

Later that same year, an amorous French seaman who signed his name M. Lefevre wrote from a French warship to a certain Marie-Anne Hoteé back in Brest: “Like a gunner sets fire to his cannon, I want to set fire to your powder.”

Fifty years later, a missionary in Suriname named Lene Wied, in a lonely letter back to Germany, complained that war on the high seas had choked off any news from home: “Two ships which have been taken by the French probably carried letters addressed to me.”

None of those lines ever reached their intended recipients. British warships instead snatched those letters, and scores more, from aboard merchant ships during wars from the 1650s to the early 19th century. . . .

Poorly sorted and only vaguely cataloged, the Prize Papers, as they became known, have now begun revealing lost treasures. Archivists at Britain’s National Archives and a research team at the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg in Germany are working on a joint project to sort, catalog, and digitize the collection, which gives a nuanced portrait of private lives, international commerce, and state power in an age of rising empires. The project, expected to last two decades, aims to make the collection of more than 160,000 letters and hundreds of thousands of other documents, written in at least 19 languages, freely available and easily searchable online. . . .

The full article is available here»

◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊

From The Prize Papers Project:

The objects in the Prize Papers Collection were impounded by the High Court of Admiralty of the English and later British Royal Navy between 1652 and 1817, and they are now held by The National Archives of the UK.

The Prize Papers were collected a result of the early modern naval practice of prize-taking: capturing ships belonging to hostile powers, dealing severe blows to their military, political and economic capabilities. This practice had its heyday in the 17th and 18th centuries, and so the collection proves a fascinating insight into the formative period of European colonial expansion. . . .

The practice of prize-taking resulted in a vast, extraordinary and partly accidental archive of the early modern world, contains documents from more than 35,000 captured ships, held in around 4088 boxes and 71 printed volumes. The Prize Papers Collection includes at least 160,000 undelivered letters intercepted on their way across the seas, many of which remain unopened to this day. These are accompanied by books and papers on all manner of legal, commercial, maritime, colonial, and administrative matters, often embellished with notes and doodles. Documents in at least 19 different languages have been identified so far, and more languages are likely to be discovered as the project progresses. Alongside this written material is a variety of small miscellaneous artifacts, including jewelry, textiles, playing cards, and keys.

◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊

In June 2022, the project published the first of the Prize Papers from the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–48), with papers from ten French ships.

The project has a YouTube site with a handful of video presentations, including a fascinating session on letterlocking.

Call for Contributions | Antiquitatum Thesaurus Blog

Posted in Calls for Papers, opportunities, resources by Editor on February 17, 2023

From ArtHist.net, which includes the call in German as well:

Antiquitatum Thesaurus Blog
Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities

Antiquitatum Thesaurus is the youngest research project hosted at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW). The project investigates drawings and prints of the 17th and 18th centuries based on artefacts from antiquity, and links them with the ancient objects that they document as well as with other evidence of their reception in a digital repository. In addition, we are interested in establishing a platform for an ongoing exchange of information to complement and enrich the database and the digital environment.

Cataloguing the graphic material and the connected artefacts, numerous questions arise, further research areas open up, and interesting connections emerge that cannot always be discussed in depth within the framework of a fixed and preset input mask of a database.

We are very keen to build a long lasting and fruitful contact with the academic community through
• the research tools we make available in our database by cataloguing the graphic material and artefacts represented, and for which we would appreciate your feedback
• an academic dialogue and exchange by blog entries

For our blog section, we are looking for writers interested in contributing essays written to show individual insights and expertise on a specific topic. Blogs are a great way to generate fresh content; they are quick and easy to assimilate, thought provoking, able to generate academic discussion, to take stock of a situation, to give a precise answer to an open question, and much more. In addition, blogs offer the authors the opportunity to introduce themselves to the academic community and draw attention to their websites, academic interests, research fields, and possibly help to establish contacts for cooperation.

Blog contributors could cover one of the following topics, though other proposals are welcome as well:
• methodological approaches in dealing with graphic arts (drawings and prints) in their documentary value
• insights into collectors or personalities involved in either collecting ancient artefacts or exchanging graphic materials
• short reports on ongoing research related to the interests and research areas of Antiquitatum Thesaurus
• short reports on comparable projects dealing with digital humanities
• new finds and discoveries

Some simple guidelines
• Blog postings should be no less than 700 and no more than 2,000 words in length and should contain essential references.
• Postings can include illustrations (no more than 10) provided with captions and rights cleared for website use.
• We would appreciate the provision of links to bibliography (DOI), digital copies and websites (permalink).
• Languages: German, English, Italian, French.

To better evaluate the content of postings and coordinate their sequence, we ask for short proposals first. If you are interested in providing a guest contribution for the Antiquitatum Thesaurus blog page, please send us your application by completing the submission form available at our website. Blog proposals can be submitted at any time to thesaurus@bbaw.de.

Podcast | 18th-Century Dining with Ivan Day

Posted in resources by Editor on February 5, 2023

From Spotify:

Neil Buttery and Ivan Day, “18th-Century Dining with Ivan Day,” The British Food History Podcast, Season 5 (22 January 2023), 43 minutes.

Martha Bradley, The British Housewife (1760). From Ivan Day’s Instagram account.

For this episode, Neil’s guest is esteemed food historian Ivan Day. Ivan is a social historian of food culture and a professional chef and confectioner. He has contributed to dozens of TV and radio programmes over the years. He is the author of numerous books and papers on the history of food, and he has curated major exhibitions on food history in the UK, US, and Europe. This special episode compliments Neil’s upcoming book, a biography the 18th-century cookery writer Elizabeth Raffald. Ivan kindly invited Neil into his home to talk about all things 18th-century dining: ostentatious coronation feasts; the rise of female food writers, including Elizabeth Raffald; market gardens; the presentation of food at the table; jelly; flummery moulds; authenticity; and the practicalities of spit roasting—how crockery, cutlery and, well, the whole dining experience changed going into and out of the 18th century.

Information on Day’s courses for October, November, and December, offered through The School of Artisan Food, is available here»

Forthcoming from Pen and Sword History:

Neil Buttery, Before Mrs Beeton: Elizabeth Raffald, England’s Most Influential Housekeeper (Barnsley: Pen and Sword History, 2023), 224 pages, ISBN: 978-1399084475, £20 / $40.

Handling Session | Hausmaler at the V&A

Posted in lectures (to attend), resources by Editor on February 3, 2023

Saucer, made at the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory, ca. 1720–25 and then painted by an unknown ‘hausmaler’ painter, ca. 1720–30
(London: Victoria and Albert Museum, C.218A-1938)

◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊

A good reason to join The French Porcelain Society:

Hausmaler at the V&A
Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 23 February 2023

The French Porcelain Society’s handling session examining German Hausmalerei—faïence and porcelain painted in small workshops outside their factories (Hausmaler, ‘home painter’)—from the V&A collection will take place on Thursday, 23 February, in the morning. The session will be led by Simon Spier, Curator of Ceramics and Glass 1600–1800, and Errol Manners. Numbers will be limited, and the cost is £25, with a reduced rate available for emerging scholars. If interested, please contact FPS administrator Kelsey Weeks, FPSmailing@gmail.com.

Call for Collaborators | The Digital Piranesi

Posted in online learning, opportunities, resources by Editor on January 8, 2023

View of the Flavian Amphitheatre, called the Colosseum (Veduta dell’Anfiteatro Flavio detto il Colosseo), from Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s Opere, volume 1 of 29 (Paris: Firmin Didot, 1837–39). Piranesi’s original copper plates were used for this posthumously published collection; this specific print comes from a complete set of volumes at the University of South Carolina, home to The Digital Piranesi project.

◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊

From the Call for Participants:

Essay Contributors for The Digital Piranesi
Applications due by 1 March 2023

Digital art history, word-image studies, architectural history, and book history meet in The Digital Piranesi, a developing digital humanities project devoted to the complete works of Giambattista Piranesi (1720–1778). With funding from the Kress Foundation, six collaborators will be invited to contribute to the project. Following an introductory in-person workshop in Columbia, South Carolina, in late Summer 2023, regular virtual meetings through Summer 2024 will be dedicated to writing brief, impactful scholarly essays about each image in the first volume of his Roman Antiquities / Le Anthichità Romane (1756). Travel and accommodation will be supported by grant funds.

Each image of the first volume of the Roman Antiquities appears with original annotations and (in metadata) English translations here.

Please send a CV and one-page statement detailing qualifications, experience, and interest to Jeanne Britton at jbritton@mailbox.sc.edu by 1 March 2023. Inquiries are welcome.

The Digital Piranesi has received generous support from the NEH Division of Preservation and Access, the Kress Foundation, and, at the University of South Carolina, the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Center for Digital Humanities, the Magellan Scholar Program, the Maners-Pappas Endowment, the Humanities Collaborative, and the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.

Institutional Membership, New York Society Library

Posted in resources by Editor on January 4, 2023

From the SHARP-L listserv (14 December 2022) . . .

The New York Society Library offers e-memberships for those interested in access to its collection of 20+ electronic resources, including JSTOR, Project Muse, the America Founding Era Collection (papers and correspondence from several 18th-and early 19th-century figures), back issue archives for The TLS, The New York Review of Books, and the London Review of Books, various Oxford University Press databases (including the The Grove Dictionary of Art and the Oxford DNB), American National Biography, and many more. For leisure reading, the Library also offers databases of popular e-books and magazines (The Economist, The New Yorker, Harper’s, thousands more). Assistance with research questions is available by emailing the Reference Desk.

The E-membership costs $100 / year.

E-memberships also include 10 building visits annually, with access to the quiet study spaces and reading rooms in our beautiful, landmark Italianate building. (The membership does not include circulating privileges for the print collection or access to individual study rooms.)

The New York Society Library was founded in 1754 as a membership library. Various membership options provide circulating privileges from our collection of 300,000 volumes in open stacks, electronic resources, reading and study spaces, member-only events, and more. The Library is open to all for reading, reference, and many events. More information on e-memberships is available here: https://www.nysoclib.org/members/e-memberships.


UK’s National Trust Launches the Cultural Heritage Magazine

Posted in resources by Editor on December 27, 2022

Published between 2006 and 2022, the National Trust’s Arts, Buildings, and Collections Bulletin (ABC Bulletin) was replaced this fall by the Cultural Heritage Magazine. Recent issues of ABC Bulletin can still be downloaded here, and earlier issues can be requested by emailing the ABC Bulletin team. The first issue of Cultural Heritage Magazine includes the following note of welcome from NT Director-General, Hilary McGrady:

Building on the success of the National Trust Arts, Buildings & Collections (ABC) Bulletin, the Cultural Heritage Magazine will be the place to explore the work of the Trust’s cultural heritage teams in depth, with a broad range across curation, conservation, research, and beyond. It will also share shorter features, including interviews and photo essays, aimed at giving a deeper insight into the work being undertaken on cultural heritage within the Trust. In addition to the opening ‘Briefing’ pages, which share news of forthcoming cultural heritage events and publications, there are also regular sections on new acquisitions to the Trust’s collections, loans to major new exhibitions (in the spring issue), and research and conservation project round-ups. The magazine will be published twice a year, in spring and autumn, and is available to download from the Trust website. You can also ask to be added to the mailing list to receive it direct to your inbox by emailing chm@nationaltrust.org.uk. . . .

The full welcome is available here»

Front cover: Giant Leaf Verdure, ca.1540–50, Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire, NT 1129595 (Photo: National Trust Images/Leah Band).

Decorative Arts Trust Announces Failey Grant Recipients for 2023

Posted in opportunities, resources by Editor on December 15, 2022

The British and Irish Furniture Makers Online (BIFMO) project researches makers such as Giles Grendey, whose 1735–40 card table is in The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection; lacquered and gilded beech, lined with felt (New York: The Met, Gift of Louis J. Boury, 1937, 37.114).

◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊

From the press release:

The Decorative Arts Trust announced that the 2023 Dean F. Failey Grant recipients will be British and Irish Furniture Makers Online (BIFMO) in London, England; The Center for Painted Wall Preservation (CPWP) in Hallowell, Maine; Preservation Long Island (PLI) in Cold Spring Harbor, New York; and Stenton in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Failey Grant program provides support for noteworthy research, exhibition, publication, and conservation projects through the Dean F. Failey Fund, named in honor of the Trust’s late Governor. Preference is given to projects that employ or are led by emerging professionals in the museum field. Failey Grant applications are due October 31 annually.

Anne Reckless Emlen, Shellwork grotto, 1757, Philadelphia (Stenton, The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania).

BIFMO will hire interns to research immigrant tradespeople in New York City, Philadelphia, Annapolis, and Baltimore under the guidance of BIFMO managing editor Laurie Lindey, digital editor Jonathan Blaney, and BIFMO project manager Adriana Turpin.

CPWP will develop a virtual museum of historic painted interiors under the direction of project coordinators Margaret Gaertner and Linda Carter Lefko.

PLI will produce the book Promoting Long Island: The Art of Edward Lange, 1870–1889, edited by PLI curator Lauren Brincat and PLI curatorial fellow Peter Fedoryk with essays from these editors as well as from Jennifer L. Anderson, Thomas Busciglio-Ritter, Sarah Kautz, and Joshua Ruff.

Stenton, a historic house museum administered by The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, will conserve a 1757 shellwork grotto by Anne Reckless Emlen, led by Stenton curator Laura Keim, Stenton curatorial assistant Kaila Temple, and conservator Lara Kaplan.

More information is available here»

Smithsonian Commitments to the Center for the Study of Global Slavery

Posted in exhibitions, museums, resources by Editor on October 17, 2022

Brownell’s recent article for The New York Times highlights priorities of the National Museum of African American History and Culture—as first established under the leadership of Lonnie Bunch, the museum’s founding director, who now oversees the entire Smithsonian Institution—as well as forthcoming projects including the international exhibition In Slavery’s Wake.

Ginanne Brownell, “A Smithsonian Museum Sharpens Focus on the History of Slavery,” The New York Times (14 October 2022). Despite ambivalence from some on the topic, the institution’s latest leader “knew that slavery had to be at the heart of the museum.”

Exterior view of the National Museum of African American History and Culture; Washington, DC (Photo by Alan Karchmer/NMAAHC).

“Every nation is ambivalent about slavery,” said Mr. [Lonnie] Bunch, the first African American to lead the Smithsonian. “The people of color are ambivalent: Is this something to be embarrassed by? Is this something that is better left unsaid? So basically, I knew that slavery had to be at the heart of the museum.”

When the museum [National Museum of African American History and Culture] opened in 2017, so did the Center for the Study of Global Slavery within it. The center’s work focuses on three international collaborative initiatives: the Slave Wrecks Project, the Global Curatorial Project, and the Slave Voyages Consortium.

The Slave Wrecks Project helps coordinate searches for sunken slave ships and works on maritime archaeological research and historical recovery. This month in Senegal, the inaugural Slave Wrecks Project Academy’s cohort of African and diaspora students are being trained in diving and learning about the global slave trade. The center also works with slavevoyages.org to help expand data collection beyond the trans-Atlantic slave trade and is working to broaden research into both the Indian Ocean and inter-American slave trades.

Under the auspices of the Global Curatorial Project, a number of partner institutions—including Liverpool’s International Slavery Museum, Iziko Slave Lodge in Cape Town, and Belgium’s Royal Museum of Central Africa—are in the midst of putting together In Slavery’s Wake, a traveling exhibition that will open first at the museum in Washington in late 2024 and then move to Africa, Europe, and the Americas.

The center will be hosting an event in Lisbon, Portugal in January, with a tentative title Reckoning with Race: The Social Memory of the Slave Trade in Our World, that will aim to bring more public attention to the role that Portugal played in the slave trade. Mr. Bunch will be one of the event’s speakers. . . .

The full article is available here»

Research Seminar | Greg Smith on Girtin and the Artist Catalogue

Posted in books, lectures (to attend), resources by Editor on September 19, 2022

Thomas Girtin, Appledore, from Instow Sands, ca. 1800, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 25 × 47 cm
(London: The Courtauld, D.1952.RW.846)

◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊

From PMC:

Greg Smith | Rethinking the Artist Catalogue for the Online Age: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802)
Paul Mellon Centre, London, 5 October 2022, 6pm

This lecture relates to the publication Thomas Girtin (1775–1802): An Online Catalogue, Archive, and Introduction to the Artist, due to be released on 4 October.

I will begin by outlining the scope of the project and my thinking behind the site’s tri-partite structure and title: An Online Catalogue, Archive, and Introduction to the Artist. Particular attention will be paid to two challenges: how to make a free-to-access site straightforward to use for a non-specialist audience; and then, how best to ensure the future of the site as an academic resource that can develop through the incorporation of new material and research. I will then move on to consider the different sections of the site, beginning with the approximately 1550 catalogue entries that form its core. Emphasis will be placed on the features that distinguish the site from a conventionally published catalogue and why it is that I have studiously avoided using the term catalogue raisonné. I will then look at each of the sections of the Archive, focusing first on the challenge of relating the material to the rest of the site, and then summarising their current status in relation to my ambition to produce a comprehensive if not definitive record of sales, exhibitions and publications, together with extensive transcriptions of all the early biographical accounts and related manuscript material. I will conclude my introduction to the site by looking at some of its inevitable limitations, not least as a challenge to my audience to use it as a resource for the investigation of themes beyond the project’s scope. Book tickets»

Greg Smith is an independent art historian, who has published extensively on the history of British watercolours and watercolourists, as well as landscape artists working in Italy. He has also worked as a curator at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, the Design Museum, London, and the Barber Institute of Fine Art, Birmingham, and has organised exhibitions on the work of Thomas Girtin (Tate Britain), Thomas Jones (National Gallery of Wales), and Thomas Fearnley (Barber Institute of Fine Art). As Senior Research Fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, Greg Smith is developing a major online project: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802): An Online Catalogue, Archive and Introduction to the Artist.

%d bloggers like this: