Enfilade

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)

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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.

New Resource | Russian Books of the 18th Century

Posted in resources by Editor on August 17, 2022

Атлас российской, состоящей из девятнадцати специальных карт представляющих Всероссийскую империю… / Atlas rossiiskoi, sostoiashchei iz deviatnadtsati spetsial’nykh kart predstavliaiushchikh Vserossiiskuiu imperiiu… / (Atlas of Russia, consisting of nineteen special maps representing the All-Russian Empire), 1745. Link»

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Thanks to Margaret Samu for noting this new digital collection. The examples of particular titles are her selections, underscoring the range of books included. CH

As noted several days ago at H-SHERA (Society of Historians of Eastern European, Eurasian, and Russian Art and Architecture). . .

The Slavic Reference Service at the University of Illinois has just announced the publication of a new digital collection: Russian Books of the 18th Century, which is now freely available on Internet Archive.

This collection is an ongoing project to make all of the books listed in Svodnyi katalog russkoi knigi grazhdanskoi pechati XVIII veka digitally available. It is designed to be used in tandem with the catalog: each item is cross-referenced with its entry number and transliterated title for easy access. We hope this will be a more convenient option for finding 18th-century Russian books than its microform predecessor. There are currently over 400 items uploaded, with our eventual goal being to have the full contents of the catalog online. Digitized books have been curated from the Russian National Electronic Library (RusNEB).

From the Internet Archive. . .

Russian Books of the 18th Century is a newly available collection of books printed in Russia from 1725 to 1801 based on the Union Catalogue of Russian 18th-Century Civil Typeface Books (Svodnyi katalog russkoi knigi grazhdanskoi pechati XVIII veka). Most titles were curated from the impressive digitization project, Natsional’naia Elektronnaia Biblioteka, operated by the Russian State Library in Moscow. This collection is curated by the Slavic Reference Service (SRS) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and is open to all researchers. Items are cross-referenced with Svodnyi katalog entry numbers and ALA-romanized titles. Descriptions contain a truncated version of the item’s listing in Svodnyi katalog. Users can use the ‘Search this collection’ function to search by entry number, title, and author in Latin or Cyrillic letters.

The ‘civil type’ refers to the new, simplified typeface introduced by Peter the Great in 1708, intended for secular publications, replacing the earlier Church Slavonic. Some titles are original Russian works, others are texts translated from European languages, while still others appear in bilingual editions, such as this Allegorical Imagery of Fireworks in Honor of Her Imperial Highness Elizaveta Petrovna in Russian and German.

Other notable books:

The Life and Deeds of Marcus Aurelius (1740), link»

• A 1745 atlas with maps, link»

The Adventures of Chevalier de ***. A True Story, by Jean-Baptiste de Boyer, marquis d’Argens (1772), link»

Theoretical and Practical Arithmetics, by D. S. Anichkov (1775), link»

Online Conference | Periodization of the History of Art

Posted in conferences (to attend), online learning, resources by Editor on May 25, 2022

From ArtHist.net:

Le parole della periodizzazione della storia dell’arte: Epoche, stili, maniere nei testi di guidistica e storiografia del Seicento e del Settecento
Online / Palazzo Barberini, Roma, 25–27 May 2022

Le giornate di studio Le parole della periodizzazione della storia dell’arte: epoche, stili, maniere nei testi di guidistica e storiografia del Seicento e del Settecento si inseriscono all’interno delle attività di ricerca sulla storiografia artistica e sul lessico dell’arte che da molti anni sono condotte presso il Dipartimento di studi letterari, filosofici e di storia dell’arte dell’Università degli studi di Roma “Tor Vergata” sotto il coordinamento del prof. Carmelo Occhipinti. Questi incontri sono incentrati sull’esame di una o più parole, attestate negli scritti d’arte tra XVII e XVIII secolo, con particolare riguardo alla focalizzazione delle epoche della storia della pittura, scultura e architettura, ovvero alla percezione delle maniere e delle rispettive fasi di sviluppo, e alla caratterizzazione stilistica delle opere ad essa riferite.

Alle giornate di studio seguirà una tavola rotonda conclusiva e per l’occasione sarà presentato il progetto «Titi Online», edizione digitale delle guide romane di Filippo Titi (1639–1702) incluse nello scaffale elettronico di Horti Hesperidum, unitamente ad altri testi tra i quali si segnalano quelli di Francesco Scannelli, Luigi Scaramuccia, Giovan Battista Passeri e Lione Pascoli.

L’accesso è regolamentato nel rispetto delle norme di prevenzione del contagio disposte dalla legge. Per accedere è necessario indossare la mascherina. Per partecipare via TEAMS: https://bit.ly/3vKiQBe

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9.30  Carmelo Occhipinti (Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata’), Saluti e introduzione alla giornata di studi

9.40  Damiano Delle Fave (Università degli Studi di Roma ‛Tor Vergata’), Presentazione

9.50  Carmelo Occhipinti (Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata’), Periodizzazione e prospettive storiografiche tra Sei e Settecento

10.10  Session 1
Chair Maria Giulia Aurigemma
• Paolo Pastres (Storico dell’arte), Scuola pittorica: un concetto ambiguo
• Chiara Dominioni (Università degli studi di ‛Roma Tre’), Il lessico d’arte nel Discorso sopra la pittura (1776) di Giovanni Battista Giovio
• Daniela Caracciolo (Università degli Studi del Salento), «Le varie maniere de’ Pittori, o antichi, o moderni». Concetti di storia, origine e progresso nelle Vite di De Dominici
• Ilaria Serati (Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e la Cultura della Compagnia di San Paolo), La periodizzazione storiografica delle Vite de’ pittori, scultori e architetti bergamaschi (1793) di Francesco Maria Tassi: cause metodologiche di un’assenza
• Francesca Daniele (Università degli Studi di Padova), Il concetto di “patina” pittorica nella letteratura artistica veneziana del Seicento

12.10  Pausa pranzo

13.10  Session 2
Chair Cristiano Giometti
• Mariaceleste Di Meo (Università degli Studi di Udine), Il concetto di “ordine” per Baldinucci: cronologia e storiografia nei primitivi delle Notizie
• Francesco Freddolini (Università degli Studi di Roma ‘La Sapienza’), Filippo Baldinucci, Gian Lorenzo Bernini e la “tenerezza” del marmo
• Chiara Carpentieri (Università degli Studi di Firenze), Il concetto di “pittoresque”: sfumature e usi nella letteratura artistica francese del XVIII secolo
• Violeta Kovalenko (Università degli Studi di Roma ‘La Sapienza’), “Vigor piccante da fissar lo sguardo”. Riflessioni sulla ricezione del rilievo in pittura nel Settecento

14.50  Coffee Break

15.10  Session 3
Chair Carmelo Occhipinti
• Eliana Monaca (Università degli Studi di Roma ‛Tor Vergata’), La nozione di “riforma” nella letteratura artistica di Sei e Settecento. Alcuni esempi a partire dal Microcosmo della pittura di Francesco Scannelli
• Maria Giulia Cervelli (Università degli Studi di Roma ‛Tor Vergata’), Un «mirabile giardino fiorito»: le epoche della storia dell’arte ne Le Finezze de’ pennelli italiani di Luigi Scaramuccia
• Marina Cafà (Università degli Studi di Roma ‛Tor Vergata’), La nozione del “ben inteso misto” nelle Vite di Lione Pascoli, con uno sguardo al passato
• Emanuela Marino (Università degli Studi di Roma ‛Tor Vergata’), Attestazioni e uso dei termini “barbaro” e “gotico” nella letteratura artistica di Sei e Settecento. Alcuni esempi
• Lucrezia Lucchetti (Università degli Studi di Roma ‛Tor Vergata’), Il “Gotico” nella storiografia inglese del Settecento tra Hogarth, Reynolds e Ramsay

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14.10  Session 4
Chair Francesco Grisolia
• Floriana Conte (Università degli Studi di Foggia), “Età”: la storia dell’arte in volgare coincide con la vita delle opere
• Marco Massoni (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa), Il lessico artistico nelle fonti giuridico-agiografiche: il caso delle Positiones dei Servi di Maria
• Nadia Raimo (Università degli Studi di Genova), L’evoluzione del linguaggio dell’arte nel patrimonio genovese: analisi delle guide e diari di viaggio
• Luca Pezzuto (Università degli Studi dell’Aquila), Stefania Ventra (Università ‘Ca’ Foscari’ di Venezia), Fachinademie e capoccioni «innalzati con non più intese iperboli alle stelle». La Roma di primo Settecento negli scritti polemici di Lodovico Antonio David pittore ticinese

15.50  Coffee Break

16.10  Session 5
Chair Claudio Castelletti
• Paolo Bertoncini Sabatini (Università degli Studi di Pisa), Il “carattere” dell’architettura secondo Quatremère de Quincy: il “più, il meno e il medio” dell’ordre nell’Encyclopédie Méthodique Architecture (1788)
• Elisa Bastianello (Bibliotheca Hertziana), «Della Basilica di Vicenza Opera moderna non inferiore all’antiche romane»: Vicenza romana e palladiana negli scritti di Ortensio Zago (1654–1737)
• Elena Granuzzo (Università ‘Ca’ Foscari’ di Venezia), “Gusto”, “manierismo” e “natura” nella periodizzazione della storia dell’architettura: Le Vite di Tommaso Temanza

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15.00  Tavola rotonda aperta al pubblico
Palazzo Barberini, Sala conferenze

Introduce
• Carmelo Occhipinti (Università degli Studi di Roma ‛Tor Vergata’)

Intervengono
• Damiano Delle Fave (Università degli Studi di Roma ‛Tor Vergata’)
• Eliana Monaca (Università degli Studi di Roma ‛Tor Vergata’)
• Maria Giulia Cervelli (Università degli Studi di Roma ‛Tor Vergata’)
• Stefano Pierguidi (Università degli Studi di Roma ‘La Sapienza’)
• Raffaella Morselli (Università degli Studi di Teramo)
• Maria Giulia Aurigemma (Università degli Studi ‛Gabriele d’Annunzio’ di Chieti-Pescara)
• Alessandro Zuccari (Università degli Studi di Roma ‘La Sapienza’)
• Marzia Faietti (Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut)

Convegno promosso da
• Horti Hesperidum
• Università degli Studi di Roma ‛Tor Vergata’
• Gallerie Nazionali Barberini Corsini
• MANT (Nuove tecnologie per la comunicazione, il cultural management e la didattica della storia dell’arte: per una fruizione immersiva e multisensoriale dei Beni Culturali)

Curatela scientifica
• Damiano Delle Fave (Università degli Studi di Roma ‛Tor Vergata’)

Comitato scientifico
• Carmelo Occhipinti (Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata’)
• Barbara Agosti (Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata’)
• Eliana Carrara (Università degli Studi di Genova)
• Alessandro Zuccari (Università degli Studi di Roma ‘La Sapienza’)
• Marzia Faietti (Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut)

Resource | New Decorative Arts Calendar Unveiled

Posted in resources by Editor on January 20, 2022

From the press release (12 January 2022):

The Decorative Arts Trust Launches ‘Events in the Field’

The Decorative Arts Trust invites institutions to submit decorative arts programs and welcomes participants to browse listings on the new Events in the Field online calendar. Events in the Field, at eventsinthefield.com, features scholarly programs from dozens of art and history organizations. The calendar’s goal is to serve as a resource for those seeking to promote or find virtual or in-person decorative arts opportunities, from lectures and panel discussions to workshops and conferences.

“The Events in the Field initiative reinforces our effort to serve as a partner for the full breadth of the decorative arts community,” shares Matthew A. Thurlow, Executive Director of the Trust. “Whether you are a dedicated collector of 18th-century porcelain or an undergraduate student seeking an introduction to this field of study, Events in the Field will feature a range of opportunities that might not appear elsewhere. We are happy to provide this service to the field and hope the calendar will offer an opportunity to promote the excellent programs developed by colleagues from coast to coast.”

The generous 2022 Events in the Field sponsor is The Magazine Antiques, which celebrates its centennial this year.

The Decorative Arts Trust is a non-profit organization that promotes and fosters the appreciation and study of the decorative arts through exchanging information through domestic and international programming; collaborating and partnering with museums and preservation organizations; and underwriting internships, research grants, and scholarships for graduate students and young professionals. Learn more about the Trust at decorativeartstrust.org.

Call for Papers | Close Encounters: The Low Countries and Britain

Posted in books, Calls for Papers, resources by Editor on January 9, 2022

Jacob Jordaens, A Maidservant with a Basket of Fruit, and Two Lovers, detail, 1629–35
(Glasgow: Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum)

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From the RKD:

Close Encounters: Cross-Cultural Exchange between the Low Countries and Britain, 1500–1800
RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History, The Hague, 22 September 2022

Proposals due by 1 March 2022

The risks and challenges of migration are of compelling interest today. Over the last thirty years, research on early modern artists’ migration and on cultural exchange between the Low Countries and Britain has advanced rapidly, and has addressed many themes. The Dutch and Flemish artists’ communities in London, and the careers of individual artists at the English/British and Scottish courts, in particular, have received attention, as has the history of the collecting of Netherlandish art in the UK.

Gerrit van Honthorst, King Charles I, 1628 (London: NPG).

On 22 September 2022, a symposium at the RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History will mark the launch of the heavily annotated and illustrated digital English language version of Horst Gerson’s chapter on ‘England’ from his Ausbreitung und Nachwirkung der holländischen Malerei des 17. Jahrhunderts of 1942 (The Dispersal and Legacies of Dutch 17th-Century Painting). For historians of Dutch 17th-century painting, in 1942, Gerson’s study of the integration of Dutch art in Britain was largely uncharted territory, although earlier British art historians, including Horace Walpole and C.H. Collins Baker, had been well aware of the involvement of Netherlandish migrants and visitors in art in the British Isles. The launch of the translated and annotated version of Gerson’s text marks the perfect occasion to discuss, contextualize, and rethink his original ideas in the light of present and developing knowledge.

The organizers welcome unpublished contributions on a broad range of areas relating to Dutch and Flemish artists, artisans and art production in Britain. These include: painting, drawing, graphic arts, tapestry, sculpture and architecture, collecting and the art market, as well as the contribution of Dutch and Flemish migrants to many forms of material culture.

Papers will be 20 minutes long, and might address the following themes and questions:
• Fresh approaches to the careers of practitioners from the Low Countries at the English/British and Scottish courts, and in UK urban centres (including monographic studies).
• How did those courts and urban centres function as hubs of cross-cultural exchange between individuals, and of production?
• Less-studied works by Dutch and Flemish artists and artisans who were active in Britain between 1500 and 1800.
• What were the workshop practices and techniques employed by Dutch and Flemish artists and artisans in Britain, and how did these inter-act with local artistic traditions and impact on technical and art literature?
• What were the social networks and professional relationships that linked and supported Netherlandish and British makers, art dealers and collectors?
• What was the market for Dutch and Flemish artistic goods in Britain, and how did it develop over time?

Please submit a preliminary title, abstract (max. 300 words) and a short CV to Angela Jager (jager@rkd.nl) and Rieke van Leeuwen (leeuwen@rkd.nl) before 1 March 2022. Speakers will be notified by 1 April 2022. Selected presentations will be considered for publication.

Close Encounters will be a hybrid symposium to allow for national and international COVID-19 restrictions. Speakers and attendees may choose whether to participate in person or online. For those presenters who decide to come to The Hague, travel and accommodation expenses will be covered (in consultation with the organization).

Academic Committee
Karen Hearn (University College London), Angela Jager (RKD), Sander Karst (University of Amsterdam), Rieke van Leeuwen (RKD), David A.H.B.Taylor (Independent; previously National Trust and National Galleries Scotland) and Joanna Woodall (Courtauld Institute of Art, London)

Online Publication | Gerson Digital

Posted in books, resources by Editor on January 9, 2022

Published online and freely accessible by the Netherlands Institute for Art History, the RKD (Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie) . . .

Gerson Digital — Dispersal and After-Effect of Dutch Painting of the 17th Century

The series of Gerson Digital is a translated, critically annotated, and illustrated edition of Horst Gerson’s Ausbreitung und Nachwirkung der holländischen Malerei des 17. Jahrhunderts (Dispersal and After-Effect of Dutch Painting of the 17th Century, 1942/1983), supplemented with new articles on artistic exchange and transnational mobility of artists from the Low Countries in the early modern period. So far, the following volumes have been published:

1  Gerson Digital: Poland (2013/2014)
2  Gerson Digital: Denmark (2015)
3  Gerson Digital: Germany I (2017/2018)
4  Gerson Digital: Germany II (2018)
5  Gerson Digital: Italy (2019)
6  Masters of Mobility (2020)

 

ECCO for BSECS Members

Posted in resources by Editor on January 9, 2022

Gale is delighted to announce a partnership with the British Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies (BSECS). This partnership provides free access to Gale’s Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) for all non-affiliated members of the society. From 1 February 2022, any member of BSECS without an existing affiliation to a UK or Ireland higher education institution will be able to apply for access to this seminal resource at no cost.

Visit the Gale Blog for more details on the partnership with BSECS.

Information for ASECS members in North America accessing ECCO is available here»

Resource | Black Craftspeople Digital Archive

Posted in on site, resources by Editor on December 17, 2021

Peter Bentzon, Teapot, 1817–29, Philadelphia, silver and wood (Washington, DC: Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, 2010.14). Born in the early 1780s in the West Indies, Peter Bentzon was a free man of color. He apprenticed as a silversmith in Philadelphia and then traveled to St. Croix where he opened his own silver shop. In 1817, Bentzon returned to Philadelphia and continued to work as an independent silversmith.

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Press release (14 December 2021) from The Decorative Arts Trust:

The Decorative Arts Trust is pleased to announce that the Black Craftspeople Digital Archive (BCDA) has been named the 2021 recipient of the Prize for Excellence and Innovation.

Founded in 2019, the BCDA brings together scholars, students, museums, and archives professionals and the public to collaborate and spread the story of Black craftspeople. To date, blackcraftspeople.org includes archival information and a searchable map with information about 960 black craftspeople involved in 45 trades in the South.

The BCDA originally began as a project by Dr. Tiffany Momon, inspired by her research into John ‘Quash’ Williams, an enslaved and later free Black master carpenter responsible for the carpentry and joinery work on the c. 1750 Charles Pinckney Mansion in Charleston, South Carolina. Tiffany now serves as the BCDA Founder and Co-Director with Dr. Torren Gatson as BCDA’s Co-Director and Publications and Special Projects Director.

Prize funding will support the BCDA Object Database, which will provide scholarship documenting the ancestry, historical timelines, and narratives of these craftspeople within the context of the larger decorative arts field.

The BCDA Instagram account is available here»

In addition to the BCDA’s award, The Trust was able to provide funding to two other finalists. Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens will receive a grant to underwrite the stipend of a research fellowship for the William J. Hill Texas Artisans and Artists Archive devoted to seeking objects that represent a broader range of the state’s cultural history. The Historic Albany Foundation will receive a grant to develop a series of workshops with the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands as part of the preservation and adaptive reuse of the Van Ostrande-Radliff House.

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The Decorative Arts Trust Prize for Excellence and Innovation was established in 2019 to recognize scholarly endeavors to advance the public’s appreciation of decorative arts, fine arts, architecture, or landscape design. The Trust is eager to highlight a broad range of projects–by no means restricted to digital database projects–and encourages institutions pursuing innovative initiatives of all types to submit nominations, which are accepted through June 30 annually.

The Decorative Arts Trust is a non-profit organization that promotes and fosters the appreciation and study of the decorative arts through exchanging information through domestic and international programming; collaborating and partnering with museums and preservation organizations; and underwriting internships, research grants, and scholarships for graduate students and young professionals.

Exhibition | The Abyss: Nantes and the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1707–1830

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions, resources by Editor on December 3, 2021

L’abîme: Nantes dans la traite atlantique et l’esclavage colonial, 1707–1830 as installed at the Musée d’histoire de Nantes (Photo by David Gallard). The graphic elements on the wall and the floor are taken from an eighteenth-century document, signed by participants in the slave trade, that depicts La Marie Séraphique, a slave ship that in 1769 transported 312 captives to Cap-Français.

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Now on view at the Musée d’histoire in Nantes (there is also a Google Arts & Culture site, “Nantes and the Atlantic Slave Trade,” with related objects from the museum).

The Abyss: Nantes’s Role in the Slave Trade and Colonial Slavery, 1707–1830
L’abîme: Nantes dans la traite atlantique et l’esclavage colonial, 1707–1830
Musée d’histoire de Nantes, Château des ducs de Bretagne, 16 October 2021 to 19 June 2022

Curated by Krystel Gualdé

Plan, Profile, and Layout of the Ship ‘The Séraphique Marie’ of Nantes, outfitted by Mr Gruel, for Angola, under the command of Gaugy, who dealt in Loango . . ., 1770 (Musée d’histoire de Nantes).

Still today, historians are unable to agree on the number of victims resulting from the transatlantic slave trade. With so many documents missing, it is impossible to arrive at an exact figure; and yet, the difference in final totals does not vary in terms of tens or hundreds or thousands—but in millions. How can a phenomenon so tragic and fundamental divide those who study it to such a degree? It would appear that the number, as staggering as it may be, does not explain the problem sufficiently. Moreover, what would we ultimately know if we arrived at a definite number? Would we know how many men, women, and children died during the wars and raids that led to their captivity? Would we have a better idea of how an entire city and its surrounding region could justify using the colonial system and slave trade as a means to accumulate unprecedented wealth? Would we be able to imagine the close ties between the transatlantic slave trade and the early Industrial Revolution? Would we understand, if only for an instant, how horrible it must have been to no longer be autonomous, to stop being considered human and be relegated to the status of a material good, to disappear without leaving any trace or memory? The exhibition provides an opportunity to hold the collections of the Musée d’histoire up to the light, revealing the invisible but ever-present traces of the men and women who were victims of the colonial system. Beyond the economic and commercial perspective commonly offered, this exhibition reveals the complex reality of a city so deeply involved in the slave trade.

Krystel Gualdé, est directrice scientifique du Musée d’histoire de Nantes et du Mémorial de l’esclavage. Spécialiste de la traite atlantique et de l’esclavage colonial, elle engage le musée dans de nombreux partenariats et réseaux scientifiques au niveau national comme international (Conseil d’orientation de la Fondation pour la mémoire de l’esclavage ; Projet SLAFNET – Slavery in Africa: A Dialogue between Europe and Africa). Elle est par ailleurs membre du Global Curatorial Project porté par le Center for the Study of Global Slavery at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) et le Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice à l’université Brown aux Etats-Unis.

Krystel Gualdé, L’abîme: Nantes dans la traite atlantique et l’esclavage colonial, 1707–1830 (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes), 320 pages, ISBN: 978-2906519794, 30€.

A preview of the book is available here»

The dossier de presse is available here»

 

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