Enfilade

AWA’s Conservation of Ferroni’s Pair of Hospital Paintings

Posted in the 18th century in the news, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on January 4, 2021

An aerial view of conservators in their studio with Saint John of God Heals Plague Victims (1756) by Violante Ferroni; its pendant Saint John of God Feeds the Poor is also being conserved. Photo by Francesco Cacchiani / Advancing Women Artists.

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On Saturday, Sylvia Poggioli reported for NPR on the work of AWA (Advancing Women Artists), including the conservation now in progress of Violante Ferroni’s two large oval canvases, painted for Florence’s San Giovanni di Dio, a former hospital founded in the fourteenth century: “‘Where Are The Women?’: Uncovering The Lost Works of Female Renaissance Artists,” NPR Weekend Edition (2 January 2021). Last month, Alexandra Kiely wrote on Ferroni’s pictures for Daily Art Magazine: “Healing Violante Ferroni’s Paintings at San Giovanni di Dio Hospital.” And the latest issue of the AWA newsletter includes an interview with conservator Elizabeth Wicks, who in the May issue shared these thoughts:

Elizabeth Wicks, “‘The Art of Healing’ Becomes Literal” Inside AWA (May 2020): 54–59.

In October 2019, we began conservation work on the first painting of our project ‘The Art of Healing’, Violante Ferroni’s large oval canvas painted in 1756 and entitled St. John of God Heals Victims of the Plague. . . When we learned that the monumental atrium of the former hospital where the painting is situated had been used as a place of triage for plague victims, it seemed like a calamity from a faraway era, disconnected from our more fortunate present-day lives. Now that we are fighting a global war against a virus, defined as a ‘modern-day plague’, my connection to the figures in the painting has become a deeply emotional one. I have never been surer about the power of art to connect and heal us all (54).

A conversation with AWA director Linda Falcone and Elisabeth Wicks is available on YouTube: “Restoration Conversations: Art Rescue in Progress” The Florentine (13 November 2020).

Conservator Elisabeth Wicks at work in her studio in Florence. Photo by Francesco Cacchiani / AWA 

Turner on the Twenty, Replacing Adam Smith

Posted in the 18th century in the news by Editor on March 12, 2020

As reported several weeks ago by Simon Read for BBC News (20 February 2020) . . .

You’ll soon no longer find Adam Smith in your wallet or purse. The economist has been replaced as the face of the £20 note by artist JMW Turner. . . . It includes two see-through windows and a two colour foil to help beat forgers. . . . The new £20 is the third plastic banknote to be issued by the Bank of England after the fiver featuring Winston Churchill—launched in 2016—and the tenner featuring Jane Austen, which was first issued in 2017. It replaces the paper one featuring Adam Smith which has been in circulation since 2007.

The portrait is based on Turner’s ca. 1799 Self-Portrait now part of the Tate Collection.

Site of Cook’s ‘Endeavour’ Likely Identified

Posted in the 18th century in the news by Editor on September 21, 2018

HM Bark Endeavour Replica in Darling Harbour, Sydney
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons, 30 September 2013)

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As reported by Matthew Knott for The Sydney Morning Herald (19 September 2018) . . .

Marine archaeologists believe they have finally identified the resting place of HMB Endeavour, the ship James Cook commanded to Australia on his first voyage of discovery, an achievement that would solve one of the greatest maritime mysteries of all time.

The breakthrough has raised hopes the remains of the vessel will be excavated next year, in time for the 250th anniversary of Cook’s arrival in Australia. The ship is historically significant to many countries—including the US, Britain, New Zealand and Australia—and its excavation could spark a battle over where the wreckage should be housed. The Rhode Island state government claimed official ownership of the fleet of shipwrecks including Endeavour in 1999, suggesting Australian officials would have to negotiate for any remnants to be brought to Australia.

The breakthrough, to be officially announced on Friday, follows an arduous 25-year search for the historic ship off Newport, Rhode Island, on the north-eastern coast of the US. . .

The full article is available here»

Inches or centimeters?

Posted in the 18th century in the news by Editor on January 1, 2018

A New Year’s Resolution (the sort that I regularly make and rarely keep) . . . This object seems like a perfect way to introduce my (largely) American students to the utility of the metric system in thinking about the sizes of works of art in centimeters rather than inches. Yes, I realize this is specifically a measure of weight rather than distance, but it nicely takes the story back to the 1790s.

To all of you who keep reading, warmest wishes for a very happy 2018!CH

As reported by Joe Palca for NPR’s All Things Considered (28 December 2017). . .

This 1793 grave is an early version of the kilogram. It is possible this object, now owned by the National Institute of Standards and Technology museum in Gaithersburg, MD, was once pirate treasure.

Jefferson knew about a new French system and thought it was just what America needed. He wrote to his pals in France, and the French sent a scientist named Joseph Dombey off to Jefferson carrying a small copper cylinder with a little handle on top. It was about 3 inches tall and about the same wide.

This object was intended to be a standard for weighing things, part of a weights and measure system being developed in France, now known as the metric system. The object’s weight was 1 kilogram.

Crossing the Atlantic, Dombey ran into a giant storm.

“It blew his ship quite far south into the Caribbean Sea,” says [Keith] Martin, [of the research library at the National Institute of Standards and Technology].

And you know who was lurking in Caribbean waters in the late 1700s? . . .

The pirates took Joseph Dombey prisoner on the island of Montserrat, hoping to obtain a ransom for him. Unfortunately for the pirates, and for Dombey as well, he died in captivity. The pirates weren’t interested in the objects Dombey was carrying. They were auctioned off along with the rest of the contents of his ship. . . .

Would it really have made any difference if Dombey had been able to deliver his kilogram to Jefferson?

“We don’t know for sure, but it seems like there was a missed opportunity there,” says Martin. . .

The full article is available here»

2017 Georgian Group Architectural Awards

Posted in the 18th century in the news by Editor on December 30, 2017

From The Georgian Group:

From the Instagram account of Lowther Castle, 28 December 2017.

The Georgian Group’s annual Architectural Awards, generously sponsored by Savills, took place at the RIBA on 30 November 2017. The Awards, now in their fifteenth year, recognise exemplary conservation and restoration projects in the UK and reward those who have shown the vision and commitment to restore Georgian buildings and landscapes. This year we were pleased to welcome Dr John Goodall as chair of the judging panel and presenter of the Awards. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, Patron of the Georgian Group, graciously provided the introduction to the Awards by means of a video message recorded at Dumfries House.

Selected Awards
Restoration of a Georgian Landscape: Lowther Castle, Cumbria
Restoration of a Country House: Pitshill House, West Sussex
Restoration of a Georgian Interior: Marchmont House, Berwickshire
Restoration of a Georgian Town House: 14 Fournier Street, London
Diaphoros Prize: Reads Cutlers, 4 Parliament Street, Dublin, Ireland

Details for winners and commended sites are available here»

Searching for Wrecked Slaving Ships

Posted in the 18th century in the news by Editor on August 21, 2017

The House of Slaves (Maison des Esclaves) with the narrow door, the Point-of-no-return, through which slaves were loaded onto ships bound for the Americas, visible in the center. The building opened as a museum in 1962. Photo by Robin Elaine (3 September 2004), Wikimedia Commons.

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As reported by AFP, via Art Daily (20 August 2017). . .

Staring out to sea [off the coast of Dakar] on a flawlessly sunny day, underwater archaeologist Ibrahima Thiaw visualises three shipwrecks once packed with slaves that now lie somewhere beneath Senegal’s Atlantic waves. He wants more than anything to find them.

Thiaw has spent years scouring the seabed off the island of Gorée, once a west African slaving post, never losing hope of locating the elusive vessels with a small group of graduate students from Dakar’s Cheikh Anta Diop University. Gorée was the largest slave-trading centre on the African coast between the 15th and 19th century, according to the UN’s cultural agency UNESCO, and Thiaw believes his mission has a moral purpose: to heal the open wounds that slavery has left on the continent.

“This is not just for the fun of research or scholarship. It touches us and our humanity and I think that slavery in its afterlife still has huge scars on our modern society,” he said, pulling on a wetsuit and rubber boots for the day’s first dive.

Thiaw believes his native Senegal, with its own long and violent history of trade in human flesh, could tell the world more about how modern capitalism was founded on violence inflicted on African bodies. . . .

Thiaw, who originates from a rural area of Senegal but went on to study in the United States [earning a PhD from Rice University], had become known for his research into slaves’ living conditions on Goree island when he was approached three years ago by the US National Park Service and National Museum of African American History and Culture to find a west African base for their ‘Slave Wrecks Project‘. . . .

The trio of wrecks Thiaw seeks—the Nanette, the Bonne Amitie, and the Racehorse—all disappeared off Gorée in the 18th century, taking with them crucial evidence of how enslaved Africans were carried across the harrowing Middle Passage. . . .

The full article is available here»

Kevin Sieff reported on the project for The Washington Post (20 August 2017), available here»

Excavating the VOC ‘Rooswijk’, a 1740 Shipwreck

Posted in on site, the 18th century in the news by Editor on August 21, 2017

Pewter tankard found in the wreck of the Rooswijk, which sank in 1740
© Historic England/RCE

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As reported by AFP, via Art Daily (20 August 2017) . . .

Maritime archaeologists said Friday they have begun excavating the wreck of a Dutch ship that sank off the English coast in 1740, recovering leather shoes, silver and the bones of its lost crew. The Rooswijk, a Dutch East India Company ship, was on its way to what is now Jakarta when it went down with around 300 people and a large cargo of silver ingots and coinage aboard.

Following its discovery in 2005, most of the precious goods were removed, but a full excavation is now underway due to concerns it could be destroyed by shifting sands and currents.

Remains of some of the sailors who perished have been found preserved on the seabed 26 metres (85 feet) down, along with more coins, leather shoes, an oil lamp, glass bottles, pewter jugs and spoons, and ornately carved knife handles.

“It’s a snapshot of a moment in time,” said Alison James, a maritime archaeologist at Historic England, while one her colleagues said it was like “an underwater Pompeii.” . . .

The project is the largest of its scale on a ship from the Dutch East India Company [the VOC], which lost a total of 250 vessels to shipwreck—of which only a third have been located.

Reporting by Sarah Gibbens for National Geographic is available here»

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Discovered: New Parchment Copy of the Declaration of Independence

Posted in the 18th century in the news by Editor on April 22, 2017

A parchment manuscript of the Declaration of Independence, believed to date from the 1780s and held in the West Sussex Record Office in England
(West Sussex Record Office Add Mss 8981)

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For me, this discovery is particularly interesting in terms of the process: knowledge of the Sussex copy grew out of Dr. Danielle Allen’s creation in 2015 of the online resource the Declaration Resource Project. Allen was, incidentally, awarded a MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant in 2001, when she was part of the Department of Classical Languages & Literatures at The University of Chicago. CH

From The New York Times:

Jennifer Schuessler, “A New Parchment Declaration of Independence Surfaces. Head-Scratching Ensues,” The New York Times (21 April 2017).

In a bit of real-life archival drama, a pair of scholars [Danielle Allen and Emily Sneff] are announcing a surprising discovery: a previously unknown early handwritten parchment of the Declaration, buried in a provincial archive in Britain. The document is the only other 18th-century handwritten parchment Declaration known to exist besides the one from 1776 now displayed at the National Archives in Washington. It isn’t an official government document, like the 1776 parchment, but a display copy created in the mid-1780s, the researchers argue, by someone who wanted to influence debate over the Constitution. . . .

Its subtle details, the scholars argue, illuminate an enduring puzzle at the heart of American politics: Was the country founded by a unitary national people, or by a collection of states? “That is really the key riddle of the American system,” said Danielle Allen, a professor of government at Harvard, who discovered the document with a colleague, Emily Sneff. . . .

The new discovery grew out of the Declaration Resources Project, which Ms. Allen, the author of the book Our Declaration, created in 2015 as a clearinghouse for information about the myriad versions—newspaper printings, broadsides, ornamental engravings—that circulated in the decades after independence. So far, the project’s database counts some 306 made between July 4, 1776, when Congress commissioned a broadside from the Philadelphia printer John Dunlap, and 1800. (The parchment ‘original’ at the National Archives was in fact signed in early August 1776, nearly a month after independence.) . . .

The full NY Times article is available here»

An article by Allen and Sneff describing the Sussex copy and addressing its significance is in preparation for publication in Papers of the Bibliographic Society of America; the article is available for download from the Declaration Resources Project.

From the Declaration Resources Project:

Danielle Allen is a political theorist who has published broadly in democratic theory, political sociology, and the history of political thought. Widely known for her work on justice and citizenship in both ancient Athens and modern America, Allen is the author of The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens (2000), Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown v. Broad of Education (2004), Why Plato Wrote (2010), and Our Declaration (2014), and co-editor with Rob Reich of Education, Justice, and Democracy (2013) and with Jennifer Light of From Voice to Influence: Understanding Citizenship in a Digital Age (2015). She is a Chair of the Mellon Foundation Board, past Chair of the Pulitzer Prize Broad, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and American Philosophical Society.

Emily Sneff is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University with a passion for historical research, content development, and curation. Before joining the Declaration Resources Project, Emily was a member of the curatorial team at the American Philosophical Society Museum for two exhibitions on Thomas Jefferson: Jefferson, Philadelphia, and the Founding of a Nation in 2014, and Jefferson, Science, and Exploration in 2015.

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Note (added 3 May 2017) — Danielle Allen, in an OpEd for The Washington Post, offers a compelling defense of the National Endowment for the Humanities in connection with the discovery of the Sussex copy of the Declaration of Independence. The essay is available here»

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Hermione Voyage 2015

Posted in anniversaries, the 18th century in the news by Editor on June 5, 2015

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From the Hermione Voyage 2015 website:

Twenty years ago, a small group dreamed of reconstructing an exact replica of General Lafayette’s 18th-century ship called the Hermione. Today, the majestic vessel is the largest and most authentically built Tall Ship in the last 150 years. The Hermione has set sail in France, launching an adventure that comes to the USA in the summer of 2015 for an unprecedented voyage.

In April 2015, after a period of sea trials and training in 2014, the Hermione set sail for the USA. The journey started from the mouth of the River Charente, in Port des Barques, where Lafayette boarded on March 10th, 1780. The transatlantic crossing was expected to take 27 days in total, before making landfall at Yorktown, Virginia.

As the Hermione moves up the Eastern seaboard, it will be accompanied by a range of pier side activities. These include in some ports a traveling exhibition and a heritage village that will be accessible to the public. The Hermione Voyage 2015 is part of an expansive outreach program with cultural events, exhibitions, and educational programs that celebrate the trip and mark its progress. A robust digital activation for the voyage expands the reach of the project to millions of people.

 

Wedgwood Appeal: Donate to Save the Collection

Posted in museums, the 18th century in the news by Editor on September 5, 2014

From Save the Wedgwood Collection:

Josiah Wedgwood, The First Day's Vase, c.1769 (Wedgwood Museum Trust)

Josiah Wedgwood, The First Day’s Vase, c.1769 (Wedgwood Museum). Inscribed ‘artes Etruriae renascuntur’ (‘the arts of Etruria are reborn’).

The Wedgwood Collection, one of the most important industrial archives in the world and a unique record of over 250 years of British art, is under threat of being separated and sold off.

The Art Fund now has the opportunity to purchase it for the nation intact, provided the final £2.74m of a total £15.75m fundraising target can be raised by 30 November 2014. This is the only chance to keep the collection in one piece and on public display, preserving this unique record of British history and global commerce.

The collection is the major asset of the Wedgwood Museum Trust, which inherited £134m of pension debt as a result of the UK subsidary of Waterford Wedgwood Plc going into administration in 2009. The debt transferred from company to Trust because the two had been linked through a shared pension fund. Although the Pension Protection Fund (PPF)—the industry body set up by the government to compensate individual pensioners in the event of a company insolvency—will absorb the liability, it has a duty to claw back as much as it can from sale of assets.

In December 2011 the High Court ruled that the Wedgwood Collection was indeed an asset of the Wedgwood Museum Trust that should be sold in order to repay some of the debt owed, and in March 2012 the Attorney General upheld this ruling. Since then, the Art Fund and other partners have looked at all options to prevent the Collection from being broken up and sold on the open market. However, after exploring several avenues, all parties have now agreed that the only option is for the Art Fund to raise the necessary funds to purchase the Collection on behalf of the nation. In order to protect the Collection from ever being at risk again, if the money can be raised, the Art Fund plans to gift it to the Victoria & Albert Museum, the national museum of art and design. Without needing to move it, but with its ownership secure in perpetuity, the V&A intends to assign it on long-term loan to the Wedgwood Museum at Barlaston, which will lie at the heart of a major new visitor experience as part of Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton’s (WWRD) £34m redevelopment of the site—set for completion in spring 2015.

The Art Fund has launched an appeal to raise the full £15.75m needed for the purchase, in order to keep this irreplaceable Collection together and on display. Thanks to major support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund and a number of private trusts and foundations, over £13m has already been raised. The campaign has until 30 November to find the remaining £2.74m necessary to purchase—and save—the Collection.

The future of the remarkable Wedgwood Collection has never looked brighter—provided the funds can be raised.

Donate to the appeal online or text WEDGWOOD to 70800 to give £10.

Mark Brown’s coverage for The Guardian (1 September 2014) is available here»

A. N. Wilson’s essay “Wedgwood: The Legacy Must Live On” appears in the Autumn 2014 issue of Art Quarterly and is also available at Save the Wedgwood Collection (4 September 2014).