Enfilade

Napoleon Two Centuries Later

Posted in anniversaries, books, catalogues, exhibitions, the 18th century in the news by Editor on May 10, 2021

Two centuries after his death (the anniversary of which arrived last week on May 5), Napoleon’s legacy remains combustible. From the Musée de l’Armée:

Napoléon n’est plus / Napoleon Is No Nore
Musée de l’Armée Invalides, Paris, 31 March — 31 October 2021

The death of Napoleon I on 5 May 1821—although it went relatively unnoticed in the eyes of the world—was extremely well documented by his companions in exile. Despite the abundance of memories, letters, sketches, relics, and stories, this history nevertheless includes grey areas, uncertainties, contradictions. In this exhibition, we examine the major themes surrounding the death of Napoleon by changing the perspectives. By calling in new scientific disciplines (archaeology, medicine, chemistry) in order to complete already known historical sources and material evidence of this history, the musée de l’Armée provides visitors with all the necessary elements to enable them to conduct the investigation by themselves.

This exhibition is part of the 2021 Napoleon Season organised to celebrate the bicentenary of the Emperor’s death. The musée de l’Armée will present a rich and varied cultural offering evoking the end of Napoleon’s personal adventure, while opening up to the topicality and the current reality of his legacy to the world. . . .

Napoléon n’est plus (Paris: Gallimard, 2021), 296 pages, ISBN: 978-2072931604, 35€.

From the Musée de l’Armée:

Napoleon? Encore!
Musée de l’Armée Invalides, Paris, 7 May 2021 — 13 February 2022

Curated by Éric de Chassey and Julien Voinot

This contemporary art tour evokes the figure of Napoleon as well as his legacy. Thirty contemporary artists received carte blanche to question this symbolic and historical figure.

Echoing the commemorations of the bicentenary of the death of the Emperor, the musée de l’Armée is presenting, for the first time in its history, a contemporary art tour at Les Invalides. The presentation of pre-existing works and specially commissioned orders entrusted to renowned or emerging artists, from France and abroad, evokes the figure of Napoleon as well as the impact of his action in today’s world. Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Napoleon Is No More, the curation of this contemporary tour was entrusted to Éric de Chassey, Director of the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, and Julien Voinot, Collections Manager in the Department of 19th-Century and Symbolic Art of the musée de l’Armée.

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From The New York Times:

Roger Cohen, “France Battles over Whether to Cancel or Celebrate Napoleon,” The New York Times (5 May 2021). President Emmanuel Macron laid a wreath at the emperor’s tomb on the 200th anniversary of his death, stepping into a national debate over the legacy of Napoleon.

Jacques Chirac couldn’t stand him. Nicolas Sarkozy kept his distance. François Hollande shunned him. But on the 200th anniversary this week of Napoleon Bonaparte’s death, Emmanuel Macron has chosen to do what most recent presidents of France have avoided: honor the man who in 1799 destroyed the nascent French Republic in a putsch.

By choosing to lay a wreath Wednesday at Napoleon’s tomb under the golden dome of Les Invalides, Mr. Macron stepped into the heart of France’s culture wars. Napoleon, always a contested figure, has become a Rorschach test for the French at a moment of tense cultural confrontation.

Was Napoleon a modernizing reformer whose legal code, lycée school system, central bank and centralized administrative framework laid the basis for post-revolutionary France? Or was he a retrograde racist, imperialist, and misogynist?

By paying his respects to Napoleon, Mr. Macron will please a restive French right dreaming of lost glory and of a moment when, under its turbulent emperor, France stood at the center of the world. The French obsession with the romantic epic of Napoleon’s rise and fall is undying, as countless magazine covers and talk shows have underscored in recent weeks. But in the current zeitgeist, Napoleon’s decisive role as founder of the modern French state tends to pale beside his record as colonizer, warmonger and enslaver. . . .

The full article is available here»

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Rendering from Pascal Convert of his Memento Marengo as envisioned at Les Invalides in Paris.

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From Apollo Magazine:

Laura O’Brien, “The Celebrity Horse That’s Putting Napoleon in the Shade,” Apollo Magazine (6 May 2021).

On a cold December day in 1840, Napoleon Bonaparte’s body made its final journey through the streets of Paris for reburial at the Dôme church at Les Invalides. Nineteen years after his death on Saint Helena, on 5 May 1821, the former emperor’s remains had been repatriated to France. The procession to Les Invalides included a lone, riderless white horse. In the emotionally charged atmosphere of that day, some witnesses even believed for a moment that this was the emperor’s most famous mount: Marengo.

Now, 200 years after Napoleon’s death, Bonaparte and Marengo are to be reunited, albeit temporarily. As part of Napoleon? Encore!, an exhibition of contemporary art responding to Napoleon’s image and complex legacies [on view from 7 May 2021 to 13 February 2022], the French multimedia artist Pascal Convert has created Memento Marengo: a life-sized, 3D-printed copy of the skeleton of the Arab horse said to have been Napoleon’s favourite—or one of his favourites, at least. Convert had originally hoped to use the real skeleton, which is usually on display at London’s National Army Museum, but its fragility made this impossible. Memento Marengo will hang from the ceiling of the Dôme church, the equine skeleton suspended a few metres above the enormous red quartzite tomb of its ex-master. On 5 May, President Emmanuel Macron placed a wreath of red, white, and blue flowers at the foot of the tomb, as part of the official commemorations—not celebrations, as the Élysée Palace has carefully insisted—of Napoleon’s death. Memento Marengo was not in place during the solemn ceremonies at Les Invalides, but with these now completed, the artwork can be installed ahead of the planned reopening of the museum later this month. . . .

The full article is available here»

Williamsburg Bray School Initiative Launched

Posted in on site, the 18th century in the news by Editor on February 27, 2021

Established in 1760, the Bray School educated enslaved and free Black children in Williamsburg, Virginia. This 1921 photo shows the front elevation of the building, subsequently the Dudley Digges House, in its original location on Prince George Street. The school operated in the building from 1760 until 1765. It is likely the oldest extant building in the United States dedicated to the education of Black children. (Earl Gregg Swem/2010 The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation).

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Press release from Colonial Williamsburg:

A small, white building tucked away on the William & Mary campus once housed the Williamsburg Bray School, an 18th-century institution dedicated to the education of enslaved and free Black children, researchers have determined. Now, the university and Colonial Williamsburg are working together to ensure current and future generations learn about the complex history of what is likely the oldest extant building in the United States dedicated to the education of Black children—and the stories of those who were part of it. The new partnership calls for relocation of the Bray-Digges House to Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area, where it would become the 89th original structure restored by the foundation. It also establishes the Williamsburg Bray School Initiative, a joint venture of the university and foundation to use the site as a focal point for research, scholarship, and dialogue regarding the complicated story of race, religion, and education in Williamsburg and in America.

Dendrochronology analysis of the building’s wood framing in 2020 by Colonial Williamsburg researchers confirms that the structure at 524 Prince George St. once housed Williamsburg’s Bray School, an institution that educated many of the town’s Black children from 1760 to 1774. Suggested for establishment in Williamsburg by Benjamin Franklin, the Bray School’s mission was to impart Christian education to Black children and for students to accept enslavement as divinely ordained.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam was scheduled to join the Williamsburg community for a special event at 5pm Thursday commemorating the history of the Bray School, its rediscovery, and plans for site and interpretation. Due to COVID-19 guidelines, the event was not open to the general public to attend in person but was available virtually via live stream.

“It is hard to overstate the importance of this discovery, of the robust history that will be uncovered through this partnership between William & Mary and Colonial Williamsburg” said William & Mary President Katherine A. Rowe. “So much of our history as a nation has gone unrecorded—the history of African Americans, their oppression, and resistance. By studying the legacy of the Bray School students, we will uncover and illuminate some of the most important impacts of education in the story of America.”

Colonial Williamsburg’s initial work to restore and interpret the Bray School’s historic structure is possible in part thanks to a grant of $400,000 from the Gladys and Franklin Clark Foundation. Cliff Fleet, president and CEO of Colonial Williamsburg, said the project is a critical step toward fostering a broader understanding of Americans’ shared history. The grant from the Clark Foundation will allow Colonial Williamsburg to relocate the structure to the Historic Area, and additional funds will be raised to complete the restoration and interpretive work.

“Colonial Williamsburg and William & Mary’s partnership to research, restore, and interpret the original structure of the Bray School is critical to our ongoing work to uncover our common past and expand our understanding of America’s founding,” Fleet said. “We’re very grateful to the Clark Foundation, whose generous support makes this effort possible. We invite guests, the community, and the nation to join us as we continue to pursue and present a more complete story of all who lived in Williamsburg during the Revolutionary era.”

A Virginia Department of Historic Resources marker commemorating the school’s 18th-century location was unveiled at Brown Hall, a William & Mary residence hall, in early 2019, and Rowe noted that the new joint venture aligns with other William & Mary initiatives that address the institution’s historical involvement with slavery. Construction is to begin this year on Hearth: Memorial to the Enslaved, a monument dedicated to the enslaved individuals who labored at William & Mary, while the Lemon Project is a scholarly and educational initiative that investigates slavery and its legacies— and particularly William & Mary’s involvement in the practice. The Lemon Project takes its name from Lemon, an enslaved worker at William & Mary.

Jody Allen, the Robert Francis Engs Director of the Lemon Project, explained that the Bray School legacy has long been a part of the Lemon Project’s programming. Identification and engagement of descendants of Bray School scholars are among the priorities of the Williamsburg Bray School Initiative. Allen was recently appointed by Governor Northam to Virginia’s Commission to Study Slavery and Subsequent De Jure and De Facto Racial and Economic Discrimination. She said she expects the Bray School Initiative to allow scholars to follow more closely the intriguing line of evidence of a Bray School education having influence that is deep and wide among Williamsburg’s Black population.

“When we talk about the history of slavery and the history of the African American experience at William & Mary, we include the Bray School,” Allen said. “We believe the Bray School not only impacted the children who actually attended the school, but it impacted their descendants. We believe very strongly that they went on to share their knowledge with brothers, sisters, neighbors.”

William & Mary and Colonial Williamsburg are both neighbors, and frequent collaborators. The Bray School has been the object of numerous research initiatives focusing on archival as well as material-culture sources aimed at expanding the collective understanding of history, including the joint archaeological excavation of the historic Bray-Digges House site at Prince George and Boundary streets. Currently, the university and foundation are partners in work led by the city’s Historic First Baptist Church to research and interpret its first permanent site on South Nassau Street. The Bray School partnership will facilitate continued research and interpretation, and a deeper examination of a number of aspects of history through the lens of the Bray School, including perspectives from families whose children attended the school and the motivations of white slaveowners who sent them there.

“Our knowledge of history is not static; it continues to reveal itself through critical work like the investigation of the Bray-Digges House,” said Stephen Seals, a Colonial Williamsburg interpreter, program development manager and community liaison. “The Bray School represents another complex chapter in our nation’s story, and its restoration and interpretation will be critical to our community’s work to foster a more complete understanding of our shared history.”

Nicole Brown, an actor-interpreter and scholar who portrays Colonial Williamsburg Nation Builder Ann Wager, the white teacher at the Williamsburg Bray School, is also a graduate student in William & Mary’s American Studies Program. Currently, Brown is studying the history and impact of the Bray Schools in Williamsburg and beyond. Her work has taken her to Oxford’s Weston Library, where she dove into some 8,000 pages of records of the Associates of Dr. Bray, the London organization that established or tried to establish Bray Schools throughout the New World in Philadelphia, Nova Scotia, and the Bahamas. Brown’s work with Colonial Williamsburg is supported by the Mary and Donald Gonzales Field Experience Fund.

“This research gave me a great deal of insight into Ann Wager and her students. You can learn a great deal about the school based on the books she used at the school,” Brown said. “Quite frankly, you learn a lot about the pro-slavery ideology of the school when you see how many of the books are extremely rooted in systemic racism.”

Julie Richter, a lecturer in William & Mary’s Department of History and the director of the National Institute of American History & Democracy (NIAHD), itself a partnership of William & Mary and Colonial Williamsburg, said there are surviving student lists from only three years: 1762, 1765, and 1769.

“I’m eternally optimistic that there will be a few more lists that someone will find in time,” Richter said. “But right now, we have these three slices in time to try to tease out what students were at the school and who sent them.”

Brown and Richter said slaveowners had varied motivations for enrolling enslaved children. Literacy and math skill increased the auction value of any enslaved individual, while Brown pointed out that a Bray School education increased a person’s usefulness to the slaveowner, in particular one who operated a commercial establishment. Students likely also had varying intentions for use of their education, often in direct contradiction with their owners’, Brown noted.

The first dots establishing the Bray-Digges link were unearthed and connected by Terry Meyers, Chancellor Professor of English, Emeritus, at William & Mary. Meyers was reading a memoir by a local resident when he came across a reference to an 18th-century cottage that in 1930 had been moved down Prince George Street from the corner of Prince George and North Boundary streets. He visited Colonial Williamsburg’s John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, where there was a file on the building.

“From that, I was able to go back and look at what is now 524 Prince George St.,” Meyers said. “And I realized that if you look at that structure and erase the two additions on the right and the left and change the roofline from a Dutch colonial roof to a proper cottage roof, you actually do have an 18th-century cottage.”

Researchers led by Matt Webster, Colonial Williamsburg’s executive director of architectural preservation and research, discovered the reconfigured roof line that Meyers had noticed and a window sash that dates to the original construction date.

“Our analysis of the structure’s oldest elements conclusively places the timber’s harvest between the winter of 1759–60 and the spring of 1760, with the establishment of the Williamsburg Bray School in 1760,” Webster said. “That, combined with existing evidence of the Bray School’s historical location on Prince George Street, makes a compelling case that this is the original structure, and the building still has a great deal more to teach us.”

Meyers found that the Bray School operated in the Digges building from its 1760 founding until 1765, when the school was moved, possibly out to Capitol Landing Road.

Meyers noted that “education is almost invariably subversive.” Like Allen, he said there is evidence that students at the Bray School took their literacy skills back home and spread them around.

“If you are taught to read the Bible,” Meyers said. “you will be able to read other things. Once you educate people, they are better equipped to think critically.”

The timeframe for relocation of the Bray-Digges building is yet to be determined, and Colonial Williamsburg and William & Mary are considering a number of potential sites. The building most recently housed offices for William & Mary’s Department of Military Science and has been known as Prince George House.

ASECS Repudiates Report of 1776 Advisory Commission

Posted in the 18th century in the news, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on January 28, 2021

This statement repudiating the “1776 Report”—which was released by the Trump Administration on 18 January 2021—was approved by the ASECS Executive Board on 22 January 2021. The statement follows the condemnation offered by the American Historical Association (AHA), which was signed by 42 organizations, including the College Art Association. As Tina Nguyen reports for Politico (19 January 2021), the “1776 Report” appears to contain multiple instances of self-plagiarism from prior texts by commission members Thomas Lindsay and Matthew Spalding, including direct quotes left unacknowledged in the document (the report includes neither a bibliography nor notes of any kind). HECAA is an affiliate society of both ASECS and CAA.

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The American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies stands in solidarity with other academic organizations that condemn the Trump Administration’s “1776 Report,” issued on January 18, 2021. We reject the report’s caricature of the transformative period of American and global history that we study. The report proffers a facile myth of cardboard great men creating a Utopian nation and fails to represent the fullness, the complexity, and, critically, the failures of the American experiment in instituting Enlightenment philosophical ideals.

We decry in particular the following distortions and falsehoods:

Government: The report ignores the ways in which the American experiment in republican form of government emerged in crisis and conflict and disagreement in 1776 and 1789. Those events—winning independence from the British Empire and founding a new federal republic on principles of liberty and equality—seeded the new nation with democratic ways of mediating conflict and negotiating difference. This enabled the early reform movements like Abolition and Women’s suffrage.

Religion: The report advances the false belief that the Founding established a “common American morality” by promoting religious faith and revelation as components of political discourse. The Founders did not fuse but separated church and state.

Slavery: We deplore the report’s minimization of slavery’s role in the formation of our nation and the creation of its wealth and power in the modern world. It ignores the role of racism in perpetuating slavery, as well as slavery’s persistent effects in American society today. We reject the false characterization of the Founders as uniformly opposed to slavery; of course, many prominent Founders owned slaves and enshrined slavery in the Constitution.

Indigenous First Nations: We denounce the glaring omission from the report of any mention of indigenous peoples, as well as the failure to acknowledge the oppression, violence, and erasure done to our First Nations, who, as the report evidences, continue to be banished from our collective history.

We support the decision by the new administration inaugurated on January 20, 2021, to remove this report from the White House website and to dissolve the 1776 Commission. The rejection of the report by the new administration, however, has not prevented other institutions from posting it on their websites, and the false narrative that it promotes may still be exploited.

The history of the United States is often a painful one. Rather than ignore or underplay its dark side, we hope that future scholars will interrogate comforting narratives of America’s greatness and replace them with a clear-eyed understanding of our history in all its complexity. Our wish can be summed up in the words of Amanda Gorman: “It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit, it’s the past we step into and how we repair it.”

London to Re-Site Statues of Two Politicians Tied to Slave Trade

Posted in the 18th century in the news by Editor on January 24, 2021

Left: Replica of a statue by Louis-François Roubiliac of Sir John Cass (1661–1718), original from 1751. As noted in the Wikipedia entry on the statue, the original bronze sculpture “stood for many years on Aldgate High Street, before being relocated to the John Cass Institute in Jewry Street in 1869. The statue was finally relocated to the Guildhall in 1980.” Right: John Francis Moore, Statue of William Beckford (1709–1770), 1772 (London: Guildhall).

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As widely reported, including in this piece by Tessa Solomon for ARTnews (22 January 2021). . .

The City of London Corporation, which manages London’s historic center and financial hub, has voted to remove two monuments to British politicians linked to the transatlantic slave trade. The statue of William Beckford, a two-time mayor of London who made his fortune in plantations in Jamaica in the late 1700s, will reportedly be re-sited and replaced with a new work. The monument to Sir John Cass, a 17th-century member of Parliament, philanthropist, and merchant who profited from the Royal African Company, a major force in the slave economy, will be returned to the Sir John Cass Foundation. His name has already been stripped from the City University of London’s business school. . . .

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For the decision in light of a forthcoming UK government policy aimed at safeguarding historic monuments, see Gareth Harris’s article for The Art Newspaper (22 January 2021). Pushed by Boris Johnson, the new policy goes in to effect in March.

Both statues were discussed over thirteen years ago in this essay by Madge Dresser, “Set in Stone? Statues and Slavery in London,” History Workshop Journal 64.1 (Autumn 2007): 162–99, the abstract of which opens as follows: “This article examines public monuments in London and their relationship to slavery and abolition, a topic that has attracted remarkably little empirical research.”

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»