At Auction | Ewa Juszkiewicz’s Portrait of a Lady (After Boilly)

Posted in Art Market, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on May 9, 2022

From the press release (via Art Daily) . . .

21st Century Evening Sale, #20975
Christie’s, New York, 10 May 2022

Lot 9B: Ewa Juszkiewicz, Portrait of a Lady (After Louis Leopold Boilly), 2019, oil on canvas, 200 × 160 cm. Estimate: $200,000–300,000.

On Tuesday, May 10th, Portrait of a Lady (After Louis Leopold Boilly) by widely recognized Polish artist Ewa Juszkiewicz will be offered in one of the most prestigious art sales in the United States at Christie’s New York, sold to benefit the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Viewings take place at Christie’s Rockefeller Center galleries. The artwork has been brought to auction thanks to a generous gift of one of the POLIN Museum donors, American Friends of POLIN Museum, together with the support of the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland, and Weil Gotshal & Manges. The sale launches the beginning of a series of partnered sales of works of art at Christie’s in order to benefit POLIN Museum. POLIN is the only museum in the world dedicated to commemorating the history of Polish Jews, based in Warsaw, Poland.

The auction explores groundbreaking masterpieces by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Christopher Wool, Yoshitomo Nara, and other defining artists of the 21st century—Jeff Koons, Banksy, and Helmut Newton among others. It also introduces fresh-to-market works by contemporary pioneers like Jonas Wood, Matthew Wong, and Shara Hughes. Engage with this wide spectrum of influential works that reframe the current dialogue and develop new directions for the next generation of artists.

The Polish artist Ewa Juszkiewicz (b. 1984) is known for her adept appropriations of historical portrait paintings. This work—Portrait of a Lady (After Louis Leopold Boilly)—is an exquisite example of the artist’s masterful brushwork and keen questioning of gender and class representations within the realm of 18th- and 19th-century European painting.

Louis-Léopold Boilly, Madame Saint-Ange Chevrier, 1807, oil on canvas, 74 × 60 cm (Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, 7298).

Ana Maria Celis, Christie’s Head of the 21st Century Evening Sale, remarks, “Portrait of a Lady (After Louis Leopold Boilly) [Lot 9b] thoughtfully examines the historical erasure of women through Juszkiewicz’s singular and subversive technique. We are honored to offer it in our 21st Century Evening Sale this season to benefit POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. The juxtaposition of the classical stylization with the evocative subject matter of a female sitter’s whose head is fully wrapped, sparks new narratives around portrayals of femininity and deconstructs the past to create new dialogues.”

The POLIN Museum is a modern institution of culture—a historical museum that presents 1000 years of Jewish life in the Polish lands. It is also a place of meeting and dialogue among those who wish to explore the past and present Jewish culture, those eager to draw conclusions for the future from Polish-Jewish history, and finally those who are ready to face stereotypes and oppose xenophobia and nationalistic prejudices that threaten today’s societies. By promoting ideas of openness, tolerance, and truth, POLIN Museum contributes to the mutual understanding and respect among Poles and Jews, and other nations at the same time. Despite the global pandemic, after months of closure and economical struggle, it continues its mission, welcomes guests from all around the world at its core exhibition and organizes temporary exhibitions, historical, artistic, and educational events for Polish and international audience.

POLIN Museum understands its mission as a social responsibility, and is also responding to different current situations. To this end, alongside the efforts of many others, the Museum has responded to the current war in Ukraine, having just opened a new temporary exhibition, What’s Cooking? Jewish Culinary Culture, at a time when Warsaw is receiving a steady flow of Ukrainian refugees in great need of shelter and food. Within the Cooking for Ukraine project, POLIN Museum’s restaurant is preparing free hot meals featuring Jewish specialities and is delivering them directly to those in greatest need. “We must not remain indifferent,” Zygmunt Stępiński, Director of POLIN Museum, remarks.

Many of POLIN Museum’s activities, including Cooking for Ukraine, are supported by donors and friends from Poland and abroad, with a special support from American Friends of POLIN Museum. In the words of Stepinski, “We are grateful for the support of American Friends of POLIN Museum and Christie’s who believe in our mission and work with us to write the next chapter in the history of Polish Jews and Jewish life in Poland.”

A representative of Christie’s states: “Christie’s is proud to support philanthropic initiatives through our networks, whether by facilitating the sale of artwork to benefit important causes; offering, when we can, our salerooms as a venue for fundraising events; or providing expert charity auctioneers.”

Exhibition | The Luxury of Clay: Porcelain Past and Present

Posted in exhibitions, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on April 23, 2022

Chris Antemann, An Occasion to Gather, 2021–22; porcelain, 48 × 96 × 24 inches, installed in Hillwood’s Dining Room 2022. 

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Now on view at Hillwood:

The Luxury of Clay: Porcelain Past and Present
Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, Washington, D.C, 19 February — 26 June 2022

Curated by Rebecca Tilles

Hillwood founder Marjorie Merriweather Post valued porcelain objects for their beauty, exquisite design, and historic associations. While most were crafted for specific uses, these items are valued objects in their own right. Featuring more than 140 objects, the exhibition will trace the remarkable development of porcelain, from its origins in China to its discovery in Europe in the early 18th century, leading to contemporary artistic interpretations of this material.

Often referred to as ‘white gold’, due to its natural color and high value, porcelain was originally produced by China in the 9th century. The exportation to Europe by the Portuguese and Dutch in the 16th century created a vast demand for these goods, heretofore unknown outside of Asia. The recipe for porcelain remained a mystery in Europe until the early 18th century, when the Meissen Manufactory in Saxony discovered the essential ingredient, kaolin, a soft white clay. From there, the secret traveled throughout Europe, to Vienna in 1718 under Claudius du Paquier and nationalized in 1744 by Empress Maria Theresa; to Saint Petersburg, Russia, in 1744 at the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory following Peter the Great’s visit to Saxony; to Berlin in 1763 at the Royal Porcelain Factory (KPM); and finally to France, at Sèvres in the late 1760s. With each new discovery came innovative colors, styles, and shapes, distinguishing factories from one another as each developed specialties. Moving chronologically through time, the exhibition will demonstrate how the discovery of this material in Europe shaped the luxury market and how the porcelain craze left a lasting impact on the art world.

Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887–1973) had an eye for beauty and a taste for exquisitely crafted objects when creating her collection. Beginning with Sèvres soft-paste porcelain, which she purchased in the 1920s–1960s, Post established herself as a cultivated and discerning collector of porcelain, later turning her attention to the collections of the Habsburg court and then acquiring Russian porcelain services during her time in the Soviet Union (1937–38), particularly diplomatic gifts and international commissions between Western European and Russian factories. At Hillwood, Post built the French and Russian porcelain rooms to house these treasures, displayed in special cases for all to see. Though Hillwood’s renowned collection of Sèvres was previously explored in the 2009 exhibition Sèvres: Then and Now, this is the first exhibition at Hillwood to investigate the full scope of her porcelain holdings.

The historical objects are complemented by a selection of modern-day examples. Drawing inspiration from examples from China, Germany, France, and more, contemporary artists such as Bouke de Vries, Cindy Sherman, and Roberto Lugo have continued the tradition of using porcelain to create beautiful works of art, and their pieces appear throughout the exhibition. Hillwood invited Chris Antemann to create new works to present in the dining and breakfast rooms in the mansion. In collaboration with Rebecca Tilles, curator, Antemann’s research led to large-scale porcelain centerpieces for the tables inspired by elements from the garden and collections at Hillwood. Additional works by Roberto Lugo and Eva Zeisel will be displayed in the entry hall, French porcelain room, and French drawing room.

Exhibitions | Contemporary Art at the Wellington Arch

Posted in exhibitions, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on April 13, 2022

Decimus Burton, Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner, 1826–30 (Photo by Beata May, June 2012, Wikimedia Commons). Together with Marble Arch, Wellington Arch was conceived by George IV in 1825 to celebrate Britain’s victories in the Napoleonic Wars. From 1846, the arch supported a massive equestrian sculpture by Matthew Cotes Wyatt depicting the Waterloo hero, a statue many people saw as painfully out of proportion for the arch. In the early 1880s, Wellington Arch was moved from its original nearby site to its current location, and the statue was relocated to Aldershot. Adrian Jones’s bronze quadriga was installed in 1912. For a fine essay grappling with the site as a war memorial, see Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, “Peace Descending on the Chariot of War, Hyde Park Corner, London,” Bidoun (Winter 2008).

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From the press release (via Art Daily):

Contemporary Art at the Wellington Arch: Jordy Kerwick, Ibrahim El-Salahi, Matthew Burrows, and Marcus Harvey
Quadriga Gallery, Wellington Arch, London, April 2022 — January 2023

This year a programme of exhibitions curated by Vigo Gallery will be on display in London at Wellington Arch. The historic site, under the care of English Heritage, is hosting the exhibitions in its Quadriga Gallery from April 2022 to January 2023. Th installations include a series of epic paintings by Australian artist Jordy Kerwick, a group of never-before-exhibited works by Ibrahim El-Salahi created in the run up to his solo retrospective at Tate Modern, the much-anticipated exhibition of new paintings by #ArtistSupportPledge founder Matthew Burrows, and an exciting exhibition of specially commissioned work by YBA favourite Marcus Harvey. The partnership offers a new way for contemporary art to reach a larger audience and to encourage engagement with this important landmark in a new way.

Toby Clarke, Director of Vigo Gallery says: “It is a privilege to be able to bring contemporary exhibitions inspired by history to one of London’s most iconic landmarks and to work in partnership with English Heritage to create interesting opportunities for both the artists and public to experience this setting within a new context.”

Josephine Oxley, Keeper of the Wellington Collection for Apsley House and Wellington Arch added: “We welcome the opportunity to work in partnership with Vigo Gallery and are excited about the varied and diverse programme that they have put together. The exhibitions will give our visitors to the Wellington Arch a wholly new and exciting experience.”

Jordy Kerwick, Vertical Planes
6 April — 29 May 2022

Jordy Kerwick’s brazen, colour saturated paintings transport you to a dream world of mythology, folk law, and misadventure. The artist explores his own domestic family frivolity through the lens of alternative bodies or forms. Snakes, bears, wolves, and tigers are juxtaposed with his favourite books, still life flowers, trees, and domestic arrangements within almost fairy-tale narratives. His two sons Sony and Milo, for example, are often represented as double-headed beasts.

The current exhibition is a playful reaction to the history—or alternate histories—of Wellington Arch and some of the characters it immortalises. Tigers, bears, snakes, and unicorns all take sides in the artist’s own version of the Battle of Waterloo, replacing key characters such as Napoleon and Wellington but leaving these characters ambiguous and interchangeable. The work was by Ken Webster’s book Vertical Planes (1989), which documents the author’s experience of receiving contact from people of the 16th-century and the future who had all inhabited the same cottage in Dodleston, Cheshire. Webster believed in parallel planes of existence all running simultaneously, an idea that also fascinates Kerwick.

Ibrahim El-Salahi, Black and White
1 June — 30 October 2022

This group of Black and White works on paper by Ibrahim El-Salahi from 2012 have never before been exhibited. They were completed in the lead up to his 2013 solo show at Tate Modern, when he became the first artist of African birth to be featured there in a retrospective exhibition. The works show the ‘godfather of African art’ at his best with a confidence of line reflecting over seventy years of creating his surreal multilayered visions.

Born in Sudan in 1930, Ibrahim El-Salahi is one of the most important living African artists and a key figure in the development of African Modernism. El-Salahi grew up in Omdurman, Sudan and studied at the Slade School in London. On his return to Sudan in 1957, he established a new visual vocabulary, integrating various Sudanese, Islamic, African, Arab, and Western artistic traditions.

2022 is an exciting year for the now Oxford-based El-Salahi. The artist has been selected to participate with 99 drawings in the 2022 59th Venice Biennale, The Milk of Dreams curated by Cecilia Alemani. Alongside the exhibition at Wellington Arch, Vigo will also show El-Salahi at their gallery in Masons Yard, London (June 2021), and his Pain Relief drawings will be the subject of a solo exhibition at the Norwegian Drawing Association (Tegnerforbundet), a show which will travel in an expanded format to The Drawing Center in New York in October. The Pain Relief canvases relating to these drawings will also be the subject of a solo exhibition at Hastings Contemporary (the Jerwood Gallery) from April to June. In a busy year the 91-year-old legend will further participate in group exhibitions at the Chrysler Museum of Art (October) and the Fisk University Galleries (October).

Matthew Burrows, In and Through
8 November 2022 — 8 January 2023

The paintings of Matthew Burrows explore a coalescence between stillness and movement. Work from the In and Through series has a preoccupation with watchfulness and the lines that delineate the landscape and our physiology. Burrows speaks of his work as an internal vigilance for place, creating images that meditate on the deep knowledge derived from repeatedly moving in and through the landscape. His relationship with habitat is not one of description or nostalgia, but one of dwelling and ritual. It is a process of mythologising, of drawing meaning from the particularities of the environment, of realising its wilderness and ours.

In 2020, a week before the first national lockdown, Burrows founded the Artists Support Pledge initiative, to help artists and makers through the COVID-19 pandemic. Artist Support Pledge has become a global phenomenon helping sustain thousands of artists across the globe during the pandemic. It has become a global movement empowering both artists and collectors. For his efforts, Matthew was awarded an MBE for services to Arts and Culture. Many are excited to celebrate this ‘artist’s artist’ who has contributed so much to his community.

Marcus Harvey, Waterloo Sunset
11 January — 19 March 2023

Marcus Harvey makes raw, expressive figurative paintings and sculptures. He seeks out imagery that is emblematic of a brutish but proud Britishness, iconic images—whether good, bad, or ambiguous—without commenting on his own relationship to them. Harvey’s most infamous work is Myra, a painting of the infamous child-murderer, which was exhibited as part of the groundbreaking 1997 exhibition Sensation. This chilling portrait derived much of its potency from the iconography of a photograph so engrained in the British psyche through years of media reproduction. A family man, Harvey was after sensation, and this painting regarded as so important in British art history is also one of the most misunderstood.

Recently, Harvey has started to work extensively with ceramics creating motifs and emblems of Britishness into collaged portraits of historical British figures, or foes, from history, from Nelson to Margaret Thatcher and Napoleon, to Tony Blair. He works the imagery, handling the clay in a battle to find its form through multiple firings. The result is tough but humorous sculpture, unapologetic and brash, political yet ambiguous, considered, and painterly.

Wellington and his eponymous boot fit snugly into Harvey’s ‘Punch and Judy’ ensemble as it fights to balance our nation’s patriotic sympathies with its dark imperial legacy. These complex and contradictory emotions will infuse the characters who will take temporary residence in the upper galleries of Wellington Arch.

Exhibition | Flora Yukhnovich: Thirst Trap

Posted in catalogues, exhibitions, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on March 16, 2022

Flora Yukhnovich, I’ll Have What She’s Having, 2020, oil on linen, 170 × 220 cm. Estimated to sell for £60,000–£80,000, the painting sold for £2,253,500 (Sotheby’s London, 14 October 2021).

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After only a handful of solo exhibitions, beginning in 2017, the British artist Flora Yukhnovich (b. Norwich 1990) has recently emerged as a leading contemporary painter, receiving coverage in both visual arts media and the popular press. The New York Times recently included her in a piece about speculators hoping to to ‘flip’ art at auction (in October, her painting I’ll Have What She’s Having sold at Sotheby’s for $3.1million).

I note Yukhnovich here at Enfilade because of her engagement with eighteenth-century painting, an engagement she attributes to Mary Sheriff. In a 2020 interivew with Immediations, published by The Courtauld, Yukhnovich references both Fragonard: Art and Eroticism (University of Chicago Press, 1990) and Enchanted Islands: Picturing the Allure of Conquest in Eighteenth-Century France (University of Chicago Press, 2018).

As Yukhnovich describes her artistic development during the interview:
“I then began looking at decorative design. At first it was about the very flatness of it, which I really enjoyed. Then it became about the ways in which paint itself can do things, like create drop shadows, or the different ways in which paint can be used to construct space. It became apparent to me that I was gravitating toward these things because they were related to femininity in a way, but they also all happened to be derived from a Rococo aesthetic. When I found [Sheriff’s] book on Fragonard, I realised that a lot of the Rococo seemed to tap into all these different elements that I had been looking at. The aesthetic of the Rococo feels very familiar to me, and there are lots of things that I, as a woman and also as a girl growing up, interacted with which seem to have a Rococo sensibility to them. I do not feel like that about many other art historical movements. That is why I landed on it. It was about a lot of different interests coming together.”


Flora Yukhnovich, Siren Song, 2022.

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From the press release for the the exhibition now on view in London at Victoria Miro:

Flora Yukhnovich: Thirst Trap
Victoria Miro, London, 1–26 March 2022

Flora Yukhnovich is acclaimed for paintings that, fluctuating between abstraction and figuration, transcend painterly traditions to fuse high art with popular culture and intellect with intuition. While in the past she has adopted the language of Rococo, dynamically reimagining aspects of works by eighteenth-century artists such as Tiepolo, Boucher, Lancret, and Watteau, new paintings draw upon various depictions of the Roman goddess Venus in mythology, art history, and contemporary culture. Rather than focus on individual points of reference, each work synthesises a multitude of influences that convey the shifting representations and significations of Venus herself. Here the Venus who embodies idealised female form and is goddess of love, maternal care, sexual reproduction, and erotic desire, meets the Venus of violent origin and hybrid gender—promiscuous and vengeful.

In Greco-Roman mythology, Venus emerges fully formed when Cronus throws Uranus’s dismembered testicles into the sea; she is carried to land from the boiling spume in a shell. The artist says, “I was immediately drawn to the idea of her body being made of water… this fluidity of form feels like a very painterly concept to me, a bit like creating seemingly solid figures out of wet paint. There is a tendency for water and the sea to be spoken about as female—fluid and soft but also capricious and destructive. I like the potential for strength or force in that association and it’s something I try and bring to these paintings.”

Travelling back and forth through art, mythology and philosophy, and echoing Venus’s storied representations through time, Yukhnovich’s references are revealed to be equally as fluid. One influence is Rubens’s The Feast of Venus, 1636–37, in the collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, which depicts the festivities of Veneralia—the ancient Roman festival celebrated on 1 April to honour Venus Verticordia, an epithet that alludes to the goddess’s ability to change hearts from lustful to chaste. Venus as an embodiment of propriety contrasts with her promiscuity in another source painting, Boucher’s Mars and Venus Surprised by Vulcan, c.1754, in the Wallace Collection, which captures the moment when Vulcan, on hearing of his wife’s infidelity with Mars, ensnares the adulterous couple in a golden net, inviting other gods to enjoy their humiliation.

Such divergent attributes are enfolded with allusions in contemporary culture, from Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita to Doja Cat, which demonstrate the enduring potency of Venus as symbol and spirit. In Yukhnovich’s paintings these references are never revealed explicitly. Rather, they are conveyed compositionally or chromatically: variation is a driving force, her virtuosic mark-making—ranging from delicate flourishes to dramatic and muscular brushstrokes—heightens a sense of rhythmic sensuality. Bubbles—by definition one substance contained by another—are a recurring motif in these works; effervescent, capricious, unstable, or transformative, they denote changing states that mirror Venus’s turbulent arrival in mythology and her ever-shifting presence in culture thereafter. Paint, in Yukhnovich’s hands, becomes the perfect vehicle to conjure the multiplicity of a subject which, characterised by flux and transformation, is as elusive as it is seductive.

Born in 1990, Flora Yukhnovich completed her MA at the City & Guilds of London Art School in 2017. She had her first solo exhibition at Brocket, London, in December 2017 and has recently exhibited at Parafin, London, GASK, the Gallery of the Central Bohemian Region, Czech Republic, the Jerwood Gallery Hastings, and at Blenheim Walk Gallery, Leeds Arts University, UK. Previous solo exhibitions with Victoria Miro include The Venice Paintings and Barcarole, both held in 2020. Collections include Government Art Collection and The David Roberts Art Foundation. In 2018 she completed The Great Women Artists Residency at Palazzo Monti, Brescia. Work by the artist will feature in the survey exhibition Impressionism: A World View; Yukhnovich’s painting will be exhibited in galleries dedicated to ‘Contemporary Neo-Impressionists’, on view at The Nassau County Museum of Art, NY, from 19 March to 10 July 2022. In 2023 Yukhnovich will be the first artist to take part in a new series of solo exhibitions responding to the collections of The Ashmolean, Oxford, titled Ashmolean NOW.

Exhibition | The Regency Wardrobe at the Royal Pavilion

Posted in exhibitions, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on February 25, 2022

From the press release for the exhibition:

The Regency Wardrobe at the Royal Pavilion
Royal Pavilion, Brighton, 19 March — 11 September 2022

At the Royal Pavilion a display of costumes inspired by Regency history tell stories of seafront promenading, grand balls and musical evenings. Each unique piece is created by artist Stephanie Smart, using only paper and thread. The Regency Wardrobe is a collection of imagined garments whose design reflects the fashion, style, and history of the Regency era. With decoration directly inspired by aspects of its interiors, ball gowns, walking dresses, parasols, and bags bring life to the beautiful rooms of the Royal Pavilion.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is a new dress created for the Royal Pavilion and on display in the magnificent Music Room. Symphony of Stars is a stunning life-sized court dress inspired by the architecture of the Music Room and the Chinese wallpaper in the palace. Stars made of rolled paper decorate the border of the train, platinum in colour in honour of the platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II

The show taps into the current obsession with Regency fashion inspired by hit Netflix series Bridgerton, which returns this year and will fascinate fans of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. The exquisite and complex nature of the items on display spans the divide between historic research, fine art, and costume design to create unique works of art which are enhanced by the glorious setting of the Royal Pavilion.

Artist Stephanie Smart said: “The Regency Wardrobe has taken nearly three years to design and make. Throughout that the decoration and history of the Royal Pavilion has been a corner stone of my research. I’m very excited to be seeing the pieces on display in rooms that sum up the possibilities of the time and would have been known intimately by the Prince Regent himself.”

CEO of RPMT Hedley Swain said: “We are so pleased to have these beautiful, ethereal works of art at the Royal Pavilion, particularly as some of them were directly inspired by the interiors where they will now be on show. Stephanie’s creations not only complement the Regency history of the Royal Pavilion but add to its magical nature.”

In 2017 Stephanie formally established The House of Embroidered Paper, a unique fashion house/fine art studio. Each piece produced is a work of paper textiles, created using only paper and thread—inspired by period and place, history and story.

Developing her use of paper as a medium for garment construction, with embroidered and applied decoration, The Regency Wardrobe is Stephanie’s second major collection. It includes pieces which re-interpret the popular two-dimensional Regency art form of the paper cut silhouette as three-dimensional garments. Each one linked to a real woman from the time. By working closely with volunteers from The Regency Town House Heritage Centre, Hove and with special access to The Royal Pavilion Stephanie has created a collection that’s broader in scope in terms of its relationship to a particular area, and historical era, than any she has worked on previously.

Whilst the collection as a whole reflects social and cultural influences from the longer Regency era (1795 to 1837) and celebrates the bicentennial of the end of the formal Regency in 1820 the finale piece Symphony of Stars links directly to the year in which it will be displayed, 2022. Stars made of rolled paper decorate the border of the train, they are platinum in colour in honour of the platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II and placed in lieu of the notes of a symphony by British astronomer William Herschel, the bicentennial of whose death it is this year.

In order to inform her understanding of the pieces she makes Stephanie visits museum stores and private collections to see real garments from different periods of history. These are documented on her website under the title ‘The Hidden Wardrobe’.

Stephanie began working with heritage sites in 2016 when she began her collection titled Maison de Paier. As inspiration she collected stories from some of the present residents of the Grade 1 listed Elizabethan mansion, Danny House in Hurtspierpoint, Sussex. With WWII veterans amongst their number and with the history of the house itself to draw on, this collection included a 17th-century court dress, a 1950s swing dress, and a pair of gauntlets. The Victorian era dress from this collection Lady of the House can be seen on the Royal Pavilion’s upper floor. Based on that experience Stephanie has set up an ongoing research project The Talking Wardrobe with the ambition of collating stories over time from individuals regarding garments once worn as a basis for her future work. Stephanie’s work has twice been featured on the BBC’s South East Today.

The Stories a House Can Tell

Posted in on site, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on February 12, 2022

In my mind, I’ve returned repeatedly over the past few weeks to this recent story from The Washington Post. Fascinating material for conceiving of history as a recovery process of things lost (or purposely obscured) and material culture as a means of making sense of where past and present meet. It was my first introduction to Jobie Hill’s Saving Slave Houses project. -CH

Joe Heim, “An Old Virginia Plantation, a New Owner, and a Family Legacy Unveiled,” The Washington Post (22 January 2022).

Sharswood in Gretna, Va., was built in the middle of the 19th century and at one point was the hub of a sprawling plantation. The Pittsylvania County property now consists of 10½ acres. Out of the frame behind the large tree at right is a cabin that may have been used by enslaved people as a kitchen and laundry for the main house as well as a residence. (Heather Rousseau for The Washington Post)

. . . It wasn’t until after Fredrick Miller bought Sharswood in May 2020 that its past started coming into focus. That’s when his sister, Karen Dixon-Rexroth and their cousins Sonya Womack-Miranda and Dexter Miller doubled down on researching their family history.

What neither Fredrick Miller nor his sister knew at the time was that the property had once been a 2,000-acre plantation, whose owners before and during the Civil War were Charles Edwin Miller and Nathaniel Crenshaw Miller.

Miller. . . .

As the puzzle pieces connected, a clearer picture emerged. Sarah Miller, great-grandmother to Fredrick, Karen and Dexter, and great-great-grandmother to Sonya, died in 1949 at 81. From her death certificate, they learned that Sarah’s parents were Violet and David Miller.

The 1860 Census does not list enslaved people by name, only by gender and age. In the 1870 Census, however, Violet and David Miller lived just a short distance from Sharswood. Between the many documents that the descendants of Sarah Miller have obtained, the fragments of family oral history they’ve sewn together and the proximity of the family to the plantation, they are certain that Violet and David Miller were among those enslaved at Sharswood. . . .

For Fredrick Miller, the 10.5-acre-estate he’d purchased for $225,000 ended up not being just a future gathering spot for the family, but also its first traceable point in the United States—an astonishing revelation for him. It also left him thinking about family history and the absence of that history for many people like him. . . .

There were 12 houses for enslaved people on the plantation, determined Doug Sanford, a retired professor of historic preservation at the University of Mary Washington, who has been documenting former homes of the enslaved across Virginia with Dennis Pogue, an associate research professor at the University of Maryland and retired archaeologist. . . .

The dilapidated cabin behind the main house at Sharswood isn’t visible from the road. A humble structure with a central chimney dividing two rooms, it feels almost hidden. But Sarah Miller’s descendants have focused their attention on it.

What the family learned from ongoing research by Sanford and Pogue and by Jobie Hill, a preservation architect who started the Saving Slave Houses project in 2012, is that the cabin was built before 1800, probably as the main house on the property, and then was divided into a duplex before 1820. From then on, they said, it probably served as a kitchen and laundry for the main house and a living space for some who were enslaved at Sharswood. . . .

The full article is available here»

Exhibition | Julie Green: The Last Supper

Posted in exhibitions, obituaries, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on November 8, 2021

Installation view of Julie Green’s Last Supper exhibition, Bellevue Arts Museum.

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As noted by many news outlets—including The Art Newspaper, The Washington Post, the Smithsonian Magazine, The New York Times, and NPR (with an editorial by Scott Simon)—the artist Julie Green (1961–2021) died on October 12 at age 60, after battling ovarian cancer. An exhibition of 800 plates by Green is currently installed in Bellevue, Washington. While the ‘content’ of the project (the catalogue of inmates’ last meals) understandably receives the bulk of the attention, I imagine it’s impossible for most dixhuitièmistes not to see the long tradition of blue-and-white ware adaptation; and once a viewer goes there, the plates provide an indicting reminder of the historical origins of the inequities of the American criminal justice system, inequities in many cases derived from seventeenth- and eighteenth-century institutions. CH

Julie Green: The Last Supper
Bellevue Arts Museum, 4 September 2020 — 23 January 2022

800 Plates Illustrating Final Meals of US Death Row Inmates

Growing up, I admired quilts and ceramics in our Iowa home, as well as the larger-than-life historical figures and 20’ American flag made with ears of colored corn in a neighbor’s yard. Appreciation for homemade and handmade led me to paint blue food. I once shared my family’s support of Nixon and capital punishment. Now I don’t.

Oklahoma has higher per capita executions than Texas. I taught there, and that is how I came to read final meal requests in the morning paper. The Last Supper illustrates the meal requests of U.S. death row inmates. Cobalt blue mineral paint is applied to second-hand ceramic plates, then kiln-fired to 1,400 degrees by technical advisors Toni Acock and Sandy Houtman.

Of the 1,521 US executions to date, 570 occurred in Texas, the only state that doesn’t allow a final meal selection. In Texas, inmates are served the standard prison meal of the day. In states that allow a choice, traditions and restrictions vary. There is no alcohol allowed anywhere. Cigarettes are officially banned but sometimes granted. Most selections are modest. This is not surprising, as many are limited to what is in the prison kitchen. Others provide meals from local venues. Pizza Hut, Wendy’s, and Long John Silver’s are frequently selected in Oklahoma, where their fifteen-dollar allowance is down from twenty in the late 1990s. California allows restaurant take-out up to fifty dollars. Historical menus from Folsom prison, shared by April Moore, point to the 733 inmates on death row today in California. State and date of execution are listed for each plate.

While looking for a permanent home for the project, unless capital punishment ends soon, I will continue until there are 1,000 plates. For me, a final meal request humanizes death row. Menus provide clues on region, race, and economic background. A family history becomes apparent when Indiana Department of Corrections adds, “He told us he never had a birthday cake so we ordered a birthday cake for him.”

Art can be a meditation. Why do we have this tradition of final meals, I wondered, after seeing a 1999 request for six tacos, six glazed donuts, and a cherry Coke. Twenty-one years later, I still wonder.

Julie Green
8 August 2020


The Georgian Group Architectural Awards 2021

Posted in on site, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on October 10, 2021

From The Georgian Group:

The Georgian Group Architectural Awards
Presented 5 October 2021

The annual Georgian Group Architectural Awards, generously sponsored by Savills, took place at the RIBA on 5 October this year. The awards, now in their seventeenth 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. The awards ceremony was presented by Dr John Goodall, chair of the judging panel and Architectural Editor at Country Life, with certificates handed out by the Georgian Group’s President, the Duchess of Argyll. The winning schemes were chosen from over thirty entries, with shortlisted projects encompassing a broad range of building types.

Re-use of a Georgian Building

Winner: Cobham Dairy, Kent
Client: The Landmark Trust
Architect: Purcell

The Dairy on the Cobham estate, Kent, was designed by James Wyatt in 1794 for the 4th Earl and Countess of Darnley. It served both as an ornamental eye-catcher in Humphry Repton’s parkland and as a working building, complete with accommodation for the dairymaid. Abandoned for more than a century, it was rescued from collapse in the 1980s by the SPAB. The Landmark Trust has since taken a 99-year lease of the dairy and restored it as a self-catering holiday cottage for two. Work has included the restoration of the external slate cladding and the re-instatement of the vaulted ceilings.

Highly Commended: The Old Church, Lowick, Northumberland
Client: Dean Keyworth, Armstrong Keyworthy Interior Design
Architect: Paul Hales, Robert J. Hales Ltd

One of only two Church of Scotland churches built in England, the building was deconsecrated in 1821 and has lain empty for much of the time since. The present owners have converted in sympathetically, making ingenious use of the spaces below and above the Victorian gallery, and adding rooms in the roof space, so preserving the volume of the double-height interior—a space too often subdivided in church and chapel conversions—which successfully serves as the principal reception room. This approach has left an uninterrupted view of the stained glass windows, which were restored as part of the project.

Restoration of a Georgian Garden or Landscape

Winner: Gunton Park, Norfolk
Client: Ivor Braka, Kit and Sally Martin, Lady Suffield
Landscape Architects: John Phibbs, Debois Landscape Survey Group (Phase 1); Patrick James, The Landscape Agency (Phase 2)

The 1,200 acre park and garden that surrounds Gunton Hall—itself designed in the 1740s by Matthew Brettingham and later altered by Samuel Wyatt—evolved under the ownership of several generations of the Harbord family and with the involvement of successive landscape architects: Charles Bridgeman, Humphry Repton and William Sawrey Gilpin. By the 1970s, following decades of decline, much of the estate had been sold and ploughed-up for arable cultivation, while hundreds of mature parkland trees and those in its woodland belts had been felled. The restoration of the park has taken nearly thirty years and has seen acres of new woodland planted, avenues, carriageways, clumps and individual parkland trees re-instated, and the establishment of a herd of deer.

Restoration of a Georgian Building in an Urban Setting

Winner: Buxton Crescent Hotel and Thermal Spa, Buxton Crescent, Derbyshire
Client: Buxton Crescent Ltd.
Architect: Curious Architecture and Interior Design

The Crescent, designed by John Carr of York for the 5th Duke of Devonshire and built between 1780 and 1789, was with the adjoining Natural Baths and Pump Room, the centrepiece of the planned Georgian spa town. Since the 1990s it has lain empty and in an increasing state of disrepair. This major project initiated by the Borough and County Councils, and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England, set out to return all three buildings to use and to help in the economic regeneration of Buxton as a spa. This heroic and transformative project has taken more than two decades to come to realisation and combines conservation and new work.

Highly Commended: Private townhouse in Kennington
Client: Fabian Richter
Architect: Robert Birbeck
Master Builder: Stephen Bull

This project has seen the painstaking, comprehensive conservation, over a seven year period of a run-down terraced townhouse of 1792. The works have involved, re-roofing and repointing, the replacement of gypsum plasterboard with lime plasters on lath, the repair of Georgian joinery and the restoration of the servant’s bell system, as well as full re-servicing. Externally, York slabs have replaced cement steps and new iron railings have been installed. The work has been underpinned by thorough historical research and reflects a conservation ethos that is more commonly the preserve of large public or charitable bodies that private houses.

Highly Commended: Frogmore House, Watford
Client: St William Homes LLP, Berkeley Group
Architects: Giles Quarme Architects

A merchant’s house built in 1716 to the south of Watford high street, the building had been on Historic England’s Buildings At Risk Register for some years. Divided into flats in the 1950s, it fell into gradual dereliction from the 1970s and suffered extensive vandalism. As part of the redevelopment of the wider site the building has been restored and structural failure, water ingress and dry rot have all been tackled. Historic joinery—windows, doors, staircase balusters and panelling—has been repaired or where necessary re-instated, and the doorcase, stolen in 2009, recovered and put back. The building is now in use as an office.

Restoration of a Georgian Structure or Interior

Winner: The Bath Stone Bridge, Halswell Park, Somerset
Client: Edward Strachan
Architect: Architecton

The Bath Stone Bridge is thought to have been designed by Thomas Wright and was a key element of the water gardens known as Mill Wood, laid out by Sir Charles Kemeys Tynte in the second half of the eighteenth century, as part of the Halswell Hall landscape. Since 2014 the owner has begun the on-going task of reconstituting and restoring the park. The current project has involved the full restoration of the bridge, which has been on the local authority’s ‘at risk’ list since 2005, and the repair of the associated dam and leaking pond. Many missing parts of the structure were fished out of the water, where they had fallen, but some lost elements had to be recut, as in the case of a missing herm. The new ornamental carving playfully includes some twentieth-century details in evidence of its date.

Highly Commended: The State Drawing Room, Stowe, Buckinghamshire
Client: Stowe House Preservation Trust
Architect: Purcell

The State Drawing Room at Stowe was created in 1778, and balances the State Music Room to the other side of the central Marble Saloon. Both interiors were designed by Vincenzo Valdrè. Following rigorous research, the decision was taken to return the room to its decorative appearance in c.1800. New orange hangings, based on a guidebook description, were commissioned in a durable fabric, while paint research revealed that the ceiling had been painted in three shades of pink with both gold and silver gilding to its plaster enrichments. This striking scheme has been reinstated following cleaning and repair. In addition, a painted, timber copy of the marble Piranesian chimneypiece sold from the room in the 1920s has been made from a scan of the original and a new oak floor was laid to the pattern of the historic boards.

Restoration of a Georgian Country House

Winner: Radbourne Hall, Derbyshire
Client: Trustees of the Radbourne Settlement
Architect: Peregrine Bryant Architects

Radbourne Hall was designed in 1739 by William Smith of Warwick for German Pole. From 2017 to 2020 the house has been subject to far-reaching repair and conservation work. This has included slate and lead repairs to the roof, which have now also been fitted with firebreaks and breathable wood fibre insulation. Internally, damage done by a 1950s structural steel has also been remedied and out-dated electrical and mechanical services have been replaced, while the enfilade on the piano nobile has been re-instated and a John Fowler decorative scheme of the 1950s retained and conserved. A striking new set of cantilevered steps, structurally independent from the house, have been constructed to the rear.

Highly Commended: Sheringham Hall, Norfolk
Client: Paul Doyle and Gergely Battha-Pajor
Architect: John Simpson Architects

Sheringham Hall was designed for Abbot and Charlotte Upcher by Humphry Repton and his son John Adey Repton between 1813 and 1819. Having bought a 99-year lease of the house and garden from the National Trust, Paul Doyle and Gergely Pattha-Pajor have undertaken various works to restore the building’s intended plan and room functions thereby sympathetically and brilliantly recreating the Regency elegance of the interiors. The original dining room has been re-instated, while appropriate neo-classical statuary once more fills the staircase niches. Associated works in the garden include the restoration of glass houses and the erection of an openwork pavilion designed by John Simpson.

Restoration of a Georgian Church or Chapel

Winner: All Saints Church, Newcastle
Client: All Saints Presbyterian Church
Architect: Doonan Architects

All Saints Church was completed in 1796 to the design of David Stephenson, the first Newcastle architect to study in London; it is unique in being the only church in England with an elliptical nave. Although one of the finest buildings in the city, it has long been on the Georgian Group’s casework radar due to its poor condition and it has been listed on Historic England’s Heritage-at-Risk register since 2011. Under new guardianship, a project of restoration began in 2019 which saw repairs to the roof, gutters, windows and walls. Internally, redecoration has been undertaken in an appropriate Georgian palette. A new marble pavement, allowing for an efficient under-floor heating system, has been laid, unifying the concrete floors in the entrance hall and ‘school gym’ floor in the nave. Additional facilities—including a kitchen, WCs and an office—have been sensitively incorporated within the space. The church has now been removed from the At Risk Register.

Highly Commended: St Alfege Church, Greenwich
Client: St Alfege Church PCC
Architect: Richard Griffiths Architects

St Alfege Church, designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, was built between 1712 and 1714, with the upper part of the steeple added by John James in 1730. This project, which built upon previous restoration work, was designed to extend to the south and north elevations, repair the leaking roof and make the church fully accessible and welcoming to a wider public. A long wooden ramp has been installed at the north entrance, historic paving has been repaired and an ironwork arch designed by Albert Richardson has been rediscovered and re-instated over the high-street entrance to the churchyard. Internally changes include additional WCs in the wells of the staircases, while water ingress issues have been resolved allowing for the full internal redecoration of the church. In addition, the crypt has been opened to hard hat tours.

Giles Worsley Award for New Work in the Spirit of the Georgian Era

Winner: Nithurst Farm, West Sussex
Client: Adam and Jessica Richards
Architect: Adam Richards Architects

Built in open fields, on the site of a farmworker’s cottage in the South Downs National Park, Nithurst Farm is conceived as a Roman ruin wrapped around a modern concrete house. The building rises in steps from a single-storey entrance on the north side to a three-storey tower at the south, inspired by Vanbrugh’s belvedere at Claremont. The house is symmetrical in plan, tapering out along its axis to the large light-filled south-facing sitting room, and its main ground floor space is inspired by the sala found in those of Palladio’s villa designs, such the Villa Barbaro, which incorporate box-like secondary rooms against the exterior walls.

New Building in a Georgian Context

Winner: Wolverton Hall Folly, Worcestershire
Client: Nicholas Coleridge CBE
Architect: Quinlan Terry Architects

The inspiration for the design of Wolverton Hall Folly was taken from the Picturesque tradition with its many variations of follies in a controlled landscape. Among a number of possible small garden buildings, the Banqueting House at Long Melford, built in 1550 with sash windows added in the 1730s, became a source of inspiration. The design was prepared with the proportions adapted considerably to provide a large study on the first floor with the addition of ogee arches to the stone window surrounds terminating in stone acanthus leaf finials and a central cupola to assist the requirement for a staircase and chimney. The result is a building that can express in classical terms the different moods of time and place with an underlying seriousness and humour.

Highly Commended: The University Arms Hotel, Cambridge
Client: CUA Property Ltd
Architect: John Simpson Architects

The University Arms Hotel, Cambridge, was established in the 1820s and is the oldest hotel in the city. The present building, however, was substantially constructed in 1903 and extended in the 1920s. Its 1833 west entrance facing onto Regent Street was demolished in 1965 to make way for a Modernist block by Feilden and Mawson. John Simpson Architects were commissioned to transform the hotel, adding 60 rooms to it, a terrace overlooking Parker’s Piece, and a new entrance façade. The latter comprises a Doric porte cochère of Ketton stone, wittily referencing Ledoux’s Parisian Barrières of the 1770s as heralds of the city beyond. Meanwhile, the western section of the south front was remodelled by adding a three-storeyed bow, and to the east a four-bay verandah on the first floor.

Diaphoros Prize

Winner: The Cons Club, Framlingham, Suffolk
Client: Paperhouse Properties Ltd
Architect: Hoare Ridge and Morris Architects

Built c.1810, Church House, as it was originally known, was a prominent townhouse owned by the Edwards family of bankers and doctors. In 1910 it became the Framlingham Constitutional Club and later renamed the Framlingham Conservative Club. The club closed at the end of 2018; threatened with being carved up as flats, it was purchased by the architects Mark Hoare and Ted Ridge the following year with the hope of turning it into a public space. ​The new vision includes a café, gallery space, studios, youth club and meeting rooms for public hire, with the creation of separate offices for Framlingham Town Council in a semi-independent part of the building. Re-activating the street frontage was key and the café can now be accessed by the Georgian front door which had previously been blocked.

Exhibition | Mary Ronayne: Fool’s Paradise

Posted in Art Market, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on September 16, 2021

From the press release, via ArtFix Daily:

Mary Ronayne: Fool’s Paradise
HOFA Gallery, London, 16–29 September 2021

Mary Ronayne, The Farthington Family Portrait with Settee, 2021, enamel and emulsion on wood panel, 120 × 90 cm.

Irish figurative painter and multimedia artist known for her whimsical portraits is billed to unveil new, large-scale artworks at HOFA Gallery, London.

In this solo show, Mary Ronayne elevates comedy, wit, and fun to a level of purpose never seen in her work, paving the way for farcical elements like melting faces and candy pop colours to become celebrations of the fluidity of time, identity, and life. This fluidity, which underpins the resilience of a world gleefully returning to normalcy after the harrowing experience of a pandemic, is both literal and symbolic. Juxtaposed with scenes drawn from historical narratives and classical literature, it affirms the enduring elements of humanity in the carefree spirit fans have come to love about her work.

Ronayne’s technique of combining enamel and domestic paints is as much to credit for her charming style as her widely sourced subject matter. It plays a major role in the look and finish of her works which often contrast a glossy, vitreous shine with a more staid, matte texture. Enamel paint is also how the artist creates the gooey, farcical look, almost like candy—an unmistakable element of her signature style.

Drawing inspiration from a rich and diverse universe that includes magazine cut-outs, classical art, historical literature, movies, plays, and operas, Ronayne’s artworks are a tribute to life even when their undercurrent of Hogarthian satire and allegory are hard to deny. Ronayne has always employed humour as a tool to break the ice, disarming and drawing viewers in for a closer look while also conveying poignant critiques of the times.

Huntington Commissions Wiley to Paint New, ‘Blue-Boy’ Inspired Work

Posted in books, exhibitions, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on September 11, 2021

Thomas Kehinde Wiley, A Portrait of a Young Gentleman, 2021, oil on linen, 71 × 49 inches, © Kehinde Wiley (San Marino: Collection of The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, commissioned through Roberts Projects, Los Angeles). Installation photo by Joshua White.

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Press release (9 September 2021) from The Huntington:

Kehinde Wiley, A Portrait of a Young Gentleman
San Marino, The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, 2 October 2021 — 3 January 2022

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens announced today that it has commissioned the renowned artist Kehinde Wiley to create a new work inspired by Thomas Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy (ca. 1770). Wiley’s A Portrait of a Young Gentleman (also the original title of the Gainsborough painting) will be a large-scale portrait in the Grand Manner style that will be added to The Huntington’s permanent collection. The new painting will be on view from 2 October 2021 through 3 January 2022, in The Huntington’s Thornton Portrait Gallery, opposite the institution’s iconic and recently restored Blue Boy. The acquisition of the Wiley portrait celebrates the 100th anniversary of the purchase of the Gainsborough painting by Henry and Arabella Huntington, the founders of the institution.

“Just as scholars come to The Huntington to study and reinterpret our significant collections, with this commission we are delighted that Kehinde Wiley will reenvision our iconic work, The Blue Boy, and Grand Manner portraiture in a powerful way,” said Huntington President Karen R. Lawrence. “Across the breadth of our library, art, and botanical collections, we are inviting perspectives that alter the way we see tradition itself.”

Wiley has long talked about the role The Huntington played in his formative years as an artist growing up in Los Angeles. When he was young, his mother enrolled him in art classes at The Huntington, where he encountered a formidable collection of Grand Manner portraits—large-scale depictions of England’s 18th- and 19th-century noble class. The portraits made such an impression on Wiley that he would later incorporate their stylistic representations of wealth, glory, and power into his own artistic practice, focusing on the Black and brown bodies missing from the museums he visited.

“I loved The Huntington’s galleries; the paintings by Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough, and John Constable were some of my favorites,” Wiley said. “I was taken by their imagery, their sheer spectacle, and, of course, their beauty. When I started painting, I started looking at their technical proficiency—the manipulation of paint, color, and composition. These portraits are hyperreal, with the detail on the face finely crafted, and the brushwork, the clothing, and the landscape fluid and playful. Since I felt somewhat removed from the imagery—personally and culturally—I took a scientific approach and had an aesthetic fascination with these paintings. That distance gave me a removed freedom. Later, I started thinking about issues of desire, objectification, and fantasy in portraiture and, of course, colonialism.”

For A Portrait of a Young Gentleman, Wiley has been painting in Senegal, where he has been living during the COVID-19 pandemic and where Black Rock Senegal, his artist-in-residence program, is headquartered.

Wiley, who earned a bachelor’s in fine arts from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1999 and a master’s in fine arts from Yale University in 2001, became famous for full-length depictions of everyday Black men and women in street clothes. The subjects are painted in classical poses against vibrant, patterned backgrounds, reminiscent of West African fabrics as well as wallpaper and textile designs by William Morris and Co. Wiley’s portraits have come to include depictions of a number of public figures, the most well known of which is the presidential portrait of Barack Obama, which coincidentally will be on view just a few miles from The Huntington at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) this fall, as part of a national tour.

“By adding a work by Kehinde Wiley to our collection, and offering it on view in our most lauded gallery of historic art, we are examining our shared history and beginning to curate our future,” said Christina Nielsen, Hannah and Russel Kully Director of the Art Museum at The Huntington. “I fully expect that Wiley’s portrait will speak to 21st-century audiences just as Thomas Gainsborough’s Blue Boy did to its original audience when it was first unveiled in 1770. We can’t wait to share this experience with visitors.”

In conjunction with the commission, The Huntington is developing plans for a related book.

In January 2022, The Blue Boy will travel to London for an exhibition at the National Gallery, opening 100 years to the day it departed from England for its new home in California.

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Note (added 2 October 2021) — The painting was unveiled on 2 October 2021. The posting has been updated to include the images.

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