Enfilade

Exhibition | Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on September 17, 2021

Installation of the exhibition Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace, at The Queen’s Gallery In London.

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Now on view at The Queen’s Gallery:

Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace
The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London, 17 May 2021 — 13 February 2022

Curated by Desmond Shawe-Taylor and Isabella Manning

Masterpieces from the Royal Collection have been displayed in Buckingham Palace since the residence was acquired by George III and Queen Charlotte in 1762. The painting displays were reinvented during the reign of their son, George IV, who commissioned the architect John Nash to renovate the palace in the 1820s. A Picture Gallery was included to display the monarch’s exceptional collection of paintings. Since then, the Picture Gallery has remained the focus for some of the most treasured Italian, Dutch, and Flemish paintings from the Royal Collection.

The Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace (typically open to visitors only during the summer) is currently being renovated–creating an opportunity to display the paintings normally installed there in other contexts.

Palace displays are often imbued with dynastic meaning; the Picture Gallery was one of the few spaces intended for the enjoyment of art, pure and simple. It is in this same spirit that we have mounted this exhibition: for the first time the paintings are displayed together in modern gallery conditions, allowing us to look at them afresh.

In general these paintings are securely dated and attributed; mostly we know which monarch bought them. We are providing this information here, but we are also asking a different, more subjective question—what makes them important? What do they have to offer? In the exhibition catalogue we have suggested qualities that were valued by the makers of these works and can still be appreciated today: the imitation of nature; the sensuous use of materials; the creation of beautiful design; and the ability to express human emotion. But are we missing something? We hope that visitors will make up their own minds about what there is to enjoy in these paintings and find reasons to believe that they are still worth exploring.

Dou to Vermeer

The paintings in this room were all created in the Low Countries between 1630 and 1680, the heyday of the so-called Dutch Golden Age. They are modest in scale, the majority scenes of everyday life, with figures in landscapes or in homes, taverns and shops. These artists didn’t set up their easels in the market place; they worked from drawings, memory and imagination, but they depicted the familiar everyday world around them. The people they painted were of the same kind that bought their paintings: we can see examples in simple ebony frames on the walls of the interiors of de Hooch and Vermeer.

All but two of these paintings were acquired by George IV to hang in the sumptuous interiors of Carlton House, his London residence when Prince of Wales. Like their original purchasers, he admired them for their comedy, their brilliant technique and their truth to life. They continue to fascinate through their minute detail, tactile surfaces and ability to suggest spaces filled with light and air.

Canaletto, The Piazza Looking North-West with the Narthex of San Marco, ca. 1723–24, oil on canvas, 172 × 134 cm (London: Royal Collectin Trust, RCIN 401037). The painting is one of a set of six views of the Piazza San Marco and the Piazzetta.

Rubens, Rembrandt, and Van Dyck

The artists in this room all come from the Low Countries, as in the previous section. There are some comic scenes of everyday life, but the majority of works belong to the more prestigious branches of art—narrative painting, commissioned portraits, and ambitious landscapes with a symbolic or religious meaning.

This room is dominated by three artists of very different character: Rubens, a diplomat and land-owner; van Dyck, a courtier; and Rembrandt, a professional serving the merchants of Amsterdam. In other ways they are similar, especially in their enthusiasm for the type of Venetian painting that can be seen in the next section.

Painting in Italy, 1510–1740

The paintings in this room were created in Italy, in various artistic centres and over a period of two hundred years. Bringing together this great range of painting evokes something of the first displays at Buckingham Palace, during the reign of George III.

Several strands of Italian art are here on show. There are sober male portraits, often painted with a bare minimum of detail and colour range, but conveying great psychological intensity. There are ideal female figures, derived from the study of antique sculpture, their beauty impassive however dramatic the narrative. There are expressive landscapes, ranging from a cataclysmic storm to the unruffled stillness of a sunset. Then there are Canaletto’s boldly expressive views of Venice, where the imposing monuments of the city are spiced with a hint of picturesque shabbiness.

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In the United States, the catalogue is distributed by The University of Chicago Press:

Desmond Shawe-Taylor and Isabella Manning, Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace (London: Royal Collection Trust, 2021), 160 pages, ISBN: ‎978-1909741737, £20 / $25.

In this beautifully designed book, Desmond Shawe-Taylor, Surveyor of The Queen’s Pictures, and Assistant Curator of Paintings, Isabella Manning, examine 65 of the most celebrated paintings from the Picture Gallery, which sits at the heart of Buckingham Palace. With masterpieces by such artists as Vermeer, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Rubens, Titian, Jan Steen, Claude, and Canaletto, this publication offers new insights into these world-famous works of art. The authors encourage readers to look at the works in a new way and to consider how Claude paints a sky; how Rubens models the landscape through his use of color; and how Titian uses contrast to add gravitas to a portrait. Rather than re-treading the old boards of provenance and attribution, the authors seek to engage with different, perhaps riskier and more subjective, questions: asking not when were they painted and by whom, but why should we concern ourselves with them? A short introduction gives an account of the creation of the Picture Gallery and tells the story of the monarchs who curated this extraordinary collection of paintings and how the works entered the Collection.

C O N T E N T S

A History of Old Master Paintings at Buckingham Palace
Looking at the Old Masters
The Pictures

Further Reading
Index

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Desmond Shawe-Taylor’s very productive fifteen-year tenure as Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures came to an end in December 2020, as reported by the BBC, in response to £64m of lost income related to the pandemic. Indeed, the historic Surveyor position—first filled in 1625 during the reign of Charles I—is for now “lost and held in abeyance.” Royal Collection Director, Tim Knox, has taken on “overall responsibility for the curatorial sections, supported by the Deputy Surveyors of Pictures and Works of Art.”

 

 

Online Seminar | Collecting and Displaying Rembrandt’s Pictures

Posted in lectures (to attend), online learning by Editor on September 16, 2021

Follower of Rembrandt (1606–1669), The Centurion Cornelius (The Unmerciful Servant), ca. 1660, oil on canvas
(London: The Wallace Collection)

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From the seminar flyer:

Andrea Morgan, Collecting and Displaying Rembrandt’s Pictures in 18th- and 19th-Century England: Charles Jennens of Gopsall Hall and the ‘Rembrandt Room’ at Stowe
Wallace Collection Seminars on the History of Collections and Collecting
Online, Monday, 27 September 2021, 5.30pm

The history of collecting paintings attributed to Rembrandt in eighteenth- century England is especially rich. The English developed such a passion for the Dutch artist by the second half of the century that it led the Reverend Matthew Pilkington to worry in 1770 that “the genuine works of this master are rarely to be met with, and whenever they are to be purchased they afford incredible prices.” This talk will focus on two private collections of paintings attributed to Rembrandt that were formed beginning in the eighteenth century.

Charles Jennens is best remembered as the librettist to the composer George Frederic Handel, but he also owned a massive art collection. Among Jennens’s collection by the 1760s and hanging at his now lost estate, Gopsall Hall, formerly in Leicestershire, were six paintings attributed to Rembrandt and one contemporary copy. The copy was a painting by Pieter Tillemans after Rembrandt’s celebrated picture of Belshazzar’s Feast that was in the eighteenth century owned by the Earl of Derby at Knowsley Hall. While Jennens’s ‘Rembrandt’ pictures have since lost their attribution to the master, I propose some reasons why Jennens in particular might have had a special interest in Rembrandt’s painted oeuvre.

One of the largest but heretofore neglected English collections of paintings attributed to Rembrandt was formerly held at Stowe House, Buckinghamshire, having been amassed by various members of the aristocratic Temple-Grenville family. The first picture was recorded at Stowe as early as 1724, but by 1838 there were a total of ten paintings attributed to the Dutch artist at the estate, along with three said to be by artists in Rembrandt’s circle. I trace the history of this collection and conclude with a discussion of the aptly called ‘Rembrandt Room’ at Stowe.

Please note that this seminar will take place on Zoom and YouTube, and will not be held at the Wallace Collection. Admission is free, and registration is required. More information and details of future seminars can now be found here.

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.

Call for Papers and Articles | The Art of Copying

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on September 15, 2021

This Call for Papers addresses both a workshop and publication:

The Art of Copying in Early Modern Europe
The Medici Archive Project, Florence, 21 January 2022

Organized by Maddalena Bellavitis and Alessio Assonitis

Proposals due by 1 October 2021

In recent years, attention has been directed towards copies, with a particular emphasis on their meaning, function, provenance, production, patronage, collecting, and dating. The aesthetic and conceptual tenets underlying this corpus of scholarly research focused primarily on works of art. However, this impulse to recreate images has also been transferred to other artistic and intellectual media. As such, the copy carries within itself a great number of intrinsic nuances, depending on the cultural context and the historical moment.

The organizers of this workshop—Maddalena Bellavitis and Alessio Assonitis—invite papers that address issues that can shed new light and provide new interdisciplinary research trajectories on the mechanisms that regulate the practice and reception of copies. For this reason, we encourage submission for presentation proposals from disciplines other than painting, such as book history, media history, history of science, history of medicine, history of food, and history of diplomacy.

The workshop will take place at The Medici Archive Project, Via dei Benci 10, Florence on 21 January 2022. To be considered for participation, please provide a single document in Microsoft Word, consisting of a one-page proposal for a 20-minute presentation of unpublished work, followed by a short curriculum vitae. Presentations can be in Italian or English. Applications may be sent to education@medici.org by 1 October 2021 (participants will be notified by the end of October).

Furthermore, and separate to that workshop, we are planning a volume with original articles on the topic. We invite papers that address issues that can shed new light and provide new interdisciplinary research trajectories on the mechanisms that regulate the practice and reception of copies. For this reason, we encourage submission for paper proposals from disciplines other than painting, such as book history, media history, history of science, history of medicine, history of food, and history of diplomacy. To be considered for participation, please provide a single document in Microsoft Word or pdf, consisting of a one-page proposal of unpublished work, followed by a short curriculum vitae. Applications (as well as questions) may be sent to maddalena.bellavitis@gmail.com by 1 October 2021 (selected papers will be notified by the second week of October).

New Book | Rubens in Repeat

Posted in books by Editor on September 14, 2021

From The Getty:

Aaron Hyman, Rubens in Repeat: The Logic of the Copy in Colonial Latin America (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2021), 320 pages, ISBN 978-1606066867, $70.

This book examines the reception in Latin America of prints designed by the Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens, showing how colonial artists used such designs to create all manner of artworks and, in the process, forged new frameworks for artistic creativity.

Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) never crossed the Atlantic himself, but his impact in colonial Latin America was profound. Prints made after the Flemish artist’s designs were routinely sent from Europe to the Spanish Americas, where artists used them to make all manner of objects.

Rubens in Repeat is the first comprehensive study of this transatlantic phenomenon, despite broad recognition that it was one of the most important forces to shape the artistic landscapes of the region. Copying, particularly in colonial contexts, has traditionally held negative implications that have discouraged its serious exploration. Yet analyzing the interpretation of printed sources and recontextualizing the resulting works within period discourse and their original spaces of display allow a new critical reassessment of this broad category of art produced in colonial Latin America—art that has all too easily been dismissed as derivative and thus unworthy of sustained interest and investigation. This book takes a new approach to the paradigms of artistic authorship that emerged alongside these complex creative responses, focusing on the viceroyalties of New Spain and Peru in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It argues that the use of European prints was an essential component of the very framework in which colonial artists forged ideas about what it meant to be a creator.

Aaron M. Hyman is assistant professor in the Department of the History of Art at Johns Hopkins University.

Exhibition | Canvas & Silk: Historic Fashion

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on September 13, 2021

From the press release (10 June 2021) for the exhibition:

Canvas & Silk: Historic Fashion from Madrid’s Museo del Traje
The Meadows Museum, SMU, Dallas, 19 September 2021 — 9 January 2022

Curated by Amanda Dotseth and Elvira González

The Meadows Museum, SMU, has announced a major exhibition of Spanish dress and fashion that will pair paintings from the Meadows’s collection with historic dress and accessories from the Museo del Traje, Centro de Investigación del Patrimonio Etnológico in Madrid. Canvas & Silk: Historic Fashion from Madrid’s Museo del Traje marks the first major collaboration between this important Spanish institution and an American museum and will include approximately 40 works from the Meadows alongside examples of dress and accessories from the Museo del Traje (Spanish National Museum for Fashion). Displayed together, the works in the exhibition not only tell the story of how fashion trends in Spain changed over four hundred years, but also reveal how elements of a country’s history—such as its involvement with global trade or the formation of a national identity—are reflected in its dress.

Traje a ‘la francesca’ (calzón, chupa, casaca) / French Costume (Breeches, Vest, Dress Coat), ca. 1795–1800; silk, linen, and cotton (Madrid: Museo del Traje, Centro de Investigación del Patrimonio Etnológico; Calzón, CE000663; chupa, CE000664; casaca, CE000665; photo by Gonzalo Cases Ortega).

Canvas & Silk will be on view at the Meadows from 19 September 2021 until 9 January 2022. Concurrently, the Meadows will also present Image & Identity: Mexican Fashion in the Modern Period, an investigation into Mexican dress spanning from Mexican Independence to modern times through photographs and prints from the collections of the Meadows Museum and SMU’s DeGolyer Library.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to gain further insight into the Meadows’s collection of Spanish art through its exhibition with loans from Spain’s premier collection of historic dress,” said Amanda W. Dotseth, curator at the Meadows Museum and co-curator of the exhibition in collaboration with Elvira González of the Museo del Traje. “This exhibition makes it possible to tell a more nuanced story about Spanish society through the presentation of historic paintings with contemporaneous examples of the garments depicted therein. We are as never before able to explore the complex relationships between representation and reality, between image and artifact. Spanish fashion has long been a point of interest for the Meadows Museum, whether in the form of past exhibitions—such Balenciaga and His Legacy: Haute Couture from the Texas Fashion Collection in 2007—or as portrayed in the collection’s prints, paintings, and sculptures. We look forward to continuing our study and display of Spanish fashion with this unprecedented collaboration with the Museo del Traje.”

Canvas & Silk will be divided into themes that elucidate various trends in the history of European fashion in general and Spanish dress in particular over the past five hundred years. These include ‘Precious Things’, featuring accessories like jewelry and combs made from precious metals and other rare materials such as coral; ‘Traditional Dress’ with examples of garments and ensembles that are typically identified with Spain, such as a traje de luces (the suit typically worn by bullfighters) and mantón de Manila (traditional embroidered silk shawls historically traded through Manila); and ‘Stepping Out’ demonstrating the importance of what one wore when presenting themselves in public. Highlights of pairings combining paintings from the Meadows’s collection and historic dress from the Museo del Traje include Ignacio Zuloaga’s The Bullfighter ‘El Segovianito’ (1912) accompanied by a traje de luces of the same color; Zuloaga’s Portrait of the Duchess of Arión, Marchioness of Bay (1918) displayed alongside a mantón de Manila similar to the one the duchess is holding; and Joan Miró’s Queen Louise of Prussia (1929) paired with a vibrantly hand-painted dress and shoes by twentieth-century fashion designer Manuel Piña.

“By pairing the Museo del Traje’s collection with that of the Meadows’s, we are bringing the dress, accessories, and other material objects to life, enabling viewers to see the contexts in which such articles were worn,” said Elvira González, curator of the historic apparel collection at the Museo del Traje. “Viewed together, the clothing allows for a deeper understanding of the painting; for example, the presence of the mantón de Manila (embroidered Manila silk shawl) in Ignacio Zuloaga y Zabaleta’s painting Portrait of the Duchess of Arión, Marchioness of Bay (1918) speaks to the social position of the woman depicted. Not only will our collection be seen by audiences in the U.S. for the first time, but it will also be displayed in a completely new light. We’re excited to see what kind of scholarship and new ideas might be generated by presenting these works in a new environment and alongside these paintings and drawings.”

The accompanying exhibition catalogue will contain an essay co-authored by Dotseth and González that illuminates themes linking the garments, accessories, and corresponding works in the Meadows collection. The publication will feature new photography of key objects by Jesús Madriñán.

Canvas & Silk will be accompanied by a focused exhibition in the museum’s first-floor galleries titled Image & Identity: Mexican Fashion in the Modern Period, curated by Akemi Luisa Herráez Vossbrink, the Center for Spain in America (CSA) Curatorial Fellow at the Meadows Museum. Featuring photographs, prints, books, and gouaches from the 19th and 20th centuries, this exhibition will explore Mexican fashion through images of everyday scenes, festivities, regional types, and occupations. Building on a theme developed in Canvas & Silk, Image & Identity will also show how national identity formation is reflected in fashion and is often accompanied by a resurgence in the popularity of indigenous dress. Works in Image & Identity are drawn from the collections of the Meadows Museum and SMU’s DeGolyer Library, named after Everette L. DeGolyer, Sr. who, with his son, collected maps, books, manuscripts, and photographs related to Mexican exploration and history. Artists featured in the exhibition include Alfred Briquet, Carlos Mérida, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, Jerry Bywaters, Paul Strand, and Manuel Álvarez Bravo.

Workshop | 18th-C Persianate Albums Made in India

Posted in conferences (to attend), online learning by Editor on September 12, 2021

Musical and dance performance in the harem, from an Indo-Persianate album of Antoine Louis Polier, I 4594, fol. 19, Delhi or Faizabad before 1777
(Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Museum für Islamische Kunst / Johannes Kramer)

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From ArtHist.net (11 September 2021) . . .

18th-Century Persianate Albums Made in India: Audiences – Artists – Patrons and Collectors
Online and In-Person, Museum of Asian Art and Museum of Islamic Art, Berlin, 15–17 September 2021

Organized by Friederike Weis

This workshop will address the role of Indo-Persianate albums (muraqqaʿs) that were assembled for or collected by the Mughal governors of Awadh (Uttar Pradesh): Shujaʿ al-Daula (r. 1754–75) and his successor Asaf al-Daula (r. 1775–97), as well as other local elites in Bengal and Bihar. Europeans also participated in the creation and consumption of albums, as patrons and collectors. In 1882, the Prussian State acquired a group of twenty albums from the twelfth Duke of Hamilton. So far, these artworks have received little study. Eight of them belonged to the Scottish surgeon and interpreter Archibald Swinton (1731–1804) and ten to the Franco-Swiss engineer-architect Antoine Louis Henri Polier (1741–1795)—both were Company officers deeply acquainted with Indo-Persian aristocratic culture. Many more albums are linked to well-known European figures, such as the Governor-General of Bengal Warren Hastings (1732–1818) and the French Company officer (and special agent to Shujaʿ al-Daula in Faizabad) Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Gentil (1726–1799). Numerous interrelated questions arise from the study of this material, concerning audiences, artists, patrons, collectors, and their wish to produce and preserve knowledge.

The workshop will be held as a blended format with a mix of online and on-site presentations at the Museum of Asian Art and the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin. You are cordially invited to join all presentations via webex (free of charge). We anticipate that the event will be recorded. If you wish to attend the workshop in person, please note that the number of seats at both venues is limited. Advance registration for on-site attendance is essential: f.weis@smb.spk-berlin.de.

Times are listed according to CEST (Central European Summer Time)

W E D N E S D A Y ,  1 5  S E P T E M B E R  2 0 2 1
Museum für Asiatische Kunst, 3.00–6.20pm | Link

3.00  Raffael Gadebusch (Berlin) — Welcome

3.15  Friederike Weis (Berlin) — Introduction

3.50  Session 1. Polier’s Albums and Manuscripts: Contents and Contexts
Chair: Friederike Weis
• Susan Stronge (London) — Collecting the Mughal Past
• Malini Roy (London) — Blurred Lines: Looking at the Paintings by the Artist Mihr Chand and Determining the Boundaries between Innovation, Imitation, or Intentional ‘Duplication’
• Firuza Abdullaeva-Melville (Cambridge) — Three Highlights of Polier’s Collection from Cambridge: Treasures or Leftovers

T H U R S D A Y ,  1 6  S E P T E M B E R  2 0 2 1
Museum für Asiatische Kunst, 9.30am–4.30pm | Link

9.30  Session 2. Patrons, Collectors, and Compilation Strategies
Chair: Susan Stronge
• Emily Hannam (Windsor) — Fit for a King? Two Late Mughal Albums in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle
• Axel Langer (Zurich) — Obvious or Hidden Narratives in the Large Clive Album
• J.P. Losty (Sussex) — Archibald Swinton’s Indian Paintings and Albums: An Analysis

12.00  Lunch Break

1.20  Session 3. Recurrent Themes and Tropes in Indo-Persianate Albums
Chair: Laura Parodi
• Katherine Butler Schofield (London) — Performing Women in the Polier and Plowden Albums: Pursuing Khanum Jan
• Molly Aitken (New York) — Intoxicating Friendships: Figuring Classical Indian Aesthetic Regimes in Mughal Album Painting
• Yuthika Sharma (Edinburgh) — Topography as Mughal Utopia? Polier’s ‘Garden Series’ and Artistic Exchange in 18th-Century Periphery-Centre Imagination
• Anastassiia Botchkareva (New York) — Tropes and Outliers: Tracing Patterns of Iconography in the Polier Albums

F R I D A Y ,  1 7  S E P T E M B E R  2 0 2 1
Archäologisches Zentrum (Offices of the Museum für Islamische Kunst), 9.45am–3.30pm | Link

9.45  Stefan Weber and Deniz Erduman-Çalış (Berlin) — Welcome

10.00  Session 4. Calligraphy in the Berlin Albums: Historicism and Contemporary Mughal Masters
Chair: Axel Langer
• Claus-Peter Haase (Berlin) — The Calligraphies of the 16th-17th Centuries in the Berlin Albums: Reflections on their Origins and Purpose in a Muraqqaʿ
• Will Kwiatkowski (Berlin) — Expanding the Canon: Mir Muhammad Husayn ʿAta Khan and the Polier Albums

11.50  Session 5. Indian Muraqqaʿs Collected by Europeans: Networks and Relationships
Chair: Deniz Erduman-Çalış
• Laura Parodi (Genova) — Allegory and Verisimilitude in Later Indian Albums
• Isabelle Imbert (Manchester) — Like a Garden Bedecked: Floral Margins in 18th-Century Awadhi Albums Produced for European Patrons

1.10  Lunch Break

2.20  Session 5: Indian Muraqqaʿs Collected by Europeans: Networks and Relationships, continued
• Yael Rice (Amherst, MA) — The London Market for South Asian Muraqqaʿs and the Hastings Albums

3.00  Final Discussion

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

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.

World’s Oldest Jeans as Inspiration

Posted in today in light of the 18th century by Editor on September 9, 2021

From Industry.Fashion.com (with coverage also at HypeBeast). . .

Tom Shearsmith, “Diesel to Reproduce World’s Oldest Known Jeans Fabric,” The Industry.Fashion (3 September 2021).

Diesel has announced it is to honour Genoa, the birthplace of Jeans, and celebrates Made in Italy by presenting a reproduction of the oldest jeans fabric ever documented in history.

Dating back to 1760, local townspeople and labourers in Genoa were first seen wearing jeans as part of their daily wardrobes. Colours ranged from standard indigo to brown to white. A nativity figurine by Pasquale Navone shows a man with denim trousers (woven diagonally, 2 to 1, in a blue cotton weft and white linen warp) that appear remarkably similar to iterations from the modern era. This sculpture represents the oldest historical instance of jeans.

Diesel has replicated the original fabric and garment as they existed three hundred years ago using handmade Italian textiles and workmanship. The re-creation is exhibited at Genova Jeans fair in Genoa, Italy through September 6, where Diesel was invited to celebrate the heritage of Made in Italy jeans.

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The nativity figure by Pasquale Navone (1746–1791) is now housed at the Galleria Nazionale di Palazzo Spinola in Genova, a building begun in 1594 and updated substantially in the eighteenth century. As noted at Wikipedia:

In the 18th century it [the palazzo] again passed through marriage to become the property of the House of Spinola, when Maddalena Doria married to Niccolò Spinola. Maddalena directed the Rococo refurbishment in the mid-18th century, and engaged Lorenzo De Ferrari, Giovanni Battista Natali and Sebastiano Galeotti to paint the quadratura and decoration. She also commissioned the Gallery of Mirrors. Her grandson, Paolo Francesco Spinola, however was forced during the Napoleonic occupation to sell many works of art; his portrait (1794) by Angelica Kauffman is on display in the palace.

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Note (added 9 September 2021) — The title of the original posting misleadingly used the word denim.

Exhibition | The Jewish Past of Strawberry Hill

Posted in exhibitions, online learning by Editor on September 8, 2021

From the exhibition press release, via Art Daily,

The Unexpected Jewish Past of Strawberry Hill House
Online, starting in 2021

Grant of Arms to John Braham, detail, 1817, “Rinasce piu gloriosa” (It rises again more glorious).

As part of the events and activities celebrating the European Jewish Days of Culture festival, Strawberry Hill House has a free online exhibition exploring the lives of two of the historic west London villa’s former owners: Frances, Countess Waldegrave (1821–1879) and Herbert Stern, 1st Baron Michelham (1851–1919).

For many, Strawberry Hill House is synonymous with Horace Walpole, who built the neo-Gothic villa (1749–76), and filled it with his collections. However, following his death in 1797, the house was passed to a succession of owners, including the formidable Frances, Lady Waldegrave, the daughter of the internationally famous Jewish opera singer, John Braham, and later to Herbert Stern, the scion of a Jewish banking dynasty. As visitors will discover in Strawberry Hill’s comprehensive online exhibition, the House’s Jewish owners brought it back to the centre of the social and artistic milieu of their respective eras.

Through a variety of images and objects, online visitors can explore the aspects of Jewish culture and sociability that characterised the lives of Lady Waldegrave and the Stern Family. With themes including family ties, cosmopolitanism, art patronage, social status, religious identity, anti-Semitism, and different forms of philanthropy, the exhibition shines a spotlight onto the lives and activities of two very different chatelaines, whose time at Strawberry Hill has often been overshadowed by the presence of Walpole.

Visitors to Strawberry Hill House will be able to explore two objects on loan that complement the online exhibition: the Grant of Arms to John Braham (1817) and the Louis William Desanges painting Strawberry Hill: The Drawing Room (1865). Lady Waldegrave was very proud of the coat of arms granted to her father in 1817—a symbol of his success, and his patronage by important figures such as the Duke of Sussex. Appropriately enough for a poor orphan from the East End, who had sold pencils on the street as a young boy, he chose a phoenix rising from the ashes as his crest. The phoenix holds a lyre in its beak—a suitable symbol for a musician (the lyre was the crest of the Worshipful Company of Musicians), and the Grant is inscribed ‘Rinasce piu gloriosa’ (it rises again more glorious). One of the stained-glass windows in the Round Drawing Room at Strawberry Hill shows Braham’s Grant of Arms, and it can also be seen above the entrance gate. Lady Waldegrave became known as one of the foremost political hostesses of Victorian Britain. She, along with her last husband Chichester Fortescue, managed a wide circle of political friendships, both nationally and internationally. Whilst she was deeply involved with the fortunes of the Liberal Party, for which Fortescue was an MP and cabinet minister, the parties she hosted at Strawberry Hill were deliberately bipartisan. Lord Russell, Gladstone and Disraeli were all regular visitors to Strawberry Hill. The Desanges painting Strawberry Hill: The Drawing Room shows such a glittering gathering.

To coincide with the online exhibition, author and curator Nino Strachey will share her personal reflections on the life of her ancestor, Frances Waldegrave, with a talk on 29 September. Drawing on her research into the Braham family, Nino will share new insights from the papers recently acquired by the British Library.

Strawberry Hill House Curator, Silvia Davoli, says: “Our collaboration with the Jewish Country Houses Project has led me to develop a more in-depth documentary research on Lady Waldegrave and the Sterns. With this exhibition my hope is to engage our visitors with a new exciting dimension of the history of the house, a story full of surprises and yet to be told!”

Derek Purnell, Director, Strawberry Hill House & Garden, says: “I am delighted that by displaying these items we are able to begin to share some of the lesser-known stories of Strawberry Hill House’s illustrious history, and we are grateful to Nino Strachey for her contribution to making this project possible.”

Since 2018 Strawberry Hill House has collaborated with the Jewish Country Houses Project, a 4-year research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, you can find more information about the project and the ongoing initiatives here.

This exhibition is curated by Silvia Davoli (Curator, Strawberry Hill), in collaboration with Nino Strachey (Writer and former Head of Research for the National Trust), Tom Stammers (Associate Professor in Modern European Cultural History, University of Durham), Michele Klein (Independent Researcher), Chris Jones (Curator, Salomons Museum), Bethan Wood (Marketing and Communication Manager, Strawberry Hill), and Carole Tucker (Hon Librarian at Strawberry Hill).