New Book | Magical Manuscripts in Early Modern Europe

Posted in books by Editor on May 20, 2017

From Palgrave Macmillan:

Daniel Bellingradt and Bernd-Christian Otto, Magical Manuscripts in Early Modern Europe: The Clandestine Trade In Illegal Book Collections (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), ISBN 978  3319  595245, $60.

This book presents the story of a unique collection of 140 manuscripts of ‘learned magic’ that was sold for a fantastic sum within the clandestine channels of the German book trade in the early eighteenth century. The book will interpret this collection from two angles—as an artefact of the early modern book market as well as the longue-durée tradition of Western learned magic—thus taking a new stance towards scribal texts that are often regarded as eccentric, peripheral, or marginal. The study is structured by the apparent exceptionality, scarcity, and illegality of the collection and provides chapters on clandestine activities in European book markets, questions of censorship regimes and efficiency, the use of manuscripts in an age of print, and the history of learned magic in early modern Europe. As the collection has survived till this day in Leipzig University Library, the book provides a critical edition of the 1710 selling catalogue, which includes a brief content analysis of all extant manuscripts. The study will be of interest to scholars and students from a variety of fields, such as early modern book history, the history of magic, cultural history, the sociology of religion, or the study of Western esotericism.

Daniel Bellingradt is Professor of Book Studies at Erlangen-Nuremberg University, Germany, co-editor of the German Yearbook for the History of Communications and co-editor of Books in Motion in Early Modern Europe: Beyond Production, Circulation, and Consumption (2017).
Bernd-Christian Otto is postdoctoral researcher at the Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies at the University of Erfurt, Germany. His book publications include Magie: Rezeptions- und diskursgeschichtliche Analysen von der Antike bis zur Neuzeit (2011) and, as co-editor, Defining Magic: A Reader (2013) and History and Religion: Narrating a Religious Past (2015).

Exhibition | Lives Bound Together: Slavery at Mount Vernon

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on May 19, 2017

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Now on view at Mount Vernon:

Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon
The Donald W. Reynolds Museum, Mount Vernon, 1 October 2016 –30 September 2017

Mount Vernon was George Washington’s home. It was also home to hundreds of enslaved people who lived and worked under Washington’s control: in 1799, there were 317 men, women, and children enslaved at Mount Vernon’s five farms, which covered 8,000 acres. They made up more than 90% of the population of the estate.

House Bell, ca. 1784–88; Copper alloy, iron (Mount Vernon).

Through household furnishings, art works, archaeological discoveries, documents, and interactive displays, the exhibition, which spans 4,400 square feet throughout all seven galleries of the Donald W. Reynolds Museum, demonstrates how closely intertwined the lives of the Washingtons were with those of the enslaved. Nineteen enslaved individuals are featured throughout the exhibit, represented with life-size silhouettes and interactive touchscreens providing biographical details.

More than 350 items are on view—seeds and animal bones, ceramic fragments, and metal buttons unearthed from archaeological excavations around the estate, as well as fine tablewares and furniture from the Washington household, providing insights into the enslaved community’s daily lives and work. Guests gain a better understanding of Washington’s changing views towards slavery, culminating in his landmark decision to include in his will a provision freeing the slaves that he owned. Visitors will have an opportunity to view original manuscript pages from George Washington’s will, written in July 1799, showing his decision to free the slaves he owned. The exhibition profiles 19 individuals enslaved at Mount Vernon, using George Washington’s extensive records to piece together what is known of their lives in interactive displays.

Susan P. Schoelwer, ed., with an introduction by Annette Gordon-Reed, Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon (2016), 172 pages, ISBN: 978  970931  9170, $20.

Lives Bound Together provides fresh research on this important topic, with brief biographies of 19 enslaved individuals, 10 essays, and 130 illustrations, including paintings, prints, and household furnishings from the Mansion, artifacts excavated by archaeologists from the slave quarters, documents, maps, and conjectural silhouettes that suggest the presence of the enslaved.


2017 Mount Vernon Symposium

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on May 19, 2017

Next month at Mount Vernon:

Under My Vine & Fig Tree: Gardening, Landscape, and Design in the Age of Washington
Mount Vernon, 2–4 June 2017

Morning sunlight highlights colorful beds in George Washington’s upper garden with seed house in the background, 2012. Photo by John Henley.

Join leading gardeners, historians, horticulturalists, archaeologists, and preservationists as they reconsider the importance of gardening, landscapes, and design in early America. Learn how Washington and his contemporaries shaped the natural world to achieve beauty through gardening, profited through agriculture, and conveyed civic values through landscape design—and how these historic methods remain relevant in today’s world. Revisit long-lost gardens, explore contemporary creations inspired by the past, and come face-to-face with the most authentic 18th-century plantation landscape in the United States.

F R I D A Y ,  2  J U N E  2 0 1 7

12:30  Registration

1:00  Welcome and Introductions

1:15  William Rieley (Landscape Architect for The Garden Club of Virginia), Proportion without Mathematics in Early Virginia Landscapes

2:00 William C. Welch (Professor and Landscape Horticulturist for Texas A & M University), Exploring our Southern Gardening Heritage

2:45  Break

3:15  Dean Norton (Director of Horticulture at George Washington’s Mount Vernon), George Washington’s Mount Vernon Landscape

4:15  Landscape and Mansion Tours

5:45  Reception

6:30  Dinner

S A T U R D A Y ,  3  J U N E  2 0 1 7

8:45  Welcome and Introductions

9:00  Forrest Pritchard (full-time sustainable farmer and New York Times bestselling author), Restoration Agriculture: Building Fertility and Protecting our Watershed through Sustainable Farming

10:00  Break

10:15  Luke Pecoraro (Director of Archaeology at George Washington’s Mount Vernon), ‘We have done very little investigation there; there is a great deal yet to do’: The Changing Historic Landscape of George Washington’s Mount Vernon

11:00  Bruce Ragsdale (recently served as Mount Vernon’s inaugural fellow in the Georgian Papers Programme at the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle), The Landscape of Improvement: Washington, George III, and the Picturesque Farm

12:00  Lunch

1:30  Morrie Heckscher (Curator Emeritus of the American Wing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art), Creating Central Park

2:30  Break

3:00  Joseph P. Gromacki (Chicago-based attorney, collector of American decorative arts, and avid gardener with a keen interest in heirloom plants), Kelton House Farm: Celebrating the History of Gardening in Colonial America

3:45  Gabriele Rausse (Director of Gardens and Grounds at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello), Jefferson and Wine

5:00  Reception and Wine Tasting

6:30  Dinner, Whiskey Tasting, and Tours, George Washington’s Distillery and Gristmill

S U N D A Y ,  4  J U N E  2 0 1 7

7:45  Optional Episcopal Service and Tour at Nearby Historic Pohick Church, where George Washington Attended and Served as Vestryman

9:30  Leslie B. Grigsby (Winterthur’s Senior Curator of Ceramics and Glass), Blooms Transported: Ceramic Vases and Floral Ornament

10:15  Thomas Ranier (Thomas Rainer is a landscape architect, teacher, and author living outside of Washington, D.C.), The Garden of the Future: Re-Imagining the American Yard

11:00  Break

11:30  Curator-led Tours of Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon



Exhibition | The Treasury Collection: Works by Maria Sibylla Merian

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on May 18, 2017

Now on view at the Cromhouthuis (with thanks to Hélène Bremer for noting it and the related symposium). . .

The Treasury Collection: Works by Maria Sibylla Merian
Cromhouthuis, Amsterdam, 31 March — 18 June 2017

This year is the 300th anniversary of the death of naturalist and artist Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717). On view at the Cromhouthuis, The Treasury Collection: Works by Maria Sibylla Merian features her colourful paintings and illustrations of caterpillars, butterflies, and other insects. This valuable and fragile collection is part of the Artis Library Collection from the University of Amsterdam.

Maria Sibylla Merian was born in Frankfurt in 1647 and moved to Amsterdam in 1691. Merian was an independent woman with modern ideas that she carried over into her research as a naturalist. For example, she felt it was important to see the creatures she was researching in their natural environment. This conviction lay at the basis of her journey to Surinam where she worked on her most well-known book, Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium. The focus of this richly illustrated work, just as in her book Raupen wunderbare Verwandlung, is the metamorphosis of caterpillar to butterfly. The exhibition illustrates beautifully how Merian worked on the interface between art and science.

The exhibition was designed by Florian Seyd and Ueli Signer from The Wunderkammer. They took their inspiration from the antique books and original prints in the collection of the Artis Library (UvA) and combined this with specimens and objects from nature. British writer Redmond O’Hanlon made a special audio guide for the exhibition, available for free at the entrance.

To commemorate the 300th anniversary of the death of Merian, the Maria Sibylla Merian Society is holding an international symposium on her work, 7–9 June. The exhibition—a collaboration between Artis Library, the University of Amsterdam, and the Amsterdam Museum—is part of the symposium programme.




Conference | Maria Sibylla Merian

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on May 18, 2017

From the conference website and programme:

Maria Sibylla Merian Conference
Amsterdam, June 7–9 June 2017

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717) is one of the more intriguing figures of scientific, artistic, and commercial culture of the early modern period. Born in Frankfurt and later based in Nuremberg, Wieuwerd, and Amsterdam, her scientific interest in entomology led her eventually to Surinam, where, as in Europe, she studied the metamorphoses of insects in their natural habitat. She translated her minute observations into powerful artistic representations that still attract the attention of many scholars, such as biologists, art historians, and science historians. Modern artists and novelists also find inspiration in her work and life.

The aim of the conference is to bring together new research and projects relating to Maria Sibylla Merian. With her life and work as a focal point this conference will also explore topics that relate to Merian from a broader perspective, such as the religious context of her work, early modern book production, Merian’s social network, Surinam as a colony, and entomological research.

W E D N E S D A Y ,  7  J U N E  2 0 1 7

12.00  Registration and coffee

12.50  Introduction

13.00  Welcome from Karen Maex, Rector Magnificus, University of Amsterdam (TBC)

13.10  Redmond O’Hanlon, Maria, the Jungle and Bird-Eating Spiders

13.40  Kay Etheridge (Gettysburg College, Pennsylvannia), A Biologist to the Bone

14.20  Kate Heard (Royal Collection, London), ‘One of the Most Curious Performances … That Ever Was Published’: Merian in the Royal Collection

15.00  Tea break

15.30  Kurt Wettengl (TU, Dortmund), Merian’s Launch Pad

16.15  Henrietta McBurney (Art curator and author, Cambridge), The Influence of Merian’s Work on the Art and Science of Mark Catesby

T H U R S D A Y ,  8  J U N E  2 0 1 7

8.30  Registration and coffee

8.50  Introduction

9.00  Welcome from José van Dijk, President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and Distinguished University Professor, Utrecht University

9.10  George McGavin (Research Associate of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History), Endless Forms Most Beautiful and Most Wonderful

9.50  Katarina Schmidt-Loske (Research Center of Historical Biology – Biohistoricum — at the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig, Leibniz-Institute for Animal Biodiversity, Bonn), Pupa, Chrysalis, and Cocoon

10.30  Coffee break

11.00  Alicia Montoya (Radboud University, Nijmegen), Maria Sibylla Merian’s Eighteenth-Century Readers: The Evidence from Library Auction Catalogues, 1700–1800

11.40  Anja Grebe (Danube University, Krems), Changing the Discourse of Science: New Insights on Maria Sibylla Merian’s Impact on Entomology in Nuremberg and Beyond

12.20  Lunch break

13.50  Parallel Sessions | Biology and Art
• Yulia Dunaeva (Russian Academy of Science, St. Petersburg), Using Merian’s Books to Determine Zoological Specimens from the Kunstkamera Collection
• Carin Grabowski (Humboldt University, Berlin), Between Faithfulness and Construction: Re-assessing Merian’s Oeuvre
• Berit Møller (Conservator at the Royal Danish Collections), A Close Study of 50 Merian Paintings
• Jaya Remond (Max Planck Institute, Berlin), Seeing Nature Up Close: Composing Exotic Botanical Imagery in Northern Europe ca. 1600–1700

13.50  Parallel Sessions | Network
• Liesbeth Missel (Curator Wageningen University Library), Merian, Alida Withoos, and Agnes Block: An Oral Network of Scientists, Artists, and the Elite
• Christine Sauer (Stadtbibliothek Nürnberg), Painting Flowers with Needles
• Florence Pieters (Former Curator Artis Library, UvA), Maria Sibylla Merian’s Additions to alba amicorum
• Bert van de Roemer (University of Amsterdam), Merian’s Amsterdam Network

15.10  Tea Break

15.40  Parallel Sessions | History of Books and Collections
• Marieke van Delft (Curator Royal Library, The Hague), Surviving Copies of Merian’s 1705 Edition of Metamorphosis
• Leslie Overstreet (Curator Smithsonian Libraries), The Editions of Merian’s Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium
• Peter Kristiansen (Curator at the Royal Danish Collections), The Merian Drawings at Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen
• Hans Mulder (Curator Artis Library, UvA), Who Printed the Texts of Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium and Der rupsen begin, voedzel en wonderbaare verandering?

15.40  Parallel Sessions | Biography and Context
• Joris Bürmann (École normale supérieure, Paris), Maria Sibylla Merian at l’Église du Seigneur: A New Light on the Wieuwerd Context
• Amanda Pipkin (University of North Carolina), God’s Handiwork: Searching for Herbs and Insects on the Moors of Friesland
• Rose Marie Tillisch (University of Copenhagen), Garden of Eden: Depicted by Hildegard von Bingen (1098–1179) and Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717)
• Margot Lölhöffel (Nürnberg), Maria Sibylla Gräffin, née Merianin: Starting a Career in Nuremberg?

17.15  Drinks

19.00  Conference Dinner (Allard Pierson Museum)

F R I D A Y ,  9  J U N E  2 0 1 7

9.00  Registration and coffee

9.15  Erik de Jong (Artis-chair University of Amsterdam), Biophilia and Beauty in the Work of Maria Sibylla Merian

9.45  Group division and walk

10.00  Rotating Groups
• Artis Butterfly Garden
• Joos van de Plas, How Merian’s Legacy Influenced my Art Work
• Anita Walsmit Sachs, Science Meets Art, Art Meets Science

11.30  Lunch

12.00  Rotating Groups
• Artis Butterfly Garden
• Joos van de Plas, How Merian’s Legacy Influenced my Art Work
• Anita Walsmit Sachs, Science Meets Art, Art Meets Science

The program will also include a tour through Merian’s Amsterdam with Dirk Tang and a visit to the Merian exhibition at the Cromhouthuis (Amsterdam Museum).







Call for Papers | Furniture and the Domestic Interior, 1500–1915

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on May 18, 2017

From the Call for Papers:

Furniture and the Domestic Interior, 1500–1915
The Frick Collection, New York, 27 October 2017

Proposals due by 18 June 2017

The Furniture History Society and The Frick Collection invite submissions from PhD students, post-doctorates, and emerging museum scholars for a symposium dedicated to the history of furniture and interiors in Europe, Britain, and the United States. Furniture and the Domestic Interior, 1500–1915 is the Furniture History Society’s fourth Research Seminar, following previous academic events at the Wallace Collection in London (2015, 2012) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (2014).

This event aims to present current research by scholars at an early stage of their career on subjects in European and British furniture history. Topics relevant to the Frick’s distinguished collection of European furniture or Gilded Age setting are encouraged, as are those that have a particular focus on the history and influence of European furniture in the United States, either through design, manufacture, commissions, or collecting. In addition to presenting their work, participants will have the opportunity to study furniture in the Frick’s permanent collection with curatorial and conservation staff and discuss ongoing research in a seminar setting.

Applicants are requested to send a current CV and 300-word abstract outlining the topic of a 20-minute paper to grants@furniturehistorysociety.org and academic@frick.org by June 18, 2017. Limited assistance with travel expenses may be available on an as-needed basis; please describe any requests in the abstract. All applicants will be notified by July 11, 2017. The symposium is free, but online registration is required.

Cincinnati Receives $11.75million for Bimel Asian Art Endowment

Posted in museums by Editor on May 18, 2017

Press release (16 May 2017) from the Cincinnati Art Museum:

A Royal Couple and Women of the Court Playing Holi, ca. 1760, Mughal period, Mughal/India; opaque watercolor, gold, and silver on paper (Cincinnati Museum of Art, 1986.1174).

A landmark $11.75 million gift to the Cincinnati Art Museum to establish the Alice Bimel Endowment for Asian Art was announced at the museum’s 137th Annual Meeting of the Shareholders of the Cincinnati Museum Association on May 15. The largest single monetary gift in the museum’s history, the endowment will enhance collections in the arts of South Asia, Greater Iran, and Afghanistan.

During their lifetimes, the Bimels developed a fascination with South Asian art of all periods and extended their interests to include the regions of Greater Iran and Afghanistan. Their gifts to the Cincinnati Art Museum followed closely their own art collecting, study, and travel interests. In sum, Alice and Carl Bimel generously donated more than $14 million in addition to significant collection objects to the museum.

“It would be impossible to express in full our gratitude for what Carl and Alice Bimel have given to the public through their museum. The Bimels’ act of immense generosity will advance a key area of study that is immeasurably important and highly relevant in contemporary society. The Bimels gave countless volunteer hours, support and collections while they were with us. Now they add their vision to the future,” said Cameron Kitchin, the Louis and Louise Dieterle Nippert Director of the museum.

Newly appointed Curator of South Asian Art, Islamic Art and Antiquities, Dr. Ainsley Cameron, adds, “The opportunity to build an ambitious collection in a public museum today is rare. Alice and Carl Bimel have made that possible for Cincinnati. With this endowment, we can create an exceptional collection, one that represents the vibrancy and vitality prevalent in the arts of the region, from both the historic period and the contemporary.”

Alice and her husband, Carl, were longtime supporters of the museum who, with their passing, left a legacy of philanthropy. Alice died in 2008 and Carl in 2013. Alice was a Cincinnati Art Museum volunteer for more than 40 years, and was a member of the first docent class in 1960. In 1972, she was the first woman named to the museum’s board of trustees. She was one of the principal volunteers assisting with the museum’s fundraising efforts before the Development department was established in the fall of 1981. Alice was passionate about art and fiercely committed to the excellence of the Cincinnati Art Museum. She has been described as “thoughtful, energetic, patrician and deeply caring.” Former director Millard Rogers said in 1990: “Alice Bimel represents all the good qualities of volunteerism. She has provided many firsts through her insight and creativity; she is a worker as well as a leader, and has continued to be active long after others with less dedication and perseverance have quit.”

The Bimels traveled extensively throughout Asia. They collected miniature paintings and other South Asian works of art which are now in the Cincinnati Art Museum’s permanent collection, and also provided support for the purchase of acquisitions in other regions represented in the Art Museum’s Asian collections.

In 2004, the Cincinnati Art Museum dedicated its courtyard in honor of Alice in recognition of a major gift. Other gifts included endowing several galleries in honor of Alice and their daughters Carlyn and Natalie.   The Bimel family has previously provided more than $2 million in other endowments and gifts to the Cincinnati Art Museum since 1977. In 1998, Carl and Alice Bimel gifted the museum a 9th-century carved stone pillar from the Pala dynasty depicting a Serpent King and Queen. In 2008 the Art Museum celebrated a gift of Indian paintings from the Bimels that included exquisite works of art created in the 17th and 18th centuries at the royal Hindu courts of Rajasthan and the Punjab Hills. This gift enhanced the collection of courtly and sacred Indian paintings, most of which were given by the Bimels over many years. In 2006, Alice was awarded the Cincinnati Art Museum’s George Rieveschl Medal for Distinguished Service.


The American Historical Review (April 2017)

Posted in journal articles by Editor on May 17, 2017

The “AHR Forum: Mapping the Republic of Letters” in the current issue of The American Historical Review will likely be of interest to anyone engaged with questions of art history and big data, the Grand Tour, and mapping projects. Historiographical questions are central and addressed in fascinating ways. CH

The American Historical Review 122.2 (April 2017)

“AHR Forum: Mapping the Republic of Letters”

Dan Edelstein, Paula Findlen, Giovanna Ceserani, Caroline Winterer, and Nicole Coleman, “Historical Research in a Digital Age: Reflections from the Mapping the Republic of Letters Project,” pp. 400–24.

What can a big data approach bring to the study of the early modern Republic of Letters? This is the question we asked ourselves in our collaborative project Mapping the Republic of Letters. For the past nine years, we have been exploring the limits and possibilities of computation and visualization for studying early modern correspondences, whose massive and dispersed character have long challenged their students. Beyond cliometrics, what new ways of discovery and analysis do today’s big data offer? What can we learn by visualizing the archives and databases that are increasingly accessible and viewable online? In a variety of case studies focusing on metadata (in the letters of John Locke, Athanasius Kircher, Benjamin Franklin, and Voltaire, and in the travels of those engaging in the Grand Tour), we experimented with visualizations to produce maps of the known and unknown quantities in our datasets, and to represent intellectual, cultural, and geographical boundaries. In the process, we experienced collaborative authorship, and worked with designers and programmers to create an open access suite of visualization tools specifically for humanities scholars, Palladio. What might the next research steps be, as linked data rapidly develops further possibilities?

Giovanna Ceserani, Giorgio Caviglia, Nicole Coleman, Thea De Armond, Sarah Murray, and Molly Taylor-Poleskey, “British Travelers in Eighteenth-Century Italy: The Grand Tour and the Profession of Architecture,” pp. 425–50.

Drawing on a dynamic digital database of eighteenth-century British travelers in Italy, in this article we offer a case study focused on British architects to demonstrate the potential of digital resources for historical research. Based on the entries in John Ingammels’s Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy, 1701–1800 (1997)—which covers the itineraries and lives of more than five thousand travelers—our project adds a new richness and granularity to the understanding of the Grand Tour. We see what these tours were like and what they did for British architects in Italy and beyond. We show the patterns of places visited, of funding, of social and professional gains and interactions, and we thus catch sight of a history of architecture that goes beyond the influence of Italian architectural models on British thought and design. This approach to the Grand Tour reveals the transformation of “architecture” from a gentlemanly passion and artisanal craft into a modern profession and discipline. By indicating some of the ways in which the Grand Tour served this transformation, this case study also suggests the broader promise of our digital approach for scholars of various interests.

Jason M. Kelly, “Reading the Grand Tour at a Distance: Archives and Datasets in Digital History,” pp. 451–63.

This essay uses Giovanna Ceserani, Giorgio Caviglia, Nicole Coleman, Thea De Armond, Sarah Murray, and Molly Taylor-Poleskey’s essay “British Travelers in Eighteenth-Century Italy: The Grand Tour and the Profession of Architecture” as a point of departure from which to examine the limits and potentials of digital history, especially as it relates to the construction of archives and digital datasets. Through a critical reading of the sources used to create the Grand Tour Project—part of the Mapping the Republic of Letters project at Stanford University—it shows the ways in which datasets can both hide and embody hierarchies of power. Comparing the Grand Tour Project to other digital projects currently in production, such as Itinera and Legacies of British Slave-Ownership, this piece offers suggestions for alternative readings of the Grand Tour narrative. It ends by summarizing a series of challenges faced by historians as they contemplate best practices for creating and maintaining digital datasets in the twenty-first century.

Lecture | John Chu on Philip Mercier

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on May 16, 2017

From the Paul Mellon Centre:

John Chu, ‘Newly Invented Original Paintings’:
Philip Mercier and the Origins of the British Fancy Picture
Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London, 13 June 2017

Philip Mercier, Portrait of Margaret (Peg) Woffington, oil on canvas (London: The Garrick Club).

The Huguenot painter Philip Mercier (1689–1760) was at the vanguard of one of the most intriguing of eighteenth-century British art forms: the fancy picture. Playful in tone and fluttering in execution, Mercier’s fancies typically depict a non-too-serious world of modern men, women and children living a life of fashion, pleasure and the senses. Though manifestly trivial in theme and decorative by design, these are often nonetheless rather imposing works of art, presenting their life-scale characters close to the viewer so as to evoke a palpable sense of presence. Mercier’s role in adapting Continental prototypes of this kind of picture for the diversifying and growing British art market has long been recognised. This talk offers an enhanced version of this origin story, setting the imagery of this first wave of fancies in the context of extraordinary expansion in the British consumption of fine and modish goods of all kinds. It also takes a close look at how, as a maker of novel luxuries, Mercier both profited by and fell victim to the very world of fleeting fashions that he took as his primary subject, exposing the tribulations that lurked beneath the surface of the British fancy picture during its light-hearted beginnings.

John Chu is Assistant Curator of Pictures and Sculpture for the National Trust and has taught at the Courtauld Institute of Art and the University of Reading. He has published on the art of Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds, and French artists working in eighteenth-century Britain, as well as on various dimensions of the National Trust’s picture collections. He read English literature at the University of Cambridge before pursuing postgraduate studies in the history of art at the Courtauld. Having specialised in eighteenth-century British and French art during his masters’ degree, he gained his doctorate in 2015 for ‘The Fortunes of Fancy Painting in Eighteenth-Century England’. He is currently writing a book on the same subject with a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.

The Fellows Lunch Series is a series of free lunchtime research talks given by recipients of Paul Mellon Centre Fellowships. All are welcome but please book a ticket in advance. Tuesday, 13 June 2017, 12:30–2:00pm.


SAH 2017, Glasgow

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on May 16, 2017

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A selection of offerings at this year’s SAH conference relevant to the eighteenth century:

2017 Society of Architectural Historians Conference
Glasgow, 7–11 June 2017

The Society of Architectural Historians will host its 70th Annual International Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, June 7–11, 2017. This is the first time that SAH has met outside North America in over 40 years. Meeting in Scotland’s largest city, world renowned for its outstanding architectural heritage, reflects the increasingly international scope of the Society and its conference. Architectural historians, art historians, architects, museum professionals and preservationists from around the world will convene to share new research on the history of the built environment. The Glasgow conference will include 36 paper sessions, eight roundtables, an introductory address and plenary talk, architecture tours, the SAH Glasgow Seminar, and more.

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Piranesi at 300
Thursday, 8 June, 8:30–10:40am
Chairs: Heather Hyde Minor (University of Notre Dame) and John Pinto (Princeton University)
1. Dirk De Meyer (Ghent University), Lauding the Republic: Piranesi, Sallust, the Romans and the French
2. Eleonora Pistis (Columbia University), Scipione Maffei, Piranesi, and the Construction of Etruscan Magnificence
3. John Stamper (University of Notre Dame), Piranesi’s Roman Bridges: Engineering to Art
4. Elizabeth Petcu (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität), ‘Nature, the great renewer’: Piranesi Visualizes Architectural Imitation
5. Victor Plahte Tschudi (The Oslo School of Architecture and Design), Rediscovering Piranesi in the Twentieth Century

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Chinese Architecture and Gardens in a Global Context
Thursday, 8 June, 8:30–10:40am
Chair: Tracy Miller (Vanderbilt University)
1. Zhu Xu (The University of Hong Kong), From Monastic Cells to Corridors: Historical Significance of Sixth–Seventh-Century Changes in the Chinese Buddhist Monastery
2. Lizhi Zhang (Tsinghua University), Hindu Features in the Vernacular Architecture of Southeast China
3. Lianming Wang (Heidelberg University), Hybrid Spaces Reconsidered: Knowledge, Identity and Publicity in Eighteenth-Century Jesuit Gardens in Beijing
4. Yiping Dong (Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University), Historical Study on Modern Textile Mills in Yangtze Delta
5. Mark Hinchman (University of Nebraska), Modern Chinese Association Buildings: Exit Nation, Enter Ethnicity

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EAHN Roundtable: Architectural History and Open Access in Europe
Thursday, 8 June, 1:15–2:45
Chair: Maarten Delbeke (ETH Zürich)
After the successful roundtable Architectural History Online at the SAH 2016 annual conference, the EAHN plans to discuss the possibilities and challenges of digital publishing and open access policies in the European context. The requirements of national funding agencies, as well as the financial support they offer, play a different role than in the U.S. The panel, consisting of journal editors and others active in the field, also will address questions of how journals deal with the proliferation of online publications, how they negotiate between the academic world and architecture culture writ large, and how they deal with the handling and sustainability of digital data.
1. Caroline Edwards (Open Library of Humanities, UK)
2. Irina Davidovici (ETH Zürich, bauforschungonline
3. Juliette Hueber (InVisu/National Center for Scientific Research France
4. Françoise Gouzi (Université Toulouse)
5. Eduard Fuehr (Brandenburg Technical University at Cottbus)

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Discovering Georgian Glasgow: Allan Dreghorn’s City
Saturday, 10 June, 1:00–4:30
Tour led by Anthony Lewis (Glasgow Museums)
Allan Dreghorn (1706–1764) made his mark on Georgian Glasgow as an architect, builder, developer, and entrepreneur. This tour will include both a walking tour in central Glasgow to understand his influence on the layout and buildings of the Merchant City, including the extant St Andrews in the Square Church, and the Tontine Heads, the sculptural keystones from Dreghorn’s Tontine Hotel (no longer standing), available for viewing in the garden of the Provand’s Lordship Museum. This tour will also visit Pollok House, Glasgow’s grand Georgian seat of the Maxwell and Jardine families, with its associations with both Dreghorn and the Adam family.

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Edinburgh: The New Town and William Playfair
Sunday, 11 June, 11:00–7:30
Tour led by John Lowrey (University of Edinburgh)
This tour will explore Edinburgh’s 18th- and 19th-century development, with a special focus on the planned New Town (part of the World Heritage Site, begun in the 1770s and celebrating its 250th anniversary in 2017) and the work of William Playfair, Edinburgh’s leading 19th-century architect. The day will begin with an exclusive focused session at Edinburgh University Library, where Playfair’s archive is housed. The group will be given special access to Playfair’s drawings and, guided by the tour leader, the University’s archive team, and expert historian colleagues, will consider Playfair’s career in context. After lunch, the tour will walk to the New Town and will see key sites and buildings, including Calton Hill (the epitome of Edinburgh’s tag as ‘Athens of the North’), St. Andrew’s Square, and Charlotte Square. At the end of the day, participants will join those from the other two Edinburgh tours for a drinks reception in the University of Edinburgh’s historic New College.