FPS Online Symposium | The Art of the Dealer

Posted in conferences (to attend), online learning by Editor on June 3, 2021

Garniture of Three Vases (vases des âges), Sèvres, 1781
(Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 84.DE.718).

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From the FPS:

The Art of the Dealer: Selling Antique Ceramics, 1850 to 2000
Online, 12–13 June 2021

The French Porcelain Society is delighted to announce a two-day webinar on selling antique ceramics in the pre-digital age from 1850 to 2000.

The first day will focus on the dealer in the long nineteenth century, emerging from his chrysalis as a seller of ‘curiosities’ and ‘Old Sèvres porcelain’ to modern scholar-dealer, trading on an international stage, selling to museums through antiques fairs, themed exhibitions, lectures, specialist monographs, and catalogues devoted to ceramics. Papers will consider the Parisian dealer Beurdeley, the furnishing of J. Pierpont Morgan’s London home and the dealers who supplied him, and the rising market for oriental ceramics popularised by Edgar Gorer.

On day two, speakers will consider the legacy and change that characterised porcelain dealing in the twentieth century with papers on Marjorie Merriweather Post and French & Company in the United States, the activities of Hanns Weinberg in the 1950s for the Antique Porcelain Company, and finally Robert Williams at Winifred Williams Antiques. Each day will conclude with a panel discussion.

Zoom link for both days on our website soon. The full programme, with abstracts, is available here. Registration in advance is required. This symposium is free and open to all, but donations (here) are appreciated.

The programme is made possible with the generous support of Richard Baron Cohen.

All times are BST/UK

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

17.00  Session 1
• Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth (Visiting Research Fellow, History of Art and Museum Studies, University of Leeds and Curator, 17th- and 18th-Century Ceramics and Glass, V&A Museum), Marks, Monographs, and Mediators: The Long Nineteenth Century
• Camille Mestdagh (Associate Researcher, LARHRA), The Importance of Porcelain in the Business of a Parisian Curiosity Dealer: The Beurdeley Dynasty, a Case Study

17.50  Break

17.55  Session 2
• Linda H. Roth (Director of Special Projects/Curatorial and Charles C. and Eleanor Lamont Cunningham Curator of European Decorative Arts, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut), Mr. Morgan’s London House
• Nick Pearce (Richmond Chair of Fine Art, School of Culture & Creative Arts, University of Glasgow), ‘Sheer Cleverness and Courage’: Edgar Gorer (1872–1915) and the Rise of the Specialist Dealer in Chinese Art

19.00  Panel discussion and Q&A

S U N D A Y ,  1 3  J U N E  2 0 2 1

17.00  Session 3
• Diana Davis (Independent researcher), The Twentieth Century: Legacy and Change
• Rebecca Tilles (Associate Curator of 18th-Century French and Western European Fine and Decorative Arts, Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens) Marjorie Merriweather Post and the Role and Influence of French & Company

17.50  Break

17.55  Session 4
• John Whitehead, FSA (Antique dealer and author), The Antique Porcelain Company: Porcelain Dealing in the Post-war Period
• Errol Manners, FSA (Antique dealer and author), Robert Williams of Winifred Williams Antiques

19.00  Panel discussion and Q&A

Online Conference | Finding Shakespeare in the Royal Collection

Posted in conferences (to attend), online learning by Editor on June 2, 2021

Begun in September 2018, ‘Shakespeare in the Royal Collection’ is a three-year AHRC funded project, focusing primarily on the period 1714–1945. From the project website:

Finding Shakespeare in the Royal Collection
Online, 17–19 June 2021

The Royal Collection contains Shakespeare-related items collected by generations of British monarchs, stretching back as far as Charles I, though principally concentrated in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Including paintings, rare books, prints, watercolours, furniture, decorative objects, and photographs, these items tell a fascinating and overlapping set of stories about Shakespeare’s afterlife, the history of collecting, the histories of royalty and empire, and the histories of elite and popular culture. This conference brings together an international group of experts from fields including Shakespeare studies, history of art, collection studies, Romantic literature, and royal history.

Participants are invited to attend live online panels, or to view recorded panels for a limited time afterwards. We have speakers from Singapore to Texas, and the panels are timed across the day to maximise the possibility of attendance worldwide. A full conference programme, including abstracts and speaker bios, can be downloaded here.

The online conference platform is Zoom webinar, registered attendees will be emailed details of how to join the day before the event. To join, simply click on the join link in the email, your web browser will open up and you may be prompted to open Zoom. For further details of how to join Zoom meetings, see the company’s webpage. Live panels will be recorded, by attending you consent to the filming of the event and to being filmed yourself should you ask questions and in any other way participate live.

The conference is free to attend, but registration is essential. Tickets are available from Eventbrite. By registering, you agree to abide by the conference’s Code of Conduct. Participants violating the Code of Conduct will be removed from the event and will not be able to rejoin. For further information please email sharc@kcl.ac.uk.

All times are BST/ UTC+1 and subject to confirmation

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

Panel 1 | Exhibiting Shakespeare  10.00–11.30am
Chair: Gordon McMullan
• Michael Dobson (Shakespeare Institute), Hamlet Disowned: Kemble, Lawrence, and Royal Legitimacy
• Kate Retford (Birkbeck University of London), ‘A Wild and Unruly Youth’: Princes of Wales and The Harry the Fifth Club
• Shormishtha Panja (University of Delhi), ‘Moral Painting’: Nathaniel Dance Holland’s Timon of Athens, c. 1765–70
• Rosie Dias (University of Warwick), Personalising Public Art: Royal Narratives in Boydell’s Shakespeare Prints

Panel 2 | Shakespearean Relics  1.00–2.30pm
Chair: Kirsten Tambling
• Anna Myers (University of Edinburgh), David Garrick and the President’s Chair: Embodying Shakespeare through Intermedial Adaptation
• Mark Westgarth (University of Leeds), ‘Well-authenticated Blocks’: Materiality and the Market for Shakespearean ‘Mulberry Tree’ Relics in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries
• Simon Spier (University of Leeds), For Leisure or Learning?: An As You Like It Make-up Box by Hester Marian Wagstaff

Panel 3 | Shakespearean Reputations  4.00–5.30pm
Chair: Elizabeth Eger
• Kate Heard (Royal Collection Trust), ‘Pistol’s a Cuckold – or Adultery in Fashion’: Following a Print from Performance to Portfolio
• Arthur Burns (King’s College London), George III and the Other ‘Mad King’
• Essaka Joshua (University of Notre Dame), ‘I Only Change When I Die’: Gainsborough’s Portrait of Mary Robinson and Mutable Spectatorship
• Fiona Ritchie (McGill University), Fake and Authentic Shakespeare in the Diaries of Joseph Farington

F R I D A Y ,  1 8  J U N E  2 0 2 1

Panel 4 | Shakespearean Books  10.00–11.30am
Chair: Sally Barnden
• Emma Stuart (Royal Collection Trust), Why did George IV Own a First Folio?
• Gordon McMullan (King’s College London), The ‘Disappointment’ of Charles I’s Second Folio
• Eleine Ng-Gagneux (National University of Singapore), Crossing Straits with Shakespeare Translation

‘Shakespeare in the Royal Collection’ Project Overview  12.00–1.00pm
Gordon McMullan, Kate Retford, Kirsten Tambling, Sally Barnden, and Felicity Roberts

Panel 5 | Shakespearean Interiors  2.00–3.30pm
Chair: Gail Marshall
• Elizabeth Clark Ashby (Royal Collection Trust), Shakespeare in Miniature: Shakespeare, Queen Mary, and Books for Dolls
• Kirsten Tambling (King’s College London), ‘All England in Warm Sepia’: Queen Mary and the Church of the Holy Trinity
• Morna O’Neill (Wake Forest University), Much Ado about Tapestry: Shakespeare, the Royal Family, and National Identity

S A T U R D A Y ,  1 9  J U N E  2 0 2 1

Panel 6 | Mementoes of Performance  3.00–4.30pm
Chair: Richard Schoch
• Karen Harker (Shakespeare Institute), Remediation and Memory: Egron Sellif Lundgren’s Watercolours of The Winter’s Tale in Queen Victoria’s Theatrical Album
• Sally Barnden (King’s College London), Monument and Montage: Horatio Saker’s Visual History of the Stage
• Éilís Smyth (King’s College London), The Politics of Shakespeare at Windsor Castle in Louis Haghe’s The Performance of Macbeth in the Rubens Room
• Martin Blazeby (Blazebuild), Visualising Shakespearean Spaces and Stages of Performance at Windsor Castle

Panel 7 | Education and Performance  6.00–7.30pm
Chair: Kate Retford
• Lynne Vallone (Rutgers University), Princess Victoria and the Cult of Celebrity
• Gail Marshall (University of Reading), Puck and the Prince of Wales
• Vijeta Saini (Northeastern University), Disappearances and the Durbar: The Hidden Colonial Legacy of Queen Victoria’s Shakespearean Tableaux Vivants
• Kathryn Vomero Santos (Trinity University), ‘In Shakespeare’s Land’: Education, Cultural (Dis)inheritance, and the Decline of Empire in and around The Prince’s Choice


Call for Papers | New Approaches to Piranesi

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on June 2, 2021

The first installment of HECAA’s Zoom Event Series will feature a roundtable on Piranesi studies, moderated by Jeanne Britton and Zoe Langer, both affiliated with the Digital Piranesi Project at the University of South Carolina.

New Approaches to Piranesi: A Virtual Roundtable
Online, 16 July 2021

Organized by Jeanne Britton and Zoe Langer

Proposals due by 16 June 2021

We are seeking proposals for a virtual roundtable of lightning talks on interdisciplinary approaches to the works of Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778). Recent scholarship by Heather Hyde Minor, Carolyn Yerkes, and Susan Dixon, as well as the current bestselling novel Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, have started to open the field of Piranesi Studies to new avenues of research and potentially wider audiences. This roundtable will consist of short presentations of 5–7 minutes followed by ample time for discussion. We hope the proposed format will encourage lively conversation and prompt new critical perspectives that will continue to broaden the interpretation of Piranesi’s works. We welcome topics that include but are not limited to eclecticism, globalism, reception, book history, biographical studies, cartography, collecting, translation, digital humanities, theater, fashion, music, archaeology, and the history of science. We are especially interested in hearing from graduate students, early-career scholars, and professionals engaged in a wide range of disciplinary fields and methods.

Please send an abstract of 150 words, a brief biography, and current contact information. Submissions should be sent to digitalpiranesi@gmail.com by Wednesday, 16 June 2021. Decisions will be sent on Friday, 18 June.

Sponsored by HECAA (Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art & Architecture)


Story of Yanxi Palace

Posted in films, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on June 1, 2021

Still from Story of Yanxi Palace (2018), with the empress wearing a replica of a fengguan (phoenix crown) now in the Palace Museum, Beijing.

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I’m at least two years overdue with this posting—the series appeared in 2018—but I learned of it only recently thanks to Isabella Smith’s essay in the May issue of Apollo. I’m just three episodes in, but totally entranced. CH

Isabella Smith, “An Audience with the Qianlong Emperor, via the Small Screen,” Apollo Magazine (May 2021).

It’s like Game of Thrones, but with art instead of sex. I’ve found myself repeating that summary frequently while evangelising about Story of Yanxi Palace (2018), a Chinese period drama loosely based on historic figures in the Qing dynasty court of the Qianlong Emperor (1711–1799)—and one of my lockdown obsessions. The tale begins in 1741, when our Cinderella-like heroine Wei Yingluo (Wu Jinyan) enters the Forbidden City, ostensibly to work as an embroidery maid at the palaces, but with a secret mission: to uncover the perpetrator behind her beloved sister’s rape and murder. It’s a suitably knotty start to a narrative as labyrinthine as it is long; the series comprises 70 episodes at 45 minutes apiece.

Besides the intricacies of its intrigues, what has kept me enthralled is the sheer spectacle of the thing. From its heavily embroidered robes and carved jade to lavish lacquerwork and pottery, Story of Yanxi Palace is a feast for the eyes. In 2018, the show was streamed more than 15 billion times on the Chinese video platform iQiyi, before falling foul of government censors and being pulled from TV screens. The charge? Its ‘negative influence on society’, promoting admiration for imperial China and its luxurious lifestyles, an argument initially set out in Theory Weekly (a magazine affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party’s newspaper, the Beijing Daily).

What sets Story of Yanxi Palace apart from similar historical dramas—and China boasts a rich roster of such shows—is its devotion to the decorative arts. . . .

The full essay is available here»

For the wider media context of the series in China, see Jiayang Fan’s essay, “In China, Shows Like ‘Story of Yanxi Palace’ Go Viral, and the Party Is Not Amused,” The New Yorker (23 April 2019).

New Book | Dandy Style

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on May 31, 2021

The related exhibition is scheduled to open later at the Manchester Art Gallery, but the publication, from Yale UP, is available now:

Shaun Cole and Miles Lambert, Dandy Style: 250 Years of British Men’s Fashion (New Have: Yale University Press, 2021), 168 pages, ISBN: 978-0300254136, $35.

Celebrating 250 years of male self-expression, investigating the portraiture and wardrobe of the fashionable British man

The style of the dandy is elegant but bold—dedicated to the perfection of taste. This meticulously choreographed look has a vibrant history; the legacy of Beau Brummell, the original dandy of Regency England, can be traced in the clothing of urban dandies today. Dandy Style celebrates 250 years of male self-expression, investigating the portraiture and wardrobe of the fashionable British man. Combining fashion, art, and photography, the historic and the contemporary, the provocative and the respectable, it considers key themes in the development of male style and identity, including elegance, uniformity, and spectacle. Various types of dandy are represented by iconic figures such as Oscar Wilde, Edward VIII as Prince of Wales, and Gilbert & George. They appear alongside the seminal designs of Vivienne Westwood, Ozwald Boateng, and Alexander McQueen; and portraits by Thomas Gainsborough and David Hockney.

Shaun Cole is associate professor in fashion at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton. Miles Lambert is curator of costume at Manchester Art Gallery.


Christopher Breward — Foreword: Dandy Style
Alistair Hudson — Director’s Preface

Shaun Cole and Miles Lambert — Introduction
1  Miles Lambert — Creative Collecting: How Museums Acquire Men’s Fashion
2  Ben Whyman — The Life Stories of Men’s Clothes
3  Joshua M. Bluteau — The Devil Is in the Detail: Why Men Still Wear Suits
4  Shaun Cole, Miles Lambert, and Rebecca Milner — Painting Men’s Style: Portraying an Image
5  Kate Dorney — Performing the Dandy
6  Miles Lambert — Extravagance and Flamboyance: Decorated Men’s Fashion
7  Shaun Cole — Casual Subversion
8  Jay McCauley Bowstead — Contemporary British Menswear: Hybridity, Flux, and Globalisation

Select Bibliography
List of Contributors

New Book | Material Lives: Women Makers and Consumer Culture

Posted in books by Editor on May 30, 2021

From Bloomsbury:

Serena Dyer, Material Lives: Women Makers and Consumer Culture in the 18th Century (London: Bloomsbury Visual Arts, 2021), 272 pages, ISBN: 978-1350126978 (hardcover), £80 / ISBN: 978-1350126961 (paperback), £27.

Eighteenth-century women told their life stories through making. With its compelling stories of women’s material experiences and practices, Material Lives offers a new perspective on eighteenth-century production and consumption. Genteel women’s making has traditionally been seen as decorative, trivial and superficial. Yet their material archives, forged through fabric samples, watercolours, dressed prints and dolls’ garments, reveal how women used the material culture of making to record and navigate their lives.

Material Lives positions women as ‘makers’ in a consumer society. Through fragments of fabric and paper, Dyer explores an innovative way of accessing the lives of otherwise obscured women. For researchers and students of material culture, dress history, consumption, gender and women’s history, it offers a rich resource to illuminate the power of needles, paintbrushes and scissors.

Serena Dyer is Lecturer in History of Design and Material Culture at De Montfort University. She has taught at the University of Warwick and the University of Hertfordshire, and was Postdoctoral Fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. She was previously Curator of the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture. She has published on albums, wallpaper, consumer culture, and childhood in the eighteenth century.


List of Illustrations
List of Charts and Tables
List of Abbreviations

1  Introduction: Making Material Lives
• Material Life Writing
• The Consumer Culture of Making
• Four Material Lives

2  Material Accounting: A Sartorial Account Book
• Barbara Johnson (1738–1825)
• Educating Barbara Johnson
• Accounting for Herself
• Material Literacy
• A Chronicle of Fashion

3  Dress of the Year: Watercolours
• Ann Frankland Lewis (1757–1842)
• Sartorial Timekeeping and the Fashion Plate
• Accomplishment and Creative Practice
• Society and Fashionable Display
• Selfhood, Emotion, and the Mourning Watercolours

4  Adorned in Silk: Dressed Prints
• Sabine Winn (1734–1798)
• Paper Textiles, Dress and the Dressed Print
• Sabine Winn’s Dressed Prints
• Print and Making at Nostell

5  Fashions in Miniature: Dolls
• Laetitia Powell (1741–1801)
• The Powell Dolls
• Mimetic Dolls and Miniature Selves
• Dolls as Sartorial Social Narrators

6  Conclusion: Material Afterlives


New Book | Dress Codes

Posted in books by Editor on May 29, 2021

From Simon & Schuster:

Richard Thompson Ford, Dress Codes: How the Laws of Fashion Made History (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2021), 464 pages, ISBN: 978-1501180064, $30.

Dress codes are as old as clothing itself. For centuries, clothing has been a wearable status symbol; fashion, a weapon in struggles for social change; and dress codes, a way to maintain political control. Merchants who dressed like princes and butchers’ wives wearing gem-encrusted crowns were public enemies in medieval societies structured by social hierarchy and defined by spectacle. In Tudor England, silk, velvet, and fur were reserved for the nobility and ballooning pants called “trunk hose” could be considered a menace to good order. The Renaissance era Florentine patriarch Cosimo de Medici captured the power of fashion and dress codes when he remarked, “One can make a gentleman from two yards of red cloth.” Dress codes evolved along with the social and political ideals of the day, but they always reflected struggles for power and status. In the 1700s, South Carolina’s “Negro Act” made it illegal for Black people to dress “above their condition.” In the 1920s, the bobbed hair and form-fitting dresses worn by free-spirited flappers were banned in workplaces throughout the United States and in the 1940s the baggy zoot suits favored by Black and Latino men caused riots in cities from coast to coast.

Even in today’s more informal world, dress codes still determine what we wear, when we wear it—and what our clothing means. People lose their jobs for wearing braided hair, long fingernails, large earrings, beards, and tattoos or refusing to wear a suit and tie or make-up and high heels. In some cities, wearing sagging pants is a crime. And even when there are no written rules, implicit dress codes still influence opportunities and social mobility. Silicon Valley CEOs wear t-shirts and flip flops, setting the tone for an entire industry: women wearing fashionable dresses or high heels face ridicule in the tech world, and some venture capitalists refuse to invest in any company run by someone wearing a suit.

In Dress Codes, law professor and cultural critic Richard Thompson Ford presents an insightful and entertaining history of the laws of fashion from the middle ages to the present day, a walk down history’s red carpet to uncover and examine the canons, mores, and customs of clothing—rules that we often take for granted.

Richard Thompson Ford is a Professor at Stanford Law School. He has written about law, social and cultural issues, and race relations for The New York Times, The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and Slate, and has appeared on The Colbert Report and The Rachel Maddow Show. He is the author of The New York Times notable books The Race Card and Rights Gone Wrong: How Law Corrupts the Struggle for Equality. He lives in San Francisco.

Expanding Colonial Williamsburg’s Stories

Posted in today in light of the 18th century by Editor on May 29, 2021

Emily James in April portrays Edith Cumbo, a free Black woman who lived in Williamsburg in the 18th century.
(Photo by Julia Rendleman for The Washington Post)

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From The Washington Post:

Peter Marks, “Colonial Williamsburg Gets Real,” The Washington Post (22 May 2021). Some of the most progressive and insightful theater in America is happening at one of the nation’s premier sites for experiencing U.S. history. Really.

On the streets of Colonial Williamsburg—one of the world’s premier living-history museums—Emily James cuts a formidable figure. Portraying Edith Cumbo, a free woman of color who walked these byways in the 18th century, James tries daily to convey to tourists the humiliations and contradictions Cumbo lived with.

“I’m restricted,” she explains to a group of mask-wearing visitors on a walking tour one late-April morning. “Because the laws didn’t say ‘free’ or ‘enslaved.’ They said ‘Negroes.’ ”

James has been embodying Cumbo in this mile-by-half-mile historic area for a decade, in a career in ‘actor interpretation’ spanning 34 years. Though she has always loved the work, it has taken on deeper resonance of late. Colonial Williamsburg—a place where theater lives, too—has been grappling with more determination than ever with the harsher realities of its past. And particularly with the lives of its Black inhabitants, most of whom were enslaved and formed the majority of its population in the 1700s.

It is through performance of various kinds that this bastion of history is seeking to raise awareness of Williamsburg’s legacy, one far more diverse than visitors heard about in the early days of the historic restoration, opened in 1937. The instruction has gone out lately to all of Colonial Williamsburg’s dozens of actor-interpreters that the city’s slaveholding past is to figure in every tour and talk. The sense that the rosy vision of hard-working artisans and horsemen in period garb requires more context pervades this extraordinary pocket of history. . .

Members of Jug Broke Theater Company performing Ladies of Llangollen, by Claire Wittman. Based on the lives of Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby, who eloped together in 1778, the play premiered on 10 April 2021 (Photo from the Colonial Williamsburg; by Wayne Reynolds).

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And in the middle of town, on the Play House Stage—which sits on the remnants of what is believed to be the first theater of Colonial America—members of the resident Jug Broke Theater Company are performing Ladies of Llangollen. Claire Wittman’s drama, which includes new lyrics to 18th-century songs, is the first in the foundation’s history to feature a romance between women.

“Your happiness is my only aim,” Wittman’s Eleanor says to her fellow poet and lover, Sarah, played by Alyssa Elkins. “I don’t want a husband,” Sarah replies. “I want you.”

Think about it: In the midst of contemporary reckonings about the rights of women and people of color, Williamsburg is giving guests—who number about 550,000 in a normal year—the historical backstories. . . .

The full article is available here»

Exhibition | Artists as Collectors

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on May 28, 2021

From the press release for the exhibition now on view at The Getty:

Artists as Collectors
Getty Center, Los Angeles, 25 May — 12 September 2021

Curated by Casey Lee

Gerard van Nijmegen (1735–1808), Allegory of Painting and Drawing, 1801, graphite, gray and brown ink, and gray wash, 38 × 27 cm (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2008.31).

Artists were among the earliest and greatest collectors of drawings. Celebrated European painters including Edgar Degas, Joshua Reynolds, and Giorgio Vasari were passionate collectors, and their appetites for drawings by old and contemporary masters compelled them to acquire exceptional examples of draftsmanship by artists such as Delacroix, Raphael, and Rembrandt. These drawings were valued as intellectual property, powerful status symbols, and works of art in their own right. This exhibition, featuring objects from the Getty’s permanent collection, reveals how artists gathered, used, and cared for their drawings.

An artist’s ability to acquire objects depended on his or her social network and the development of a market for drawings. The first works any artist owned came from their own hand, and favorite pupils or studio assistants obtained pieces by their teachers. By the end of the 15th century, when a market for drawings began to develop, it became easier for artists to acquire artwork from their peers, thereby increasing the scope of their collections.

Drawings were kept and treasured for a variety of reasons. They were used to train students and as reference material for an artist in search of inspiration. Certain sheets were valued for sentimental reasons, while others conferred status by confirming the wealth, power, and knowledge of the collector.

“Artists were among the first to recognize and appreciate drawings’ informative and aesthetic qualities, which is why they are among the first and greatest collectors of drawings,” says Casey Lee, curator of the exhibition. “By declaring their ownership through inscriptions and personalized stamps, the collectors make it possible to reconstruct aspects of a drawing’s life and reception.”



Call for Papers | Graphic Landscape: The Landscape Print Series

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on May 28, 2021

J. T. Smith, The Entrance of Stroud, a Village near Egham, Surry, from Twenty Rural Landscapes from Nature, 1795, etching
(London: British Museum 1860,1208.72)

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From the Mellon Centre and the British Library:

Graphic Landscape: The Landscape Print Series in Britain, c. 1775–1850
Online, Paul Mellon Centre and the British Library, 2–11 November 2021

Proposals due by 1 July 2021

Organized by Mark Hallett and Felicity Myrone

Landscape and topographical print series proliferated in the late eighteenth century and in the first decades of the nineteenth century. Indeed, the format seems to have enjoyed an artistic and commercial boom in this period. The British Museum, the British Library and the Yale Center for British Art hold rich collections of such series, in various formats. Some, like Turner’s Liber Studiorum (1807–19) and Constable’s English Landscape Scenery (1830–33) are extremely well known. Many others, however, have still to receive sustained and critical attention. This programme of four online seminars, to take place in the first two weeks of November 2021, is designed to look afresh at the late Georgian and early Victorian landscape print series and to stimulate new research on this important strand of graphic art.

Across the programme, we will seek to question the assumptions that are typically brought to bear on such material. Why were print series produced? Who produced them, and what was their appeal? Why did they so regularly focus on landscape and topographical subjects? What were the commercial stakes in producing prints in series? How did they work as pictorial sequences, and how did they shape contemporary artistic practice? Is it possible to interrogate the full compass of such works—how many series were initiated, how many completed, and which survive? Were particular formats and subjects specific to printmaking in Britain, and how does this compare to the production of print series in the rest of the world? Finally, what do these series tell us about the categories of artist and of landscape art in the Romantic period?

This programme of seminars, which is being convened by Mark Hallett and Felicity Myrone, will seek to be broad and interdisciplinary in approach. We hope to showcase new research on print culture and publishing and to present new ways of thinking about how and why the ‘big names’ of the period such as Turner, Constable, Girtin and Cotman stand out (or not) in this context. We would hope that the subject will appeal to scholars of publishing, literature, and book history, as well as to landscape art historians.

We welcome proposals for 15-minute papers that take a variety of approaches. These might offer close readings of individual sets of such prints, whether familiar or obscure. We are just as interested in approaches that look at these kinds of graphic series from a broader perspective, and that address their production, consumption and appeal within the wider realms of print publishing, print culture, publishing, antiquarianism and artistic practice. Similarly, we encourage proposals that place such series in the context of eighteenth/nineteenth-century debates about rural, regional, metropolitan and imperial identity, and in relation to recent discussions on the environment and the Anthropocene.

William Crotch, THE BRILL HILLS, from WOODPERRY, near OXFORD. Pubd. Septr. 1. 1810, by J. Girtin, Engraver, Printer & Publisher, 11, Charles Street, Soho Square (London: British Library, K.Top.35.39)

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Most of all, we encourage original, scholarly and creative approaches that allow us to see the landscape print series in new ways, and to place such work in productive dialogue with the other kinds of contemporary landscape imagery—painted, water-coloured, or drawn—with which we may now be more familiar. The British Library’s recently uploaded gallery of images from the King’s Topographical Collection may provide inspiration.

This series has been organised as part of the Paul Mellon Centre’s ‘Generation Landscape’ research project, and in collaboration with the British Library. It is convened by Mark Hallett and Felicity Myrone. Presentations are planned to take place online on the afternoons of Tuesday, 2 November; Thursday, 4 November; Tuesday, 9 November; and Thursday, 11 November 2021.

To propose a paper, please email an abstract of 300 words or fewer and a 50-word biography in a single Word document to Shauna Blanchfield at sblanchfield@paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk by midnight on Thursday, 1 July 2021.