Enfilade

Exhibition | Bibiena Drawings from the Jules Fisher Collection

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 3, 2021

Opening in May at The Morgan:

Architecture, Theater, and Fantasy: Bibiena Drawings from the Jules Fisher Collection
The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, 28 May — 12 September 2021

For nearly a century, members of three generations of the Bibiena family were the most highly sought theater designers in Europe. Their elaborate stage designs were used for operas, festivals, and courtly performances across Europe: from their native Italy to cites as far afield as Vienna, Prague, Stockholm, St. Petersburg, and Lisbon. Beyond these performances, the distinctive Bibiena style survives through their remarkable drawings. This exhibition is the first in the United States in over thirty years to celebrate these talented draftsmen and marks the promised gift to the Morgan of a group of Bibiena drawings from the collection of Jules Fisher, the Tony-winning lighting designer. These drawings demonstrate the range of the Bibienas’ output, from energetic sketches to highly finished watercolors. With representations of imagined palace interiors and lavish illusionistic architecture, this group of drawings will highlight the visual splendor of the baroque stage.

Arnold Aronson, Diane Kelder, John Marciari, and Laurel Peterson, Architecture, Theater, and Fantasy: Bibiena Drawings from the Jules Fisher Collection (London: Paul Holberton, 2021), 96 pages, ISBN: 978-1913645045, £17 / $25.

Arnold Aronson is professor of theatre in the MFA Theatre Program at the Columbia University School of the Arts. Diane Kelder is professor emerita of art history at the Graduate Center, CUNY, and consulting curator of the Fisher collection. John Marciari is the Charles W. Engelhard Curator of Drawings and Prints and curatorial chair at the Morgan Library & Museum. Laurel Peterson, formerly the Moore Curatorial Fellow at the Morgan Library & Museum, is an independent scholar.

 

Online Seminar | Robert Pogue Harrison and Susan Stewart

Posted in books, lectures (to attend), online learning by Editor on April 2, 2021

Coming up from BGC:

Seminar in Epistemologies of Material Culture with Robert Pogue Harrison and Susan Stewart
Online, Bard Graduate Center, Wednesday, 14 April 2021, 6–7.30pm

Robert Pogue Harrison and Susan Stewart will present at the Seminar in Epistemologies of Material Culture. They will each speak briefly on their publications The Dominion of the Dead and The Ruin Lesson, respectively, followed by a conversation moderated by Peter N. Miller and a Q&A session. Held via Zoom, this event will be live with automatic captions. A link will be circulated to registrants by 3pm on the day of the event. Register here.

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Robert Pogue Harrison, The Dominion of the Dead

How do the living maintain relations to the dead? Why do we bury people when they die? And what is at stake when we do? In The Dominion of the Dead, Robert Pogue Harrison considers the supreme importance of these questions to Western civilization, exploring the many places where the dead cohabit the world of the living—the graves, images, literature, architecture, and monuments that house the dead in their afterlife among us.

This elegantly conceived work devotes particular attention to the practice of burial. Harrison contends that we bury our dead to humanize the lands where we build our present and imagine our future. As long as the dead are interred in graves and tombs, they never truly depart from this world, but remain, if only symbolically, among the living. Spanning a broad range of examples, from the graves of our first human ancestors to the empty tomb of the Gospels to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Harrison also considers the authority of predecessors in both modern and premodern societies. Through inspired readings of major writers and thinkers such as Vico, Virgil, Dante, Pater, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Rilke, he argues that the buried dead form an essential foundation where future generations can retrieve their past, while burial grounds provide an important bedrock where past generations can preserve their legacy for the unborn.

The Dominion of the Dead is a profound meditation on how the thought of death shapes the communion of the living. A work of enormous scope, intellect, and imagination, this book will speak to all who have suffered grief and loss.

Robert Pogue Harrison is the Rosina Pierotti Professor in Italian Literature and chairs the Department of French and Italian at Stanford University. He is the author of The Body of Beatrice, Forests: The Shadow of Civilization, The Dominion of the Dead, Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition, and Juvenescence: A Cultural History of Our Age, the latter three published by the University of Chicago Press. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also host of the radio program Entitled Opinions on Stanford’s station KZSU 90.1.

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Susan Stewart, The Ruins Lesson: Meaning and Material in Western Culture

How have ruins become so valued in Western culture and so central to our art and literature? Covering a vast chronological and geographical range, from ancient Egyptian inscriptions to twentieth-century memorials, Susan Stewart seeks to answer this question as she traces the appeal of ruins and ruins images, and the lessons that writers and artists have drawn from their haunting forms.

Stewart takes us on a sweeping journey through founding legends of broken covenants and original sin, the Christian appropriation of the classical past, and images of decay in early modern allegory. Stewart looks in depth at the works of Goethe, Piranesi, Blake, and Wordsworth, each of whom found in ruins a means of reinventing his art. Lively and engaging, The Ruins Lesson ultimately asks what can resist ruination—and finds in the self-transforming, ever-fleeting practices of language and thought a clue to what might truly endure.

Susan Stewart, the Avalon Foundation University Professor in the Humanities at Princeton University, is a poet, critic, and translator. A former MacArthur Fellow and Chancellor of the Academy of American poets, she is the author of six books of poems, including Columbarium, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and, most recently, Cinder: New and Selected Poems. Her many prose works include On Longing, Poetry and the Fate of the Senses, The Open Studio: Essays in Art and Aesthetics, and The Poet’s Freedom.

 

New Book | Craft: An American History

Posted in books by Editor on March 30, 2021

From Bloomsbury:

Glenn Adamson, Craft: An American History (London: Bloomsbury Publishing: 2021), 400 pages, ISBN: 978-1635574586, $30.

A groundbreaking and endlessly surprising history of how artisans created America, from the nation’s origins to the present day.

At the center of the United States’ economic and social development, according to conventional wisdom, are industry and technology-while craftspeople and handmade objects are relegated to a bygone past. Renowned historian Glenn Adamson turns that narrative on its head in this innovative account, revealing makers’ central role in shaping America’s identity. Examine any phase of the nation’s struggle to define itself, and artisans are there—from the silversmith Paul Revere and the revolutionary carpenters and blacksmiths who hurled tea into Boston Harbor, to today’s ‘maker movement’, from Mother Jones to Rosie the Riveter, from Betsy Ross to Rosa Parks, from suffrage banners to the AIDS Quilt.

Adamson shows that craft has long been implicated in debates around equality, education, and class. Artisanship has often been a site of resistance for oppressed people, such as enslaved African-Americans whose skilled labor might confer hard-won agency under bondage, or the Native American makers who adapted traditional arts into statements of modernity. Theirs are among the array of memorable portraits of Americans both celebrated and unfamiliar in this richly peopled book. As Adamson argues, these artisans’ stories speak to our collective striving toward a more perfect union. From the beginning, America had to be-and still remains to be-crafted.

Glenn Adamson’s books include Fewer, Better Things, The Invention of Craft, and The Craft Reader. His writings have also been published in museum catalogues and in Art in America, Antiques, Frieze, and other periodicals. He was previously director of the Museum of Arts and Design, New York, and has held appointments as Senior Scholar at the Yale Center for British Art, and as Head of Research at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. He lives in the Hudson Valley, New York.

C O N T E N T S

Introduction
1  The Artisan Republic
2  A Self-Made Nation
3  Learn Trades or Die
4  A More Perfect Union
5  American
6  Making War
7  Declarations of Independence
8  Cut and Paste
9  Can Craft Save America?

Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

Louvre Collection Online

Posted in museums, resources by Editor on March 29, 2021

As reported by the Agence France-Presse (26 March 2021), via Art Daily:

The Louvre museum in Paris said Friday it has put nearly half a million items from its collection online for the public to visit free of charge. As part of a major revamp of its online presence, the world’s most-visited museum has created a new database of 482,000 items at collections.louvre.fr with more than three-quarters already labelled with information and pictures.

It comes after a year of pandemic-related shutdowns that has seen an explosion in visits to its main website, louvre.fr, which has also been given a major makeover. . .

The full AFP story is available here»

New Book | Prose of the World: Denis Diderot

Posted in books by Editor on March 28, 2021

From Stanford UP:

Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, Prose of the World: Denis Diderot and the Periphery of Enlightenment (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2021), 280 pages, ISBN: 978-1503615250, $35.

Philosopher, translator, novelist, art critic, and editor of the Encyclopédie, Denis Diderot was one of the liveliest figures of the Enlightenment. But how might we delineate the contours of his diverse oeuvre, which, unlike the works of his contemporaries, Voltaire, Rousseau, Schiller, Kant, or Hume, is clearly characterized by a centrifugal dynamic? Taking Hegel’s fascinated irritation with Diderot’s work as a starting point, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht explores the question of this extraordinary intellectual’s place in the legacy of the eighteenth century. While Diderot shared most of the concerns typically attributed to his time, the ways in which he coped with them do not fully correspond to what we consider Enlightenment thought. Conjuring scenes from Diderot’s by turns turbulent and quiet life, offering close readings of several key books, and probing the motif of a tension between physical perception and conceptual experience, Gumbrecht demonstrates how Diderot belonged to a vivid intellectual periphery that included protagonists such as Lichtenberg, Goya, and Mozart. With this provocative and elegant work, he elaborates the existential preoccupations of this periphery, revealing the way they speak to us today.

Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht is the Albert Guérard Professor in Literature Emeritus at Stanford University. His books written in English include In 1926 (1998), Production of Presence (Stanford, 2004), In Praise of Athletic Beauty (2006), Atmosphere, Mood, Stimmung (Stanford, 2012), After 1945 (Stanford, 2013), and Our Broad Present (2014).

New Book | Speculative Enterprise

Posted in books by Editor on March 27, 2021

From the University of Virginia Press:

Mattie Burkert, Speculative Enterprise: Public Theaters and Financial Markets in London, 1688–1763 (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2021), 296 pages, ISBN 978-0813945958 (cloth), $95 / ISBN 978-0813945972 (ebook), $30 / ISBN 978-0813945965 (paper), $40.

In the wake of the 1688 revolution, England’s transition to financial capitalism accelerated dramatically. Londoners witnessed the rise of credit-based currencies, securities markets, speculative bubbles, insurance schemes, and lotteries. Many understood these phenomena in terms shaped by their experience with another risky venture at the heart of London life: the public theater. Speculative Enterprise traces the links these observers drew between the operations of Drury Lane and Exchange Alley, including their hypercommercialism, dependence on collective opinion, and accessibility to people of different classes and genders.

Mattie Burkert identifies a discursive ‘theater-finance nexus’ at work in plays by Colley Cibber, Richard Steele, and Susanna Centlivre as well as in the vibrant eighteenth-century media landscape. As Burkert demonstrates, the stock market and the entertainment industry were recognized as deeply interconnected institutions that, when considered together, illuminated the nature of the public more broadly and gave rise to new modes of publicity and resistance. In telling this story, Speculative Enterprise combines methods from literary studies, theater and performance history, media theory, and work on print and material culture to provide a fresh understanding of the centrality of theater to public life in eighteenth-century London.

Mattie Burkert is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Oregon.

New Book | Wanstead House: East London’s Lost Palace

Posted in books by Editor on March 25, 2021

It’s not schedule to be published until next spring, but pre-order sales will help fund production costs; and if you use the code WANSTEAD40 at checkout, you’ll receive a 40% discount. So, order now! From Historic England and Liverpool University Press:

Hannah Armstrong, Wanstead House: East London’s Lost Palace (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2022), 224 pages, ISBN: 978-1800856097, £45.

In c.1713, Sir Richard Child, heir to a mercantile fortune, commissioned Colen Campbell, to build Wanstead House, “one of the noblest houses, not only in England, but in Europe.” Campbell’s innovative classical façade was widely influential and sowed the seeds for English Palladianism. Its opulent interior by William Kent was equal to Kensington Palace and its extensive gardens were attributed to leading landscape designers George London and Humphry Repton. Wanstead’s glory days came to an end in 1822, when a major sale of its contents was arranged to pay off financial debts. Two years later the house was demolished, its building fabric dispersed far and wide. A large crater on an east London golf course is all that remains of this once ‘princely mansion’.

Wanstead House: East London’s Lost Palace provides the first illustrated history of the lost Georgian estate, charting the meteoric rise and fall of the Child dynasty. By restoring Wanstead’s reputation amongst the leading houses of the era, this book demonstrates that those lost in actuality, should by no means be lost to history.

Hannah Armstrong completed her PhD at Birkbeck College, University of London, having previously studied at the University of Glasgow, where she graduated with a Masters with Distinction in Decorative Arts and Design History. In 2012, Hannah Armstrong was awarded the Anne Christopherson Fellowship at the British Museum’s Prints and Drawings department. She lives in South West London.

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Note (added 25 March 2021) — The original posting did not include the discount code.

Exhibition | Taming the Tongue in the Heyday of English Grammar

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on March 24, 2021

From the press release for the exhibition:

Taming the Tongue in the Heyday of English Grammar, 1711–1851
The Grolier Club, New York, 4 March — 15 May 2021

The exhibition Taming the Tongue in the Heyday of English Grammar (1711–1851), is on display March 4 through May 15, 2021, at the Grolier Club. It offers a revelatory glimpse into a time when English grammar was taught and studied with a grim fervor unthinkable to us now. Sales of books on grammar were second only to those of the Bible. The subject was so serious that grammar books, when illustrated, often showed pictures of children being caned or whipped, perhaps for sins such as dangling their participles.

Some grammarians offered beautiful tributes to the language; others came for battle, armed with claims of invincibility against allegedly incompetent rivals. This exhibition tells the colorful story of these books and the extraordinary characters who wrote them. Highlights from the English-grammar collection of Bryan A. Garner, a grammarian, lexicographer, law professor, and Grolier member, are on view in the second-floor gallery.

The exhibition also explores issues central to our literary history. For instance, it sheds new light on the rivalry between Noah Webster, the “father of the American dictionary,” and Lindley Murray, the “father of English grammar.” One previously unknown document connects the two men in a failed business transaction in New York—a real-estate contract that Webster breached. It helps explain how the two men came to detest each other.

There’s more:
• Elizabeth Elstob, who in 1715 wrote the first Old English grammar despite being raised by an uncle who disapproved of female education. The book is an amazing feat.
• William Cobbett, a populist politician who became a grave-robber, digging up Thomas Paine’s bones in hopes of rallying the English around political reform. Passionate about linguistic correctness, he would have gone to prison (where he often found himself), had the need arisen, in defense of his grammatical views.
• Samuel Kirkham, the best-selling grammarian who inspired Abraham Lincoln. Kirkham was also a phrenologist who bequeathed his own skull to his widow, and then to his son. His obituary began with its precise measurements.

One of the grammars, by John Comly (1808), contains the first-known (now widely repudiated) prohibition of the split infinitive. Another, by Ann Fisher (1762), first laid down the still-controversial ‘rule’ that the masculine pronoun includes the feminine.

The catalogue tells some extraordinary stories, such as the member of Congress—a Pennsylvania Whig—who in 1847 wrote a grammar filled with racial animus; the Ohio gubernatorial contender who in 1835 wrote a grammar rife with plagiarism, which helped get him booted from his church; and a cult leader who, once excommunicated, decided in 1826 to write a grammar “to liberate this important branch of science from long-received errours [sic].” Then there’s the best-selling grammar with the big-print typo on the title page: “ENGISH GRAMMAR.”

This is not your father’s grammar—nor your mother’s. It’s your great-great-great-great grandparents’ grammar. And it’s all on display at the Grolier Club, accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue from Oak Knoll Press.

Bryan Garner, Taming the Tongue in the Heyday of English Grammar, 1711–1851 (New York: The Grolier Club, 2021), 301 pages, ISBN: 978-1605830926, $45.

An online version is available here»

Online Seminar | The John Evan Bedford Library of Furniture History

Posted in lectures (to attend), online learning by Editor on March 23, 2021

Trade Card of J. F. Lacourt (Leeds University Library, MS 2241 John Evan Bedford Library of Furniture History).

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From The Furniture History Society:

‘Pattern Books, Early Trade Catalogues, and Many Other Rarities’: The John Evan Bedford Library of Furniture History
The Furniture History Society Online Lecture, Wednesday, 24 March 2021, 18.00 (GMT)

Members of the Bedford project team from Special Collections at the University of Leeds will highlight some of the rare books and ephemera in the John Evan Bedford Library of Furniture History and explain more about the ambitions of the cataloguing project. Chaired by Mark Westgarth, the presentations will be followed by a discussion with the Bedford team and an opportunity to ask questions about the project.

When the art and antique dealer John Bedford died in February 2019 he gifted a remarkable collection of rare books, manuscripts, artworks, and objects to the University of Leeds. Assembled over almost half a century, the John Evan Bedford Library of Furniture History is an exceptional resource covering all aspects of the English home, from interiors and furnishings to lighting and metalwork, drapery and upholstery to architectural and garden design. Comprising over 3,000 printed items, many of them extremely rare, and in some cases unique, the collection includes furniture pattern books, designs for ornament, and inventories of country houses. The books, which also touch on household life and management, date from the seventeenth century onwards. The archive is also rich in rare ephemera including trade cards, labels, and pamphlets, many of which are unknown outside this collection. The John Victor Bedford Will Trust, with great generosity and vision, is funding a cataloguing project based in Special Collections at the University of Leeds to make the collection fully searchable and accessible.

This event is free for FHS members and £5 for non-members. If you are a non-member and would like to attend, please click here. Contact events@furniturehistorysociety.org to register interest.

Mark Westgarth is Associate Professor in Art History and Museum Studies at the University of Leeds and also Director of the Centre for the Study of the Art & Antiques Market. He has been instrumental in developing antique dealer collections at Leeds; Mark is a Council Member of the FHS.

Rhiannon Lawrence-Francis, Collections and Engagement Manager, has operational oversight of the project to catalogue the John Evan Bedford Library of Furniture History. She visited John at his Guernsey home a few weeks before he died, and planned and managed the transfer of his collection to Leeds. A medievalist by background she is responsible for the rare book collections in the University Library and has a special interest in incunabula, early modern printing, provenance, and bookbindings.

Rachel Eckersley, Rare Book Specialist, is responsible for cataloguing the pre-1851 books, researching provenance, and promoting the collection. Previously, she was a postdoctoral researcher at The Centre for the Comparative History of Print (also at Leeds), a library digitisation assistant at the Wren Library, Trinity College, Cambridge, and a research fellow in book history at Queen Mary University of London.

Rosie Dyson, Collections Officer, is currently researching trade cards and ephemera. She is undertaking work to catalogue, digitise, and repackage John’s collection of trade cards and associated ephemera and has written several articles on her findings so far. Her background is in photography and digitisation.

Illustration from Jean-Baptiste Pillement, The Ladies Amusement: Or, the Whole Art of Japanning Made Easy, second enlarged edition, ca. 1762 (Leeds University Library, MS 2241 John Evan Bedford Library of Furniture History). This is the only known complete and coloured copy.

Location of 1634 St Mary’s Fort Discovered

Posted in on site by Editor on March 23, 2021

Conjectural drawing of the 1634 fort at the St. Mary’s settlement in Maryland (Jeffrey R. Parno/Historic St. Mary’s City). Interestingly, the outline of the fort does not match a 1634 description of it made by the governor, Philip Calvert. 

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St. Mary’s City served as the capital of the Providence of Maryland until 1694, when the capital of the royal colony was moved to Annapolis. For more information on the discovery of the site of St. Mary’s Fort, see Michael Ruane’s reporting for The Washington Post. From the HSMC press release (22 March 2021). . .

In honor of Maryland Day (25 March 2021), Historic St. Mary’s City announces today that Dr. Travis Parno, Director of Research and Collections for Historic St. Mary’s City, and his team have located the site of the original St. Mary’s Fort, the 1634 palisaded fort erected by the first wave of European settlers who founded Maryland. The site, which spans an area approximately the size of a football field, is located in Historic St. Mary’s City (HSMC) in Southern Maryland.

“Finding the location of Maryland’s original settlement is truly exciting news for our state and will give us an opportunity to reconnect with our pre-colonial and early colonial years,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “The state has been proud to support the study of St. Mary’s Fort and looks forward to further excavation of the area as we approach our state’s 400th anniversary,” Governor Hogan added.

St. Mary’s Fort was the first major foothold of European settlement in the state and the fourth English colony in the country after Jamestown (1607), Plymouth (1620), and Massachusetts Bay (1630). In March of 1634, approximately 150 Maryland colonists arrived on two ships, Ark and Dove, in an area that was home to the Yaocomaco, a tribe loosely allied with the Piscataway paramount chiefdom. What little is known about this period is drawn from English colonial records. The archaeological study of St. Mary’s Fort has the potential to unearth new information about Maryland’s pre-colonial and early colonial past.

Members of the HSMC Department of Research and Collections have been conducting fieldwork within the St. Mary’s City National Historic Landmark area since 1971, but definitive traces of St. Mary’s Fort remained elusive until a 2018 grant from the Maryland Historical Trust allowed Parno to hire geophysicist Dr. Timothy J. Horsley to survey two suspected locations using magnetic susceptibility, magnetometry, and ground-penetrating radar. The results, which were verified via a brief archaeological dig, confirmed the fort’s exact location.

The study of St. Mary’s Fort is part of a larger initiative titled People to People: Exploring Native-Colonial Interactions in Early Maryland, scheduled to begin in 2021. Created as a collaborative effort between Historic St. Mary’s City and Piscataway tribal participants, the project will include archaeological excavations at St. Mary’s Fort and indigenous sites near the fort, interpretation and exhibits of native and colonial culture, and public programming about life in the region in the years prior to and during the early seventeenth century.

Parno is currently consulting with Piscataway tribal participants and other stakeholders, and excavations of St. Mary’s Fort are ongoing thanks to the support of private donors and funds provided by Governor Hogan’s office. With the support of the State, St. Mary’s Fort will be integrated into Historic St. Mary’s City’s living history program in time for the state’s 400th anniversary in 2034. In the meantime, the excavation site is open during public visitation hours.

A formal online announcement will premiere 25 March 2021, at 7pm (EST) on the HSMC Maryland Day event page. No registration needed; the premiere will be free and open to the public.