NGS Acquires Rare Watercolour of a Black Milkmaid by David Allan

Posted in museums by Editor on January 5, 2022

From the press release (18 November 2021), via Art Daily:

David Allan, Edinburgh Milkmaid with Butter Churn, ca. 1785–95, watercolour on paper, image size: 21 × 16 cm (Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland, D 5721, purchased 2019).

One of the earliest known images of a Black person by a Scottish artist has been acquired by the National Galleries of Scotland. Edinburgh Milkmaid with Butter Churn by David Allan (1744–1796) is a beautifully painted watercolour, which is both exceptionally rare and striking. It depicts a Black woman alone and centre stage at a time when Black sitters more often appeared as marginal or subservient figures in group portraits.

Looking directly at the viewer, the woman is shown in working dress, going about her daily duties and set against the backdrop of an elegant Edinburgh street. Her name and life story is unknown, but it is likely that she was a servant, a milkmaid, as suggested by the large vessel or butter churn shown beside her.

Modest in scale, the image is dated to the mid-1780s to early 1790s, a period when Allan created evocative drawings of ordinary people going about their daily lives in Edinburgh, such as soldiers, coalmen, fishwives, sedan chair porters, firemen, and officers of the city guard. These works, known as Allan’s ‘Edinburgh Characters’, suggest a background context for Edinburgh Milkmaid with Butter Churn, but they are generally sketched in a summary way, intended to capture character types, rather than specific personalities, and were often copied and duplicated. The Edinburgh Milkmaid, however, is highly detailed, precisely painted, and clearly a portrait of a specific person. It is hoped that further research may reveal more about the connection between the artist and the young woman and shed some light on her identity.

Director of European and Scottish Art at the National Galleries of Scotland, Christopher Baker, commented: “We are so pleased to bring this remarkable, rare, and extraordinary watercolour into Scotland’s national collection. It is an incredibly striking and special work, one which we believe will be enjoyed by many and, we hope, lead to new research on its background and most importantly the story of the woman depicted.”

Born in Alloa, David Allan was arguably the first Scottish artist to take contemporary life and customs from across the social hierarchy as a subject worthy of art. With the support of his patrons, Lord and Lady Cathcart of Shaw Park, near Alloa, he travelled to Italy around 1767 and remained there for a decade, painting historical pictures and portraits. He became interested in drawing scenes of street life, inspired by the popular print tradition of depicting street criers who called out to advertise their produce or trades. He sketched street vendors, aristocrats on the Grand Tour, coffee house scenes, dances, carnivals, and local costume in Rome and Naples and on a visit to the islands of Procida, Ischia, and Minorca.

These experiences led Allan to take a similar approach after his return to Scotland in 1779. He drew his subject matter from contemporary life, ranging from specific events such as The Ceremony of Laying the Foundation Stone of the New College of Edinburgh (1789) to timeless traditions and customs, such as A Highland Dance and The Penny Wedding. In 1786 Allan was appointed to a teaching post as Master of the Trustees’ Academy and he settled permanently in Edinburgh. The city and its inhabitants became a particular focus for this work. From about 1788 he developed the series of over twenty drawings of workers and traders; often referred to as his ‘Edinburgh Characters’, they typically show an individual or pair of figures with the tools of their trade, set against a simple architectural or rural background.

Allan’s subjects range from higher status figures, such as a Highland officer in uniform and officers of the Town Guard, to those who did the city’s heavy labour, such as the coalmen, chimney sweeps, porters, and water carriers. Female workers are represented by a fishwife, a salt vendor, and a lacemaker. The figures are drawn with strong outlines in ink to enable them to be traced easily, as Allan made multiple versions of his character drawings, several of which are held in the National Galleries of Scotland collection. He also reproduced his Edinburgh characters on a smaller scale as the cast that populate his landscape views of the Royal Mile, such as High Street from the Netherbow, made in 1793. Seen as a group, Allan’s street characters give a broad and fascinating insight into late 1780s Edinburgh as a living, working city.

Edinburgh Milkmaid with Butter Churn is one of several notable acquisitions highlighted in the recently published NGS Annual Review, covering the years 2019–2021. The painting will go on display at a later date following some conservation work, which is currently being prepared. With much still unknown about the painting, the Galleries would welcome information, comments, or feedback about it.

Exhibition | Turner in January

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on January 5, 2022

From the National Galleries of Scotland:

Turner in January
Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, 2–31 January 2022

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Durham, 1801, watercolour over pencil on paper, 41 × 25 cm (Edinburgh: Scottish National Gallery).

The National Galleries of Scotland has presented an exhibition of the work of J.M.W. Turner every January for more than a century. This year’s exhibition will showcase all of the 38 watercolours by Turner that were given to the National Galleries of Scotland in 1900 by the art collector Henry Vaughan.

The exquisite works in the Vaughan bequest range from early wash drawings of the 1790s, to the colourful, atmospheric, and wonderfully expressive late works executed on visits to the Swiss Alps during the 1830s and 1840s.

Highlights of the bequest include a series of spectacular views of Venice such as The Piazzetta, Venice and Venice from the Laguna, which capture the drama and explosive skies of late summer Adriatic storms and demonstrate the artist’s consummate mastery of atmospheric lighting effects.

A booking for the Scottish National Gallery must be made in order to enjoy this exhibition.

More information on Henry Vaughan and the bequest is available here»

Exhibition | Alison Watt: A Portrait without Likeness

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on January 5, 2022

Alison Watt, Centifolia, detail, 2019, oil on canvas, 76 × 62cm
(Collection of the Artist, © Alison Watt)

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Closing this month at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery:

Alison Watt: A Portrait without Likeness
Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, 17 July 2021 — 9 January 2022

Curated by Julie Lawson

Alison Watt (born 1965) is widely regarded as one of the leading painters working in the UK today. This significant body of new work consists of sixteen paintings made in response to the practice of the celebrated eighteenth-century portrait artist Allan Ramsay (1713–1784) and are on show for the first time.

Left: Allan Ramsay, Portrait of the Artist’s Wife, Margaret Lindsay of Evelick, 1758–60, 74 × 62 cm (National Galleries of Scotland). Right: Allan Ramsay, Portrait of the Artist’s Wife, Anne Bayne, ca.1739, 68 × 55 cm (National Galleries of Scotland).

Alison Watt | A Portrait Without Likeness explores the artist’s continuing fascination with Ramsay’s portraits. Watt, most known for her beautiful and intricate large-scale paintings of drapery and folds, has long been an admirer of Ramsay’s portraits of women, in particular the intensely personal images of his first and second wives, Anne Bayne (died 1743) and Margaret Lindsay of Evelick (1726–1782). Both portraits reside in the Gallery’s collection and will be shown alongside Watt’s new work.

The exhibition is the fruit of a long period of study of Ramsay paintings, in addition to the drawings and sketchbooks from his extensive archive held by National Galleries of Scotland. Watt has said, “Looking into an artist’s archive is to view the struggle that takes place to make a work of art. A painting is a visual record of the inside of the artist’s mind. A painting is something that takes place over time; it is not static. To look at a work of art is to engage with an idea, and that is not a one sided activity. It’s more of a conversation.”

Alison Watt, Fortrose, 2019, oil on canvas, 61 × 46 cm (Collection of the Artist © Alison Watt).

A Portrait Without Likeness is accompanied by a publication featuring conversations between the artist and Julie Lawson, the Chief Curator of European, Scottish Art, and Portraiture at National Galleries of Scotland, who has curated the exhibition, as well as an essay from art historian Dr Tom Normand and a new work of short fiction by Booker Prize-nominated novelist Andrew O’Hagan.

Normand writes: “The fascination with flowers is uncommon within Watt’s oeuvre, but she has recently been engaged with the works of Allan Ramsay held in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Most particularly she has reflected upon his painting The Artist’s Wife, Margaret Lindsay of Evelick, painted between 1758 and 1760. This is an exquisite and mysterious portrait. At one level a tender study of his second wife, some thirteen years younger than the artist, at another a poignant essay on the enigma of human passion.”

Alison Watt, Julie Lawson, Tom Normand, and Andrew O’Hagan, Alison Watt: A Portrait without Likeness (Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland, 2021), 96 pages, ISBN: 978-1911054450, £20.


New Book | Scottish Portraiture, 1644–1714: David and John Scougall

Posted in books by Editor on January 4, 2022

From Brepols:

Carla van de Puttelaar, Scottish Portraiture, 1644–1714: David and John Scougall and Their Contemporaries, 2 vols. (Turnhout: Brepols, 2021), 756 pages, ISBN: 978-2503597270, €195.

This book is the first comprehensive publication on Scottish portraiture from the period 1644 to 1714, with an emphasis on the painters David Scougall (1625–1685) and his son John Scougall (1657–1737). It is based on in-depth art historical and archival research. As such, it is an important academic contribution to this thus far little-researched field. Virtually nothing was known about the Scougall portraitists, who also include the somewhat obscure George Scougall (active c. 1690–1737). Thorough archival research has provided substantial biographical information. It has yielded life dates and data on family relations and also has shown that David Scougall had two parallel careers: as a portrait painter and as a writer (solicitor). The legal community in which the Scougalls were embedded has been defined, as well as an extended group of sitters and their social, economic, and family networks. The book includes a catalogue raisonné of the oeuvre of David Scougall.

The most important contemporaries of the Scougalls were the portraitist L. Schüneman (active c. 1655/60–1667 or slightly later); his successor James Carrudus (active c. 1668–1683 or later), whose work is identified for the first time in this book; David Paton (c. 1650–in or after 1708); Jacob Jacobsz. de Wet (1641/42–1697); and Sir John Baptist Medina (1659–1710). Their lives and work are discussed. An extensive survey of Scottish portraits, with an emphasis on the work of the Scougall painters, is presented for the period 1644 to 1714. Numerous attributions to various artists and sitter identifications have been established or revised. An overview of the next generation is provided, in which the oeuvres and biographical details are highlighted of the principal portrait painters, such as William Aikman (1682–1731), Richard Waitt (1684–1733), and John Alexander (1686–1767). Numerous paintings have been photographed anew or for the first time and have been compared in detail, which had hardly been done before, while information is also included on technical aspects and original frames. The resulting data have been complemented by analysing the social and (art-) historical context in which the portraits were made. The works of the portrait painters in Scotland from this period, as this book shows, now form a solid bridge between the portraits painted prior to George Jamesone’s death in 1644 and those by the renowned Scottish painters of the eighteenth century.

Carla van de Puttelaar (b. 1967, Zaandam, The Netherlands) is an artist and art historian. She holds a PhD in art history from Utrecht University (2017). In 1996, she graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. Since then, her photographic work has gained worldwide recognition, and has been exhibited and published extensively. Her skills as a photographer were an important asset in producing the illustrations with which this publication is so lavishly furnished.


Volume 1 — The Scougalls and Their Circle



Current State of Published Research on the Scougalls and Their Circle and the Appreciation of Their Work Through the Centuries
The Elder Scougall/Old Scougall and the Younger Scougall
Dates and Scarcity of Known Archival Material

Artistic Context: Painting in Scotland, the Start of a Portrait Tradition, c. 1575–1660

David Scougall (Edinburgh, 1625–1685), His Life and Career
Emerging from the Shadows
Father and Son, John (d. after 13 October 1627) and David (1625–1685)
Writer and Painter
Family Patrons
The Outset of a Career
Father and Son, David (1625–1685) and John (1657–1737)
The Advocate’s Close
The Profession of a Writer or Clerk in the Time of David Scougall
The Profession of a Painter in the Time of David Scougall
Possible Teachers and Family Creativity
Decline and Death
Skougall or Scougall
Personal Network, Legal Community, and Further Family Relations

John Scougall (Edinburgh, 1657–1737), His Life and Career
A Long and Prosperous Life
Becoming a Limner
Family Patrons
Increased Prosperity
Lack of Competition
1694: A Year of Important Changes
Decline in Skill and Death

David Scougall: The Oeuvre, Characteristics, Development, and Sources of Inspiration
The Outset of a Career
Core Works, the Basis for a Compilation of the Oeuvre
Associated Works
Miniatures or Pocket Pictures
Stylistic Features and Motifs
Consistency in Style
Late Works, 1675–1685
Technical Aspects of David Scougall’s Paintings
Technical Research and Painting Technique
Painting Materials
David Scougall as a Copyist
Costumes and Jewellery
Use of Motifs from Portraits by Other Painters
No Inventor, but Painting Real People
Studio Practice and Legal Community

John Scougall: The Oeuvre, Characteristics, Development, and Sources of Inspiration
The Early Years
Indisputable Works
Associated Works
Use of Motifs from Portraits by Other Painters
Stylistic Features and Motifs
Technical Aspects of John Scougall’s Paintings
Technical Research and Painting Technique
John Scougall as a Copyist
Mending and Washing
Studio Practice and Apprentices

George Scougall (b. 1670?, active c. 1690– c. 1737)
Lack of Biographical Data
In the Studio of John Scougall
Inadequate Traces of Work

Nobility and Clergy
Clients and Religious Beliefs
Loyal Patrons
Bonding Portraits
Competition from Abroad
Ladies and Gentlemen
Portraying Children
Problems in Sitter Identification
Known Sitter, but Problem in Period and Handling
Portraits Telling the Truth?
Scougall’s Clients, Where Were They Based, and the Painter’s Studio

Backs and Frames
The Back of the Painting
Period Frames

Prices for Portraits and Frames
Prices for Portraits by David Scougall, 1664–1683
Prices for Portraits by John Scougall, 1674–1728
Prices for Frames

The Contemporaries of the Scougalls
John Michael Wright (1617–1694)
L. Schüneman (active c. 1655/60–1667 or shorty after)
James Carrudus (active 1671 or earlier–1683 or later)
David Paton (c. 1650–in or after 1708)
Thomas Murray (1663–1735)
Jacob Jacobsz. de Wet (1641/42–1697)
Portraits, Painters Unknown
Painters, Portraits Unknown
Sir John Baptist Medina (1659–1710)

The Next Generation
William Aikman (1682–1731)
Richard Waitt (1684–1733)
John Alexander (1686–1767)
John Smibert (1688–1751)
And Beyond

Summary and Conclusion

Appendix I: The Scougall Family, Reconstruction of the Family Tree
Appendix II: Transcriptions of Various Archival Documents Concerning the Scougall Painters
Appendix III: The Mysterious Portrait of ‘John Scougall’
Appendix IV: Transcription of the Memoir by Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, 1st Baronet (1649–1722) of His Wife Elizabeth Henderson, Lady Clerk (1658–1683)

Volume 2 — Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings by David Scougall (1625–1685)


Catalogue A: Authentic Works
Catalogue AW: Works Known Only from Written Sources
Catalogue B: Copies by David Scougall after Works by Others
Catalogue C: Doubtful Works
Catalogue D: Works Known Only through Copies and Prints
Catalogue E: Rejected Works

Guides to Houses and Other Venues
Inserted Details

New Book | Uncommon Sense: Jeremy Bentham

Posted in books by Editor on January 3, 2022

From the University of Virginia Press:

Carrie Shanafelt, Uncommon Sense: Jeremy Bentham, Queer Aesthetics, and the Politics of Taste (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2022), 194 pages, ISBN: 978-0813946863 (hardcover), $95 / ISBN: 978-0813946870 (paperback), $32. Also available as an ebook.

Infamous for authoring two concepts since favored by government powers seeking license for ruthlessness—the utilitarian notion of privileging the greatest happiness for the most people and the panopticon—Jeremy Bentham is not commonly associated with political emancipation. But perhaps he should be. In his private manuscripts, Bentham agonized over the injustice of laws prohibiting sexual nonconformity, questioning state policy that would put someone to death merely for enjoying an uncommon pleasure. He identified sources of hatred for sexual nonconformists in philosophy, law, religion, and literature, arguing that his goal of ‘the greatest happiness’ would be impossible as long as authorities dictate whose pleasures can be tolerated and whose must be forbidden. Ultimately, Bentham came to believe that authorities worked to maximize the suffering of women, colonized and enslaved persons, and sexual nonconformists in order to demoralize disenfranchised people and prevent any challenge to power.

In Uncommon Sense, Carrie Shanafelt reads Bentham’s sexual nonconformity papers as an argument for the toleration of aesthetic difference as the foundation for egalitarian liberty, shedding new light on eighteenth-century aesthetics and politics. At odds with the common image of Bentham as a dehumanizing calculator or an eccentric projector, this innovative study shows Bentham at his most intimate, outraged by injustice and desperate for the end of sanctioned, discriminatory violence.

Carrie D. Shanafelt is Associate Professor of Literature and Philosophy at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Nationalmuseum Sweden Acquires Gold Box, Gifted by Gustav III

Posted in museums by Editor on December 26, 2021

Gold box à deux couleurs, unknown maker, Hanau; guilloché and chased gold in two shades, diamonds, enamel; portrait of Gustav III by Johan Georg Henrichsen, ca. 1778 (Stockholm: Nationalmuseum, NMB 2799). The box sold at Sotheby’s in London on 10 November 2021 as part of the Gold Boxes, Silver and Ceramics sale (Lot 10).

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Press release (8 December 2021) from Sweden’s Nationalmuseum in Stockholm:

Nationalmuseum has acquired a unique gold box bearing a portrait by the court enameller, Johan Georg Henrichsen, of King Gustav III. The box was given by the king as a gift to John Mackenzie, a Scottish officer, when he retired from the Swedish army in 1778. Very few such tokens of royal favour have survived intact, which is what makes this gold box unique.

Jewel-encrusted portraits of the monarch were the most prestigious token of appreciation. The tradition developed at the French court in the 17th century and soon became a model for other European royal houses of the time. These portraits might take the form of a pendant or be mounted in a jewelled setting on the lid of a gold box. Queen Kristina was the first Swedish monarch to adopt this French fashion, which then flourished in the 18th century. Gustav III frequently handed out gold boxes as a sign of royal favour. Contemporary historical sources show that the king took a great personal interest in the design and gave detailed instructions. Sometimes the decoration consisted of his monogram in diamonds, and in other cases his portrait was framed with jewels.

Various specialist craftsmen collaborated to create the boxes. A silversmith would first produce the basic gold box, which would then be decorated by an engraver and adorned with gemstones by a jeweller. A miniaturist then added the portrait, while the case was produced by another specialist, often a bookbinder. There were practitioners of all these crafts in Gustavian Stockholm, but sometimes boxes were imported from Russia, Saxony or France. The gold box in question was made in Hanau, in the present-day German state of Hessen. It is oval in shape and is decorated with a guilloché (engine-turned) wave and circle pattern within a chased (embossed) border. It is also executed à deux couleurs: in a combination of two different gold alloys to produce colour variations. After the box reached Stockholm, the king’s portrait was set on the lid in a frame of diamonds with trailing vines.

The portrait is the work of Johan Georg Henrichsen (1707–1779), the last person in Sweden to hold the position of court enameller, to which he was appointed in 1773. He worked exclusively from originals in pastel or oil created by other artists such as Gustaf Lundberg or, in this case, Lorens Pasch the Younger. The colour palette was often intense, combined with clear use of pointillism. A lesser-known fact is that Henrichsen also produced coats of arms for patents of nobility, painted on parchment using miniature techniques.

The recipient of the gift was a Scottish adventurer: John Mackenzie, Lord Macleod, 4th Earl of Cromartie (1726–1789). He had been loyal to Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie), the Young Pretender, and was held prisoner after the British army defeated the Jacobites at the battle of Culloden in 1746. Two years later he was pardoned, but the family had its estates confiscated. In 1750 John Mackenzie joined the Swedish army, ending up as colonel of the Björneborg regiment.

“Mackenzie returned to Britain in 1778, having been granted a full amnesty, and had his estates restored. On the occasion of his departure from Sweden, he received this gold box from King Gustav III. It is one of the very few surviving examples from the time and will soon be on display in Nationalmuseum’s Treasury alongside a miniature portrait of Mackenzie,” explained Magnus Olausson, director of collections at Nationalmuseum.

Nationalmuseum receives no state funds with which to acquire design, applied art and artwork; instead the collections are enriched through donations and gifts from private foundations and trusts. The acquisition has been made possible by a generous donation from the Anna and Hjalmar Wicander Foundation.

New Book | Ogata Korin: Art in Early Modern Japan

Posted in books by Editor on December 23, 2021

From Yale UP:

Frank Feltens, Ogata Kōrin: Art in Early Modern Japan (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002), 240 pages, ISBN: 978-0300256918, $60.

A lush portrait introducing one of the most important Japanese artists of the Edo period

Best known for his paintings Irises and Red and White Plum Blossoms, Ogata Kōrin (1658–1716) was a highly successful artist who worked in many genres and media—including hanging scrolls, screen paintings, fan paintings, lacquer, textiles, and ceramics. Combining archival research, social history, and visual analysis, Frank Feltens situates Kōrin within the broader art culture of early modern Japan. He shows how financial pressures, client preferences, and the impulse toward personal branding in a competitive field shaped Kōrin’s approach to art-making throughout his career. Feltens also offers a keen visual reading of the artist’s work, highlighting the ways Korin’s artistic innovations succeeded across media, such as his introduction of painterly techniques into lacquer design and his creation of ceramics that mimicked the appearance of ink paintings. This book, the first major study of Korin in English, provides an intimate and thought-provoking portrait of one of Japan’s most significant artists.

Frank Feltens is Japan Foundation Associate Curator of Japanese Art at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.


Note to the Reader

1  Before Painting: Ogata Kōrin and His Turn to Art
2  Of Poets and Flowers: Kōrin’s Early Paintings
3  Art and Family: Kōrin’s Lacquer Works and Hon’ami Kōetsu
4  Heading East: Kōrin in Edo
5  Beyond Ink: Ceramics by Kōrin and Kenzan
6  Toward the End: Kōrin’s Late Work


Laura Macaluso on Benedict Arnold’s House

Posted in Calls for Papers, journal articles by Editor on December 22, 2021

We’re used to thinking about how the persistence of artifacts and architecture—especially elite forms of material culture—attest to the social and cultural status of individuals long after their deaths. With a growing scholarly appreciation for how the lack of an enduring material record also speaks to historical priorities, many readers will find this essay by Laura Macaluso interesting. And I would draw your attention more generally to Commonplace, edited by Joshua Greenberg; see the ongoing Call for Submissions below. –CH

From Commonplace:

Laura A. Macaluso, “Benedict Arnold’s House: The Making and Unmaking of an American,” Commonplace: The Journal of Early American Life (October 2021).

Arnold’s unceasing efforts to elevate himself in society through marriage and professional work can be viewed through the lens of the houses he bought or built throughout his life.

Benedict Arnold’s Shop Sign (New Haven Museum). ‘Sibi Totique’ (‘For himself and for everyone’).

Historians have examined the many aspects, both positive and negative, of Arnold’s impact on the course of events leading to the establishment of the United States. Yet the largely unanalyzed material culture of his existence—the objects he acquired and the buildings in which he and his family resided—can offer us much more about the contours of his life as he fashioned it, and how others crafted his historical memory. Arnold’s unceasing efforts to elevate himself in society through marriage and professional work can be viewed through the lens of the houses he bought or built throughout his life. This essay looks at the cultural landscape of one of his homes, the New Haven, Connecticut, house he built and resided in from 1769 until wartime. Through an analysis of the choices Arnold made in location, size, and architectural style, I identify how Arnold began to construct his identity not only as a member of the urban merchant class, but also as a gentleman. The building of the home reads as material evidence of his desire to establish his identity and place in society, but equally the abuse and destruction of Arnold’s house is a parallel to the untimely end of a life and career he worked hard to obtain.

The full essay is available here»

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Commonplace: Call for Submissions

Commonplace is now accepting submissions of approximately 2000 words that analyze vast early America before 1900. We seek a diverse range of articles on material and visual culture, critical reviews of books, films, and digital humanities projects, poetic research and fiction, pedagogy, and the historian’s craft. We are especially interested in deep reads of individual objects, images, or documents (including in the collection of the American Antiquarian Society). Submissions should be written in an accessible style and crafted for a wide audience. Inquiries and submissions can be made to commonplacejournal@gmail.com.

About Commonplace:

A bit less formal than a scholarly journal, a bit more scholarly than a popular magazine, Commonplace speaks—and listens—to scholars, museum curators, teachers, hobbyists, and just about anyone interested in American history before 1900. It is for all sorts of people to read about all sorts of things relating to early American life—from architecture to literature, from politics to parlor manners. It’s a place to find insightful analysis of early American history as it is discussed in scholarly literature, as it manifests on the evening news, as it is curated in museums, big and small; as it is performed in documentary and dramatic films and as it shows up in everyday life. . . .

Commonplace originally launched in 2000 as Common-Place: The Journal of Early American Life and has now been reimagined with a cleaner, more accessible interface. Our articles appear on a rolling basis and are arranged by category instead of being organized by issue and volume. . . .

Sponsored by the American Antiquarian Society, founded by editors Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore, and designed by John McCoy, Common-Place: The Journal of Early American Life is the product of an amazing team of editors and institutions. Over nearly two decades, the journal has been published in partnerships with Florida State University, the University of Oklahoma, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and the University of Connecticut. Past editors have included Ed Gray; Catherine Kelly; Anna Mae Duane and Walt Woodward. Past contributors and guest editors have included: Joanna Brooks, Robert A. Gross, Gary B. Nash, Megan Kate Nelson, Mary Beth Norton, and Alan Taylor.

In 2019, the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture joined the AAS in a new partnership to redesign and reinvigorate the site.

Call for Papers | The Theatines and Architecture

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on December 21, 2021

From ArtHist.net, which includes the Italian and Spanish versions:

‘Circa vestimenta’: i Teatini e l’architettura, XVI–XVIII secolo
The Theatines and Architecture, 16th–18th Centuries
International Conference on the Architectural History of the Order of Clerics Regular Theatines
Sant’Andrea della Valle, Rome, 22–23 March 2022

Proposals due by 7 January 2022

First among the religious orders born in the climate of the Catholic Reformation and rooted in the sensibility of Devotio moderna, the order of Clerics Regular Theatines was officially founded in 1524 by Gian Pietro Carafa (1476–1559, Pope Paul IV from 1555), Gaetano Thiene (1480–1547), Bonifacio de’ Colli (ϯ 1558), and Paolo Consiglieri (1499–1557). After settling in Venice (from 1527), Naples (from 1538), and finally in Rome (from 1555), between the end of the Council of Trent and the middle of the seventeenth century the order became widespread in Italy, at the same time as it began expanding in Europe and evangelizing in non-Christian territories, mainly in the Caucasus and the East Indies.

In spite of the importance of Theatine houses and places of worship, and the relevance of Theatine patrons and architects, the order has not enjoyed the kind of critical reception enjoyed by other early modern orders, such as the Jesuits, the Barnabites, or the Oratorians. The dispersion of a large part of the order’s documentary heritage and, in particular, the scarcity and unevenness of the drawings and other architectural evidence held in the Theatine general archives at Sant’Andrea della Valle in Rome have certainly been among the reasons that have hindered attempts to produce synthetic studies of Theatine architecture.

In recent years new data and questions have emerged from an increasing amount of research, partly published in the journal of the order, Regnum Dei: Collectanea Theatina, and discussed in specific, limited forums, such as a first international conference dedicated to the Theatine foundations in Sicily (2003) and a study day on the history of the Venetian church and house of San Nicolò da Tolentino and the alterations that have affected it (2017). Today it finally seems possible to think of a scholarly gathering in which to relate some of the many histories regarding the Theatines and architecture.

Starting from the architectural enterprises and evidence associated with the order of Clerics Regular Theatines between the sixteenth and the eighteenth centuries, this conference intends to create an initial framework within which to investigate the urgent issues and historiographic problems facing historians today. Namely:
• the settlement strategies of the Theatines in relation to urban context, to economic choices, and to the process of reuse and appropriation of sites
• the particular role of great promoters, financial backers, and patrons in respect to the expansion of the order and their effects on the development of the order’s sites for churches and houses, with particular reference to sacred space
• the role of Theatine priests as patrons or architects of buildings outside the order
• the circulation and migration of models, techniques, and architectural experts and amateurs among Theatine building sites and/or Theatine commissions
• the dynamics of the ‘center-periphery’ relationship, understood as the relationship between the Roman mother house and the other foundations of the order, through investigation of the genesis and design process of Theatine buildings
• the knowledge, skills, and theoretical and scientific debates regarding architecture in the Theatine context, also considering the books held in Theatine libraries and the publications of the order’s priests
• the effects of the order’s spirituality on the selection of building materials, on architectural and decorative solutions, and on the relation of these to antiquity
• the relationship between tradition and experimentation (typological, architectural and in relation to construction techniques) in Theatine buildings
• the differences and distinctive features in design approach, in functional organization, in management of the building sites, and in the choices of material and manner of construction when comparing the houses for religious, buildings intended for teaching, and those destined for worship
• when and how celebrations, processions and ephemeral apparatuses transformed Theatine sacred space and its relation to the urban context.

The possibility of researching and identifying any unique characteristics of the architecture of the Clerics Regular Theatines—both going back to the problems they faced as the first order founded in the early modern era, and in relation to the production of other orders founded around the same time—certainly invites wider reflection than themes strictly related to architecture. One of the keys to understanding this could be found in the ‘arma apostolica’ that Carafa requested from Clement VII in 1533, ‘tam circa vestimenta quam circa alias cerimonias’, with which the first Theatines, anticipating the difficulties related to evangelizing in distant lands, had the opportunity to flexibly adapt to different, geographically distant cultural realities.

The conference will be hosted by the Generalate of the Theatine order at the church of Sant’Andrea della Valle in Rome and will take place 22–23 March 2022. Given the uncertainty of the evolving public health situation, the organizers plan to hold the event in hybrid format, both in-person and online. The proceedings of the conference will be published in a special issue of the journal Lexicon: Storie e Architettura in Sicilia e nel Mediterraneo, a biannual periodical of studies in architectural history, classified as class A for the assessment sectors 08/C1, D1, E1, E2, F1 of the Italian national agency for the evaluation of universities and research institutes (Anvur). Those interested in participating should send a biography of approximately ten lines and a long abstract of no more than 700 words, accompanied by a reference bibliography of no more than ten items, to convegno.architetturateatina@gmail.com by 7 January 2022. Abstracts will be accepted in Italian, English, French, and Spanish. No registration fees are required. For clarification of any questions, please contact convegno.architetturateatina@gmail.com.

1 November 2021 — Call for papers
7 January 2022 — New deadline for submission of biography and long abstracts
15 January 2022 — Notification of acceptance
22–23 March 2022 — Conference

Scientific Committee
Richard Bösel (Universität Wien)
Beatriz Blasco Esquivias (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)
Susan Klaiber (indipendente)
Fulvio Lenzo (Università Iuav di Venezia)
Carmine Mazza, C.R.
Marco Rosario Nobile (Università di Palermo)
Edoardo Piccoli (Politecnico di Torino)
Francesco Repishti (Politecnico di Milano)
Augusto Roca De Amicis (Università La Sapienza, Roma)

Conference Organizers and Editorial Committee
Marco Capponi (Università Iuav di Venezia)
Gaia Nuccio (Università di Palermo)

Organizing Committee
Marco Capponi (Università Iuav di Venezia), Gaia Nuccio (Università di Palermo), Mariana Méndez Gallardo (Universidad Iberoamericana Ciudad de México), Padre Marcelo R. Zubia, C.R., Padre Diego Doldan, C.R.

Exhibition | Traveling in Style: A Coach Restored

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on December 20, 2021

Beekman Family Coach, ca. 1770, made in England; wood (ash and spruce by analysis), iron, and leather. 8 feet × 13 feet × 52 inches
(New-Historical Society, Gift of Gerard Beekman 1911.25)

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Now on view at the New-York Historical Society:

Traveling in Style: A Coach Restored
New-York Historical Society Museum & Library, 2 July 2021 — 20 February 2022

The Beekman Family Coach returns to the New-York Historical Society on 2 July 2021. Over the past year, this rare coach—one of only three horse-drawn vehicles used in 18th-century America to survive in original condition—was painstakingly restored to its 1790s appearance through a generous grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

New York merchant James Beekman purchased the coach in 1771 for £138. An expensive luxury that became the crown jewel in his fleet of carriages, the coach was repainted at least five times between 1771 and the 1790s.

Conservator Brian Howard and his team meticulously restored the coach, beginning with the removal of a thick layer of old varnish applied during the mid 20th century. Underneath lay five layers of historic paint, including a light celadon green color from the 1790s that is again visible today. Among other surprises, conservators discovered that the interior of the cab retained most of its original fixtures and materials—wood benches and storage lockers, wool wall coverings, carpeting, and coach lace, enameled Russian leather trim, and flax insulation.

Conservation and display of the Beekman Family Coach is being supported in part by a Federal Save America’s Treasures grant administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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