Monday, 15th February
David Bellingham will speak on: Collecting and Display in Ancient Rome
This paper will begin with a critical review of the primary source types available for the study of the collecting and display of art in the ancient Roman world. The main sources include: literary histories, biographies, legal speeches, rhetorical exercises, poems and private letters; as well as archaeological sources such as the towns and villas destroyed by the Vesuvian eruption of 79 CE, and other excavated sites in and around Rome itself and throughout the Roman Empire.
The paper will then look in more detail at three case studies: the Roman Republican statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BCE), the excavations of the ‘Villa of the Papyri’ at Herculaneum and the palatial villa at Tivoli of the Roman Emperor Hadrian (76-138 CE). The evidence for Cicero’s collecting and display rationales only survives in literary sources, including his political tracts and speeches, lawcourt speeches, philosophical essays and, perhaps most interestingly, his published ‘private’ correspondence with family and friends. The case study will focus on Cicero’s letters to Titus Pomponius Atticus (c. 110-32 BCE), his friend, art advisor and agent working out of Athens and providing Cicero with sculptures for display in his several Italian villas. The letters challenge the commonly held modern opinion that Romans collected art with little regard for rational selection and display. The ‘Villa of the Papyri’ at Herculaneum was partially excavated in the eighteenth century and the findspots of its famous sculptural collection were faithfully recorded before they were transported to Naples. The knowledge of the original locations of the sculptures, together with the Ciceronian correspondence with Atticus enable an assessment of Roman attitudes towards collection and display. These assessments can be applied to many other display contexts, including the replication of ‘old master’ (earlier Classical Greek) paintings in Romano-Campanian interior decoration, the marble replication of Polykleitos’s bronze Doryphoros (‘Spear-bearer’) in the ‘Samnite Gymnasium’ at Pompeii and the sculptural replications of Classical sculptures in Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli. Finally, the paper will argue that these ancient Roman collecting strategies as transmitted in the textual tradition might have influenced those of the Renaissance.
Dr. David Bellingham is an art historian, author and Programme Director for the Master’s Degree in Art Business at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London where he leads a core unit on The International Art World, Law and Ethics, as well as electives on The Market for Antiquities & Old Masters and Ethics, Law & the Art Trade. He also lectures on Classical Art and Architecture, and their reception in the modern era. He holds a special honours degree in Latin and Classical Archaeology (University of Birmingham), and a doctorate from the University of Manchester for his thesis on the cultural and socio-economic aspects of sympotic scenes in ancient Roman and Pompeian wall-painting. David has published numerous books and articles on a variety of subjects, including: art fairs; art business ethics; Greek & Celtic mythology; the art market for classical sculpture and frescoes; the paintings of Sandro Botticelli; authenticity issues in the paintings of Frans Hals; and the ethical reception of the Riace Bronzes.
Monday, 18th January
Laura Canella will speak on: Charles Henfrey (1818-1891) collector
This paper explores the story of an English engineer and art collector, who lived between England, Italy and India, working on different railway projects on the behalf of the English crown. He was the owner of a collection of Renaissance artworks of considerable importance, which included paintings of Italian artists such as Moretto, Titian and Bergognone. Upon his arrival in Italy, Henfrey established his home in Baveno, on Lake Maggiore, where he built his villa in typical English neo-gothic style. Villa Clara-Henfrey soon became a social and cultural gathering point of the nobility and the rich Piedmontese and Italian bourgeoisie. However, the most important guest was undoubtedly Queen Victoria, who spent a month as a guest with her daughter.
Baveno’s villa became the location of Charles Henfrey’s collection of Renaissance paintings, part of which have afterwards joined the collection of the National Gallery in London. Therefore, in addition to highlighting the figure of a long-neglected collector, the research gives an insight of the cultural tastes and choices of the wider panorama of art lovers and connoisseurs of the Nineteenth century. Furthermore, it adds fundamental new information to the collecting history of important paintings of Italian Renaissance.
Laura Canella has just graduated with a Master’s degree in Arts and Cultural Management at King’s College London. Previously, she obtained a Bachelor’s degree (First Class Honours) in History and Preservation of Cultural Heritage, followed by a Master’s degree (First Class Honours) in Art History at the Statale University in Milan. During her studies in Italy, she graduated with a thesis regarding the English engineer and collector Charles Henfrey (1818-1891), supervised by Professor Giovanni Agosti. In March 2017 she held a lecture on the subject at the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum in Milan, as part of the cycle of meetings “New Voices, young art historians of the University of Milan”. She collaborated with the editorial staff of “Concorso. Arti e Lettere”, magazine of the Department of Art History of the Statale University of Milan, publishing two dossiers for which she was curator, 1667 Malvasia in Milan, and author, Charles Henfrey a collector between Baveno and India.
Monday, 14th December
Dr Joanna Smalcerz will speak on
The Anatomy of Wrongdoing: Socio-Psychological Dynamics of Unlawful Art Collecting
In 1776, Charles Townley (1737-1805), an English collector of antiquities, Grand Tourist and future trustee of the British Museum, received a letter from his agent in Italy, Gavin Hamilton (1723-1798), in which the famous dealer wrote explicitly about the smuggling that would be necessary for the transport of a statue of Venus out of the Papal States. A year earlier, equally openly, the two discussed the bribes necessary to smuggle out another antique statue. Similarly, more than a century later, the Berlin curator Wilhelm Bode (1845-1929) and a collector from Bode’s circle, Adolf von Beckerath (1834-1915), would collude with the Florentine art dealer, Stefano Bardini (1836-1922) for the illicit export of artworks from the Kingdom of Italy. Within these cliques, unlawful collecting was perceived as necessary in the race against international collectors to secure the most valuable available antiquities and Italian Renaissance works of art. In the nineteenth century the phenomenon was widespread – the same normalisation of law-breaking permeated other collectors’ circles, for instance that of Bernard (1865-1959) and Mary Berenson (1864-1945), and Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924).
Drawing both on the nineteenth-century examples from her recent monograph, Smuggling the Renaissance: The Illicit Export of Artworks Out of Italy, 1861-1909 (February 2020) and on more recent cases of illegal art collecting, the paper analyses the social and psychological dynamics of unlawful collecting of art and antiquities. The paper investigates the illicit schemes of museum curators from the perspective of studies on white-collar crime and deploys concepts stemming from criminology, such as techniques of neutralisation, to explain the social acceptance of wrongdoing within the networks of private collectors engaged in art smuggling. The speaker will reveal the opaque, yet universal phenomena, governing art collecting.
Joanna Smalcerz is an Associate Researcher at the University of Bern. Her research and publications focus on the nineteenth-century art market and collecting, and investigate the relations between societies and their cultural heritage. Her recent book, Smuggling the Renaissance: The Illicit Export of Artworks Out of Italy, 1861-1909 explores the phenomenon of art spoliation in Italy following Unification, when the international demand for Italian Renaissance art was at an all-time high but effective art protection legislation had not yet been passed. Joanna holds MAs from the University of Warsaw and the Free University Berlin, and a PhD from the University of Bern. She worked on the Project for the Study of Collecting and Provenance at the Getty Research Institute and lectured at the University of Bern. Her awards include fellowships from the Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History in Rome and the Villa I Tatti – The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence.
Monday, 9th November
Harriet O’Neill will speak on
Lending and Borrowing: The British Fine Arts Palace at the 1911 International Arts Exhibition, Rome
In 1911, in response to an invitation from the Italian government, the wealthier amongst the European nations opened pavilions in the Valle Giulia, Rome displaying ‘…representative collections of pictures, sculpture, drawings and engravings’ to celebrate 50 years of a unified Italy with Rome as its capital. This paper will explore collecting and display in terms of the loans negotiated from a diverse group of lenders for the British contribution to the International Fine Arts Exhibition and their curation.
Under the aegis of the Exhibitions Branch of the Board of Trade, 1232 paintings, sculptures, watercolours, prints and drawings were borrowed, catalogued and transported from the United Kingdom to Rome. Highlights included works by Leighton, Hogarth, Reynolds, Zoffany, Rossetti, Gainsborough and Constable. What was displayed was determined by a Committee, the President of which was the British Ambassador to Italy, Sir James Rennell Rodd and the Chairman was Thomas Ashby, Director of the British School at Rome. The works exhibited came from countrywide stakeholders of all social and institutional levels, including Lord O’Hagan of County Tyrone, Staffordshire General Infirmary, the Corporation of Leeds, the Fishmongers Company and the Corporation of Leicester to name but a few. To date there has been no scholarship on what motivated owners to lend nor why the Committee asked them to, lacunae this paper seeks to correct.
By focusing on the creation of a hitherto little researched temporary collection and its display, understanding of transient collecting will be heightened and what it reveals about national collecting practices at the beginning of the twentieth century. It should be noted that many of these works of art are now in national and international collections and that this discussion will provide a new understanding of their past lives.
Dr Harriet O’Neill undertook her BA in History at the University of Oxford and holds MAs in History of Art and Art Museum and Gallery Studies. Her PhD, ‘Reframing the Italian Renaissance at the National Gallery’ was a collaboration between UCL and the National Gallery, London. She has held curatorial positions at the National Gallery and Royal Holloway, University of London and published articles on frames and framing, scenography and nineteenth-century ornament. Harriet is currently Assistant Director for the Humanities and Social Sciences at the British School at Rome and an Honorary Research Associate of Royal Holloway.
Monday, 12th October
Pamela Bianchi will speak on
Dressing Up Spaces: Exhibition Design and Display Strategies at The Gonzaga Court
The Galerieta verso la Mostra (the gallery of marbles or months), the Galeria Grande (the main gallery built around 1592 to exhibit modern paintings), the Coridore che guarda verso la Santa Barbara (a corridor connecting two sections of the building, serving as storage for paintings and sculptures), the Logion Serato (a gallery of mirrors, central point of the exhibition structure), the Passetto davanti al Camarino della Grotta (the passage in front of the Grotto) and the Stanza contigua alla Libreria (the room adjoining to the library).
In 1626, these rooms appeared in the inventory of the ducal palace of the Gonzaga family in Mantua, drawn up by Ferdinando Gonzaga. These spaces (named in relation to the typology of objects contained and the topology of the other rooms) not only served to exhibit the family collections of antiquities and paintings but also translated the (ante litteram) “museographic” programme conceived by Ferdinando. At the time, the palace was perceived as the architectural portrait of the family, thus, a succession of spaces was especially “dressed up” to show off its intellectual and social power. Within such a scenographic apparatus, visits were not limited to a single room but developed in a specific dynamic extending temporality and spatiality. Here, visitors were allowed to experience the palace through “the eyes that saw, the head that turned and the legs that walked” (Le Corbusier, 1950).
This contribution studies the relationship between the architecture of the palace and the display of the collection, to generate a broader debate around the role played by ancient collections in the design of the first exhibition strategies and related spaces, born before the idea of a fully public museum. By detailing the stages of a sort of architectural walk, this study thus probes the aesthetic and spatial experience of the visitor inside the ducal palace of Mantua, in which the relationship between the display of collections, furniture design and architectural decoration, created a veritable “exhibiting machine”.
Finally, this paper will offer an opportunity to hypothesize a new form of a historiographical reading of the spaces of collections in the 16th and 17th centuries, with regard to contemporary museographic vocabulary, spatial design and exhibiting methods.
Pamela Bianchi is an art historian (Milan, 2011), and was awarded a PhD in Aesthetics, Sciences and Technologies of Arts at Paris 8 University (2015). Since 2013, she has been an affiliated to the AI-AC research team there. She recently organized the international conference “DEA Allestimento/Exhibition Design” at the Paris 8 University and the School of Architecture ENSA Paris-Malaquais. Her research interests include the history of exhibition space, exhibition theories, architectural design, museum studies and new curating approaches. She has published widely, including: Espaces de l’œuvre, espaces de l’exposition. De nouvelles formes d’expérience dans l’art contemporain (Paris: Connaissances et Savoirs, 2016) and she is currently preparing for publication The Spactio Picto. The Imagery of the Exhibition Space in the Early Modern Period (1450-1750).
Monday, 9th March
Jane Milosch and Nick Pearce
Collecting and Provenance: A Multidisciplinary Approach
Provenance – tracking the origin, ownership, transfer, and movement of objects – has become somewhat more visible in recent years, spurred on by the restitution of Nazi spoliated artworks and lately human remains and cultural heritage translocated during the colonial era. But rich provenance data is relevant within a wider a range of contexts and for a plurality of audiences where there is a desire to connect with objects, histories, cultures and associated people of all kinds. Through the work of the Smithsonian Provenance Research Initiative Jane Milosch and Nick Pearce have been engaging with provenance from this broad range of perspectives which has resulted in a new book: Collecting and Provenance: A Multidisciplinary Approach, the aim of which is to present provenance as an integral part of collecting history, illuminating the social, economic, and historic contexts in which objects were created and collected. They argue that provenance relates to the history of people as well as objects and its study can reveal an often-intricate network of relationships, patterns of activity, and motivations across a range of disciplinary perspectives.
Nick Pearce holds the Richmond Chair of Fine Art at the University of Glasgow, where he specializes in the arts of China. He joined the University of Glasgow in 1998 where he has held the positions of Head of History of Art and Head of the School of Culture and Creative Arts and is currently a Smithsonian Research Associate. His research interests include photographers and photography in late nineteenth-century China and aspects of the collecting of Chinese art in the West during the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries. His most recent publications include: “From the Summer Palace 1860: Provenance and Politics,” in L. Tythacott (ed.), Collecting and Displaying China’s “Summer Palace” in the West: The Yuanmingyuan in Britain and France (2018).
Jane C. Milosch, Director of the Provenance Research Exchange Program (PREP) at the Smithsonian Institution, is the founder and former director of the Smithsonian Provenance Research Initiative, where she oversaw WWII–era provenance research projects and advised on international cultural heritage projects, provenance, and training programmes. In 2014, Milosch was appointed the US representative to Germany’s International “Schwabing Art Trove” Task Force Advisory Group. Milosch is currently an honorary professor in the School of Culture and Creative Arts, University of Glasgow.
Monday, 10th February
Alycen Mitchell, Queen Mary, University of London
Pioneering New York Art Dealers and the Genesis of the American Auction Style
This paper focuses on the 19th century genesis of the American art and antiques auction to examine the origin of its defining characteristics, proposing that American art and antiques auctions were upmarket retail-oriented events. In this paper Alycen Mitchell discusses the marketing techniques used in the latter part of the 19th century by the pioneering traders who transformed New York into America’s art and antiques auction capital. These techniques came to shape the American image of the art and antiques auction and had lasting and powerful resonance. In the latter 20th century, Sotheby’s and Christie’s cultivated this image to their advantage in their rise to international pre-eminence.
Alycen Mitchell recently completed a PhD at Queen Mary, University of London. Her thesis charts Sotheby’s and Christie’s rise to international market pre-eminence following World War II. She originally worked in the antiques business and has a track record of writing about art and design. Her research (co-authored with Barbara Pezzini) on the relationship between George Romney’s critical reputation and the art market was published in The Burlington Magazine (July 2015). She spoke at the Creating Market, Collecting Art Conference (July 2016) organised by Christie’s Education in London. Most recently she presented a paper entitled ‘The Weinberg Auction: A Dress Rehearsal for Sotheby’s Retail Debut’ at the Researching Art Market Practices from Past to Present and Tools for the Future Workshop (November 2019) at Accademia Nazionale di San Luca in Rome.
Monday, 13th January
The Orléans Collection reborn in Regency London: the Stafford Gallery at Cleveland House
During the 24 years of its existence (1806-1830) the Stafford Gallery was celebrated as the most important collection of continental Old Master paintings in London. The author’s recent book discusses the way in which the collection was formed in the 1790s by the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater and his nephew the (future) 2nd Marquess of Stafford, and also the way in which it was displayed, both in the Stafford Gallery itself and in its early Victorian successors, the Bridgewater and the Sutherland Galleries. The present talk will concentrate on the large group of Italian paintings acquired in 1798/99 from the former Orléans collection at the Palais-Royal in Paris, and how their presence in their new home of Cleveland House was highlighted, both in the hang and in published guides and catalogues.
Peter Humfrey is Emeritus Professor of Art History at the University of St Andrews, where he taught from 1977 until his retirement in 2012. He is the author of numerous publications on Italian art, including monographs on Cima da Conegliano (1983) and Titian (2007), and the catalogue Glasgow Museums: The Italian Paintings (2012). He has served on the committees of several major international loan exhibitions, and is currently Guest Curator of the exhibition on Vittore Carpaccio to take place in Venice and Washington in 2020-21. His recent book on the Stafford Gallery developed from his involvement with the exhibition The Age of Titian: Venetian Renaissance Art from Scottish Collections held at the National Gallery of Scotland in 2004.
Monday, 2nd December
The India Museum Revisited: the East India Company and its Collections
In its day the India Museum formed the most important collection of oriental material in London. Far from being a celebration of Empire, the collections were conceived with utilitarian and scientific aims, with a view to consolidating the Company’s mercantile supremacy, though in time the character of the collections came also to reflect the political and military gains by the Company’s armies in India. From its original home at the East India Company’s headquarters in Leadenhall Street, the museum collection moved to Whitehall and ultimately to South Kensington, before finally being dispersed in 1879. These developments, and current attempts to recover something of the changing experience offered by the museum, will be reviewed.
Arthur MacGregor is currently an Andrew W. Mellon Visiting Professor in the V&A’s Research Department. Following the publication last year of his book Company Curiosities, he is working on an analysis and reconstruction of the contents of the East India Company’s museum. Formerly a curator at the Ashmolean Museum, he continues to edit the Journal of the History of Collections.
Monday, 4th November
Shirley M. Mueller, M.D.
Inside the Head of a Collector: Neurobiological Forces at Work
Collecting objects gives enormous pleasure to approximately one third of the population, providing such benefits as intellectual stimulation, the thrill of the chase, and leaving a legacy. On the other hand, the same pursuit can engender pain; for example, paying too much for an object, unknowingly buying a fake, or dealing with the frustrations of collection dispersal. Until recently, there was no objective way to enhance the positive (pleasure) aspects of collecting and minimize the negative (pain).
Now, for the first time, scientific research in neuro- and behavioral economics gives us a way to turn this around. Neuroeconomics is the study of the biological foundation of economic thought, while behavioral economics incorporates insights from psychology and other social sciences into the examination of monetary behavior. By using examples from these disciplines, Shirley M. Mueller, MD, relates her own experiences as a serious collector and as a neuroscientist to examine different behavioral traits which characterize collectors. Her information is relevant not only for those who collect, but also for colleges and universities which teach collection management plus museum staff who interact with collectors as well as dealers of objects desired by collectors.
Shirley M. Mueller is an internationally known collector and scholar of Chinese export porcelain, as well as a physician board-certified in Neurology and Psychiatry. This latter expertise led her to explore her own intentions and emotions while collecting art, which, she discovered, are applicable to all collectors. This new understanding was the motivation for her recent publication: Inside the Head of a Collector: Neurobiological Forces at Work.
Mueller not only lectures and publishes about the neuropsychology of the collector; she also was guest curator for “Elegance from the East: New Insights into Old Porcelain” at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (now Newfields) in 2017. In this unique exhibit, she combined export porcelain with concepts from neuroscience to make historical objects personally relevant to visitors.
Monday, 7th October
Andrea M. Gáldy
Politics of Culture: Collecting and Display at the Court of (Grand) Duke Cosimo I de‘ Medici
In 2019, the 500th birthday of Cosimo I de‘ Medici is being celebrated. Born in 1519 to Giovanni de‘ Medici and Maria Salviati, i.e. a Medici on both sides, he continued the successful tradition of Medici collecting and the use of possessions on the political stage. Nonetheless, his collections played a Cinderella role until the 1980s, when his importance slowly started to be acknowledged. As the ruler over (grand) ducal Florence and Tuscany and married to a pious Spanish bride, he was still mostly regarded as a tyrant whose collecting activities emulated those of his republican ancestors.
Research over several decades has been able to show that Cosimo’s collections were not only considerable and varied, they were also a matter of great personal interest to their owner. Displayed in especially set-up halls and study rooms, not to mention the construction of the Uffizi from 1560, Medici collecting remained an important part of cultural politics in ducal Florence and would remain so in grand ducal Tuscany. In fact, the collections of Cosimo and his sons, Francesco and Ferdinando, are regarded as leading trend setters, as were those of Cosimo il Vecchio and Lorenzo il Magnifico. What has not yet been emphasised sufficiently is the fact that in the sixteenth century the collections contributed to a politics of power and culture, in particular in the relationship between Italian states, including papal Rome, and in connection with the Holy Roman Empire.
The paper will therefore trace the history of the collections, as well as show their importance in the political negotiations between Florence and the rest of Europe.
Andrea M. Gáldy is a specialist in the History of Collecting. Originally trained as a classical archaeologist, she gained a PhD at the School for Art History and Archaeology at the University of Manchester with a thesis on the collection of antiquities of Cosimo I de’ Medici. Since completing her doctorate, she has received post-doc fellowships from the Henry Moore Foundation and from Villa I Tatti. Her research focuses on collections, their patrons and their purposes. She is a founding member of the international forum Collecting and Display, which runs regular events in partnership with the IHR, London, and other institutions worldwide. Andrea is the main editor of the series Collecting Histories (CSP), under which label six C&D conference volumes have been published so far.
June: The Afterlife of the Paston Treasure Exhibition
Andrew Moore and Francesca Vanke together with a distinguished panel of scholars will discuss some of the issues raised by the important exhibition The Paston Treasure: Microcosm of the Known World, held at the Yale Centre in New Haven and subsequently at the Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, which focused on this extraordinary painting. The exhibition brought together works of art illustrated in the painting along with material related to the cultural and intellectual world of Sir William Paston, first Baronet (1610-1663) and his son Robert, first Earl of Yarmouth (1631-1683). Dr. Andrew Moore, former Keeper of Art and Senior Curator at Norwich Castle and Dr. Francesca Vanke, Chief Curator and Keeper of Fine and Decorative Art, will open the discussion with their reflections on issues which emerged from the exhibition and questions still remaining.
Professor John Heilbron, Professor of History and Vice-Chancellor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley and senior research fellow at Worcester College, Oxford, will consider the question of the scientific aspects of the painting and the fascination that science and alchemy held for both William and Robert Paston in the context of his forthcoming book on the scientific circles in seventeenth-century England, Why is Galileo in this Painting? Dr. Simon Mills, Teaching Fellow in British and European History 1500-1800 at Newcastle University, has a specialist interest in British travellers to the Ottoman Empire and will consider the travels of William Paston to Egypt and Jerusalem in the context of British travellers of the period. The sumptuous works of art in the painting form the third topic for discussion with Dr. David M. Mitchell, author of many books on silver and goldsmiths’ work, including Silversmiths in Elizabethan and Stuart London, with a focus on British collectors of silver in the 17th century, as well as trade and contacts with the Netherlands. The session will be chaired by Adriana Turpin, currently Head of Research, IESA, Paris, who will contribute on the subject of visitors to the Medici Tribuna in Florence.
Monday, 13th May
Two artist collectors: Sir Joshua Reynolds and Lord Leighton
Joshua Reynolds (1723–1792) and Frederic Leighton (1830–1896) were arguably the two greatest former Presidents of the Royal Academy of Arts, London. Less well known is that both were avid art collectors. Their collections, though formed a century apart, shared much in common and both functioned as an extension to their activities as head of the Royal Academy. The contrasting motives for the formation and display of these two artists’ collections will be explored and highlighted in the context of the foundation and expansion of public collections in the nineteenth century.
Reynolds figured in Leighton’s art collection both as illustrious practitioner and cherished former owner. Though both collections have been broken up and widely dispersed around the world, reconstructing these presidential collections will expose the overlapping private and public facets of these two deeply influential artists.
Donato Esposito is an independent academic and curator specialising in British art, collecting and taste from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. His first book was published in 2017, Frederick Walker and the Idyllist. He has recently contributed to publications accompanying exhibitions on William Powell Frith in Harrogate (2019) and James Tissot in San Francisco and Paris (2019–20).
Monday, 4th March
The life and work of Augusta Dorothee (1666‐1751), Princess of Brunswick, who married the protestant Graf Anton‐Günther II of Schwarzburg/Thuringia, has been ignored so far by historiography as well as art history. Becoming a childless widow in 1716, she spent the remaining 35 years of her life at Schloss Augustenburg, surrounding herself with a large courtly household. During this time, she intensely focused on building and commissioning a “doll city”, which she used to call “Mon Plaisir”, including 2000 items and 400 figurines.
Auguste Dorothee’s collection is an unusual example of female representation and negotiation of power and authority within her dynasty, the agnate family and also local subordinates. The miniature world mirrors life at her court and partly at the residency of Arnstadt, including the bourgeoisie as well as crafts and the religious life of the time. It is to be understood as an expression of her claim to power as former sovereign of the principality. As result of her niece Elisabeth Christine becoming the wife of Emperor Karl VI Habsburg, Auguste Dorothee converted to Catholicism. But neither her close relationship to the Kaiser nor her father, Duke Anton Ulrich of Wolfenbüttel, helped her during the lengthy conflict with her late husband’s heir concerning her financial support.
The collection of dolls, as part of a bigger cabinet of curiosities, as well as a porcelain‐cabinet and her ambition as entrepreneur, show her as absolute ruler in concordance with virtues explained in tract literature. Auguste Dorothee deliberately used the Wunderkammer as a medium of male representation for her own statement. As most parts of the collection were handcrafted by the princess and her court and regional craftspeople, it can also be seen as an uncommon means of keeping contact with subordinates while displaying superiority at the same time.
In the paper she will argue that Auguste Dorothee used the traditional female occupation of needlework and turned it from a virtuous occupation into a strategy to represent her power. Thus Auguste Dorothee tried to enlarge the social space appointed to her. The dollhouse interiors show her as powerful ruler over her own territory, although in reality she was unimportant and powerless.
Dr. phil. Annette C. Cremer MA (Art History & English Literature) teaches cultural history at the Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Germany. Her main research interests are in the fields of early modern material culture and in the history of kunstkammer-collections. Her monograph on the dollhouse collection of Duchess Auguste Dorothea of Schwarzburg (1666-1751) was published in 2015. Together with other colleagues, she has edited three sets of conference proceedings on Objects as Sources of Cultural History (Objekte als Quellen der historischen Kulturwissenschaften, Wien/Köln/Weimar 2017), on Prince and Princess as Artists (Fürst und Fürstin als Künstler, Berlin 2018) and on Travelling Princesses (Prinzessin unterwegs. Reisen fürstlicher Frauen in der Frühen Neuzeit, Berlin 2017). Visiting Fellow History Faculty, Cambridge 2018/19
Monday, 4th February
Elsje van Kessel
Ships, Inventories, and Asian Goods in Europe c. 1600
This paper asks what knowledge of early modern ships and their cargoes can contribute to the history of collecting. In what sense can we describe a ship laden with objects as a collection, and what are the possible benefits of such an approach?
These questions derive from van Kessel’s project Stolen Ships and Globalisation: Asian Material Culture in Europe c. 1600. The period around 1600 was a tipping point in the history of early modern globalisation: the Portuguese empire reached its zenith around this time, and the Dutch Republic and England were just beginning to take over Portuguese-Asian sea routes and trading posts. The project studies the successes and failures of early modern globalisation against this background through a focus on art objects and their interaction with human beings and ideas. Central to the research are the analysis of the seizures of Portuguese cargo ships by the English and the Dutch and the aftermath of these events. The project reconstructs the cargoes of these ships and responses they evoked.
This paper will look in particular at a range of textual sources from the archive, such as bills of lading and inventories of stolen goods. These record the types of objects on board: apart from spices, Chinese, Japanese and Indian (art) objects like precious stones, jewellery, silks, porcelain, lacquer, and furniture. As this paper will show, they also shed light on the ways people and objects related, and how the meanings of objects changed in the course of their trajectories. While the journeys of objects at sea usually remain an implicit assumption, an essential yet unstudied phase in the life of a collectible, here they take centre stage.
Elsje van Kessel is Senior Lecturer in Art History at the University of St Andrews. She holds a PhD from Leiden University, and is the author of The Lives of Paintings: Presence, Agency and Likeness in Venetian Art of the Sixteenth-Century (De Gruyter, 2017). She has received numerous fellowships, grants and awards: among others, an annual stipend at the Centre Allemand d’Histoire de l’Art, grants from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Museum and the Leverhulme Trust. Elsje’s research is broadly concerned with the viewing, use and display of early modern art. In her monograph The Lives of Paintings, she examines how and why people in Titian’s Venice treated certain paintings and other works of art as living beings.
Elsje’s current major research project is ‘Stolen Ships and Globalisation: Asian Material Culture in Europe c. 1600’. Recently awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship, the project aims to study the circulation of Asian art objects between Portugal, England and Holland at the turn of the seventeenth century, in particular as a result of piracy and privateering.
Monday, 7th January
‘To mould a great museum collection’: Robert Langton Douglas (1864-1951) and the transatlantic art trade
Robert Langton Douglas is sometimes considered an idiosyncratic dealer, perhaps owing to his colourful and multi-faceted career as, variously, chaplain for the Church of England in Italy, scholar of Renaissance art, captain in the war office during WW1, agent for the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1909-1920) and Director of the National Gallery of Ireland (1916-1923). He began to deal in Sienese painting, the field which he fondly called his ‘own school’, before purposefully expanding his expertise to encompass a broad range of Old Master paintings, drawings, sculpture and decorative arts. He had long cherished an ambition to be a museum director, and saw the role as one of ‘moulding’ or ‘shaping’ great collections. Yet later in his career, he argued that dealers could also shape collections as they were empowered by the choice of which institutions to approach and thus responsible for their stock’s resting place.
Utilising unpublished archival resources and drawing on the physical examination of paintings that passed through his hands, this paper re-examines the strategies used by this key but neglected dealer. As an agent he took as little as 5% or expenses in acquiring works for his museum clients. He sometimes gifted smaller artworks to museums, to cultivate relationships and seal transactions. Douglas also worked closely with his own restorer to present paintings as ‘untouched’ treasures from ‘sunk’ British collections, an ironic but shrewd response to market demands. As the history of collecting, display and restoration intersect, it is hoped that this case study will stimulate discussion around the roles that dealers can play in ‘moulding’ or ‘shaping’ museum collections, as well as their lasting impact on artworks’ physical histories.
Imogen Tedbury is an art historian interested in the longer lives of artworks, from the time of their making to their more recent histories. Her research explores the intersections between the history of taste and the physical history of art, with a special focus on medieval and Renaissance art in the long nineteenth century. The scholar-dealer Robert Langton Douglas forms a special subject of her research. She received her AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award PhD from the Courtauld Institute of Art and the National Gallery. This project explored the collecting, reception and display of early Sienese painting in Britain. She has received grants from the Getty Research Institute, the ICMA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where she was a J. Clawson Mills Fellow in the Robert Lehman Collection. She is the Assistant Curator of the Picture Gallery and Art Collections at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Tuesday, 11th December
Collecting Histories Forum: New Research from Emerging Scholars
For the final session of the Collecting and Display seminars in 2018, we are collaborating with the Society for the History of Collecting to present new research by three members. Each will give a short paper so that there will be time for questions and discussion. We are most grateful for the support for this event provided by the Worshipful Company of Playing Card Makers.
Guido Beduschi, PhD candidate, Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge:
Collecting Sources: Antonio Francesco Ghiselli (1634-1730) and his Memorie Manoscritte
Antonio Francesco Ghiselli left 88 volumes of manuscript memoires to posterity: the Memorie Antiche Manoscritte di Bologna. The Memorie’s volumes of modern history, concerning events contemporary with Ghiselli’s life, are rich in manuscript and printed ephemera as well as other material (such as leaflets, newssheets, edicts, popular prints and engravings), which were collected by the author and glued into the pages of his book – and which would have, otherwise, hardly survived. In this talk, Guido Beduschi will look at some of this rare material, at how and why they were collected by Ghiselli, and the function they had in his historical work. Finally, he will consider the collectable value of Ghiselli’s memoirs themselves in the manuscript book market, during the earlier part of the eighteenth century.
Giuseppe Rizzo, Ph.D student Karl-Ruppert, Heidelberg University
Icons of Renaissance Taste in Vulcan’s Foundry. Plaster and Bronze Casts from Florence to England (1830-1860)
In the first half of the nineteenth century reproductions of the some of the most representative statues of fifteenth and sixteenth century ‘Renaissance’ art came to England from Florence. They soon became icons in the new Victorian taste. How, when and why did copies of statues of ‘the Renaissance’ come to England? What was the process through which they became so influential? To answer these questions, the talk examines the interaction between the production of statuary copies in the artist workshops of Florence and the collecting interests of wealthy British “grand tourists”. It studies the gradual evolution of taste towards Italian Renaissance art and the effects of defining its visual images within and outside Tuscany after the 1830s. This interaction is exemplified by the patronage of the 2nd Duke and Duchess of Sutherland, who, through their wealth and closeness to Queen Victoria, were influential representatives of the British aristocracy.
Nayra Zaghloul, Worcester College, University of Oxford
The Ouseley Manuscripts: a History
This talk will present a biographical outline of Sir Gore and Sir William Ouseley’s lives and their academic specialisations in order to stimulate discussion on how‘qualified’ they were to valuate, collect and write about Islamic manuscripts on the scale they did. It will compare the contents and structure of the Ouseley manuscript collection to other nineteenth century private and public collections and discuss its current position within the wider collection of the Bodleian Library’s Islamic holdings. Nayra will trace the journey the brothers took through Iran on their joint diplomatic tour with mention of the Persian manuscripts acquired on their travels in India. It will present, in greater codicological detail, a selection of the manuscripts to identify links between the Ouseley’s scholarly interests and the items in their collections and to show key features that characterise a manuscript once owned by the brothers, such as, signatures, coats of arms, typical bindings and other signs of previous ownership or sale. These narratives will shed light on the nature of ‘Oriental’ manuscript collecting in nineteenth century England.
Nayra Zaghloul is a postgraduate student in Islamic Art and Archaeology at the Khalili Research Centre, University of Oxford funded by the Barakat Trust. Her research interests include the history of collecting, Persian and Arabic manuscripts, cosmopolitanism, photography, jewellery, Arab painting in the 20th century and Middle Eastern literature. She is based between London, Oxford and Cairo and works as a freelance cataloguer and collection adviser for private collectors, museums, galleries and dealers across the world. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow her work at http://www.instagram.com/nayrazag/
Tuesday, 13th November
Austen Henry Layard, the achievement of “a collector of various things”
This talk challenges the historical assessment of the Layard Collection as simply a bequest of paintings to the National Gallery. The paper will shed light on the multifarious interests of Austen Henry Layard (Paris, 1817 – London, 1894) in forming a collection consisting of more than 800 items. These ranged from notable Italian Renaissance paintings to beautiful examples of Armenian manuscripts; from Spanish religious metalwork to Burgundian tapestry. As a result, the Layard collection was deemed to be one of the most important in Venice in the late XIX century. The history of its formation, display, and subsequent dispersal has many interesting aspects that still have not been precisely traced.
Taken in its entirety, the collection reveals an exquisite cameo of its creator, and shows the way in which Layard sought to attain personal status and prestige through the development of his collection. Though not all his purchases were of high quality, they furnish a remarkable example of the way in which such a collection could be perceived and the role it played in the last decades of the XIX century, both in England and Italy. To this end, the paper will present new and evocative insights into the interiors of Ca’ Capello Layard where the collection was lodged and displayed, through analysing and integrating both new and previously overlooked documentary sources.
The collection should be assessed not only as a dialectical interaction between spaces, objects and artworks, but should primarily be viewed as a narrative formed by its creator. From this perspective, the Layard collection furnishes an interesting case study even when dispersed and displaced.
Cecilia holds a M.S. in Economics and Management of Arts and Cultural Activities from Ca’ Foscari University Venice and she is currently a doctoral candidate in History of Arts. Her Ph.D. is funded by Ca’ Foscari University, Venice and supervised by Prof. Martina Frank, Guido Zucconi and Emanuele Pellegrini. Her forthcoming dissertation is titled “Austen Henry Layard, as an art collector and amateur”.
Monday, 2nd October
A New Collector of the Ancien Régime: Madame de Saint-Sauveur
As the Enlightenment questioned crucial issues such as the established political, religious, and social foundations of society, debates and transformations regarding art, luxury and taste emerged alongside key shifts in the history of patronage and collecting. The development of the secondary market and the modern auction, the decline of royal patronage following the death of Louis XIV, the emergence of financiers as collectors, and the growth in the number of collectors and collections, brought changes to who was collecting, what they acquired, and how they acquired objects. The quantity of collections during the latter half of the eighteenth century, combined with the relatively few scholarly explorations of those collections (particularly in the case of female collectors), provide the historian of collecting with a wealth of undiscovered and untouched information.
In Paris on 12th February 1776 an anonymous sale of a collection of paintings primarily of the French and Northern schools, as well as drawings, engravings and bronzes amongst other objects, took place conducted by Pierre Rémy. Some of these works were then acquired by major collectors, such as Randon de Boisset, and have appeared regularly on the art market and in public museum collections up to the present day. The unannotated catalogue omitted an introduction and listed the identity of the collector only as ‘Madame’. However, two separate versions of the catalogue were inscribed with the name ‘Madame de Saint-Sauveur’, an unlikely mistake to be made twice. Following comprehensive research at the Archives Nationales de Paris, this paper will reveal the identity of Madame de Saint-Sauveur as a noblewoman who held a prominent position at Versailles as a sous-gouvernante and amassed a substantial fortune as the sole heiress of her father’s estate, before relocating to Paris in the heart of elite society, and forming a friendship with Madame du Deffand.
Female collectors such as Madame de Pompadour, the Comtesse de Verrue, and Madame du Barry are now well documented and well-known for their impressive, exceptional collections. In the pursuit of determining the experiences and practices of collectors, and particularly ‘overlooked’ female collectors, this research emphasises the need to determine what was ‘typical’ in order to fully understand the ‘exceptional’.
Natasha Shoory completed her BA in Art History and Theory at the University of Sydney in 2012, and her MA in The History and Business of Art and Collecting through the University of Warwick and IESA in 2016. She has spent the past two years working at Christie’s in London, handling copyright, picture research, and writing for Christie’s publications. She will be commencing an MSt in Modern Languages, focusing on the History of the Enlightenment, at the University of Oxford in October 2018, where she is the recipient of Worcester College’s Drue Heinz Graduate Scholarship. Her research interests focus on eighteenth-century France, particularly the role of women in the art and collecting of the Ancien Régime. She is currently researching the acquisition of eighteenth-century French artworks and furniture during the early twentieth century in America, for which she received a research travel grant from the Furniture History Society in 2017.
Monday 2nd June
Charles, Prince of Wales and Copies in Spain in 1623
Monday, 14th May
The truth about Agnew’s and Duveen (1900-1930)
Major private and public collections worldwide – such as the London National Gallery, the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Washington National Gallery of Art – contain a wealth of pictures from the stock of art dealers Agnew’s and Duveen. Often works were purchased from one firm to the other or even held in joint stock. Famous pictures of shared provenance include Philip IV by Diego Velázquez (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), Man with a Falcon by Titian (Omaha Museum of Art), and Portrait of James Christie by Thomas Gainsborough (Getty Museum, Los Angeles). Both Agnew’s and Duveen managed a conspicuous flow of works of art from London towards collectors in the United States, and both firms dealt in the same sectors of the art market: European old-masters and British eighteenth century portraits.
The relationship between the two firms, however, has so far remained largely unexplored. Were Agnew’s and Duveen ‘friends’ or ‘enemies’, allies or opponents? Using hitherto unexplored primary sources from the Agnew’s archive at the National Gallery and the Duveen archive at the Getty Research Center, the paper will examine this question and present the origins and development of their relationship from 1900 to 1930. Agnew’s and Duveen’s rapport changed dramatically in these thirty years. In the early 1900s, when the newcomer Duveen captured the trust of the more senior Agnew’s, there was a respectful competition which evolved into a collaboration in the course of the 1910s. But in the 1920s Duveen’s attempted, in covert and not so covert manners, to annihilate Agnew’s, and this paper will investigate Duveen’s offensive strategies and Agnew’s coping mechanisms. In addition, and crucially for a seminar dedicated to collecting and display, this paper will focus on the relationship that both dealers fostered with public and private collectors, as it was essential to the survival, and instrumental to the demise, of their firms.
Barbara Pezzini is a London-based art and cultural historian with a wide range of publications on the art market, including reconstructions of fin-de siècle exhibitions of British painting, the Futurist shows in London, the relationship between dealers and scholars in the early twentieth century and their interactions with the art press. She is particularly interested in the study of the intersection of the art market with art criticism and art practice and how these are reflected in art prices. Barbara is the recipient of an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award between the National Gallery and the University of Manchester to study the relationship between the National Gallery and Agnew’s (1850-1950) and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Visual Resources. She is also part of a joint National Gallery/King’s College London project on (re)presenting data from the stock books of the dealers Thos. Agnew & Sons.
Monday, 16th April
«Les derniers venus sont aujourd’hui les premiers». English prints collections in 18th-century Paris.
This paper aims to investigate the (re)discovery of English art in 18th-century Paris. The English artistic tradition was not greatly admired in the previous centuries and it was just around the middle of the 18th century that an interest developed towards this art. In a comparative approach that will involve both literature and philosophy, the principal promoters of Anglomania will be discussed, highlighting the interaction between general culture and artistic outcomes. The examination of Parisian sales catalogues and some French public archives will allow the identification of the presence of English works of art offering further reasons for reflecting the origin of a specific taste in connection to the concept of an English school, which will represent the discriminating factor in the analysis of the dynamics of the reception of the English school in 18th-century France.
Reconstructing a panorama which has been since underestimated, she will examine the presence of English works of art, predominantly prints, that dominated the Parisian scene during the 70’s and 80’s. Undertaking this investigation allows the outlining of English artists who were collected in France, bringing to light names nowadays almost unknown. Studying private (Marquis de Beringhen, Marquis de Paulmy, Duc de Richelieu, Princesse de Lamballe) and royal collections (Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette) it will be possible to understand the reasons behind this practice of collecting and its evolution during the 18th century. At the beginning of the century, English prints were collected because of their specific technique, mezzotint or, later, crayon manner, and in the second half of the 18th century for the name of the artist himself or the subject they represent. Finally, some post-mortem inventories hold information on the display of these prints, enabling to deepen and complete the analysis of the collection of English prints in Paris.
Alice Ottazzi is currently a Teaching Assistant in History of Art Criticism and Museum Studies, Università degli Studi di Torino, Department of Humanities. Her PhD is in progress, jointly supervised by Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne.
She is also responsible for the section “Drawing” of the handbook Il Cricco Di Teodoro Itinerario nell’arte (Zanichelli Editore S.p.a., Bologna). She was a contributor to the catalogue of the exhibition L’Europe et les mythes Grècs : Dessins du Musée du Louvre XVIème – XIXème siècles, exhibition curated by C. Loisel, Fondation Teloglion, Thessalonica, 2012 as well as Témoignages d’une condicio sine qua non. La réception des procédés de fixage des pastels dans la littérature artistique du XVIII siècle, in B. Jouves & A. Delaporte (Eds.), Réception critique de la restauration. XVIIIe-XXe siècles, Éditions du GRHAM, 2017.
Monday, 5th March
Full-scale displays and the reform of architecture in Germany
She is currently working on a book titled Architecture on Display: Exhibitions and the Emergence of Modernism in Germany, 1786-1932. The book uses German case studies to reveal the particular character of an architecture exhibition and demonstrate the ways in which exhibitions contributed to modernism in architecture. She will focus on a specific form of display, the full scale interior, and the ways in which a means of presentation originally developed to portray the past, in the form of the period room, became a catalyst for the early twentieth-century reforms that led to the emergence of Modern Architecture.
In contrast to its use in portraying history, the period room display was appropriated around the turn of the century by applied arts exhibitions in Germany to show the newest work in design. The period room emerged in the 1870s as an ethnographic display tool in Stockholm’s Nordic Museum and, by the 1920s, was firmly associated with exhibiting the past in a range of museums, including ones dedicated to art and applied art. But already around 1900 the period room was used as a model for the displays that realized the theoretical ambition of progressive designers of applied art to “engage art in life” and, in some cases, create a Gesamtkunstwerk [the total work of art]. In the largest exhibition of these rooms, the “Spatial Art” or “Raumkunst” section at “The Third German Applied Arts Exhibition 1906,” held in Dresden, the modernity on display in 150 realistic interiors did not reside in their style, which varied widely. Instead it could be seen in the ambition to create full-scale environments that, like the period rooms, engaged a broad public rather than a limited audience of patrons, and in their identification with “space”. These were two aspects of Modern Architecture that became central when it matured in the Weimar Period. Indeed the exhibition included several designers who soon would become significant modern architects (Henri van de Velde, Peter Behrens and Bruno Paul) and suggested that the applied arts exhibition was the vehicle for introducing the new ideas about the public and space to architecture. The claim that applied art was an agent of change in this crucial period for the development of architecture was advanced in theoretical writings at the time but is seldom recognized in the history of architecture or design, particularly the history that engages the establishment of the German Werkbund, one of the best-known institutional promoters of modern design and architecture from 1907-1933. She will call attention to the role of applied art in the history of Modern Architecture by arguing that the full-scale displays at exhibitions go beyond the claims of theoretical writings to initiate significant reforms in architecture.
Wallis Miller is the Charles P. Graves Associate Professor of Architecture, July 2001-present at the University of Kentucky, College of Design. She has also been at The Oslo Centre for Critical Architecture Studies, The Oslo School of Architecture and Design Visiting Scholar, research project “The Printed and the Built” (research, Ph.D. advising, organization), 2014-2018; in residence May-June 2016
Her many publications include the following (full text version of selected publications on view at http://design.uky.edu/web/miller.html)
“Review: The extraordinary coverage of Ludwig Hoffmann’s 1901 ‘Exhibition of the City of Berlin,’“The Printed and the Built: Architecture, Print Culture, and Public Debate in the Nineteenth Century, Mari Hvattum and Anne Hultzsch eds. (London: Bloomsbury, 2017/8).
“An exhibition and its catalogue: Herbert Bayer’s “minor typographical masterpiece” for the Werkbund’s 1930 Section Allemande,” accepted for Architectural Histories, special issue on Word and Image (2016). Winner of outstanding Journal article award, SESAH, 2017.
“Les Maquettes, l’architecture, et l’exposition de l’académie en Allemagne, 1786-1923,” in Cahiers du NMAM, Centre Pompidou, Paris (Fall 2014).
“Exhibitions, Objects and the Emergence of Modernism in Germany,” in Exhibiting Architecture: A Paradox?, ed. Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen (New Haven: Yale School of Architecture, 2015).
“Was ist Architketur? Modelle in deutschen Akademie Ausstellungen bis 1923,” in Architektur Ausstellen. Zur mobilen Anordnung des Immobilien, Carsten Ruhl, Chris Dähne, eds. (Berlin: Jovis, 2015).
Monday, 12th February
‘Visual Knowledge and the Grand Tour: The Print Collection of Walter Bowman’
The Grand Tours of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries have long proved a rich field for historians of collecting, and increasingly this is as much the case for acquisitions of ‘lesser’ arts like prints as for the celebrated purchases of painting and sculpture. Indeed, over the past few decades several Grand Tourists’ print collections have been the subject of in-depth investigations, and in a new contribution to this body of work, this paper will focus on the collection of the Scottish tutor and antiquary Walter Bowman (1699-1782). Surviving in several carefully curated and presented albums of French and Italian views in the National Library of Scotland and the British Library, each with their own fine manuscript title-page, this collection has been totally overlooked by print scholars, so much so that the two proudly signed volumes in the British Library go unmentioned in Bowman’s entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Yet this is a significant, indeed rare, collection, for unlike the better studied Grand Tour collectors Bowman was not a tourist as such but a cicerone, a guide for foreign travellers, and as a result his collection has a different character from the latters’ aristocratic ones, containing rudimentary and worn out impressions as well as fine art prints, not to mention a distinct function as a dependable educational resource. By bringing together all of the surviving volumes owned by Bowman, this paper aims to provide the foundational study into this intriguing collection, its formation, display, use(s) and ultimate fragmentation, which saw the parts now at the British Library enter the collection of George III. To this end, it will make use of archival research into Bowman’s little-studied papers, in particular his European travel diary (now Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale), which, covering the same locations as the print collection, demonstrates how visual and textual knowledge were ‘collected’ simultaneously, and devised to complement each other.
Since 2015 Grant Lewis has been at the British Library: as part of the fledgling prints and drawings team at the British Library responsible for cataloguing King George III’s Topographical Collection, a vast array of some 40-50,000 prints and drawings dating from the 1500s to the 1820s.
Monday, 15th January
Collections/Recollections: The Use of Text in Networks of Collection. Medieval Inventories, Labels, Inscriptions, and Memory
Allow me to begin with a question. What do an eighth-century Byzantine textile, a fifteenth-century Italian painting, and a twentieth-century silkscreen by Andy Warhol have in common? The answer: all bear inscriptions that tie them inexorably to larger systems of collecting and collection use. This association of specific kinds of textual data (names, dates) with a collectable object has a long and, at least in part, understudied history. In the following presentation, I examine the history of the association of texts with collected objects, focusing on the Middle Ages while remaining attentive to earlier and later traditions.
Before the Renaissance and its elevation of the role of the individual artist, probably the most significant association a collected object would have was with the individual who had gifted it (its donor). Medieval collections can be viewed as fluid networks in which donors, recipients, record keepers, and objects like luxury textiles and precious metalwork all play a role. However, the texts associated with medieval collections, including inventories, gift lists, labels and tags, and inscriptions, are also significant. These textual actors, especially labels and tags, have received scant scholarly attention and yet have significant ramifications. After having laid out evidence for the broad use of tags and labels in collections, both European and Islamic, I make three interconnected arguments for the operation of texts within medieval networks of collection. These textual components, I suggest, enable the objects to recall (for the people in these networks) particular donors and events – that is, with the aid of texts, collections may act as agents of recollection.
First, I argue that inventories, gift lists, labels and tags need to be seen as operating in tandem with certain inscriptions on collected objects (those that include donor information). Second, I show that all of these texts work to enable different networks of collection (e.g. English thirteenth-century royal treasuries and ecclesiastical treasuries) to function differently. Finally, I posit that these networks of people, things, and, significantly, texts functioned to make the value of the gift “stick” – they worked to combat the tendency of all historical connections to be forgotten, the tendency of all things to fall apart. While at first glance, collected objects held in storage seem to be in a passive, dormant state, in fact, these objects and their associated texts participate in acts of collection and recollection that actively preserve not only the objects but also – and, more importantly – the associations that endow them with value.
Amanda Luyster: Lecturer, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA. 2006-present. The International Center of Medieval Art. Elected to Board of Directors, 2017-2020.
Her recent publications include:
“The Place of a Queen/A Queen and her Places:Jeanne de Navarre’s Kalila and Dimna as a political manuscript in early fourteenth century France.” In Moving Women, Moving Objects, eds. Tracy Hamilton and Mariah Proctor-Tiffany. Brill. Accepted, under revision.
“Drawing Out, Drawing In: Painting, Drawing, Manuscript Illumination, and Book Illustration.” In Mapping the Medieval Mediterranean, c. 300-1550, ed. Amity Law. Brill. Forthcoming.
“The Conversion of Kalila and Dimna: Raymond de Béziers, Religious Experience, and Translation at the Fourteenth-Century French Court.” Gesta, vol. 56, no. 1, 2017: 81-104.