I’m convening a session on mapping eighteenth-century cities at the next annual conference of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ASECS). This will be held in Pittsburgh – 31 March – 3 April 2016.
If you’re working on maps or mapping, or a relevant project on eighteenth-century cities (especially one engaging with digital methods), please consider submitting a proposal. Proposals for papers are due by 15 September 2015.
I’ve included the abstract below. For more information about the conference visit the ASECS website. For submission procedures and for all the other sessions being proposed here is a pdf of the full call for papers.
*** EDIT: My email address for submitting proposals was printed incorrectly in the ASECS call for papers. The correct address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. ***
|Gabriel de Saint-Aubin, A marginal sketch in a sale catalogue (original now lost) showing an imagined scene of François Lemoyne throwing himself on his sword, c. 1779|
I’ve been promising this article for ever and working on it for YEARS so I’m very happy to say that “The Mysterious Suicide of François Lemoyne” is now published! Online in Oxford Art Journal. Print version out later this month.
The official abstract is below but basically it’s about the strange and violent suicide of one of the leading artists in Paris in the 1730s. A ‘locked-door howdunit’, as I call it, it investigates how (and why) this great painter managed to stab himself nine times with his own sword.
On one hand, this article is a serious experiment in life-writing. ‘Biography’ has become something of a dirty word in academic Art History, and in many cases rightly so. But at the same time even academic art historians remain fascinated by the lives of their artists. So here I’m looking for ways to salvage aspects of biography for the discipline, using object-driven and microhistorical approaches to find distinctly art-historical methods that productively deal with artists’ lives.
On the other hand, it is also a really intriguing (I hope!) detective story. For someone with a longstanding devotion to crime fiction and Nordic noir, this was without doubt the most exciting and engrossing research experience I’ve ever undertaken. Working in the French national archives with original police records, witness statements, and autopsy reports, from the very beginning this was more like solving a case than writing an article. I even ended up in a storage room at the Wallace Collection using their handling collections of weapons to attempt a crime reconstruction – which is where I had a breakthrough moment of realising how it’s actually possible to stab yourself nine times with a French small-sword (thanks to Mia Jackson and staff at the museum for that little adventure). I have tried to convey something of this crime-drama-inspired research experience in the article itself – so it is written in the spirit of a police procedural, in which, through proper investigative techniques (questioning witnesses, analyzing the crime scene, examining the body, hunting for motive, etc), there unfolds the story of a tragic and perplexing crime.
The research came out of a book I’m writing with Katie Scott exploring artists’ possessions – the things that made up the material culture of their lives. There is an entry in the book on ‘Lemoyne’s Sword’, but the story of the suicide in which the sword was used was so engrossing that it really needed to be told at length and in its own right. I first presented that story way back in 2011 in the AAH’s wonderful Art History in the Pub series (inaugurated and convened by Matt Lodder).
I really hope you enjoy…
I had a wonderful time this weekend at the 10th Anniversary Conference of immediations, the postgraduate research journal of the Courtauld Institute of Art. The concept behind the event was to invite back people who had written articles for the journal over the last decade and to hear about how their research has developed since the time of writing (a description of the event is on the Courtauld website where you can also download the programme). It was fascinating to see what everyone has been working on, to think about how our own ideas have changed, and how the discipline has shifted in such a relatively short time. Along with these thought-provoking interventions, we also enjoyed some lively discussions about experiences of publishing: editing and being edited, peer-reviewing and being peer-reviewed. All in all it was a truly stimulating day, brilliantly conceived, and impeccably organised.
As it turns out, the title of my paper was even more interest-piquing than I had anticipated — I had so many requests before and during the day to divulge the identity of “The Man Who Made the Weirdest Painting in 18th-Century France”! So, for anyone intrigued who didn’t make it to the conference, here it is: the man is Charles-Antoine Coypel and the painting is his incredibly bizarre Children Playing at the Toilette from 1728. I challenge anyone to come up with a weirder offering than semi-naked children play-acting at the eroticizing aristocratic ritual of the daily toilette!
There’s a little more information in the abstract to my paper below… but if you’re really intrigued, you’ll have to get yourself a backcopy of immediations.
|Charles-Antoine Coypel, Self-Portrait, 1734 (Getty, Los Angeles)|
|Charles-Antoine Coypel, Children Playing at the Toilette, 1728 (Private Collection)|
I have been very slack on the blogging even though lots has been happening (probably *because* lots has been happening) but this has wooed me back (hopefully to stay).
When the call for papers for ASECS (American Society for Eighteenth-century Studies) Annual Conference 2015 came out recently, Mia Jackson and I were delighted to see that Dena Goodman had proposed a session to allow the conversations from our The Louvre Before the Louvre conference of July 2013 to continue and to move off in exciting new directions. Beyond our original interest in artists, artisans, and academicians, Goodman’s session extends to include scientists in the mix as yet another category of person who inhabited the palace throughout the eighteenth century. The session will also move beyond the space of the Louvre to consider other spaces in the city in which collaborations across the arts and between the arts and sciences could develop, and to examine what form those collaborations took, and what they produced.
Here is the description of the session to be held at ASECS 2015 in Los Angeles. For more information about the conference visit the association website: asecs.press.jhu.edu.
I have archived the conference programme here, along with abstracts of the papers, and biographies of the speakers.
|Antoine Coysevox, Bust of Charles Le Brun (Wallace Collection)|
Generously supported by the Wallace Collection and the Faculty of History of the University of Oxford.
Dans le cadre de la préparation du catalogue raisonné des morceaux de réception sculptés à l’Académie de Peinture et de Sculpture, une étude particulière est entreprise afin de mieux cerner le problème de la diffusion publique de ces morceaux d’excellence, dont le caractère principal est l’exemplarité. Des répliques de certaines de ces œuvres ont en effet été disponibles, dès le milieu du XVIIIe siècle, grâce aux artistes eux-mêmes ou à quelques amateurs. La circulation d’exemplaires en terre cuite, en plâtre, en biscuit de porcelaine, voire en bronze, a permis une assez large divulgation de plusieurs modèles, qui devinrent ainsi célèbres. Cette diffusion fut accélérée à grande échelle au XIXe siècle lorsque les maisons d’édition Susse et Barbedienne ont commercialisé plusieurs de ces modèles.
SESSION II: Collective Spaces & Sociable Practices
Pierre-Édouard Latouche (Université de Québec à Montréal), Des Recueils des Maisons Royales en Petit (1745) à L’Architecture française (1756) de Blondel : le remploi d’un plan de la Cour Carrée
SESSION III: Living and Working in the Louvre
Using the unpublished inventory of his estate as a starting point, this paper examines the material and cultural world which Tocqué and his wife created for themselves. From the objects they used, from what they wore, read, hung on the walls and viewed from the windows, we get a tantalising glimpse of the artist’s domestic life. Then, the paper will consider the social, material and career advantages for an artist in having such a prestigious address.
Katie Scott (The Courtauld Institute of Art), Parade’s End: On Charles Coypel’s Bed
Laura Auricchio, Associate Professor of Art History and Dean of the School of Undergraduate Studies at The New School in New York, specializes in French and American visual culture of the long eighteenth century. She is co-editor ofArboreal Values: Trees, Woods, and Forests in Europe and North America, 1660-1830 (2011) and author of Adélaïde Labille-Guiard: Artist in the Age of Revolution (2009). Articles and reviews have appeared in academic and popular publications ranging from The Art Bulletin, Eighteenth-Century Studies and Journal of Design History to Time Out New York. Her forthcoming book, The Marquis, will be published by Alfred A. Knopf in September/October 2014.
This year’s Early Modern Research Centre colloquium at the University of Reading is on the culture of competition in Europe’s Academies. I will be giving a paper on the culture of institutional competition that drove artistic production in 17th-century Paris (a short abstract follows below), which is drawn from my book, Académie Royale: A History in Portraits (due out next year).
This is somewhat beyond my usual ’18e siècle’ parameters but it is in Paris, it is about the history of the church, and it is in the ’18e arrondissement’ so I think we’re ok. On a recent trip to Paris I came across this remarkable church from the turn of the century. I know very little about it other than what the guidebooks say, namely that it was built between 1894 and 1904, designed by Anatole de Baudot (student of Viollet-le-Duc and Henri Labrouste), and is most notable for being the first example of reinforced cement in church construction.
Perhaps I’ve been looking at 17th/18th-century architecture for too long, but I found the use of materials in the interior and exterior wonderfully striking, from the Art Nouveau brick and ceramic tile facade, to the bare cement interior walls beautifully picking up light from the stained glass windows. I’m not sure that my photos do it justice, but it is well worth a detour to explore some of the finer details (like the iron and cement font) and to experience the cavernous space of the nave. If railway stations of the late 19th-century were modelled on medieval cathedrals, then this church brings us full circle, re-appropriating the railway aesthetic to construct a thoroughly modern church that nods politely at Gothic revival. Just look at the clock on the gallery in front of the organ – it makes you feel like you’re about to miss a train! The chandeliers are also marvellous and I cannot imagine cement and metal doing a better job at enacting vaulting or arches.
St-Jean-de-Montmartre is on rue des Abbesses in the 18e, just across the road from Metro Abbesses.
Every time I check my email or Twitter at the moment it seems there is yet more sad news about proposed cuts and closures in the museum and cultural heritage sector. This is just a brief post about two particularly distressing situations in Europe, one in Germany and one in France/Netherlands, and the actions being taken to prevent them.
|Titian, Self-Portrait, 1550 (Gemäldegarie, Berlin)|
The proposal here is to empty the Gemäldegalerie of Old Masters to make way for twentieth-century art from the Pietzsch collection, without finding an alternative forum for displaying one of the world’s foremost collections of Old Masters. Professor Jeffrey Hamburger (Harvard University) has been actively leading the charge against this proposal with a petition signed by over 12,000 so far. Many people signing the petition have left moving testimonials about the collection – not just its importance as a cultural institution of international significance, but also its role in forming people’s personal experiences of art and art’s histories. I strongly urge everyone to sign this petition and take a few moments to look through the comments.
Institut Néerlandais, Paris
The Institut Néerlandais is a Dutch cultural centre in Paris founded in the twentieth century by the collector and connoisseur Frits Lugt. Despite the Institut’s historical and cultural importance, the Dutch Government have decided to eliminate all funding to the institution (as of January 2015) leaving no other option but closure. This would have serious consequences also for the Fondation Custodia (connected with the Institut and located also within the Hôtel Turgot) and its collections of art and manuscripts, which would need to find a new home if the Institut were forced to close. The Institut is running a campaign to petition the Dutch government and will be sending its proposition on 17 August. You can find out more on their website and in Didier Rykner’s articles in The Art Tribune (on the initial threat and the proposed actions against it).