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Preview: Journal of the History of Collections - current issue

Journal of the History of Collections Current Issue

Published: Wed, 07 Mar 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Last Build Date: Fri, 09 Mar 2018 03:45:40 GMT


Books Received

Wed, 07 Mar 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Piers Baker-Bates, Sebastiano del Piombo and the World of Spanish Rome. Abingdon, Routledge, 2017. isbn 978-1472-466-020. 246 pp., 8 col. illus., 58 b. & w. illus. £110.

St Michael defeating the Devil by Lorenzo Vaccaroa sculpture to intercede for the souls of several important owners

Wed, 07 Mar 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Several representations of St Michael the Archangel stand out amongst the sculptures in the inventories made after the death of Queen Maria Anna of Neuburg (1667–1740), second wife of the Spanish King Charles II (1661–1700). One was a large silver and bronze sculpture made by the Italian artist Lorenzo Vaccaro towards the end of his career. Thanks to an annotation in one of the queen’s inventories, we know that the work had earlier been given to the merchant Lorenzo de Tarsis, who subsequently sold it to a noble family in Madrid. This paper identifies the work and tracks its remarkable history through its several owners.

Collecting the World. The Life and Curiosity of Hans Sloane

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 00:00:00 GMT

DelbourgoJames, Collecting the World. The Life and Curiosity of Hans Sloane. London, Allen Lane, 2017. isbn 978-1-846-14657-2. 504 pp., 42 col. illus., 27 b. & w. illus. £25.

Before Boas. The Genesis of Ethnography and Ethnology in the German Enlightenment

Sat, 27 Jan 2018 00:00:00 GMT

VermeulenHan F., Before Boas. The Genesis of Ethnography and Ethnology in the German Enlightenment. Critical Studies in the History of Anthropology, 23. Lincoln, ne, University of Nebraska Press, 2015. isbn 978-0-8032-5542-5. 746 pp., 16 b. & w. illus. $75.

Les Rothschild, une dynastie de mécènes en France

Wed, 01 Nov 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Prévost-MarcilhacyPauline(ed.), Les Rothschild, une dynastie de mécènes en France, 3 vols. Paris, Somogy, 2016. isbn 978-275-7202-128. 1112 pp., 1200 col. illus. €290.

Jan van Kessel I (1626–79). Crafting a natural history of art in early modern Antwerp

Tue, 12 Sep 2017 00:00:00 GMT

BaadjNadia, Jan van Kessel I (1626–79). Crafting a natural history of art in early modern Antwerp, Harvey Miller Publishers, London and Turnhout, 2016. isbn 978-1-909400-23-8, 208 pp., 41 col. illus., 61 b. & w. illus. €115.

A skewed balance?Examining the display and research history of the medieval collection at the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo

Mon, 10 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

This paper examines the research history of the collection of medieval liturgical art belonging to the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo, Norway, in light of the political situation of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The impact of nation-building before and after Norway’s independence in 1905 on art historical and conservation research of medieval objects is discussed, with a particular focus on objects dating to the late medieval period. Attitudes towards the later Middle Ages are explored through a discussion of Norwegian history education as well as the traditional grand narrative of Norwegian history. The German connection of the late medieval material is re-examined, leading to a more nuanced understanding of the display choices and research history of the collection.

Pietro Tacca’s Fontane dei Mostri Marinicollecting copies at the end of the Gilded Age

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Pietro Tacca’s wonderfully bizarre Fontane dei Mostri Marini (Fountains of the Sea Monsters) in Florence’s Piazza SS. Annunziata – designed and cast in bronze in the third decade of the seventeenth century – were widely praised in English-language guidebooks, travel literature, and scholarly texts in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They also attracted the attention of collectors, and between 1902 and 1920 four exceptionally affluent patrons – in Rome, Washington,dc, Minneapolis, and London – purchased copies of one of the fountains, three of them installing them in the grounds of their respective stately homes. This article examines the history of these copies – their patrons, their installation, and their manufacture – tracing the afterlife of Tacca’s original fountain and illuminating a little-studied aspect of the history of collecting in Italy, the United States, and England at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Provenance and identity of a large bronze statue currently in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 00:00:00 GMT

A large bronze statue in the Metropolitan Museum in New York is currently identified as the emperor Trebonianus Gallus. According to an early account, it was excavated with many other statues in the remains of an ancient hall near San Giovanni in Laterano, Rome, in the early nineteenth century, but this story has recently been dismissed as probable invention. Here additional information is presented that lends credence to the traditional provenance and supports a proposal that the hall in question may have been in the headquarters of the imperial horseguard. New evidence is presented for the history of the statue, and that the identification as Trebonianus Gallus was made prior to its final sale. However an alternative is proposed which could explain various peculiarities of the piece: the emperor Maximinus I ‘Thrax’, reportedly a physical giant of a man.

Seventeenth-century plant lists and herbarium collectionsa case study from the Oxford Physic Garden

Thu, 08 Jun 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Lists of pre-Linnaean polynomial names of the plants growing in seventeenth-century European living plant collections are commonplace. However, comparison among lists and interpretation of polynomials in terms of modern Linnaean binomials is a major challenge for researchers. This paper shows the importance of extant pre-Linnaean collections of herbarium specimens for interpreting lists of plant names. More than 4,000 polynomials reported from the Oxford Physic Garden between 1648 and 1676 are linked to over 1,300 Linnaean species names based on an objective methodology. These fundamental data show that medicinal, culinary and ornamental plants attracted attention in the seventeenth-century garden but that most species were primarily of botanical interest. Nearly 60 per cent of the species were introductions to Britain. Linnaean binomials reveal how the number and sorts of species changed between 1648 and 1676 and how the garden was used.

Van Dyck paintings in Stuart royal inventories, 1639–1688

Tue, 06 Jun 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Van Dyck’s paintings have been thoroughly analyzed in terms of style, iconography and patronage, but there has been no systematic analysis of how these pictures were recorded in Stuart inventories. Pictures attributed to Van Dyck are listed in several royal inventories from c.1639 to c.1688 – from those compiled by Abraham van der Doort c.1639 to the Commonwealth sale of 1649–51, to Charles II of c.1666–67, Henrietta Maria of 1669 and James II of c.1685–88. This article considers the subject matter and placement of Van Dyck’s pictures in a range of palace and room contexts, and charts change and continuity of display across the inventories. The article shows the potential for the close comparison of these royal inventories for understanding display, taste and dynastic politics at the Stuart court.

Natural history collections and the bookHans Sloane’s A Voyage to Jamaica (1707–1725) and his Jamaican plants

Mon, 15 May 2017 00:00:00 GMT

The Jamaican herbarium assembled by Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753) in 1687 formed a recorded part of his extensive museum collection from the 1730s until its purchase by the British state in 1753. The detailed examination of the organization of the botanical specimens which account for the first seven volumes of the Sloane herbarium illustrates the use of printed books in natural history collecting practices in mid-eighteenth-century Britain. Sloane’s personal copy of his own work, A Voyage to Jamaica (1707–25), played a central role in the cataloguing and classifying this highly organized natural historical collection. The collection was arranged according to a coherent, rational system, composed of a range of printed works, manuscripts and specimen labels which interacted with the physical spaces in which they were kept.

Negotiating an art deal in eighteenth-century EuropeGuido Reni’s Dispute and its acquisition by Sir Robert Walpole in 1731

Sat, 29 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT

This article presents new evidence concerning the sale in 1731 of Guido Reni’s Dispute over the Immaculate Conception to Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first serving Prime Minister and one of the most important English collectors of the eighteenth century. The documents provide a full record of the negotiations undertaken to bring the painting to England, thereby affording a rare opportunity to examine the procedures involved in such a deal, as well as the roles and the identities of its main actors. Negotiation was a central aspect in the process of acquiring artistic masterpieces, and thus an essential stage in the creation of an art collection. Also investigated here is the possible role of Guido’s work in the contemporary Roman cultural context, while new evidence is presented on the previous owners of the painting, the De Angelis family. This new material allows, therefore, for a broader consideration of the success of Guido’s art in the context of eighteenth-century Europe.

Vanity affairstwo collectors of Cypriot and Aegean antiquities examined

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT

This article discusses the concept of vanity and its driving role in the formation of collections of antiquities. It focuses on the parallel cases of Luigi Palma di Cesnola and Paolo Azzati and their respective collections of Aegean and Cypriot antiquities. It is argued that both the collectors were condemned by their insatiability and dissatisfaction to make analogous choices, however different they may have been in social status and in the context in which their collections were formed. These aspects influenced the way in which they were able to collect materials – but not the final result at which they aimed, which was, narcissistically, the collection itself.

Landscape and the architecture of lightJohn Constable’s clouds at the Yale Center for British Art

Thu, 16 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

The manner in which modern museum architecture can inflect the historical conditions of an object’s creation and display is explored in this personal response to the installation of John Constable’s cloud studies at the Yale Center for British Art. Constable created these studies outdoors, often noting the time of day, weather, and season on the verso, suggesting that he was interested in capturing nature’s most ephemeral atmospheric effects. The top-floor galleries of the ycba regularly undergo dramatic fluctuations of light, which are a product of the building’s skylight scheme, designed by Richard Kelly in consultation with Louis Kahn. These changes in natural light levels are often as fleeting as the effects Constable strove to record, reanimating the ephemeral conditions of his sketches’ making. I ground my discussion of this happy marriage between the modern museum and the historical work of art in artistic debates from Constable’s time over lighting effects in the museum and studio.

Collecting and exhibiting ‘Austria’a museological perspective on collections from the House of Habsburg to a ‘House of Austrian History’

Sat, 04 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Discussions concerning the establishment of a ‘House of History’ that would collect and exhibit ‘Austria’ can be traced back to the founding of the Republic of Austria in 1919 and are currently resurfacing in the country’s cultural community. Hitherto, these debates have always been concerned with those specific aspects of Austrian history that should be portrayed, the kind objects that could best exemplify them, the locations in which the project itself should be pursued, and the mediation techniques to be used for this purpose. No consideration has so far been given within this discourse to the theoretical and practical considerations pertaining to the collection and exhibition of objects from a museological standpoint. The present article approaches the history of collecting and exhibiting Austria from the perspective that the sum of all the museums, memorials, exhibitions, and cultural landscapes in Austria forms a dislocated ‘House of Austrian History’.

Provenance as a history of change: from Caliari in Scotland to Tintoretto in Americathe commercial and connoisseurial trajectories of a Venetian portrait

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 00:00:00 GMT

The Boston Museum of Fine Arts owns a Portrait of a Young Man now attributed to Domenico Robusti, son of Jacopo Tintoretto. This article documents for the first time the painting’s earlier provenance and its later arrival on the London art market. The hitherto unexamined papers of John Waldie, a wealthy Scottish collector, record his acquisition of the portrait at Venice in 1836 as a work by Carlo Caliari, the son of Paolo Veronese. In 1927 the portrait was sold, still as Caliari, by Waldie’s descendants to London art dealers Agnew’s for £800. Following expert advice from Wilhelm von Bode, Tancred Borenius, Lionello Venturi and Charles Ricketts, Agnew’s reattributed it to Jacopo Tintoretto before selling it to the Boston Museum for $75,000 (about £15,000). A comparison of these two key moments shows how art trade and connoisseurship had a joint impact on the history of the painting.