Editorial

Art History Reviewed

THIS MONTH'S ISSUE of the Burlington publishes the first in a series of articles that re-review a selection of the most influential contributions to art history published in the twentieth century. A precedent of sorts was established at an earlier period in the Magazine by a series on art historians and art critics of the past. The dozen or so articles came out intermittently between 1952 and 1975, an eclectic selection with little sense of order but which included Anita Brookner’s notable essay on Baudelaire (1964) and studies of other, mostly nineteenth-century figures such as Stendhal, Thoré, Zola and Riegl. Art History Reviewed  is more specific and, we hope, better regulated: the majority  of articles will appear in a sequence ordered by the date of publication of the books under review. Thus we begin this month with Emile Mâle’s great work on French ecclesiastical art and architecture with its profound implications for iconography  and methodology, published two years before the turn of the cen­tury and well known through many subsequent editions and trans­lations. Postponing for the moment Bernard Berenson’s Drawings of the Florentine Painters (1903), an article to be published later in the year to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of Berenson’s death, we follow Mâle with a consideration of Heinrich Wölfflin’s Principles of Art History of 1915. The series will comprise eighteen contributions, closing with some significant publications from the 1980s.

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  • Matthijs Roelandts, Joris Leemans and Lanceloot Lefebure: new data on Baroque tapestry in Brussels

    By Koenraad Brosens,Veerle De Laet

    SINCE THE 1990S, there has been much interest in seventeenth-century Brussels tapestry. Unsurprisingly, much attention has been paid to the many series designed by artists such as Peter Paul Rubens, Jacob Jordaens, Charles Poerson and Charles Le Brun. However, less-renowned artists and series have also been included in this renewal of interest, as well as workshop managers, their entrepreneurial strategies and the organisation of  tapestry production. These studies shed new light on the complex dynamics that shaped the industry and blur the traditional distinction between the ‘fine’ and ‘decorative’ arts. But our understanding of seventeenth-century Brussels tapestry remains fragmentary. Basic biographical information on tapissiers is often missing, and critical attention is mostly focused on the handful of well-known painters who were involved, at the expense of a substantial number of lesser-known artists and series. The story of Constantine and The inclinations of Man series, produced by the obscure workshop managers Matthijs Roelandts and Joris Leemans, are a case in point. Editions and tapestries of both sets have rarely received scholarly attention and at best are loosely linked to the Brussels tapestry designer Antoon Sallaert (1594–1650). Newly discovered archival documents now allow us to identify Roelandts and Leemans as significant tapestry producers and to attribute their Constantine and Inclinations series to Lanceloot Lefebure (Lefebvre, Lefèvre), a Brussels-based painter who, in 1650, at the age of sixty-five, was praised by the Brussels tapissiers for his designs but has since been overlooked.

     

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  • The Baroque exhibition in London

    By Simon Jervis

    IN HIS FOREWORD to the catalogue of Baroque 1620–1800:  Style in the Age of Magnificence (Victoria and Albert Museum, London; to 19th July) the Director of the Museum, Mark Jones, places the exhibition in a tradition encompassing Rococo: Art and Design in Hogarth’s England (1984), which covered, at the outside, some fifty years, from about 1720 to 1770. It is tempting to push the clock further back to find a comparably ambitious theme tackled in The Age of Neo-Classicism, a Council of Europe exhibition held at both the Royal Academy of Arts in London and the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1972. Its date-span was not precisely delineated but John Pope-Hennessy’s catalogue foreword indicated about 1750 to 1850, roughly a century. With 1,912 catalogue entries Neo-Classicism was on a gigantic scale, but even the 532 entries of the 1984 Rococo exhibition dwarf Baroque, with its mere 177 entries, almost exactly a third as many. Comparisons based on statistics make dismal reading, but these underline the magnitude and difficulty of the task which the organisers had set themselves: their declared time-span was nearly two centuries, and Baroque was to be presented as ‘the first global style’.

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  • Souvenirs of an embassy: the comte d’Adhémar in London, 1783–87

    By Christian Baulez

    AFTER FIVE YEARS of war between France and Great Britain, the renewal of diplomatic relations that followed the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 3rd September 1783, which also granted independence to the American colonies, made it necessary to appoint a new French ambassador to the court of George III. As soon as the preliminary negotiations for the treaty had been signed in February 1783, the choice of the court and of the comte de Vergennes, Minister of Foreign Affairs, fell on the comte d’Adhémar. The nomination of a former military man who had transferred to the diplomatic service less than ten years earlier and who was then serving in Brussels could not but have upset the professional diplomats, no doubt jealous of the extraordinary political advancement of this astute courtier and intimate of the Petit Trianon circle. He was the close friend of the comte de Vaudreuil and the protégé of the duchesse de Polignac, who relied on him heavily and whom he admired with ostentatious devotion. There is much irony in the edifying tale of the obscure Jean-Balthazar d’Azémar de Montfalcon, born in Nîmes in 1731 to a family of no particular note or fortune, and thus condemned to a low-ranking military career despite the fact that ‘sa valeur bouillante’ had drawn the attention of two future Maréchals: the marquis de Ségur and the marquis de Castries. When the French battalions were retreating at the Battle of Warburg in July 1760, they had observed ‘the young Montfalcon, sword drawn, eyes blazing, hair tousled, handsome in his bravery, running, shouting, inciting and rallying the soldiers, rush into the mêlée, then triumph and take control of the disputed hill’. This endeavour earned him the Cross of the Order of Saint-Louis and a position as the aide-major of the citadel of Nîmes, alongside his father. While holding this modest post, he devoted some of his spare time to the examination of the family archives, which enabled him to link himself to the old family of Adhémar, and then to convince the royal genealogist, the incorruptible Bernard Cherin, of the fact. Now of better ancestry, and with the help of the duc de Choiseul and the marquise de Ségur, in 1766 he obtained the rank of colonel in the Chartres infantry regiment of the duc d’Orléans, and in 1767 was admitted to court.

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  • Thomas Woolner’s Wordsworth Memorial, 1851: Pre-Raphaelite sources and slips

    By Anne Neale

    THOMAS WOOLNER’S MEMORIAL to William Wordsworth in  St Oswald’s Church, Grasmere, Cumbria, of 1851 (Fig.28),  has come to be regarded as a significant early example of  Pre-Raphaelite sculpture. Carved in relief in white marble, the memorial tablet includes a highly expressive portrait of the poet in profile, flanked by naturalistic floriated panels, evoking the Lakeland poet’s famous fascination with wild flowers. Its claim to Pre-Raphaelitism, apart from its authorship, rests upon its truthfulness to nature in conveying the appearance and character of the poet and of the associated plants.

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  • Duveen’s French frames for British pictures

    By Nicholas Penny,Karen Serres

    IN THE ART galleries of North America there are numerous very finely carved frames that are skilful imitations of those made in eighteenth-century France. Outstanding among these, in both design and craftsmanship, are three types that are generally found on portraits by Reynolds, Gainsborough, Romney, Raeburn, Lawrence and Hoppner, and occasionally on paintings by other British artists, notably Turner’s landscapes.

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  • Recent acquisitions of glass sculpture at the Glasmuseum Hentrich, Düsseldorf

    By Dedo von Kerssenbrock-Krosigk

    THE GLASMUSEUM HENTRICH has its origin in a museum of decorative arts founded in 1896. It gained its current importance and size through various purchases and donations, most notably through the patronage of the Düsseldorf architect  Helmut Hentrich (1905–2001), who donated his extensive glass collection to the museum. Today, the Glasmuseum forms part of a foundation, the Stiftung Museum Kunst Palast, which evolved from the former art museum of the city of Düsseldorf. The Glasmuseum presents an overview of the history of glass from its beginnings until today. Islamic glass from the Middle Ages and French Art Nouveau are the collection’s particular strengths, but there are extraordinary highlights from almost every other major glassmaking period and region.

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  • Art History Reviewed I: Emile Mâle’s ‘L’art religieux du XIIIe siècle en France. Etude sur l’iconographie du moyen âge et sur ses sources d’inspiration’, 1898

    By Alexandra Gajewski

    ORDER, DISCIPLINE AND EDUCATION governed the life of Emile Mâle (1862–1954), born in the village of Commentry (Allier), the son of a mining engineer. Graduating from the lycée at nearby Saint-Etienne with flying colours, he gained entry to the prestigious Ecole normale supérieur in Paris in 1883. In the following years, while teaching as professor of rhetoric at provincial lycées and later in Paris, he worked on his doctoral thesis on medieval French iconography. In 1898, at the age of thirty-six, he submitted L’art religieux du XIIIe siècle en France. Etude sur l’iconographie du moyen âge et sur ses sources d’inspiration, which was published in the same year, dedicated to Georges Perrot, his former professor at the Ecole normale. A German translation came out in 1907, one in English in 1913 and others were to follow. In the book, Mâle offered his readers the first systematic key to understanding medieval images, a knowledge he felt had been lost since the Reformation. Underlying Mâle’s unaffected and subtle prose is the carefully argued theory that medieval art, and especially the thirteenth-century French cathedral, offers the viewer an encyclopaedic account of medieval Christian knowledge and represents a comprehensive vision of the intellectual and emotional world of the Middle Ages, indeed of its soul. This was the first of three books on iconography, but it remains the one that is best known and most often republished, retaining a firm place on university reading lists.

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  • Kalenderhane in Istanbul. The buildings, their history, architecture and decoration

    By J. M. Rogers
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  • Crown and Veil: female monasticism from the fifth to fifteenth centuries

    By Meghan Callahan
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  • Medioevo/Medioevi: Un secolo di esposizioni d’arte medievale

    By Willibald Sauerländer
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  • European Tapestries in the Art Institute of Chicago

    By Candace Adelson
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  • Fra Angelico

    By Laurence B. Kanter
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  • English Embroidery from the Metro­politan Museum of Art, 1580–1700: ‘Twixt Art and Nature’

    By Lisa Monnas
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  • Medici Gardens: from Making to Design

    By Todd Longstaffe-Gowan
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  • A History of the Gardens of Versailles

    By Todd Longstaffe-Gowan
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  • French furniture and gilt bronzes, Baroque and Régence, Catalogue of the J. Paul Getty Museum collection

    By Reinier Baarsen
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  • The Ewers–Tyne Collection of Worcester Porcelain at Cheekwood

    By Julia E. Poole
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  • Kalenderhane in Istanbul. The excavations. Final report on the archaeological exploration and restoration at the Kalenderhane Camii, 1966–78

    By J. M. Rogers
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  • Shah ‘Abbas. London

    By Tim Stanley
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  • Cassoni. London

    By Roberta Bartoli
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  • George Scharf’s London. London

    By Gillian Darley
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  • Recent exhibitions. London (Mark Wallinger Curates: The Russian Linesman)

    By Nicholas Cullinan
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  • Thomas Roberts. Dublin

    By Philip McEvansoneya
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  • The Della Robbia. Arezzo

    By Nicoletta Baldini
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  • Fra Angelico. Florence and Rome

    By Anne Leader
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  • The Pre-Raphaelites. Stockholm

    By Andrew Wilton
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  • Martin Kippenberger. New York

    By John-Paul Stonard
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  • Contemporary drawings at MoMA. New York

    By Morgan Falconer
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  • Judd. New York (Donald Judd: Colored Plexiglas)

    By James Lawrence
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  • Yves Saint Laurent. Montreal and San Francisco

    By Lynne Cooke
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  • Recent exhibitions. London (Ray Johnson: Please Add To & Return)

    By Nicholas Cullinan
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  • Recent exhibitions. London (Rebecca Warren)

    By Nicholas Cullinan
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  • Oursler. New York (Cell Phones Diagrams Cigarettes Searches and Scratch Cards)

    By James Lawrence
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  • Irwin. New York (Red Drawing White Drawing Black Painting)

    By James Lawrence
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