Tag Archives: Nineteenth Century

George Scharf and the museum professional

George Scharf and the emergence of the museum professional in nineteenth-century Britain

A one-day participatory workshop concerning the emergence of the museum professional in the nineteenth-century, to be held at the National Portrait Gallery, London, on Tuesday the 21st April 2015.

Current research focusing on the career of Sir George Scharf, the Gallery’s first Secretary and Director (1857-95), aims to establish his approach museum practice, the nature of his professional networks and the extent to which he collaborated with figures in the museum and wider art world. As custodian of the national portraits, Scharf oversaw the acquisition, display, interpretation and conservation of the early collection. He was also responsible for the establishment of a research library of engraved portraits, periodicals, books and documents. This, coupled with his diligent research into works in numerous private collections, served as a vital resource for authenticating potential portrait acquisitions for the Gallery. In recording what he saw by means of densely annotated sketches and detailed tracings, Scharf developed a procedure for the documentation, identification and authentication of portraiture, which continues to inform the research practice of the institution.

Short papers are invited from scholars on nineteenth-century practitioners centrally engaged in research, conservation, management or curatorship, within national or regional public galleries and museums. Participants should consider one or both of the following:

  • Evidence of the development of professional standards within individual careers.
  • Evidence of a collective contribution to the professionalization of museum practice during a period which saw the development of a range of clearly defined, independent, professions.

Whilst the careers of figures, including Sir Henry Cole, Sir Charles Eastlake and Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks, have been examined in relation to wider institutional histories and studies of the public art museum in the Victorian era, little scholarly attention has been directed towards the identity of such individuals as a discrete group of professionals or the manner in which they interacted. To this end, presentations will be followed by a round-table discussion with reference to both the potential for collaboration between employees of different institutions, and the consolidation of museum roles throughout the 1800s. Participants might also consider the following questions:

Did potential networks extend beyond national boundaries to include contemporaries working in European museums and galleries, and what influence did this bring to bear upon British museum practice?

What were the differing needs of individuals working in various arts institutions, and how were these met within a circle of professional contacts?

How did the role of the curator develop in the nineteenth-century and how did this job specification vary between institutions?

Considering the backgrounds, or ‘skill-sets’ of these individuals, can we pinpoint a shift from connoisseurship towards an emerging curatorship?

Please direct abstracts for a 20-minute paper (approx. 250 words) and a biographical statement (100 words) to Elizabeth Heath at Research@npg.org.uk, no later than Monday 15th December 2014. Speakers will be notified in early January 2015.

Conference — Portraiture: Exchanges, Debates and Performances, 1700-1840

landscape poster for web 600px-498x320Registration is now open for this exciting day event at the University of York’s Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies.

This day conference opens up discussion about portraiture in all its forms. Lucy Peltz will discuss portraiture in extra-illustration and its role in the selling of history. Kate Retford and Jon Mee debate portraiture and conversation pieces. Kamilla Elliott looks at the downward mobility of portraiture in Britain in the 1790s. Eric Miller and Anna Bonewitz bring a transatlantic dimension to the day with their papers on Elizabeth Simcoe in Upper Canada and John Singleton Copley in Boston, while Joanna De Groot turns her attention to imperialism and portraiture in India. Elizabeth Eger talks about Allan Ramsay and Enlightenment portraiture. Emma Major talks about the cross-dressing actress Madam Vestris and her celebrated legs. Cora Kaplan thinks about the representation of female authorship in the early nineteenth century. Please join us for a visual and intellectual feast on 28 June.

For more information and to register, please visit http://www.york.ac.uk/eighteenth-century-studies/events/conferenceportraiturejune2014/.

Historians of British Art: New Facebook Page

Screen Shot 2014-06-15 at 1.48.06 PMThe Historians of British Art (HBA) in the United States, a College Art Association (CAA) affiliated society, have launched a new Facebook page! Please like them on Facebook for the latest information about British art. To find out more about the Historians of British Art and how to become a member, please visit historiansofbritishart.org.

AAH Student Summer Symposium: Art and Ephemerality

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26-27 June 2014 | University of Bristol

Keynote Speakers

  • Prof. Simon Shaw-Miller, History of Art Department, University of Bristol
  • Prof. Paul Binski, History of Art Department, University of Cambridge; more to be confirmed.

Call for Papers

Artworks and objects that are not intended to last or only remain briefly in existence invariably accentuate the passage of time. In collaboration with the University of Bristol, this year’s AAH Student Summer Symposium will explore the implications of ephemerality for art and its histories through a wide range of historical and critical perspectives.

How do ephemeral practices—from medieval and early modern rituals to contemporary site-specific and performance-based events—intersect with the history of art and exhibitions? How should art history negotiate methodologies and strategies of documentation and preservation, when the delicate nature of materials sometimes results in the transformation, deterioration, or even disappearance of the work? When objects are irretrievably lost, is it possible to access them through documents that attempt to instigate a sense of permanence that was denied at the time? And how have museums and other exhibition spaces attempted to collect, display and preserve ephemeral objects? In the wake of recent technological developments, how do the dialectics of permanence and impermanence related to momentary flickers of celluloid or transitory pixels on a screen differ from those of bygone times? How do (media) technologies invoke notions of ephemerality and contemporaneity across different historical times?

We welcome contributions from all periods and contexts that engage with the relation between art and ephemerality within aesthetic, cultural, social, and material frameworks. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Histories of and critical perspectives on ephemeral artworks and artefacts
  • Ephemeral architectures: monuments, festivals, world fairs, expos and biennales
  • Issues of documentation and conservation pertaining to ephemeral art
  • Methodologies of studying ephemeral objects
  • Relations between permanence and temporality in collections and exhibitions
  • Ephemeral practices and their commodity status  The afterlife of the artefact: recycling, transforming, rebuilding
  •  The afterlife of the artefact: recycling, transforming, rebuilding

Abstracts of no more than 250 words for 20-minute papers plus a 100-word biography should be submitted as a single Word document to Anna Bonewitz, Tilo Reifenstein, Ruth Walker and Sophia Zhou at artandephemerality@gmail.com by 1 April 2014. The symposium is open to all, however speakers are required to be AAH members.

Victorian Society in America Summer Schools

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Are you interested in Victorian architecture and decorative arts? The Victorian Society in America offers two fabulous summer school programs, one based in Newport, Rhode Island (May 30 to June 8, 2014), and the other in London (June 28 to July 13, 2014). Both programs are filled with numerous site visits, lectures, and guided tours of iconic buildings and hidden gems ordinarily closed to the public. Full and partial scholarships are available to cover the costs of both programs. More information, and details of the application due on March 1st can be found here.

Ongoing call for essay manuscripts in Nineteenth Century Studies

B1977-14-143ct10_99_0The editors of the annual interdisciplinary journal, *Nineteenth Century Studies,* solicit submissions of cross-disciplinary essays, as well as comparative studies-that is, studies that cross national boundaries and/or range across the nineteenth century. Entering its twelfth year of publication, *Nineteenth Century Studies* publishes articles of interest to scholars of the nineteenth century in America, Britain and the British Empire, and Europe. Topics include, but are not limited to, literature, art history, history, music, and the history of science and the social sciences. Continue reading