interiors

Design History Society Research Travel Grant Report – The British Library & Strawberry Hill

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Thanks to a 2016 Research Travel Grant from the Design History Society, I was able to conduct crucial primary research for the completion of my monograph, which is provisionally titled Home Ties: Materiality, Sociability and Emotion in British Domestic Space, 1750-1840. It is the first study to focus on the complex relationship between emotion, identity, and the material culture of the home during this period, exploring how the decoration of domestic space allowed contemporaries to express themselves, to show affection to their loved ones, and to construct the homes in which they lived.

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Specifically, a Design History Society Research Travel Grant enabled me to conduct research for three of the book’s chapters, which examine descriptions of interior design in the travel writing of Caroline Lybbe Powys, reputation management and the interiors of John Wilkes’s retirement cottage on the Isle of Wight, and Anne Seymour Damer’s inheritance of Horace Walpole’s Gothic revival home, Strawberry Hill, in turn. At the British Library, I consulted the papers, journals, and correspondence of Caroline Lybbe Powys, Anne Seymour Damer, and John Wilkes, whilst at the Royal College of Surgeons, and the Wellcome Library, I viewed the correspondence of Mary Berry, a close friend of Damer and Walpole. I discovered many exciting finds in archives, including a number of previously unknown portraits, as well as a recipe for shellwork cement shared between friends, highlighting the collaborative nature of such craft practices. I also read many letters describing key elements of the interiors of Walpole and Damer’s homes, which I will continue to think about during my forthcoming research trip to Yale’s Lewis Walpole Library, where I’ll also be investigating the relationship between the two figures.

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The Grant also allowed me to visit Strawberry Hill itself, which has been the subject of a sensitive restoration and was reopened to the public in 2010. Being able to walk through the spaces so lovingly described by its owners and viewers was immensely important and highly evocative, particularly for a project concerned with issues of emotion and experience. The visit also revealed that despite the importance of Damer and Walpole’s relationship, the narratives of queer inheritance and ownership that are at the heart of my book chapter are entirely absent from Strawberry Hill’s current public presentation.

I’m excited to utilise this archival research in my forthcoming monograph, and would like to thank the Design History Society, the British Library, the Royal College of Surgeons and the Wellcome Library for making this research possible.

N.B. A version of this post will also appear on the Design History Society blog.

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Week in Review – 11 September

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mw66053.jpgSarah Forbes Bonetta (Sarah Davies) by Camille Silvy. Albumen print, 15 September 1862
3 1/4 in. x 2 1/4 in. (83 mm x 56 mm), National Portrait Gallery, London.

My object of the week is this albumen portrait of Sarah Forbes Bonetta, which was used to illustrate the National Portrait Gallery’s event In Conversation: Portraits of the Past: Researching Black Lives in the Archives. Dr Caroline Bressey and Dr Gemma Romain will discuss their experiences of researching images of black lives in archives, before reflecting upon the position of black historical research in Britain today.

This week, Goldsmiths, University of London announced that is was launching the world’s first postgraduate degree in Queer History, beginning in 2017. Perhaps even more excitingly for those of us working on queer culture, the university is also in discussions about the creation of a National Queer Archive.

I was excited to read about the Public Domain Review’s new Conjectures Series, a forum for ‘experiments with historical form and method’. Just like Storying the Past before it, such vehicles provoke important reflection on the discipline of history and what we as historians ‘do’. The first post in the series is Easter McCraney’s discussion of longing and the objects of history, which the editor describes as a ‘history poem’.

Also from the Public Domain Review, Ryan Feigenbaum’s essay Visions of Algae in Eighteenth-Century Botany provides a compelling consideration of the cultural import of a single species of algae: Conferva fontinalis

I greatly enjoyed reading the fascinating special issue of the open access Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide: A Journal of Nineteenth-Century Visual Culture (15:2), on The Greek Slave by Hiram Powers: A Transatlantic Object, edited by Martina Droth & Michael Hatt. The issue discusses Powers’s sculpture in unparalleled detail, while simultaneously locating it within a number of its cultural contexts, thereby skilfully interweaving the sculpture’s micro and macro histories. I was also excited to see the CFP for the next issue of  MDCCC 1800 – the international online journal of nineteenth-century culture – on the ‘Arts on display: the 19th century international expositions‘. Each of these ventures serve to emphasise just how exciting publishing on nineteenth-century art is at the moment.

Other CFPs, conferences, journal special issues and articles that caught my eye this week included:

The CFP for the Heritages of Migration: Moving Stories, Objects and Home conference.

The programme for the Paul Mellon Centre’s upcoming conference Art in the British Country House: Collecting and Display.

The Auricular Style: Frames conference, which brings together research in fine & decorative art histories in order to shed light on the neglected Auricular style. The conference programme is available here.

The CFP for the Refiguring Romanticisms: Cross-Temporal Translations and Gothic Transgressions seminar.

The CFP for a forthcoming special issue of Eighteenth-Century Studies on ‘Empires’.

The William Wordsworth: Poetry, People and Place MOOC, run by Lancaster University in collaboration with Dove Cottage, Wordsworth’s home between 1799 to 1808.

The Storify for BAVS 2016 conference, Consuming (the) Victorians. 

Week in Review – 26 June

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My object of the week is this newly-acquired patchwork made c. 1804 by Birmingham writer Catherine Hutton, now in the collections of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Hutton also compiled a number of scrapbooks that I’ll be returning to as part of my assemblage project, and I’ll be keen to view the quilt when I do so.

Other CFPs, conferences, events and articles that caught my eye this week included:

The new Women and Gender in the Early Modern World Series from the University of Nebraska Press.

The Plagues, Witches, and War: The Worlds of Historical Fiction MOOC.

The programme for the Gendering Museum Histories conference.

The OA special issue of the Journal of Design History on Histories of Design Pedagogy.

The CFP for the The Architect as Active Reader conference.

The Objects of Research: The Material Turn in Nineteenth-Century Literary Studies event.

The CFP for the AAH session Modern Lives – Modern Legends. Artist anecdotes since the 18th century.

The Art History for Artists conference.

The CFP for the Collecting & Display research seminar series.

The CFP for the The Royal Palace in the Europe of Revolutions conference.

The CFP for the Reframing Family Photography conference.

Award: Design History Society Research Travel and Conference Grant

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I’m thrilled to have received a Design History Society Research Travel & Conference Grant for my project, From House to Home: Gender, Identity & Emotion in British Domestic Space, 1750-1830The project develops research from my PhD thesis for publication as a monograph, and explores the complex relationship between the production and consumption of domestic space and issues of identity, affection, gender, and sexuality.

Specifically, the Research Travel and Conference Grant will facilitate the completion of crucial primary research for this project, to be conducted at a number of repositories including the British Library, where I will consult the papers, journals, and correspondence of Caroline Lybbe Powys, Anne Seymour Damer, Mary Berry, and John Wilkes; as well as the Royal College of Surgeons, and the Wellcome Library, where I’ll view further correspondence from Mary Berry.

Stay tuned for more posts on my monograph project as it develops.

Programme for the Travel and the Country House Conference

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View towards the fireplace in the Chinese Room at Erddig, Wrexham, Wales

Chinoiserie Room, Erdigg House (Image via National Trust)

The preliminary programme for the upcoming conference, Travel and the country house: places, cultures and practices has just been released. I will be speaking about ‘Domestic tourism, the country house, and the making of respectability in the travel journals of Caroline Lybbe Powys’, in the second session of the second day. This research is taken from a chapter of my doctoral thesis which situates Powys’s analyses of material objects in relation to country house visiting and domestic tourism.

Please contact jon.stobart@northampton.ac.uk for further details and booking.

Travel and the country house: places, cultures and practices 

Northampton, 15-16th September 2014-06-20

Draft Programme

Monday 15th September
10.00-10.40 Registration and coffee

10.40-10.45 Welcome and introduction

10.45-11.45 Keynote: ‘The Italian Grand Tour and the 18th century country house’, Roey Sweet (University
of Leicester)

11.45-13.00 Session 1: The practicalities and pleasures of travel

‘Visiting London for business and pleasure in the years 1599-1623: on the road (and the
Thames) with William Cavendish, 1st. Earl of Cavendish’ – Peter Edwards (Independent
Scholar)

‘Travelling for Pleasure – carriages and the country house’ – Lizzy Jamieson  (Independent Scholar)

‘Wintering in the “shires”: Foxhunting and travel’ – Mandy de Belin (University of
Leicester)

13.00-14.00 Lunch

14.00-15.45 Session 2: European travel, networks and influences

‘The Grand Tour and Episcopal domesticity: the case of Martin Benson, Bishop of
Gloucester (1735-52)’ – Michael Ashby (University of Cambridge)

‘“Antiquity mad”: the Earl Bishop and the translation of continental style in an Irish context’ – Rebecca Campion (National University of Ireland at Maynooth)

‘Centre and periphery: the world brought to the ironmasters “mansions”‘ – Marie Steinrud
(Stockholm University)

‘The English Rothschild family and their country houses: a distinctive style’ – Nicola
Pickering

15.45-16.15 Tea & coffee

16.15-18.00 Session 3: Views of England from overseas travellers

‘The English country house as (proto) museum: Dutch travel accounts explored (1677-1750)’ – Hanneke Ronnes (University of Amsterdam)

‘“… enjoying country life to the full – only the English know how to do that!”: Appreciation of the British country house by Hungarian aristocratic travellers’ – Kristof Fatsar (Corvinus University of Budapest)

‘Stourhead: all roads lead to Rome – and back again’– John Harrison (Open University)

‘A Dutch view on the English Country House and landscape garden’ – Helen Bremer
(University of Leiden)

18.30-19.30 Reception

19.30 Dinner Tuesday 16th September

9.30-10.45 Session 4: The mobile house

‘Manors, towns and spas. A household on the move in the late 18th century Sweden’ –
Goran Ulvang (University of Uppsala)

‘The travels of an aristocratic family in the early 19th century: the Braybrookes of Audley
End, Essex’ – Andrew Hann (English Heritage)

‘Moving households – problems, choices and new possibilities facing the country-house
family in the 1820s and 1830s’ – Pamela Sambrook (Independent Scholar)

10.45-11.15 Tea and coffee

11.15-1.00 Session 5: Travel, tourism and guides

‘Domestic tourism, the country house, and the making of respectability in the travel
journals of Caroline Lybbe Powys’ – Freya Gowrley (University of Edinburgh)

‘Country house visiting and improvement at Herriard House in Hampshire, 1794-1821’ –
Nicky Pink (Independent Scholar)

‘Arthur Young’s Tours: architecture, painting, sculpture, and the art of adorning
grounds’ – Caroline Anderson (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

‘The representation of the country house in individual books and guides 1720-1845’ –
Paula Riddy (University of Sussex)

1.00-2.00 Lunch

2.00-3.00 Keynote 2: title: Prof Margot Finn (UCL)

3.00-4.15 Session 6: Looking beyond Europe

‘Travel to the East- and West-Indies and Groningen country house culture in the 18th
Century’ – Yme Kuiper (University of Groningen)

‘Appuldurcombe House and the ‘Museum Worsleyanum’: Sir Richard Worsley’s forgotten
collection’ – Abigail Coppins (Independent Scholar)

‘Diaries, decoration and design: the Courtauld’s travels and the effects on Eltham
Palac’‟ – Annie Kemkaran-Smith (English Heritage)

4.15-4.30 Closing comments and discussion