IASH Twitter Takeover – Favourite Collages #1 – ‘Collection of botanical collages from the circle of Booth Grey.’
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, this week I’m over on the IASH twitter talking about my research project, Collage before Modernism. Yesterday, I asked you what some of your favourite collages were – and the results included: Joseph Cornell’s amazing boxes; quilts from the Victoria and Albert Museum’s 2010 exhibition; and queer zines, such as those preserved on archive.qzap.org/ .
Each day for the rest of this week, I’m going to introduce you to some of MY favourite collages, and first up, it’s this series of Botanical Collages from the Circle of Booth Grey, now housed at Yale Center for British Art (YCBA).
I was lucky enough to spend a month at YCBA in May this year as part of their Visiting Scholarship programme. During this time I looked at a huge amount of amazing material, but perhaps the most puzzling was the ‘Collection of botanical collages from the circle of Booth Grey.’ With their black grounds and stark attention to the details of the plants that they replicate, the collages clearly echo those made by Mary Delany, many of whose infamous and extensive series of botanical collages – what she called her ‘paper mosaicks’ – are now in the collections of the British Museum. Delany’s collages just one example of Delany’s industrious material production – she also made shell work, engaged in needlework, and drew and painted. As such, the collages have been discussed in terms of feminine accomplishment, craft practices, botanical amateurism, and female friendship, all of which provide compelling contexts in which to understand these works. Grey’s collection, however, complicates this paradigm.
The attribution to Grey – an elite male – is accordingly tentative. The series’ current record title on the YCBA catalogue – ‘Collection of botanical collages from the circle of Booth Grey’ – indicates only an ambiguous relationship to Grey. He is not necessarily identified as artist, or owner, we are told only that the collages have some connection to him. Yet this identification was prompted by some fairly compelling evidence: an inscription on the original album that once held these collages ’98 Plants done by the Honble. Booth Grey’, ‘done’, here, of course, suggesting that they were ‘made’ by Grey.
Grey certainly could have come into contact with Delany: as the younger son of the Countess of Stamford, and whose older brother was married to the Duchess of Portland’s daughter Henrietta, Grey was part of the elite, and crucially, creative, social circle in which Delany also moved. Kohleen Reeder also supposes that Grey even gave Delany some of her specimens, highlighting a potential relationship that was directly related to these material and artistic practices. Yet despite these corroborating details, there is a palpable reluctance to link Grey to these objects, a feeling that something about this picture must be wrong. Key to this hesitancy, I think, is a general assumption that men simply did not make collage – certainly not during this period, in the late eighteenth century. By 1912 of course, and the advent of Modernism, men certainly did make collage, and that collage was definitively art. This is the date of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque’s earliest papier collé, as exemplified by works such as Picasso’s Bottle of Vieux Marc, Glass, Guitar and Newspaper of 1913. By this point, collage has become a key visual weapon in the attack on traditional painted representation; a central form of Modernist experimentation. This narrative of the Modern invention of collage, however, entirely divorces it from those images and objects that preceded it. The paper flowers of Delany, and, maybe, of Grey, lie far from Picasso’s radicalism, tinged by their association with the explicitly female frameworks of craft, amateurism, and the domestic.
Yet attention to collages like those ‘from the circle of Booth Grey’ – whatever that ultimately might mean – provide a chance to challenge this neatly drawn timeline with its rigid, teleological chronology. Instead they allow us to rethink the relationship between collage and craft; between masculinity and modernism. During my Postdoctoral Fellowship at IASH, I’ll be teasing out this complex relationship in my article, ‘Collage, Masculinity, and the Modern: Gendered Art Histories 1780-1912’, which is forthcoming as part of the Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies Special Issue, ‘Making Masculinity: Craft, Gender, and Material Production in the Long Nineteenth-Century’ that I’m co-editing with Dr Katie Faulkner. Whatever the ‘truth’ around Booth Grey’s collages, they provoke a number of questions that I am excited to try and answer.
It’s the first day of my two-week research visit to the Lewis Walpole Library, and I’ve just finished looking through the anonymous volume Rarities from Strawberry Hill, made sometime around the 1890s. The volume (essentially a scrapbook) once brought together letters from Walpole’s voluminous correspondence, printed portraits, clippings, playbills, bookplates (including the above example, Anne Damer’s, based on a design by her close friend Agnes Berry) a lock of hair, and even two miniature portraits, who are conspicuous in their absence from the volume, leaving two holes where they were once fitted (pictured below). Along with a number of other objects from the book – including various letters and the aforementioned lock of hair – the miniatures have been removed and preserved elsewhere: in the case of miniatures, these are now on display at Strawberry Hill itself, where they now tell a different narrative in a different setting.
This dialogue of absence and presence, and how these states intersect with how we construct the history of the eighteenth century, reminded me of an earlier post I made here, regarding Strawberry Hill itself. When visiting the house last Summer, I bemoaned the absence of any kind of narrative regarding Walpole’s queerness, despite the prevalence of this within scholarship on Walpole and his friendships. I hope that the chapter I’m researching here (on Anne Damer’s inheritance of Strawberry Hill and queer heirlooming) at the Lewis Walpole Library can meaningfully contribute to these conversations, revealing some of those things that are sorely absent from the scholarship on Walpole.
Queen Charlotte (detail; 1771), Johan Joseph Zoffany.
First up this week, this Apollo Magazine review of Yale Centre for British Art‘s exhibition Enlightened Princesses: Caroline, Augusta, Charlotte and the Shaping of the Modern World, which runs until April 30th (frustratingly, just one day before I arrive there as a visiting scholar!).
Secondly, I read Alice Kelly’s article ‘How to make writing in the humanities less lonely‘, which discusses TORCH’s writing group with interest, as the group was a crucial source of inspiration for our own version in Edinburgh.
I thoroughly enjoyed this post from the National Museum of Scotland on Owen Jones’ Grammar of Ornament, which is an important object within the museum’s newly curated art and design galleries.
The Storifys for each day of the three days of the War Through Other Stuff conference are now available here. I’ll be posting some thoughts from the conference in an upcoming blog post next week.
I was also captivated by this Victoria and Albert Museum video ‘Garnitures: Vase Sets from National Trust Houses‘, which examines rare surviving examples of vase sets and ceramic ornaments from National Trust houses being displayed on furniture and in period rooms at the V&A.
I was excited to see that the special inaugural issue of the Journal of Romanticism, on Romanticism and mysticism, is now available for purchase.
Finally, I saw a reminder this week that all of the University of Cambridge Things sessions are available as podcasts online – I must catch up asap!
The following CFPs, conferences and CFAs also caught my attention this week:
CFP: Evidence of Power in the Ruler Portrait, 14th – 18th Centuries (1-2 Dec 17)
CFP: Material Histories of Time: Objects and Practices, 14th-18th centuries (La Chaux-de-Fonds, Musée international d’horlogerie, November 30 – December 1, 2017)
CFP: “Hawthorne and Things” MLA 2018
CONF: Dress and Diplomacy (Copenhagen, 22 Mar 17)
CFP: AAH Summer Symposium: Re/presenting the Body (Glasgow,
6-7 Jul 17)
CFP: Collections – Scholars – Interpretations (Tbilisi, 2-3
CONF: Graduate Student Symposium – History of 19th-Century Art (New York, 26 Mar 17)
CFP: Special issue of Southern Cultures: Southern Things (Material Culture)
CFA: The Pre-Raphaelites and Antiquity (Special Issue Open Cultural Studies)
CFA: On Uses of Black Camp (Special Issue Open Cultural Studies)
CFA: Materiality, Objects and Objecthood (Special Issue Open Cultural Studies)
Victorian hand calling card, private collection.
A slightly belated Week in Review post.
As I’ve noted before, Notches and the Age of Revolutions blogs are amongst my favourite academic blogs, and both present really interesting work in their respective fields. Of late, I particularly enjoyed Notches’ ‘Femme Histories Roundtable‘ series (parts I and II), as well as this amazing post on ‘Disembodied Desire‘, focusing on disembodied Victorian limbs, as seen in the above calling card.
In case you missed me excitedly sharing this on Twitter and Facebook, here’s a Hyperallergic article on Sotheby’s first-ever auction of erotic artworks. I was particularly enamoured with this incredible painted plywood table, a copy after those supposedly held in a secret erotic salon of Catherine the Great. For this and many other fascinating objects check out the auction catalogue.
I hugely enjoyed this article on the history of the colour red from The Paris Review, and was fascinated by this touching article on the epistolary correspondence of two men during the Second World War.
I was keen to watch this webinar on ‘Exploring the Africana Historic Postcard Collection‘, which discusses the African Section of the Library of Congress’ African and Middle Eastern Division’s collection of more than 2000 historical photographic postcards. The collection is an important visual record of Africa and its people during the historically intensive years of European colonialism from 1895 to 1960.
I also really enjoyed Pat Thomson’s thought-provoking post on developing institutional writing cultures. Thomson writes compellingly about the need for rebuilding such collective practices, which is something that strongly rings true for me as a participant in an academic writing group. Thomson’s post was written a few days before my fellow writing-group attendee Lucie Whitmore wrote a post on our writing group for the SGSAH Blog, and they had a lovely synchronicity in my mind. I’m also going to write an update post on my own progress with the writing group at some point soon, so watch this space.
Publications wise, the table of contents for the first issue of the Journal for Art Market Studies (Vol 1, No 1 (2017)), also caught my attention this week, as did this call for book proposals on Gender and Culture in the Romantic Era. I was also really excited to see that Joanna Cohen’s book Luxurious Citizens: The Politics of Consumption in Nineteenth-Century America has now been published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. I’m sure this book will become an essential text for me as I expand my research to look at nineteenth-century American material culture.
CFP: Consuming Gender, Assuming Gender one-day symposium (14 July 2017, Cardiff University)
CFP: Decor and Architecture (Lausanne, 16-17 Nov 17)
CFP: French and English Rivalries in Dress and Textiles 1700-1914 (Paris, October 13-14, 2017)
CFP: “Emotions, Death and Dying” -PJHS (Winter 2017)
CFP: Queering the Transpacific: Asian American, American and Asian Queer Studies (March 31, 2017)
Finally, I noted with interest that there a number of vacancies on the Design History Society’s Board of Trustees, applications are due by mid-March.
First up this week, is the Victoria & Albert Museum’s exhibition Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London, a fascinating exploration of the life, work and lasting impact of John Lockwood Kipling (1837 – 1911), an artist, writer, museum director, teacher, conservationist and influential figure in the Arts and Crafts movement. The exhibition includes a wide array of objects, including book plates, jewellery, furniture, photographs, and other forms of decorative art. The exhibition is complemented by the conference The Many Careers of John Lockwood Kipling (25 Feb), and runs until 2 April.
Secondly, I enjoyed Pat Thomson’s post, ‘What does a book proposal reviewer do?‘. Having recently acted as a reader for a press, while concurrently having my own book proposal under review at another, the ideas in this post are something I’ve been thinking about a lot.
I was interested to note two complementary conferences on issues of photography and materiality, the first Photo Archives VI: The Place of Photography (Oxford, 20-21 Apr 17), and the second, Photo-Objects. On the Materiality of Photographs and Photo-Archives in the Humanities and Sciences (Florence, 15-17 Feb 16). As I continue my new research on photocollage, I’m becoming increasingly concerned with the idea of photograph-as-object, something that these conferences also look to explore.
As a keen advocate of academic blogging, I read Jeanne de Montbaston’s post Why do academic blogging? with interest. I find it particularly interesting that so much of de Montbaston’s teaching and research output starts life in the blog post form. I’m keen to experiment with blogging from the early stages of my research process for my new project on collage.
I’m eager to hear more about the newly-launched Eighteenth-century Arts Education Research Network (EAERN), which recently received funding from the Royal Society of Edinburgh. The network ‘brings together an international community of researchers in music, art, literature, history, and dance to share approaches to investigate eighteenth-century arts educational materials‘.
The following conferences, seminars, and CFPs also caught my eye:
CFP: At Close Quarters: Experiencing the Domestic, c.1400-1600
CFP: Beyond Between Men: Homosociality Across Time
CFP: Imagined Forms: Models and Material Culture, UD-CMCS/Hagley; November 2017
Programme: Edinburgh’s Nineteenth-Century Research Seminars
CFP: Mapping Black Mobilities and Identities in the Long 19th Century
CFP: Harts & Minds, Vol.3, Issue 2 (2017) ‘Embodied Masculinities’
CFP: Arthur Symons at the Fin de Siècle (21 July 2017)
CFP: Beyond the Home: New Histories of Domestic Servants (Oxford, 8 September 2017)
CFP: Printmaking in America, 1800-1865 (Gloucester, 28 Oct 17)
CFP: Full Circle: The Medal in Art History (New York, 8-9 Sep 17)
Happy New Year to all my readers. 2017 promises to be an exciting year, but I’ll talk more about that in Wednesday’s post. For now, here’s a roundup of everything that caught my attention in the final week of 2016.
First up, these Summer 2017 internships with the Boston Furniture Archive, which sound like a fantastic opportunity to do some hands-on collection based work.
Next, the Centre for the History of the Emotions’ 2016 Annual Lecture by Professor Stephen Brooke (University of York, CA). Titled ‘Hate and Fear: Emotion, Politics and Race in 1980s London’, the lecture is now on the centre’s youtube channel.
The Bard Graduate Center’ forthcoming Summer Institute American Material Culture: Nineteenth-Century New York (July 3–28, 2017), also caught my eye. Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute promises a in-depth look at the history of New York and its associated material culture.
Prompted by Karen Kelsky’s excellent recent Vitae blog ‘The Job Market in a New Administration’, I also read Ellen Willis’s essay ‘Identity Crisis‘ for the first time this month. As issues of identity are at the forefront of this changing political landscape, prolonged considerations of the meaning and manifestations of identity have never been more important. Willis’s essay, though written in 1992, is incredibly relevant for the current academic and political climate.
The following conferences, CFAs and CFPs also sound particularly interesting (with many touching on issues of identity that are so relevant to Willis’s essay):
- CFP/Manuscripts: Special Issue of Journal of Homosexuality, “LGBTQ Popular Culture: The Changing Landscape”
- CFP: #QueerAF: (Re)presenting Gender & Sexuality in History & Cultural Studies
- CFP: 2017 Midwest Art History Society Session: “Is there an African Atlantic?“
- CONF: Politics in fashion and textiles (Vienna, 19-21 Jan 17)
- CFP: Conflict, Healing and the Arts (Durham, 27 May 17)
- CFP: The Coarseness of the Brontës: A Reappraisal (Durham, 10-11 Aug 17)
- CFP: Material and Sensory Cultures of Religion
- CFP: Material Culture Research Symposium (Glasgow, 12 June 17)
- CFP: American Identities on Land and at Sea (New York, 21 Apr 17)
My final pick is the CFP for the multidisciplinary collection Colonial Caribbean Visual Cultures, which examines ‘the creation and circulation of colonial visual cultures from the Caribbean during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries’. The CFP reminded me of another recent publication, The Colour of Shadows: Images of Caribbean Slavery by Judy Raymond. I’m excited to read each of them.