Volume 1, no. 4 (2007)
Pomis sua nomina servant. A drawing by Sacchi and its role in the educational system of Jesuit Rome
Rhetorical exercises formed part of the education provided by seventeenth-century Jesuit institutions in Rome. The thesis defense was part of these exercises, as it was considered the perfect means for the development of the mind and rhetorical skills of the student. A drawing by Andrea Sacchi in The Courtauld Institute of Art introduces the topic of Thesis Prints, prints that were made to accompany thesis defenses. These prints decorated the student’s academic written defenses and were published and exhibited on the day of the oral defense and were distributed to the audience. This essay seeks to explain the intricate allegorical subject of this drawing and its related print in the context of the Jesuit academies to which thesis prints were connected. Issues of patronage are drawn here in order to explain the role that these prints played within the educational system of seventeenth-century Rome.
The Courtauld Sisyphus and other
preparatory drawings by Guercino
The drawing of Sisyphus by Guercino at the Courtauld Institute Galleries is one of several preparatory works for a painting commissioned in 1636 and now lost. The letter on the verso of this drawing documents another lost work by Guercino which coincides with the date of the Sisyphus commission and also suggests the spontaneity of the drawing’s execution. In the absence of the painting, we may focus on Guercino’s creative process by examining the Courtauld Sisyphus alongside the other drawings in the series in terms of their varied pose, composition and media. By comparing the Sisyphus series to another series of drawings by Guercino for which the painting has survived, we may approach an understanding of this draughtsman and his exploration of possible solutions toward the finished painting through drawing.
The ‘Primitive Faces’ of
Giorgio de Chirico’s mannequins, 1914-15
No abstract available.
The liberal arts in sculpture and metalwork in twelfth-century France and ideals of education
In the second half of the twelfth century cycles of the liberal arts began to appear on the façades of French churches and cathedrals. Their use seems to reflect contemporary thinking about educational theory and practice at a time of change and debate. The cycles draw on traditions associated with antiquity and texts taught in schools, but also place the arts in the context of contemporary life. Rather than reflecting actual practice, however, they reveal an ideal attitude to education being promoted by the church, in part through this imagery. In these cycles the arts are presented as a grounding for theological study. That the values of the church educators were not universal, however, is indicated by comparison with two rare survivals of the iconography on metalwork objects. These luxury items focus solely on education and associate the subject with personal wealth and display. This essay explores façade and metalwork cycles as presenting contrasting ideals and evidence about education in an era of change.
Viewing libertinage in Charles-Antoine Coypel’s Children Playing at the Toilette (1728)
With its unusual representation of partially naked children masquerading in contemporary fashions and play-acting at adult behaviour, Charles-Antoine Coypel’s Children Playing at the Toilette (1728) does not fit neatly within the visual traditions of early eighteenth-century France. This essay seeks to provide a cultural context for Coypel’s painting by exploring its subject matter and aesthetic language in relation to the discourse of libertinage, a philosophy of freethinking that constituted a dominant strain in aristocratic culture of the period. Though it is more conventionally associated with literature, libertinage reached beyond textual representations, and I argue in this essay that it be understood as the framework underpinning the shifting relationship between pleasure and moral critique which characterises Coypel’s bizarre painting. At the same time as exploring the painting in relation to this cultural discourse, this essay is also concerned with the work’s different audiences throughout the century and with the concomitant semantic mobility of this image. Accordingly, the essay is structured in three parts suggested by the different audiences, each offering an alternative view of elements within the work and articulating a different interpretation of the relationship between pleasure and critique in this unusual libertine painting.
Myth-making in Versailles: the French ‘liberating mission’ in Algeria and Horace Vernet’s Prise de la Smala d’Abd el-Kader
This article analyses one of the most iconic representations of the French conquest of Algeria during the reign of Louis-Philippe (1830-1848). Commissioned to Horace Vernet, the Prise de la Smala d’Abd el-Kader à Taguin, 16 Mai 1843 was to be integrated to the Salles d’Afrique, in Louis-Philippe’s privileged propaganda instrument, the Musée Historique de Versailles. Now hidden from the public and long forgotten by art historians, the work sheds light on the specific discourse set up during the first years of the conquest. My aim here is to demonstrate how the Prise de la Smala was characteristic of a current of racial stereotyping, or even more, ‘state racism’ based on and justified by seemingly ethnographic representation. Rather than analysing the work as an independent element, I wish to examine it as belonging to a complex apparatus. I would like, more particularly, to consider this work in association to a preparatory drawing belonging to the collections of the Musée Condé in Chantilly, the Retour de Taguin le lendemain de la prise de la Smala, a reading which could give new light to the intended meaning of the commission.
Jens Hanning. The relational aesthetics of a Danish artist and the politics of deterritorialism
This essay provides a critical account of the artistic career of Danish artist Jens Haaning (born 1965), exploring his work by way of a number of pertinent themes. I begin by introducing the gamut of Haaning’s practice in the context of a discussion of the artist’s background and artistic milieu, and especially his position within the Danish art world context. I then discuss Nicolas Bourriaud’s ideas concerning relational aesthetics and consider the adequacy of this discourse as a critical frame for Haaning’s art. The final part of the essay broadens the discussion to consider the discourse on globalization in relation to Haaning’s work, reciprocally employing Haaning as a ‘lever’ into an analysis of some of the claims of globalisation theory on its own terms, as well as those of other related socio-economic and cultural discourses, principally sociological theories of informational society. Along the way, the socio-economic position of current international fine art practice is considered in the light of issues raised by these discourses.