In the preface to the 50th anniversary edition of his Pulitzer prize winning study, ‘The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution’, the Harvard historian Bernard Bailyn reflects back on his book’s original argument of 1967, one based on an unprecedented attention to the language and rhetoric of the manifold political pamphlets that circulated in the American colonies between 1760 and 1776. Towards the end of his retrospection, Bailyn underlines the importance of the reception of ancient Roman republicanism among the American revolutionaries and cites one of the most well-known expressions of whiggish sentiment of the time—Trenchard and Gordon’s essays from the 1720s known as ‘Cato’s Letters’. Quoting the letters’ assertion that “words are too weak” to express the magnitude of the impact of the history of ancient Rome on the 18th century republican mind, Bailyn wonders if pictures might come closer to the mark.
“[…] I the last weeke put into the hands of Mr Smith a book seller liveing at the Princes Armes in Pauls Churchyard 26 Draughts of the inhabitants of severall remote parts of the world espetially the East Indies […] For the excellency of the drawing I will not answer they being don by my boy who hath faithfully enough represented the originals they were copyed from.” So wrote the famed philosopher John Locke to his friend William Courten, aka William Charleton, from Amsterdam in August 1687. If these passing remarks concerning the copying work of Locke’s servant, Sylvester Brounower, might at first appear to be of little interest, they take on much more significance when matched with the drawings that they describe. Thanks to the fact that Courten kept a prominent cabinet of curiosities in London that would later be acquired by Hans Sloane, whose collection in turn helped form the basis of the British Museum, we can do just that.
Images depicting sorrow were rare, though not an uncommon genre, contained in illustrated manuscripts produced during the Mughal reign in India (1526 – 1857). The tradition of image-making during Mughal rule can be traced to earlier Timurid (15th century) and Ilkhanid periods (14th century), whose subject mainly consisted of histories of dynasties, Persian poetic and literary works and biographies of Turko-Mongol rulers. Images displaying tragedy and loss were limited to death scenes of legendary and historic rulers, heroes and anti-heroes, and saints and protagonists from literary works. The main corpus of images, however, contained themes that exalted the ruler, depicted his might and strength and displayed his connoisseurship of literature, art and culture. Therefore, despite their limited role, the tragic end of heroes, rulers and saints were as much part of the literary and visual cultural history, as were narratives and legends glorifying their lives.
This blog post follows on from the previous post Modi and Metamorphoses (I). Based on only this one particular work, it is almost impossible to speak about Sedlmayr´s manner as such, since we do...
Bilderfahrzeuge Research Associate Oliver O’Donnell is giving a talk as part of the Philosophy and Art History Research Seminar at the University of Essex. Locke’s Cannibal Thursday 5th November 2020, 3pm (ONLINE) This talk analyzes...
An aged man, wearing a hat and sporting an impressive moustache looks, somehow sceptical and at the same time absorbed, towards the beholder. The dark dominating tone of the painting is supported by the background and is challenged through the white-yellowish and in some cases green-redish flesh as well as the white thick brushstrokes in the area of the neck. These broad, parallel lines suggest the texture of a fabric and create a dazzling counterpoint to the dark coat.
A new series of online events at the Warburg Institute. Convened and organised by Eckart Marchand.
It is now both a convention and also a joke to make the title of pieces about animals “Consider the __” where the blank is the name of the animal. This is because of a now famous essay that David Foster Wallace wrote called “Consider the Lobster”. So now: Consider the Pigeon. I would like to say that, in my exploration of English baroque in comparative context, that this was a deeply thought decision, to consider pigeons. I would like to say that I have brooded over Haraway and theories of the city in the Anthropocene and the now admittedly trendy idea of “animal studies”. This would be both a truth and a lie. A truth because I have been thinking about these things, but also haven’t had the ability to read them, not in any format other than in purloined pdf files. As we will tell our students someday, we’re all Auerbaching it now in academia; that is, if there is a someday and if I am in it, and if someday there are still students.
A review of the exhibition „Zwischen Kosmos und Pathos. Berliner Werke aus Aby Warburgs Bilderatlas Mnemosyne“ at the Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, 08.08.-01.11. 2020.
Derzeit zeigt das Haus der Kulturen der Welt die „originalen“ Photographien von Aby Warburgs Bilderatlas Mnemosyne aus der Photographischen Sammlung des Warburg Institute in London. In Ergänzung dieser Schau sind in der Gemäldegalerie diejenigen Objekte aus den Berliner Museen versammelt worden, deren Reproduktionen zum Repertoire des Atlasses zählen.
A review of the workshop ‘Blick Richtung Europa? 15 Perspektiven’ (8-9 July 2020, Berlin) by Anita Hosseini and Judith Rottenburg.
Stets richten und richteten sich Blicke aus Europa in alle Himmelsrichtungen und generierten Ideen und Bilder des ‚Anderen‘. Die dabei selbstverständlich in Anspruch genommene Position des beobachtenden und damit auch deutenden Subjekts kann mit politischen, wissenschaftlichen und kulturellen Machtansprüchen und Expansionsbestreben Hand in Hand gehen. Was passiert jedoch, wenn die Blickrichtung gewendet, wenn die Aufmerksamkeit auf die Tatsache gelenkt wird, dass diese Blicke immer schon gespiegelt wurden?
HKW Berlin and digital, 25. – 26.09.2020
Former and current Bilderfahrzeuge Project Associates will take part in a conference accompanying the exhibition Aby Warburg: Bilderatlas Mnemosyne at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) (4.09. – 30.11.2020) in Berlin.
Exhibition. In the 1920s, Aby Warburg created his so-called Bilderatlas Mnemosyne, tracing recurring visual themes and patterns across time, from antiquity to the Renaissance and beyond. His approach provides inspiration for today’s visually and digitally dominated world. For the first time ever, all 63 panels of the Atlas have been recovered from Warburg’s original images and will be available to view in a special display at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) in Berlin.
Plaster casts are image vehicles par excellence. They can reproduce and multiply three-dimensional form, and serve the dissemination of visual ideas from one place to another; they can record lost stages of a work’s appearance, e.g. pre-completion, pre-damage, pre-destruction or pre-restauration. Often perceived as perfect one to one copies of the external form of a three-dimensional work, they can also accidentally or deliberately differ from what they reproduce, and with their white and even surface they can condition the perception of the works they represent. Thus, cast are also works in their own right, objects with their own history. Yet, for long, they proved rather evasive. Until recently, there have been few attempts to date them either through material or technical analysis. Given their status as copies, historicaly they were often not documented, and where archival references to casts exist, the objects under discussion are often either lost or impossible to identify beyond reasonable doubt. This situation is changing, as a recent exhibition at the Villa Medici in Rome (November 2019-March 2020) demonstrated
“On 1 August 1914, after all, the mobilisation was announced. Our Kaiser has proven himself so worthy that he could even lose the war without disgrace; what God may prevent.” Aby Warburg began his war journal of the years 1914–1918 with these words. He positions himself in line with the patriotism of the majority of his milieu of the bourgeoisie, supporting “our Kaiser”. In all the praise of the Kaiser, though, he underlines the uncertain outcome of the war, even the possibility of losing it— a notion present already in the very first sentence of this diary.