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Mobility and Artistic Exchange in the Long Eighteenth Century #2

8 December 2021, 3:00:00 am

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Session Convenors

Dr Matthew Martin, The University of Melbourne
Belinda Scerri, The University of Melbourne

Session Moderators

Dr Matthew Martin, The University of Melbourne
Belinda Scerri, The University of Melbourne

Session Speakers

Belinda Scerri, The University of Melbourne
Dr Ekaterina Heath, University of Sydney
Dr Emma Gleadhill, Macquarie University

In early modern Europe artists, collectors, and merchants served as cultural intermediaries. They facilitated the exchange not only of objects but of the ideas, technologies, and the social relations embedded within them. The resultant intercultural exchanges were not always comfortable or sympathetic interactions and their impact could be unpredictable, resulting in misunderstandings. The transfer of materials, styles, and techniques from one culture or country to another could also result in aestheticisation of objects, which elided the realities of intercultural conflict, and colonial trade and violence. These material exchanges also moved cultural artefacts of all kinds across time and space with their final resting place not always reflecting or revealing the circumstances of their original display and manufacture. This panel invites papers that explore the impact of artistic exchanges within Europe and around the world during the long eighteenth century (1643–1815), a period that saw an intensification of European economic, cultural and military encounters – and interventions – across the globe.

PAPER #1
Grotesque Fabrications: The Arab-esque in Régence Interiors

PRESENTER
Belinda Scerri, The University of Melbourne

This paper will examine the “arab”-esque in French régence interiors and its roots in Islamic Moorish and Roman art. Theriomorphic and vegetal motifs dominated interior decorative schemata and related decorative arts in early eighteenth-century. In the French context, arabesques borrowed from Moorish and Roman imagery but without reference to the original cultural context of the motifs which reflected Islamic aniconism and a world view that saw vegetal motifs and geometric patterns as concrete expressions of the infinite nature of God’s creations. Instead, French arabesques were a vehicle for the free flow of associations between classical subjects, chivalric imagery, and the popular theatre of the commedia dell’arte. Arabesques promoted slippage between ornament as play and ornament as edification. Claude III Audran was a key figure in the development of a new French ornamental vernacular and of a distinctly French style of arabesque embellishment. A detailed exploration of Claude III Audran's arabesque fresco for the comtesse de Verrue’s Parisian hôtel will examine the use of appropriated motifs in régence ornament and the ideological role of the arabesque.

PAPER #2
Portraits and the self: Kalmyk representation and self-representation of the in the late eighteenth century

PRESENTER
Dr Ekaterina Heath, University of Sydney

The subject of this paper is the kalmyk people who lived in the liminal zone between the Russian and Chinese empires during the long eighteenth century. They were very popular house servants, performers and 'children' in noble households in Russia in the eighteenth – early nineteenth century. By giving voices to the experiences of kalmyk migrants through an analysis their self-representations in art, material culture and archival documents, we aim to challenge the established narratives of imperial history to reveal the historical events from their point of view. The focus of this paper is the artist Fedor Kalmyk (1763 or 1765 – 1832), who was abducted by the Russian troops from his parents in the 1770s and sent to the court of Catherine II. He was subsequently “gifted” to the Weimar Princess and became a successful court artist in Carlsruhe. Kalmyk became famous for his work documenting the Elgin marbles during their removal and transfer to Britain. We will consider the two themes of gender and mobility to analyse the portraits and self-portraits of Fedor Kalmyk. We will argue for his portraits as statements of agency that have since been overlooked.

PAPER #3
Taking travel home: The souvenir culture of British women tourists, 1750-1830

PRESENTER
Dr Emma Gleadhill, Macquarie University

The subject of this paper is my forthcoming book, Taking travel home: The souvenir culture of British women tourists, 1750-1830, which will be published by Manchester University Press in their 'Gender in History' series in May 2022. Taking travel home provides a cultural history of the travel souvenir. It situates the souvenir at the crossroads of competing ideas of what travel stood for which were fought out amongst a rapidly growing constituency of British tourists between 1750 and 1830. Drawing from the theory of the souvenir as a nostalgic narrative instrument, the book uncovers how elite women tourists developed a souvenir culture around the texts and objects they brought home to realise their ambitions in the arenas of connoisseurship, science and friendship. Ultimately, it argues that souvenirs are representative of female agency during this period. For elite women, revelling in the independence and identity formation of travel, but hampered by polite models of femininity and reliant on their menfolk, the creation of souvenirs provided a way to prove their claims to the authority of the travelling subject.

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Biographies

Dr Matthew Martin, The University of Melbourne

Matthew Martin is Lecturer in Art History and Curatorship in the University of Melbourne.


Belinda Scerri, The University of Melbourne

Belinda Scerri is a doctoral candidate and sessional tutor in Art History at the University of Melbourne. Her dissertation examines the relationship between patronage and the ascendancy of the ornémaniste in early eighteenth-century Paris.


Dr Ekaterina Heath, University of Sydney

Ekaterina is an art and garden historian based in Sydney. Her research interests include the history of botany, architectural art and the cultural meanings of plants in European garden history. Her work examines the ways in which elite Russian women used plants, garden design and art to promote their agendas within the Russian court in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


Dr Emma Gleadhill, Macquarie University

Emma is a social and cultural historian based in Sydney, Australia. Her research interests are in gender, material culture and travel. Her work uses a methodology which is informed by material culture, literary and design theory, anthropological gift theory, tourism studies and the influential work of thinkers like Walter Benjamin and Susan Stewart to provide new perspectives on the history of the souvenir. Emma’s first academic monograph "Taking Travel Home: the souvenir material culture of British women tourists, 1770-1830", will be published by Manchester University Press in their "Gender in History" series in early 2022.