Gallery blog


Silver Stories

30 July 2014 by admin

FacebookTwitterEmailPinterest

Every object tells a story.

The Courtauld’s collection of 18th century silver is comprised of pieces designed and made by three generations of Courtauld silversmiths. They were the ancestors of Samuel Courtauld, one of the founders of The Courtauld Institute of Art.

New Silver Cases in room 4 at The Courtauld Gallery

Room 4, Installation View, The Courtauld Gallery

The silver has been redisplayed in new cases, thanks to the generosity of AkzoNobel, and now takes pride of place in Room 4.

Here are ten silver stories;

1.    Following French Fashion

During the 18th century, grand-scale dining in England closely followed French fashion. Successive courses were brought to the table – up to eight in France, only three in England – and each required dozens of dishes. These were set out in strict symmetry in the centre of the table, and diners helped themselves to what was within reach.

2.    Soups, Sauces and Sculpture

The popularity of new French foods such as soups and sauces required new shapes for serving dishes, such as the tureen and the sauceboat. This ornamented rococo tureen is a sculptural flight of fancy with naturalistic goats’ heads and delicately chased and chiselled flowers.

Detailed view of the lef of a Tureen, 1751-52, Samuel Courtauld I, The Courtauld Gallery, on loan from AkzoNobel.

Tureen (Detail), 1751-52, Samuel Courtauld I, The Courtauld Gallery, on loan from AkzoNobel

3.    A Hallmark Moment

A hallmark is a stamp guaranteeing the quality of the silver alloy and is still used today. The word derives from Goldsmiths’ Hall in the City of London, where in the 18th century silver pieces were brought to be tested and stamped.

4.    The Courtauld Women were fierce and successful in business

Louisa Courtauld, who ran the family business after her husband Samuel’s death in 1765, was one of a small number of successful women silversmiths in England at this time. Louisa Courtauld’s mark was an ‘LC’ set within a lozenge – the traditional shape for widows’ marks.

Detailed view of George III Cup and Cover by Louise Perina Courtauld showing the initials LC

George III Cup and Cover (Detail), 1765-66, Louise Perina Courtauld, The Courtauld Gallery, on loan from AkzoNobel

5.    A Chemical Reaction

The primary purpose of this two-handed cup was to show off its owner’s status and wealth. It would have been displayed along with other family silver. It was made as a posthumous tribute to the founder of modern chemistry, Robert Boyle (1627-1691) – most famous for Boyle’s Law and for inventing the vacuum chamber.

Viw of a Cup and Cover made by Augustin Courtauld around 1714, with inscriptions referring to Robert Boyle

Cup and Cover, 1714-15, Augustin Courtauld, The Courtauld Gallery, on loan from AkzoNobel

6.    Salt dishes

Like spices, pepper and mustard, salt was an essential condiment, and in formal table settings each diner would have had his or her own. The dolphin feet of these dainty salt dishes are suggestive of the sea, where salt originates.

Detail view of George II Pair of Salt Cellars (Detail), 1685-86, Augustin Courtauld, on loan from AkzoNobel

George II Pair of Salt Cellars (Detail), 1685-86, Augustin Courtauld, on loan from AkzoNobel

7.    Coffee vs Tea

In England tea drinking overtook coffee in popularity early in the 18th century. Reserved for affluent homes, tea was a luxury commodity. The Courtauld silversmiths specialised in domestic silver and benefited from this rise in tea-drinking. They were called upon to create an ever-increasing variety of shapes for tea canisters, caddies and sugar boxes.

View Tea kettle with stand, by Samuel Courtauld (1720-1765)

Tea kettle with stand, 1748-49, Samuel Courtauld, on loan from AkzoNobel

8.    Fox Mask Stirrup-cups

This kind of cup was used for drinking wine immediately before the start of the fox hunt. It was probably handed to a rider already mounted on a horse and with feet in stirrups, hence the cup’s name. Its shape was likely inspired by an Ancient Greek ceramic cup in the shape of a human or animal head, called a rhyton.

View of a Fox Mask Stirring Cup, Louisa Perina Courtauld (1729 - 1807)

Fox Mask Stirring Cup, 1773-74, Louisa Perina Courtauld & George Cowles, on loan from AkzoNobel

9.    Under lock and tea

Tea was precious and expensive commodity and was kept locked in chests, and ever more beautiful ones were made for it. This one is covered in shagreen, leather made from shark skin, a highly fashionable material during this period.

View of A sugar box and spoon, 1750-51, Samuel Courtauld, on loan from AkzoNobel

A sugar box and spoon, 1750-51, Samuel Courtauld, on loan from AkzoNobel

10.    Sugar and the Slave Trade

These objects are also part of the history of the slave trade, and the great profits to be made from it. Tea was imported into London by the English East India Company, and sugar from British plantations in the West Indies. The MP Charles Tudway, whose full length portrait by Gainsborough hangs in Room 4, made his fortune from sugar plantations in Antigua.

 

The new display of silver is now on display in Room 4.

Categories: 18th Century Silver, Collection | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Bruegel to Freud: Work in Focus

21 July 2014 by Rachel

FacebookTwitterEmailPinterest

Rachel Sloan, Assistant Curator of Works on Paper

View of the print by Jacques Callot, The Fan, 1619

Jacques Callot, The Fan, 1619

We’re used to thinking of prints as objects to be framed and admired on gallery walls, or kept in a portfolio and perused at leisure. However, that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Prints have been put to many different, and sometimes surprising, uses over the centuries: they’ve been used as maps, playing cards, and, in the case of this superb etching by Jacques Callot, as fans.

Callot (1592-1635) hailed from Nancy, in eastern France, although he spent the first part of his career in Italy. One of the most accomplished and innovative printmakers of his age, he soon found employment in the Medici court in Florence, where Grand Duke Cosimo II commissioned him to record – and enhance – the extravagant festivals and pageants for which both court and city were renowned.

One of these festivals was a mock battle staged annually on an artificial island in the River Arno by the rival guilds of weavers and dyers. In 1619, Cosimo asked Callot to design a fan to commemorate the event – the etched design would be printed, then cut out and stuck down on board before being distributed to 500 lucky spectators. (A thousand impressions were printed, so a large number of impressions – including this one – were never actually cut out and transformed into fans.)

As is often the case with Callot’s prints, the pleasure is in the details. Hundreds of tiny figures, their elegant costumes meticulously recorded, are massed along the riverbank, and the bridges, the battle itself and the distant city are depicted with exquisite care.

Detail view of Jacques Callot, The Fan, 1619 (banks of the river and bridge)

Jacques Callot, The Fan, 1619 (Detail)

Callot had initially trained as a goldsmith, something which no doubt honed his ability to render figures on a miniature scale – and it’s worth remembering that the two most time-honoured intaglio printmaking techniques, engraving and etching, both evolved from the goldsmith’s craft.

Callot embraced the freedom and ease of the etching technique (drawing a design with a needle on a wax-coated plate is much less laborious than painstakingly incising it) but he didn’t want to give up the elegance and control of the engraved line, which typically swells in the middle and tapers gracefully at each end.

He found the solution in a tool called an échoppe, whose oval head allowed him to achieve the same effect. You can see how skilfully he used the échoppe to achieve the swooping curves that form the borders of the fan.

One of the distinguishing features of many of Callot’s prints is their playfulness, and The Fan is no exception. On the curling scrolls that form the lower border are perched several small figures.

One of them, just right of centre, is glancing back over his shoulder and brandishing a fan. One of Callot’s?
Perhaps.

Detail View of Jacques Callot, The Fan, 1619 (man holding a fan)

Jacques Callot, The Fan, 1619 (Detail)

 

Bruegel to Freud: Prints from The Courtauld Gallery runs 19 June-21 September.

Categories: Collection, Displays, Prints | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment


Work in Focus from Impress: MA Curating Exhibition 2014

15 July 2014 by admin

FacebookTwitterEmailPinterest

By Charlotte North, MA Curating Student

 

In Impress: Print Making Expanded in Contemporary Art, now showing at The Courtauld Gallery until 20th July, we have defined ‘print making’ as any physical act of pressure that leaves behind an indent or impression. For us, prints can be conceptualised in this way whether or not their production has involved a printing plate, ink or paper.

Two Richard Long works displayed in Impress illustrate the pressure and physicality involved in this expanded definition of printmaking: A Line Made by Walking (1967) and River Avon Mud Hand Spiral (1984).

Installation view of A Line Made by Walking in Impress: Print Making Expanded in Contemporary Art. Photograph by Jack Cornish.

Installation view of A Line Made by Walking in Impress: Print Making Expanded in Contemporary Art. Photograph by Jack Cornish.

 

A Line Made by Walking was created through the method that its title suggests. In a field in Wiltshire, Long walked repeatedly along a patch of grass until his action produced a visible impression in the landscape. Long then photographed his performative—and otherwise transient—gesture, making it permanent as an art object.

Long’s use of his own body in the natural environment to create a work that was both ephemeral and enduring was considered to be radical at the time. In fact, A Line Made by Walking is still considered to mark a seminal moment in art history, particularly because of the important role it played in the development of British Land Art.

To create River Avon Mud Hand Spiral, Long collected mud from the River Avon near his hometown in Bristol. He then dipped his hand in the natural material and impressed it repeatedly to a sheet of paper in the form of an immense spiral.

Installation view of River Avon Mud Hand Spiral in Impress: Print Making Expanded in Contemporary Art

Installation view of River Avon Mud Hand Spiral in Impress: Print Making Expanded in Contemporary Art. Photograph by Jack Cornish.

 

When viewed in the gallery, River Avon Mud Hand Spiral expresses a powerful sense of dynamism and energy; the force in Long’s movements can be seen in the splatter effect that surrounds his handprints. The repeated action also suggests a ritualistic routine and a sense of determination or even urgency.

Despite being visually divergent, these works by Long reveal several key similarities: they were both produced through a physical engagement with the landscape; they make use of simple, geometric forms; and they are both impressions that have been brought about by the weight and movement of the artist’s body.

It is this latter aspect of the works that made them integral to our thinking when planning this exhibition. Long’s works are not considered to be prints in the conventional, media-defining sense of the term, but they are the results of very direct and physical acts of impression. They can therefore be understood as compelling examples of expanded print making in contemporary art.

 

Impress: Print Making Expanded in Contemporary Art runs until 20 July 2014.
Follow the MA Curating Instragram and Twitter.

Categories: MA Curating, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Courtauld Pairings

9 July 2014 by Hannah

FacebookTwitterEmailPinterest

What do Christ ascending to heaven and a Parisian trapeze artist have in common? 

Ivory diptych

Ivory diptych with scenes from the Childhood and Passion of Christ (see the full image)

Manet's 'A Bar at the Folies-Bergere'

Edouard Manet’s ‘A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (see the full image)

 

Suspension!

Can you think of any other ‘suspended’ works in our collection?

Leave a comment below, tweet us @CourtauldGall or find us on Facebook 

Categories: Collection | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment


Work in Focus from Impress: MA Curating Exhibition 2014

2 July 2014 by admin

FacebookTwitterEmailPinterest

By Jazia Hammoudi, MA Curating Student

Great Mosque, Samarra, Iraq is one of two superb blind embossed prints that the London-based artists Langlands & Bell generously lent for Impress: Print Making Expanded in Contemporary Art, on display in The Courtauld Gallery until 20 July.

The print is one of ten ground plans of famous mosques from around the world represented in the Enclosure and Identity portfolio. Langlands & Bell have long been interested in the socio-political implications of architecture. Dealing with religious buildings, along with political infrastructure, cultural institutions, and historic sites is part of their rich artistic practice.

View of Great Mosque of Samarra in Iraq. Courtesy of Langlands & Bell

Great Mosque, Samarra, Iraq. Courtesy of Langlands & Bell

Blind embossing, a kind of stamping without ink, creates visually subtle prints that emphasize texture and dimension.

In Great Mosque, Samarra, Iraq, this process accentuates the mosque’s precise geometry, making for an elegant, sculptural image.

As an example of print making expanded, it speaks to the ways that centers’ of worship organize our lives and communities, sometimes invisibly.

The prints in Enclosure & Identity use architecture to investigate how religious institutions, along with secular and political organizations, play a major role in structuring identity within societies and in global contexts.

A view of the Great Mosque of Samarra‘s minaret, Malwiyah. Image courtesy of Architecture & Design Website

A view of the Great Mosque of Samarra‘s minaret, Malwiyah. Image courtesy of Architecture & Design Website

On another note, displaying the architectural plan of this particular mosque feels particularly relevant in light of recent history. This historically significant building has been heavily damaged in recent years due to intermittent warfare.

It was commissioned by the Abbasid Caliph (head of state) Al-Mutawakkil in the 9th century, and is one of the largest mosques in the world, measuring 240 meters long by 160 meters wide. It is particularly famous for its spiral minaret, the Malwiyah — ‘snail shell’ in Arabic – which stands 52 meters high.

Part of the top of the Malwiyah, was bombed in 2006 during the Iraq War. As a result, UNESCO declared the city of Samarra, including the Great Mosque, a World Heritage Site in 2007. Hopefully it will remain intact and inspire artists for centuries to come.

 

Impress: Print Making Expanded in Contemporary Art runs until 20 July 2014.
Follow the MA Curating Instragram and Twitter.

 

Categories: Exhibitions, MA Curating | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

← Older posts