“Casanova: The Seduction of Europe” Symposium


– Good morning. I’m Eric
Lee, director of the Kimbell, and I am pleased to welcome
you to the opening symposium of our exhibition Casanova:
the Seduction of Europe, which explores the life and
times of the 18th-century Venetian Giacomo Casanova. I want to begin by stating
how thrilled we are to be hosting this
multi-faceted exhibition that draws from 45 institutional
and private collections from throughout the
United States and Europe. The show was organized by curators at the three presenting institutions, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and of course the Kimbell. Fort Worth’s C.D. Dickerson, now head of sculpture and decorative arts at the National Gallery
of Art in Washington, came up with the idea for the exhibition when he was still curator at the Kimbell. Since C.D.’s departure to Washington, George Shackelford has overseen
the project in Fort Worth. In San Francisco, former curator in charge of European paintings, Esther Bell, now at the Clark in Williamstown, her successor Virginia Brilliant and curators Martin
Chapman and Kurt Nickel have given their expertise to the project. Finally, in Boston, Art of
Europe Chair Frederick Ilchman, senior curator of decorative
arts, Thomas Michie, and Chair of textile and
fashion arts Pamela Parmal, assisted by Kourtney Harris, were responsible for the stewardship, the long process, and the assembly
of the exhibition catalog. It has been such a pleasure
working on the show with all of these people
and the other staff members of their institutions, and we’ll hear from some
of them this morning. And now I’m delighted
to welcome to the podium the Kimbell’s deputy
director, George Shackelford, who will introduce the symposium
and our speakers. George. (audience applause) – Thanks everybody, and
thank you for being out on a Saturday morning
at the end of August. We’re so delighted that you’re all here. We hope that most of you will
have had a chance already to see the exhibition, perhaps last night or just after we finish today. And we are very, very happy to be the opening venue of this exhibition, which has really entranced
everyone who has seen it. So I hope you will feel the same way. It’s my pleasure today to
first of all run through what we’re gonna do. Make sure your cell phone
is turned off please, if you haven’t already. And then I’m gonna tell
you the format of the day. First, there are gonna be two talks, then we’re gonna take a short break so you can get up and refresh yourself if you need to, for about 10 minutes. And then there’ll be three talks. And I’m gonna introduce
everybody right now. But there’ll be another
one of these picture slides so that you’ll actually
know who they are again when they come up to speak. So I’m George Shackelford, deputy director, and we are, let me see if I can figure out the techniques here. This is C.D. Dickerson, who’s Head of Sculpture
and Decorative Arts at the National Gallery of Art. C.D. trained at Princeton and
at the Institute of Fine Arts in New York City. And he is now curator, Head of
Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the National Gallery, having been here, cut his curatorial chops, as you will, here on exhibitions like the
Private Collections of Texas and, most importantly, Bernini Terracottas. Thomas Michie is the head of
Decorative Arts and Sculpture in the European Department
at the MFA Boston. Trained at Williamstown and at Yale, at Williams College and at Yale. He is a great expert on the 18th century. But the great thing about Tom is that he can take any
item of decorative art and know something about it from the dawn of the
medium up to the present, and he’s a real polymath in that regard. Pamela Parmal is the curator
of Textile and Fashion Arts at the MFA. She was trained in Wisconsin and at the institute, the
Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, and was previously a curator at RISD and has now been at the MFA Boston. All of these people have
been colleagues of mine, which is a really wonderful thing. And Pam did, just as an example, did a spectacular exhibition a few years ago in which in November she presented in Boston the fashions that had been on the
Paris runways in April. It was a phenomenal exhibition. It was basically taking
fashion and treating it as the contemporary art of the moment, it was superb. And she’s written for the catalog as well. Frederick Ilchman, who’s the
Chair at the Art of Europe, is a specialist on all things Venetian. He went to Princeton and
afterwards to Columbia, and he is a great expert
on the art of Tintoretto, but anything that has to do with Venice, from pigeons in the Piazza San Marco to glass blowing on the Island of Murano and where to eat, Frederick
is a great expert in, and he’s going to talk today
about Tiepolo and Canaletto. And finally Esther Bell
is the Senior Curator of the Clark Art
Institute in Williamstown, having previously been in
San Francisco and Cincinnati. She’s a graduate of Williams and of the Institute of Fine Arts in New York City, and she can
do for 18th-century France what Frederick can do for Venice. So she is gonna round us out this morning talking about Casanova in the
Paris of Madame de Pompadour. So these are our speakers in this order. We’re gonna have C.D.
and Tom talk to us first. Then we’re gonna have our break. And then Pam, Frederick, and Esther will close out the morning. So welcome them all, and I look forward to
hearing your reactions when you are in the exhibition. Thanks. (audience applause) – Thank you, George, and,
I must thank George especially for having wrangled my ideas into such brilliant shape across the way in the Kahn Building, and I thank all of you for coming out on this strange morning
with that hurricane coming up from the Gulf. The exhibition we’re here to celebrate introduces you to a man
who you may think you know but who in truth you do not. Ask the average person today
who was Giacomo Casanova, and you’re bound to receive a response that centers on words
such as womanizer and rake and that invites images of a
dapper 18th-century Venetian engaged in acts of passionate seduction or other kinds of risky business. It’s a roughly fair impression. To read Casanova’s some thousand pages of memoirs called History of My Life or Histoire de Ma Vie, in the original French, is to discover a man who was seemingly uninterested in presenting
a more dignified image of himself. Those pages, and I show two of them here, are filled with detailed,
often lurid descriptions of his many sexual conquests and the other kinds of shifty business in which he enjoyed
engaging, such as gambling. But this is also why the memoirs are such a startling work of literature, they are among the very
first autobiographies to present their subjects
in unblemished terms as who their authors
were, foibles and all, not as who their authors hoped to be. Now Casanova had many
undoubted hopes for himself that he failed to realize. These come into focus
with careful consideration of the less sensational
parts of the memoirs. The same candor with which Casanova wrote about his womanizing, he also wrote about nearly everything else that happened to him during his long life, and there were many bright spots, meetings with kings, queens, and popes, including Pope Clement XIII, far flung adventures in
all corners of Europe, from Venice to Dresden
to London and beyond. Debates with the great thinkers of his age, including Voltaire on the left, Jean-Jacques Rousseau on the right, audacious feats of cleverness including the founding of
the French National Lottery, as well as ambitious
literary achievements. He wrote here on the far left
a political science tract about the differences between the Dutch and Venetian government. At the center he wrote
a philosophical novel called the Icosameron and he also produced a translation into modern
Italian of the Iliad. These accomplishments, these episodes, must be taken into account to have any sense of who
the true Casanova was. I’ve got two objectives
with my talk today, the first is to pave the
way for my fellow presenters by giving you more of a sense
of who the real Casanova was with a biographical sketch. My second objective is
to answer a question that’s probably popped
into your mind already. Why Casanova as the subject
of an art exhibition? And it’s my hope that by the time I finish
my biographical review you’ll be well on your way
to answering that question for yourself. Now our story begins in Venice, seen here in this absolutely
exquisite painting which you’ll hear more about later by the premier 18th-century
Venetian view painter Canaletto. This painting was executed in 1738, just right at the moment that Casanova was becoming a teenager, and this was the world
in which he grew up. He was born in 1725 on
this little alley here, house off to the right, which sits just behind this
palazzo, the Palazzo Malipiero on the Grand Canal. It’s located in the San
Samuele district of Venice, you see the campanile of the
Church of San Samuele there. The other major feature
of this neighborhood was that it was home to
one of the great theaters in Venice, the Teatro San Samuele. And it was there that Casanova’s mother and Casanova’s father worked as actors. Although who Casanova’s
true father may have been according to rumors was the proprietor, the Patrician proprietor of the theater, the very wealthy Michele Grimani. In any case, Casanova
was essentially orphaned while he was young. His mother pursued her acting career by going off to the court in Dresden. Gaetano Casanova, the father, passed away, and he was entrusted into the care of his grandmother. It seems Casanova was afflicted with certain medical conditions while young; the grandmother decided that he needed a change of air, and she put him on a little boat that would have looked like this one here and floated him down the
Brenta Canal, from Venice to the university city of Padua at the age of nine, and entrusted him to the
care of a local abbot who began to cement his
intellectual foundations by schooling him in the classics as well as theology and church law. 12 years old, he matriculated
into Padua University, spent four years there,
learning ecclesiastic law, went back to Venice at that point and was tonsured as a priest, and he very much thought
he was going to lead an ecclesiastical career. So much so that his mother up in Dresden pulled in a favor and arranged for him to go work at a minor bishopric in the south of Italy,
where he headed in 1743. He got to this little
Podunk Town south of Naples, decided he wanted no
part of the priesthood, made a beeline up to Rome
at that point of time, seen here in these
beautiful view paintings by Panini and Bellotto, worked for a prominent
cardinal as personal secretary, also succeeded in intercepting
the reigning pope, Pope Benedict XIV. And it was during walks with the Pope that he very much revealed
his considerable powers as a conversationalist, inducing the pope to
laugh at his various jokes during their walks on Monte Cavallo. After a year in Rome,
he got it in his head that he wanted to see Constantinople. Went back to Venice,
joined the Venetian Navy, did an out-and-back to Constantinople, then came back to Venice
for a period of four years. One of the seminal things
that happened to him during this four-year stint in Venice is that he rescued a
very prominent Patrician named Matteo Bragadin, he was a senator. He rescued him from a heart attack and was able to convince the senator that he had special powers
as a medical doctor. Here is Casanova becoming the great con man that would get him so far in life. He also realized that senator Bragadin was susceptible to believing
in certain pseudo-sciences like alchemy, the belief
that base materials could be turned into gold. Here is a painter, painting
just from that moment by Venetian painter Pietro Longhi, showing someone who
looks like a Patrician, working with alchemists. Casanova made senator Bragadin believe that he had special powers as an alchemist, and Bragadin paid dearly for this. Started an allowance for Casanova that allowed him not only to gamble and get up to all sorts of trouble but also to travel. And he decided then and there that he wanted to skip
across Northern Europe and head off to Paris,
where he arrived in 1750. He arrived in the Paris of
King Louis the 15th, seen here on the left. His mistress Madame de Pompadour. We’ll hear much more about this world from Esther Bell momentarily. This is the kind of artistic riches that he would have found
in Paris at this moment. After two years in Paris,
delighting his senses, he came back to Venice by way of Dresden. And it was really during
this point in his life that while sowing his various oats he also worked his way
into serious trouble. One of his principle
places of troublemaking was at the public gaming hall, which is called the
Ridotto, you see it here, everyone wearing masks. Six months out of the year Venetians would go around masked, which obviously very much helped Casanova get up to various sorts
of naughty business. Not only was he mixing with foreigners, he was reading heretical poems at taverns, he invited the suspicions
of the state government, who sent a spy to follow him. And in 1755 he was pulled
into the Palazzo Ducale here and put into the great
prisons called the Piombi or The Leads, which were located up here under the roof of the Palazzo Ducale you see in this cutaway. And it was here that he
spent a year and a half. Immediately he resolved to escape. This was reportedly an inescapable prison and held great fascination
for the people at the time. But he did manage to
escape in October of 1756. You see an illustration from his book that he would later
write about the escape, climbing up onto the roof, coming back on the other side into a window he says, he
went back into the palace and was able to convince
a guard to let him out. He says he found his original clothes that he had been arrested in, dressed up like an aristocrat again and walked out the front door. Went out to the Grand
Canal, summoned a gondola, and quickly made it for the terra firma and then on back to
Paris, where he felt safe, where he was able to congregate
and mingle and socialize with the friends he had made
six or seven years earlier. One of the great things that
he did soon after arriving, and again it speaks to his
abilities as a con artist, was to go and meet the finance minister and to nod at all the appropriate times during the conversation to convince him that he knew some great financial scheme that would enable the founding of the
French National Lottery, and he ended up being credited with founding the French National Lottery and getting a substantial
cut of the profits, which made him a millionaire overnight. And it was during this period that he was able to hire
servants, to have a carriage, and to really live a great
luxurious life in Paris. It was also the time that he fell in love with the one woman who really
probably should have become his wife, that he would
regret much later on, the beautiful Manon Balletti,
who was the daughter of a prominent actress
Casanova knew at the time. But alas, as much as Manon loved Casanova, she realized that there was
no hope for a true marriage, she ended up marrying
the architect Blondel. As quickly as Casanova
had made his fortune, he lost it, as well, and he decided to go all over Europe through a great series of travels trying to sell the notion
of the national lottery, traveling all over Europe
during this six-year spell, down through Italy, all
through Central Europe. 1763, he would even go to London, try to interest King
George III in the notion of the national lottery, whom he met, but more typically he was
doing stuff like this. Which you can see in a great
Hogarth painting on the left and this one we’ve brought from the Yale Center of British Art just to show the kind
of debouched lifestyle that he very naturally
fell into wherever he was. He spent about nine months in London, decided to head first to Berlin, then all the way up to
Saint Petersburg, Russia, where he went to various balls, had various conversations with
Empress Catherine the Great. From there he traveled
back down through Moscow, through Central Europe, depicted in beautiful paintings we brought to the exhibition
by Bernado Bellotto of Dresden, which you see here. Eventually he went all
the way down to Madrid, but all part of the 40 thousand miles he traveled during the
course of his life, to Italy, where he began to sense
that there was hope that the Venetian government would give him a pardon and
allow him to come back to Venice, which in fact was granted in 1774. He went back to his hometown,
spent about 10 years there. Did a lot of writing
during this course in time, the translation of the Iliad. But he also angered a lot of people that had helped him previously, and the ruffled feathers that he caused eventually decided that a
much more comfortable place for him to live was Paris to where he went in 1783. But still he longed to
travel, to see Europe, to meet people. Went back to central Europe and ultimately, in 1785, a minor count with the last name of Waldstein,
who owned this residence in a minor principality in
modern day Czech Republic, in Bohemia then, offered him the position of court librarian. Casanova accepted the position, and it was here that he wrote the memoirs during the final decades of his life up until 1798, when he passed away. As he wrote his memoirs,
not only was he reflecting on all the great women he had had fun with during the course of his life, but he was also thinking
very much about the great men and women of learning, Enlightenment men who he
had met over the course of his time, from Benjamin Franklin, who he sat at a meeting of
the Parisian Science Academy and discussed hot air ballooning. Benjamin Franklin wasn’t so hot on hot-air ballooning, evidently. Samuel Johnson, the great literary figure of 18th-century Britain. They met in a tavern and
discussed the etymology of the word “committee,” which must have been fascinating. And then the great neoclassical painter, the German artist Anton Raphael Mengs, who I show here. And Mengs provides a convenient segway to the second part of my talk. Why Casanova as the subject
of an art exhibition? If you go purely by our
principle source for him, his memoirs, you’re right to wonder. They’re not very forthcoming on how he felt about art or even which paintings
or sculptures he saw. Takes a fair bit of work
to uncover his attitudes towards art and to reconstruct
his experiences with art. Careful analysis of his
interactions with artists such as Mengs provides some of
the most meaningful insight. Now Casanova struck up
a friendship with Mengs during the winter of 1760-61 in Rome. Casanova tells of going out
to the Villa Albani in Rome, which is seen here, and
watching Mengs at work on his great ceiling fresco of
Parnassus here on the right. Casanova expresses
admiration over the fresco while also casting his eyes around all of the ancient sculptures
that filled the villa, and this is one of the preeminent
antiquities collections in all of Rome. The language he uses to
describe the antiquities very much suggest a man not
only with sophisticated taste but also with the knowledge
to back those tastes. The person responsible
for introducing Casanova to Mengs was also an artist, and an artist whom Casanova
knew extremely well, his own brother Giovanni Battista Casanova. Giovanni Battista was born in Dresden but spent his maturity in Rome, where he was a pupil, collaborator, and housemate of Mengs. Now to be perfectly
honest, Giovani Batista was a totally middling artist, which cannot be said about Casanova’s other
brother, Francesco Casanova, who we’ve represented in the exhibition with these two really fantastic paintings, very large, that illustrate
the perils of travel in the 18th century. Francesco Casanova’s real
claim to fame, though, the genre where he specialized,
was battle paintings, and he was talented
enough to win a position at the court of King Louis the 15th. Later in life he would travel
throughout Eastern Europe securing commissions from
Empress Catherine the Great as well as many other
distinguished art patrons. He was also a fine draftsman to judge by this drawing, which is one of our very few recordings of Casanova’s likeness. This must have been executed
by Francesco of his brother when the two of them
were together in Paris when Casanova was about 25 years old. Just as you might imagine, handsome and brimming with confidence. Now the fact that Casanova knew artists and seems to enjoy their company cannot mean that he
was totally indifferent to the aesthetic, visual world that he passed through. The question for us
though is whether or not he shaped that world meaningfully enough to earn the right to be the
subject of an art exhibition. He certainly didn’t shape
that world as a collector. His peripatetic lifestyle
made it impossible for him to be a traditional
collector of paintings and sculptures, although
he had a definite interest in miniature portraits, the kind of things he could
quickly tuck into his pockets or put in a suitcase when
he had to go on the fly from city to city. He especially enjoyed exchanging
these miniature portraits with lovers, and a famous example concerns a nun with whom he was enamored. He tells of giving her
a miniature portrait in which he was disguised
as the archangel Gabriel, she was the virgin Mary and
acting the annunciation, and in exchange she gave him a snuff box, perhaps something like
this where you open it up and you see her in a sacred guise, but there must have been
a clever locking mechanism that only he could get into and then revealed her in a profane guise; and it might have been
quite a racy profane guise, as was suggested up here. Casanova was totally in the mainstream of European society in
the sentimental value that he attached to
these portable mementos of affection. But again their likenesses
only had to be so accurate, which suggests the fact
that they were probably only secondarily works of art to him, and indeed he never
mentions any of the artists who made these things for him. So no, it’s not because Casanova
was some great collector that we decided to mount this exhibition. Our principle motivation
came from the fact that Casanova provides an incomparable lens for observing many of
the highest achievements of European art of the 18th century. He went everywhere, he knew everybody, he seems to have gotten up
to practically everything. We can use landscapes of the period to visualize the places that he went. We can use the portraits of the period to meet the people he met, and we can use genre paintings like these to come to grips with his experiences. And it’s fascinating, the extent to which so many genre paintings from the time almost seem to be as though
they’re pulled directly from the memoirs. Again a painting by Pietro Longhi, here on my right. And you have a Franciscan friar or monk who has come to this workshop, embroidery or needlepoint workshop,
being presided over by this attractive Patrician lady. Clearly he’s using the disguise
of innocence of his garb to catch a glance down her cleavage. Casanova tells an exact same story of him when he was a young
priest in a priest guard going to a young group of girls who were practicing their needlepoint and trying to use his cloak
of innocence, as it were, to be able to seduce them. On the right, a frolicking
scene of lovemaking by Fragonard, an exact
contemporary of Casanova’s. Again, that could illustrate
many of the episodes in the memoirs. But what of those works of
art from the 18th century that are not genre. How does Casanova bear on them? It’s easy enough to look at
the Longhi or the Fragonard and claim a relevance to Casanova, but what about a work of mythological painting or a gilded bronze wall
sconce, such as this. How does Casanova bear on them? And I’d like to use my remaining
time to make the argument that not only did Casanova
live a life surrounded by art, by paintings such as this, decorative arts such as this, but also that so much of
the art that was produced during this period was
about impressing individuals like Casanova. Casanova’s role as a crucial audience for certain kinds of 18th-century artists, particularly well revealed
through his relationship by the man I show over here on the left, Cardinal Pierre de Bernis. He was made in 1752 the
French ambassador to Venice and comes to Venice in 1752, and he occupies this palace
in the Cannaregio district of Venice, which was the French embassy. Bernis understood well that
diplomacy and statesmanship was largely a game of appearances. The party who looked the strongest was the party who held the
advantage in negotiations. Bernis put this principle into practice by ensuring that his residences
were lavishly decorated, as befitted a representative
of King Louis the 15th. Documents describe the elaborate makeover that he gave to the
French Embassy in Venice shortly before his arrival. Paintings, sculptures,
but above all furniture and decorative arts. The rooms may not have
risen to the same level of sumptuousness as these, which are among the best
surviving from 18th-century Venice, on the left, from the Ca’Rezzonico, on the right, from the Palazzo Pisani, but they still give some idea of Casanova’s experience of
walking into the French Embassy and feeling the weight, the honor of meeting the great statesman Bernis, who would actually become a
close friend of Casanova’s. This was thanks to a tangled web of love that he wove with Bernis
that involved two nuns. I don’t have time to go into the details but they are great, great details, so I encourage you to read
that part of the memoirs. In 1755, Bernis was called
back from Venice to Paris to become the minister of foreign affairs, the secretary of state. And Casanova would follow two years later, arriving in 1757, and one of the first things he did was to go call on his old friend Bernis, who warmly welcomed him
at this building here, the Palais Bourbon, which is where Bernis kept one of his many residences in Paris including at Versailles. This
is the Palais Bourbon now, it’s the French National Assembly across from the Place de La Concord. So it was in this building
here, the Palais Bourbon, that Bernis and Casanova met. We can be sure that it happened against a resplendent backdrop
of paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts. Bernis brags in one letter of having spent the considerable
sum of 200 thousand francs to decorate his apartments, and
we have eye-witness accounts telling us that they were
some of the most magnificent that had ever been seen in Paris. Unfortunately, no inventories
survive of the apartments, but we can sure that they bore the taste of Madame de Pompadour,
the King’s mistress. She was responsible for Bernis’s rise, she was the leading tastemaker at court, and he was completely,
sort of, besotten to her. I just show some of these images here, period rooms taken from museums in America, to give you some idea
of that Rococo aesthetic and of the kind of room where this meeting might have taken place. Although Casanova may not have picked up that he was sitting in a room that reflected the taste of Pompadour, he surely recognized that
his material surroundings were charged with an elegance appropriate to the man in front of him, and this was precisely the
reaction that Bernis sought. However sincerely he may
have loved his works of art for the inventiveness of their designs, for the brilliance of their workmanship, the main reason he collected
was similar to Pompadour’s, the recognition that art
could be a powerful agent of public and personal relations. At this point in time, when
Casanova had this meeting, again he very much
focused on the fact that this wasn’t Pompadour’s taste, but it was what Bernis was
trying to signal to him as minister of foreign affairs, that he was supremely cultivated, that he was sophisticated,
and he also wanted to signal that he had the power that
his royal office conferred, and it wasn’t up to diplomats
to discern this message. Casanova as a kind of courtier, or in other words, as a person
who made it his business to go around and curry favor
from the rich and powerful, were in the intended audience. All across Europe, men and women at court,
from kings and queens to ministers like Bernis, were using art to mediate the relationships
that were at the heart of court business. And again courtiers like Casanova were part of this dynamic. Among the reasons they were
invited to court functions were to experience the luxury on display, to also solidify their place
in the social hierarchy, but also to realize and
to see their loyal service through the promise of rich rewards. Casanova wasn’t expected to
go into a room such as this and be able to name all
of the artists represented or to sit down at a great banquet and be able to discern
between whether it’s Meissen or Sèvres porcelain. But he was expected to go into a room and to be filled with wonderment at the cumulative effect of
the art that surrounded him and that played as a
backdrop to the complex game of one-upsmanship that
was the courtier’s calling, a game that Casanova played
extremely, extremely well. So yes, according to modern standards this would mean that
Casanova’s appreciation for art did not run very deep, but it also underscores
the considerable extent to which so much of the art produced during Casanova’s age was intended to produce precisely this effect. As you step into Casanova’s shoes and walk through the exhibition, we hope that you’re filled
with a similar sense of wonderment and that
you’re especially seduced by those spaces where we’ve
intentionally brought together paintings, sculpture, fashion,
and the decorative arts to create some of these great environments that we know Casanova would definitely have been impressionable to. Thank you. (audience applause) – Good morning to all. Allow me to hasten and add my thanks to the
staff of the Kimbell, to Eric Lee and George
Shackelford in particular. It’s no mean feat to have wrangled guest curators from afar to come, and yet it’s an enormous
treat for all of us, I think, I’m speaking here for my colleagues, to see the exhibition realized, the planning of which has been
going on for several years. George invited me this morning to speak about the lust for luxury. Now I have to say that’s
not a natural assignment for someone from Boston, and, in fact, it feels
downright alien in some ways, although since I was
introduced as knowing a little about a lot, although not about pigeons, I’m very glad to really present here three case studies. We are departing from Casanova per se, and I am going to basically
lead a diving expedition into three different
materials, as you see here of silver, gilt bronze, and gold. We have a selection of superb objects in the exhibition of all these materials, and it’s my pleasure to try
to build a context for them and to explicate why they were chosen and why they’re worthy of your attention. The exhibition is beautifully installed in ways that allow you
to look pretty closely at many different kinds of objects. On the screen here is one
of those rare portraits of an 18th-century craftsman. This is Thomas Germain,
a silversmith in Paris. He was already a third
generation silversmith by the time this portrait, which is now at the Gulbenkian, was painted in 1736. He’s shown, even more remarkably perhaps, in his studio, evidently in the process of modeling the ornament in wax on the shoulder of a great silver ewer, and then with his left hand,
he’s pointing up the shelf, where you see what looked
like clay and metal and silver models, among them a remarkable candlestick. I’m showing you an example by him that’s at the Detroit
Institute of Arts today, and it’s one of those inventive designs, as we’ll see, of figures entwined, a kind of original creation,
although the progeny of Baroque design. Next to him is his wife, herself the child of a silversmith, and she was also his business partner. And she is posed tellingly with her hand on a business ledger and
also with an ink well. When Thomas, this man, died in 1748, his son of 22 years of
age, Francois-Thomas, our hero from now on, when I say Germain, it’s really Francois-Thomas,
his son, that I’m referring to. He inherited the workshop
with 80 craftsmen, certainly the most successful and prominent in Paris at the time. Most important, as C.D. has suggested, in terms of appearances and rank, he inherited his father’s title, sculptor and goldsmith to the king. So that was a royal appointment
from Louis the 15th. However, he was only 22,
and until he reached his majority at the age of 25, he was obliged really to be in business with his mother, as he was. Perhaps in view of his youth, the king was, not surprisingly,
wary is perhaps too strong, but he was turning to other craftsmen, older craftsmen I should say, to fill a lot of prestigious royal orders. Under the circumstances, that left Germain free really to work with private clients and to secure a near monopoly on providing silver for
other European courts, as we’ll see. Since the 1720s, the royal appointment came with an apartment at the Louvre. These were residential quarters, 10 rooms, in what is today the Grand
Gallery of the Louvre, and it was opposite and overlooking a small church of San Louis de Louvre, a building that Thomas,
the father, had designed and where he was buried. In addition, the King
granted Germain a workshop, circled there in the lower right, a freestanding building, and that was where the
silver was produced, shown here in a map. You’ll see
throughout our presentations the great perspective map of 1739. After a theft of the workshop in 1763, and it is often misfortune
which prompts the documents that are so revealing to historians, Germain declared that his workshop included 50 or more workers, that means 50 benches,
probably, where people were hammering away. And the next year it was 80, although that may have
included outside craftsmen whom he subcontracted. Other sources, ambassadors
of those foreign courts that commissioned silver, record as many as 120
workers under his supervision at the height of his powers in the 1750s. Equally important, as we saw in the, so yes, a big workshop
and workers help you achieve those orders, but the
key to a craftsman’s success, really, are the models, and
in case of silversmiths, sometimes molds or dyes
or casting patterns. These were as precious,
almost, as the silver, and these were kept,
as you saw, on the shelf above him, but also, we
learned, in the residence. A good example of those, of the enduring value of those molds, over more than one generation, as we’ll see, is provided by this
tureen in the upper left, produced by the father in 1733 from, it’s known as the
Penthièvre-Orléans service, it’s really the last surviving
royal French silver service, most of these were melted
down to support wars. His son Francois-Thomas
created the centerpiece in the lower right. This has really earned the nickname of the Machine d’Argent,
The Silver Machine, and it’s simply a centerpiece, commissioned in 1754. Both are remarkable
for their virtuoso skill, it’s all about casting and finishing to create lifelike surfaces. In silver, this is difficult to do, I’m not a silversmith but I can assure you that’s a lot of hammering and chasing, which is sculpting of silver. But as you see here, they
really used the same molds, although they’re more than 20
years apart in the manufacture. So father and son. A year after the duke’s
commission to create the Machine d’Argent in November of 1755, there was a catastrophic
earthquake in Lisbon. The royal palace, which
you see on the right here, was badly damaged, enough so that it was never rebuilt. And what was lost, as well
as a lot of the contents, as often happens with earthquakes, fire followed the tremor, so it
was a complete disaster. But lost in this catastrophic event was more than a ton, and I don’t now remember the
contemporary measuring unit, but it was 1.5 tons,
I’ve recorded, of silver, which the Portuguese
court had commissioned from Germain’s father. The king, here on the left, Joseph the First of Portugal,
lost no time in taking steps to replace the lost silver. Today, in Lisbon, you
see among the finest gatherings of royal French silver, because most of the royal French silver has been melted down. Here in the exhibition is one of the stars, in my opinion. It’s not that large but
it’s extremely beautiful, in the section on dining. It’s part of an enormous service that the king, whom I just showed you, commissioned in the 1750s. In fact, part of four services, the largest commission
that Germain ever received. It’s of wonderfully inventive design. After all, it’s really the
boat-shaped bowl at the top which holds sauce for your meat. And yet, imagine the presence this has on a table, and almost every surface
is reflecting the light or twisting in space, or penetrated by light and shadow. It’s really as alive as silver can become or, as we’ll see in a
minute, gilt bronze too. Essentially we have scrolls
swinging down, swinging up, and then celery stalks and
leaves form the handles, and then they’re entwined,
somewhat improbably, maybe wilted celery, to form
the base supporting it. So it’s organic, and it’s sculptural, and it’s an original design, and also rather gives us bragging rights here, because it’s one of
only two of the service that still retains its base. I’ve tried to emphasize the virtuosity that it takes to create
silver of this kind, less so in ceramic. And I think the silversmiths
that I have known in my time as a curator are often green with envy that ceramists can just throw a pot, and if they don’t like the form they can throw it back
and quickly raise another on the potters wheel or with their thumbs to model the surface. And I show you two ceramic sauce boats from almost exactly contemporariness
with the silver one. On the left, one produced
at the Vincennes factory designed by Duplessis, one of the great designers
of the mid-century. And then on the right,
another one of Mennecy, soft-paste porcelain. But the point is here they are also forms alive in space and great
sculptural presence, and I would argue a lot
easier to execute in clay, but the finished product
no less astonishing. Here, just to put it in context, these are some of the
other surviving pieces from the Lisbon commission, a tureen at the upper left, a dish cover of folded cabbage
leaves at the upper right, a kind of hunt, piling on
of dogs and French horns and game and prey in the lower left, all of that just to be lifted off to reveal the hot dish underneath, and then two of 48 candelabra of the kind that Germain’s
father was pointing to. The fate of this Portuguese service was not exactly happy, because shortly before Napoleon invaded Portugal, the Braganza court really fled with all its silver, thank
you very much, to Brazil. And then before long Brazil became its own independent nation, and at that point the silver was divided between the thrones of
Brazil and of Portugal, and then a lot of it came back to Portugal, but some of it escaped out onto the market, and if you look at that sauce boat in the exhibition, you’ll
see the coat of arms of Pedro the First, the
emperor of Brazil at the time. News of the Portuguese service, it was extraordinary, it was huge, three thousand pieces. News traveled fast. And here is Empress Elizabeth of Russia. Everyone, including Russia’s court, looked to Paris to set the
example for all the arts, really, and Empress Elizabeth was not alone in wanting the latest
statement of Paris fashion at her court. So in 1760, after the
Portuguese commission, she ordered a large dinner service from Germain, known today
as the Paris service. And I just remind you, whether
it was in the winter palace, shown above, unfortunately redesigned by Catherine the Great, who didn’t approve of her forebearer’s frilly Rococo taste, or at Tsarskoye Selo, in the bottom right, of a great gilded dining chamber, you have to imagine the
extent of silver glittering in this context. In our exhibition is
simply one second course dinner cover, with again a
floral still life at the top, commissioned as part of that Paris service and delivered, sounds
almost like Casanova, reaching Saint Petersburg
via Vienna in two shipments. The tureens came later, because the King of France
wanted to examine them, and actually Germain displayed them to the public in his Paris lodgings. The role of dish covers in dinner is suggested by this table diagram for a royal banquet. Showing you all the guests’
plates around the perimeter and then the various dish
covers in the middle. This is part of the tradition of dining known as Service à la Francaise, or as George reminded me,
better known as family style, where all the, thank you, George, where all the food arrives on
the table at the same time. It’s not servants behind each chair ducking back to the side board, refilling your glass or
plate and coming back and probably interrupting. It’s much more informal, and I think leads to better conversation, certainly leads to better portion control, as you can help yourself to what’s around. More in scale with the
services I’m talking about is this table’s plan from around 1770. I count 50 guests around the perimeter, and I think there down
the middle you can see the kind of glorious centerpieces, which barely survive today, and then bumping in
here with almost garlands are candelabra around the perimeter. Here is what Empress Elizabeth received in the Paris Service, and if you were to use PowerPoint
and take away the gilding, this would be identical to
what the King of Portugal had received. So two dueling monarchs,
not really dueling, but two competing courts, both turning to Germain
from across the continent for grandeur. Chapter two of this talk
really deals with gilt bronze, and in the exhibition, I have to say, these are probably among
those objects that C.D. evoked that Casanova would have lusted for, of two three branch wall lights that curl in space, the
branches intertwine, their berries, their
mosses, they’re practically as alive as metal can be. Although not marked, they’re undoubtedly by a master of one of the guilds in Paris, which was known as the fondeurs-ciseleurs, or founder chasers. So they could cast bronze and they
could also manipulate its surface in chasing. These are among the largest size that money could buy in the 18th century, and they are remarkable
for having parrots, nearly life-size, emblems of fidelity, incorporated into the branches. Where you need to look closely though is at the surface around them, cause I keep mentioning chasing, this is a way of carving
into the surface combined with gilding and then polishing or burnishing in different areas. Some of it left matte, others left highly polished, and the goal is to catch
the light in different ways, and you have to remember it’s candlelight that’s doing this, so the flickering light
catches what it looks like, a flickering surface. And yet, there is the model known in France of these two chandeliers,
which had belonged to Madame de Pompadour. They had been in her
chateau, purchased for her by Louis the 15th as a gift, known as Élysée Palace and then moved to the
Bibliotheque Mazarine, where they are today at
the Institute de France. In the bottoms there you can see parrots, and yet up close, which I haven’t seen, but I’m very pleased to acknowledge the help that I have received in preparing these remarks
by Angela from Valvets, who’s here today. She has been so methodical and thorough in investigating comparable examples to try to interpret and identify, we hope, the master of these wall lights and to really help me to
look at what sets them apart from the others. On the balance, the chandeliers,
though undoubtedly grand and expressive and sculptural, the actual finishing of the surface as we have upstairs, is not as fine. In the most general way, I think it’s helpful to
remind you that candlelight was very important in interiors, and wall lights were integral to the architecture of rooms. And here, as C.D. did, I’m showing you a period room
from the Metropolitan with the full repertory of lights. Wall lights, chandeliers
suspended from the ceiling, and then tabletop candlelights. Here just to run through some
of the leading competitors in quality and size that contribute to our
understanding of our own lights, from Boston, is one that the daughter of Louis
the 15th bought. She was the, known as Madame Infante but also the Duchess of Parma, and here I’m showing you
the Palazzo Colorno in Parma, where these wall lights were installed. They were ordered from Caffieri, one of the great bronze artists in Paris, who ran with this idea of
entwined branches and parrots, and these were some of
the few documented lights that we have by maker. Also today another set by
a different artist, Germain, who we’ve introduced
already, are at the Getty, and these were from the Palace Royal, not the Palace Bourbon where Bernis was, but across the river, today
you know the Palace Royal, And these are the royal apartments, in this case the Duc d’Orléans
who commissioned them. What Angela helped me to do in here in the magic of PowerPoint, I’m able to array comparable examples, those by Germain from the Getty, Caffieri at Parma, and then a very similar
pair in the lower left from the Rijksmuseum and a later pair of
about same date of ours from the Metropolitan. This becomes a connoisseur’s game. When they’re not marked,
all you’re left with are your eyes and your instincts and a kind of visual reference
bank of what you’ve looked at to evaluate the surfaces and
the quality in the execution. Here just a couple of details to remind us how, just how lifelike the ones in the exhibition,
which are on the right, are. The sockets which twist
up, there’s the bottom of the candle there at the
top in the right-hand slide, and then the curling leaves,
they’re not bad on the left, these are by great artists, but those on the right
I think are superior. Chapter three quite quickly
is the role of gold. There’s nothing like gold. And in our exhibition, we have a selection of gold boxes, and in some ways those
are the private luxury, which was well understood
in the 18th century, I think far less well understood today and difficult to present in a lively way in museum exhibitions. These things call out
to be held in the hand, it’s a very seductive thing, not just ’cause they’re
gold, but they’re heavy, they make a nice kind of thunk sound when the lid closes, they’re beautifully constructed,
beautiful materials. In the 18th century, one had
only to produce a snuff box and take a pinch of snuff from a box like the one here in the lap of Louis the 15th’s
private secretary. By doing that you already
automatically signaled wealth, status, and taste. And snuff was a wealthy man’s habit, it replaced smoking, which
I think gradually became known as a sort of low-brow activity. So snuff is ground tobacco that you take a pinch of in your nose, and it needs to be kept dry, which is why boxes are so important. In the exhibition you’ll
see the best of Paris and the best of London. Paris is on the left, London’s on the right. Parisian goldsmiths would
look at the box at the right and just say tsk tsk, I think, because the hinge, as you see
sticking out there to the right, is not so artfully concealed as it is in the Paris box on the left, you’ll have to take my word for it. But what’s so subtle about these, well there’s nothing subtle about gold, rubies, and diamonds, but what is subtle about
them is different colors of gold, using gold alloys as almost a painter’s pallet, and then the incorporation
of these other materials like the Paris box on the left with mother of pearl. Friends that I have shown
the box on the left to say, gosh if you’d told me
that was from the 1920s I would have believed you. So that’s just a gorgeous design with rare materials executed
at the highest fashion. As C.D. mentioned, these
were tokens of affection, the box on the right, if
you look very closely in the exhibition, you’ll see that white band around it, which translates:
the hope of your fidelity is my greatest happiness. So wishful thinking, I’m not sure Casanova would have expressed that sentiment, but he might have given the box. Just quickly, different kinds of boxes, with different surface treatments. This is a gold box, with enamel that rests on the surface. I think it’s a miracle that it’s in such beautiful condition, and then I wanted to suggest that snuff and snuff taking, just like smoking and other bad habits, becomes the stuff of
parody in its own right. And here is Hogarth again, Marriage A-la Mode, the Earl Squander on the right is holding his long, trailing family tree. He’s reviewing the marriage
contract of his daughter, who’s there in conference
in the back corner with Silvertongue, the young lawyer, but most important, in the left corner is the Viscount Squander, who’s taking a pinch of snuff, like the slide I just showed you, but admiring himself in the mirror, like the dandy on the right, and I think snuff and snuff taking becomes associated with dandies, like the Bath Adonis admiring
the idol of his affection, i.e. himself, on the right. Snuff boxes were
important diplomatic gifts, and I think also were a form of currency. It was bad form, rather tacky, if a monarch gave an ambassador cash, but if you gave them a
beautifully wrought gold box, I think it was almost
intended that those would be taken down to the local
jeweler and perhaps exchanged. They would have, in this
case, Catherine the Great, a miniature included,
the surface looking a lot like the latest fashionable dress fabric and then to show you the great artist that designed them on the left, a page from a book at the
Victoria and Albert Museum. Perhaps more subtle because
I do think it’s helpful, or I hope it’s helpful, that I have encouraged you
to look at the technique in materials is a box on the right. It’s nifty that it includes
a portrait miniature of Madame de Pompadour, but I think what interests
me is the surface effect, which the French would call guierche, and that’s the pleated
look but it’s under enamel, and it’s achieved by a lathe such as the one you see on the right and metal samples below. And a cam shifts the point
of cutting in different ways to create either a geometric pattern or this wavy pattern. Then when you put enamel over the top and fire that, it becomes glassy, but the mystery rainbow-
like effect underneath is difficult to understand if you don’t know the tool that creates it, so it’s a lavish surface. And to be fair these are Swiss
knockoffs of Paris designs, but very beautiful in their own right. Finally I toyed with what
small luxury object to show, I was tempted to show you
the silver spittoon upstairs, but that seemed too obvious. One I love is a spyglass. This is a telescope, the bottom
there sitting on its foot, that pulls out, becomes a spyglass, but only if you flip the watch at the top to expose the lens at the other end. I show it in conjunction
with an operatic performance to suggest that it was just
as important to be seen as it was to see. And I think the act of using a spyglass to check out from balcony to balcony was as important as it was to
know who was in the balcony, and here this again like a snuff box is that kind of intimate luxury object. Was it useful? Partly. Can you see very well with
the telescope? Not really. But it was the act of holding it up and scoping out the fashionable quarters that I think was very important and so to suggest as
Casanova well understood, the action among the boxes was just as important as
the performance on stage. Thank you very much. (audience applause) – Okay, y’all had 15 minutes instead of 10. So would everyone please
take their seat again, and we’ll begin the second
part of this morning’s program with three talks from Pamela Parmal, Frederick Ilchman, and Esther Bell. So will you welcome them all. (audience applause) – Good afternoon, everyone. Like Tom Michie, I wanna add my thanks to everyone here at the Kimbell Museum, especially Eric Lee
and George Shackelford. I had such a very warm welcome and had such a great time
exploring the building and learning more about it, it’s been a really
wonderful week to be here. I’d also like to thank the
curators of the exhibition who brought me in to work
on the costume additions that you’ll see in the show. It was a great pleasure to go through the Museum of
Fine Arts, Boston’s collection and choose the costumes in the show, accessorize them, and finally
oversee their dressing. And this is kind of a
small bit of the exhibition, but I think you would be
amazed at how much work went into doing that. And I think it points to
the fact that clothing in the 18th century was very different than the garments we wear today, and the culture around clothing
was also very different, and that’s what I’d like
to talk to you about today in the half an hour that I have. Number one, the types of garments worn were very different. The expensive clothing was very different, and the culture around
clothing was different, especially issues of hygiene, deportment, as well as how clothing
served as a key to status, and that’s a subject
you’ve heard a lot about today already is how
important art and clothing are to establishing someone’s status. And to start this talk,
called Dress and Undress, I’m gonna start with the undress portion. And start with the two basic undergarments that were worn by men and women. For women, on the right you
see a woman in a chemise, this was the first garment that was put on and I think almost never taken off unless you changed one for the other. On the left you see a man in a shirt and what are under-breeches, which were linen breeches that were worn underneath the silk or wool breeches. And these were the basic undergarments. And it’s interesting,
I came across a phrase in doing the research for this talk, it’s a French phrase called nue en chemise, which means naked in your chemise. And I learned in the 18th century that people perceived someone in the chemise as being naked. So they were akin to each other. So I think when you see pictures like this in the exhibition and on the screen, in the 18th century, they
would have been perceived very differently. To us these figures look clothed, in the 18th century they
would have appeared naked to the viewer. Now the chemise and shirt were made of linen fabric. They were a very practical garment, but they were also important
in a number of different ways and clues to the status of the individual wearing them. As I said, traditionally made of linen. The quality of the linen,
the finer the linen, the more expensive the linen, the higher status of the
individual wearing them. That was quite key. They also were an important garment, they played a role in
hygiene during the period. People did keep themselves clean, but bathing was very difficult. There was a real lack of
running water, lack of plumbing, so if you wanted to bathe, you had to carry all
the water in, heat it, put it in the tub, and then carry it all
out again of the house, so people did not bathe very regularly. What they did was kind
of take a sponge bath, clean themselves with cloth, and really what became
a sign of cleanliness was white linen. So you worked very hard
to keep your linen clean and white, and the more often
you changed your linen, the higher status and
the cleaner you appeared. So the number of shifts or chemises and shirts that you owned
were again a sign of status. Madame de Pompadour’s probate inventory lists that she had 110 chemises. She also had five chemise de bain, which were bathing chemises. As I said they rarely took them off, and they even bathed in the chemise. And the shirt, too, was
the same thing for men. A young man from the town of Provence, of who Daniel Roche, who
wrote about everyday life in 18th-century France, wrote that this young man, of a fairly well-to-do family, had at least 32 shirts,
which he at one point sent off to be washed and laundered. So laundry itself was complicated, again because of the lack
of running water issues. So being able to wear clean linen again, that’s the sign of status. They were also very practical in the sense that, as
the first garment put on, they actually protected the outer garments, which were usually made of silk or wool, from the oils and dirt of the body. And because they were linen,
they could easily be washed. So they were a very
important part of dressing during the 18th century. And just to give you a
sense of what laundry day might be like, I couldn’t resist putting in
one of these Dutch paintings. It’s the 17th century, but it gives you a sense of laundry day. All of the white linens
would be taken out, they’d be often boiled, scoured, and then set out to dry in the sun to help bleach them to really
bring out the whiteness. And I love kind of tracing
the kind of puzzle pieces in the laundry. You can actually pick out
the shifts and the shirts amongst all of the other cottons or linens that were
being washed at the time. Now on top of, for women, they
had the basic undergarment, the chemise, but they also wore kind of foundation or shaping garments that would give shape
to the outer garments, and throughout the 18th century, women wore a kind of corset or what was known in England
at the time as stays. They were a heavily boned garment that really gave women
a kind of cone shape that dresses were actually pinned to to keep them in place. Dresses were actually fit to the stays and not to the actual body by the dressmakers of the period. The stays were actually made by tailors, because they were very, you
needed a really strong hand in order to stitch them. They were very dense
materials, inner lining and then the outer cloth, in the case of the pair
of stays on your left, that’s a dense wool. And you had to stitch
between the two layers, and you created very narrow channels. And into those channels were put baleen, which is kind of whale cartilage from the mouth of the whale. It’s a rigid object,
yet has some flexibility, so it helped create that shape you needed as well as gave the body a
little bit of flexibility. The stays were also important
in issues of deportment and how you held yourself. Because they really did
give you that good posture. Some of them had shoulder straps that set your shoulders back, so in terms of bearing the
right posture, deportment, they were a key to being
able to achieve that. The image on the right is from a series of fashion plates from
the late 18th century and shows the tailor, again
looking down the woman’s front. It’s an image you’ve seen before. And the other undergarment
which gave shape to dresses during the 18th century was a kind of cage, or
what was known at the time as a pannier, and that word actually comes from a chicken coop. They were garments that
were stiffened again, sometimes with whale bone, and sometimes with cane, which is how they related to those
earlier chicken coops. And they gave shape to those large dresses like the one, one you will actually see in the exhibition itself. The set of panniers on the right is from the collection of
the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and shows you the shape
that was fashionable in the later 18th century, but mainly for court wear, actually. For everyday fashionable dress, the pannier had gone really
out of fashion by this time. And one of my favorite illustrations from the collection of the museum of the Rhode Island School of Design, this Tiepolo drawing of a woman exposing
the artifice of a dress in the late 18th century. She wears her stays, her panniers and then, I love the kind of structure that’s on top of her head. At this period they wore
very high hairstyles so that hair would have
been kind of piled up over that structure that
sits on top of her head. It’s actually not a crown. So it’s a really wonderful illustration of what is underneath the
fashions in the 18th century. Now the pannier comes into fashion in the early part of the 18th century, and I feel strongly that the pannier was all about showing off the silks of the early 18th century, which are some of the most
exquisite silks ever woven. And I show you this painting
by Jean-François de Troy, and you see three women
standing in a garden, and they are wearing the kind of dress that became fashionable around the 1720s and the 1730s, when the panniers were coming into fashion. And I would contend that as the
silks became more elaborate, more beautifully decorated, the panniers became larger,
so you could really show off the type of silks that were
worn during this period. This dress was known as
a kind of robe volante, a kind of flying dress. In England it was called the sack dress, and I think if any of you
know the work of Watteau, often nowadays they’re
called the Watteau-back dress, because they have these double box pleats at the back shoulder,
which when a woman walked the dress would just
kind of flow behind her very elegantly. And you see the dress on your right, it kind of eludes to
the elaboration of silks during the period. And if you just look at paintings you have really no sense
of the artistry of silks during the 18th century. And this is just to show you an example of a silk from the MFA’s
collection of probably a slightly earlier date, 1720s. But you can begin to get a sense of the intricacy and the delicacy that the weavers and designers were putting into the
silks from the period. It’s a silk that nowadays we refer to them as lace pattern silks, because a lot of the diaper patterns that you see in some of
the, kind of white elements that you see there, which are actually silver metallic thread, they kind of have a lacy
diaper-like feel to them. But silks like this were
incredibly expensive, and actually during the 18th century, especially the first half, fashion was not set by
changes in silhouette and different styles of dress. Fashions were actually set by
the silk designs themselves. Fabric designers were
very important in France and in Lyon in particular. They were known by name, and twice a year they would introduce new patterns into the market place, which would usually be adopted by the courts and then filtered down through the public. So to be fashionable you
wore the latest pattern silks. And this style——I know
it was wonderful to hear Tom’s talk about the
chasing of the wall lights and the play on the different surfaces—— and you actually see that
in the silks themselves, the ones that used metallic thread. And I will see if I
can, I won’t be able to. If you look at the
white or silver elements in the cloth, you will see a duller area and a very kind of shinier, flat area, and this is achieved by
the use of different types of metallic threads. They had a flat wire that would create that
very kind of flat surface. But they also had a thread
that was like a corkscrew that gave you a less
kind of opaque surface that would reflect the light differently. So like the gilt bronzes, the fabrics were designed with the same effects in mind. And again you have to imagine a woman wearing a dress made out of
this fabric in candlelight moving around a ballroom
or some other palace room, and they must have been just spectacular. I also wanted to give you a sense of some of the types of designs that evolved from the 18th century. On the far left, you see a design from very early in the 18th century, and I’m giving you recent names for them. Today we refer to this kind of silk as a bizarre silk, and I think that name came to them because nobody really knows how to explain these patterns and where they came from, why in 1700 designers are designing these very strange patterns. And the best theory I have ever heard, there’s absolutely no proof of this, was actually a student at the
Rhode Island School of Design came up with the idea
that at about this time in the late 17th century, the microscope had actually been invented, so people had begun to look at water or other elements and to see
what was going on inside. So there were all these very
strange amoeba-like forms that you find in a lot of these silks, which just seems like to me one of the most, the best ideas for why these silks look the way they do. But it’s a damask ground, and a damask allows you to
place pattern on pattern. So the blue, dark blue, light blue is the ground of the fabric, and on that again are
silk and metallic yarns that give it its sheen,
like the one in the middle, which I already showed you. So the piece on the left is
probably from around 1700, 1710. The piece in the middle around 1720 to 30, and then on the far right is
a silk from about 1750 to 60. And by this time, 1750 to 60, fabrics had, the interest in fabric design was really waning, and I think people were
becoming much more interested in how dresses were trimmed. So that’s an evolution in fashion that we see in this period. This is probably one of the best of these kind of serpentine floral silks that I’ve ever seen. And if you look closely,
the ribbon is actually a leopard print ribbon,
which was quite fashionable. Now I wanted to show you one of the most spectacular dresses from the early part of the 18th century, again to emphasize the
point of how important fabric was in this period. The dress actually recently
came to auction in France at a smaller auction house in Lyon, and it was a kind of an amazing survival from about 1730. It’s again this kind of
cross between a bizarre silk and lace pattern silk, and it is now in a French museum in Paris, the Palais Galliera. And it’s this robe volante, sack back gown. And the patterns for these dresses are really interesting, because throughout the 18th century, it changes very slightly.
Sometimes the bodice is fitted closer to the body. Sometimes the pannier
is extended a bit more. But the basic pattern for the garment does not change over much of the century, and along the, if I can
see if it’s the pointer. Here along the top right of the diagram you see the center back of the dress, and this is double box pleated, here you see the pleating system
to create that Watteau back. By constructing the dress this way you actually cut into the fabric as little as possible. You save as much as possible. So the pattern really reflects
the value of the fabric and the need and the desire
to save as much as you could and not waste it. Because of this, many dresses
from the 18th century could be taken apart and remade. So it’s very, very rare
to find a dress like this from the period that hasn’t been restyled or changed in some fashion. Now just to kind of bring
you through the 18th century, I wanted to show you a typical dress from the later part of the century. This dress, again in the MFA’s collection, of about 1770. You can see how those
kind of serpentine florals were used in many, many different designs were done using that basic idea. And you can see there
is this growing emphasis on the trims of the garments, and there’s a lot of trim along the center front of the dress, on the petticoat of the dress, and this begins to predominate fashion from about the 1760s into the 1780s, 90s as you can see from this
illustration, again, fashion plate from 1778. There’s this explosion
of trim on the dresses that happens during the period
of Marie Antoinette, really. When you hear about excess in fashion, a lot of it is about the trims, the extraordinary hairstyles that I mentioned earlier in the talk, and the hats. Millinery
also becomes very important during the period. Now for men, again like women, the basic shape of the three-piece suit really does not change
much during the period. During the earlier part of the century, the skirts of the coats are
a little fuller at the side, and you can see that in the left, the detail from the de Troy painting that I showed you earlier. You can see the pleating in the side, it’s, the scene is during the day so he’s wearing wool, which
would have been more appropriate at that time of the day, but the suit is also embellished
with a lot of silver fringe so you know he has great status and wealth because of the trimmings
on the suit itself. He is wearing a vest that looks like it’s of a silver fabric, cloth of silver, and it’s rather long,
in contrast to the vest of the suit you see on the right, which is from much later
in the 18th century, which has the short vest and it has a much narrower cut to it, which was popular in the
later part of the century. But this three-piece garment
is pretty much standard throughout the century. And social status, wealth, was really measured by the materials out of which it was made. Tailoring is still not a refined art, that’s not until the early
part of the 19th century where fit becomes really truly important. The suit on the right is
really a fantastic survival from the period. And Casanova actually
mentions the fact that when he did have money, finally, he kind of almost immediately rushed out and bought new clothes. And he describes having velvet suits embroidered with metallic
threads and paillettes, which are the small spangles. This suit is actually embroidered with little crystal or glass that catches the light beautifully. So like the women’s dress, it would have picked up the light and really sparkled in
a candlelit environment. Now men did not wear
kind of the structured undergarments that women
wore like the corset and the panniers, but there
were kind of tricks they did, because there were
certain parts of the body that were considered more fashionable. Like a lot of men wanted
to have a full chest, so often you find jackets that
are well padded in the front to kind of help with that fullness. There is also a lot of
emphasis on the calf in the 18th century. To have a muscular calf was something that was seen as very important. So you’ll see in most of the paintings when you look at them in the show, most men are standing there
with their legs turned out so you can actually see
the shape of the calf. Men also wore kind of calf plumpers, which were pillows you could
put underneath your socks that would plump the calf out and highlight that part of the body. Now I also wanted to talk about another fashionable aspect of dress. And that was accessorizing
and, in particular, I wanted to talk about lace. I think today most lace is machine-made and kind of, we don’t
really have an appreciation for lace, except for maybe
in Fredericks of Hollywood or some shop like that. But during the 18th century,
it was an incredibly important accessory
and extremely expensive. And I show you this gorgeous portrait of Madame de Pompadour. It was done kind of posthumously, finished after her death. But she is wearing what was
probably a robe de chambre, which is kind of a house
dress, believe it or not. When I did work on her probate inventory, her robe de chambres or house dresses were often more elaborate
than her outdoor dresses or more formal dresses. This dress is actually of a painted silk. It might have been painted in China and then exported to Paris. Although by this period
there were companies in Paris where they also painted silks. And actually Casanova,
while he was in Paris and had a lot of money
due to his adventures with the French lottery, actually opened a factory where he had well, I think about 20 girls who were painting silks for him. So it was a very
fashionable type of garment, and Pompadour wears a
dress of painted silk. But it’s heavily accessorized with lace. And in her probate inventory, there is the mention of
a complete set of lace that was worn, that was
made of Argentan lace which is a very expensive
type of needle lace that was fashionable in
the mid-18th century. And if you look closely at the portrait, you can see she wears lace around the bottom of her petticoat. She wears it on either
side of the over-dress. She wears lace ruffles under her sleeve, lace ruffles over her sleeve. She wears it around her neck, and she also wears a cap of lace. And the description in the inventory actually mirrors the
lace she’s wearing here, and it’s valued at 2900 French livre, which is a lot of money. There is also a set of
sapphire and diamond earrings described in the inventory. They mentioned them as having, each one having a large sapphire surrounded by 16 diamonds, which were also valued
at 2900 French livres. So you have to equate the
lace with really fine jewelry in order to appreciate the
cost during the period. It was a very, very important accessory. And part of that was because
it was very difficult and time consuming to make. There were two ways of making lace. Here I can just show you a detail. There was bobbin lace, where women worked on a pillow. And actually the picture C.D. showed you of the ladies at work, one of them is actually
working on a lace pillow. Venice was actually very well known for the other type of
lace, which was needle lace, and Argentan lace was a needle lace. And in creating all of
those thicker areas you see in the detail of a piece of lace from the MFA’s collection, which is kind of from about
the same period as Pompadour’s, these areas are built up
using a button-hole stitch. So those of you who embroider
or know what stitching is, you know what a button-hole stitch is. It’s just a very simple stitch of inserting the needle
through the loop above it and bringing it through. Then you just move to the left and then move back left to right, kind of doing more of
these button-hole stitches. So the, if you can imagine doing that to create all of the needle-lace
that Pompadour is wearing in that portrait, it’s really astonishing the amount of work and time that goes into the creation
of these very, very fine laces. They were very important
during the period. Now I think in all of the
areas I’ve talked about, undergarments, this
deportment, cleanliness, overgarments, the silks,
clothing was all about status in the period. And the 18th century
is an interesting time, because prior to that status and hierarchy was extremely important, and in Venice very much so. And during the 18th century and ideas of the enlightenment,
a lot of that breaks down as emphasis is shifted
from the collective society to the individual. And clothing changes a
lot during the period, but I think still in portraits like this by Pietro Longhi you can still kind of even after this talk and maybe even before
see that there are people from many different levels
of society in this portrait. Of course in the center it’s very clear who the aristocrats are from
the dress they are wearing. The woman is wearing
with the wide panniers the silk, the lightness of the fabric is also a key to it, that’s something I
really didn’t talk about. She just stands out in the
center of the portrait. Behind is a couple, she wears a mask and a kind of cloak that covers her head, they’re probably of a kind of wealthy or maybe not wealthy but a craftsman class,
people with some money. And then in the front is the poorer woman who is selling the perfumes. She wears probably just a petticoat with an apron in front of it,
her stays, chemise underneath and then a kind of short
jacket to cover it. And the dark colors also
kind of respond to status because it was, stains
wouldn’t show up as well on dark colors. If something did get stained it would go to the dyer
who would then dye it, so you see much more of the dark colors in the poorer classes. So I think hopefully
this talk will help you to appreciate the show a little bit more and to understand the
clothing that you see in the exhibition and in
the portraits themselves. Thank you. (audience applause) – Buongiorno. Just outside of this beautiful auditorium, with the low horizons and the big sky and the late August humidity and the presence of so
many masterpiece paintings by Canaletto and Tiepolo and Longhi, I almost feel like I’m in Venice. And since it is still before Labor Day, I have on right now my
favorite suit for warm weather, one I love to wear whenever I’m in Venice in the summer. Though I admit the mood of the
suit may be not merely Venice but perhaps also Death in Venice. Well, but of course my subject today is not looking at Visconti’s 1971 film but the careers of the two
greatest painters in Venice of the 18th century, Canaletto and Tiepolo. And these two are often paired as artists. We’re gonna survey their work with the time-honored method
of compare and contrast. These two painters, Canaletto and Tiepolo, dominate the first
sections of the exhibition, and you can see outstanding
examples of their works. Begin with the opening
image in the exhibition, the famous Bacino di San Marco, the Basin of Saint Mark’s, this is the main bay in front of Venice, extraordinary painting and this is a wonderful
example by Canaletto, perhaps the finest painting by
this artist in North America. One that really signals to
the visitor of the exhibition the Venice of Casanova’s youth. This would have been painted when he was, when Casanova was in his teens, and this Canaletto at
his high point, really, it is really a peak. This is a city of glittering canals, beautiful reflections,
imposing palaces and churches, and this is the main picture, the first spectacular grouping
in the introductory gallery made up of loans from
Boston, Houston, El Paso, Memphis, and just around the corner a very fine painting also from the National Gallery
of Art in Washington. This reminds us that Casanova’s Venice was a world of watercraft. Anything important or heavy moves by boat. I remember when I was living in Venice, I was just astonished when
the FedEX delivery guy came in a boat, but if you’re moving a refrigerator
or washing machine, that also goes by boat today. And you can see
spectacular monuments here, on the far left we have the campanile, the Bell Tower of Saint Mark’s, and you can see just
barely the round domes of the Church of Saint Mark. Then over this large substantial building, lit brightly on one
side, that was the Mint. Next to it a skinny
building, hard to see here, of the library, right on the main square. The big pink building
with the large windows is the Palazzo Ducale, which I think it was a kind of combination of the White House and
The Capitol in Washington in that it was the residence of the Doge, the elected ruler of Venice, and also the place where
all the committees, the great councils that ran Venice, all these councils met in that building. And in the long expanse going
towards center of the picture is the Riva degli Schiavoni, a big wharf with major palaces on it, it was a very active working harbor. Though the key thing is, in fact, not so much the land but the boats, and everything that’s
happening in these boats. Wonderful details, there
that’s the San Giorgio Maggiore then and now a monastery,
a Benedictine monastery. And then far out in the
back right of this detail you see that long sand
bar known as the Lido that protects the city of Venice, the lagoon of Venice, from the open waters of the Adriatic sea, and it means that there’s
no crashing waves, no real surf in Venice, and that allows you to row standing up, gondalier style. And after these superb
examples by Canaletto in the exhibition’s second room, we go inside the lofty
structures of these buildings to admire their furnishings and including prized paintings by Tiepolo. This is the famous Empire of Flora, a truly outstanding
painting in this exhibition. There’s a wonderful opportunity to see it amidst other works by Tiepolo. Tiepolo was Venice’s, and in
fact Europe’s, top echelon decorator for private palaces. He provided frescos, that is painting on, in plaster on the walls, or canvas paintings for the ceilings of the interiors of these buildings. Also created fancy easel
pictures like this one. Medium-sized paintings
that could be given indeed as gifts, like these were. Not intended for a specific wall. And Tiepolo was simultaneously
the top picture painter for churches, doing frescos, altarpieces, devotional works. Now this painting by Tiepolo was created just about five years after
the Canaletto we opened with. Just real mastery of colors and textures, a palette of delicate pastels but also deeply saturated reds and blues. Lots of nude flesh, human
beings and goddesses that are posed in complicated ways, twisting, very active, dynamic poses, and composition of
linked figures together. And I want to consider today
the similarities of Canaletto and Tiepolo. Now they both worked in
Venice, Venetian painters, and in fact both were born there. And you can see that in
the center of the circle shows where Canaletto was born,
in the San Lio district, not far from the Rialto
Bridge on the San Marco side of the Grand Canal. And on the bottom right
is where Tiepolo was born, in the Corte de San Domenico directly below the Arsenale. That’s that huge section with open docks where they constructed the ships for the Venetian navy. And the birth places of both
these artists are known. In fact you can even stay in them, because this is Canaletto’s birthplace, and there’s a hotel Canaletto next door, and then Tiepolo’s
birthplace is also marked. Venice is a city that understands well the depth of history there. Now they’re almost exact contemporaries. Canaletto was born a year
and a half after Tiepolo. Tiepolo was born on March 5th, 1696 and Canaletto October 17th, 1697. Here is a portrait of Canaletto from one of the books of engravings of his views of Venice
to spread his designs, the way he captured the city
to a much bigger audience than those who could afford paintings. And Canaletto’s father
was a painter of scenery for the theater. At around age 20, Canaletto got his start helping his father in
Venice by painting sets for operas by Vivaldi. And a couple years later, he is found documented in Rome, again assisting his
father doing theater sets for operas by Scarlatti. And this kind of training
gave him a thorough grounding in perspective, that is representing a three-dimensional world and buildings, particularly,
in a two-dimensional surface. Draftsmanship, being very
sure of using contours to define form and also quadratura. That’s an Italian term. Quadratura means the
decoration of ceilings through the depiction of
fictitious architecture. You’re doing columns, crown moldings, and things with openings up to the sky, it’s a way of doing this
very architectural painting but completely illusionistic. It’s a flat surface. Now Canaletto pretty quickly
tires of painting scenery and while back in Venice resolves
to create view paintings. This is a genre only about 50 years old, that is city views, what are
called veduta in Italian. And he does both real city views and also imaginary views,
which are called capricci, making a totally imaginary or partially imaginary scene,
as we’ll see in a moment. Now Canaletto’s career is
spent mostly in Venice, very steady work normally,
painting view paintings of Venice to visitors who come to Venice
as part of the grand tour, these are usually
Northern-European aristocrats who come to Venice for the
courtesans and the Opera and the carnival and the gambling but also indeed for art collecting, as Venice was such an
important artistic center in Casanova’s day. And here is a picture of Tiepolo, Tiepolo is the older guy on the left, this is a self-portrait, that’s his son Giandomenico Tiepolo, or Giovanni Domenico, and this is from frescos, an enormous fresco in the
Wurzburg Archbishop’s palace, so up in Germany. And Tiepolo was something of a prodigy. He studied with the late Baroque painter Gregorio Lazzarini, who was
a teacher of many people of the next generation. In fact more famous as a teacher really than as a painter himself. And Lazzarini gave to Tiepolo a theatrical style very
dramatically placed, very dramatically lit figures, lots of strong poses,
rhetorical grace and eloquence, lots of dark shadows. By his early 20s, Tiepolo was already an independent painter and started getting lots of
commissions for churches. He worked extremely quickly,
and this was one way indeed to endear yourself to patrons, it’s just to get a lot done fast, and, but he also has another
line of secular commissions, that is, paintings of secular subjects or for secular clients, patrons who are not part of the church, and this is what we
feature on exhibition. Think about the interiors in Venice and this whole culture
of impressing people that Casanova was so gifted at, as C.D. describe earlier. Now both these artists had a huge output. Canaletto well over 500
surviving paintings, Tiepolo more than 300 surviving paintings, many of these are enormous, as big as this slide
screen, colossal in scale. Each of these two artists was an accomplished
and prolific draftsman, hundreds and hundreds of drawings survived, and you have to assume that many, many more, which were used in the
production of paintings or the generation of ideas or given away have since disappeared. Both were also great printmakers. They produced lovely
etchings of real delicacy, and these prints really
reward close looking, but in the exhibition we
decided to concentrate on the paintings of these two artists, which are truly spectacular. Both artists, Canaletto and
Tiepolo, had extended sojourns away from Venice. They were expatriate artists. Canaletto spent nearly nine
years working in England. Tiepolo also worked in Northern Italy, Southern Germany, and in fact in Spain, spent the last eight years
of his life in Spain, Tiepolo dying there in 1770. And indeed an important
theme in the exhibition in the Kahn Building is
the idea of expatriatism, that is living away from home, the particular challenges
as you seek your fortune or adventure or love in a different city. And it’s a key topic in Casanova’s memoirs about being homesick
or returning to a place or remembering a place fondly or being really out of sorts in a place he didn’t understand the
customs, the language, how to get around. And this idea of being away from home being both an advantage and a handicap is a theme in the exhibition, and there are many, many
Venetian artists, actors, playwrights, courtiers, diplomats, who find themselves in this position of being far from home. But true to the title of this talk, Canaletto and Tiepolo are an odd couple. Their artistic production
was very different in its goals, its appearance, subject matter. They cultivated very
different specialties, you can’t confuse the
work of one for the other. Tiepolo worked in varied
media including fresco, remember fresco is the Italian
word for fresh or cool, it means you’re painting in
the fresh plaster on a wall. Once this patch of plaster
goes up on the wall it will dry by the end of the day, it’s called a giornata, or a day patch, and it’s a game to beat the clock. You have to work as quickly as possible, you get one day before the plaster sets. If you don’t like it, you
gotta chisel out the plaster and start again, but if you do like it, it forms a chemical bond with the wall, and extremely beautiful
and very, very durable. Now Tiepolo worked at the top
of the market intellectually in that he was a specialist
in the lofty genre of history painting. By history painting we mean paintings of significant human action. The topics often come
from a text from a book, history, mythology, religion, literature, typically lofty themes, with the point being these
are universal goals, gods, goddesses, saints, things we should look up
to to ennoble ourselves. Canaletto, by contrast,
specialist in the city view, the veduta, he used oil paints, painted a few times on copper but really most of his output is oil on canvas. It is hard to do city paintings well, and Canaletto was the
best, but view painting was not nearly as prestigious
as history painting in the Europe of Casanova. Indicative of this that history painting was just so much more esteemed, Tiepolo was the first president of the Venetian Academy
of Painting and Sculpture, but Canaletto in fact wasn’t even elected for about six or seven years. So that’s the sort of difference in the status of these two arts. Now the higher status of
history painting hasn’t held. Different tastes in our day. Right now the best view paintings, the top being by Canaletto,
would be much more valuable than a Tiepolo, so those things have changed economically. Both of our artists were
very famous across Europe in their lifetimes, one reason in fact why
they traveled so much to reach other markets and people who demanded their talents. Both of these artists were
understood as great innovators in their day, taking
their art to a new level, contemporaries remarked about this. They pushed the edge of the envelope in their respective genres. But at the same time, both these artists were deeply part of the
great Venetian tradition in that both artists looked
back to Venetian painters of 200 and 250 years
earlier for inspiration. So here the great
Canaletto View of the Molo from the El Paso Museum of Art. We have this in the exhibition
along with its mate if you’re looking at a different way from the Memphis Museum, so we’re very excited about that. And notice the contrast
of the weightless clouds and the very sturdy imposing buildings, the sense of the figures there, against this famous architecture and how this, of course, harks to the renaissance pictures
with recognizable settings. This wonderful painting
by Gentile Bellini, of the Procession in Saint Mark’s Square, a relic of the True
Cross performing miracles as it went by people who
were watching the procession, members of, family members of people who were watching the procession were miraculously healed. But it’s clearly, even
though the square has changed quite a lot since then, this is demonstrably Venice, with a wonderful sense of perspective, and setting, and attention
to surface and structure. And then you see this in
the case here of Tiepolo. A beautiful painting,
a big imposing canvas in the exhibition of Time Unveiling Truth, painted not for Venice but for a palace in the mainland city of Verona, which was part of Venice’s mainland or terra firma empire. We got a muscular figure,
winged figure, of Father Time. He’s got a, there’s a
big scythe on the ground, an hourglass, and a chariot, which were, of course, symbols of time, also symbols of death. And Time is disrobing or
just pulling right off an elegant young woman. She is a figure of Truth, and making her then by
taking off her clothes she becomes the naked truth, and Time is also neutralizing earthly love. You know, poor Cupid’s off on the side. And paintings like this
with these elegant women, kind of hearty expressions,
big thick necks, beautiful blonde curls,
and this kind of drapery, sense of drama, intertwined
bodies, of course, looks back to paintings by Paolo Veronese and other artists of the
Venetian mid-16th century, and it’s also just worth noting, speaking right after
a brilliant exposition of clothing in the day of Casanova, to notice that there is, on the upper left of the Veronese, a chemise
or a kind of night gown thrown over the wall there, very human clothing
even if this is actually the goddess of love, and we can see again, beautiful
sense of silk textures catching the light. That’s really sort of heavy thick fabric, extremely beautiful and
also feathery leaves, foliage, that delicate curls of
Cupid, the wings, et cetera. So much of an inspiration all for Tiepolo, and in fact it’s a very real garment, it’s got button holes and hems that is being, the chemise that is
being pulled off her by Time. And Tiepolo was very interested as well, not just the figure types,
these powerful muscular men, these elegant young women, but also a real sense of theatricality, zig-zag compositions with
a lot of energy in them. Now both these artists were idealists. It’s probably obvious ’cause before really the 19th century, the object was to make more
beautiful the real world, take something out there
and then improve upon it, to alter reality, to
make it more beautiful, and that’s obvious with a painting like Time Unveiling Truth. The figure of Truth, the lady
there is clearly a composite. She’s got idealized figures that might vaguely recall somebody, but it’s no actual person. And again he’s using Veronese’s beauties as a point of departure. Canaletto too was an idealist, and he again improved upon reality for aesthetic reasons, and he often did this with
what’s called a capriccio, which is a made-up city view, and these are imaginary scenes. Sometimes they’re ruins
in no specific place, or sometimes they play with reality in really interesting ways. This is apparently the
Grand Canal in Venice but using all sorts of
buildings that aren’t there. These are structures designed by Palladio. The one of the far left is a palazzo in the mainland city of Vicenza, which Palladio did design and was built. The far right is the
basilica, the main city hall, in Vicenza, which Palladio did design. The middle though is an unexecuted project for the Rialto Bridge, not the one that crosses
the Grand Canal now, but one that Palladio had designed, very elegant, with a temple front, completely impractical, though, because it’s hard to imagine
getting any ship of size underneath it down the Grand Canal, one reason why it was never built. But this is a wonderful painting for a connoisseur, to take
different beautiful buildings and put them in a new arrangement, magically transport them to Venice. But also in even a more obvious
realistic view painting, Canaletto plays with reality. Beautiful picture,
important in the exhibition, first to really set the
stage for Casanova’s life. He was born in that very
narrow back neighborhood that you saw in C.D.’s lecture, just around the corner there
of the canal on the right. Go, imagine rowing for a minute or two, you get right around to
where Casanova was born. But even in this, which seems
so direct and believable, the Grand Canal has been first opened up quite a bit for us in the foreground and then cut much more
tightly, narrowed more tightly in the background, really
altering the space. The buildings have been
shifted around subtly to make it more pretty, and of course the boats were arranged to show the variety of
boats that you could have on the Grand Canal, not any
specific arrangement or moment. Now, and then in something
like this picture of the Bacino, with which
the exhibition begins, there’s an extraordinary amount of detail, but also things very, very much change. The island of San Giorgio
Maggiore, the White Church, also Palladio, looking right out at us,
it shouldn’t be that way, it should be pivoted back quite a bit, but Canaletto wanted to emphasize that. I spent time with a map, and tried, a map of Venice, and it’s clear
that all the church towers you see in the left
horizon were moved subtly in order to make a more pretty progression from left to right, so the church towers
had been moved around. The viewpoint of this
picture is impossible, there is no place on land. You’d have to be up high in a crows nest or high on the mast of a ship to get this, and it basically combines
two different views. So this is taking something that’s real and then, it’s using
lots of detail, of course, a straight edge, probably
a camera obscura, various types of optical devices, lots of drawings, to
compose these pictures. But the one detail I just
love is this one right here in front of the island
of San Giorgio Maggiore, you see the reflection of
the church in the water, and of course it’s reflective there because the, that island
is blocking the wind and the slight waves so it gives a more mirrored surface, it’s just a beautiful detail. A whole variety of flags,
Netherlands, English flags, showing travelers from
all around the world. And painting it like this reminds us that in the 18th century, in Casanova’s day, the main center of Venice was not really the Piazza San Marco,
not Saint Marks’s Square, but really was the bay, with
all these deals going on and energy, commerce people traveling and sort of talking from boat to boat, it’s just incredibly
lively thinking about that. There you see the
attention he paid to flags, rigging, waves, reflections, extraordinary details here even though Canaletto
was famous for his views, not for his people, it’s wonderful the sense of motion, everyone’s in action, things
are pointing, gesturing, moving, picking up, discussing. There’s a lot of energy, even in the small scale of these pictures. But what I want to make
clear though is that although these pictures seem
to be incredibly realistic, in fact there is a lot of
alteration or improvement going on, and this is an important lesson that precision does not equal truth. You could have a lot of detail, but indeed he is taking many
liberties to make something as beautiful as possible. And then look it’s just
extraordinary, the waves, the cargo, with the various ropes and lines. This picture is also in the exhibition, an early work by Canaletto, when he’s sort of still
in his moody early period with darker shadows. It’s the view on the northern edge of Venice looking from the Fondamente Nuove, which is this sort of
long wharf that goes along the top of Venice,
looking at the islands going from right to left, San Christophoro, San Michele, and then in the distance the island of Murano. Important to the exhibition is that this was the scene, Murano, the famous glass-blowing island where there were several different nuns that Casanova had various
crushes or affairs with. But in this painting, the distance has been quite a bit reduced from those foreground islands
to the upper edge of Venice, and it looks like you can
practically touch them, but indeed they’re much further apart, but it wouldn’t be much of a painting if you only had little teeny specs in the background so, again, Canaletto is improving upon this. And then another painting we saw earlier the Porta Portello, this is the entrance to the city of Padua, and it shows Canaletto having great skill with plants, gardens, ruins, walls, boats on a different kind of surface and then of course the artful way that the clouds are
placed in the background to accentuate the shapes of the buildings. Now Canaletto paints outside of Italy even, as I mentioned the long sojourn in England, which is the later 1740s and early 1750s. He did this because his market dried up during the War of the Austrian Succession. Travelers were not coming
as regularly to Venice, they didn’t feel safe
crossing the continent, and so Canaletto goes where
his clients, his buyers, are and spends, as I said,
almost nine years in England and does, even though this
is demonstrably Canaletto, I love how quickly he got the Englishness of this London scene. Now given the parallel
careers of these two artists, did they know each other? And interestingly there is
no evidence that they did. They moved in different
circles, very different clients, made different friends and of course they made different kinds of art, so they wouldn’t necessarily
be in competition for the same buyers or
the same commissions. But in a compact city like Venice, they had to have run into
each other again and again or at least known of each other, because they were both the
peak of their professions in this time. But very interestingly,
we know that Tiepolo owned this very painting by Canaletto. It’s a view of the huge
city square in Padua, the Prato della Valle, and it’s easy to see
why Tiepolo would admire this expansive view with beautiful sky, the almost aerial viewpoint, the amount of detail, the way that groups of
people had been organized into nice little conversations or, it’s a sort of very
eloquently arranged so it seems completely natural and therefore completely believable. We don’t, so this was owned by Tiepolo, and it’s tempting to
imagine that Canaletto himself would own a painting by Tiepolo, but sadly there’s no evidence. I’d like to finish with
a few wonderful paintings by Tiepolo, including
some in the exhibition. Give you an example of his range. Now we have actually just in the
exhibition secular paintings. He was, as I said, the number
one maker of religious images in 18th-century Venice,
but that is not our focus in the exhibition, rather the decorations of Venetian palaces or the kind of art of Venice that was impressive outside of Venice. This is a wonderful painting in the Kimbell’s own collection. It’s an oil sketch for a frescoed ceiling in the Palazzo Clerici, in Milan. It was commissioned to
celebrate uniting by marriage of two very wealthy families in 1741, and the subject is Apollo
and the Continents. It’s a painting about this big, it’s a modello, a very fancy oil sketch that was shown to the
patrons for their approval before he got up on the scaffolding and started painting the ceiling. But it’s also a beautiful
work of art in its own right. This is about as fancy and elaborate and, I should say, finished as an
oil sketch by Tiepolo gets, just a spectacular
acquisition for this museum. Right in the center, in the
midst of all this golden light, we see Apollo, the sun god, and then the clouds
around are various gods, Diana, Mercury, and
Jupiter are above Apollo and Saturn, Venus, and Mars below. In the four corners though
we have personifications of seasons and rivers,
and then also up there, silhouetted a little darker, is Cupid and his beloved Psyche
going to mount Olympus for the celebration of their marriage. And this is again perfect
themes of abundance, fertility, prosperity, that
make sense to celebrate a wedding down here on earth. This picture, enormous fresco again, is the first real success
doing frescos in Venice, the church of the Gesuati, and this gives an example
of Tiepolo’s skill at taking what would otherwise
be a pretty dull subject, not much is happening. It’s the institution of the rosary. Basically the Virgin Mary
gives the rosary to Saint Dominic, who presents it to the world. So, simple exchange, not that fascinating, but what Tiepolo does is
introduce a beautiful zig-zag composition, really enlivening,
there’s no real empty space in the picture, it’s
wonderfully filled out but it seems completely natural, as well, strong gestures and
wonderful pastel colors in this fresco. And I wanna also make clear
something about frescos. Unlike oil paintings, which
have some gloss to them, paintings in fresco
are painted in plaster, completely matte, no glare at all, gives these wonderful
saturated colors no reflection, and it’s hard to pull off, but Tiepolo was a master, and to give him credit for
even bigger commissions, this is enormous, one of the
largest frescos ever made. It’s the ceiling of the stairwell of the so-called Treppenhaus, in the Wurzburg Residence
for the archbishop, enormous fresco glorifying the family of the noble, and there is
the detail along the edges, real play with reality, and on the far left of this detail is the figures of Tiepolo and his son that I showed you early on. And this is an extraordinary undertaking he does in just about a year and a half, and, needless to say, this fresco
is not in our exhibition. But to see Tiepolo really at his best, and I think this is fair,
not just enormous commissions but also things where
you could really focus where you’d have not an
audience of dozens and dozens but maybe just an audience of one, much smaller is the
beautiful Realm of Flora, a superb painting in the exhibition, it was made as a diplomatic gift, part of a pair. Venetian go-between and
diplomat Francesco Algarotti was an expert in art, friend of Tiepolo, commissioned two paintings
to give to an aristocrat in the town of Dresden, Germany. Algarotti wanted a job,
he also wanted to promote Tiepolo at the same time,
so this was an example where the client and the
painter really hoped to impress. The background fountain at
the far left there is one of, is a fountain that’s actually in one of
the count’s own gardens, so very flattering that way. And although it’s been assumed that the lovely woman on the chariot, very voluptuous in pose and expression with the yellow drapery around her, assumed that she is the subject matter, the lead figure Flora, the
Roman goddess of flowers, there’s also the theory though that the dancing woman in red at the right is his Flora, and the evidence for that in fact would be a painting by, here’s a detail of the woman in yellow and the woman in red, though
they’re not wearing much really. And, but this is the painting by Poussin from a century earlier,
the Empire of Flora, which was owned, starting in 1722, by the royal collection in Dresden, and the figure there dancing in green is very similar in pose to that red. So that might be an indication
that she is actually, the figure in red would be the Flora, who has this beautiful garden and then by that thinking
the woman in the chariot would be Armida, who was the witch conspiring against the Christian warriors, at the bottom left, in
the epic poem by Tasso called Gerusalemme Liberata. But I think we can leave
arguments of iconography aside and instead enjoy the magical setting, the lush surroundings, the agile figures of this stupendous painting. There is so much here to please the eye, and the painting is truly a
high point of the exhibition and indeed of Italian
art of the 18th century. So I believe that the next best thing to a visit to Venice
is the chance to enjoy, across the walk, the enchanting paintings of Canaletto and Tiepolo. And so with our deep
appreciation for their talents, it’s now time to say
arrivederci to this odd couple. Grazie. (audience applause) – Well, it’s now time to say bonjour, because we’re moving back to Paris. Before I begin my talk today, I just want to thank Eric Lee, the director of this incredible museum, one of my very favorites in our country, and especially to George Shackelford, a prince among men, for
inviting me to speak here today, and also to Regina
Palm and Nancy Edwards and the incredible staff
here at the Kimbell. So as you’ve heard today, this exhibition offers us an unparalleled
view of the world experienced by Giacomo Casanova. He was a figure that
has long been associated with the libertinage
surrounding the court of Louis the 15th. As an anti-hero, a rake, and a
cliche of the morally corrupt, the legend of Casanova will be used today as an entry way to the
complex visual culture of the high Rococo. Casanova arrived in Paris,
the cultural capital of Europe, in 1750 for the first time,
in August of that year, and he proclaims in his memoirs that his only goal was to enjoy life. He did, he definitely did. He was ambitious, he was very virile, and he proclaimed, he
studied pronunciation with Crébillon père, he argues philosophy with the greatest
philosophers in the city. He visits all of the best literary salons, and he was having a great time. He comes back to Paris in 1757 to 1759, and on this trip, he was
even more determined again, using his words, to make acquaintance with the great and powerful and to play the chameleon to all those whom he should see it was
an interest to please. So during these first few trips to Paris, he comes back several other times, but these are really the crucial moments of his infatuation with French culture. He ingratiated himself
into the innermost sanctum of court culture. And including forming a
relationship with the king’s maîtresse-en-titre or
his official mistress, Jeanne Antoinette Poisson,
the Marquise de Pompadour. Pompadour was the daughter of a financier who had been exiled for fraud, and she had been groomed since childhood to one day become Louis
the 15th’s consort, and she remains in his good
favor for over 19 years, long after their sexual
relationship had cooled. And she ultimately would become one of the most important taste-makers in 18th-century France, and she would wield great influence on the artistic and
intellectual life of her time. And here I’m showing you,
you’ve seen this briefly already, but this is really one of the
masterpieces in the exhibition, coming only to the Kimbell, might I add. This is a white marble
bust of the Marquise, on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and it was commissioned at the
height of her power in 1748 and not completed until 1751, and she would have been 27 years old. And she intended to display this bust at the Château de Bellevue, which is one of the many
residences built for her by the king. But it was completed the same year, also in 1751. And we know, interestingly, quite a bit about the commission from
the artist Pigalle himself. He talks about taking a
carriage outside of Paris several times to study her from life, making preparatory clay models, and then he went back to the studio, and he finished the sculpture there. And, you know ,the likeness
is not overly idealized, you see her nose, it’s wider at the tip, she has this great soft double chin, which we see in many portraits of her, and her eyes are a bit too prominent, which we also see over and over again. And the eyes are really
quite remarkable, mind you, you can’t get too close at the exhibition, so this is a nice opportunity, but Pigalle marks the
iris with an incised ring, and it creates this wonderful
kind of blank expression, makes her seem very powerful indeed. And he forgoes contemporary dress with a kind of half
contemporary, half nude. We see of course her bare breasts here, and this is the lace that
Pamela was talking about in detail here, in this wonderful detail
of her monogram right here. So Pompadour is going to offer
us a valuable gateway today into Casanova’s Paris. And not only is she
important as a gateway again into visual culture, but Casanova was very intrigued by her. He likes her in the beginning because she flatters him, she says that he’s witty and in part it’s because he is trying
to speak French to her and he has very poor pronunciation. But really he admired
her because he saw her as someone who had used her intelligence to get to where she was, and both Casanova and
Pompadour in this way have a kind of parallel mythology, each kind of undergoing a metamorphosis. Casanova would do this each
time he enters a new city and Pompadour kind of accomplishes this through her patronage, and we’ll
talk about that as we go on. So here I’m showing you a drawing which is in the Louvre;
a large-scale drawing by Charles-Nicolas Cochin, who is a wonderful, interesting artist. He was secretary of the Academie Royale, and he was a famous pessimist, by the way, but he makes these wonderful renderings of all of the amusements at court. And here I’m showing you
an extravagant masked ball, we’ll actually switch to the engraving, this impression is from
the Bibliothèque Nationale, but in the show we have
a wonderful impression from the MFA Boston. But here we are in the Hall
of Mirrors at Versailles, and we are looking at the wedding, or a mask ball in honor of
the wedding of the Dauphin and the Infanta of Spain,
Maria Teresa Rafaela, and this ball came to be
known as the Yew Tree Ball, because the king and his six friends here, dressed in green paper-mache costumes in the shape of trees, topiary trees. And, but there’s so much
that we can learn from this, it’s maybe a little bit hard to see from where you are right now, but the really interesting costumes of people dressed Turkish
dress, in Chinoiserie fashion, which is indicative of a kind of height of exotic costume that was really at play in Paris in the 1740s. But I’m showing this to you right now because it was here in this crowd that Pompadour and the king
have their first public meeting. And where is she, she is
in profile talking to, oh here she is, right here, here they are. But if we just go back for a second, what’s really fun is that these people are kind of piled up
watching all of the intrigue that’s happening below. But anyhow, so this was a famous moment, and everyone of course
was watching Pompadour talking to the tree. This, by the way, she
owned a framed impression of this print, it’s listed
in her posthumous inventory, so it suggests of course
its sentimental significance. Now when Pompadour begins
her liaison with the king, she was a non-aristocratic member of the Parisian financial class, she’s only 23 years old, she had left her husband to begin her life with Louis the 15th, she has no personal wealth, she has no art collection, no jewelry, no lace, probably she had some lace but not a lot yet. And she was, had to really
restart her domestic life, and this is another biographical detail that wouldn’t have been
lost upon Casanova. Here is my help here. Okay, this portrait of
the Marquise de Pompadour which will be in Boston, the Boston venue of this exhibition, has served as the
basis of much scholarship surrounding Pompadour’s
iconographic program. It really, I think, wonderfully mirrors that quote that I started with about Casanova, his desire
to play the chameleon with an interest to please, and, as I already mentioned,
Casanova’s fascination with her was because of her intellectual
and political machinations and not just of her but of her family and how they placed her at
the helm of court culture. So ultimately she would go on to amass several thousand objects
in her collection, paintings, sculptures,
tapestry, soft-paste porcelain, gems, furniture, and so on. But in this wonderful painting we see her in a very kind of simple moment, or seemingly simple, in
the act of applying makeup or the act of applying rouge, and she is seated in this
wonderful yellow brocade chair, and she’s surrounded by all the trappings of the toilette, here the wonderful white powder puff is getting ready to be used, the mirror is angled in her direction, but most conspicuous of all of course is her cameo on her wrist displaying Louis the
15th at the center line so we will not miss it. And a wonderful art
historian named Melissa Hyde has written extensively on
this painting in particular, and she talks about the beauty ritual, the act of putting on makeup and face paint, or maquillage,
was cosmetic artifice but it was also a sign
of courtly nobility. So in Boucher’s portrait here, we are being confronted
in the ways that Pompadour made up her identity and in the process asserted her agency. And this painting, by the way, would go on to infuriate some of Boucher’s critics, chiding him for working
number one, for female patrons but also accusing him
of painting his canvases in pale shades and in powdery pinks in the way that a woman painted her face. So while slipping through the black stairwells of Versailles, Casanova reports to us in his memoir that he stumbled upon the
private quarters of Pompadour only to find her rehearsing a ballet. And in her first act of patronage at court she was not only, she was
not actually initially commissioning works of art or paintings but she was commissioning the theater. And when she arrives at
court, at Versailles, she immediately assembles a
troupe of actors and musicians and singers to accompany her in a series of performances, and so the king built her
the Theatre des Cabinets, which was a private theater
for her on the ground floor of the palace, and that’s
actually what you are seeing here. And this is a watercolor
which will be in San Francisco for the exhibition, also by Cochin, who you met just a moment ago. And Pompadour’s theater troupe had performed over 56
evenings over seven seasons, and she herself would
play Egyptian goddesses, Turkish odalisques, ancient heroines. And one of the reasons
I love Cochin so much is because he tells us so very much here in a somewhat small format. But here we see Pompadour
performing a role from an opera by Jean-Baptiste Lully, and across from her is actually
another member of the court, this is the Viscount de Rohan, and up here almost camouflaged
is the Marquis de Lasalle playing the role of Polyphemus. He’s about to lift up a
boulder and squash his rival. And to talk about the fashion,
it’s really incredible, this is her pannier
with beautiful, painted, aquatic plants on the silk, and she’s standing on
this wonderful makeshift stage set of water, and even more interesting are all of the members of the court, many of which can be identified, and we see this wonderful,
this all faux marble, this is painted blue silk, up here is a painted cloud ceiling, but most interesting to me is right here we see the King and the Queen watching the mistress,
so, this is was not lost on Cochin either, of course. Now Casanova claims that his
friendship with Pompadour allowed him to move freely
through the residences not only of Versailles
but of Fontainebleau, and he writes that he prowled everywhere, and one day he stumbled upon the King, who he says was so handsome he forced everyone to love him. And here I’m showing you
another really exceptional loan from the Metropolitan
Museum of Art in the show. He is installed next to Pompadour, and this is a white marble bust by Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, one of the leading sculptors
of the mid-18th century and was a favorite artist of the king, and this is really a wonderful kind of kingly moment of nobility. We have his golden fleece and
ribbon of the Holy Spirit and this wonderful kind of
rococo twisting of the torso, which creates this wonderful swirl, and so I don’t think he’s
as handsome as Casanova might have claimed. He’s
a little bloated and aging, but he is certainly stately, and I should mention to
you that this sculpture is believed to have been commissioned by the Marquise de Pompadour, and we believe it can be traced back to her inventory at the Château de Champs, and when she would die, the
king would actually buy it back for his own collection. So Casanova would meet
Louis the 15th again, but this time indirectly and via a more intimate circumstance. So one of the highlights of
Casanova’s first Parisian period was his trip to the outdoor
fair of Saint Laurent, where he meets a beautiful girl named Marie-Louise O’Murphy and her cousin Victoire O’Murphy. And so the younger
O’Murphy was so beautiful, and Casanova becomes quite besotted by her, and so the sitter in this painting has for a long time
been erroneously called the younger O’Murphy, and this is because, I believe, when Casanova’s memoirs
are published in 1960, there is a particular passage
that is so descriptive, and it is very tempting to
link it to this painting, but this is, of course,
not necessarily the case, but it’s a good opportunity
to show you this image. But anyhow, Casanova tells his readers that he was willing to pay 600 franc for O’Murphy’s virginity, but instead she’s not interested, and so instead he pays
a handful of dollars to a painter to depict her naked, and he writes, this is
a quote from the book, he says, “she was lying on her
stomach, resting on her arms “and her bosom on a pillow. “A skillful artist had
drawn her legs and thighs “in such a way that one
could not wish to see more.” And so the artist that he
mentions supposedly shows a version of the canvas to the king, who is so enamored by the
image of this beautiful woman that he invited O’Murphy to come live in the Parc-aux-Cerfs, by the way, Casanova
calls the Parc-aux-Cerfs nothing more than a seraglio
on the grounds of Versailles. And O’Murphy, by the way, is
very different than Pompadour, she is an unofficial mistress, she has no place in court culture, she’s not invited to the palace or to attend court
entertainments and events. But anyhow regardless of
the model’s identity here, this is one of Boucher’s
very most erotic exercises of the 1750s, and this
by the way sadly is not in Fort Worth but will
be in the other venues, but I want you just to notice the way that he’s applying the blues here and then the wonderful
red outline to the parts where we should be looking, kind of playing with the
idea of warmth and cold and then the kind of wonderful
hardness of the architectural backdrop here, which is a nice foil to the softness of the
pillows, of the sheets, and of course her soft body. And Boucher would make many versions of this painting and also in drawings, and this wonderful, one of the best parts of this painting is
the kind of positioning of this foot right here, and here is a wonderful pastel in the Musée Carnavalet, so you know that Boucher is
really trying to work out the positioning of that body, but this pastel study is in Paris, it was too fragile to
travel for the exhibition, but it’s almost always on view, which is not necessarily
a great thing for a pastel, but when you go to Paris
you could probably see it. So during Casanova’s first
and second trips to Paris, Boucher was one of the leading artists in the French capital. He was also Pompadour’s preferred painter. He would ultimately be named
first painter to the king and would become director
of the Academie Royale, and he would train the next
generation of painters, one of which you’ll meet in a second. His works would appear
frequently at the Salon, at the public art exhibitions that took place in the
Salon Carré of the Louvre, and here you see an etching
by Gabriel de Saint-Aubin, just to give you a sense of what these public art exhibitions were like. They’re densely packed with
paintings and with people, and some critics would lament the fact that it would smell bad inside because fishmongers were
allowed in along with clergymen, and Casanova himself
attends the salon of 1750. So he tells us that he goes to the Salon, and this is a painting that he
would have encountered there, this is Boucher’s Light of the World. He of course is pretty
silent about what he’s seeing, unfortunate for art historians,
we want to know more, but I’m showing you this image
because this was commissioned by the Marquise de Pompadour and displayed in that Salon
that Casanova attended in August of that year. And she commissioned this also
for the Château de Bellevue, the same place where that sculpture would have been seen. And it was the first religious painting that she commissioned from Boucher, and she gives him complete
freedom over the narrative, which is much less austere than earlier representations
of the biblical passage had been in the past. And it perfectly, in my mind, shows how the sacred and profane
can really wonderfully cohabitate, not only in
Pompadour’s patronage but also in Boucher’s practice. So Casanova’s trip to
the Salon of that year was by the way not one
for artistic betterment, not necessarily trying to learn much, but he sees it as a wonderful
financial opportunity. His brother, C.D. had mentioned to you, was Francesco Casanova, and he was a painter of battle scenes, and Casanova walks around and he says, in his own words, my
brother could make a fortune because there weren’t
any other battle scenes prominently on display, and then Francesco Casanova
would soon join him in Paris and would go on to have
a very healthy career also at the Royal Academy. And this is one of two
paintings in the exhibition by Francesco. So Casanova says little about works of art, as you’ve learned today, but I would like to think
he at least knew Boucher by reputation. Boucher’s paintings were
at this moment adorning many of the most elite
private residences in Paris, and here I’m showing
you this glorious cycle of Boucher paintings, commissioned for the Hôtel Bergeret
de Frouville in 1769. By the way, this is only the second time these paintings have been reunited, and it kind of form this
crescendo of the exhibition, the last time, by the way, was
also at the Kimbell, in 2004. And they were commissioned
by Jean-Francois Bergeret for his home in the rue de Vendôme the year before Boucher’s death, and it was the largest private commission that he had ever received. And so you have to imagine, I mean these are really enormous pictures, you have to imagine being
in a very kind of small, intimate space in a
Parisian private residence and being physically
overcome by these panels with the types of glimmering, gilt bronze that Tom showed you earlier, it must have been very
dizzying for any visitor. Here is just one example
of one of the panels. Boucher had never before
treated this subject, either, we see the goddess Juno asking Aeolus; she’s offering him a nymph
in exchange for his help, she wants to cause a shipwreck
for Aeneas and his fleet. And here is a great detail, Boucher’s frothy fantasy with these curvilinear forms again would have really
complemented the types of decorative objects that
you see in our exhibition and that some of which
Tom talked about earlier. Now Ovid and Virgil provided a rich source of visual subjects for Boucher, but Boucher was kind of
attracted to these narratives because they offered him the opportunity for depicting erotic adventures abounding in conquest and transformation. This is a nice narrative
link also to Casanova. So in our catalog, which
I hope you will all buy, it’s beautiful, it’s pink, and it’s filled with delightful essays, and there is one really great essay by our colleague Susan Wager
entitled Amorous Pursuits, and she discusses the
ways in which modern ideas about love and sex originated and the social transformations
that were sweeping 18th-century Europe. And, let’s go ahead, and here
I’m showing you a painting by Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée. This is Mars and Venus, and this really exemplifies
the type of sexually charged mythological painting that would start appearing more and more as the century progressed. And in the words of George Shackelford yesterday, we had a lovely Scholar’s Day, he said, if you look just up here, I’m trying do my Southern
accent, it’s not working, if you look just up here, you wouldn’t even know
that it’s a god and goddess, because they look like just
a very handsome man and woman in a very intimate moment and not like the immortals that they are. It’s the clues down
here that give it away. But here I just want to show
you these wonderful details. This is very, it’s very seductive here, really lovely, but when critic Denis Diderot saw this painting at the Salon of 1771, he
remarked that the figures, let’s go back to them, the figures looked more
like a handsome country boy and a pretty trollop
than a god and a goddess. And so he’s joking, but this
would have been infuriating to someone like Diderot. Here they are again. And Diderot did not see this
picture, as far as we know, but he would have hated it, too. This is another type of
mythological painting, and instead of again
promoting kingly glory as a history painter should be doing, this is more a scene of carnal love, and this is one in a
series of mythological and pastoral overdoor paintings by Boucher and his studio featuring
Diana’s companions. And here again, as I mentioned, he is using an Ovidian subject as a way to portray a naughty scene, as here a scene of erotically
entwined female nudes, and this is narrative trope that he would return to over 25 times, over a dozen times over
a course of 25 years. It becomes kind of a hallmark, and here you see their
wonderful, very soft bodies kind of swathed in this voluminous fabric, the water kind of lapping at the feet, and this very suggestive
young blonde woman lifting her skirt with her hand here and then pointing here to
a quiver full of arrows, and this is not only Diana’s attribute, but this is a well-known sexual euphemism, and any visitor of an 18th-
century Salon, for instance would have understood the pun, planter sa flèche, or to plant the arrow,
was certainly naughty. And this painting has
rightfully been discussed as an instance of Boucher
co-opting female homo-eroticism to satisfy the heterosexual male fantasy of his potential patrons. And here I’m showing you a
work by Boucher’s most prized student, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, who preferred scenes of everyday life charged with this Casanovian
sense of libertinage over the heroic mythological genre in which he was trained
and certainly intended, at least in his early career,
to become a history painter, and he would soon kind of eschew that part of his work in
favoring cabinet pictures for private clientele. And this painting is called the Seesaw. It’s an early work,
it’s beautiful, from 1750, and he’s still painting
very much in the style of his teacher Boucher, and
we see this young couple in this kind of rustic setting, seemingly innocent and playful. But the whole painting, of course, is alluding to a sexual encounter, we see a makeshift seesaw, she’s grasping the branch,
and the shape of the branch really kind of echoed
in these accoutrement right here, the wine jar with its
long handle, and et cetera. And the notion of swinging
women or women on swings had appeared with great frequency in the 17th and 18th century,
particularly in print culture, and the idea being that
swinging quickens the heartbeat but it also sets the body
into rhythmic motion. And Fragonard, I should
mention, is not just relying on innuendo here,
it’s very much the way that he’s painting and, of course, you can’t tell this from a slide, but I implore you to
go into the exhibition after this talk and to look
at this passage right here and particularly her gown, this incredibly lively handling of paint and this energetic application
is meant to further the notion of play, I believe, and it’s really, it’s quite lovely. Here is another work by Fragonard, this is called La Curiosité. This is a very small-format picture, which has been installed in a vitrine, and it’s measuring just
about six by four inches, so it’s slight but it does
pack a punch, I will tell you. And so part of its success
is that it’s at first really kind of difficult to read, but it’s the confusion,
the kind of peeling back of what’s happening here which makes it again quite successful. So we see these two
young girls peeking out behind these heavy curtains, and their act of looking
is really mirroring our act of looking, and this, by the way, is
a recurring storyline in Casanova’s memoirs, kind of stumbling upon ribald behavior. And here we see a hand
grasping some rose petals, this pink kind of draws our eye down, and you see a naked breast here and then another basket of flowers, so something is happening
in this little picture, and we have stumbled upon it naughtily. Here is another painting by Fragonard also in our show, which is all
about the act of voyeurism, but unlike that last work, here these figures are so absorbed they of course are not even aware that they are being watched. And then in one of the
naughtiest paintings in the exhibition, also by Fragonard, you can see that he was kept
very busy by his clients. We see these two women, and this actually likely
a scene of prostitution, these two young women jumping on the bed, any viewer again would know
that the symbol of the dog was one of female excitement, and we believe it’s a brothel, this mirror right here of course is a common feature in a brothel. And again it’s the idea of
this kind of male fantasy that appealed to Fragonard’s
collectors very much. And Casanova, by the way,
recounts many such scenes of not only brothels but
perhaps his experiences with pairs of sisters, and
pairs of women, and et cetera that are quite entertaining, shall we say. So attitudes towards prostitution have relaxed over the
course of the 18th century, with one writer even claiming
that by 1783 in Paris there were over 40 thousand
women working in the industry, and here I’m showing you a
painting by Pierre Subleyras, who was a French academician,
he worked primarily in Rome, he painted that gorgeous
portrait of Pope Benedict that C.D. showed you in
his talk earlier today. But here he’s depicting
a scene from La Fontaine, La Fontaine’s tales in novels and verse. And these were a series of stories that were incredibly popular
during the Ancien Regime and were illustrated wildly
by Boucher, by Fragonard, and someone like Subleyras
certainly would have understood that this particular passage in La Fontaine would have been, again,
appealed to a collector of libertine cabinet pictures. And here we’re seeing
the courtesan Constance, who is very ambitious and
had been trying very, very, to no avail, to win
over this man, Camille’s, he’s a young nobleman, his affection, he is not interested in her, which only fuels her passion for him. And so we see the moment
where she’s kneeling down before him, like a servant, and she’s undressing him, and this is a kind of
wonderful moment right here, her hand in his stocking, again a very, very
intimate moment. And we see, I actually can’t see it, but there’s some lovely
details in the foreground. Subleyras did several such scenes as these, and again there was a considerable market. Now as I begin to conclude here, I want to just remind you
that when the French court had passed from the Sun King Louis XIV to the supposedly licentious
regent Philippe d’Orléans and then to Louis the 15th and the time of de Marquise de Pompadour, there was a proliferation of the libertine images
that I’ve shown you today, and they appear with great frequency, but this is of course
only one very fine thread in the very pointed entry way
into 18th-century art history, and as a concluding image I’m showing you another one of those Boucher panels, this one belonging to the Kimbell, Boreas abducting Oreithyia, which again was taken from Ovid, from his sixth book of Metarmorphoses. And this image shows when Boreas, who is the wind god of the north, he has failed to win the
hand of the Athenian princess, so he’s stormed in and he’s
about to abduct her and rape her, and, but this is not a scene of violence, I mean it’s much to the contrary, this is sensual, it’s
illuminated with light, it’s injected with those
flourishes of frothy fantasy that I mentioned earlier, and it’s Boucher’s agreeable retelling of historical and literary
subjects such as this one that would go on to become quite a threat to the Davidian Neoclassicism
that would soon be emerging in France. And by the time an artist
like Jacques-Louis David, who becomes kind of a pillar
of the French revolution, begins to emerge, Pompadour
would long be dead of tuberculosis, and Louis the 15th would be on his way out, and Casanova, by the way,
his love affair with France would long be over. He would return, I mentioned,
three more times to Paris, but with each time, his
love affair with Paris, with Parisian high culture,
would be soon waning. And so it’s really the decadence of those first two stays which coincide perfectly with Pompadour’s life and her patronage, it’s one of the great
highlights of his memoir. Thank you. (audience applause) – Extend my thanks to all of our speakers and to all of you for
coming out this morning, and I urge you to come
back again and again and tell all your friends
about how wonderful this exhibition is, and about how much you learned at the Kimbell Art Museum. The, eventually the symposium talks will be on the worldwide
web, on our YouTube channel, so you can refer other people to them, and we are very, very happy
to have had you all here this morning, and I wish
you a wonderful afternoon. Thank you. (audience applause)

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