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Archive Newsletter 21 March 2014

Welcome to the Forum newsletter for our latest round-up of news and cultural events from the Early Modern period.

There are a number of new books out relating to the Early Modern period. One of those is Dunmore's New World : The Extraordinary Life of a Royal Governor in Revolutionary America by James Corbett David which was reviewed on the www.history.ac.uk website by Dr Stephen Conway of University College London. Dunmore was the last royal governor of Virginia who made a proclamation offering freedom to any slave who would help restore the authority of the crown in 1775, and historians have puzzled over his motives. Dr Conway wrote that the author contributes to the debate, but seeks mainly to introduce the reader to a Dunmore who was more than the controversial governor, writing a full biography tracing his rise to a colonial governorship in New York from his questionable beginnings in Scottish aristocracy, until his death. He says it is an entertaining and enoyable read, which seems to want to be seen as a cross over book, attracting more than a scholarly audience.

Solomon's Secret Arts: the Occult in the Age of Enlightenment by Paul Kleber Monod was reviewed by Dr Peter Elmer of the University of Exeter, who wrote that it is an important work that provides the first “informed, well-researched and highly nuanced account of the fortunes of ‘occult’ thought and practice in England from the middle decades of the 17th century to its demise at the end of the 18th century”.

God, Duty and Community in English Economic Life, 1660-1720 by Brodie Waddell was reviewed by Jennifer Bishop of the University of Cambridge., who said the book seeks to explore the economic culture of later Stuart England, focusing on concepts such as divine will, social duty and communal ties. She wrote that the author’s central contention is that these cultural ideas and moral codes did not decline in importance over the 17th century but continued to shape and define the economic lives of ordinary people in Stuart England. The reviewer wrote that is it unclear how new Waddell’s argument or approach is, and that the book would have benefited from a closer analysis of some of the new forms of economic activity that arose during the later Stuart period. It is still though a “useful introduction to the vibrancy of economic life in early modern England”.

Banishment in the Early Atlantic World: Convicts, Rebels and Slaves by Gwenda Morgan and Peter Rushton was reviewed by Professor Aaron Fogleman of Northern Illinois University, who wrote that it is a study of the exercise of imperial power in the early modern era and the way authorities at all levels moved, expelled, and transported people within the British Empire. Prof Fogleman wrote that the brief conclusion is very good as it ties various cases and developments together. He raised several questions he felt were not fully answered in the book, but found it useful it had drawn attention to them.

Chaplains in early modern England : Patronage, literature and religion edited by Hugh Adlington, Tom Lockwood, Gillian Wright was reviewed by Dr Nicholas Cranfield, who says the editors are all senior lecturers at the University of Birmingham’s English Literature department, and the book is the result of a one-day colloquium held in under the auspices of the Centre for Reformation and Early Modern Studies at Birmingham. The intention was to study the cultural significance of chaplains in the early modern period. Dr Cranfield wrote that these 10 essays should “provoke much thought and suggest afresh the need to research the ministry of the Church of England as broadly as possible at every stage”.

The Name of a Queen : William Fleetwood's Itinerarium ad Windsor by Charles Beem and Dennis Moore was reviewed by Estelle Paranque of University College London. The book includes the source, William Fleetwood’s Itinerarium ad Windsor written in 1575 which revisits Queen Elizabeth I’s queenship and legitimacy in a male-dominated world, and also essays by historians and literary scholars focusing on the source. The reviewer wrote that the source’s strength is that it highlights and encapsulates the concerns and hopes that represented the power of a queen during the early modern period.

Art

In the Guardian, Jonathan Jones reviewed the National Gallery’s Veronese: Magnificence in Renaissance Venice exhibition which is on until June 15. He asked how an art gallery could do justice to a painter who specialised in decorating the walls and ceilings of palaces and creating works that dwarfed the rooms they were in. The National Gallery has cleared a suite of rooms that normally house the permanent collection, and he wrote the result is “an utter joy …Veronese is an artist of abundant, irrepressible life”. Veronese, who died in 1588, painted Venetian cityscapes and people. The Independent found the show offered a chance to see Veronese’s colour palette - orpiment, realgar, azurite, ultramarine – away from the dimly-lit buildings they are usually in.

An exhibition at Tate Britain aims to explore JMW Turner’s later works up to the age of 75, and explode myths and falsehoods that surrounded him then, mainly that he was senile or mentally ill. More than a third of the works, produced from 1835-1850, are being borrowed from around the world. The exhibition will be staged from 10 September – 25 January.

The Royal Academy is also displaying more than 150 of world's first mechanically made colour prints from the 16th century for the first time in a special exhibition. The techniques used to create the Renaissance chiaroscuro woodcuts were revolutionary, and they feature scenes of witches boiling frogs, fire-breathing creatures being clubbed to death and lovers caught unawares by the grim reaper. The exhibition is on until June 8.

In the Observer , Laura Cumming wrote how the lure of ruins in art, from crumbling abbeys to all-out apocalypse, makes for a compelling show at Tate Britain, Ruin Lust, which is on until May 18. There are works from Piranesi, Constable, Turner and many more, and paintings include The Inner Temple After the Great Fire of 4 January 1737 by Richard Wilson. Jonathan Jones in the Guardian found it a ‘brilliant but bonkers’ exhibition. The Independent found the exhibition conceptual, without being cold.

Mark Brown wrote about how Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral From the Meadows from 1831 is going on its first national tour, though John Thornes, an emeritus professor of applied meteorology at Birmingham University said the position of the rainbow in it was meteorologically impossible. The painting was loaned to the Tate for decades but received a large amount of Heritage Lottery Fund and Art Fund money to buy it for £23.1 million when it went up for sale, with the condition it went on tour.

Portraits of the affluent Child family are returning to the National Trust's London mansion Osterley Park after a century away, Maev Kennedy reported in the Guardian . The family made a fortune in banking and transformed their home into a palatial mansion on the outskirts of London in the eighteenth century. The family portraits will hang in the house, which has Robert Adam interiors, on a ten-year loan from the family trust of the tenth Earl of Jersey, whose grandfather gave the house to the National Trust in 1949. The works include a self portrait by seventeenth century painter William Dobson, and Allan Ramsay’s 1758 portrait of Francis Child.

In the Guardian, Laura Cumming reported on the National Gallery’s Strange Beauty : Masters of the German Renaissance exhibition, which is on until May 11. She called it riveting, and said the German Renaissance brought strangeness to art. Artists featured include Lucas Cranach and Matthias Grünewald.

It was reported that a genuine and “acceptably bonny” portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie has been rediscovered by historian Bendor Grosvenor, who had previously caused upset to the Scottish souvenir industry by saying the best-known portrait of him often used on shortbread tins was not genuine. The newly-found portrait was painted in Edinburgh in 1745 by Allan Ramsay, in the year the Young Pretender, grandson of the deposed Stuart king James II, launched a doomed invasion of England in an attempt to restore his family to the throne. The portrait was found at Gosford House, just outside Edinburgh.

Theatre

In the Observer , Susannah Clapp looked at the history of Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre, and the first performance in its new building, which is Twelfth Night, directed by Gemma Bodinetz, which runs until April 5. She said the production emphasised the comic aspects of the play, though they are not always funny, and at three-and-a-quarter hours it runs for too long. In the Guardian , Michael Billington found it a charming new start for the theatre, and said it has a superb Malovolio in Nicholas Woodeson and Matthew Kelly as Sir Toby Belch, but could do with speeding up a bit. The Independent also looked at the new Everyman Theatre, which kept its bistro, thrust stage and trademark neon sign, as requested by the people of Liverpool, in the rebuilt venue. The reviewer found lots of strong performances in Twelfth Night too.

*We would welcome news of your recently-published journal articles or books, and forthcoming conferences. You can email Newsletter Author Julie Chamberlain at emforum@warwick.ac.uk with details.