Hello from The Society for the History of Collecting. Many events coming up for SocHistColl members in the remainder of 2018 – scroll down to hear about events past and future, including a Curator’s Tour of the forthcoming Strawberry Hill exhibition, Society trip to Chantilly, and don’t miss our exclusive book discounts from Yale University Press!

As ever, if you have events to advertise or ideas, do get in touch at sochistcoll@gmail.com.



Book Launch: 25 October 6-8pm

Collecting Art In the Italian Renaissance Court: Objects and Exchanges by Leah Clarke, published by Cambridge University Press.

In this book, Leah R. Clark examines collecting practices across the Italian Renaissance court, exploring the circulation, exchange, collection, and display of objects. Rather than focusing on patronage strategies or the political power of individual collectors, she uses the objects themselves to elucidate the dynamic relationships formed through their exchange. Her study brings forward the mechanisms that structured relations within the court, and most importantly, also with individuals, representations, and spaces outside the court. The volume examines the courts of Italy through the wide variety of objects – statues, paintings, jewellery, furniture, and heraldry – that were valued for their subject matter, material forms, histories, and social functions. As Clark shows, the late fifteenth-century Italian court an be located not only in the body of the prince, but also in the objects that constituted symbolic practices, initiated political dialogues, caused rifts, created memories, and formed associations.

In collaboration with the Seminar on Collecting and Display, Institute of Historical Research and the Open University


Curator-led Tour: 21 November 6-8pm

Join Curator Silvia Davoli for a tour of the exhibition Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill: Masterpieces from Horace Walpole’s Collection [20 October 2018 – 24 February 2019]. This exhibition brings back to Strawberry Hill some of the most important masterpieces in Horace Walpole’s famous and unique collection for a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition. Horace Walpole’s collection was one of the most important of the 18th century. It was dispersed in a great sale in 1842. For the first time in over 170 years, Strawberry Hill can be seen as Walpole conceived it, with the collection in the interiors as he designed it, shown in their original positions.

Members only, book now on Eventbrite.


Lost Treasures Exhibition

Emerging Scholars Seminar: 11 December 6-8pm

Collecting Histories Forum

SocHistColl collaborate with the Seminar for Collecting and Display to present new research projects from emerging scholars. Further information to be circulated soon.



The American chapter’s first event of the academic year will be a tour of the Ebsworth Collection Sale at Christie’s the second week of November (date and time tbc). Stay turned for a future collaboration with Master Drawings NY during Drawings Week in the last week of January, and a special New York visit from Vanessa Schmidt of the New Orleans Museum of Art, who is behind the museum’s upcoming exhibition on the Orléans Collection: https://noma.org/exhibitions/the-orleans-collection/. Members of the American chapter can expect to hear from Elizabeth Pergam about these exciting events.



We are happy to circulate details of two groups dedicated to the appreciation and collection of ceramics. The English Ceramic Circle (or ECC for short) is the oldest society dedicated to the study of British ceramics and enamels. Members interested in ceramics at all levels of knowledge are always made welcome. Founded in 1927, they aim to advance knowledge by presenting new research on these subjects at their meetings and by publishing this research. The Circle`s worldwide membership embraces collectors, curators, archaeologists, potters, auctioneers, dealers, social historians and all those with an interest in the history of ceramics made in the British Isles.

The London Ceramics Circle is dedicated to the study of British and International Ceramics (both porcelain and earthenware) and its development up to the present day. They enjoy lectures by ceramic experts, occasional visits to places of ceramic interest, and a two-day Seminar in October each year. Next lecture will be on 2 November 2018: Desmond King on ‘English 18th Century Porcelain Knife & Fork Handles in Context, incl. recent discoveries’. For details and more events, see the Circle’s website. http://www.londonceramiccircle.com/meetings.htm



AGM and Annual lecture at the Art Workers Guild

On 13th September, the Society held their AGM and Annual Lecture at the Art Workers Guild. After hearing reports from the President, Membership Officer, Events Committee, Newsletter Editor and Treasurer, members agreed an increase of Membership Subscription rates for the year 2019-20: from £18 full, £30 joint, £40 institutional, £10 student to £21 full, £35 joint, £46 institutional £12 student.

This year, we were pleased and honoured to welcome Dame Rosalind Savill, Director Emerita of the Wallace Collection, to give our annual lecture. who. Positing questions such as, when does a patron become a collector? Savill’s lecture traced the history of three Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace as collectors of Sèvres porcelain. Her lecture was illuminating and thought-provoking to Sèvre connoisseurs and novices alike. Highlighting idiosyncrasies of taste, unorthodox composite display groups, and the romantic exploits of the various Marquesses and Marchionesses, she presented a fascinating, colourful, memorable and loving romp through these great private collections, which now combine to form the greatest museum collection of Sèvres porcelain in the world.


The Paston Treasures: Microcosm of the Known World

The exhibition on the painting and collections of the Paston family held in Norwich Castle Museum over the summer, was a long-awaited moment for all those interested in 17th-century collecting or more particularly, in the cabinet of curiosity. The painting of the Paston Treasure was known, but not very well and was full of unresolved questions, including when it was painted, by whom or inded why. The exhibition has brought the painting the attention it deserves, and although many questions remain, some, such as the dating and the commission seem closer to being resolved.

As a result of extensive research, it is now suggested that the painting was probably commissioned by William (1610-1663), rather than his son Robert as previously thought. William has been shown to have had a most fascinating history, including a long tour to Italy certainly and most probably through the Hapsburg domains to Schloss Ambras near Innsbruck, possibly to Prague and certainly to the Egypt. His treasures, many of them included in the painting, reflected the objects that he would have seen, both at Ambras and in Florence. In Florence, he visited the Grand ducal collections with the artist and sculptor, Nicholas Stone, another link between this merchant and the international world of art collectors.

The exhibition brought together many of actual objects displayed in the painting, as well as examples of the types listed in the 1673 inventory of Oxnead Hall, demonstrating the rich and very continental taste and commissions of the owner. New discoveries abounded, such as those resulting from the technical investigations, which confirmed the changes and repainting of some sections, thought to come from the intervention of the patron. A painting of Oxted Hall was on display, which had been the subject of a recent article by Simon Jervis in the Burlington Magazine about the architectural framework for the building of Oxnead Hall; the section of the exhibition on the Paxtons and alchemy took the visitor into the scientific world of Sir Thomas Browne in Norfolk to the manuscript by Margaret Paston (1652-1723) of alchemical recipes c1683. Married to a Venetian and exchanging information with the princes of Europe, her life demands more investigation.

The commission for the painting remains extraordinary both in terms of subject and artist. Clearly painted by an artist of considerable skill, we cannot determine who he was, except that he was probably either Dutch or Flemish, and possibly was visiting England rather than a resident. The wealth of detail in the painting led the curators of the exhibition and our guides. Andrew Moore and Francesca Vanke, to argue that the painter must have visited Oxnead Hall and painted the objects in situ.

With such a plethora of art works and historical context, it is no wonder that the members of the Society happily spent many hours in the exhibition, led through all the intrigues and insights into the cultural ambience of England in the middle of the seventeenth century. There is not space here to go into all the many aspects of the exhibition: the patrons, family, travel, artistic milieu, architecture, works of art, history of science, politics all played a role and took their part in this fascinating exhibition. The members of the Society who were able to take part in the visit were privileged to be able to delve into some of these questions through the generosity of Andrew and Francesca. We are enormously grateful to them for giving up the whole of their Saturday to us and offering us such a rewarding visit.



Special Offer on Collecting Titles

Yale University Press is offering the recipients of the Society for the History of Collecting newsletter a special discount of 20% off on four of our recent titles about collecting when purchased from the YaleBooks website: http://bit.ly/collecting18


The Paston Treasure (RRP £60.00, hardback), by Nathan Flis 

The Royal Academy of Arts (RRP £75.00, hardback), by Robin Simon

Pietro Bembo (RRP £50.00, hardback), by Susan Nalezyty

Monet the Collector (RRP £40.00, hardback), by Marianne Mathieu 

Enter promo code Y1851 at the checkout stage of your order. Free P&P, UK orders only. Offer ends 15-11-18



CFP When Michelangelo was Modern. Symposium to be held 12-13 April 2019, at The Frick Collection and Frick Art Reference Library, New York. Deadline 22 October 2018. https://arthist.net/archive/19086

GRANT Francis Haskell Memorial Fund. Deadline extended to 22 October. http://burlington.org.uk/jobs-links

SEMINAR 6pm, Tuesday 13 November: Seminar on Collecting and Display. Cecilia Riva will speak on Austen Henry Layard, the achievement of “a collector of various things”. For more information, see the Seminar’s website.

LECTURE 6.30pm Wednesday 14 November: The V&A’s annual Rosalind and Arthur Gilbert Lecture. Professor Dr. Dirk Syndram, Deputy Director of the Green Vaults will speak on ‘Europe’s treasure chest: Inside Germany’s Green Vaults’. Book on the V&A’s website.

CONFERENCE Thursday 15 – Friday 16 November: Conference at the Wallace Collection. Sir Richard Wallace and His Age: Connoisseurs, Collectors and Philanthropists. Book on the Wallace Collection website.

SEMINAR Friday 16 November: Seminar on Artists’ Collections at the Carlsberg Akademi, Copenhagen. Artists’ Collections and Echoes of the Past in the Present. Register by 7 November 2018. Artists’ Collections (Copenhagen, 16 Nov 18) https://arthist.net/archive/18936

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