Volume 17, Issue 1 | Spring 2018
Housing the Art of the Nation: The Home as Museum in Gustav F. Waagen’s Treasures of Art in Great Britain
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This article assesses the public resonance of private artistic taste in England, and the role of German art expert and museum director Gustav Friedrich Waagen in the transition from privately-owned collections to the concept of art as belonging to the nation. Particularly attracted to England and to what he described as its “treasures of art,” he published a catalogue in 1837 entitled Kunstwerke und Künstler in England und Paris (Works of Art and Artists in England and Paris), the first attempt at a comprehensive scholarly survey of major art collections, both private and public, which was translated in English in 1854–57 as Treasures of Art in Great Britain. By inviting a foreign art historian into their homes, wealthy art collectors symbolically granted public access to the artworks in their possession through the “imaginary museum” that he was assembling, while simultaneously asserting their ownership of these objects with which their name was associated.
From Picturesque Cairo to Abstract Islamic Designs: L’Art arabe and the Economy of Nineteenth-Century Book Publishing
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This article focuses on the production of L’Art arabe d’après les monuments du Caire depuis le 7ème siècle jusqu’à la fin du 18ème siècle (1869–77), a multi-volume illustrated album on the architecture and ornament of Islamic Cairo attributed to the French Egyptologist Émile Prisse d’Avennes. By examining the working relationships between Prisse d’Avennes, the French daguerreotypist Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey, the publisher Morel, the sponsor Savoy, and the printmakers involved in the preparation of Prisse d’Avennes’s plates, this study points out the conflicting views underlying the conceptualization of L’Art arabe, which was by no means singular in its conception or execution. It also demonstrates that the material included in L’Art arabe, which presents the changing fashions of the time from contextualized scenes of Cairo to abstract representations of Islamic designs, largely depended on the commercial prerogatives of the book’s sponsor and the publisher, rather than primarily upon Prisse d’Avennes’s own objectives.