Volume 22, Issue 2 | Autumn 2023

American Art History Digitally
sponsored by the Terra Foundation for American Art
article image
From Zuni to Dupont Circle: Isabel and Larz Anderson’s Native American Collection
This digital art history project analyzes the display of Native American pottery and weavings from the US Southwest in the Washington, DC, home of a wealthy, well-connected, worldly, and intellectually curious couple, Isabel and Larz Anderson, in the first decade of the twentieth century. It contends that these objects were presented by the Andersons in eclectic arrangements designed to authenticate their cosmopolitanism and to facilitate their advancement in white, elite social and political circles. The article, which analyzes how the Andersons refigured the pots and blankets in their home, is expanded and more fully illustrated in an interactive digital tour of Anderson House that reveals the broader domestic and social context in which the Native objects appeared.
From Print to Photograph, Stage to Page, and East to West: Transmedial Narratives and Cross-Cultural Understanding in Ogawa Kazumasa’s Scenes from the Chiushingura and the Story of the Forty-Seven Rōnin
Ogawa Kazumasa’s 1892 publication Scenes from the Chiushingura and the Story of the Forty-Seven Rōnin presents a story blending fact and fiction that became the basis for one of the best-known plays in Edo-period Japan but was unfamiliar to Westerners. With seventeen collotype images and accompanying text by Scottish author James Murdoch, this volume offers a unique opportunity to consider how photographic images of this story compared to their very popular woodblock-print precedents. As an English-language book, it also offers insight into late nineteenth-century transmedial visuality and cross-cultural exchanges. Careful analysis of the book’s images and text and their intersections shows that Ogawa’s volume found an understanding and appreciation in the English-speaking West that paralleled that of woodblock prints of the play in Japan.
Cézanne nostalgique: Nostalgia, Memory, Illusion
In this article I argue that certain paintings by Cézanne reflect his visceral attachment to his Provençal homeland and, conversely, a persistent nostalgia that haunted him during his frequent and lengthy absences from home, especially in the 1890s. I do so by reconsidering the themes and the visual conception of several of his paintings as expressions of his longing: a blend of actual experience, nostalgia, desire, and memory, as seen through the lens of older and contemporary theoretical discourses on the subject of homesickness.
The Dessins Denon: Reframing Art Spoliation and the Spoliator in Napoleonic France
Between 1805 and 1813, the Musée du Louvre’s director, Dominique-Vivant Denon, crisscrossed Europe in the company of draftsmen to pursue a print project designed to glorify Napoleon’s military conquests. The planned recueil (edited series of original prints) was never engraved, and it exists today as a dispersed collection of drawings of battlefields, triumphal entries, and landscapes. Curiously, the so-called Dessins Denon also contain a number of little-known images that recount the French confiscation of European art treasures and Denon’s active involvement in it. This study suggests that by anchoring his highly mediated vision of art theft in the broader context of the Napoleonic victories, Denon sought to memorialize his role as chief of the “cultural conquests” and to burnish this legacy by transforming the traditional image of wartime art looting into a respectable and professional post-Enlightenment pursuit, as worthy of remembrance as France’s storied Italian campaigns and the victory at Austerlitz.
Domesticating Robespierre: The Victorian Historical Imagination in William Henry Fisk’s French Revolution Paintings
William Henry Fisk’s 1863 Robespierre Receives Letters from the Friends of His Victims, Threatening Him with Assassination depicts the infamous French revolutionary alone in his room, perusing correspondence and swathed in an overabundance of flowers. This article contends that by reimagining Maximilien Robespierre in the so-called Intimate Romantic style, relocating him to the home from the political stage and obliquely referencing his apocryphal engagement to Éléonore Duplay, Fisk transformed the Revolution from a political problem into an entertaining melodrama. He did so in order to dissipate contemporary British political conflict by imagining an unproblematic national identity grounded in a shared appreciation for the beautiful.
Myth and Meaning in Edward Burne-Jones’s The Flower Book (1882–98)
Edward Burne-Jones’s The Flower Book was in some respects the culmination of his life’s work. The book’s thirty-eight watercolors with diverse themes relate both to one another and to his earlier paintings, yet their meanings are often inscrutable. Each design takes its title from the name of a flower, but it is never the plant itself that is illustrated. Instead, the name serves as the point of departure for an image, typically one taken from a biblical or mythological source. Drawing from Burne-Jones’s extensive correspondence with Eleanor, Lady Leighton Warren, this article suggests that the artist used mythmaking and biblical parables, two narrative forms dependent on metaphor, as models to create meaning in The Flower Book.
New Discoveries
François-Auguste Biard, Bust-Length Study of a Man, ca. 1848

Supported by:

Terra Foundation Fellowships in American Art
at the Smithsonian American Art Museum
Book Reviews
Exhibition Reviews