Volume 23, Issue 1 | Spring 2024

“Far too black”: Fanny Eaton, Simeon Solomon, and The Mother of Moses
In 1860 the Jewish artist Simeon Solomon exhibited at the Royal Academy in London a painting with a biblical theme entitled The Mother of Moses, for which his model was Fanny Eaton, a Jamaican-born, multiracial woman whose mother had been formerly enslaved. This article considers the creation, display, and reception of this early painting in Solomon’s oeuvre, with an emphasis on the racial, cultural, and sociopolitical implications of the painting’s subject vis-à-vis its model and a focus on historical and contemporaneous issues of slavery and emancipation for both Jewish and Black people at the time.
“Her Own Room Will Be a Picture”: Alva Vanderbilt’s Bedroom à la Pompadour at Marble House (1892) by Jules Allard et Fils
The bedroom of US society leader Alva Vanderbilt at Marble House in Newport, Rhode Island (1892), features an extravagant French Revival furniture suite crafted by the studio of French furnituremaker and designer Jules Allard. This bedroom suite reflected Vanderbilt’s taste for courtly furniture of the past, yet it was produced according to Allard’s modern attitudes and practices. This article claims that Allard’s modern approach to a historical style resonated with Vanderbilt and helped her to realize her self-fashioning as a modern-day equivalent of the eighteenth-century French courtier the Marquise de Pompadour. Under Allard’s guidance, the bedroom became a performative space, a tableau vivant (living picture), in which Vanderbilt could enact her artistic, social, and imperial aspirations.
A City of One’s Own: The Parisian Letters of the Swedish Painter Hanna Hirsch-Pauli
This article presents a critical overview of the letters of Swedish artist Hanna Hirsch-Pauli (1864–1940), written to her family during two study trips to Paris in 1885–87. Focused on descriptions of her extensive flâneries through the French capital, Hirsch’s letters challenge prevalent narratives of aspiring Nordic women artists in Paris that emphasize their professional pursuits and their movement largely limited to going back and forth between apartments and studios. Although the vibrant Paris cityscape Hirsch describes in her letters never appears in her paintings, the experience of the metropolis was crucial to her development as an artist, not as a source of inspiration but as a space of emancipation, “a city of her own.”
From Center to Periphery: International Collaboration in Mid-Nineteenth Century Rome and the Artistic Milieu for a Silver Commission for Malta
This article focuses on a set of four mid-nineteenth-century silver altar statues representing the Evangelists belonging to the Parish Church of St. Philip of Agira in Żebbuġ, on the island of Malta. Commissioned from the Roman silversmith Vincenzo Belli the Younger, the figures closely resemble cartoons by the German painter Friedrich Overbeck for a series of frescoes in the chapel of the Torlonia villa in Castel Gandolfo, executed by Alexander-Maximilian Seitz. Overbeck’s cartoons, Seitz’s frescoes, or prints reproducing them by Joseph Von Keller and his brother Franz, were translated into three-dimensional modelli by Pietro Galli, a student of the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, for Belli’s use. The author discusses the remarkable history and international context of the commission and analyzes how a small-town Maltese church could tap into the same network of artists in Rome that was patronized by well-known families such as the Torlonia and even the Pope himself.
New Discoveries
Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Antinous, 1874
Mary Ann Flaxman, Portrait of Eleanor Anne Porden, ca. 1811
Practicing Art History
Reinstalling Nineteenth-Century American Art in US Museums

Supported by:

Terra Foundation Fellowships in American Art
at the Smithsonian American Art Museum