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The Cabinetmaker’s Account: John Head’s Record of Craft and Commerce in Colonial Philadelphia, 1718-1753 (Memoir 271)
English joiner John Head (1688–1754) immigrated to Philadelphia in 1717 and became one of its most successful artisans and merchants. However, his prominence was lost to history until the discovery of his account book at the Library of the American Philosophical Society.
The Tower of the Winds in Athens: Greeks, Romans, Christians, and Muslims: Two Millennia of Continual Use: Memoirs, APS (Vol. 270)
The Tower of the Winds has stood in the shadow of the Acropolis in
Athens for more than 2,100 years. This tall octagonal building, one of
the best preserved monuments from the classical period, was built by the
architect-astronomer Andronikos of Kyrrhos
as a horologion for keeping time. Almost all its features have been
attributed to the period of construction by the Greeks or renovations
made by the Romans. The building, however, was in use almost
continuously for two millennia, which includes Byzantine
and Ottoman phases. Pamela Webb, a classical archaeologist, examines
the Tower throughout its entire functional existence. A series of
appendices helps to put the Tower in broader context for the
post-classical periods. Winner of the 2016 John Frederick Lewis
Parmigianino’s Madonna of the Long Neck: A Grace Beyond the Reach of Art: Memoirs Vol. 269
This study is the first to offer a comprehensive overview of Parmigianino’s enigmatic painting of The Madonna of the Long Neck in the Uffizi Gallery. It expands previous formalistic discussions to treat the subject in terms of iconography, semiotics, studio practice, and art theory. It is argued that the painting is not merely an example of mannerist extravagance, but that the Virgin in her extraordinary distension can be explained by a litany in Ecclesiasticus, with her enlargement read as a signifier of her mercy (Misericordia). Parmigianino’s panel is interpreted as an Immaculate Conception. Because the magisterium had not fully defined the belief as dogma, the theological debate confused the artist and his contemporaries, but also gave them flexibility in their depictions of this abstract doctrine. The painting is situated with others of the subject from Leonardo and Giovanni Bellini to Federico Barocci and El Greco. The subject’s genesis as a theological exercise is traced through the artist’s drawings. Illus.
Letters of Rowland Whyte (1595-1608) : Memoir 268
Provides the first complete edition, annotated and with modernized spelling, of these important late-Elizabethan letters, written by Rowland Whyte as the personal agent and advisor at court of Robert Sidney, Viscount Lisle and first Earl of Leicester. His series of 292 surviving letters to Sidney, written between September 1595 and December 1602, were partly intended as intelligence documents, keeping Sidney fully briefed on court affairs and gossip. This edition also includes a shorter sequence of Whyte’s surviving letters to Gilbert Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, concerning the marriage of Talbot’s daughter, Lady Mary, to Robert Sidney’s rich and increasingly powerful nephew, William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke. A useful resource for the last years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. Illus.
Of Elephants & Roses: French Natural History, 1790-1830: Memoir 267
This award-winning illustrated book explores the fascinating history of the natural sciences in the turbulent years of post-revolutionary and Restoration France, from Empress Josephine’s black swans and rare Franklinia tree to a giraffe that walked 480 miles across France to greet the king. It is the catalogue for an international loan exhibition held in 2011 at the APS Museum in Philadelphia and the record of an associated interdisciplinary symposium held at the American Philosophical Society (APS) on December 1-3, 2011. The essays, commentaries, and discussions present new perspectives on French natural history, its influence on French culture, and its ties to the natural sciences in North America. Contributors include art historians, historians of science, and scholars of French literature, history, and culture. Illus.
The House of Barnes: The Man, The Collection, The Controversy (Memoir Vol. 266)
The House of Barnes: The Man, The Collection, The Controversy is a beautifully written study of the extraordinary art collector and volatile personality Albert C. Barnes. The book places him in the context of his own era, shedding new light on the ideas and movements (about art collecting, education, and aesthetics) that shaped so much of his thinking.
The Barnes’ major holdings of largely post-impressionist art include more than 800 paintings, with a strong focus on Renoir (181 canvases), Cézanne (69), Matisse (59), and Picasso (46 paintings and drawings). In its entirety, it is the greatest single collection of such art that has remained intact.
The last chapters of the book address the controversial events surrounding the Barnes Foundation’s move to Philadelphia, including vehement opposition—as well as strong support. There is an analysis of the Foundation’s financial plight, a review of the major court cases over the decades, and a characterization of the fervent reactions following the court’s decision to allow the move to take place.
The monograph is recommended for a broad audience, including those interested in art and art collecting, the role of art in education, and the development of cultural institutions.
Astronomy in the Maya Codices: Memoirs Vol. 265
The Precolumbian Maya were closely attuned to the movements of the Sun and the Moon, the stars and the planets. Their rituals and daily tasks were performed according to a timetable established by these celestial bodies, a timetable based on a highly complex calendar system. Agriculture provided the foundation for their civilization, and the skies served as a kind of farmer’s almanac for when to plant and when to harvest. In this remarkable volume, noted Maya scholars Harvey Bricker and Victoria Bricker offer invaluable insight into the complex world of the Precolumbian Maya, and in particular the amazing achievements of Maya astronomy, as revealed in the Maya codices the indigenous hieroglyphic books written before the Spanish Conquest. This far-reaching study confirms that, independent of the Old World traditions that gave rise to modern Western astronomy, the Precolumbian Maya achieved a sophisticated knowledge of astronomy based on observations recorded over centuries. Illus.
Visual Mechanic Knowledge: The Workshop Drawings of Isaac Ebenezer Markham (1795-1825), New England Textile Mechanic: Memoirs, APS (Vol. 263)
Markham's 60 or so drawings are the earliest-known set of textile machine maker’s workshop drawings in the U.S. prepared primarily for cotton machinery but also for wool carding and spinning equipment. Nothing similar has survived from the antebellum decades. Prepared between 1814 and 1825, a collection of such significance requires an examination of its provenance, a biography of the draftsman, and an analysis of the historical contexts shaping both draftsman and drawings. This marvelous book fulfills all of these goals. Markham’s drawings are evidence of the transition from preindustrial to industrial visual forms of technical knowledge, and of a much wider knowledge revolution in the U.S. The drawings also demonstrate the ubiquity of inventiveness, even in the most remote of early machine shops, at the extremity of the well-known American and transatlantic mechanic networks. Includes b-&-w illus. and 11 color plates.
Polar Hayes: The Life and Contributions of Isaac Israel Hayes, M.D.
In the mid-19th century as an ambitious young country expanded its horizons westward, Dr. Isaac Israel Hayes, a young physician from an Orthodox Quaker family in the rural farmland of Pennsylvania, turned his eyes to the North. As a member of the harrowing American arctic expedition under the command of Dr. Elisha Kent Kane in search of the lost British explorer Sir John Franklin, Hayes became obsessed with making his own mark in the far northern polar regions. He organized his own privately funded voyage to the Arctic in 1860, during which he claimed to have reached a ‘farthest north’ and to have stood on the edge of the fabled “Open Polar Sea,” a mythical ice-free zone in the high northern latitudes. Through his own hard fought experiences, combined with the knowledge learned from native Greenlanders or Polar Eskimos, he successfully influenced the course of Arctic discovery, causing perceptive explorers to follow his guidance and lead. Directing the same ambition to humanitarian and social causes, during the devastating U.S. Civil War and as an elected politician in New York State during its Gilded Age, Hayes served the ‘public good’ for a decade, with accomplishments as far reaching as his Arctic service, but little recognized even during his lifetime. In this book, which draws upon Hayes family papers, the little viewed diaries from Hayes’s own expeditions, as well as other unpublished primary sources, the story emerges of a remarkable but forgotten explorer, writer, politician, and humanitarian who epitomized the rugged and restless spirit of adventure and individualism of 19th-century America. Illus.
Peter Collinson and the Eighteenth-Century Natural History Exchange (Memoir 264)
Collinson’s life is a microcosm of 18th-cent. natural history. A gardener and naturalist by avocation, he was what we would now call a facilitator in natural science, disseminating botanical and horticultural knowledge during the Enlightenment. He influenced the Comte de Buffon and Linnaeus. He found clients for the Phila. naturalist John Bartram. American plants populated great estates like those of the Dukes of Richmond, Norfolk, and Bedford, as well as the Chelsea Physic Garden, and the nurseries of James Gordon and Robert Furber. Botanic painters such as Mark Catesby and Georg Dionysius Ehret painted American plants in Collinson’s garden. He had an unprecedented effect on the exchange of scientific info. on both sides of the Atlantic. Illus.
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