Tag Archives: periphery

Romanticism and the Peripheries


Bartolomeu dos Santos, Landscape with houses and figures in profile against a full moon, 1999, aquatint with a second sheet in color collaged before printing, British Museum.


Romanticism and the Peripheries. An International and Interdisciplinary Conference

Lisbon, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, December 5–7, 2016
Deadline: July 30, 2016

“The Romantic phenomenon seems to defy analysis, not only because its
exuberant diversity resists any attempt to reduce it to a common
denominator but also and especially because of its fabulously
contradictory character” (Michael Löwy and Robert Sayre, Romanticism
against the Tide of Modernity, trans. by Catherine Porter,
Durham/London: Duke University Press, 2001). In an attempt to
accommodate both its diversity and contradictory character, Löwy and
Sayre defined Romanticism as “a worldview constituted as a specific
form of criticism of ‘modernity'” and expanded the term beyond artistic
and literary phenomena to encompass a wide range of fields such as
religion, political theory, philosophy, etc. Even though Löwy and Sayre
may offer a guiding principle outside the interpretative confusion
often generated by the term, their analysis is still mostly, if not
exclusively, concerned with the definition of the phenomenon as it
manifested in the principal centers of Europe (namely England, France,
and Germany).

This 3-day conference, organized on the occasion of the bicentenary of
Fernando II’s birth, the Portuguese king responsible for the
edification of what is widely considered the hallmark of Romantic
Portuguese architecture, seeks to focus on Romanticism in the
peripheries, both European and non-European, and explore the validity
of the concept for the analysis of artistic and cultural forms that,
for the most part, originated outside the centers of bourgeois
industrial civilization. Taking as its starting point the definition
proposed by Löwy and Sayre, the conference invites participations on a
number of issues including, but not limited to:

1. When Was Romanticism? Attempts at Periodization and Definition.
2. Sublime matters: Romanticism and Material Culture.
3. Transfers and Cross-Sections: Literature, Theater and the Visual
4. The Romantic Traveler: Drawings, Prints and Souvenirs.
5. Artistic Education. Academy versus Nature?
6. Romantic Landscape, Gardens and Architecture.
7. Romantic Nationalism – Romantic Imperialism? The Politics of Style.

Abstracts (of no more than 300 words), accompanied by a short bio
(appr. two paragraphs) should be sent to the members of the organizing
committee, at iha.romanticism2016@gmail.com by July 30, 2016.
Speakers will be notified by the end of August, and the conference
program will be published in mid-September. The languages of the
conference are English and Portuguese.

A selection of papers from the conference will be published as a
special number of the Revista de História da Arte, an annual
peer-reviewed journal, and a second publication, in the form of a book,
is also being contemplated by the organizers.

For all questions regarding administration and practical matters, as
well as the payment of the conference inscription, please contact
Mariana Gonçalves and Inês Cristóvão (iha.romanticism2016@gmail.com).

Conference inscription:
50,00 euros – Speakers
40,00 euros – Participants
20,00 euros – Students

Organizing committee:

António Nunes Pereira (Palácio Nacional da Pena/Parques de Sintra − Monte da Lua, SA); Foteini Vlachou (Instituto de História Contemporânea, FCSH/NOVA); Maria João Neto (ARTIS – Instituto de História da Arte/FLUL); Raquel Henriques da Silva (Instituto de História da Arte, FCSH/NOVA)

Scientific committee:

Bénédicte Savoy (Technische Universität Berlin); France Nerlich (Université François-Rabelais Tours); Javier Barón (Museo Nacional del Prado)

Executive committee:

Inês Cristóvão (ARTIS – Instituto de História da Arte/FLUL); Mariana Gonçalves (Instituto de História da Arte, FCSH/NOVA)

Sponsored by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and supported by FCT – Foundation for Science and Technology national funds.






Time and the Periphery



Written by Foteini Vlachou (Visual Resources, Special Issue: Medieval Modernity), the article “Why Spatial? Time and the Periphery” addresses a series of problems regarding the definition of the periphery in art history and its relation with the concepts of space and time. It seeks to disentangle the periphery from its geographical association by examining how it has instead been constructed as a primarily temporal concept. For this purpose, a tentative definition of the periphery is advanced based on the example of eighteenth-century Portugal. Also analyzed is what can be termed as the delay discourse on the periphery (patent in several national historiographies of art, with Portugal serving again as an example), which was criticized by Carlo Ginzburg and Enrico Castelnuovo, as well as Nicos Hadjinicolaou already in the late 1970s and early 1980s. As a way out of the impasse of different or multiple temporalities (and the implication of fast and slow time) proposed by art historians from George Kubler to Keith Moxey, this article proposes the concept of historical time as developed in the writings of French philosopher Louis Althusser (1918–1990), in his analysis of Capital by Karl Marx (1818–1883), as a useful category in deconstructing the ideological dimension of periphery’s temporal character. Rejecting both longue durée and a linear, ideological reference time, Althusser’s terminology and concepts offer an incentive to think anew of time and the periphery, while insisting on the fundamentally unequal power configurations that have shaped both the practice of art history and a discourse on the periphery that continues, for the most part, to be produced in the centre(s).



“Leopard and Deer” (1912), by Robert W. Chanler: On Chanler, Amadeo de Souza Cardoso and the periphery

by Foteini Vlachou (Instituto de História da Arte, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Universidade Nova de Lisboa)

Robert W. Chanler (American, 1872-1930), Leopard and Deer, 1912, gouache or tempera on canvas mounted on wood, 194.3 × 133.4 cm, Rokeby Collection (exhibited at the Armory Show, New York, 1913)

Robert W. Chanler (American, 1872-1930), Leopard and Deer, 1912, gouache or tempera on canvas mounted on wood, 194.3 × 133.4 cm, Rokeby Collection (exhibited at the Armory Show, New York, 1913); photo from the Armory Show at 100

Visual association is not always rational, or even easy to justify. When a friend* sent me Robert W. Chanler’s 1912 work Leopard and Deer, I was immediately reminded of Amadeo de Souza Cardoso’s Os galgos (The greyhounds), as well as the floral background of medieval tapestries, such as La Dame à la licorne series of the Musée de Cluny. What is interesting in this particular juxtaposition is that Chanler and Amadeo share history together as well. They both participated in the legendary Armory Show, the 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art. The Armory Show is credited for having introduced modern art to the United States, although a cursory look at some of the artworks present at the exhibition suffices to reveal the incredible versatility, variety and even contradiction of pictorial and plastic styles represented under the qualification of the ‘modern’ (a selection of artworks is available on the excellent site of the Show’s centenary exhibition).

Amadeo de Souza Cardoso (1887-1918), Greyhounds, 1911, oil on canvas, 100 x 73 cm, Centro de Arte Moderna – Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon (photo © Foteini Vlachou)

Amadeo de Souza Cardoso (Portuguese, 1887-1918), Greyhounds (Os galgos), 1911, oil on canvas, 100 x 73 cm, Centro de Arte Moderna – Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon (photo © Foteini Vlachou)

The relationship of the two men extends further. Chanler was among those who bought Amadeo’s works at the Armory Show (see Shannon Vittoria’s short entry “An Unexpected Success“), and both men had studied in Paris. Although Chanler had returned to New York by 1902 (see Megan Fort’s “The Fantastic Robert Winthrop Chanler“), he maintained his ties with Paris, exhibiting at the 1905 Salon d’Automne what was probably his most famous work, Au Pays des Girafes, and also returning (?) to the city to get married in 1910.

The kind of art history that focuses on networks, artists’ sociability, circulations and lived experiences in real places (such as the socio-spatial history undertaken by the Artl@s project focusing on geo-referenced data of exhibitions among other things, or the recently concluded ArtTransForm project that studied transnational artistic education before modernism) could lead to interesting associations, normally difficult to reach through mere stylistic analysis.

Amadeo de Souza Cardoso, Return from the Chase, ca. 1911, oil on canvas, 30.2 x 64.1 cm, Muskegon Museum of Art, Michigan (exhibited at the Armory Show, New York, 1913; gift of Manierre Dawson to the museum)

Amadeo de Souza Cardoso, Return from the Chase, ca. 1911, oil on canvas, 30.2 x 64.1 cm, Muskegon Museum of Art, Michigan (exhibited at the Armory Show, New York, 1913; gift of Manierre Dawson to the museum); photo from the Armory Show at 100

Furthermore, the posthumous reception of the work of Amadeo de Souza Cardoso and Robert Chanler presents an ironic analogy: they were both written out of the canonical histories of modernism and the assessments of the impact of the Armory Show. Whereas Amadeo was recognized in Portugal for his importance as a modernist, the country’s peripheral status impeded his integration in the modernist canon (periphery here understood as a structure with distinct traits, and not axiologically determined). He will receive his due in the upcoming 2016 Grand Palais exhibition, but the prejudice associated with a concept of the periphery as retrograde is still remarkably persistent in popular publications, such as the article that appeared in The Art Newspaper, entitled “Forgotten Portuguese Modernist gets Grand Palais show“. Forgotten by whom? The article further calls Lisbon, condescendingly, a “relative backwater”, while the implication of Amadeo’s international recognition as a direct result of being exhibited at the Grand Palais, is that Paris is still the unquestionable center.


Amadeo de Souza Cardoso, The Stronghold, 1912, oil on canvas, 92.4 × 61 cm, The Art Institute of Chicago (exhibited at the Armory Show, New York, 1913); photo of the museum

In the case of Robert W. Chanler’s work, that has been obscured over time partly by ignorance, or because it is degrading in locations relatively difficult to access (such as the Crow Room mural in the painter’s ancestral home), periphery can still be seen as constituting the main problem. Not a periphery geographically defined (Chanler lived and produced his work for wealthy patrons in New York), but one defined as situated in the margins of the modernist canon. As a muralist and a painter of screens, Chanler’s work exemplifies the tension between the decorative and modern art (and subsequently abstraction), that characterized the writing of much of the history of Western art from the Renaissance onwards. Chanler, although present at the Armory Show, is absent from the history of modernism.

Chanler’s concerns and efforts at plastic expression seem to have been similar to those of other modernists: the construction of an irrational space, the exploration of the textural qualities of the painted surface (see the brilliant Porcupines here below), an interest in medieval art, as well as non-western art forms like screens, even the attempt to bring together art and decoration in an everyday setting (much like the Nabis claimed to do, in a sense) etc. But this is not the place to argue for a re-evaluation of the artist; rather, it is an effort to show that when canonical history has been, by definition, selective and exclusionary, acknowledging (or apologizing for) its omissions will not get us very far. It is the very logic of exclusion that needs to be addressed in the first instance.

Robert Winthrop Chanler, Screen:

Robert Winthrop Chanler, Screen: “Porcupines” and “Nightmare”, signed and dated 1914, oil on wood, 175.8 x 122.2 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (photo of the museum)


* The photographer Gerasimos Mamonas.



French Sintra

by Foteini Vlachou (Instituto de História da Arte, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Universidade Nova de Lisboa)

Pierre Lelu, drawing signed

Pierre Lélu, drawing signed “P. Lelu a Penhaverde”, c. 1772-1778, 21.8 x 33 cm, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (work in the public domain: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/nl/collectie/RP-T-1983-63)

For the first post of the ‘featured artwork’ category of the ‘art in the periphery’, the three drawings reproduced here, by French artist Pierre Lélu (1741-1810) (1), may seem like an odd choice. Nothing about their country of origin, genre or style seem ‘peripheral’. Nevertheless, in a country where no indigenous tradition of landscape painting existed until the nineteenth century as I have elsewhere argued (2), and where landscape was systematically ‘discovered’ as a subject worthy of representation by foreigners (often French, like Lélu), these three drawings can be used to illustrate the complex ways that center-and-periphery relationships might function, in the realm of art.

Lélu came to Portugal in all likelihood in August 1773, as secretary of the French ambassador Clermont d’Amboise (3). If he stayed for the length of the latter’s appointment to the court of Portugal, then he must have left with him in October 1774. He traveled though to Spain in 1773-1774, where he made topographical sketches for Lord Grantham, as well as pencil portraits of him (4). His short stay is more likely responsible for the fact that these drawings or any other activity he might have undertaken while in Portugal, seem to have sunk into oblivion (5).

Drawings from Sintra dating from this period are relatively rare (6). A quick sketch of Sintra’s hilly landscape by Alexandre Jean Noël (1752-1843), from a sketchbook dating from 1780, is preserved in the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga in Lisbon. Its sweeping vista is not unlike the topographic drawings produced during various scientific expeditions. Noël would have undoubtedly been familiar with their visual language, as well as compositional structure, since he accompanied the astronomer Jean Chappe who set out to Mexico to observe the transit of Venus in 1769, and was responsible for documenting anything that might appear of interest for the expedition. Noël’s most recognisable view of Sintra, a 1795 aquatint representing Monserrate, the country seat of the rich merchant Gerard de Visme, still retains the memory of the 1780 sketch.

Lélu’s drawings are very different. He appears to have concentrated his efforts in the representation of the lush foliage, creating a vision of nature that accommodates different social classes as picturesque motifs, without disrupting neither the scenery nor the hierarchical organisation implied in its depiction. At a time when Portugal’s landscape was being transformed into images by various foreign artists (mostly French, some British), it is not so much the rarity of an early representation of a Sintra landscape that is striking, but its transformation into a rococo pleasure garden. Lélu followed the pictorial conventions of eighteenth-century French painting while portraying a Portuguese landscape. What are the implications of that transposition of visual vocabulary? What would have been the significance – and consequences – of these images, produced by outsiders looking in? And what would these have meant to younger generations of Portuguese artists when they were called upon to create their own versions of their country’s landscape?

I hope that Lélu’s drawings can serve as a starting point for this discussion.

Pierre Lélu, drawing inscribed 'a Cintra', black chalk, pen and black ink, grey wash, 16.7 x 21.6 cm, auctioned 3 July 2012 (Sale 5688, Christie's, source: http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/lot_details.aspx?intObjectID=5582152)

Pierre Lélu, drawing inscribed ‘a Cintra’,
black chalk, pen and black ink, grey wash, 16.7 x 21.6 cm, auctioned 3 July 2012 (Sale 5688, Christie’s, source: http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/lot_details.aspx?intObjectID=5582152)

(1) For biographical information on Pierre Lélu, see Vialart Saint-Morys, “Notice sur Pierre Lélu”, in: Magasin encyclopédique, ou Journal des sciences, des lettres et des arts, rédigé par A. L. Millin, vol. IV, 1810, pp. 323-328; see also Jules Renouvier, Histoire de l’art pendant la révolution, considéré principalement dans les estampes, Paris 1863, pp. 135-137. There is also a recent master thesis, that I have been unable to consult: Ophélie Lopez, “Pierre Lélu, dessinateur”, mémoire de recherche, Université Paris IV Sorbonne, 2010.

(2) Paper on ‘Painting Portuguese Nature’, delivered in the Crossing Borders international workshop (25-29 September 2014, Lisbon). Publication forthcoming.

(3) Vialart Saint-Morys, op. cit., mentions that the artist traveled extensively in the service of the marquis from 1767 onwards, in various European courts. For the dates of Clermont d’Amboise’s appointment to the court of Portugal, see Visconde de Santarem, Quadro elementar das relações politicas e diplomaticas de Portugal com as diverse potencias do undo deeds o principio da Monarchia Portuguese ate os nossos dias, vol. 8, Paris 1853, pp. VIII-XII. Nevertheless, the book Étrennes de la noblesse, ou état actuel des familles & Nobles de France, & des Maisons & Princes Souverains de l’Europe, published in Paris in 1771, already mentions d’Amboise’s appointment, as having happened in June 1767. This would push the arrival of both men back by six years. Further research will be needed to clarify this point.

(4) Enriqueta Harris, Complete Studies on Velázquez, Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica, 2006, p. 297.

(5) A quick search in the traditional sources where the memories of foreign artists who worked in Portugal have survived (Cyrillo Volkmar Machado, Sousa Viterbo) has not yet revealed any clues.

(6) Agostinho Rui Marques de Araújo, “Experiência da natureza e sensibilidade pré-romântica em Portugal. Temas de pintura e seu consumo (1780-1825)”, 2 vols, PhD dissertation, Centro de História da Universidade do Porto, Porto 1991 (vol. 1, pp. 151-155), mentions two aquatints by John Cleveley the Younger (1747-1786), representing the Paço da Vila (Sintra National Palace). Araújo assumes that Cleveley was in Portugal in 1766 accompanying Joseph Banks, but there is no evidence to sustain this. As a marine painter, Cleveley also produced numerous drawings with views of the Tagus river, and the dates on the volume of thirty-seven drawings entitled Views round the Coast and on the River Tagus (Sotheby’s 17 Nov 1983, lot 51) place his visit to Portugal from August 1775 to January 1776 (information from: Bonhams).

Pierre Lélu, drawing signed

Pierre Lélu, drawing signed “vue de l’Eglise de Sinnetra/en Portugal”, Pen and brown ink, brush and brown and gray wash, over traces of graphite, 26.8 x 39.5 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (source: http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/337671?rpp=30&pg=1&ft=lélu&pos=3)

More works by Pierre Lélu can be seen at the Art Institute of Chicago, the British Museum, the Joconde database of artworks in French museums, and several related auction results are also available online.

Roman in the Provinces: Art on the Periphery of Empire

The upcoming exhibition (Friday, August 22, 2014–Sunday, January 4, 2015) of the Yale University Art Gallery will explore questions relating to periphery and empire, tradition and imported culture, through a wide range of artifacts. You can read more about it here: Roman in the Provinces: Art on the Periphery of Empire.