Marking the three hundredth anniversary of Jean Antoine Watteau’s death, this publication takes a close, revealing look at his recently rediscovered paintingLa Surprise.
The painting La Surprise by Jean Antoine Watteau (1684–1721) belongs to a new genre of painting invented by the artist himself—the fêtegalante. These works, which show graceful open-air gatherings filled with scenes of courtship, music and dance, strolling lovers, and actors, do not so much tell a story as set a mood: one of playful, wistful, nostalgic reverie. Esteemed by collectors in Watteau’s day as a work that showed the artist at the height of his skill and success, La Surprise vanished from public view in 1848, not to reemerge for more than a century and a half. Acquired by the Getty Museum in 2017, it has never before been the subject of a dedicated publication. Marking the three hundredth anniversary of Watteau’s death, this book considers La Surprise within the context of the artist’s oeuvre and discusses the surprising history of collecting Watteau in Los Angeles.
This volume is published to accompany an exhibition on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center from November 23, 2021, to February 20, 2022.
The 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair was a major event in early-twentieth-century America. Attracting millions of tourists, it exemplified the Victorian predilection for public spectacle. The Fair has long served as a touchstone for historians interested in American culture prior to World War I and has endured in the memories of generations of St. Louis residents and visitors. In Whose Fair? James Gilbert asks: what can we learn about the lived experience of fairgoers when we compare historical accounts, individual and collective memories, and artifacts from the event?
Exploring these differing, at times competing, versions of history and memory prompts Gilbert to dig through a rich trove of archival material. He examines the papers of David Francis, the Fair’s president and subsequent chief archivist; guidebooks and other official publications; the 1944 film Meet Me in St. Louis; diaries, oral histories, and other personal accounts; and a collection of striking photographs. From this dazzling array of sources, Gilbert paints a lively picture of how fairgoers spent their time, while also probing the ways history and memory can complement each other.
Andrew Carnegie, industrialist and a major American philanthropist, sought to bring world-class art and culture to Pittsburgh. This book looks at how the Carnegie International exhibit came into being in 1895, the early exhibitions, the art, artists, and the public reception to it.
When the British Museum opened its doors more than two centuries ago, scores of visitors waited eagerly outside for a first glimpse of ancient relics from Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Even today, in this age of satellite television and high-speed Internet access, museums maintain their unique allure, continuing to play a vital role in connecting us with little-known terrains and the deep mysteries of our historical past. That’s because, as Stephanie Moser argues in Wondrous Curiosities, museum displays don’t just transmit knowledge—they actually create it.
Based on her exploration of the British Museum’s world-famous collection of Egyptian antiquities, this pioneering study reveals the powerful role of museums in shaping our understanding of science, culture, and history. Drawing on guidebooks and archival documents, Moser demonstrates that this British exhibition of ancient Egyptian artifacts was central to the way we came to define the remarkable society that produced them. And she also reveals the specific strategies—such as using pattern and symmetry, juxtaposing different types of objects, and singling out particular items—that the British Museum and others used, and still use, in representing the past. With a wealth of illustrations and a detailed account of how the museum acquired and displayed its Egyptian collections, Wondrous Curiosities will fascinate curators and scholars of British history, Egyptology, art history, archaeology, and the history of science.
The South was no stranger to world’s fairs prior to the end of the nineteenth century. Atlanta first hosted a fair in the 1880s, as did New Orleans and Louisville, but after the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago drew comparisons to the great exhibitions of Victorian-era England, Atlanta’s leaders planned to host another grand exposition that would not only confirm Atlanta as an economic hub the equal of Chicago and New York, but usher the South into the nation’s industrial and political mainstream. Nashville and Charleston quickly followed suit with their own exhibitions.
In the 1890s, the perception of the South was inextricably tied to race, and more specifically racial strife. Leaders in Atlanta, Nashville, and Charleston all sought ways to distance themselves from traditional impressions about their respective cities, which more often than not conjured images of poverty and treason in Americans barely a generation removed from the Civil War. Local business leaders used large-scale expositions to lessen this stigma while simultaneously promoting culture, industry, and economic advancement. Atlanta’s Cotton States and International Exposition presented the city as a burgeoning economic center and used a keynote speech by Booker T. Washington to gain control of the national debate on race relations. Nashville’s Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition chose to promote culture over mainstream success and marketed Nashville as a “Centennial City” replete with neoclassical architecture, drawing on its reputation as “the Athens of the south.” Charleston’s South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition followed in the footsteps of Atlanta’s exposition. Its new class of progressive leaders saw the need to reestablish the city as a major port of commerce and designed the fair around a Caribbean theme that emphasized trade and the corresponding economics that would raise Charleston from a cotton exporter to an international port of interest.
Bruce G. Harvey studies each exposition beginning at the local and individual level of organization and moving upward to explore a broader regional context. He argues that southern urban leaders not only sought to revive their cities but also to reinvigorate the South in response to northern prosperity. Local businessmen struggled to manage all the elements that came with hosting a world’s fair, including raising funds, designing the fairs’ architectural elements, drafting overall plans, soliciting exhibits, and gaining the backing
of political leaders. However, these businessmen had defined expectations for their expositions not only in terms of economic and local growth but also considering what an international exposition had come to represent to the community and the region in which they were hosted. Harvey juxtaposes local and regional aspects of world’s fair in the South and shows that nineteenth-century expositions had grown into American institutions in their own right.
Bruce G. Harvey is an independent consultant and documentary photographer with Harvey Research and Consulting based in Syracuse, New York. He specializes in historic architectural surveys and documentation photography.
The post–World War II science-based technological revolution inevitably found its way into almost all international expositions with displays on atomic energy, space exploration, transportation, communications, and computers. Major advancements in Cold War science and technology helped to shape new visions of utopian futures, the stock-in-trade of world’s fairs. From the 1940s to the 1980s, expositions in the United States and around the world, from Brussels to Osaka to Brisbane, mirrored Cold War culture in a variety of ways, and also played an active role in shaping it. This volume illustrates the cultural change and strain spurred by the Cold War, a disruptive period of scientific and technological progress that ignited growing concern over the impact of such progress on the environment and humanistic and spiritual values. Through the lens of world’s fairs, contributors across disciplines offer an integrated exploration of the US–USSR rivalry from a global perspective and in the context of broader social and cultural phenomena—faith and religion, gender and family relations, urbanization and urban planning, fashion, modernization, and national identity—all of which were fundamentally reshaped by tensions and anxieties of the Atomic Age.
Since the first world’s fair in London in 1851, at the dawn of the era of industrialization, international expositions served as ideal platforms for rival nations to showcase their advancements in design, architecture, science and technology, industry, and politics. Before the outbreak of World War II, countries competing for leadership on the world stage waged a different kind of war—with cultural achievements and propaganda—appealing to their own national strengths and versions of modernity in the struggle for power. World’s Fairs on the Eve of War examines five fairs and expositions from across the globe—including three that were staged (Paris, 1937; Dusseldorf, 1937; and New York, 1939–40), and two that were in development before the war began but never executed (Tokyo, 1940; and Rome, 1942). This coauthored work considers representations of science and technology at world’s fairs as influential cultural forces and at a critical moment in history, when tensions and ideological divisions between political regimes would soon lead to war.