JHNA Conversations 1: A Curatorial Roundtable on Expanded and Expanding Narratives in the Museum

As the cultural sector continues to grapple with the challenging and transformative events of 2020 spotlighting the exclusionary practices and social norms that structure museums, JHNA commissioned two roundtables to reflect on the challenges of curating Northern European art. This first one, “Expanded and Expanding Narratives in the Museum,” unites four curators in discussion about the evolving trajectory of art history and the possibilities for new narratives in the galleries. In addressing the increasing momentum for new art-historical ecologies in recent years, the participants discuss the inherently marginalizing effects of canonization; signal the tensions between the art market, perceived museum audiences, and historical collections that continue to shape museum presentations and collecting practices; and highlight some objects from the early modern period that suggest pathways forward for more expansive conversations in museum spaces. The discussion closes with a look at the global entanglement of early modern Europe.

This point will be taken up by the next JHNA Conversation, to be published in the winter 2022 issue, which will reconvene the curatorial team for the groundbreaking exhibition Asia in Amsterdam: The Culture of Luxury in the Golden Age, organized by the Rijksmuseum and the Peabody Essex Museum in 2015–16. Discussants, including a member of their advisory committee from the cultural sector in Indonesia, will reflect on the humility and resourcefulness necessary to present shameful racist histories, the impact of sharing personal—rather than merely collective—stories in the galleries, and the need for museums to participate in the healing of historical wounds. It will also address new research methodologies that inherently expand inclusiveness and surface new types of historical data, leading to a more people-oriented presentation of art history. Both conversations, edited and condensed for clarity for publication in JHNA, have been organized and moderated by Yao-Fen You, Acting Deputy Director of Curatorial and Senior Curator and Head of Product Design and Decorative Arts, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York.

DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2021.13.2.2

Acknowledgements

On behalf of the authors, Yao-Fen You would like to thank Jacquelyn N. Coutré (Eleanor Wood Prince Associate Curator, Painting and Sculpture of Europe, The Art Institute of Chicago) for her critical support and assistance in organizing and publishing this conversation. In addition to her astute editorial interventions, Jacquelyn took on the thankless but critical task of transcription. She has been the ideal collaborator, stewarding this project from inception to completion with generosity, compassion, and great humor.

Pieter Coecke van Aelst, Celebration of a Circumcision from the frieze Ces Mœurs et fachons de faire de Turcq, 1553, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Fig. 1 Celebration of a circumcision from the frieze Ces Mœurs et fachons de faire de Turcq (Customs and Fashions of the Turks), published by Mayken Verhulst (1518–1600) after designs by Pieter Coecke van Aelst (1502–50), 1553, woodcut, 35.5 x 69.9 cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1928, 28.85.6 (artwork in the public domain) [side-by-side viewer]
fig-2-RubensTriunfoInstallation
Fig. 2 Installation photo, Rubens: El triunfo de la Eucaristía, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2014, showing Rubens’s modello in front of The Victory of Truth over Heresy, woven by Jacob Geubels II (1599–before 1633) after Rubens’s design (photo: Museo del Prado) [side-by-side viewer]
Michaelina Wautier, The Triumph of Bacchus, ca. 1643-59, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Fig. 3 Michaelina Wautier (1604–89), The Triumph of Bacchus, ca. 1643–59, oil on canvas, 270.5 x 354 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, GG_3548 (artwork in the public domain) [side-by-side viewer]
China (Jingdezhen), with scene after Nicholas Arnoult (1650–1722), Dish, 1685–1700, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York
Fig. 4 China (Jingdezhen), with scene after Nicholas Arnoult (1650–1722), Dish, 1685–1700, porcelain, 7 x 34.3 cm. Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York, Museum purchase from Charles E. Sampson Memorial Fund, 2020-4-1 (artwork in the public domain) [side-by-side viewer]
Unidentified Artist, Portrait of Matthias Jacque, 1654, State Archives, Liège
Fig. 5 Unidentified Artist, Portrait of Matthias Jacque, 1654, watercolor and bodycolor on paper, 41.5 x 52 cm. State Archives, Liège (artwork in the public domain) [side-by-side viewer]
Detail from Pieter Coeck van Aels, Saint Paul Seized at the Temple of Jerusalem, Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid
Fig. 6 Detail from Saint Paul Seized at the Temple of Jerusalem, from a set of the Life of Saint Paul, designed by Pieter Coecke van Aelst (1502–50), ca. 1529–30, woven under the direction of Paulus van Oppenem, Brussels, before 1558, wool and silk threads. Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, TA 32/2 (artwork in the public domain) [side-by-side viewer]
Titian, Diana and Callisto, 1556-59, National Gallery, London
Fig. 7 Titian (­1488/90–1576), Diana and Callisto, 1556–59, oil on canvas, 187 x 204.5 cm. National Gallery, London, NG6616 (artwork in the public domain) [side-by-side viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, Diana and Callisto, ca. 1635, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
Fig. 8 Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640), Diana and Callisto, ca. 1635, oil on canvas, 202 x 325 cm. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, P001671 (artwork in the public domain) [side-by-side viewer]
Cope for Antonio Barberini, 1623-28, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Fig. 9 Unidentified Italian Artist, Cope made for Antonio Barberini (160771), Grand Prior of Rome in the Order of Saint John and the Knights of Malta, 1623–28, Embroidery in silk and metal thread, on lampas with four pattern wefts tied in twill weave, with applied gold fringes, 133.4 x 302.3 cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Walter Jennings, 1911, 11.101 (artwork in the public domain) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 10 Paul Philippe Cret (1876–1945), Plan of the Main Floor of the Detroit Institute of Arts, 1928. Research Library and Archives, Detroit Institute of Arts (Courtesy Detroit Institute of Arts Research Library & Archives) [side-by-side viewer]

List of Illustrations

Pieter Coecke van Aelst, Celebration of a Circumcision from the frieze Ces Mœurs et fachons de faire de Turcq, 1553, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Fig. 1 Celebration of a circumcision from the frieze Ces Mœurs et fachons de faire de Turcq (Customs and Fashions of the Turks), published by Mayken Verhulst (1518–1600) after designs by Pieter Coecke van Aelst (1502–50), 1553, woodcut, 35.5 x 69.9 cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1928, 28.85.6 (artwork in the public domain) [side-by-side viewer]
fig-2-RubensTriunfoInstallation
Fig. 2 Installation photo, Rubens: El triunfo de la Eucaristía, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2014, showing Rubens’s modello in front of The Victory of Truth over Heresy, woven by Jacob Geubels II (1599–before 1633) after Rubens’s design (photo: Museo del Prado) [side-by-side viewer]
Michaelina Wautier, The Triumph of Bacchus, ca. 1643-59, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Fig. 3 Michaelina Wautier (1604–89), The Triumph of Bacchus, ca. 1643–59, oil on canvas, 270.5 x 354 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, GG_3548 (artwork in the public domain) [side-by-side viewer]
China (Jingdezhen), with scene after Nicholas Arnoult (1650–1722), Dish, 1685–1700, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York
Fig. 4 China (Jingdezhen), with scene after Nicholas Arnoult (1650–1722), Dish, 1685–1700, porcelain, 7 x 34.3 cm. Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York, Museum purchase from Charles E. Sampson Memorial Fund, 2020-4-1 (artwork in the public domain) [side-by-side viewer]
Unidentified Artist, Portrait of Matthias Jacque, 1654, State Archives, Liège
Fig. 5 Unidentified Artist, Portrait of Matthias Jacque, 1654, watercolor and bodycolor on paper, 41.5 x 52 cm. State Archives, Liège (artwork in the public domain) [side-by-side viewer]
Detail from Pieter Coeck van Aels, Saint Paul Seized at the Temple of Jerusalem, Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid
Fig. 6 Detail from Saint Paul Seized at the Temple of Jerusalem, from a set of the Life of Saint Paul, designed by Pieter Coecke van Aelst (1502–50), ca. 1529–30, woven under the direction of Paulus van Oppenem, Brussels, before 1558, wool and silk threads. Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, TA 32/2 (artwork in the public domain) [side-by-side viewer]
Titian, Diana and Callisto, 1556-59, National Gallery, London
Fig. 7 Titian (­1488/90–1576), Diana and Callisto, 1556–59, oil on canvas, 187 x 204.5 cm. National Gallery, London, NG6616 (artwork in the public domain) [side-by-side viewer]
Peter Paul Rubens, Diana and Callisto, ca. 1635, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
Fig. 8 Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640), Diana and Callisto, ca. 1635, oil on canvas, 202 x 325 cm. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, P001671 (artwork in the public domain) [side-by-side viewer]
Cope for Antonio Barberini, 1623-28, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Fig. 9 Unidentified Italian Artist, Cope made for Antonio Barberini (160771), Grand Prior of Rome in the Order of Saint John and the Knights of Malta, 1623–28, Embroidery in silk and metal thread, on lampas with four pattern wefts tied in twill weave, with applied gold fringes, 133.4 x 302.3 cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Walter Jennings, 1911, 11.101 (artwork in the public domain) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 10 Paul Philippe Cret (1876–1945), Plan of the Main Floor of the Detroit Institute of Arts, 1928. Research Library and Archives, Detroit Institute of Arts (Courtesy Detroit Institute of Arts Research Library & Archives) [side-by-side viewer]

Footnotes

Bibliography

Imprint

Review: Peer Review (Double Blind)
DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2021.13.2.2
License:
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Recommended Citation:
Yao-Fen You, Elizabeth Cleland, Alejandro Vergara, Bert Watteeuw, "JHNA Conversations 1: A Curatorial Roundtable on Expanded and Expanding Narratives in the Museum," Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 13:2 (Summer 2021) DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2021.13.2.2