Art History

The Rituals and Materials of Mourning for Early Modern European Queens

Supervisor

Erin Griffey

Discipline

Art History

Project code: ART002

Death had a dramatic impact on the political landscape at the early modern court, which was mirrored in a range of material, visual, rhetorical and ritualistic strategies to commemorate the deceased, display appropriate mourning and renegotiate the balance of power at court. While the deaths of royal parents and children, especially male heirs, needed to be appropriately commemorated, this was especially the case with monarchs. Their queen consorts needed to carefully negotiate the political, personal and cultural experience of mourning to remind viewers of their husband and to provide a mandate for their children’s and indeed their own ongoing political relevance.

This study examines the materials and rituals of mourning for early modern queens with a focus on death rituals, funeral processions and burials of their husbands and children; their material and emotional display within the context of these rituals, including the use of mourning cloth, periods in seclusion, mourning clothing and jewellery, their portrayal in portraits that depict them in mourning and the deployment of a rhetoric of grief in their letters and their promotion of piety and monasticism.

Scholar’s Work

The scholar will research three of the following early modern elite widows, looking at contemporary accounts of their children and/or husband’s deaths, burials and mourning rituals, portraits and political and religious activities as a widow (using ambassadorial accounts, letters, biographies, poems, memoirs) and painted, sculpted, engraved and medallic portraits:
Mariana of Austria (Spain)
Archduchess Isabella (Southern Netherlands)
Marie de Medici (France)
Anne of Austria (France)
Elizabeth of Bohemia (Bohemia/Dutch Republic)
Catherine of Braganza (England)

The scholar will create a database of widow portraits, a spreadsheet related to materials and rituals of mourning and an annotated bibliography. The scholar will be working with both secondary sources and printed primary sources.

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

BA major in History, English, Art History, French and/or Spanish

French, Spanish and/or Portuguese would be a significant advantage given that there is significant primary literature on Isabella and Mariana in Spanish, Catherine in Portuguese and Marie and Anne in French. Dutch and/or German would be useful for research on Elizabeth of Bohemia.

Strong research and writing skills

Applicants should address these required skills in their application and indicate if they have been in touch with the proposed supervisor.

Historical sources for (science) education at Auckland

Finding your bearings: Signs and signals in the sculpture of Graham Bennett

Supervisor

Robin Woodward

Discipline

Art History

Project code: ART003

This is a project which is documenting and analysing the work of the pre-eminent New Zealand sculptor, Graham Bennett. The aim is to create a comprehensive record of his art, and to interrogate the content, context and continuity of the sculptor’s output. Bennett graduated from art school in 1970 and has been working fulltime as a sculptor since the year 2000. The scope of his work ranges from small hand-held pieces to large-scale outdoor public commissions for high profile sites such as the façade and forecourt of the Christchurch Public Art Gallery. Bennett’s work has attracted attention in a range of publications that address the three dimensional arts in New Zealand and in a string of exhibition catalogues. However, to date there has been no substantial monograph devoted solely to his work. The project will start by collating information from the artist’s archives, newspapers, journals, art magazines and books in order to produce a comprehensive chronicle of his oeuvre. This will provide the basis for a critical analysis of the sources, influences and development of his artistic style, which will be the subject of an essay I will write for the 2019 Ron Sang publication on Bennett’s extensive art practice.

Scholar’s Work

The Summer Scholar will source, document and analyse the work of sculptor Graham Bennett. This will be done though accessing primary and secondary source material, including online information, library and gallery files and archival material. Initial research might be done online, followed up by contact with the artist, patrons, librarians and gallerists. One of the first tasks will be to find works held in public collections, and also to research the history of any public commissions and the processes involved. Works will need to be documented, and the rationale for commissioning or selecting Bennett’s work needs to be ascertained. From this research, avenues should start to emerge for further investigation and analysis. The next step will be researching archival material held by the artist, libraries and gallerists, to track down works in private collections. Once a data base has been established, work can begin on analysing works to establish sources, influences and the evolution of the artist’s style. Findings will be written up in draft form in preparation for publication.

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

The Summer Scholar will need to have a strong knowledge of New Zealand art and also a background in history. S/he will need proven skills in art history, particularly in visual analysis of artworks, and have the ability to contextualise them. It would be beneficial for the Summer Scholar to have previous experience of researching and analysing the history of art as well as knowledge of the work of independent artists who have not received the public profile they may warrant. A strong knowledge of the history of twentieth and twenty-first century New Zealand art would be a real advantage. A major component of this project will be sourcing material by contacting collectors and patrons as well as library staff, galleries and the artist. Therefore the Summer Scholar must have excellent people skills and an ability to work with others who are from a variety of backgrounds. An ability to think laterally will be necessary, particularly in the preliminary stages of this research when sourcing content for a database. Meticulous attention to detail is needed for documenting artworks and projects. The Scholar will have strong academic research and writing skills.


Applicants should address these required skills in their application and indicate if they have been in touch with the proposed supervisor.

Ngā Mahi a Wharawhara / Māori Body Adornment: Identification, Summary and Analysis of Collections in Overseas Museums and in Auction Catalogues

Supervisor

Dr Ngarino Ellis (Extension 86992)

Discipline

Art History

Project code: ART004

The Ngā Mahi a Wharawhara / Māori Body Adornment project aims to produce a book manuscript (AUP have already shown interest) presenting a history of Māori Body Adornment to the present day. The project members are each well-placed to write about different aspects of this field: Nigel Borell (Ngāti Ranginui) is Curator Māori, Auckland Art Gallery, Dr Areta Wilkinson (Ngāi Tahu) wrote her PhD on tribal collections of adornments and is a well-known practicing jeweller, while I have been writing about different aspects of this field for some 20 years. The field of Body Adornment is very much under-researched, and under-published, and the project intends to present new approaches, histories, artists and examples through the book. We promote the idea of a continuum of practice of Māori artists in relation to the use of materials, the changing technologies, and the ways in which adornment has been and continues to be integrated into the social, political, economic and cultural landscape of whānau, hapū and iwi. This project is written by, about and for Māori, and will contribute to a growing corpus of Māori art histories.

Scholar’s Work

My previous Summer Scholar (2016-7) wrote an extensive literature review on all known publications on Māori body adornment. This new 2018-9 scholarship will shift to examine examples in museum collections overseas and in auction catalogues. Both these are critical sites of knowledge, yet very rarely engaged with in relation to creating a corpus of taonga tuku iho (treasures). It is exactly in these sites that many pre-1900 adornments are located yet remain unknown, particularly those sold at auction. Adornments include those made from pounamu, wood, bone and stone; these include hei tiki, hei matau, kuru, kapeu, pekapeka, pōria, koropepe, rei puta, rei niho, as well as the containers they were kept in, waka huia and papahou.

The Scholar will thus be asked to identify, collate and organise by type and iwi/tribe (where possible) examples of Māori body adornment from museum collections overseas and in auction catalogues, both in New Zealand and overseas. The final report will present the Scholar’s findings: what kinds of adornments have moved out of Māori whānau and communities, and where have they ended up? Who are the collectors and dealers who are involved? Are there any adornments which have particularly important provenances? And are there any which might be able to be reconnected with whānau, hapū and iwi?

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

  • Research skills: being able to identify important online and in-library sources, organise them into type and tribal affiliation, and maybe date, and synthesise them into an extended report.
  • PDF processing: scanning all relevant documents, particularly images of adornments
  • Dropbox: where all the scanned documents and Final Report will be stored.
  • Time management skills: they should be a self-starter, and able to work by themselves with the supervisor’s support.
  • A strong knowledge of Maori art and culture, language and tikanga.
  • A knowledge of art history. Ideally the student will also have their own or access to a laptop on which to work for the project.

Applicants should address these required skills in their application and indicate if they have been in touch with the proposed supervisor.

At Face Value? The Art and Science of Complexion in Early Modern Europe

Supervisor

Erin Griffey

Discipline

Art History

Project code: ART011

Facial complexions were taken very seriously in the early modern period. But this was not simply a matter of beauty. The complexion was also intrinsically linked to one’s whole bodily or humoural constitution. Under the Galenic model, the body was seen to be composed of four elements or humours—blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile. The varying disposition of these humours were believed to determine one’s exterior appearance. Links between facial complexion and physiology were common in early modern literature, from neo-Platonic treatises such as Agnolo Firenzuola’s 1542 Discourse on the Beauty of Women to receipt collections, herbals and anatomical guides. As such, facial complexion was deemed the most visible, vital signifier of health and as such an attribute of physical beauty. Crucially, one’s complexion was also understood to reflect what we would today call ‘class’ or ‘status’. A good complexion was not simply white but had a rosy radiance or ‘lustre’. This had a profound influence on both the practical treatment of one’s complexion by the elite as well as the portrayal of it in literature and art. As such, facial complexion was the focus of an astonishing array of beautifying treatments, portrait painters approached facial skin with great sensitivity, and commentators eagerly recounted the quality of complexion.

Scholar’s Work

This scholar will examine printed primary ‘receipt’ or recipe collections, ‘books of secrets’, herbals and other sources that provide recipes aimed at beautifying the complexion from 1525-c. 1700. Tessa Storey’s Italian ‘Books of Secrets’ database (available online, with the recipes translated into English) will be invaluable, as it includes a wide range of recipes. If the scholar can read another Latin, Italian or French, it would be an advantage as there are primary and secondary sources that could be consulted, including Geneviève Debloc annotated critical edition of the 1560 edition of the Bâtiment des recettes.

The scholar will analyse the categories of complexion recipes (e.g., for freckles; for rough texture) and the ingredients used and create a spreadsheet and/or searchable database that enables comparison of the different recipes. The scholar will also prepare a report which analyses key concerns, ingredients and considers the origin of certain recipes, how they were repeated and/or modified in different sources and provide conclusions about patterns that emerge in terms of circulation, popularity, intended gender of the user (if mentioned) and use of particular ingredients. There could also be the opportunity for the scholar to consult with a cosmetic chemist and/or herbalist about the efficacy of the ingredients. It could also be possible for the scholar to co-lead a workshop for Arts and Science students that provides an overview of the project, showcases a few complexion recipes that have been made up and lets people test them.

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

  • BA major in History, English, Art History or Latin
  • Preference for at least one foreign language with reading/translating skills: Latin, Italian or French
  • Good computer skills and ability to work with and create an Access database
  • Strong research and writing skills

Applicants should address these required skills in their application and indicate if they have been in touch with the proposed supervisor.