A tale of 38 teapots: an intimate portrait of 18th-century sociability

20 Oct 2014

At a seminar tomorrow (22 October 2014) archaeologist Craig Cessford will talk about the challenges of working on ‘clearance deposits’. He will use, as one of his examples, the recent excavation of a site in historic Cambridge that yielded a cache of teapots, and other items, that had lain undisturbed for more than 200 years.

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Creating a shared resource for the endangered culture of the Kalmyks

21 Sep 2014

Almost four centuries ago, ancestors of the Kalmyk people trekked across central Asia to form a Buddhist nation on the edge of Europe. Today Kalmyk communities are scattered across Eurasia, with the largest group in the Republic of Kalmykia.

A new project will document Kalmyk heritage to produce an open-access online resource to help Kalmyk communities revive their culture. 

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Fancy pants: skirmishes with the fashion police in 16th-century Italy

16 Sep 2014

With the autumn 2014 fashion shows in full swing, all eyes are on the top designers. In 16th-century Italy, the latest looks didn't always go down well with the authorities. Historian Giulia Galastro is researching the sumptuary laws regulating the level of opulence that could be paraded in public – and how the dandies of the day neatly side-stepped the rules.  

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Fitzwilliam Museum bids to acquire weeping Virgin

01 Aug 2014

A remarkably realistic painted wood bust of the Mater Dolorosa (Virgin of Sorrows) by Pedro de Mena (1628-1688), one of the most celebrated sculptors of the Spanish Golden Age, has gone on display at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge as part of an appeal to acquire the sculpture.

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A taste of early modern medicine

18 Jul 2014

Historic recipe books and physicians’ manuals featuring home-made cures from the 17th century have gone on display to the public for the first time, as part of a new exhibition revealing the secrets of early modern household knowledge.

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What William Courten bought on 9 June 1698: 1 young Pelican, 2 Land Tortoises and a cap of seafowles skin

09 Jun 2014

A remarkable archive records the purchases made by William Courten (1642–1702) whose museum was praised by visitors as a noble collection of curiosities. An investigation of Courten’s records by Dr Sachiko Kusukawa reveals that Courten bought items from more than 80 individuals, many of them trading within walking distance of his rooms in London’s Middle Temple. 

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Whale tale: a Dutch seascape and its lost Leviathan

04 Jun 2014

Earlier this year a conservator at the Hamilton Kerr Institute made a surprising discovery while working on a 17th-century painting owned by the Fitzwilliam Museum.  As Shan Kuang cleaned the surface, she revealed the beached whale that had been the intended focus of the composition. The artwork is now back on display in the Fitzwilliam's newly-refurbished gallery of Dutch Golden Age painting.  

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Unfolding the untold stories of an object d’art

02 Jun 2014

Art historian Dr Meredith Hale reveals that a 17th-century screen, commissioned by the Viceroy of Mexico for a palace designed to impress visitors with the immutability of Spanish rule, is a striking example of a transcultural work of art. In an article for the Burlington Magazine, she traces the many influences that went into its narrative imagery and luxurious embellishment. 

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Q&A: how archives make history

07 Apr 2014

The early modern period (1500-1800) saw a surge in the keeping of records. A conference later this week (9-10 April 2014) at the British Academy will look at the origins of the archives that shape our understanding of history. We asked ten of the speakers to tackle some fundamental questions.

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