‘In Sparkling Company: Glass and Social Life in Britain during the 1700s’ will open on May 9 and, through a lens of glass, will offer a critical survey of what it meant to be ‘modern’ in the 18th century, and what it cost. Political division, ruthless foreign policy, colonization and enslavement will all be considered within the context of costume, tableware, lighting and other furnishings. We are particularly thrilled to be including Gainsborough’s portrait of Mary Little on loan from Yale. Another star attraction will be the remaining panels of Robert Adam’s Northumberland House Glass Drawing Room, conserved and brought from storage at the V&A and united with Adam’s original colored designs coming from the Sir John Soane’s Museum. In addition, we have spent the last two years developing a virtual reality reconstruction of this now-lost interior, which will immerse visitors in the room’s original appearance (so far as current scholarship suggests) for the first time in almost 200 years.
There will be a 2-day seminar at Corning on October 16/17, and a symposium co-hosted at the Met, titled “The Polished and the Polite in Georgian Britain”, on October 29. Details of both will follow.