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Selling the Metropolis - Friedrich Justin Bertuch’s Journal “London und Paris” and the Mediation of Elegance around 1800

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25 May 2017

Time: 6:30 - 8:30pm
Venue: German Historical Institute London, 17 Bloomsbury Square, Holborn, London WC1A 2NJ
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  • Public Lecture Series “Urban and Elegant: The Aesthetics of Living in the Modern European City”
  • Professor Joachim Rees, Freie Universität Berlin

This talk is a part of the Public Lecture Series “Urban and Elegant: The Aesthetics of Living in the Modern European City” given by leading academics, which provides an overview of the European landscape of the so-called ‘elegant world’ to a broad audience and discusses specific media, spaces, and cultural practices of European urban elites and their lifestyle in the 19th Century.

Event details

In 1798 Friedrich Justin Bertuch, a Weimar-based entrepreneur and publisher, added another ambitious periodical to his already impressive portfolio: The newly established journal "London und Paris" catered to provincial audiences that were trying to come to terms with the fascinating and disturbing phenomenon of the "metropolis". 

Such cities were completely absent in the culturally diverse and politically fragmented landscape of German-speaking countries of the time, which contributed to the sense of 'otherness' in the literary portrayals of London and Paris as emerging "world capitals" at the dawn of the 19th century. 

However, Bertuch's new journal had to strike a balance between a cultural othering of the metropolis and a vivid evocation of its allures, even more so because another highly successful production of his publishing house, the "Journal des Luxus und der Moden", tapped into this notion of an imagined capital as the pinnacle of commodified elegance. 

The lecture sets out to explore some of the visual and textual strategies by which Bertuch tried to sell the metropolis alternately as an amoral abyss and an epitome of elegance.

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The talk will be followed by a Q&A session and a wine reception

Joachim Rees is Professor of Early Modern Art History in a Transcultural Perspective at Free University Berlin. He studied at the Cologne University and the Courtauld Institute of Art London; his PhD at the Cologne University (1997) was followed by the habilitation in 2011. He has held research positions at the Wallraf Richartz Museum in Cologne and the Free University Berlin, and was Visiting Professor at the University of Bielefeld in 2010-2012.

He was head of a number of major research projects including the Travels of the European elites in the second half of the 18th Century and Cultural Anthropology of Drawing, and is currently leading two collaborative research projects which focus on the maritime trade and visual culture in Japan and the Netherlands (1550-1680) and the garden design in transregional perspective (1650-1800).

Joachim Rees published widely on art history and culture transfer of the Early Modern and Modern period, Enlightenment and reception of antiquity, artists’ travels, overseas trade and art production in the seaports. He is the author or editor of 8 books, among them “Die verzeichnete Fremde. Formen und Funktionen des Zeichnens im Kontext europäischer Forschungsreisen 1770–1830“ (2015); The Itineraries of Art. Topographies of Artistic Mobility in Europe and Asia (2015); Künstler auf Reisen. Von Albrecht Dürer bis Emil Nolde (2010); Die Kultur des Amateurs, Studien zu Leben und Werk von Anne Claude Philippe de Thubières, Comte de Caylus (2006).

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