Design from a Distance: Celebrating the Birth of the Prince of Wales in 1688
The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London
Monday 5 December 2016
PLEASE NOTE: This Date Has Passed
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Research Forum seminar room, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 0RN
- Dr Elaine Tierney - V&A Research Institute
- Prof. Christine Stevenson - The Courtauld Institute of Art
This paper explores how a single event, the birth of the Prince of Wales, was celebrated in three cities, London, Paris and The Hague, within a ten-day period in July 1688.
The near simultaneous organisation and execution of these events prompts this paper to reflect on the relationship between centres and peripheries in the realisation of early modern urban festivals. Specifically, the discussion looks at how far chains of command linked James II and his closest advisors with bureaucratic networks (at home and abroad) and wider teams of designers, makers and project managers. It begins by establishing the challenges faced by the organisers of early modern urban celebrations, especially those that were extraterritorial. Second, it reveals how organisers used local knowledge to negotiate these challenges, highlighting the crucial role of social and professional networks in the realisation of festivals. Third, and finally, the paper interrogates the extent to which the social and political ‘messages’ conveyed by the three celebrations were adapted to address local circumstances.
The paper asks: how far was the practical and conceptual realisation of early modern celebrations delegated? To what extent could lead co-ordinators in each city act independently? And ultimately, how far did the same event have to be transformed, materially and conceptually, to address the needs of three very different cities?
Elaine Tierney is part of the new V&A Research Institute (VARI). Before this, she was lecturer in early modern history at the University of Manchester. She has also been part of the V&A’s Research Department since 2006, where she has worked on a range of public-facing projects, including the exhibition, Baroque: Style in the Age of Magnificence (2010), and the television series, Handmade in Britain (2013-), a collaboration between the V&A and BBC4.
Elaine’s research interrogates how urban built environments shaped the social, political and commercial lives of early modern people. She is particularly interested in temporary things, with forthcoming publications exploring festival design, scaffolding and sheds.