Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Tag: sculpture

733: The Elgin Affair by Theodore Vrettos

DDC_733

733.309385: Vrettos, Theodore. The Elgin Affair: The True Story of the Greatest Theft in History. New York: Arcade Publishing, 2011. 212 pp. ISBN 1-6114-5315-1.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Fine Arts and Recreation
  • 730: Plastic arts and sculpture
  • 733: Greek, Roman, and Etruscan sculpture
  • 733.3: Greek (Hellenic) sculpture
  • +09385: Ancient Attica to 323 CE

From 1801 to 1812, the British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, acquired some of the greatest sculptures in the Western world. His agents loaded priceless pieces of art onto barges and boats so that he could sell them to the British Museum for safekeeping. By 1812, he had removed 17 statues, 15 metope panels, 247 feet of frieze, and several other pieces of the Parthenon from Greece. Needless to say, this was all highly suspect and entirely illegal. Theodore Vrettos’s The Elgin Affair chronicles the history of the displacement and how the selfishness of a single 19th century official can lead to strained relations two hundred years later.

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730: The Indomitable Spirit of Edmonia Lewis by Henderson & Henderson

DDC_730

730.92: Henderson, Harry & Albert Henderson. The Indomitable Spirit of Edmonia Lewis: A Narrative Biography. Milford, CT: Esquiline Hill Press, 2012. Approx. 550 pp. ISBN 978-1-58863-451-1.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Fine Arts
  • 730: Plastic arts and sculpture
  • +92: Biography

Mary Edmonida Lewis was born July 4, 1844 (or so she says) in Greenbush, New York (now Rensselaer). She grew up with many of the adversities befitting her station in life, but eventually went to college and became a world renowned sculptor. Her works were displayed at the 1876 Centennial Exposition and she was even commissioned to do a bust of President Ulysses S. Grant. All of this would have remarkable had she been solely a woman in 19th century America. But she had one other major hurdle to overcome which speaks to both her perseverence and her skill—she was both Native American and African-American. Written by the father-son team of Harry and Albert Henderson, The Indomitable Spirit of Edmonia Lewis is the culmination of decades of research on this long-forgotten artist.

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Dewey Double-Dip: DDC 735 & 300

Last weekend I was in New York while my wife attended a conference. Her schedule of talks, poster sessions, and symposia gave me ample time to scurry off to the Manhattan Public Library and see if I couldn’t find a few books to help tick off some sections.

Since I had quite a bit of time, I was able to get two books read. Granted, they aren’t very exciting or one-of-a-kind finds, it was still a thrill to read in a historical building.

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738: The Arcanum by Janet Gleeson

738.092243214: Gleeson, Janet. The Arcanum: The Extraordinary True Story. New York: Warner Books, 1998. 301 pp. ISBN 0-446-67484-2.

Dewey Construction:

  • 700: The arts
  • 730: Plastics arts; sculpture
  • 738: Ceramic arts
  • +0922: Collected persons treatment
  • +43: Central Europe
  • +2: Saxony and Thuringia
  • +14: Dresden District

Once trade relations were in earnest between Central Europe and the Far East by the seventeenth century, new and wondrous artifacts made their way to Europe. Figurines, paintings, and other objets d’art were prized by collectors and kings. The most highly sought of those collectibles was Chinese porcelain. Until the early 1700s, no craftsman in Europe could duplicate the both the translucent wonder and alarming hardness of true porcelain. No one, that is, until an alchemist named Johann Frederich Boettger came along.

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709: The Rape of Europa by Lynn H. Nicholas

709.044: Nicholas, Lynn H. The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe’s Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War. New York: Vintage, 1995. 444 pp. ISBN 0-679-75686-8.

The 700s are the fine arts, everything from architecture to city planning to sculpture to painting to dancing to acting. Most art history books focus just on painting or just on sculpture, so they tend to fall into 759 or the 730s respectively. It’s a big field, and when you write a book on differing facets of art from a historical perspective, you get the distinction of having a work in DDC 709–all the way on top.

Lynn H. Nicholas’ Rape of Europa is as heartbreaking as it is scholarly. When Hitler issued the order to begin conquering Europe in September 1939, it was not to be just a military annihilation but a cultural one as well. His goal was to redefine the Germanic people and its culture by gathering together all the works with a legitimate German heritage in one great nation and destroy or exploit all other works by “degenerate” races. From reading this book, you would think that the whole war was about art. The broad bureaucracy put in place by the SS to acquire and steal works of art from other countries is astounding.

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