“A Horse’s Tail: The Material Afterlives of Iconoclasm”, Séminaire HAR/LARCA : Wendy Bellion, Professor of Art History and Sewell C. Biggs Chair in American Art at the University of Delaware, Terra Foundation,

Posted on March 12, 2024

12 March 2024 - 18 h 00 min - 20 h 00 min

Séminaire HAR/LARCA : Wendy Bellion, Terra Foundation, 121 Rue de Lille, Paris 75007,  mardi 12 mars, 18h – 20h 
On the night of July 9, 1776, a crowd emboldened by a public reading of the Declaration of Independence pulled a huge equestrian statue of George III from its pedestal at Bowling Green in lower Manhattan. If the monument was destroyed, however, it was not forgotten. It endured in the form of new visual representations as well as numerous fragments that were remade into new objects or treasured as relics of the original statue. The decapitated head was returned to London as a demonstration of American rebelliousness; many of the fragments went to Connecticut, where the statue was melted down and recast as ammunition for American soldiers. En route, loyalists absconded with pieces of the statue, concealing them in fields, swamps, and cellars. In the nineteenth century, these fragments began reappearing, finding their way into historical societies and museums. Even the pedestal of the statue survived for several decades; over time, it was reconceived as a monument to the American Revolution. This presentation will consider the ways that iconoclasm endures in the national imaginary through the objects that survive, registering the material presence of long-ago acts of destruction and generatively yielding new historical narratives.  
Wendy Bellion, Art History.

Wendy Bellion is Professor of Art History and Sewell C. Biggs Chair in American Art at the University of Delaware. She currently serves as Associate Dean for the Humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences. Bellion’s research and teaching focuses on eighteenth and nineteenth-century art and material culture in North America and the Atlantic World. She is the author of two monographs: Iconoclasm in New York: Revolution to Reenactment (Penn State University Press, 2019) and Citizen Spectator: Art, Illusion, and Visual Perception in Early National America (University of North Carolina Press, 2011), which was awarded the Charles Eldredge Prize by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She is the co-editor of two volumes of essays: Material Cultures of the Global Eighteenth Century: Art, Mobility and Change (Bloomsbury, 2023), and Objects in Motion: Art and Material Culture across Colonial North America (2011), a special issue of the journal Winterthur Portfolio. She is currently at work on a new monograph, Pictures Onstage: Art and Theater in the Early United States