Tag Archives: interns are awesome

A Copy of a Copy

A trip to the Camp­bell House Muse­um guar­an­tees a cou­ple of things:

1.) You’re going to walk up and down a lot of stairs.

2.) You’re going to get a great, engag­ing tour from one of our awe­some docents or interns.

3.) You’re going to see some incred­i­ble exam­ples of Vic­to­ri­an inte­ri­or design and beau­ti­ful works of art.

This post focus­es on the last point—the out­stand­ing col­lec­tion of art accu­mu­lat­ed over the years by Robert and Vir­ginia Camp­bell and their sons—and we have our recent­ly depart­ed Spring intern Amy to thank for the great research that went into what you’re about to read.

Painting of James Campbell by Jules Lefebvre, 1899 © Campbell House Foundation 2013

Paint­ing of James Camp­bell by Jules Lefeb­vre, paint­ed in Paris in 1895.

While Camp­bell House does boast some beau­ti­ful orig­i­nal works of art, like the por­trait of the dash­ing James Camp­bell hang­ing in the library paint­ed by renowned artist Jules Lefeb­vre, many of the art­works that you see on a trip to the muse­um are copies of orig­i­nal works, some going back to antiquity.

What’s pret­ty inter­est­ing though is that, upon fur­ther exam­i­na­tion, resource­ful intern Amy unrav­eled the sto­ry of one of our sculp­tures and revealed that it’s actu­al­ly a copy of a copy… of a copy.

A huge­ly pop­u­lar trend for wealthy fam­i­lies like the Camp­bells in the 19th cen­tu­ry was to dis­play works by well known artists in their homes.  How­ev­er, dis­play­ing orig­i­nal sculp­tures by leg­endary artists would have been imprac­ti­cal and often finan­cial­ly impossible—even for wealthy fam­i­lies like the Camp­bells.  On top of that, most of the orig­i­nals were incred­i­bly heavy—made out of mar­ble, so buy­ing plas­ter copies of the orig­i­nals made them eas­i­er to ship and were much more prac­ti­cal to dis­play in a res­i­den­tial setting.

Bust of "Venus Italica" by Antonio Canova © Campbell House Foundation 2013

Bust of “Venus Ital­i­ca” by Anto­nio Cano­va in the Camp­bell House Morn­ing Room.

One artist for which the Camp­bells seem to have had a par­tic­u­lar affin­i­ty was Ital­ian sculp­tor Anto­nio Cano­va, whose work dates from the late 18th and ear­ly 19th cen­turies.  The most detailed of his works on dis­play here at Camp­bell House can be found in the Morn­ing Room—a bust of his Venus Ital­i­ca.

Canova's original "Venus Italica"

Canova’s orig­i­nal “Venus Italica”

Ok, so you’re prob­a­bly assum­ing that this isn’t the orig­i­nal sculp­ture by Cano­va.  And you’re right.  In fact, the orig­i­nal is sig­nif­i­cant­ly larg­er, and a bit…exposed.  Not nec­es­sar­i­ly some­thing Vir­ginia Camp­bell would have want­ed greet­ing guests as they walked through her home.

What’s inter­est­ing is that, in real­i­ty, Canova’s orig­i­nal Venus Ital­i­ca isn’t actu­al­ly all that orig­i­nal.  In fact, it’s a copy of a much old­er piece called the Medici Venus that Cano­va was com­mis­sioned to recre­ate and onto which he put his own unique spin by adding clothes and repo­si­tion­ing Venus’ hand.  The Medici Venus dates all the way back to the first cen­tu­ry BCE, near­ly 2,000 years before the Camp­bells decid­ed that Venus’ head would look nice on dis­play in their sit­ting room.

Medici Venus

The “Medici Venus”, dat­ing from the first cen­tu­ry BCE

But wait!  There’s more!  Not only is the Camp­bells’ bust of Venus a copy of Anto­nio Canova’s Venus Ital­i­ca, which is a copy of the Medici Venus, but the Medici Venus actu­al­ly has its begin­nings as a copy of an even OLDER sculp­ture- the Venus of Knidos craft­ed in ancient Greece.  Though the orig­i­nal is no longer in exis­tence, we do still have (you guessed it!) copies of what the orig­i­nal is thought to have looked like.… and it’s miss­ing a cou­ple of key features.

Venus Knidos

A copy of the “Venus Knidos”, which dates back to Greek antiquity

So there you have it.  The Camp­bells’ bust of Venus is actu­al­ly a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy.  Is your head spin­ning yet?

This prac­tice of repro­duc­ing clas­si­cal sculp­tures for dis­play in the home became increas­ing­ly pop­u­lar dur­ing the 19th cen­tu­ry and artists began more and more to use clas­sic works as inspi­ra­tions for new pieces.  This move­ment, known as neo­clas­si­cism, posed a pret­ty big prob­lem for schol­ars and crit­ics at the time—was this art new? Or was it just a copy?  The answer that’s gen­er­al­ly been agreed upon is, quite sim­ply, both.  We can see how much change that the orig­i­nal Venus under­went before its lat­er incar­na­tion end­ed up in the Camp­bell House, with dif­fer­ences added slow­ly over time and mak­ing the fig­ure more nat­u­ral­is­tic.  Though these changes and the com­mer­cial­iza­tion of famous works made art more acces­si­ble to the com­mon man, it has been argued this neo­clas­si­cal move­ment actu­al­ly marks begin­ning of art’s decline, throw­ing artis­tic inno­va­tion and iden­ti­ties out the win­dow in favor of cheap reproductions.

Venus (center left) in the Morning Room of the Campbell House, ca. 1885 © Campbell House Foundation 2013

Venus (cen­ter left) in the Morn­ing Room of the Camp­bell House, cir­ca 1885
© Camp­bell House Foun­da­tion 2013

Regard­less of the posi­tion you take, it can’t be denied that even these neo­clas­si­cal pieces spared no lack of atten­tion to detail and, when push comes to shove, we’re pret­ty pleased that our copy of Canova’s Venus has kept watch from the cor­ner here at Camp­bell House for the last 150 years.  Even if it is a copy of a copy…of a copy.

Meet the interns » Lauren


If you come by on Sat­ur­days, you’re more than like­ly going to meet Lau­ren, our new Fall intern. She’s a busy bee, hold­ing down 18 hours of class­es, a part-time job and work­ing here sev­er­al days a week. We’re lucky to have her! If she’s your tour guide, make sure you ask her what she thinks of Vegemite.…..

What are you study­ing and where? His­to­ry at UMSL.

Why Camp­bell House? I want­ed to get expe­ri­ence work­ing in a muse­um, and I thought I would be able to get a more valu­able and hands-on expe­ri­ence in a small­er orga­ni­za­tion where I could feel I was more involved. I think the Camp­bell House is a real­ly unique and spe­cial place, and I thought it would be a very enjoy­able place to gain some knowl­edge about work­ing in museums.

What are you going to do at Camp­bell House? I am going through tons of let­ters and doc­u­ments try­ing to uncov­er quotes or first-hand accounts of each of the Camp­bells, as well as var­i­ous facts regard­ing their sto­ry and the house, and cre­at­ing cards to put in each of the rooms. I want to be able to pro­vide peo­ple with a more inti­mate knowl­edge of the fam­i­ly aside from what our docents can tell them, and help to serve as a talk­ing point or ref­er­ence on tours.

When you aren’t slav­ing away at Camp­bell House, what are you doing? I am busy with a full-time school sched­ule and work­ing at a cafe! When I do have time for a life, I love trav­el­ing and just spend­ing time with fam­i­ly and friends.

What’s your favorite thing about Camp­bell House so far? I love research­ing and learn­ing new things every­day about the fam­i­ly and the time peri­od, and It’s also just a beau­ti­ful envi­ron­ment to be work­ing in, sur­round­ed by this opu­lent Vic­to­ri­an home. But of course, I love the peo­ple I work with and am grate­ful to have so many knowl­edge­able, help­ful and pos­i­tive peo­ple around!

PC or Mac? PC

Lit­tle known fact about me: I am an Aus­tralian cit­i­zen (I have dual-cit­i­zen­ship because my father was Aus­tralian) and lived in Mel­bourne for a year!

Favorite book: It’s a tie between Slaugh­ter House Five and Ange­la’s Ash­es…I have read both at least five times!

Meet the Interns » Amy


World, we’d like to intro­duce you to Amy, one of our new interns. After she fin­ished the usu­al Camp­bell research for prepa­ra­tion to give tours, she did­n’t waste any time div­ing head­first into revamp­ing our ser­vants’ exhib­it. (This is a big job. For­tu­nate­ly for us, Amy cer­tain­ly does not lack enthu­si­asm.) With­out fur­ther ado, here’s Amy!

What are you study­ing and where? BA in His­to­ry from Uni­ver­si­ty of Day­ton.

Why the Camp­bell House? Why not the Camp­bell House!! It is a great place to receive hands-on expe­ri­ence and learn all there is to know about the ins and outs of a house muse­um. I want to go into muse­um stud­ies and St. Louis is home; I felt like this was the per­fect fit for me.

What are you going to work on while at CHM? I just start­ed work­ing on redo­ing the exhib­it on the ser­vants in the house­hold. I am real­ly excit­ed about this oppor­tu­ni­ty because it is a great way to expe­ri­ence many of the ele­ments that goes into an exhibit.

When aren’t slav­ing away at Camp­bell house, what are up to? I am split­ting my time between anoth­er intern­ship, work­ing at The Lodge, study­ing for the GRE and apply­ing to grad­u­ate programs.

What is your favorite thing about Camp­bell House so far? All the won­der­ful and knowl­edge­able peo­ple I have met. Every time I walk into the CHM it is always a pos­i­tive atmos­phere and I learn some­thing new everyday!

PC or Mac? Mac 🙂

Lit­tle Known Fact about me: I love col­lect­ing nail pol­ish! OPI is prob­a­bly my favorite, the names are so creative.

Old-time religion with the Campbells

Syd­ney exam­in­ing micro­film of Camp­bell checks to see which char­i­ties around town they supported.

Thanks to Syd­ney, one of our tal­ent­ed sum­mer interns, we now have a beau­ti­ful and inter­ac­tive way to show the Camp­bells’ reli­gious his­to­ry. When Syd­ney came on board in June, she did­n’t waste any time dig­ging into Camp­bell doc­u­ments and church records to build a more com­plete pic­ture of the fam­i­ly’s faith.

For her exit project, she made an online time­line, com­plete with maps, images, quotes from our local news­pa­pers, and his­tor­i­cal nar­ra­tives. When Syd­ney was­n’t giv­ing tours, she was dili­gent­ly read­ing, com­par­ing facts in dif­fer­ent sources, com­pil­ing infor­ma­tion, and writ­ing. This was a big job.

The fruit of her efforts can be found here. Not only did she do all the research and writ­ing, but Syd­ney also fig­ured out how to make her idea into some­thing she could imple­ment. She found Dip­i­ty, and made her time­line come alive in a way that’s eas­i­ly acces­si­ble and sim­ple to share with others.

Take a look, and let us know what you think. Pay par­tic­u­lar atten­tion to “Hugh’s Gen­eros­i­ty” toward the end of the time­line. This entry cap­tures much of her often-tedious micro­film research, and this gives a won­der­ful glimpse into Hugh’s per­son­al­i­ty. He gave freely to a vari­ety of church­es, regard­less of affiliation.

One more time, here’s the link to her time­line. A big thanks and three cheers for Sydney!

Meet the Interns » Kate


In our last — but cer­tain­ly not least — install­ment of this sum­mer’s “Meet the Interns,” we’d like to intro­duce you to Kate. She’s been research­ing men­tal ill­ness dur­ing the Vic­to­ri­an era and how it relat­ed to our Hazlett, and she’s proven to be a star at giv­ing tours to our guests. We’re going to miss her when she goes to Rus­sia in a few weeks. *sniff*

What are you study­ing and where?
Art His­to­ry at Vas­sar Col­lege.

Why Camp­bell House?
Intern­ing at Camp­bell House allows me to pur­sue my inter­ests in his­to­ry and art while gain­ing muse­um expe­ri­ence. I real­ly liked that the muse­um was small so I can vol­un­teer in many dif­fer­ent areas and real­ly get to know the staff and the col­lec­tion as a whole.

What are you going to work on at CHM over the summer?
Most­ly I’m giv­ing tours and doing inven­to­ry, but I’m also going to do a research project to dis­cov­er who exact­ly took the pho­tos of Camp­bell House.

When you aren’t slav­ing away at Camp­bell House, what are you doing?
I like to read quite a bit, and watch tv (my favorite shows are Psych and Mod­ern Fam­i­ly). I’ll be going to St. Peters­burg, Rus­sia for my junior year abroad in the fall, so I’m def­i­nite­ly study­ing Russ­ian in my free time!

Kate real­ly uses this. Every. Day. #cutestlunch­box­ev­er

What’s your favorite thing about Camp­bell House so far?
House muse­ums are par­tic­u­lar­ly fas­ci­nat­ing because they place the objects in their orig­i­nal or a sim­i­lar con­text, and I love that about Camp­bell House in gen­er­al, espe­cial­ly because so many of the objects did belong to the fam­i­ly. But if I had to pick my favorite piece it might be the “mus­tache cup”, which is a tea cup with a lit­tle shelf inside to pro­tect your mus­tache while you drink tea (it’s in the parlor)!

PC or Mac?

Lit­tle known fact about me:
I adore Dijon mus­tard and put it on every­thing from meat to car­rots to just plain bread (some­times I even eat it plain).