Charlotte Vignon Takes up Curatorship at the Frick

Posted in the 18th century in the news by Editor on October 1, 2009

The Frick’s first curator of decorative arts officially starts this month in her new position. As described in a press release from the museum:


Charlotte Vignon, Associate Curator of Decorative Arts, The Frick Collection (Photo: Michael Bodycomb)

The Frick Collection announces the appointment of Charlotte Vignon to the first curatorship dedicated to the museum’s impressive decorative arts collection. Vignon takes up the newly created post of Associate Curator of Decorative Arts in October 2009, a development that sets the stage for a deeper understanding of and focus on the institution’s holdings in this area. Comments Director Anne Poulet, “It has long been our desire to make our decorative arts holdings better known through improved displays, temporary exhibitions, publications, and educational programs. We were able to endow this position with the assistance of a generous challenge grant offered in 2007 by the National Endowment for the Humanities that has been matched three to one by a group of individuals and foundations. It is a pleasure to welcome Charlotte Vignon to this new post.” Adds Associate Director and Chief Curator Colin Bailey, “This is an extremely exciting moment for the Frick, as the addition of this significant position, which followed a competitive, international search, will allow us to interpret and present our collections more fully. Vignon brings a depth of knowledge of the decorative arts that is combined with a keen interest in American collectors, among them Henry Clay Frick and J. P. Morgan, as well as the dealer Joseph Duveen—a topic that is compelling in its own right and particularly so at the Frick. The post also represents a new collaboration with New York’s Bard Graduate Center, where Vignon will teach an annual seminar on the decorative arts, one of many ways in which this new curatorship is designed to contribute to the academic community.”

Pair of deep blue Chinese porcelain jars with French gilt-bronze mounts, 1700–49.

Pair of deep blue Chinese porcelain jars with French gilt-bronze mounts, 1700–49 (NY: Frick Collection)

A native of France, where she received her education and spent several fruitful years early in her career working as a researcher in the field of European decorative arts, Vignon comes to the position having also held three highly regarded fellowships at American museums, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cleveland Museum of Art, and currently, The Frick Collection, where she is an Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow. In Cleveland, she held Andrew W. Mellon and Peter Krueger Christie Fellowships, and she worked on the first catalogue of that museum’s eighteenth-century decorative arts collection under the direction of Curator Henry Hawley. Her research resulted in the discovery of significant information about the provenance of objects and, in several cases, new identification and attributions. Vignon’s involvement in the activities of the department deepened over the course of four years, especially with Hawley’s retirement. Holding an Annette Kade Fellowship at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, she worked with curator Danielle Kisluk-Grosheide on a variety of projects, contributed to acquisition reports, and was engaged in research on the permanent collection, also resulting in new identifications.

For The Frick Collection, Vignon is currently developing a fall 2009 exhibition, Exuberant Grotesques: Renaissance Maiolica from the Fontana Workshop, for which she is also writing the catalogue. This project focuses on an important recent gift to the institution and follows the model of other critically acclaimed Cabinet presentations by examining an object in the context of important related works of art. She has also been working closely with Conservator Joseph Godla to present seminars on aspects of the Frick’s furniture collection and, while at all three museums, has frequently lectured and written articles on topics in the decorative arts and collecting.


Commode with pictorial marquetry, made by Roger Lacroix under the direction of Gilles Joubert, Paris, 1769 (NY: Frick Collection)

This fall, she will complete her Ph.D. dissertation for the Sorbonne, Paris, on the dealings of the Duveen Brothers in European decorative arts and Chinese porcelains between 1880 and 1940. This is a topic of great relevance to the museum, as many of Henry Clay Frick’s purchases came through Duveen’s firm. The subject also relates to the focus of interest at the Frick’s recently established Center for the History of Collecting in America, based at its Art Reference Library.

Comments Vignon, “It is a privilege to join the Frick staff in this important new role, undoubtedly an opportunity of great possibilities. Today, the Frick is known for its Old Master paintings and sculpture, and I look forward to expanding the public’s understanding and appreciation of its superb collection of decorative arts through exhibitions and education programs. At the same time, I hope to bring the Frick into the forefront of scholarly research in the field through ground-breaking publications and creative courses at the Bard Graduate Center.”

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In The Magazine Antiques (30 June 2009), Vignon shares a selection of her favorite objects from the Frick Collection, including the jars and commode pictured above. Click here for the article»

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