Huntington and LACMA Receive Gifts of French Ceramics

Posted in the 18th century in the news by Editor on June 20, 2010

Press release from the Huntington:

Teapot, ca. 1750, Strasbourg, Paul Hannong factory, petit feu faïence. Gift of MaryLou Boone. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Art patron and collector MaryLou Boone has given The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art each a group of important French ceramics from her collection. The works of faïence and soft-paste porcelain represent all of the major centers of production in France from roughly 1600 to 1900. The Huntington received 27 objects and LACMA received 26 that were selected to complement the existing holdings of each institution. They include teapots, potpourris, tabletop sculptures, inkwells, sugar casters, large plates, pitchers, tureens, and cups and saucers.

Boone, a resident of Pasadena, Calif., and a longtime supporter of LACMA and The Huntington, began collecting French ceramics more than 25 years ago while traveling through France with her late husband, George, also a great patron of the arts. She is the author of the catalog that accompanied a 1998 exhibition of highlights from her collection at Scripps College in Claremont, Calif. She will help produce a catalog of her entire collection, numbering around 150, working with Catherine Hess, chief curator of European art at The Huntington, and Elizabeth Williams, Marilyn B. and Calvin B. Gross Assistant Curator in the decorative arts and design department at LACMA. An exhibition of the works will take place at LACMA from October 2012 to January 2013.

“We are thrilled to welcome these works into our collection,” said Hess. “MaryLou’s generous gift will not only help fill a gap in our collections but also help tell the story of how people lived in France at that time. The objects she gathered together are testament to her great discernment and passion.”

Wendy Kaplan, department head and curator of decorative arts and design at LACMA said, “We had previously lacked the exemplary pieces of French faïence and soft-paste porcelain needed to fully present the history of European ceramics in the galleries. MaryLou’s generous gift of these exceptional objects greatly enhances our collections.”

Before the French were able to re-create the coveted hard-paste porcelain that had been developed in China, craftsmen used primarily two types of ceramics. One is faïence, tin-glazed earthenware that was developed in Italy in the 15th century and is characterized by colorful ornament and narrative scenes on a white-glaze ground. The other is soft-paste porcelain, a type of artificial porcelain that lacked the ingredients found in hard-paste porcelain. One ingredient, known as kaolin, was not discovered in France until around 1770, so all French porcelain produced before that date was soft rather than hard paste. Soft-paste objects tend to have a warm, white clay body with a satiny glaze and a delicate palette of pinks, greens, and blues.

The pieces that have been given to The Huntington, where there is already a strong collection of French Sèvres porcelain, will go on view in the Huntington Art Gallery in a new room that will focus on the 18th century in France and England. The space will be reinstalled with paintings, sculpture, and decorative art in the fall of 2011. A rotation of pieces given to LACMA will be integrated into the newly reinstalled European galleries preceding and following the exhibition.

The Boones have been Huntington benefactors for more than 20 years and are the namesakes of The Huntington’s largest gallery devoted to special exhibitions. Most recently, MaryLou provided essential funding for research, conservation analysis, and the writing and publication of French Art of the Eighteenth Century at The Huntington, an authoritative, fully illustrated catalog of The Huntington’s collection of French sculpture, paintings, and decorative art published by The Huntington in association with Yale University Press in 2008.

She also recently gave The Huntington a set of terracotta statuettes, L’Abondance et La Paix (Abundance and Peace), ca. 1786, by Jean Guillaume Moitte, that served as models for statues to embellish a proposed entrance gate into Paris; as well as L’Himen Présente le Dauphin à la France (Hymen Presenting the Dauphin to France), ca. 1781, by Clodion, which was a model for a commemorative medal honoring the birth of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette’s son.

The Boones also have a longstanding relationship with LACMA. George Boone served as a trustee, and the couple made possible the popular Boone Children’s Gallery there. MaryLou supported LACMA last year in its joint acquisition with The Huntington of an iconic chair designed by English architect, graphic artist, and craftsman Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo (1851–1942).

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