Shortlisted: Mrs. Delany!

Posted in books, exhibitions, Member News by Editor on December 16, 2010

Warm congratulations to Mark Laird and Alicia Weisberg-Roberts. Their edited exhibition catalogue, Mrs. Delany and Her Circle (Yale Center for British Art, 2009) has been shortlisted for CAA’s 2011 Alfred H. Barr, Jr., Award! HECAA’s collective fingers are crossed for you!

Also, addressing the eighteenth century, Molly Emma Aitken’s The Intelligence of Tradition in Rajput Court Painting (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010) is on the shortlist for the 2011 Charles Rufus Morey Book Award.

The winners of both prizes, along with the recipients of ten other Awards for Distinction, will be announced in December and presented on Thursday, February 10, 6:00–7:30 PM, in the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The event is free and open to the public. The CAA Centennial Reception will follow
(ticket required).

Additional information from CAA News is available here»

Exhibition of Boxes at The Met

Posted in exhibitions, lectures (to attend) by Editor on December 16, 2010

Press release from The Met:

Thinking Outside the Box: European Cabinets, Caskets, and Cases from the Permanent Collection
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 7 December 2010 — 21 August 2011

Organized by Daniëlle O. Kisluk-Grosheide

James Cox, Nécessaire, ca. 1770–72. Case: moss agate, mounted in gold and set with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds; silver; Dial: white enamel, with frame pavé-set with paste jewels (NY: Metropolitan Museum of Art) Gift of Mrs. Florence Schlubach, 1957 (57.128a–o).

Thinking Outside the Box: European Cabinets, Caskets, and Cases from the Permanent Collection (1500–1900) will feature 100 works selected from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts. The objects featured in this installation will range from strongboxes to travel cases and from containers for tea or tobacco to storage boxes for toiletries or silverware. These lidded pieces, some of which have not been on display for many years, are made in a large variety of shapes and sizes, and of many different materials, and were created by mostly unknown artists, craftsmen, and amateurs. Viewed together, these works reflect changes in social customs as well as the evolution of styles over four centuries. Many are precious works of art that were collected in their own right.

The objects in Thinking Outside the Box will be displayed according to the materials they are made of or embellished with, including tortoiseshell, carved or veneered wood, porcelain, hard stones and natural substances, embroidery, various metals, leather, enamel, pastiglia, and straw. Craftsmen ranging from silversmiths to furniture makers and from metalworkers to enamellers created the boxes, which are utilitarian in nature and were used either for the shipping of goods or the safekeeping of specific objects or ingredients. Boxes were also exchanged as presents—valuable snuffboxes mounted with diamonds and other precious stones often served as diplomatic gifts, and Italian white lead pastiglia caskets, scented with musk and civet, and thought to have aphrodisiacal qualities, were deemed suitable as bridal presents.

Although it is not always possible to determine what each object was originally meant to contain—such as the 16th–century Italian cases made of boiled, embossed, and tooled leather (cuir bouilli)—it has become clear that many of the elaborately wrought boxes played a role in the dressing rituals of the past. The desire to keep various beautifying implements together goes back to ancient Egypt and led to the creation of special chests. Since the 16th century, the daily grooming ritual known as the toilette (from the toile or cloth spread on the table during the various dressing activities) was taken very seriously and formed, in fact, a kind of semi-public ceremony. The importance of this custom was expressed in the creation of costly toilette services comprising numerous matching pieces, including a variety of boxes and caskets. Exquisite examples of necessaries, small travel cases containing objects deemed necessary for toilette, writing, or needlework or a combination of these three, will be on view. A particularly splendid example—the 18th–century English nécessaire by James Cox, made of moss agate mounted in gold and set with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds—not only includes dressing implements, but also a clock and automaton, and was probably intended for export to India.

These personal objects are fascinating not only for their shape and decoration but for the treasures and possible secrets they may contain.

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Sunday at the Met Lecture Series—Thinking Outside the Box
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 27 February 2011

Boxes, caskets, cabinets, and chests played an important role in everyday life in Europe and were frequently much more than simple receptacles. This program, presented in conjunction with the installation Thinking Outside the Box: European Cabinets, Caskets, and Cases from the Permanent Collection (1500–1900), explores how the objects’ form and decoration reflected changes in different social customs and manners as well as the latest stylistic developments in Europe. It concludes with music performed on cabinet organs, hidden keyboards, and not-so-ancient voice boxes. Free with Museum admission, in the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium.

  • 2:oo  Danielle O. Kisluk-Grosheide (curator, Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, MMA), Thinking Outside the Box: Placing European Cabinets, Caskets, and Cases in Context
  • 2:45  Charles Truman (art historian and independent scholar, London), The Eighteenth-Century Gold Box: The Ultimate Fashion Accessory and a Microcosm of All the Arts
  • 3:30  ARTEK, Gwendolyn Toth (director and keyboards), Jukeboxes of Old: Music from Past Centuries
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