Exhibition: The Look of Love, Eye Miniatures

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on February 14, 2012

From the Birmingham Museum of Art:

The Look of Love: Eye Miniatures from the Skier Collection
Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, Alabama, 7 February — 10 June 2012
University of Georgia, Athens, 6 October 2012 — 6 January 2013

This stunning exhibition explores the little-known subject of “lover’s eyes,” hand-painted miniatures of single human eyes set in jewelry and given as tokens of affection or remembrance. In 1785, when the Prince of Wales secretly proposed to Mrs. Maria Fitzherbert with a miniature of his own eye, he inspired an aristocratic fad for exchanging eye portraits mounted in a wide variety of settings including brooches, rings, lockets, and toothpick cases. With over 100 examples, the collection of Dr. and Mrs. David A. Skier of Birmingham is the largest in the world. This exhibition offers an unprecedented look at these unusual and intriguing works of art.

Visitors can also interact with the exhibition in a new way: the Museum’s very first iPad app! The Look of Love app allows visitors to see these tiny, intricate objects at up to twenty times their actual size. They can also see images of the backs of objects or short videos of how the objects open. Twenty iPad devices are available for check-out and use in the Arrington Gallery, and
volunteers are on hand to show how the devices and the app

ISBN: 9781907804014, $35

The exhibition is accompanied by a full color, hardbound catalogue of the same name, edited by Dr. Graham C. Boettcher, The William Cary Hulsey Curator of American Art, and published by D Giles Ltd., London. An essay by Elle Shushan sets the historical scene and examines the role of lover’s eyes in the broader context of Georgian and early Victorian portrait miniatures. Boettcher looks at the language and symbolism of these tokens and their jeweled settings. Additionally, novelist and biographer Jo Manning offers five fictional vignettes imagining the circumstances surrounding the creation of these extraordinary objects.

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N.B. — Notice of the exhibition at the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens was added on 24 October 2012

Stockholm’s Nationalmuseum Acquires Satyr and Nymph by Clodion

Posted in museums by Editor on February 14, 2012

Press release (30 November 2011) from the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm:

Claude Michel, known as Clodion, "Satyr and Nymph," terracotta, 1780s (Photo: Linn Ahlgren/Nationalmuseum)

At an ordinary public auction this past April, Nationalmuseum purchased a magnificent terracotta sculpture by French artist Claude Michel, known as Clodion. The piece, thought to date from the 1780s, depicts a satyr embracing a young nymph. Clodion’s superb attention to detail and perfect balancing of the two figures makes this one of his most significant works.

Claude Michel, known as Clodion, was two years the senior and a colleague of the Swedish sculptor Johan Tobias Sergel during his time in Rome. Clodion never completely abandoned the graceful rococo style. Not surprisingly, he was popular with collectors, but he was never elected to the Académie in his native France. The terracotta sculpture of a satyr embracing a nymph, purchased by Nationalmuseum at a public auction held by Stockholms Auktionsverk in April, typifies Clodion’s work in many respects. This piece, which probably dates from the 1780s, is a finished work rather than a prototype. Clodion produced these terracotta pieces for an eager market that could hardly wait for him to finish his works, since they were so popular. He produced several variations on the satyr and nymph theme, but the piece recently acquired by Nationalmuseum is one of the most thoroughly executed. The two figures, perfectly balanced in relation to each other, appear to be fashioned from a single piece of clay. Rather than powerful eroticism, the work exudes a gentle sensualism, which is most evident in the tentative kiss being exchanged between the couple. Clodion makes elegant play with the contrast between the plastic smoothness of the skin and the graphic nature of the nymph’s hair, carved into the clay while it was still wet.

On account of its sensual subject matter, in 1990 the grouping ended up in a private Swedish erotica collection. At different points in its life it had belonged to Henri Rochefort, a prominent French politician, and Jacques Doucet, a legendary art collector, whose collection (auctioned off piecemeal in 1912) included Picasso’s les Demoiselles d’Avignon. A counterpart to Clodion’s Satyr and Nymph can be seen in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The version now acquired by Nationalmuseum was long believed to be lost.

The acquisition was made possible by a generous donation from the Sophia Giescke Foundation. The Nationalmuseum has no funds of its own with which to acquire art and design, and so relies on gifts and financial support from private foundations and funds to expand its collection.

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