Enfilade

Exhibition | Salvaging the Past: Georges Hoentschel

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on February 3, 2013

From the BGC:

Salvaging the Past: Georges Hoentschel and French Decorative
Arts from The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Bard Graduate Center, New York, 4 April — 11 August 2013

eorges Jacob (1739–1814); gilder: Louis–François Chatard (ca. 1749–1819). Armchair from Louis XVI's Salon des Jeux, Château de Saint-Cloud. French (Paris), 1788. Carved and gilded walnut; gold brocaded silk. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1906 (07.225.107).

Georges Jacob; gilder: Louis–François Chatard. Armchair from Louis XVI’s Salon des Jeux, Château de Saint-Cloud, 1788. Carved and gilded walnut; gold brocaded silk (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1906 — 07.225.107)

Focusing on a remarkable but little-known collection that entered the Metropolitan Museum as a gift of J. Pierpont Morgan in the early twentieth century, Salvaging the Past: Georges Hoentschel and French Decorative Arts from The Metropolitan Museum of Art features more than 200 objects of primarily medieval art and French eighteenth-century paneling, furniture, metalwork, textiles, paintings, and sculpture, as well as late nineteenth-century art pottery, most of which have rarely been viewed since the 1950s. The fourth in a series of collaborations between The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the BGC, the exhibition provides the first comprehensive examination of Georges Hoentschel—a significant figure in the history of collecting—and illuminates an understudied and critical chapter of the Metropolitan’s history.

Drawn primarily from the Metropolitan Museum’s holdings, with loans from other public and private collections in the United States and France, the exhibition tells the story of this unique collection in four sections. The first introduces Georges Hoentschel, who was an enterprising and successful decorator during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when France witnessed a great scientific, industrial, and social transformation and the newly moneyed bourgeoisie adopted a lifestyle based on an aristocratic model. As director of the Parisian decorating firm Maison Leys, Hoentschel catered to these affluent clients, creating for them interiors in historic French styles. In this section of the exhibition, ephemera, family papers, photographs, and a film presentation will outline his story within the context of Belle Époque Paris.

Section of the interior of 58 Boulevard Flandrin, Paris to be recreated in the Bard Graduate Center exhibition. Photographed circa 1906. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Thomas J. Watson Library, Presented by J. Pierpont Morgan.

Section of the interior of 58 Boulevard Flandrin, Paris (ca. 1906) to be recreated in the Bard Graduate Center exhibition.

The second and largest section presents selections from the eighteenth-century holdings of the collection in installations inspired by historic photographs of Hoentschel’s densely arranged showroom-museum in Paris, where the objects served as models for his interior decorating business. Delicately carved woodwork, decorative paintings, and exquisitely chased gilt-bronze mounts are featured here. Highlights include a chair made for Louise-Élisabeth of Parma, daughter of Louis XV; an armchair made for Louis XVI; and a panel from shutters originally installed in a room outside the chapel at Versailles.

The third section displays medieval artworks, including sculpture, ivories, and metalwork, and includes one of the finest surviving examples of French Limoges enamelwork—a twelfth-century reliquary container, or chasse. Also shown here is Jean Barbet’s Ange du Lude, on loan from the Frick Collection, a rare bronze angel dated 1475, one of the most remarkable works from Hoentschel’s collection.

The final section presents examples of Hoentschel’s stoneware and those of his friend the sculptor and potter Jean-Joseph Carriès (1855–1894). Some of these ceramics were originally exhibited in the Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs’ pavilion at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris, for which Hoentschel created interiors in art nouveau style, unique in his oeuvre. A chair from this pavilion, loaned by the Musée des Arts décoratifs, Paris, is displayed, along with a selection of furnishing textiles used by Hoentschel in interior design commissions.

The exhibition is organized by the Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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From Yale UP:

Daniëlle Kisluk-Grosheide, Deborah L. Krohn, and Ulrich Leben, eds., Salvaging the Past: Georges Hoentschel and French Decorative Arts from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), 320 pages, ISBN: 9780300190243, $85.

9780300190243Georges Hoentschel (1855–1915) was a leading French interior designer in historic styles, head of a decorating firm, and ceramicist during the Belle Epoque. He found inspiration for his designs in medieval and 18th-century French art, which he avidly collected, amassing more than 4,000 pieces of furniture, woodwork, metalwork, sculpture, paintings, and textiles. After visiting Hoentschel in Paris, the American financier J. Pierpont Morgan acquired the collection and bequeathed it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1906 and 1916–17. These works greatly enriched the museum’s medieval art department and became the nucleus of its decorative arts department, profoundly influencing American tastes in the early 20th century. Through texts, early documentary photographs, and images of newly conserved works, Salvaging the Past goes behind the scenes to explore the history and influence of this remarkable collection.

Daniëlle Kisluk-Grosheide is curator of European sculpture and decorative arts at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Deborah L. Krohn is associate professor of Italian Renaissance decorative arts at Bard Graduate Center. Ulrich Leben is a visiting professor and special exhibitions curator at Bard Graduate Center and associate curator for the furniture collection at Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire.

 

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