The Getty Acquires 31 Pieces of French Decorative Arts

Posted in museums by Editor on January 13, 2016

Press release (12 January 2016) from The Getty:


Wall Clock, with clock movement probably by Nicolas Thomas, ca. 1785; gilt bronze, enameled metal, glass, 49.5 x 55.9 cm (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum)

The J. Paul Getty Museum today announced the acquisition of an important collection of eighteenth-century French decorative arts assembled by Dr. Horace Wood (Woody) Brock, one of the world’s foremost economists. The acquisition is a combined gift and purchase. The thirty-one works of art include seven clocks; six gilt-bronze mounted porcelain, feldspar and porphyry objects; five works in gilt bronze including a pair of candelabra, two sets of firedogs, and two sets of decorative vases; a carved gilt-wood console table; a porcelain inkstand; and a leather portrait medallion of Louis XIV. The collection substantially enhances the Getty Museum’s extraordinary holdings of French decorative arts, renowned as one of the most important outside France.

“These exquisite objects constitute the most significant acquisition of French decorative arts made by the Museum in many years,” said Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “Produced in the sophisticated artistic culture of eighteenth-century Paris, these extraordinary works epitomize the skill and artistry that made the French court and aristocratic life the epitome of elegant extravagance, and the envy of collectors throughout Europe. We are deeply grateful to Dr. Brock for his generosity in enriching our collection with this important gift and purchase.”


Mantel Clock, ca. 1789. Clock case attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire; clock movement by Charles-Guillaume Manière; patinated bronze, gilt bronze, enameled metal, glass, white marble, griotte marble, 55.2 × 64.5 × 19.1 cm (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles)

Dr. Brock has been collecting French and English decorative arts and Old Master drawings for the last thirty years. He began lending decorative arts objects to the Getty Museum in 1997 and made several long-term loans through 2008. Since being lent to the Getty, these objects have been on continuous display in the European decorative arts galleries in the South Pavilion Plaza Level at the Getty Center.

“The objects collected by Dr. Brock are sumptuous and refined pieces of the highest quality that have significantly enriched the French Decorative Arts galleries since the opening of the Getty Center in 1997,” said Anne-Lise Desmas, curator and department head of Sculpture and of Decorative Arts. “They have become key components in the Museum’s recreation of French eighteenth-century interiors and have played an essential role in our visitors’ experience and understanding of this critical period of European art.”

The newly-acquired works were created as luxury objects that would have decorated the lavishly furnished residences of the French aristocracy and bourgeoisie. Many, such as the clocks, candelabra, and the inkstand, were made for practical use, but their sophisticated design and rare materials were also meant to demonstrate the wealth, prestige, and refined taste of their owners. The objects represent the full range of decorative styles practiced during the eighteenth century, from the grandeur and opulence of late Baroque and Régence, through the intimate brilliance of the Rococo, to the severe restraint of the Neoclassical.

Highlights of the collection include a pair of gilt-bronze candelabra (2015.60.1) attributed to the prominent Baroque cabinetmaker André-Charles Boulle, called during his lifetime “the most skillful artisan in Paris.” Two early Rococo lidded jars (2015.70) include exotic motifs from the Far East; porcelain and hardstones were avidly collected and prominently displayed, mounted with gilt bronze to highlight the beauty and rarity of porphyry and feldspar.

A passionate collector of decorative arts, Dr. Brock knows the Getty Museum’s outstanding collection intimately. Consequently, he has given works that fit exceptionally well in the context of the Museum. For example, the extraordinary gilt-bronze wall clock in the form of a winged clock face (2015.67) adds an important model not currently represented in the collection and the imposing Neoclassical mantel clock with Vestal Virgins (2015.64) attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire joins a significant group of objects from early in that artist’s career already belonging to the Museum.

Most of the donations have been made in honor of Theodore Dell, an important scholar who catalogued the French furniture and gilt bronzes at The Frick Collection in New York. Dell was a consultant to Gillian Wilson, former Getty Museum curator of decorative arts, and helped Dr. Brock in the formation of his collection. Dell assembled an important library of sales catalogues, journals, magazines, books, and museum catalogues, all focused on French decorative arts, which he donated to the Bard Graduate Center Library in 2012. Other objects have been donated to the Getty in honor of Gillian Wilson as well as knowledgeable dealers in decorative arts such as Leon Dalva, Will Iselin, Pascal Izarn, Laurent and Olivier Kraemer, and Martin Zimet; and, in memory of Frank Berendt, Philippe Kraemer, and François Léage.

“The J. Paul Getty Museum contains a superb collection of the decorative arts of eighteenth-century France, a period in which the quality of design and craftsman ship arguably reached its historical zenith. My hope is that the objects I have collected will permanently enhance this already remarkable collection,” says Dr. Horace Wood Brock.

Dr. Horace Brock earned his B.A., M.B.A., and M.S. in Mathematics from Harvard University, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University (Mathematical Economics and Political Philosophy). He is the former president and founder of Strategic Economic Decisions (SED), Inc., and specializes in applications of the modern economics of uncertainty to forecasting and risk assessment in the international economy and its asset markets. He has developed a new theory of rational beliefs that disputes the classical theory of efficient markets and is the author of American Gridlock: Why the Right and the Left Are Both Wrong — Commonsense 101 Solution to the Economic Crises (Wiley: 2012).

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