Enfilade

Exhibition | Masterpieces of French Faience

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on August 8, 2018

Press release for the exhibition opening this fall

Masterpieces of French Faience: Selections from the Sidney R. Knafel Collection
The Frick Collection, New York, 9 October 2018 — Autumn 2019

Curated by Charlotte Vignon

This fall, an exhibition at the Frick will draw from the holdings of Sidney R. Knafel, who has one of the world’s finest and most comprehensive private collections of French faience. With seventy-five objects, the presentation in the Portico Gallery tells the fascinating and complex history of an aspect of European decorative arts that warrants greater attention. The production of faience, a colorful tin-glazed earthenware, spans a vast history of more than two centuries. The earliest French examples were made in Lyon in the sixteenth century, while works from France’s Golden Age of production were made in Nevers and Rouen in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Production in the eighteenth century expanded to other locations, including Marseille, Moustiers, Sinceny, and Moulins. Comments Charlotte Vignon, the Frick’s Curator of Decorative Arts and organizer of the exhibition, “Faience was largely commissioned by a local regional aristocracy, and the result is another wonderful chapter in the history of ceramics that developed quite apart from the centers of political power and artistic innovation in Versailles and Paris. The Frick has never before exhibited such a large and impressive body of French faience, and we are delighted to illuminate the topic through such a distinguished collection.” The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue published in hard and softcover editions by the Frick, in association with D Giles Ltd.

As with other types of earthenware, faience remains porous after firing and therefore must be covered with a glaze. The glazes used include a tin oxide that creates the opaque white surface that covers the color of the underlying clay and also creates a stable surface for painting. The Knafel Collection comprises pieces decorated exclusively with the grand feu (literally, “ high fire”) technique, in which metal oxides are mixed with water and applied to the tin-glazed surface before firing at a temperature of about 1650° F. The palette is necessarily limited to those oxides that can withstand such extreme heat: cobalt (blue), antimony (yellow), manganese (purple and brown), iron (red-orange), and copper (green).

The production of faience in France corresponds to the arrival in Lyon, during the second half of the sixteenth century, of several Italian maiolica potters and painters seeking opportunities outside Italy. This influence is reflected in the French word faience, which derives from the northern Italian city of Faenza, an important center of maiolica production during the Renaissance. French faience draws inspiration from multiple sources, with decoration simultaneously indebted to Italian maiolica, Asian porcelain, and contemporary engravings, while the forms derived mostly from European ceramics and silver.

The function of a piece of French faience depended on the nature of the commission, the patron who first owned it, and its price. During the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, objects in faience were costly and therefore acquired, collected, and gifted exclusively by those at the highest levels of French society. Consequently, earlier pieces from Lyon and Nevers in the Knafel Collection were originally intended only for display, to be admired by their owners and guests. The spread of faience workshops in Nevers, Rouen, and elsewhere in France during the eighteenth century inevitably changed the status of these objects and hence their function. One of the most important changes was the later use of faience as dishware, on which to eat or serve food. To ensure the success of their workshops, French potters—beginning with those in Rouen—closely followed the culinary developments occurring in France at the time. Multiple dishes in different shapes and sizes were created in response to the requirements of the service à la française, which necessitated serving various dishes of a particular course at the same time. As the eighteenth century progressed, faience was increasingly used at all times of the day. In the morning, small faience boxes and jars stored pomades, powders, and other accessories of make up, alongside silver and porcelain vessels on a dressing table for ‘la toilette’.

Charlotte Vignon, Masterpieces of French Faience: Selections from the Sidney R. Knafel Collection (London: D. Giles, 2018), 72 pages, ISBN: 978-1911282310.

 

Frick Acquires Vase by Luigi Valadier

Posted in exhibitions, museums by Editor on August 8, 2018

Press release from The Frick:

Luigi Valadier (1726–1785), Vase, ca. 1770s, Rosso Appennino marble and gilt silver, approximately 9 × 6 × 4 inches (New York: The Frick Collection; photo by Michael Bodycomb).

Luigi Valadier was the preeminent silversmith in Rome during the second half of the eighteenth century. His work was admired by popes, royalty, and aristocrats throughout Europe. His oeuvre will be the subject of an upcoming monographic exhibition and publication at The Frick Collection, Luigi Valadier: Splendor in Eighteenth-Century Rome (31 October 2018, through 20 January 2019). Inspired by this project—the second in a series of much-needed exhibitions to focus on decorative artists who deserve fresh scholarship—the museum has purchased a unique vase by the artist. The vase, believed to be a special commission, is the only known marble example attributed to Valadier that was executed with gilt-silver mounts, rather than his more typical gilt bronze. The marble used for the vase is also unusual, a rarely used blood-red variety identified as Rosso Appennino. The vase is currently on view in the museum’s Library gallery.

The design of the vase—an ovoid body on a square base, with lanceolate leaves at the bottom and two lion heads with rings in their jaws at the neck—appears in a number of Valadier drawings: two sheets in the Museo Napoleonico, Rome, and one in the Museo di Roma. They all illustrate marble or alabaster vases to be used for flowers or as candlesticks, with lion heads on their sides. Four vases in alabaster following this design were given by the Roman senator Abbondio Rezzonico to Cardinal Giuseppe Doria Pamphilj and are still preserved in the family palace in Rome. One of the drawings in the Museo Napoleonico shows measurements in Genoese palmi, suggesting that this specific design was made for the work done about 1779, at Palazzo Spinola in Genoa, by the French architect Charles de Wailly, who was collaborating with Valadier at the time.

Professor Alvar González-Palacios, the world’s expert on Valadier and the curator of the Frick’s upcoming exhibition, believes that the marble vase may have been carved by Francesco Antonio Franzoni (1734–1818), a sculptor known for producing precious objects, often in bizarre and uncommon materials. The precious materials used for this vase—Rosso Appennino marble and gilt silver—and the quality of the chasing of the metal suggest that it was a private commission for an important aristocrat. The top, unlike the lids of other vases of similar design by Valadier, is not detachable, indicating that the vase was ornamental rather than utilitarian. The finial also differs from the other vases depicted in the drawings by Valadier; whereas the other finials are pine cones, the finial of the Frick vase is an acorn. Professor González-Palacios suggests that this may have heraldic significance and allude to one of Rome’s most prominent aristocratic families, the Chigi, whose coat of arms included oak branches and acorns. Prince Sigismondo Chigi (1736–1793) was one of Valadier’s most important patrons in the 1770s and early 1780s.

Sometime after 1716, Valadier’s father, André, moved from Avignon, in the south of France, to Rome, where he established a silversmith workshop that became one of the best known in the city. Luigi inherited his father’s business in 1759, and his unsurpassed technical expertise combined with his aesthetic taste led to a successful career marked by the production of extraordinary objects in gold, silver, and bronze. Antique sculptures, cameos, architectural details, and ruins of Roman monuments served as the inspiration for his imaginative candelabra, tableware, church altars, and centerpieces. The financial state of the Valadier workshop, however, was often precarious, and it seems the artist suffered as a result of commissions that were never paid. He committed suicide in 1785, drowning himself in the Tiber, presumably because of the debts he had accumulated.

Comments Xavier F. Salomon, Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator, “An exceptional object by Valadier, this vase is an excellent example of the silversmith’s art and a superb object to represent him at The Frick Collection. We are thrilled to add it to our holdings, as it perfectly complements our works by Pierre Gouthière, Valadier’s contemporary in France. It provides a wonderful introduction to New Yorkers as a part of the forthcoming exhibition.”

Xavier Salomon Named Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia

Posted in museums by Editor on August 8, 2018

Press release (28 June 2018) from The Frick:

Xavier F. Salomon, Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator of The Frick Collection has been named Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia for his contribution to the artistic heritage of Italy, his native country. In a private ceremony at the museum in late May, the honor was bestowed by the President of the Republic of Italy, and Salomon was invested by Armando Varricchio, Ambassador of Italy to the United States. The Ordine della Stella d’Italia was established in 2011, to reward individuals who have collaborated and solidified friendly relationships and cooperation between Italy and foreign countries. This award was reformed from the Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana, established after World War II to recognize individuals who were contributing to the reconstruction of Italy.

Salomon, an internationally renowned scholar of Paolo Veronese, was appointed by The Frick Collection in January 2014 as the museum’s Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator. In addition to overseeing the Frick’s curatorial activities, he has organized several exhibitions focusing on Italian and Spanish art. Salomon is the curator of the Frick’s current acclaimed exhibition Canova’s George Washingtonwhich explores the creation of Antonio Canova’s lost statue of George Washington, the only work he created for America. The exhibition features the artist’s full-size preparatory plaster model, executed in 1818, as well as other objects connected to its creation. Following its presentation at the Frick, the show will travel to the Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova in Possagno, Italy, in the fall of 2018. The catalogue, written by Salomon; Mario Guderzo, Director of the Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova; and Guido Beltramini, Director of the Palladio Museum, is a major addition to the current body of knowledge on Canova’s work, as well as on the classical revivalist sculpture of the early nineteenth century on both sides of the Atlantic. Salomon is also co-curating (with Professor Alvar González-Palacios) the Frick’s upcoming exhibition Luigi Valadier: Splendor in Eighteenth-Century Romeopening in the fall of 2018. This show is the next in an ongoing series of monographic exhibitions presented by the Frick that focus on remarkable decorative arts artists. Accompanying the exhibition will be the first complete publication on the Roman silversmith. A related presentation of this exhibition will be shown in 2019 at the Galleria Borghese, Rome.

Other notable exhibitions at the Frick organized by Salomon include Murillo: The Self Portraits (2017), Veronese in Murano: Two Venetian Renaissance Masterpieces Restored (2017), Cagnacci’s Repentant Magdalene: An Italian Baroque Masterpiece from the Norton Simon Museum (2016), and El Greco at The Frick Collection (2014). In addition to contributing to and authoring several exhibition catalogues, Salomon has written on the museum’s rich holdings, including the recently published Holbein’s Sir Thomas More. Co-authored with the celebrated novelist Hilary Mantel, author of the best-selling Wolf Hall, Salomon and Mantel’s is the inaugural book of Frick Diptychs, a series of small-format books that focus on a single work from the museum’s permanent collection. Each book pairs an in-depth essay by a Frick curator with a contribution from a contemporary cultural figure.

Salomon has also been published in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Journal, Apollo, The Burlington Magazine, Master Drawings, The Medal, The Art Newspaper, and the Journal of the History of Collections. Additionally, he oversees the museum’s acquisitions program, and, under his purview, the Frick has added several objects to complement the collection, including its newest acquisition, a vase by the Italian silversmith Luigi Valadier, which will be included in this fall’s upcoming exhibition on the artist. He sits on the Consultative Committee and is a trustee of The Burlington Magazine and Save Venice, and is a member of the International Scientific Committee of Storia dell’Arte and Arte Veneta. He is an alumnus of the Center for Curatorial Leadership (2015).

In 2015, Salomon helped launch the Frick’s groundbreaking collaboration with the Ghetto Film School, a Bronx-based independent film organization that brings high school students from New York City into the museum for onsite instruction across two creative disciplines, the fine arts and the cinematic arts. The program culminates with the creation of a student-produced short film inspired by the Frick and filmed on location at the museum. The partnership was recently featured in an episode NYC-Arts on THIRTEENand in an episode of the documentary series Treasures of New York, which focused on The Frick Collection. This program is now heading into its fourth year.

Born in Rome and raised in Italy and the United Kingdom, Salomon received his Ph.D. from the Courtauld Institute of Art for his research on the patronage of Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini. He began his professional career at the Frick in 2004, where he spent two years as the museum’s Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow. From 2011 to 2014 he was Curator in the Department of European Paintings at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and, prior to that, the Arturo and Holly Melosi Chief Curator at Dulwich Picture Gallery, London. During his tenure at Dulwich, he co-organized, with Colin B. Bailey (then the Frick’s Chief Curator) Masterpieces of European Painting from Dulwich Picture Gallery, which was presented by the Frick in 2010. As a Veronese scholar, he has organized several exhibitions on the artist, including the Frick’s acclaimed dossier show Veronese’s Allegories: Virtue, Love, and Exploration in Renaissance Venice (2006) and the monographic exhibition on the artist at the National Gallery, London (2014).

Comments Frick Director Ian Wardropper “We are thrilled that Xavier’s contributions have been recognized by the Italian government and he has been honored with the Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia. His achievements at the Frick are many and include a number of remarkable exhibitions focusing on Italian artists. These exhibitions were the result of rigorous scholarship and created opportunities for engaging public programming and wonderful collaborations with Italian institutions.”