Exhibition | The Gregory Gift

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on February 16, 2023

From the press release (30 November) for the exhibition:

The Gregory Gift
The Frick Madison, New York, 16 February — 9 July 2023

Organized by Marie-Laure Buku Pongo

Cover of the catalogue for the exhibition, depicting a gilt-bronze Musical Automaton Rhinoceros Clock.A remarkable gift of twenty-eight fine and decorative works of art recently bequeathed to the Frick by Alexis Gregory (1936–2020) will be shown as a group for the first time at Frick Madison in 2023. The gift includes two eighteenth-century pastels, fifteen Limoges enamels, two eighteenth-century clocks, a large gilt-bronze figure of Louis XIV, and objects made of metal, enamel, and hardstone dating from the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries.

The celebrated holdings of decorative arts objects amassed by Henry Clay Frick have been significantly enriched in recent decades by gifts from other collectors. In 1999, Winthrop Kellogg Edey’s bequest added to the museum’s holdings an important group of European clocks and watches, and in the last decade or so, gifts from Dianne Dwyer Modestini (2008), Melinda and Paul Sullivan (2016), Henry Arnhold (2019), and Sidney R. Knafel (2021) have reshaped The Frick’s holdings of European ceramics with significant groups of Du Paquier and Meissen porcelain, French faience, and Italian maiolica.

The remarkable bequest in 2020 from the collection of Alexis Gregory builds on this tradition by enhancing the museum’s existing holdings and introducing to the museum new types of objects. The exhibition The Gregory Gift features the twenty-eight acquisitions in a variety of media and forms, curious luxury objects that, shown together, suggest a fine collector’s cabinet or Kunstkammer. Among them are fifteen Limoges enamels, two clocks, two ewers, a gilt-bronze sculpture, a serpentine tankard, an ivory hilt, a rhinoceros horn cup, a pomander, and two stunning pastels by Rosalba Carriera. The exhibition is organized by Marie-Laure Buku Pongo, Assistant Curator of Decorative Arts, and will be accompanied by a catalogue and complementary education programs.

Comments Ian Wardropper, Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Director of The Frick, “Alexis Gregory had one of the finest collections of Renaissance and Rococo decorative arts in this country. His deep affection for The Frick led to his bequest of a selection of a superb group of objects, and we are gratified to mount this exhibition in his memory.” Buku Pongo adds, “This generous and important gift to The Frick Collection opens new areas of research and lays the groundwork for exciting projects. From research into the context of their creation to technical analyses expanding our knowledge of how these objects were produced, the exhibition at Frick Madison will celebrate Alexis Gregory’s generous gift and The Frick Collection’s commitment to the display of European decorative arts.”

Pastel of an unidentified woman

Rosalba Carriera, Portrait of an Unidentified Woman, ca. 1730, pastel on paper, laid down on canvas, 59 × 48 cm (New York: The Frick, Gift of Alexis Gregory, 2020.3.02).

Gregory built his career in book publishing, establishing the celebrated Vendome Press, a publisher of significant volumes on French culture and art. His contributions to and engagement in the arts included serving on art committees at several cultural institutions in the United States, including the visiting committees of European Paintings and European Sculpture and Decorative Arts at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. His history with The Frick began with frequent visits to the museum as a youth. On one occasion, Gregory left the boarding school he was attending with a classmate to visit the museum and managed to convince his friend that he lived in its mansion, as everyone they encountered on staff seemed to know him extremely well. At Harvard, he studied with leading art historians. Those close to him often described him as a Renaissance man as he spoke several languages, wrote books, traveled the globe, and collected art. These pursuits went hand in hand, as collecting art allowed him to research objects and travel around Europe to find new acquisitions. The purchase of his first Renaissance bronze at the age of eighteen marked the starting point of his collection.

Gregory collected widely, from paintings and works on paper to bronzes and sculptures. In the 1980s, his deep interest in European decorative arts prompted him to exchange one of the Impressionist paintings he had inherited from his parents for an assortment of bronzes, sculptures, and Limoges enamels, as well as a watercolor. He later expanded his collection with additional sculptures, Italian bronzes, and Limoges enamels, continuing throughout his life to acquire objects from the United States and Europe. Gregory’s collection echoes, in many ways, the Kunstkammers created by princes during the Renaissance, where they would not only display enamels, faience, carved ivories, automatons and clocks, and precious and mounted metalwork, but also show exotic natural specimens.

A Saint-Porchaire ceramic ewer joins two such objects already in The Frick Collection. This addition is particularly significant as only about seventy Saint-Porchaire works exist today. The ewer is part of a limited experimental production that still poses many questions and is represented in a few museums, among them, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Musée du Louvre.

Other highlights from the gift include a fine group of Limoges enamels, including a significant number of grisaille examples, which strengthens The Frick’s holdings of mostly polychrome enamels. Grisaille refers to a technique developed in the sixteenth century that was often used by enamelers including the famed Pierre Reymond (1513–after 1584). The Gregory gift includes multiple enamels by Reymond and his workshop, as well as objects by Jean de Court (active 1541–83) and broadens the representation of these artists at The Frick. A large dish enameled on copper with at his center a Saxon silver coin engraved by Hans Biener (ca. 1556–1604), is the first of its kind to enter the collection. It belongs to a rare production in sixteenth-century Venetian workshops, and only about three hundred pieces exist today. (Of these, only about fifty have painted coats of arms or coins, making this example quite rare.)

Carved ivory sword hilt

Sword Hilt, possibly by Johann Michael Maucher, ca. 1700, ivory, 16 × 16 × 6 cm (New York: The Frick, Gift of Alexis Gregory, 2021.18.01).

Carved ivory and rhinoceros horn objects also enter the collection for the first time. A fine hilt in ivory, possibly made by Johann Michael Maucher (1645–1701)—one of the most important ivory carvers and sculptors at that time—will shed more light on ivory carving and production in southern Germany during the seventeenth century.

A gilt bronze that represents Louis XIV is attributed to Domenico Cucci (ca. 1635–1704) and his workshop. Cucci was one of the most talented cabinetmakers of the eighteenth century, and this bronze is likely one of the few remaining remnants of a elaborate cabinet made for the king, around 1662–64. In 1883, the Musée du Louvre tried unsuccessfully to acquire the bronze, which mostly remained in private hands before being acquired by Gregory in 2007. Gilt bronzes and other objects designed by Cucci and produced in the Gobelins Manufactory (which made sumptuous furnishings and objects for French royal residences and as lavish diplomatic gifts) are mostly held in private hands. Besides The Frick, only a few collections, including the Château de Versailles, hold remnants of cabinets made by Cucci and his workshop.

Two clocks, one made by the British jeweler and goldsmith James Cox (ca. 1723–1800) and the second by Johann Heinrich Köhler (1669–1736), jeweler at the court of Dresden, diversify The Frick’s holdings of important clocks and watches and are key examples of their respective types. Both jewelers worked for powerful patrons: Köhler for Augustus II (‘the Strong’), Elector of Saxonyand King of Poland, and Cox for the Chinese Qianlong Emperor. Cox crafted automatons with musical movements, also called ‘sing-songs’, which were exported to China, India, Persia, and Russia. Examples of their work are still on view in the Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vault) in Dresden and the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Gregory’s bequest also brings to The Frick several works by women. An enameled medallion by Suzanne de Court (active ca. 1600), the only known female artist to lead a Limoges workshop during the sixteenth century, joins a notable pair of saltcellars signed by de Court already in The Frick’s collection. Two portraits by the celebrated Venetian pastel artist Rosalba Carriera (1673–1757), significantly enhance the museum’s holdings in this medium.

The exhibition Is generously funded by the Alexis Gregory Foundation.

Marie-Laure Buku Pongo, The Gregory Gift (London: Paul Holberton Publishing, 2023), 96 pages, ISBN: 978-1913645434, £25 / $30.

Catalogue cover image: James Cox, Musical Automaton Rhinoceros Clock, ca. 1765–72, gilt bronze, silver, enamel, paste jewels, white marble, and agate, 40 × 21 × 9 cm (The Frick Collection, Gift of Alexis Gregory, 2021.6.02; photo by Joseph Coscia Jr).

Exhibition | Nicolas Party and Rosalba Carriera

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on February 16, 2023

Opening in June at The Frick:

Nicolas Party and Rosalba Carriera
The Frick Madison, New York, 1 June 2023 — February 2024

Pastel half length portrait of a man wearing a black hat on his head and holding a staff in his left hand

Rosalba Carriera, Portrait of a Man in Pilgrim’s Costume, ca. 1730. pastel on paper, glued to canvas, 59 × 48 cm (New York: The Frick Collection, Gift of Alexis Gregory, 2020.3.01).

This summer, The Frick Collection will debut a site-specific pastel mural by Swiss-born artist Nicolas Party (b. 1980), executed in the Italian Galleries at the museum’s temporary home, Frick Madison. The work will be created in response to Rosalba Carriera’s Portrait of a Man in Pilgrim’s Costume, a spectacular eighteenth-century pastel bequeathed to the Frick in 2020 by Alexis Gregory, the founder of Vendome Press. This is the second Frick installation to be inspired by a volume from The Frick’s popular Diptych series, each volume of which focuses on a single work from the collection, pairing an illuminating essay by a curator with a contribution from a contemporary cultural figure. Party’s mural will be the centerpiece of an upcoming Diptych, Rosalba Carriera’s Man in Pilgrim’s Costume, to be co-authored by Party and Xavier F. Salomon, the Frick’s Deputy Director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator.

Funding for the installation is generously provided by The Christian Humann Foundation and the David L. Klein, Jr. Foundation.

Call for Papers | Dutch and Flemish Drawings 1500–1800

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on February 16, 2023

From ArtHist.net:

Making, Collecting, and Understanding Dutch and Flemish Drawings, 1500–1800
Amsterdam, 1–2 June 2023

Proposals due by 1 March 2023

This international symposium will celebrate Old Master drawings on the occasion of the exhibition The Art of Drawing: Master Drawings from the Age of Rembrandt in the Peck Collection at the Ackland Art Museum, on view at the Rembrandt House Museum (18 March – 11 June 2023).

Research in early modern Dutch and Flemish drawings touches on a wide variety of issues, including the study of materials and techniques; issues of attribution and oeuvre cataloging; and expanding our understanding of the provenance, collecting, and display of works on paper. This symposium aims to be wide ranging and inclusive of both art historians and conservation scientists. It offers scholars a chance to come together to present and discuss recent research in this specialized field, which now evolves to encompass new methodologies and concerns.

We invite scholars from all phases of their careers to submit proposals for papers. Subjects of interest include, but are not limited to: close studies of individual artists or drawings, connoisseurial concerns such as attributions of drawings to Rembrandt and his School, recent advances in technical research such as XRF imaging and watermark analysis, the study of early collections, and the sources and history of use of certain materials. We also welcome considerations that treat methodological concerns generally, or provide historiographic context for the field.

Lectures will be 20 minutes in length. To propose a topic, please send a short abstract (200 words) and a CV by 1 March 2023 to PeckDrawingsSymposium@rijksmuseum.nl. The organizers will respond by 15 March 2023.

Organizing Committee
• Dana Cowen, Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
• Robert Fucci, University of Amsterdam
• Ilona van Tuinen, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
• David de Witt, The Rembrandt House Museum, Amsterdam

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