Enfilade

Exhibition | Heaven and Earth in Chinese Art

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on February 16, 2019

Square curiosity box with multiple treasures, Qianlong 1736–95, Qing Dynasty (1644–1911); wood, jade, bronze, amber, agate, and ink on paper; 20 × 25 × 25 cm (Taipei: National Palace Museum).

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Press release (via Art Daily) for the exhibition:

Heaven and Earth in Chinese Art: Treasures from the National Palace Museum, Taipei
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2 February — 5 May 2019

Curated by Cao Yin

The Art Gallery of New South Wales presents Heaven and Earth in Chinese Art: Treasures from the National Palace Museum, Taipei. The exhibition is a rare opportunity to encounter some of the highest artistic achievements in Chinese history. Featuring 87 masterworks, the exhibition explores the extraordinary creativity of Chinese artists over the centuries, with objects dating from 5000 years ago in the Neolithic period to the nineteenth century.

Director of the Art Gallery of NSW, Dr Michael Brand said the National Palace Museum holds one of the world’s finest collections of Chinese art with the majority of its holdings originating from the imperial collections of the Qing dynasty (1644–1911). “One of the most-visited museums in the world, the National Palace Museum in Taipei has a collection of outstanding beauty and historical importance.”

Heaven and Earth in Chinese Art presents the ancient Chinese philosophical concept of tian ren he yi, the harmonious coexistence of nature and humans within the cosmos, which holds particular relevance today as we face the environmental challenges of contemporary life,” Dr Brand said. “The Art Gallery of NSW is the first cultural institution to host these extraordinary objects in Australia providing local audiences an exclusive opportunity to see how Chinese art speaks to the modern world,” Dr Brand added.

Dr Chen, Chi-nan, Director of the National Palace Museum, Taipei, said the museum has had a long-term commitment to international cultural exchange and has successfully curated a large number of exhibitions in Europe, America, and Asia from its collection. “Despite this impressive record, the National Palace Museum, Taipei, has not exhibited in the southern hemisphere, until now,” Dr Chen said. “Major highlights from the National Palace Museum collection travelling to Sydney include one of its most popular treasures: the Meat-shaped stone—a Qing dynasty masterpiece. This is only the third time it has been seen outside Taipei,” Dr Chen said.

Meat-shaped stone, Qing dynasty, 1644–1911 (Taipei: National Palace Museum).

The Meat-shaped stone, carved from jasper and set in a decorative gold stand, draws thousands of admirers a day. The stone most closely resembles the dish dongpo rou which is believed to have been invented by Su Dongpo (also known as Su Shi), an 11th-century Chinese poet and artist.

Art Gallery of NSW exhibition curator and curator of Chinese art, Yin Cao said Heaven and Earth in Chinese Art showcases the many ways in which Chinese artists have represented the trinity of heaven, earth, and humanity. “Since the earliest times, the Chinese have created imaginative stories and rich symbols to explain the unfathomable aspects of the world around them. Each work in Heaven and earth in Chinese art tells a unique story of the society in which it is created and bears a broader cultural and philosophical meaning,” Cao said.

“From the miniature carving of an olive pit to one of the longest paintings in Chinese history, this exhibition presents the highest level of artistic skill and advances in technology over the different eras, and shows the aspiration of Chinese artists as they try to capture the essence of nature and the world around them,” Cao added.

Heaven and Earth in Chinese Art presents paintings, calligraphy, illustrated books, bronzes, ceramics, jade, and wood carvings divided into five thematic sections: Heaven and Earth, Seasons, Places, Landscape, and Humanity.

The exhibition is accompanied by a book Heaven & Earth in Chinese Art: Treasures from the National Palace Museum, Taipei edited and written by exhibition curator Yin Cao with Dr Karyn Lai, associate professor of Philosophy in the School of Humanities and Languages at the University of NSW. It includes catalogue entries by National Palace Museum curators.

Cao Yin with Karyn Lai,  Heaven & Earth in Chinese Art: Treasures from the National Palace Museum, Taipei (Sydney: Art Gallery of NSW, 2019), 236 pages, ISBN: 978-1741741438, $40.

 

 

Display | Spotlight on Boilly

Posted in exhibitions, lectures (to attend) by Editor on February 14, 2019

Louis-Léopold Boilly, Les Malheurs de l’amour (The Sorrows of Love), 1790
(London: The Wallace Collection)

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Opening this month at The Wallace:

Spotlight on Boilly
The Wallace Collection, London, 29 January — 19 May 2019

Curated by Yuriko Jackall

Over the course of his varied artistic career, Louis-Léopold Boilly (1761—1845) witnessed the overthrow of the French monarchy, the revolutionary period, and the rise of Napoleon. Of the fifteen paintings once owned by Sir Richard Wallace, three remain at the Wallace Collection, depicting detailed and humorous scenes of domestic life amongst the Parisian bourgeoisie. Thanks to the generosity of Étienne Bréton and Pascal Zuber, authors of the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Boilly’s oeuvre, the three paintings have undergone extensive restoration and will be welcomed back to the museum with a special display showcasing the renewed vibrancy of their finely jewelled colours and celebrating Boilly’s genius as a chronicler of French society.

Francesca Whitlum-Cooper, From Boudoir to Boulevard: The Revolutionary Art of Boilly
The Wallace Collection, London, 22 February 2019, 18:30

Louis-Léopold Boilly, The Dead Mouse, 1780s or 1790s (London: The Wallace Collection).

Louis-Leopold Boilly lived in extremely turbulent times. Yet, he did not merely survive this violent period: he thrived, painting the faces and places of modern Paris with humour, innovation, and startling modernity. On the eve of the UK’s first exhibition devoted to Boilly at the National Gallery—Boilly: Scenes of Parisian Life, curated Francesca Whitlum-Cooper— and to celebrate the recent conservation of the Wallace Collection’s three Boillys, this lecture by Dr Whitlum-Cooper will introduce Boilly to the public, suggesting that, half a century before the Impressionists, he was one of the first ‘painters of modern life’. The lecture will be prefaced by a brief conversation between Dr Whitlum-Cooper and the Wallace Collection’s Curator of French Paintings, Dr Yuriko Jackall, tracing Boilly’s critical fortunes in the present day. The talk will be followed by a wine reception and book signing with Dr Whitlum-Cooper of her new exhibition catalogue. Booking information is available here.

In addition, Yuriko Jackall will give a talk about the display on 21 February and 27 February, at 13:00.

The third painting by Boilly in the Wallace Collection is The Visit Returned, ca. 1789.

Exhibition | Boilly: Scenes of Parisian Life

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on February 13, 2019

Opening this month at the National Gallery:

Boilly: Scenes of Parisian Life
National Gallery, London, 28 February – 19 May 2019

Curated by Francesca Whitlum-Cooper

Working in a politically turbulent Paris, Louis-Léopold Boilly (1761–1845) witnessed the French Revolution, the rise and fall of Napoleon, and the Restoration of the French Monarchy. From controversially seductive interior scenes, which saw him get into trouble with the authorities, to ‘first-of-their-kind’ everyday street scenes and clever trompe l’oeils, this exhibition shows Boilly’s daring responses to the changing political environment and art market he encountered, and highlights his sharp powers of observation and wry sense of humour.

Focusing on 20 works from a British private collection never previously displayed or published, this exhibition—the first of its kind in the UK—celebrates an artist who is little known in Britain and provides unparalleled context for our Boilly, A Girl at a Window.

The catalogue is distributed by Yale UP:

Francesca Whitlum-Cooper, Boilly: Scenes of Parisian Life (London: National Gallery Company, 2019), 96 pages, ISBN: 978-1857096439, £17 / $25.

Louis-Leopold Boilly lived a long life in the most turbulent times. From 1785 he spent half a century at the heart of the Parisian art world, throughout the turmoil of the Revolution, the rise and fall of Napoleon and the restoration of the monarchy. This first English-language publication on Boilly in over twenty years brings together portraiture, interiors on the theme of seduction, and vivid and groundbreaking scenes of raucous Parisian street life. The majority of these pictures have never been published before. The book introduces readers to Boilly’s richly detailed paintings and drawings, emphasising his technical brilliance, his acute powers of observation and his wry sense of humour, and illustrates Boilly’s daring responses to France’s changing political environment and burgeoning art market. It offers an alternative to the accepted view of Revolutionary French art as the purview of grand history painters such as Jacques-Louis David. Boilly popularised trompe l’oeil paintings—he invented the term—and by depicting daily life on the streets of Paris for the very first time, he turned the accepted hierarchies of art on their head.

Francesca Whitlum-Cooper is the Myojin-Nadar Associate Curator of Paintings, 1600–1800 at the National Gallery, London.

Exhibition | Bellotto at the Court of Saxony

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on February 2, 2019

Bernardo Bellotto, The Zwinger Complex in Dresden, 1751–52, oil on canvas (Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, photo by Elke Estel/Hans-Peter Klut).

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From the Kimbell:

The Lure of Dresden: Bellotto at the Court of Saxony
Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, 10 February — 28 April 2019

Bernardo Bellotto (1722–1780) is recognized as one of the greatest view painters in history, acquiring his fame in mid-18th-century Dresden as the court painter for the elector of Saxony, Frederick Augustus II—who was also King Augustus III of Poland. Over the course of a decade, Bellotto produced dozens of breathtaking depictions of the city and its environs, most measuring over eight feet in width. The success and renown of these grand, expansive works would earn Bellotto prestigious commissions at prominent courts throughout Europe.

Bellotto’s magnificent paintings of Dresden are now in the collection of the Gemäldegalerie (Picture Gallery) of the Dresden State Art Collections and will be on loan to the Kimbell Art Museum for the special exhibition The Lure of Dresden: Bellotto at the Court of Saxony. They will be accompanied by portraits and allegories of the elector and his queen, as well as view paintings of Venice and Saxony by Bellotto’s uncle and teacher Antonio Canaletto and Dresden court painter Alexander Thiele. Visitors to the exhibition will have the unique opportunity to view the majesty that was Dresden in the 1700s. One of the greatest cities of 18th-century Europe, it is only now, following its near-total destruction in the Second World War, being rebuilt to its former glory—with the aid of Bellotto’s pictorial legacy.

This exhibition is organized by the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden in cooperation with the Kimbell Art Museum.

 

Exhibition | Futuruins

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on February 1, 2019

Now on view at the Palazzo Fortuny:

Futuruins
Palazzo Fortuny, Venice, 19 December 2018 — 24 March 2019

Curated by Daniela Ferretti and Dimitri Ozerkov with Dario Dalla Lana

Over 250 works from the Venetian Civic Museums and the State Hermitage Museum, as well as from other Italian and international public and private collections, illustrate the multiple meanings attributed to ruins through the centuries: from the architectural and sculptural remains of the Greco-Roman, Egyptian, Assyrian-Babylonian and Syrian civilisations, to contemporary art that looks at the physical and moral ruins of today’s society—ruins of its architecture, cities and suburbs, but also of men and ideas, as the result of time, negligence, degeneration, natural or political tragedies such as war and terrorism.

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, View of the Foundations of the Theater of Marcellus, detail, from Antichità Romane, volume 4, 1756–57 (Venice: Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, Museo Fortuny).

As a result of the collaboration between the City of Venice, the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, and the State Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg—strengthened by the agreements signed in recent years and the presence of ‘Ermitage Italia’ in the lagoon city—and following Dimitri Ozerkov’s proposal, Palazzo Fortuny will host the exhibition Futuruins from 19 December 2018 to 24 March 2019.

The exhibition reflects on the theme of ruins: an allegory for the inexorable passage of time, always uncertain and changeable, disputed between past and future, life and death, destruction and creation, nature and culture. The aesthetics of ruins is a crucial element in the history of Western civilisation. The ruin as concept symbolises the presence of the past but at the same time contains within itself the potential of the fragment: a fragment that comes from antiquity, covered by the patina of time, which with its cultural and symbolic implications also becomes a valid ‘foundation stone’ for building the future. It comes from the past, confers a wealth of meaning on the present, and offers an awareness to future projects.

The contemporary itinerary opens with the extraordinary environmental installation by Anne and Patrick Poirier and is followed by works by Acconci Studio, Olivio Barbieri, Botto & Bruno, Alberto Burri, Sara Campesan, Ludovica Carbotta, Ugo Carmeni, Lawrence Carroll, Giulia Cenci, Giacomo Costa, Roberto Crippa, Lynn Davis, Giorgio de Chirico, Federico de Leonardis, Marco Del Re, Paola De Pietri, Jean Dubuffet, Tomas Ewald, Cleo Fariselli, Kay Fingerle, Maria Friberg, Luigi Ghirri, Gioberto Noro, John Gossage, Thomas Hirschhorn, Anselm Kiefer, Francesco Jodice, Wolfgang Laib, Hiroyuki Masuyama, Jonatah Manno, Mirco Marchelli, Steve McCurry, Ennio Morlotti, Sarah Moon, Margherita Muriti, Claudio Parmiggiani, Lorenzo Passi, Fabrizio Prevedello, Dmitri Prigov, Judit Reigl, Christian Retschlag, David Rickard, Mimmo Rotella, Anri Sala, Alberto Savinio and Elisa Sighicelli. In line with the tradition of exhibitions at the Fortuny, there are also a series of works specifically made for Futuruins that offer new stimuli for reflection on the present, works by Franco Guerzoni, Christian Fogarolli, Giuseppe Amato, Renato Leotta, and Renata De Bonis.

Between the two chronological extremes of the exhibition, there is a series of masterpieces in various media—paintings, sculptures, applied arts, graphic works—to suggest the major themes being examined. Many have been selected from Venetian collections—ranging from the jellyfish by Arturo Martini and Franz von Stuck to the fire-lit nocturnal ruins of Ippolito Caffi and Urbino-made ceramics bearing themes of genesis and death—while others come from museums and private collections. For its part, the State Hermitage Museum has loaned more than 80 works by such artists as Albrecht Dürer, Monsù Desiderio, Giovanni Paolo Pannini, Jacopo and Francesco Bassano, Parmigianino, Veronese, Jacob van Host the Elder, Arturo Nathan, and Alessandro Algardi.

The contemporary relevance of ruins has been made apparent in the light of recent history, characterised by wars in which iconic and symbolic aspects stand out (the collapse of the Twin Towers, the devastation of the Baghdad museum, Palmyra…) and of the increasingly extreme climate changes on our planet.

Dimitri Ozerkov, ed., with contributions by Dimitri Ozerkov, Mikhail Piotrovsky, and Gabriella Belli, Futuruins: The Future of Ruins and Ruins of the Future (Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2019), 816 pages, ISBN 978-3775745413 (English edition), €50.

Exhibition | Anton Maria Zanetti and His Collections

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on February 1, 2019

The exhibition closed a few weeks ago, but the catalogue is available from ArtBooks.com:

A Life as a Work of Art: Anton Maria Zanetti and His Collections
Ca’ Rezzonico, Venice, 29 September 2018 — 7 January 2019

Curated by Alberto Craievich

Anton Maria Zanetti (1679–1767) was a central figure in the eighteenth-century history of Venetian collecting and in the world’s endorsement of Venetian art. An art patron and influential intermediary on behalf of nobles and sovereigns, commissioning and purchasing works by Venice’s most famous artists, Zanetti was perhaps the most influential character in the Venetian art scene of the time. Known as ‘il Vecchio’, or ‘di Girolamo’—to distinguish him from his namesake younger cousin, a famous librarian at the Marciana Library in Venice—Zanetti was not only a passionate collector but also a talented draughtsman and skilled engraver.

After his father’s death in 1711, he was forced to provide for the rest of the family as an insurance agent, but despite difficulties, this did not prevent him from following his own inclinations. A friend to artists such as Canaletto, Rosalba Carriera, Sebastiano and Marco Ricci, and Giambattista Tiepolo, Zanetti was in close contact with the most important European collectors. He himself assembled an extraordinary collection of antique gems, drawings, and prints that was dispersed after his death. He also promoted splendid publishing initiatives, most notably two volumes on ancient sculpture, now conserved in the vestibule of the Marciana Library and one of the most beautiful and luxurious illustrated publications of the entire eighteenth century. An inexhaustible collection of letters, now spread among libraries and private collectors, documents his dense network of relationships and friendships and offers a rare insight into the cultural life of the period.

To commemorate this extraordinary figure, the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia presents an exhibition highlighting Zanetti’s activities as an artist and patron. Testimonies from his life in the form of books, letters, engravings, and drawings—none of which are usually exhibited for conservation reasons—will be shown together with art from his collection, including works by Tiepolo, Sebastiano and Marco Ricci, Palma il Giovane, and others, now preserved in the city’s museums, including the Gallerie dell’Accademia di Venezia, the Giorgio Cini Foundation, the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, and Venice’s civic museums, as well as in several private collections.

Alberto Craievich, La Vita Come Opera d’Arte: Anton Maria Zanetti e le sue collezioni (Antiga: Crocetta del Montello, 2018), 336 pages, ISBN: 978-8884351029, €38 / $60 (on sale for $42).

Exhibition | Maestro Van Wittel: Dutch Master of the Italian Cityscape

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on January 29, 2019

Caspar van Wittel, Piazza Navona, 1699, oil on canvas, 97 × 216 cm (Madrid: Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on loan at the Museo Nacional Thyssen- Bornemisza).

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Now on view at the Kunsthal KAdE:

Maestro Van Wittel: Dutch Master of the Italian Cityscape / Hollandse meester van het Italiaanse stadsgezicht
Kunsthal KAdE, Amersfoort, 26 January — 5 May 2019

Kunsthal KAdE and Museum Flehite introduce the Netherlands to a world-renowned Dutch master who remained largely unknown in his country of birth, the Netherlands. Caspar Adriaensz van Wittel (1653–1736), also known as Gaspare Vanvitelli, became famous and revered in his adopted homeland of Italy. During the 17th and 18th century, he painted Rome, Naples, and Venice in minute detail, influencing famous Italian cityscape painters such as Canaletto and Bellotto. Van Wittel was born in Amersfoort, left around 1673 for Italy, earned a good reputation for himself there, and never returned to the Netherlands. Today, the vast majority of his works are in collections in Italy, England, and Spain. In the Netherlands, there are only a few drawings and a single gouache: View of Amersfoort in Museum Flehite. With the exhibition Maestro Van Wittel: Dutch Master of the Italian Cityscape, Museum Flehite and Kunsthal KAdE honour this master with a major retrospective from 26 January through 5 May 2019. It puts his extensive oeuvre in the context of his Dutch learning period and his influence on the later Italian vedutisti.

The exhibition at Kunsthal KAdE presents the entire Van Wittel story: the places he painted, the style he developed, his Dutch roots, his high-born patrons, and his undeniable influence in Italy. With this retrospective, Museum Flehite and Kunsthal KAdE want to give Caspar van Wittel his place in the canon of Dutch art history as maestro of the Italian cityscape.

Van Wittel’s Dutch Period

Caspar van Wittel was a student of Matthias Withoos, who had trained at Jacob van Campen’s painting school at the Randenbroek country estate in Amersfoort. Withoos’ masterpiece is his View of Amersfoort; commissioned in 1671 by the city government at the time, it was painted in the time that Van Wittel was training with him and therefore it is possible that the young student—he was 16 or 17 years old at the time—worked on it. Van Wittel relocated to Hoorn with Withoos in 1672. As a result of the move, he was neighbours with the painters Jan van der Heyden and Gerrit Berckheyde, who had developed a ‘pure’ rendering of the cityscape in Amsterdam and Haarlem. This ‘Dutch’ way of painting is conveyed in Van Wittel’s work.

Inventor of the Italian Cityscape

Accompanied by a fellow young painter—Jacob van Staverden—Van Wittel travelled to Rome sometime around 1673. In Rome, he found himself in the Dutch Schildersbent (‘painters’ clique’) faction of the Bentvueghels (‘birds of a feather’), a group that had been an artists’ colony for decades in the eternal city. In Rome, he became acquainted with the work of Lieven Cruyl and Abraham Genoels, who made topographic drawings of the city. He also met Cornelis Meyer, a mechanical engineer who was striving to land an assignment from the Pope to build water works along the Tiber. Meyer asked the young Caspar—now in his mid-20s—to help with the illustrations for the manuscript. One of the subjects that Van Wittel drew was Piazza del Popolo, the square where Van Wittel arrived in Rome from the north. Ultimately, he would paint this square some 15 times in his career, always from the same perspective.

From that moment (around 1680), Van Wittel also began capturing other places in Rome with his signature precision: the Tiber with its bridges and the Castel Sant’Angelo on the banks, the Piazza Navona, the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Square, the Quirinal, Villa Borghese, churches, streets, and smaller squares. He often repeated these compositions numerous times, too, working from a single basic drawing. From Rome he travelled to Naples, the countryside surrounding Rome (Tivoli), Florence, and Venice. In the lagoon city of Venice, he captured the view of San Marco and the Doge’s Palace from the water. He painted the majestic La Salute church at the entrance to the Grand Canal. Nowadays it belongs to the standard repertoire of Venetian cityscape painting, but Van Wittel was the first to paint it.

Van Wittel Inspires Canaletto

Around 1719, the young Venetian painter Antonio Canal was in Rome to paint several decorative pieces with his father. It is highly likely that he met Van Wittel during this time and saw a number of his Venetian cityscapes. Filled with inspiration, Canal, who would quickly be called Canaletto, dedicated himself entirely to this subject. At the time, the Grand Tour—an educational trip for young members of the nobility—became incredibly popular and Canaletto, together with his cousin Bernardo Bellotto, became the go-to painters of Venetian cityscapes that were snapped up by the travellers. Incidentally, Van Wittel led the way here, too; he had provided Grand Tour travellers—including Thomas Coke—with these sorts of ‘picture postcards’. Upon his return to England, Coke built Holkham Hall in the north of Norfolk, which was inspired in part by his travels in Italy and the work of architect Palladio.

Once he arrived in Rome, Van Wittel established an extensive network of patrons that included not only Roman aristocracy such as the Sacchetti and Colonna families—in whose palaces he took up residence from time to time—but also the Spanish nobleman Medinaceli, who lived in Rome as an ambassador, became the viceroy of Naples in 1696 and commissioned a total of 35 paintings by Van Wittel, most of which were views of Naples and around the city.

Photographer Wilschut Follows in Van Wittel’s Footsteps

As part of the exhibition, Rotterdam photographer Hans Wilschut was asked to follow in Van Wittel’s footsteps and capture a number of the places in Rome, Naples, Venice, and Amersfoort that Van Wittel frequently painted. Some of these places have remained essentially the same; some have been completely transformed. Just as Van Wittel liked to capture the urban hustle and bustle in his cityscapes at the time, Wilschut shows people today in the iconic settings. Hans Wilschut is also featured in the exhibition Stadsbeelden (‘Cityscapes‘) at Museum Flehite, from 9 February through 19 May 2019.

Works from International Collections in Amersfoort

The exhibition presents around 45 paintings and gouaches and approximately 30 drawings by Van Wittel from Italian, English, Spanish, German, and French collections. In addition, there are about 30 paintings and drawings by Dutch and Italian masters.

An events programme to accompany the exhibition will be organised in cooperation with the Friends of Caspar van Wittel Foundation. Bekking & Blitz will publish an exhibition catalogue in Dutch and English. This is the first time that a monograph on the artist will be available in these languages. The catalogue costs €30.

The exhibition Maestro Van Wittel: Dutch Master of the Italian Cityscape is made possible by the generous support of the Turing Foundation, the Mondriaan Fund, Fonds 21, the Municipality of Amersfoort, the Cultural Heritage Agency, and the Province of Utrecht.

Exhibition | Discriminating Thieves: Nazi-Looted Art and Restitution

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on January 28, 2019

Press release (16 January 2019) from The Nelson-Atkins:

Discriminating Thieves: Nazi-Looted Art and Restitution
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, 26 January 2019 — 26 January 2020

Nicolas de Largillière, Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, ca. 1715, oil on canvas (Kansas City: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, William Rockhill Nelson Trust, 54-35).

Discriminating Thieves: Nazi-Looted Art and Restitution follows the journey of four works of art that were once in the hands of the Nazis. The exhibition explores the circumstances surrounding their thefts, their return to their rightful owners, and their subsequent legal acquisition by The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City.

During World War II, Adolf Hitler and the Nazis looted art on an unprecedented scale. They stole thousands of objects across Europe between 1933 and 1945, keeping art for their own collections or stashing art for use in the museum Hitler planned to build. Other works, considered by the Nazis to be immoral, or ‘degenerate’, were destroyed, sold, or used as Nazi propaganda.

“This exhibition was extensively researched by MacKenzie Mallon, the Nelson-Atkins provenance specialist who is gaining a national reputation for her work in this important field,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell CEO and Director of the Nelson-Atkins. “This is very specific and painstaking research into ownership that is of utmost importance in the museum world and uncovers fascinating stories of the journey this art has traveled.”

Most of the looted objects were recovered by the Allies after the war, many by a group of art curators and scholars known as the Monuments Men. Paul Gardner, the first director of the Nelson-Atkins and himself a Monuments Man, described his journey to an Italian castle that had once housed an important art collection, and his dismay at finding that the Germans had reached it before him. Gardner wrote: “The custodian told us that experienced German officer-experts had systematically broken open all the bales and boxes, and had taken the cream of the collection. The Germans have proven all along to be discriminating thieves.”

Augustin Pajou, Jean-François Ducis, 1779, terracotta on marble socle, bust 23 inches high (Kansas City: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, acquired through the McGreevy Family through the Westport Fund in honor of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Nelson-Atkins, F83-22).

The focus exhibition is comprised of four works of art: Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland by Nicolas de Largillière; Still Life with Guelder Roses by Pierre Bonnard; Jean-François Ducis, a sculpture by Augustin Pajou; and Masks by the German artist Emil Nolde.

De Largilliere’s Augustus the Strong was among the works of art stolen by the Nazis and intended for Hitler’s museum of the future, the ‘Führermuseum’, which he imagined would be the greatest art museum in the world.

Emile Nolde’s Masks, however, was declared ‘degenerate’ because of its modern, expressionistic style, even though Nolde was a member of the Nazi party. It was removed from the Folkwang Museum in Essen, Germany in 1937 and given to a German art dealer, Karl Buchholz, to sell. The painting remained in his possession throughout the rest of the war, and he transferred it to a New York art gallery following an agreement among German museums not to pursue the restitution of ‘degenerate’ art that had been sold abroad.

Masks remained in that gallery until the Nelson-Atkins purchased it in 1954,” said Mallon, Specialist, Provenance. “There is a human story behind each of these objects, and uncovering that ownership history is the purpose of provenance research. I think it’s important to remember the very personal cost of Nazi art looting during World War II and the subsequent return to the owners or their descendants and the museum’s legal acquisition of the works.”

Emil Nolde, Masks, 1911, oil on canvas, unframed: 73 × 77cm (Kansas City: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of the Friends of Art, 54-90).

Through a special guide, visitors to the exhibition will be encouraged to find other works of art in Nelson-Atkins galleries that have similar, interesting histories from World War II.

Special programming related to this exhibition includes a talk by Mallon on January 31, “What Once was Lost: Nazi Art Looting and Allied Restitution.” Mallon will discuss Nazi art looting during World War II, the recovery of much of the stolen art by the Allies, and how these stories intertwine with the history of the Nelson-Atkins collection. Mallon will also give a talk on October 3, “Safe Haven: the Nelson-Atkins and the Protection of Art during World War II.” On March 7, art historian and director of the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative Corine Wegener will give a talk, “The Monuments Men and Beyond: Saving Cultural Heritage in Today’s Conflicts,” sharing her insights into the role of museums in the development of the Monuments Men, the importance of provenance research in museums today, and how international law can help protect heritage in today’s conflicts. Three films will also be shown in conjunction with this exhibition: Hitler Versus Picasso and Others March 15 and 16, The Rape of Europa March 22 and 23, and Woman in Gold March 29 and 30.

 

 

Exhibition | Regency Fashion in Miniature

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on January 28, 2019

Left: John Smart, Portrait of a Woman, 1807, watercolor on ivory, 1 ¾ × 1 ½ inches (Kansas City: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of the Starr Foundation, Inc., F65-41/48). Right: Henry Bone, Portrait of King George IV of England, 1821, enamel on copper, 1 ¼ × 1 inches (Kansas City: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John W. Starr and the Starr Foundation, Inc., F58-60/134).

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Now on view at The Nelson-Atkins:

Regency Fashion in Miniature
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, 21 March 2018 — 17 March 2019

High-waisted dresses, open-necked shirts, and un-powdered curls abound in the extravagant age of the Regency era (about 1795–1837). A period in Britain associated with the rise of a handsome young prince who became King (George IV) and the work of novelist Jane Austen, this time left its mark on fashion, too. Many men followed the lead of the romantic poet Lord Byron, whose ‘Byronic’ curls cluster at the front of his head. Women, too, wore their hair in natural curls and followed a style of dress inspired by the classical fashions of Greece and Rome. The Regency era ended in 1837 with the ascension of Queen Victoria, who ushered in a new style that would bring fashion into the twentieth century.

This rotation of portrait miniatures features some of the leading miniaturists of the period including John Smart, Henry Bone, William Essex, and Jean Baptiste Isabey, among others.

Presented to the Nelson-Atkins by Mr. and Mrs. John W. Starr in two major gifts from 1958 and 1965, and numerous additional gifts through the years, the Starr Collection of Miniatures illustrates the history of European portrait miniatures through more than 250 objects. These delicate objects, many of which are painted in watercolor on ivory, include works by Britain’s greatest miniaturists, ranging from the late 1500s to the early 1800s, as well as some very fine examples by European and American artists made during the same time frame.

The exhibition of portrait miniatures in Gallery P24 changes every twelve months to showcase the variety of the collection and also to limit exposure of the light-sensitive pigments.

The Burlington Magazine, January 2019

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions, journal articles, reviews by Editor on January 25, 2019

The eighteenth century in The Burlington: (with the issue focused on Westminster Abbey) . . .

The Burlington Magazine 161 (January 2019)

A R T I C L E S

• Susan Jenkins, “‘Sunbeams and Shadows’: Exhibiting the Collection at Westminster Abbey,” pp. 4–8. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries, opened last year, display works of art and historic artefacts from the collections at Westminster Abbey, London. To introduce this special issue of the Magazine, the Abbey’s Curator, outlines the history of the building’s museum displays and explains the thinking behind the new galleries.
• Gordon Higgott, “Sir Christopher Wren’s Failed Project for a Crossing Tower and Spire at Westminster Abbey, 1713–25,” pp. 44–57. In 1713, with funds available for ‘finishing’ Westminster Abbey, the Surveyor to the Fabric, Sir Christopher Wren, began to plan the addition of a lofty crossing tower and spire. After Wren’s death in 1723 the proposal was shelved by his successor, Nicholas Hawksmoor, who recognised that it presented an insoluble structural problem.

R E V I E W S

• Lynn Jones, Review of the exhibition Armenia! (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2018–19), pp. 60–63.
• Eric Zafran, Review of the exhibition The Orléans Collection (New Orleans Museum of Art, 2018–19), pp. 67–69.
• Reinier Baarsen, Review of the exhibition Luigi Valadier: Splendor in Eighteenth-Century Rome (The Frick Collection, 2018–19), pp. 70–71.
• Michael Hall, Review of Karl-Georg Pfändtner, ed., ‘Gold und Bücher lieb ich sehr…’: 480 Jahre Staats- und Stadtbibliothek Augsburg (Quaternio Verlag, 2017), pp. 85–87.
• Roger White, Review of Rosemary Yallop, Cottages Ornés: The Charms of the Simple Life (Yale University Press, 2017), pp. 89–90.
• Gauvin Alexander Bailey, Review of Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani, Die Stadt von der Neuzeit bis zum 19. Jahrhundert: Urbane Entwürfe in Europa und Nordamerika (Verlag Klaus Wagenbach, 2017), pp. 92–93.