Early Oil Painting by Turner to Stay in the UK

Posted in museums by Editor on July 12, 2019

J.M.W. Turner, Walton Bridges, 1806, oil on canvas
(Norfolk Museums Service)

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Enfilade readers may recall that another painting of Walton Bridges by Turner—actually his third painting of the bridge, produced toward the end of his life in the 1840s—was recently auctioned at Sotheby’s in London (3 July 2019, Sale L19033, Lot 11). That work, Landscape with Walton Bridges, surpassed a high estimate of £6million, selling for nearly £8.2million. Press release (10 July 2019) from the UK’s Art Fund:

An early work by J.M.W. Turner (1775–1851) has been acquired by Norfolk Museums Service and will tour across the East Anglia region after being saved for the nation. Walton Bridges, sold at auction at Sotheby’s in July 2018 [Sale L18033, Lot 21], had been subject to a temporary export deferral in recognition of its immense cultural significance to the country. Major grants from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Art Fund mean that this important early Turner will now enter public ownership.

It is the first Turner oil to enter a public collection in the east of England—specifically Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex—where it will join an important collection of British landscape paintings by artists such as John Constable, Thomas Gainsborough, and the artists of the Norwich School, including John Sell Cotman and John Crome, who were strongly influenced by Turner.

Walton Bridges dates from 1806 and is believed to be the first oil by Turner to be painted in the open air, a practice which was to become an important element of his work. Depicting a bridge that ran across the Thames in Surrey, its contrasting of a rural scene and the modern structure of the bridge indicates the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

The painting will be displayed first at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery from September 2019 and will then go on tour around East Anglia with exhibitions planned at Kings Lynn, Ipswich, Colchester, and Great Yarmouth over the next three years. Norfolk Museums Service has partnered with Colchester and Ipswich Museums to create a four-year programme of exhibitions, learning and public engagement across the region. In 2023 the painting will go back on permanent display at Norwich Castle.

Arts Minister Rebecca Pow said: “Turner’s magnificent work, painted at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, will now continue to be exhibited and admired and will inspire future generations of British artists thanks to Norfolk Museums Service. I am delighted that the export bar placed on the painting allowed time for the painting to be saved for the nation, and I congratulate all those involved.”

Art Fund director Stephen Deuchar said: “This is a landmark work representing a pivotal moment in the career of one of Britain’s most celebrated landscape artists. We are immensely proud to have helped save this important work—the first Turner to join a collection in the east of England, where it will now be enjoyed by a wide public from Norfolk, the UK, and beyond.”

Deborah Sampson, Her Diary, and Women in the American Revolution

Posted in exhibitions, museums by Editor on July 4, 2019

As reported this week by in The New York Times:

Alison Leigh Cowan, “The Woman Who Sneaked into George Washington’s Army,” The New York Times (2 July 2019). A rediscovered diary, now at the Museum of the American Revolution, sheds light on the life of Deborah Sampson, who fought in the Continental Army.

Hers has always been one of the more astonishing, if little-known, tales of the American Revolution: a woman who stitched herself a uniform, posed as a man and served at least 17 months in an elite unit of the Continental Army. Wounded at least twice, Deborah Sampson carried a musket ball inside her till the day she died in 1827.

While historians agree that Sampson served in uniform and spilled blood for her country, gaps in the account have long led some to wonder whether her tale had been romanticized and embellished — possibly even by her.

Did she fight in the decisive Battle of Yorktown, as she later insisted on multiple occasions? And how did she keep her secret for the many months she served in Washington’s light infantry?

Now, scholars say the discovery of a long-forgotten diary, recorded more than 200 years ago by a Massachusetts neighbor of Sampson, is addressing some of the questions and sharpening our understanding of one of the few women to take on a combat role during the Revolution.

“Deb Sampson, her story is mostly lost to history,’’ said Dr. Philip Mead, the chief historian and director of curatorial affairs of the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. “So, finding a little piece of it is even more important than finding another piece of George Washington’s history.”

The museum bought the diary for an undisclosed sum after Dr. Mead spotted it at a New Hampshire antiques show last summer. He plans to showcase it next year with other items about the role American women played in the Revolution, as part of a larger celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. . . .

The full article is available here»

Chippendale Tables and Mirrors Acquired for the UK

Posted in museums by Editor on June 20, 2019

Thomas Chippendale, Set of pier tables and glasses, installed in the Music Room at Harewood House in West Yorkshire, ca. 1771.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

From the press release (via Art Daily, 18 June 2019) . . .

An important set of pier tables and glasses (mirrors) by Thomas Chippendale, often described as ‘the Shakespeare of English furniture-making’, has been accepted in lieu of inheritance tax for the nation and allocated to the V&A. Through the Acceptance in Lieu in situ loan agreement with Harewood House Trust, the pair will remain on public display in the Music Room, the most complete Robert Adam-designed room at Harewood House in West Yorkshire, and the room for which they were specifically designed.

Thomas Chippendale (1718–79) is the most famous name in 18th-century English furniture. His neo-classical and rococo furniture is some of the most acclaimed and sought-after ever produced. Dating from c.1771, these tables and glasses are among the most distinguished items from his important and most valuable commission for Edwin Lascelles, 1st Baron Harewood, at Harewood House. The pier tables, with exquisite marquetry tops, are of outstanding sophistication and quality. The large and impressive glasses, surmounted by fluted columns, represent the pinnacle of Chippendale’s craftsmanship.

The tables and glasses join the world’s most important collection of English furniture held at the V&A, alongside other examples of Chippendale furniture, including pieces commissioned for leading 18th-century actor David Garrick’s Thames-side villa in 1775. The tables and glasses will undergo a programme of conservation by the V&A’s conservators to restore the surface finish closer to Chippendale’s original intention.

Tristram Hunt, Director, V&A said: “It is exceptionally rare to find Thomas Chippendale furniture as well documented as that at Harewood House—the most lavish commission Chippendale ever received. Of superlative quality, the tables and glasses are welcome additions to the V&A’s world-class collection of English furniture. We are delighted that they can remain in their original location to be seen and appreciated by visitors to Harewood House for years to come.”

Rebecca Pow, Heritage Minister said: “Thomas Chippendale is one of the most talented and gifted furniture makers the country has ever produced. I am delighted that, thanks to the Acceptance in Lieu scheme, these important works now belong to the British public and will remain on display, continuing to inspire the next generation of crafts people.”

Jane Marriott, Director, Harewood House Trust said: “As an Independent Charitable Trust and Arts Council Accredited Museum, we are delighted these objects have been gifted to the nation and that we have been able to agree an in-situ loan with the V&A. This will enable us to continue to share examples of one of Chippendale’s largest and finest commissions in this country, with all of our visitors throughout the year. These pieces were designed specifically for the Music Room in this house and are an integral part of an important decorative scheme designed by Robert Adam and Thomas Chippendale still largely intact today.”

Edward Harley OBE, Chairman, Acceptance in Lieu Panel said: “I am delighted that the Acceptance in Lieu scheme has facilitated the retention of these Chippendale pier tables and glasses in situ at Harewood House. Harewood represents one of the most important commissions of the most important furniture maker of the eighteenth century. I am particularly grateful to the V&A for enabling the pier tables and glasses to remain in Harewood House, the house for which they were designed and where they form part of an ensemble of other pieces of furniture from the same commission.”

Getty Plans to Acquire Wright’s ‘Two Boys with a Bladder’

Posted in museums by Editor on June 12, 2019

Press release (4 June 2019) from The Getty:

The J. Paul Getty Museum announced today its intent to acquire Two Boys with a Bladder, about 1769–70, a painting by Joseph Wright of Derby, which has not been on public view since the 18th century and was previously unknown to scholars. The Museum also announced the acquisition of Corpus Christi, about 1490–1500, a small-scale wooden sculpture depicting the crucified body of Christ by Veit Stoss.

“These two works of art offer exceptional opportunities to enrich our collections,” said Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “The striking depiction of the crucified Christ represents a rare opportunity to acquire a masterwork from the great era of early Renaissance German sculpture. It joins our growing collection of late-Medieval and early-Renaissance sculpture and decorative arts, complementing the manuscripts and paintings collections, to offer a more complete picture of the visual culture of the period.

Two Boys with a Bladder is a masterpiece that counts among Joseph Wright of Derby’s most accomplished nocturnal subjects and reflects the experimental interests of artists and scientists of the Enlightenment,” continued Potts. “Should we obtain the necessary export license from England, the painting will join two other works by the artist at the Getty, adding a completely new and engaging note to our 18th-century paintings collection.”

Corpus Christi

Veit Stoss, Corpus Christi, ca. 1490–1500, wood.

Corpus Christi, about 1490–1500, by Veit Stoss, depicts the crucified body of Christ following the traditional representation of Jesus of Nazareth nailed to a Latin cross at his hands and feet. His head, lowered slightly toward his right shoulder, bears the woven crown of thorns. His right side bears the wound left after Longinus pierced Christ’s chest to ensure he was dead. The body is depicted with astonishing realism, emphasizing the bodily stress and physical pain caused by the crucifixion. The small scale of this Corpus Christi (it is 13 inches tall) and the care with which the details were carved on both the front and back of the figure indicate that it was intended for private devotion, its patron being able to hold it for worship.

One of the most important German sculptors of the late 15th and early 16th centuries, Stoss, who was also an engraver and painter, excelled at carving wood and was renowned for his work in that medium. The great Florentine art historian Giorgio Vasari described Stoss’s virtuosity as a “miracle in wood.” In the Getty’s Corpus Christi that skill is evident in highly detailed curls of the hair and beard, elaborate drapery folds, the realistic representation of swollen veins in Christ’s legs and arms, the backbone pressing through the flesh, and the deep wrinkles in his feet.

“This Corpus Christi is a rare and striking work of art from the great era of early Renaissance German sculpture, of which Veit Stoss was a master,” said Anne-Lise Desmas, senior curator of sculpture and decorative arts at the Getty Museum. “It is among a handful of surviving examples of the master’s small-scale figures. Comparable in quality to the monumental crucifixions that Stoss created for churches in Krakow (Poland) and Nuremberg (Germany), this statuette stands out for the compelling power of its realistic rendering of the anatomy of the martyred body and its intensely expressive representation of human suffering.”

Two Boys with a Bladder

Joseph Wright of Derby, Two Boys with a Bladder, ca. 1769–70, oil on canvas.

The acquisition of Two Boys with a Bladder is subject to an export license being granted by the Arts Council of England, which is being applied for on the Getty’s behalf by the seller’s representative, Lowell Libson and Jonny Yarker Ltd., London.

The recently rediscovered painting depicts two young boys, boldly lit by a concealed candle, inflating a pig’s bladder. In the 18th century, animal bladders served as toys, either inflated and tossed like balloons or filled with dried peas and shaken like rattles. While bladders appeared frequently in 17th-century Dutch painting they were depicted less frequently in 18th-century Britain. It was a motif that Wright made his own; the elaborate costumes that the boys wear are of the artist’s own invention, in the style of British ‘fancy pictures’. The dramatic pictorial effect created by the concentrated candle light within a dark interior setting was in vogue in much of Europe in the late 16th and 17th centuries, but it was not until the 18th century that English artists picked up the theme, Wright being among the first to do so.

The previously unpublished masterpiece is Wright’s earliest known treatment of the subject. Unseen in public since the 18th century, the painting forms part of a sequence of dramatic nocturnal paintings that includes The Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump (1768, National Gallery, London) and An Academy by Lamplight (1770, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven). It was painted as a pendant to Two Girls Dressing a Kitten by Candlelight, which is now at Kenwood House in London.

Two Boys with a Bladder is a remarkable discovery that sheds new light on Wright’s work at the most important moment of his career,” said Davide Gasparotto, senior curator of paintings at the Getty Museum. “It is a compelling example from his most important and successful genre, candlelight paintings. Moreover, Wright’s innovative experimentation with the use of metal foil embodies a sense of technical and scientific exploration that typifies the intellectual milieu of the midlands on the eve of the industrial revolution. It is a major addition to the Getty’s holdings of art from the English golden age.”

At Sotheby’s | MFA, Boston Acquires Two Pairs of Torah Finials

Posted in Art Market, museums by Editor on June 12, 2019

Press release (via Art Daily, 11 June 2019) . . .

Important Judaica Featuring the Serque Collection (Sale N10086)
Sotheby’s, New York, 5 June 2019

Jurgen Richels, German parcel-gilt silver Torah finials, made in Hamburg, ca. 1688–89, acquired by the MFA, Boston.

Driven by demand from private collectors and cultural institutions, Sotheby’s Important Judaica auction (Sale N10086) totaled $2.7 million in New York. From ceremonial silver to important manuscripts and fine art, exceptional items drove these results.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston acquired two of sale’s top offerings of silver: a pair of German parcel-gilt silver Torah finials (lot 79)  from Hamburg ca. 1688–89 sold for $500,000, and a pair of large English parcel-gilt silver Torah finials (lot 3) from 1764 by British silversmith Edward Aldridge sold for $187,500. Both pair of finials stand out for their exceptional rarity and notable provenance, the latter of which were sold to benefit the Central Synagogue, London and were formerly in the famed collection of Philip Salomons—brother of the first Jewish Lord Mayor of London—who was one of the first collectors of antique Judaica in England.

Edward Aldridge, English parcel-gilt silver Torah finials, made in London, 1764, acquired by the MFA, Boston.

Isidor Kaufmann’s sensitive Portrait of a Rabbi with a Young Pupil (lot 43) achieved $375,000 (estimate $300,000–500,000). Renowned for his ravishing detail, Kaufmann gained wide recognition in Vienna during his lifetime. This double portrait reflects the deep spirituality of a centuries-old tradition that the artist witnessed during his summer trips to Galicia and Eastern Poland.

After much pre-sale excitement, the collection of nearly 300 postcards from American Jewish hotels and resorts from the 20th century (lot 29) sold for $8,750 (estimate $7,000–10,000). Assembled over the course of 20+ years by a private collector, the selection provides a panoramic view of Jewish leisure culture in America, depicting the grounds and amenities available at reports frequented by Jews not only the Catskill Mountains, but also in various vacation spots in Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and North Carolina.

The pre-sale press release is available here»

Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw Named Director of History at NPG in DC

Posted in museums by Editor on June 2, 2019

From the press release (23 May 2019) . . .

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has appointed Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, undergraduate chair and associate professor of history of art at the University of Pennsylvania, as the museum’s new director of history, research and scholarship / senior historian. Shaw will work with the History, Curatorial, and Audience Engagement departments to strengthen the museum’s scholarly programs and be a thought leader on the connections between portraiture, biography and identity in America. Shaw is the first woman to hold this senior position at the National Portrait Gallery.

“I have long admired Gwendolyn’s scholarship and her particular focus on looking at contemporary issues through the lens of both history and portraiture,” said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery. “Her research has spanned chronologies from the 17th century through today, merging interests in fine arts with those of popular culture. I am looking forward to having Gwendolyn help us think in fresh ways about our nation’s history as we reinstall our galleries in conjunction with a major upgrade to our lighting systems, and I know she will introduce audiences to larger social, historical, economic, and political topics of conversation and debate.”

Shaw is already well known to the National Portrait Gallery. She is a current member of the PORTAL = Portraiture + Analysis advisory board, the museum’s scholarship and research arm; and in 2016 she served as the senior fellow and host scholar of the museum’s Richardson Symposium: Racial Masquerade in American Art and Culture. Recent books published by the Portrait Gallery feature her writing. For example, her essay “‘Interesting Characters by the Lines of Their Faces’: Moses Williams’s Profile Portrait Silhouettes of Native Americans” was written in 2018 for the exhibition catalogue Blackout: Silhouettes Then and Now, and she also penned “Portraiture in the Age of the Selfie,” the lead essay for the catalogue that accompanied the 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.

Shaw, who received her doctorate in art history from Stanford University, has focused for more than two decades on race, gender, sexuality, and class in the art of the U.S., Latin America, and the Caribbean. In 2000, she was appointed assistant professor of history of art and African and African American studies at Harvard University, and in 2005, she began teaching at the University of Pennsylvania. Since 2012, she has served as the chair of the undergraduate program in the History of Art Department. Shaw has published extensively, and her most widely read titles include Seeing the Unspeakable: The Art of Kara Walker (2004) and Portraits of a People: Picturing African Americans in the Nineteenth Century. She has curated several major exhibitions, notably Represent: 200 Years of African American Art for the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2015) and Kara Walker: Virginia’s Lynch Mob and Other Works, for the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey (2018).

Getty Appoints Naoko Takahatake Curator of Prints and Drawings

Posted in museums by Editor on June 1, 2019

Press release (May 2019) from The Getty:

The Getty Research Institute (GRI) announced today the appointment of Naoko Takahatake as Curator of Prints and Drawings.

“Naoko Takahatake is a gifted curator and has extensive expertise working with works on paper of the greatest importance,” said Mary Miller, director of the Getty Research Institute. “She has been a prominent colleague and critical figure in the field here in Los Angeles and internationally. We are excited to welcome her to the GRI, where she will be responsible for our exceptional collection of works on paper. I’m confident she will help us expand and present our already broad holdings in meaningful ways.”

Takahatake comes to the Getty from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), where she has been curator of prints and drawings since 2010, overseeing the collection of Old Master works on paper. At LACMA she curated and co-curated numerous exhibitions of prints and drawings from the Renaissance to the contemporary, most recently The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy in 2018, which travelled to the National Gallery of Art, Washington.  She also engaged in several collaborative research projects with conservators and conservation scientists, and led a major grant-funded project to reorganize and inventory the entire prints and drawings collection. Before her tenure at LACMA, she was an Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow in the Department of Old Master Prints at the National Gallery of Art, Washington. She previously served as Research Associate at the Center for Advance Study in the Visual Arts and as Michael Bromberg Fellow in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum.

“The GRI is home to more than 30,000 works on paper that together illustrate a comprehensive and multi-faceted overview of the history of printmaking from the Renaissance to today,” said Marcia Reed, chief curator at the Getty Research Institute. “Dr. Takahatake has an important role as caretaker of this truly one-of-a-kind collection. I am thrilled that we have found a curator with the knowledge and vision to lead our work in this area.”

Takahatake earned her Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Italian from Vassar College, and her master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Oxford, the latter with a dissertation on the print industry in 16th- and 17th-century Bologna. A specialist in Italian Renaissance and Baroque print history, her scholarly research interests include the technical study of printmaking processes and the history of print publishing and collecting. Her catalogue on Italian chiaroscuro woodcuts was a finalist for the Alfred H. Barr Jr. Award in 2019. She is a member of the editorial board of Print Quarterly, and has published numerous papers, essays, and articles and participated in major symposia internationally.

”It is an immense pleasure and privilege to be joining the curatorial team at the GRI, with its notable collections and research resources,” said Takahatake. “The Getty’s profound commitment to advancing the appreciation of the history of prints and drawings has inspired audiences in Los Angeles and internationally. I am looking forward to participating in its outstanding programs of exhibitions, education, and scholarship, while helping to expand the collection.”

Takahatake starts at the Getty Research Institute in July.

Hogarth’s ‘William Wollaston and His Family’ to Remain in Leicester

Posted in museums by Editor on May 31, 2019

William Hogarth, William Wollaston and His Family in a Grand Interior, signed and dated 1730, oil on canvas, 99 × 125 cm (Leicester: New Walk Museum and Art Gallery).

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Press release (24 May 2019) from the UK’s Art Fund:

An important painting by 18th-century English artist William Hogarth has been saved for the nation following a crowdfunding campaign and support from Art Fund. The painting William Wollaston and His Family in a Grand Interior has been acquired by the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery in Leicester where it has been displayed on a loan basis for 75 years. The work was acquired via the Acceptance in Lieu scheme following the ‘Save the Hogarth Campaign’, which raised over £500,000.

William Hogarth was born in London at the end of the 17th century and is best known for his moral series including A Rake’s Progress and Marriage A-la-Mode and his prints such as Beer Street and Gin Lane. He was also recognised for his ‘conversation pieces’—informal group portraits that depict a large amount of people who were often families.

William Wollaston and His Family in a Grand Interior is a conversation piece that depicts the family of William Wollaston, who was MP for Ipswich from 1733 until 1741. Hogarth was commissioned to paint the piece following a period of mourning for the family after the death of William’s elder brother Charlton Wollaston, the former head of the family. This is reflected in the black clothing of some of the sitters, as well as the cloths hung over the wall decoration and Charlton’s bust on the mantelpiece. The painting has been passed down through the Leicester Wollaston family, who have lived in the county of Leicestershire since 1652.

The work will remain on display to the public until 6 September 2019, before being removed for conservation cleaning in preparation for a series of public events and and an exhibition dedicated to the work and Hogarth in early 2020.

Stephen Deuchar, Director of Art Fund, said: “This is such a great acquisition for Leicester—a real coup to have acquired a work of such landmark significance to both Hogarth’s career and the wider history of 18th-century British art. We are delighted to have helped.”

Lonnie Bunch to Lead the Smithsonian

Posted in museums by Editor on May 29, 2019

From the press release (28 May 2019). . .

Photo of Lonnie Bunch III, by Michael Barnes, Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Smithsonian Institution’s Board of Regents announced today it elected Lonnie G. Bunch III, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, as the 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian, effective June 16.

Bunch is the founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in September 2016. He oversees the nation’s largest and most comprehensive cultural destination devoted exclusively to exploring, documenting and showcasing the African American story and its impact on American and world history.

Bunch’s election is unprecedented for the Smithsonian: He will be the first African American to lead the Smithsonian, and the first historian elected Secretary. In addition, he will be the first museum director to ascend to Secretary in 74 years.

“Lonnie Bunch guided, from concept to completion, the complex effort to build the premier museum celebrating African American achievements,” said John G. Roberts, Jr., Smithsonian Chancellor and Chief Justice of the United States. “I look forward to working with him as we approach the Smithsonian’s 175th anniversary, to increase its relevance and role as a beloved American institution and public trust.”

Bunch, a public historian, has spent more than 35 years in the museum field, where he is regarded as one of the nation’s leading figures in the historical and museum community. He and the Board of Regents are committed to driving forward the priorities and direction of the Smithsonian’s 2022 strategic plan.

“I am humbled and honored to become the 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution,” Bunch said. “I am excited to work with the Board of Regents and my colleagues throughout the Institution to build upon its legacy and to ensure that the Smithsonian will be even more relevant and more meaningful and reach more people in the future.”

The Regents’ 11-member search committee was co-led by Board Chair David Rubenstein and Board Vice Chair Steve Case.

“Lonnie is a deeply respected scholar, educator and leader,” Rubenstein said. “In looking for someone who would shepherd the Institution into the future, we wanted to find a special person with equal parts talent and passion. Fortunately, the ideal choice for our next Secretary was already an integral part of the Smithsonian family.”

“After working at the Smithsonian in various capacities over three decades, and then birthing a wildly successful startup within the Smithsonian, Lonnie has the benefit of knowing the Smithsonian intimately,” Case said. “Now Lonnie will bring his insights and passion to reimagining the Smithsonian of the future, and creating a culture of agility and innovation to expand the Institution’s impact. The Regents stand ready to support Lonnie’s vision for driving cross-institutional collaboration to create a virtual Smithsonian that can reach everybody, everywhere.”

Under Bunch’s leadership, the National Museum of African American History and Culture came to life. When he started as director in 2005, he had one staff member, no collections, no funding and no site for a museum. Driven by optimism, determination and a commitment to build “a place that would make America better,” Bunch transformed a vision into a bold reality. The museum has welcomed about 4 million visitors and compiled a collection of 40,000 objects. The museum is the first “green building” on the National Mall. He rallied donors of every level and worked with Congress to fund the museum through a public-private collaboration.

Previously, Bunch was the president of the Chicago Historical Society, one of the nation’s oldest museums of history (2001–05). There, he led a successful capital campaign to transform the Historical Society in celebration of its 150th anniversary, managed an institutional reorganization and began an unprecedented outreach initiative to diverse communities.

A prolific and widely published author, Bunch has written on topics ranging from the black military experience to the American presidency to the impact of race in the American West. He has also written extensively about diversity in museum management and the impact of funding and politics on American museums.

Bunch’s Smithsonian experience spans three museums: the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Museum of American History and the National Air and Space Museum.

Bunch held a number of positions at the National Museum of American History from 1989 through 2000. As the museum’s associate director for curatorial affairs from 1994 to 2000, he oversaw the curatorial and collections management staff. While assistant director for curatorial affairs (1992–94) at the museum, Bunch supervised the planning and implementation of the museum’s research and collection programs. As a supervising curator for the museum from 1989 to 1992, he oversaw several of the museum’s divisions, including Community Life and Political History.

Bunch began his Smithsonian career as an education specialist and historian at the National Air and Space Museum from 1978 to 1979.

Bunch was curator of history and program manager for the California African American Museum in Los Angeles from 1983 to 1989. While there, he organized several award-winning exhibitions, including The Black Olympians, 1904–1950 and Black Angelenos: The Afro-American in Los Angeles, 1850–1950. He also produced several historical documentaries for public television.

Born and raised in the Newark, New Jersey, area, Bunch has held numerous teaching positions at universities across the country, including American University and George Washington University, both in Washington, D.C.

Bunch has served on the advisory boards of the American Association of Museums, the Association of African American Museums, the American Association for State and Local History and ICOM-US. Among his many awards, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to the Committee for the Preservation of the White House in 2002 and reappointed by President Barack Obama in 2010. In 2005, Bunch was named one of the 100 most influential museum professionals of the 20th century by the American Association of Museums.

In 2017, Bunch was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. That same year, he was given the President’s Award at the NAACP Image Awards, and the Greater Washington Urban League presented him with the Impact Leader Award. In 2018, the Phi Beta Kappa Society presented Bunch with the Phi Beta Kappa Award for Distinguished Service to the Humanities, and the National Education Association honored him with the Award for Distinguished Service to Education.

Bunch received his master’s (1976) and bachelor’s (1974) degrees from American University in Washington, D.C., in African American and American history. He is married to Maria Marable-Bunch, associate director for museum learning and programs at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

Bunch succeeds David Skorton, a board-certified cardiologist, who is leaving the Smithsonian to become president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The Search Process

In December 2018, the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents formed an 11-member committee to search for a Secretary to succeed Skorton. The committee was assisted by the executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles. Rubenstein and Case co-chaired the committee. The Regents committee and search firm conducted meetings with key Smithsonian stakeholders and employees to solicit their views on the types of skills and experiences the next Secretary would need; they used those conversations to develop a position specification and evaluation framework. The committee conducted interviews in April and May; the full Board of Regents voted on the new Secretary May 28.

About the Board of Regents

The 17-member Board of Regents is the governing body of the Smithsonian. It consists of the Chief Justice of the United States and the Vice President of the United States, both ex officio members of the Board; three members of the Senate; three members of the House of Representatives; and nine citizen members, nominated by the Board and approved by Congress in a joint resolution signed by the President of the United States.

About the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian Institution was founded in 1846, with a generous bequest from British scientist James Smithson (1765–1829) to found at Washington an establishment for “the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” The Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum, education and research complex, with 19 museums and the National Zoological Park. The Smithsonian’s collections document the nation’s history and heritage and represent the world’s natural and cultural diversity. The total number of objects, works of art and specimens at the Smithsonian is estimated at nearly 155 million, including more than 146 million scientific specimens and artifacts at the National Museum of Natural History.

Colonial Williamsburg Acquires Rare 1780 Map

Posted in museums by Editor on May 8, 2019

Press release (7 May 2019) from Colonial Williamsburg:

A Map of South Carolina and a Part of Georgia…, published by William Faden (1750–1836) after William Gerard De Brahm (1718–ca. 1799) after Thomas Jeffreys (ca. 1710–1771), London, 1780; black and white line engraving with period hand color on laid paper, in two sheets: top sheet 28 × 48 inches, bottom sheet 28 × 48 inches (Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Museum Purchase, 2019-59, A&B).

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has recently acquired a very rare copy of A Map of South Carolina and a Part of Georgia published in 1780 by William Faden based on a 1757 version made by the cartographers William Gerard De Brahm and published by Thomas Jefferys. Although other copies are known to exist, this example, which is in pristine condition with vibrant original color, is the first known to have become available in several decades. The large-scale map (about 4½ feet tall by 4 feet wide) is a significantly revised version of the 1757 document by De Brahm, and when paired with this earlier version of the map (a copy already exists in the Colonial Williamsburg collection) the two maps tell a compelling story. Together they show a visual comparison about the extent to which the South Carolinians and Georgians settled the western frontiers of their colonies during the period between the French and Indian War and the American Revolution.

“Colonial Williamsburg collects objects such as the Faden map not only for their inherent beauty, but for their intrinsic value as documents of past peoples, places, and events,” said Ronald L. Hurst, the Foundation’s Carlisle H. Humelsine Chief Curator and Vice President for Collections, Conservation, and Museums. “Remarkably well preserved, the Faden map will be used with other cartographic documents and three-dimensional objects to illustrate the movement of cultural groups from the seacoast to the southern backcountry on the eve of the Revolution.”

To best understand why this map is so extraordinary beyond its scarcity, one needs to first understand who made it, how it was originally intended for use and how it came to be revised over time, beginning with the original 1757 version. The story begins with the map’s cartographer, William Gerard De Brahm (1717–1798). Born in southern Germany, he served as a military engineer in the Bavarian army until 1748 and thereafter was expelled from Bavaria for renouncing his Catholic faith in favor of Protestantism. With the encouragement of the Bishop of Augsburg, Samuel Urlsperger, he led a group of 156 German Protestants to settle in the Salzberger community of Ebenezer, Georgia, in 1751. Shortly after his arrival, his skills as a trained surveyor and engineer were recognized in both Georgia and South Carolina, and by 1752 De Brahm was selected by Governor James Glen of South Carolina to design and construct a system of fortifications for Charleston. Two years later, De Brahm was appointed Surveyor General of South Carolina. Realizing that there would be a war with France, the British Board of Trade requested that each colony supply maps of their topographical surveys, the resulting map depicted geography that was vastly superior to any previous map of the region.

De Brahm used his training as an engineer to create a map that aimed to assist colonists in settling the vast wilderness of the region. He meticulously and scientifically represented details, such as settlements, land quality, climate, coastlines, waterways, and the suitability of soil for agricultural growth. The map delineates plantation landscapes belonging to European settlers, while the cartouche depicts the enslaved Africans who would be forced to work the land. Native Americans’ lands in the interior of the Colonies are mentioned sporadically, but much of the map was left blank, suggesting endless possibilities for European settlement. Once all the information was compiled, De Brahm sent the map to the Board of Trade in England, which then approved it and commissioned cartographer, engraver, and map seller Thomas Jeffreys, who served as Geographer to King George III, to publish it. The resulting map, published in London on October 20, 1757 (during the French and Indian War), illustrates the progress as well as the potential of the area.

The second version of the map was published at the height of the Revolution. By 1778, the British had taken Savannah, and in April 1780, once Charleston fell to the British, the focus of the war shifted to the Southern Colonies. Given the contemporary interest in the region, Thomas Jeffreys’s successor, William Faden, altered the 1757 copperplates with updated information on the region, publishing it in June 1780. The revisions were so major that some scholars consider the result to be virtually a new map. This new version included county names, roadways, new place names, and settlements across the entire map, revealing the amount of new information that was gathered over a span of less than 20 years during a time when Britain was focused on expanding and populating its empire in North America and the backcountry of South Carolina was opened up for English settlement. The alterations were largely based on the surveys gathered by John Stuart, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Southern District from the 1760s to his death in 1779. Stuart frequently complained to royal officials in Britain that he lacked accurate maps of the backcountry to conduct his work, which frequently involved boundary disputes between Native Americans and settlers. He provided his findings to the Board of Trade, who, in turn, hired Faden to publish the updated version. The 1780 edition of the map reflects the westward movement of the population.

“De Brahm’s map of South Carolina and Georgia was viewed in the period, as it is today, as a remarkable achievement of eighteenth-century cartography,” said Katie McKinney, Colonial Williamsburg’s assistant curator of maps and prints. “The blank space on the 1757 map is one of its most striking features, which never aimed to detail the backcountry landscape. It makes sense that when looking to publish a map on the region that Faden would use De Brahm’s map as a template to incorporate new information about these Southern colonies. Compared to the earlier version, this map will allow us to better interpret the westward movement of people and objects in the region throughout the eighteenth century.”

The Georgetown Precinct reflects the extensive revisions made to the 1757 map on the 1780 map. The original map primarily illustrated topography and land use as evidenced by the detail, whereas the 1780 map focused on roadways, waterways, landowners and settlement. The 1780 map shows the intricate rivers and streams that made up the Pee Dee River. Georgetown Precinct thrived financially in the eighteenth century as home to some of the wealthiest indigo and rice planting operations in the low country, which relied on the work of enslaved laborers.

The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg remain open during construction of an entirely donor-funded $41.7 million expansion. Additional information about the Art Museums and Colonial Williamsburg is available online.