Enfilade

Mauritshuis Acquires Pastel Portrait by Perronneau

Posted in museums by Editor on March 20, 2019

Press release (18 March 2019) from the Mauritshuis:

Jean-Baptiste Perronneau, ‘Portrait of Jacob van Kretschmar’, 1754, pastel and crayon on paper, 60 × 45 cm (The Hague: Mauritshuis, Gift of Jonkheer F.G.L.O. van Kretschmar, 2018).

Last year the Mauritshuis received a generous gift from Jonkheer F.G.L.O. van Kretschmar: a magnificent pastel portrait from 1754 by the French artist Jean-Baptiste Perronneau (ca. 1715–1783). The portrait shows Jacob van Kretschmar of The Hague, the donor’s ancestor. The pastel, which had remained in the family, is a superb example of Perronneau’s work. Pastels are extremely sensitive to light, and so cannot be on permanent display, but from today the new acquisition will be exhibited for several months in Room 13.

Emilie Gordenker, Mauritshuis Director: “We are deeply grateful to Jonkheer van Kretschmar. The Mauritshuis has a small, but fine collection of eighteenth-century pictures—in particular pastels—and this acquisition enhances our holdings in this area significantly.”

Travelling Pastel Artists

The eighteenth century in the Netherlands is often described in art historical literature as the century of Cornelis Troost (1696–1750). The Mauritshuis has a unique collection of pastels by Troost, including the well-known NELRI series (a set of five humorous pastels). Troost was only one of many artists working at that time. The art world was extremely international in the eighteenth century and artists travelled throughout Europe. There were many foreign portrait painters working in the Netherlands for varying lengths of time. With the arrival of talented artists such as the Parisian Jean-Baptiste Perronneau, the Swiss Jean-Étienne Liotard (1702–1789) and the German Johann Friedrich August Tischbein (1750–1812), pastel portraits became popular in the Netherlands. Perronneau was the first foreign pastel artist to come and work in the Netherlands, and it was during his first stay that he produced the portrait of Van Kretschmar.

Today we know of some 45 portraits that Perronneau made in the Netherlands, thirty of which are pastels and the rest oil paintings. After his first visit in 1754, the artist regularly returned to the Netherlands, where he was extremely successful. Almost half of the extant Dutch portraits were created during Perronneau’s second stay in 1761 in Amsterdam and The Hague. He also made portraits of the young Orange prince William V and his sister Princess Wilhelmina Carolina at that time, but further commissions from the court never materialised. Perronneau died in 1783 in Amsterdam.

Portrait of Jacob van Kretschmar

Perronneau signed and dated the pastel in elegant letters in the top left-hand corner: “Perronneau / Peintre du Roy / en 1754 / à La Haye.” The composition of the portrait is simple, yet powerful. The 33-year-old military man Jacob van Kretschmar (1721–1792) is portrayed half-length. The loose, but convincing way in which Perronneau rendered the details in the powdered hair and the jabot—the frill of lace at the neck—demonstrate his great talent. The portrait’s appeal is further enhanced by the elegant, seemingly relaxed pose, the bright colours and the serene light. The blue tailcoat edged with gold thread stands out against the light background, where the blue of the paper still shimmers through.

About the Donor

The donor of the pastel by Perronneau is a well-known figure in the Dutch museum world. Jonkheer F.G.L.O van Kretschmar (1919–2019) was a Dutch art historian and genealogist. He was the director of the Iconographic Bureau for many years, which today forms part of the Netherlands Institute for Art History—RKD in The Hague. Van Kretschmar was of great value to the Iconographic Bureau—he saw to it that the institution did not solely concentrate on collecting documentation about Dutch portraits, but also focused on their scientific study. He also made a great personal contribution with his publications on Dutch portrait art—published over many decades—and the inventories he made of private collections of family portraits, usually depicting members of the aristocracy. Van Kretschmar’s great dedication to and keen interest in Dutch cultural heritage were recognised when he was awarded the silver museum medal on his retirement as director in 1984.

Presentation

The portrait of Jacob van Kretschmar will be on display in Room 13 until 7 July, along with a self-portrait by Cornelis Troost. An engaging pastel portrait of Wilhelmina of Prussia by Tischbein, one of several versions that is rarely on view and is still in its original frame, will also be in Room 13. The three pastels will be accompanied by a number of eighteenth-century painted portraits, including a portrait of a man by Troost and George van der Mijn’s portraits of Cornelis Ploos van Amstel and his wife. There could be no better setting for these works than this room with its eighteenth-century interior.

Colonial Williamsburg Acquires Seven Years’ War Portrait

Posted in museums by Editor on March 11, 2019

Press release (5 March 2019) from Colonial Williamsburg:

Joseph Wright of Derby, Portrait of Captain Richard Bayly, 1760–61; oil on canvas (Colonial Williamsburg Foundation).

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has recently acquired its first portrait by the well-known, eighteenth-century British landscape and portrait painter Joseph Wright of Derby (1734–1797). Equally compelling is its subject matter as it is rare to be able to show the faces of those who were involved in events that led to the American Revolution and especially those who spent time in the Williamsburg area. Captain Richard Bayly (d. 1764), an Irishman who served in America with the 44th Regiment during the French and Indian War, sat for this portrait circa 1760 after his return to Britain, in the uniform he wore in America.

“The faces of early America’s military officers are largely lost to time,” said Ghislain d’Humières, Colonial Williamsburg’s executive director and senior vice president, core operations. “At Colonial Williamsburg, we are proud to be able to include their likenesses within our collections and humanize their stories for our visitors in an accessible, visual manner.”

Acquiring the Bayly portrait within months after the portrait of Major Patrick Campbell (a Scottish officer who served in the British lines at the Siege of Yorktown) came into the Colonial Williamsburg collection presented an exciting opportunity to the curators there. To be able to show the people behind the series of events that led to the Revolution and to better tell the story of the French and Indian War is compelling to further the Foundation’s mission of authentically telling America’s enduring history.

Laura Pass Barry, Juli Grainger curator of paintings, drawings, and sculpture, added, “We have an extraordinary opportunity to visually bookend the two most important events in early American military history—the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War—with this painting and the Campbell portrait and tell a very full and personal story of the acts that transpired on American soil.”

According to Erik Goldstein, senior curator of mechanical arts and numismatics, Richard Bayly was commissioned a lieutenant in the 35th Regiment in October 1745 and transferred to the 44th Regiment in April 1750. He sailed from Cork with that regiment to America in January 1755 and disembarked at Hampton, Virginia, in late February 1755 where he spent a few weeks between Hampton and Williamsburg, likely preparing his men for war. In the famed ‘Braddock’s Defeat’, fought outside of today’s Pittsburgh on July 9, 1755, Bayly’s regiment suffered severely, with seven officers killed and nine wounded. Bayly and George Washington were among the few unwounded Anglo-American officers who fought in the disastrous event. Bayly was promoted to captain of the 44th Regiment in July 1757 and served in American until late 1760. When he returned to the British Isles, he sat for this portrait by Joseph Wright of Derby. To commemorate his North American service, he chose to wear his silver-laced ‘red coat’ uniform of the 44th Regiment with its dark yellow lapels, cuffs, and waistcoat. A beautiful silver shoulder knot, called an aiguillette, hangs from his right shoulder, and his cocked hat is tucked under his left arm.

The painting was owned by the subject’s sister and inscribed as such on the reverse of the stretcher: “B. Bayly Jan.r Picture of her/Brother Richard Bayly Oct.r 1764.”

While the subject matter and his American service initially attracted the attention of the Colonial Williamsburg curators, the added incentive to acquire the painting was that it was well-documented by a noteworthy and significant painter. The artist’s account book lists a “Capt. Bailey. £6. 6s” among sitters at Derby circa 1760. Despite the misspelling of the subject’s surname, the curators at Colonial Williamsburg believe it is highly likely this is the same person given Bayly’s promotion to the rank of captain in 1757. Bayly held that rank in the 44th Foot when he returned home to Britain. He became major of the 108th regiment about a year later and served with that unit until his death in 1764.

Wright of Derby is best known for a series of works of industrial and scientific subjects. Today he is celebrated as one of the most accomplished British artists of the eighteenth century. This portrait was made relatively early in the artist’s career during a short period of time that he spent in the Midlands, several years after his training in London with the celebrated portraitist Thomas Hudson. Wright of Derby later gained a reputation for his nocturnal works experimenting with unusual lighting effects and also his portrayal of contemporary scientific subjects, canvases of which he exhibited and made available to a wider audience by employing engravers to reproduce.

The portrait was purchased through the generosity of The Friends of Colonial Williamsburg Collection Funds.

Kimbell Acquires Still Life by Anne Vallayer-Coster

Posted in museums by Editor on March 10, 2019

Anne Vallayer-Coster, Still Life with Mackerel, 1787, oil on canvas, 20 × 24 inches (Fort Worth: Kimbell Art Museum, Gift of Sid R. Bass in honor of Kay and Ben Fortson).

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Press release (7 March 2019) from the Kimbell:

The Kimbell Art Museum announced today the acquisition of Anne Vallayer-Coster’s 1787 painting Still Life with Mackerel. This striking work is among the most beautiful and innovative by one of the foremost still-life painters of 18th-century France. Vallayer-Coster (1744–1818) was esteemed for the vigor of her compositions, her magical ability to imitate nature, her fluid and varied brushwork and her remarkable skills as a colorist. The painting is a gift from Sid R. Bass in honor of Kay and Ben Fortson, long-time leaders of the Kimbell Art Foundation’s board of directors. Still Life with Mackerel is on view Friday, March 8, in celebration of International Women’s Day, in the Kimbell’s Louis I. Kahn Building. Admission to view the museum’s collection is always free.

“Anne Vallayer-Coster is one of the very few female artists who managed to negotiate the powerful authority of the Royal Academy in Paris and to exhibit their work at the Salon,” commented Eric M. Lee, director of the Kimbell Art Museum. “Her recognition as a leading painter of still life paralleled her contemporary Elizabeth Vigée Le Brun’s fame as a portraitist—both were favorites of Queen Marie-Antoinette. We are thrilled that Vallayer-Coster’s  Still Life with Mackerel will join Vigée Le Brun’s Self Portrait as a highlight in the Kimbell’s collection.”

The Kimbell’s painting is undoubtedly one of the most refined pictures produced by the artist. Still lifes of fish were rare in 18th-century France, where images of meat, fruits or flowers were more abundant. Vallayer-Coster’s charming, original composition celebrates the arrival of mackerel in Paris in springtime, when wealthy Parisians enjoyed the freshest specimens of this delectable fish. Arranged on a stone parapet covered by a linen cloth are a silver oil and vinegar cruet stand, a silver verrière (wine glass cooler) filled with crystal stemware, a lemon, a sprig of orange blossoms and a brioche (a rich pastry). The still life whets the viewer’s appetite for a simple but sumptuous feast with accoutrements that evoke an elegant, restrained opulence that marks the end of the century.

Vallayer-Coster’s virtuosity and sophistication as a colorist is evident throughout the work. The round and undulating forms of the composition are tempered by its prevailing cool, silvery tonality. The artist explores how these tones vary according to material and reflections of light—from glass and metal to the mutable skin of the plump fish, dazzlingly rendered with unblended strokes of brilliant vermilion and ocher near the gills, indicating its freshness. The reflections are sensitively observed—a lemon half seen again in the curving silver container takes on an unexpected double shape—and the white napkin or tablecloth likewise partakes in the nuances of light, all suggested with the painter’s delicacy of touch. The damask cloth cleverly mimics the type of linen the artist would have maintained in her own household: the initials V and C are embroidered in tiny red cross-stitch, along with the figure 6, an inventory number for the accounts of the painter’s housekeeper.

Anne Vallayer-Coster

Born in Paris in 1744, Anne Vallayer (later Vallayer-Coster, upon her marriage in 1781) was the daughter of a goldsmith employed by the royal Gobelins Manufactory who later opened a shop near the Louvre and Tuileries Palace. Through her family, Vallayer-Coster came into contact with various eminent persons in both the artistic community and aristocratic circles. Little is known about her training, and it is likely that she was largely self-taught. By the age of 26, she was received and accepted as a member of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture  (French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture). Very few women had previously achieved this distinction.

Although many women in 18th-century France were, in fact, practicing artists, their peremptory exclusion from the official, sanctioned and prestigious institution of the Academy limited their opportunities for training, public exposure and patronage. It also prevented them from engaging in the genres considered to be most valued—above all history painting, which was rooted in the study of the human figure. For reasons of propriety, women were excluded from life-drawing classes after the nude model, and thus effectively shunted to the so-called lesser genres, especially portraiture and still life.

Upon her first exhibition at the Salon, Vallayer-Coster’s superior skills as a still-life painter were resoundingly commended. Her first two finished canvases exhibited—Attributes of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture and Attributes of Music (1769 and 1770, Musée du Louvre), were highly accomplished works demonstrating her virtuosity in rendering textures and brilliant color and evident homages to the pre-eminent still-life painter Chardin’s similar grand allegories of 1765. Likewise, her Still Life with Mackerel could be compared with the simple kitchen still lifes that Chardin produced in the last years of his career. These intimate paintings contrast with the floral compositions for which Vallayer was renowned.

The roster of patrons that Vallayer-Coster cultivated includes numerous aristocrats at the French court, most notably Queen Marie Antoinette. Her career came to a pause with the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, and she took temporary refuge on the outskirts of Paris. Despite her royalist loyalties, Vallayer-Coster maintained her practice. Whereas her circumstances as a woman and a royalist may have limited Vallayer-Coster’s career,  her flower pieces and still lifes were still held in high esteem. Her exceptional refinement, range of invention and sophistication as a painter were acclaimed in her own day, as they are progressively acknowledged in our own.

LACMA Announces Two New Curatorial Appointments

Posted in museums by Editor on March 5, 2019

Press release via Art Daily (3 March 2019) . . .

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced two new curatorial appointments: Rita Gonzalez, Terri and Michael Smooke Curator and Department Head of Contemporary Art, and Leah Lehmbeck, Department Head of European Painting & Sculpture and American Art.

Rita Gonzalez has been at LACMA since 2006 and has served as Interim Department Head since 2016. Gonzalez is known in the field for her groundbreaking exhibitions addressing topics in contemporary Latinx and Latin-American art, including Phantom Sightings: Art after the Chicano Movement (2008), Asco: Elite of the Obscure, A Retrospective, 1972–1987 (2011), and, more recently, with José Luis Blondet and Pilar Tompkins Rivas, A Universal History of Infamy (2018). Gonzalez has also worked on a number of exhibitions at the intersection of art and film, including Under the Mexican Sky: Gabriel Figueroa—Art and Film (2014), Agnès Varda in Californialand (2014), and the upcoming In Production: Art and the Studio System. She has made significant additions to LACMA’s collections of contemporary art, most notably spearheading LACMA’s 50th Anniversary Artist Gifts Initiative, which culminated in the exhibition L.A. Exuberance: New Gifts by Artists (2017).

Leah Lehmbeck joined LACMA in 2014 and has served as Acting Department Head since 2017. In her time at LACMA, Lehmbeck organized Delacroix’s Greece on the Ruins at Missolonghi (2014) and To Rome and Back: Individualism and Authority in Art, 1500–1800 (2018). She also authored Impressionist and Modern Art: The A. Jerrold Perenchio Collection (2016) and has served as general editor for the forthcoming three-volume publication celebrating The Ahmanson Foundation’s gifts to LACMA (2019). Lehmbeck represents the curatorial team in planning discussions for the museum’s building for the permanent collection, and has led efforts to secure display solutions for LACMA’s sculpture collections around Los Angeles County during our closure.

San Antonio Museum Hires Lucia Abramovich

Posted in museums by Editor on March 2, 2019

Press release, via Art Daily (1 March 2019). . .

The San Antonio Museum of Art announced today that it has hired Lucia Abramovich as the Museum’s new Associate Curator of Latin American Art, following the completion of an international search. Abramovich brings to the Museum extensive curatorial, research, and community engagement experience, including at the New Orleans Museum of Art, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection of Harvard University, and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian.

“The San Antonio Museum of Art’s commitment to the presentation of Latin American Art spans almost 40 years. Lucia Abramovich will step into a role defined for all American institutions by the dedication and brilliance of Marion Oettinger, Jr., whose leadership and dedication defined the field as we presently know it,” said Kelso Director Katherine Crawford Luber. “Lucia will be a worthy successor and will continue the Museum’s broad and deep engagement with the arts of all Latin America. I am particularly appreciative of her work in engaging New Orleans’ diverse community. I know she will bring her passion and enthusiasm for community engagement to our city.”

The San Antonio Museum of Art’s Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Latin American Art encompasses more than 12,000 objects in the areas of Ancient America, Spanish colonial, Republican-era, Modern, Contemporary, and Folk Art. Among her projects at SAMA, Abramovich will reconceptualize and reinstall the Museum’s Latin American Folk Art collection, one of the most important collections of its kind in the United States. “Lucia is an up-and-coming scholar of the arts of both ancient and viceregal Latin America, who brings an exceptional suite of talents to the San Antonio Museum of Art, and it will be a pleasure to watch what she will do in this important post,” said Joanne Pillsbury, Andrall E. Pearson Curator in the department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Abramovich will begin work in San Antonio in June 2019.

Abramovich worked as a Curatorial Fellow for Spanish Colonial Art at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) from 2013 until 2016. At NOMA, her focus was on the research and digitization of the Spanish Colonial collection—which includes paintings, sculptures, furniture, and silver—and had not been on public view for decades. “Lucia is an exciting scholar-curator who brings great energy, a broad knowledge of Latin American art, and a real passion for sharing her expertise with the public. You can count on her to build the collections, to develop sensational exhibitions and programs, and to grow the audience for Latin American art,” said Elizabeth Boone, Martha and Donald Robertson Chair in Latin American Studies at Tulane University.

“Having grown up between Argentina and the United States in a Pan-American household, I developed a lifelong passion for Latin American art and culture. I am thrilled to begin working at the San Antonio Museum of Art, which itself brings together a range of cultures through art,” said Lucia Abramovich. “The Museum has an exceptional reputation, one to which I look forward to contributing, bringing in my knowledge of Pre-Columbian art, colonial Latin American, and Folk Art. I am excited about exploring how these objects can help us to better understand the lives of different peoples, past and present.”

Abramovich will receive her PhD at Tulane University in April 2019. Her dissertation is titled “Precious Materiality in Colonial Andean Art: Gold, Silver, and Jewels in Paintings of the Virgin.” She completed her Masters at the University of East Anglia’s Sainsbury Research Unit in 2012. Since beginning her career, Abramovich has received numerous grants and awards, including a grant to support travel for research and is a recipient of the Donald Robertson Award for Best Graduate Paper in the Humanities at Tulane. She has presented her work at a range of conferences in both the United States and Latin America.

Cantor Art Center Acquires Works by Kaphar and Suh

Posted in museums, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on February 25, 2019

From the Cantor Arts Center press release, via Art Daily:

Titus Kaphar, Page 4 of Jefferson’s ‘Farm Book’, January 1774, Goliath, Hercules, Jupiter, Gill, Fanny, Ned, Sucky, Frankey, Gill, Nell, Bella, Charles, Jenny, Betty, June, Toby, Duna (sic), Cate, Hannah, Rachael, George, Ursula, George, Bagwell, Archy, Frank, Bett, Scilla, ? , 2, 2018; oil on canvas on support panel (Stanford: Cantor Arts Center / © Titus Kaphar).

With the recent acquisition of the painting, Page 4 of Jefferson’s ‘Farm Book’, January 1774 . . ., by Titus Kaphar, and the monumental hanging sculpture, Cause & Effect, by Do Ho Suh, the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University has added two significant works to its collection that reference how forced and unforced global migration transform personal and cultural identity.

The acquisition of these works supports the vision of Susan Dackerman, the John and Jill Freidenrich Director of the Cantor, to bring the museum firmly into the 21st century through acquisitions, exhibitions, and programs that feature concerns relevant to the everyday lives of students and other visitors. “I think art, artists, and art history have the potential to challenge a culture’s preconceived notions of itself and enlighten us to other ways of understanding the world,” she said. “Having these art works at the museum will enable us to have conversations about difficult topics from multiple points of view.”

Page 4 is what Kaphar calls a ‘visual reparation’ and belongs to a series of tar portraits imagining enslaved sitters as freed men and women. By representing them in historical dress reflective of a status above the one they lived, Kaphar visually frees his sitter from enslavement. The face of the subject is obscured by the use of tar, which suggests the sitter’s invisibility. “Kaphar’s artistic practice actively engages with art history in order to investigate its representational inequities, with regard to both what is represented, and who is doing the representing,” said Aleesa Alexander, assistant curator of American art.

In the case of Page 4, the painting was created with specific reference to Thomas Jefferson’s ‘Farm Book’, which contains lists of Jefferson’s slaves, many identified only by their first names. The full title of the painting is Page 4 of Jefferson’s ‘Farm Book’, January 1774, Goliath, Hercules, Jupiter, Gill, Fanny, Ned, Sucky, Frankey, Gill, Nell, Bella, Charles, Jenny, Betty, June, Toby, Duna (sic), Cate, Hannah, Rachael, George, Ursula, George, Bagwell, Archy, Frank, Bett, Scilla, ? , 2. While Kaphar’s style references the traditional genre of portraiture, his methods of addressing the canvas’s surface—through cutting, nailing, and covering his figures with tar—is decidedly contemporary. “Given that Stanford was also built on a farm, and that the Stanfords employed Chinese laborers, having this piece in our collection will generate interesting parallels worthy of exploration and discussion,” said Alexander. Page 4 is the first work by Kaphar to enter the Cantor’s collection and will be on display in the exhibition The Medium Is the Message: Art since 1950 February 23–August 18, 2019.

Do Ho Suh, Cause & Effect, with Suh’s Screen in the background, as installed at the Cantor Arts Center.

Cause & Effect is composed of hundreds of small, colorful, acrylic figures, which form a monumentally-scaled, cone-shaped chandelier suspended from the ceiling and reaching almost to the floor. The interconnectedness of the figures, which sit upon each other’s shoulders, suggest the weight and inescapability of one’s history. Suh’s work, which often references domestic architecture and decoration, questions cultural and aesthetic differences between his native Korea and his adopted homes in the United States and Europe. “Adding this visually compelling and complex work to our collection will allow us to continue to have important discussions about transnational identity and how we comprehend the past while living in the present,” Dackerman said.

Cause & Effect is a bold and important work, signaling the Cantor’s commitment to exhibit more works of contemporary art by artists from Asia,” said Padma D. Maitland, Patrick J. J. Maveety Assistant Curator of Asian Art. This is the first work by Suh to be added to the Cantor’s collection and is on display with two other works by the artist in the exhibition Do Ho Suh: The Spaces in Between.

DMA Names Nicole Myers Senior Curator of European Art

Posted in museums by Editor on February 21, 2019

Press release (19 February 2019) from the DMA:

Dr. Agustín Arteaga, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art, announced today that Dr. Nicole R. Myers has been named The Barbara Thomas Lemmon Senior Curator of European Art. Myers steps into her new role after serving for nearly three years as The Lillian and James H. Clark Curator of European Painting and Sculpture at the DMA. As The Barbara Thomas Lemmon Senior Curator of European Art, Myers will assume official leadership of the department, continuing her work thus far in overseeing the acquisitions, exhibitions, research, and publications related to the DMA’s expansive collection of European art, composed of thousands of paintings, sculptures, and works on paper dating from the 15th century to 1945.

“In her time at the DMA, Nicole has already demonstrated incredible leadership through her significant contributions to scholarship, visionary acquisitions, and compelling exhibitions that highlight the strength and breadth of the DMA’s collection,” said Arteaga. “I am confident that the Museum’s Department of European Art will continue to grow and evolve in meaningful ways under her direction.”

Since joining the DMA in 2016, Myers has curated several noteworthy exhibitions, including the forthcoming critically acclaimed exhibition Berthe Morisot, Woman Impressionist, opening at the DMA on February 24, 2019, for which she is co-curator. Co-organized by the DMA, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (Québec City, Canada), the Barnes Foundation (Philadelphia, PA), and the Musée d’Orsay (Paris, France), this is the first dedicated presentation of Morisot’s work held in the United States since 1987.

Myers is also curator of Women Artists in Europe from the Monarchy to Modernism (2018), which highlights the DMA’s exceptional holdings of artwork by female artists working in Europe between the late 18th and mid-20th centuries; Modernity and the City (2018), which brings together prints and drawings by European artists who captured the impact of industrialization on urban life in the early 20th century; and An Enduring Legacy: The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Collection of Impressionist and Modern Art (2018), dedicated to the single largest benefactors in the Museum’s history, the late Margaret and Eugene McDermott, and presenting their magnificent final bequest of 32 19th- and early 20th-century artworks. Myers also served as the curator of the only US presentation of the international touring exhibition Art and Nature in the Middle Ages, organized by the Musée de Cluny, Musée National du Moyen Âge in Paris and presented in Dallas in 2016. She is currently at work on major loan exhibitions dedicated to Juan Gris, Vincent van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso.

Additionally during her tenure at the DMA, Myers has overseen a range of significant acquisitions for the Museum’s collection. In 2018 she was responsible for the DMA’s acquisition of The Descent from the Cross by the German master painter Derick Baegert (c. 1440–c. 1509). This tour-de-force of Northern European painting is the first work of its kind to enter the DMA’s holdings and the first work by this artist to enter a US museum. Myers also acquired French artist Emile Bernard’s masterpiece The Salon (1890), as well as rare paintings by Adélaïde Labille-Guiard (French, 1749–1803), Eva Gonzalès (French, 1849–1883), Oscar Dominguez (Spanish, 1906–1957), and Joaquín Torres-García (Uruguayan, 1874–1949).

“It is both an honor and a privilege to lead the Department of European Art as The Barbara Thomas Lemmon Senior Curator,” said Myers. “I am thrilled to be part of such a dynamic institution as it starts an exciting new chapter under Dr. Arteaga’s direction, and I look forward to sharing groundbreaking exhibitions, research, and programming dedicated to European art in the years to come.”

Prior to the DMA, Myers served as the Associate Curator of European Painting and Sculpture at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, where she curated the exhibitions Rodin: Sculptures from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation (2011), Town and Country: French Types in the 19th Century (2012), and Gérôme and the Lure of the Orient (2014). She previously held curatorial positions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Saint Louis Art Museum, and served as a Curatorial Consultant to the Denver Art Museum.

Myers earned her master’s and doctorate degrees in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, where she wrote her doctoral thesis on the French master Gustave Courbet. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Washington University in St. Louis and a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Axel Rüger Appointed New Secretary and Chief Executive of RA

Posted in museums by Editor on February 20, 2019

Press release (13 February 2019) from the RA:

The Royal Academy of Arts announced today that Axel Rüger has been appointed as the new Secretary and Chief Executive. He replaces Sir Charles Saumarez Smith who stepped down at the end of 2018. Rüger is currently the Director of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Rüger spent his early career in museums in the US, before becoming curator of Dutch Paintings at the National Gallery, London in 1999. He has been Director of the Van Gogh Museum since 2006 and, during his tenure, has made it one of the most successful museums internationally. Rüger’s appointment has been approved by the Royal Academy’s Council, General Assembly, and Her Majesty The Queen. He will start his new role at the Royal Academy in June 2019.

Axel Rüger said: “It is a great honour for me to have been asked to become the new Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal Academy. The RA derives its unique character from being independent and artist-led and I greatly look forward to working with the Royal Academicians as well as the dedicated staff to develop further the standing of the RA at home and abroad. Following the 250th anniversary and the RA’s recent expansion, it feels like the Academy is now ready to embark on a new and exhilarating chapter in its rich history. I am excited about the opportunity to join at this critical moment and to work to tell great stories through ambitious and varied exhibitions, innovative programmes and debate and, more generally, to make the RA, its activities and collections ever more accessible to audiences from around the globe.”

Christopher Le Brun, President of the Royal Academy of Arts, said: “I am delighted that Axel Rüger will be joining the Academy as our new Secretary and Chief Executive in June. His appointment coincides with a moment in history when the international reputation of the Academy has never been higher. Axel is the perfect fit. His success at the Van Gogh Museum is highly acclaimed, and he is widely acknowledged as one of the leading directors of his generation. His experience, both in the UK and abroad, makes him ideally suited to work alongside our distinguished Royal Academicians and staff in guiding the RA towards a highly promising future and I am very much looking forward to working with him.”

Rebecca Salter, Keeper of the Royal Academy, said: “Axel Rüger brings with him a wealth of experience, which will enhance the profile and independent character of the Royal Academy. I know my fellow Academicians and all our staff will enjoy working with him as we continue to explore the potential of our new campus and shape the Royal Academy for the future.”

Axel Rüger was born in 1968 in Dortmund, Germany. He studied art history at the Freie Universität in Berlin, the University of Cambridge, and Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Ruger worked in various museums in Atlanta, Detroit, and Washington D.C. before he was appointed Curator of Dutch Paintings, 1600–1800, at the National Gallery in London in 1999. He curated a number of international exhibitions for the National Gallery including Vermeer and the Delft School (2001), Aelbert Cuyp (2002), and Masterpieces of Seventeenth-Century Dutch Portrait Painting (2007).

In 2004, whilst still at the National Gallery, he was selected to take part in the first year of the then newly created Clore Leadership Programme—a high level initiative of the Clore Duffield Foundation, which focuses on the development of leadership in the cultural sector. Part of that programme was a four-month secondment to the Royal Court Theatre in London.

In 2006 Rüger became the Director of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and The Mesdag Collection in The Hague. At the Van Gogh Museum, he has been primarily responsible for artistic direction and public affairs. He completed various research projects such as the new complete edition of Van Gogh’s letters (2009) and has been responsible for the new display of the collection and numerous exhibitions.

The Morgan Announces Restoration

Posted in museums by Editor on February 17, 2019

From the press release (14 February 2019) from The Morgan:

Madison Avenue near East 36th Street, New York. J.P. Morgan Library, Wurts Bros., ca. 1905 (Museum of the City of New York, X2010.7.1.197).

The Morgan Library & Museum announced today the exterior restoration of J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library, designed by McKim, Mead & White. The four-year, $12.5 million project, which marks the first preservation of the landmark library’s exterior in its 112-year history, will restore and conserve one of the finest examples of Neoclassical architecture in the United States, enhance the surrounding grounds, improve the exterior lighting of the building, and increase public access to and appreciation of this historic architectural treasure.

J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library is the heart of the Morgan Library & Museum. Commissioned in 1902 by financier John Pierpont Morgan as his private library, the building was completed in 1906 and is considered one of McKim, Mead & White’s finest works, perfectly embodying the Renaissance ideal of the unity of the arts through the integration of architecture, sculpture, and painting with exceptional craftsmanship and materials. The structure reflects its contents: majestic in design, yet intimate in scale.

In 2010 the Morgan restored the interior rooms of J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library. In 2016 the Morgan began planning for the exterior restoration by engaging Integrated Conservation Resources (ICR), a firm specializing in the restoration of historic structures, to provide an initial needs assessment of the Library’s condition. Following the needs assessment, the Morgan engaged ICR to undertake a more detailed analysis of the building, which resulted in a fully articulated restoration approach. ICR, supported by the architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle, carefully studied and documented existing conditions, installed data loggers to monitor the performance of the exterior envelope, tested proposed remediations, and finalized the restoration’s details.

The forthcoming restoration will be comprehensive and will address issues such as masonry deterioration, masonry joint failure, roof conditions, deterioration of the fence and other metalwork corrosion, and sculpture conservation.

In conjunction with the restoration, exterior lighting on J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library—currently minimal and ineffective—will be improved by enhancing existing light emanating from the interior, using historic fixtures coupled with new technologies. The scheme will create a painterly effect of layered light at dusk and dark. Developed by Tillett Lighting Design Associates, the new lighting design will give the Library a subtle, timeless, and inviting presence.

Restoring J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library presents a unique opportunity to reimagine the natural setting around it and to provide for visitor access to the site’s exterior for the first time in the institution’s history. The current landscaping—comprising a simple lawn and trees—does little to complement the architecture of the Library, nor does it provide accessible pathways or spaces to encourage visitor interaction with the landmark building’s exterior. By creating new spaces and opportunities for engagement, the project will help to reinvigorate this portion of the Morgan’s campus, which has been less visible to visitors since the Morgan’s entrance shifted from 36th Street to Madison Avenue as part of the 2006 Renzo Piano-designed expansion.

After an extensive search, the Morgan has engaged Todd Longstaffe-Gowan Landscape Design to develop designs to address these issues. An accomplished landscape architect, historian, teacher, and author, Todd Longstaffe-Gowan has led notable projects in the United Kingdom, including for Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace Gardens, and the Royal College of Art. This is his first appointment in the United States. Longstaffe-Gowan will collaborate with New York–based Future Green Studio to ensure the development of plantings that will flourish in New York City’s dense, challenging environment.

“Restoring the sublime exterior of J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library is far and away our most important capital project for the next decade,” said Director Colin B. Bailey. “This is our responsibility. And, in many respects, it is our privilege. Once the restoration of the Library is complete and the grounds are revitalized, the public will be able to engage more fully with one of McKim, Mead & White’s most important architectural achievements. The enhanced grounds will create a generous new space for outdoor programming and allow visitors to look closely at the exterior architectural and sculptural details of the Library.”

To date, 74 percent of the required $12.5 million is funded. On-site work will commence in February 2019, directed by Sciame and executed by Nicholson & Galloway, longtime partners in the architectural expansion and stewardship of the Morgan. Restoration of J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library will be completed by December 2019, at which point work will commence on the surrounding grounds. The library will still be open to visitors during the restoration process. The entire restoration and rehabilitation of the grounds will be unveiled to the public and accessible in fall 2020. The unveiling will be accompanied by an exhibition chronicling the history of the Library, as well as a scholarly publication.

Blanton Museum Acquires Major Spanish Colonial Art Collection

Posted in museums by Editor on February 8, 2019

Unknown artist, Rest in the Flight into Egypt, Bolivia, 18th century, oil on canvas
(Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin)

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Press release from the Blanton Museum of Art:

The Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin announced that it has acquired the esteemed collection of Roberta and Richard Huber. This world-class collection of art from the Spanish and Portuguese Americas is composed of 119 objects ranging from paintings and sculpture to furniture and silverwork—deepening the Blanton’s extensive holdings of art and objects from Latin America. The Huber Collection is one of the most distinguished private collections of Spanish and Portuguese American art and includes works from countries across modern-day Latin America including Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru. Developed by Roberta and Richard Huber over the past 45 years, the collection showcases artistic practices and visual culture of the socially and ethnically diverse society in the Americas between the late 1600s and the early 1800s.

Attributed to Cristóbal Lozano (Lima, Peru 1705–1776), Portrait of Rosa de Salazar y Gabiño, Countess of Monteblanco and Montemar Peru, ca. 1763, oil on canvas (Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin).

“My wife, Roberta, and I couldn’t have hoped for a better steward for our collection than the Blanton, an institution with a long legacy of leadership in the field of Latin American art,” said Richard Huber. “We’re thrilled for the Blanton to present the works to audiences from Austin, the rest of the country, and abroad, and for them to be used in the museum’s robust teaching program on campus and in the community.”

“We are delighted that the Blanton will be the new home of the Huber collection, an incredibly beautiful group of works, which demonstrates the height of artistic achievement of this period,” said Blanton director Simone Wicha. “This acquisition cements our commitment to the study and exhibition of art from the Spanish and Portuguese Americas, which we proudly launched in partnership with the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation in 2016. The Huber collection will open up new possibilities for scholarship on this dynamic era of cultural exchange, supported by the unparalleled strength of UT’s Latin American studies program and the Blanton’s renowned expertise and resources in the field of Latin American art,” Wicha continued.

The Blanton began collecting art from Latin America in 1963 and since then has amassed one of the country’s largest and finest collections of Latin American art. The museum’s Latin American collection now includes 2,500 works of modern and contemporary painting, prints, drawing, conceptual art, installation, video, and sculpture, alongside its growing holdings of art of the Spanish and Portuguese Americas. In 1988, the Blanton became the first museum in the United States to establish a curatorial position devoted to modern and contemporary Latin American art.

Unknown artist, Portable Desk, Bolivia, 1751, tempera, oil, and gold on wood (Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin).

“The acquisition of the Huber collection furthers our leadership in the field of Latin American art as a whole,” said Beverly Adams, Blanton curator of Latin American art. “The dialogues between modern and contemporary art with historical material that have emerged in our galleries and in our research over the past few years have been illuminating. We are thrilled to continue to be stewards for the artistic and scholarly value of the art of this significant period, alongside our partners on campus at UT.”

The museum’s expanded focus on art from the colonial period encompasses collecting, researching, and exhibiting. In 2016, the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation announced a long-term loan of works from its distinguished collection and a major grant that established a curatorship in Spanish colonial art. In partnership with LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections at UT, the Blanton launched a cross-campus interdisciplinary program to facilitate object-based teaching, research, and scholarship on visual and material culture from this period. In 2017, the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros gifted a group of 83 Venezuelan works of painting, sculpture, and furniture from the period to the Blanton.

“A unique strength of UT Austin is our commitment and leadership in Latin American scholarship and art. Through world-class collections, like this, the educational benefit to students, faculty, and our community cannot be understated. We are immensely grateful for the Hubers’ vision, and we are excited about the impact this collection will provide for generations to come,” said Maurie McInnis, executive vice president and provost.

Unknown artist, Coquera (coca box), Bolivian, ca. 1730, silver (Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin).

The museum acquisition was funded by the university, with additional support from Judy and David Beck, Leslie and Jack Blanton, Jr., Jeanne and Michael Klein, Judy and Charles Tate, and an anonymous donor. Highlights include an early 18th-century silver coquera box (for the storage of coca leaves) from Bolivia; a gorgeous bust-sized reliquary of St. Augustine from Mexico (ca. 1650); the impressive portrait of Rosa de Salazar y Gabiño, Countess of Monteblanco and Montemar (ca. 1764–71) attributed to Peruvian Cristobal Lozano; and a sculpture of the Virgin Mary attributed to Francisco Xavier de Brito, active in Minas Gerais, Brazil, in the mid 1700s. Among the furniture is a portable desk from the 18th century, which originated at one of the famed Jesuit missions of Chiquitos, in what is now Santa Cruz, Bolivia, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This fall, a selection of objects from the Huber collection will make their debut in the Blanton exhibition Painted Cloth: Fashion and Ritual in Colonial America, which is made possible by lead funding and loans from the Thoma Foundation, as well as other loans from around the world. Painted Cloth examines the social role of textiles and their visual representations in different media produced in Bolivia, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela during the 1600s and 1700s.