NGA Announces New Curatorial Staff

Posted in museums by Editor on September 4, 2019

Press release (2 September 2019) from the NGA:

Aaron Wile began in June at the National Gallery of Art as associate curator of French paintings.

The National Gallery of Art announced today new additions to the curatorial staff: Betsy Wieseman, Shelley Langdale, Brooks Rich, and Aaron Wile.

Betsy Wieseman will join the museum as curator and head of the department of northern European paintings. Wieseman is currently chair of European art from classical antiquity to 1800 and curator of European paintings and sculpture 1500–1800 at the Cleveland Museum of Art. She begins her tenure in Washington on November 25, 2019. Shelley Langdale, Brooks Rich, and Aaron Wile joined the Gallery over the course of the summer. Shelley Langdale began her Gallery tenure in May as curator and head of the department of modern prints and drawings. Brooks Rich also joined the Gallery in May as associate curator of old master prints. Aaron Wile arrived at the Gallery in June as associate curator of French paintings.

“We are thrilled to welcome so many talented new staff to the Gallery—their curatorial experience is extraordinary,” said Franklin Kelly, chief curator, National Gallery of Art, Washington. “I look forward to working with them as they engage with our renowned collections with fresh eyes. Their ideas and subsequent projects will energize the museum community and inspire visitors, scholars, and staff for years to come.”

Betsy Wieseman, Curator and Head of Northern European Paintings

Marjorie E. ‘Betsy’ Wieseman is currently chair of European art from classical antiquity to 1800 and curator of European paintings and sculpture 1500–1800 at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Wieseman is a renowned specialist in 17th-century Netherlandish art with an emphasis on Dutch portraiture and genre painting and the work of Peter Paul Rubens. She has also written about portrait miniatures, the technical examination of paintings, and the history of collecting, among other subjects. She previously held curatorial positions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, and the Cincinnati Art Museum. For 11 years she was employed at the National Gallery, London, as curator of Dutch painting 1600–1800 (2006–2012) and as curator of Dutch and Flemish painting 1600–1800 (2012–2017).

As curator and head of northern European paintings—a new position at the Gallery that merges the former curator of northern baroque painting and curator of northern Renaissance painting positions—Wieseman will oversee one of the most important collections in this area outside the Netherlands. Wieseman holds a PhD from Columbia University and an MA and BA from the University of Delaware.

Shelley Langdale, Curator and Head of Modern Prints and Drawings

Shelley Langdale refined her curatorial expertise while working with some of the nation’s foremost collections of works on paper: first the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, then the Cleveland Museum of Art, and, for the past 17 years, the Philadelphia Museum of Art. While her primary focus has been modern and contemporary works on paper, Langdale has organized or collaborated on an unusual range of projects, from an exemplary study and exhibition of Pollaiuolo’s 15th-century engravings in Cleveland to an exhibition of Yoshitoshi’s magnificent color woodcuts in Philadelphia. Widely admired for her professional activity and generosity, she successfully mentored a long line of curatorial fellows and interns at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and was deeply involved with the city’s artists and art organizations. She is also the current president of the Print Council of America, the national professional organization of curators of works on paper.

As the head of modern prints and drawings at the Gallery, Langdale oversees approximately 60,000 prints, watercolors, drawings, and multimedia works on paper. Her initial projects at the gallery include participation in an upcoming set of installations celebrating women artists and donors for the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment; addressing the storage and documentation needs of the Gallery’s growing collections of workshop and artist archives (Gemini G.E.L., Crown Point Press, and the prints of Jasper Johns, among others); and an exhibition drawn from the Gallery’s collection of modern works on paper. Langdale holds an MA from Williams College and a BA from Bowdoin College.

Brooks Rich, Associate Curator of Old Master Prints

Brooks Rich recently completed his PhD in early 16th-century Netherlandish engraving at the University of Pennsylvania, where he wrote his dissertation “The Mystery of the Monogram AC at the Margins of Early European Printmaking.” Rich has an impressive range of curatorial experience in the departments of prints, drawings, and photographs at several leading institutions, including curatorial fellowships at the Rijksmuseum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where he organized the exhibition Rockwell Kent–Voyager: An Artist’s Journey in Prints, Drawings, and Illustrated Books (2012). Rich has also worked at the Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

In his new role at the Gallery, Rich will balance the demands of cataloging, researching, caring for, and organizing exhibitions about the Gallery’s collection of prints and illustrated books dated before 1900. In addition to his PhD, Rich holds an MA from Williams College and a BA from Bowdoin College.

Aaron Wile, Associate Curator of French Paintings

Aaron Wile received his PhD from Harvard University, with a specialization in 17th- and 18th-century French painting. Most recently he was at the University of Southern California (USC) as a postdoctoral fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities. Prior to this academic post, he was a Chester Dale Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and an Anne L. Poulet Curatorial Fellow at The Frick Collection, where he organized the critically acclaimed exhibition Watteau’s Soldiers: Scenes of Military Life in Eighteenth-Century France (2016), the first exhibition devoted to Watteau’s military works. His exhibition catalog essay won an award for excellence from the Association of Art Museum Curators. He is also the recipient of the 2015–2016 James L. Clifford Prize for best article from the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.

Wile will take part in the exhibition, research, and acquisition projects related to the Gallery’s French painting collection, with particular attention given to the 17th- and 18th-century works. In addition to his PhD, Wile holds an MA from Harvard University and a BA from Haverford College.

Carlo Dolci’s Saint Agatha Returns to Osterley

Posted in exhibitions, museums by Editor on September 3, 2019

From the press release (15 August 2019) . . .

Carlo Dolci, Saint Agatha, oil on canvas, ca. 1665–70 (Osterley, National Trust 2900293).

The return of Saint Agatha to Osterley has provided the opportunity to stage a special winter exhibition for visitors, beginning in November, which will explore the rise to fame and fortune of the Child family who acquired the painting and showcase the art and design that they commissioned and collected from around the globe.

The Child family were goldsmiths and bankers who patronised the fine and decorative arts. The wealth they acquired was used to create the luxurious Robert Adam interiors still seen at Osterley today, and which were filled with Old Master paintings, lacquer furniture, Indian fabrics, and East Asian ceramics. The painting of Saint Agatha, purchased by art lover Sir Robert Child (1674–1721) at the beginning of the 18th century, became one of the works in a great picture collection at Osterley and was recorded in a 1782 inventory. However, it was later sold along with other family heirlooms in the 1930s.

Saint Agatha is a dramatic depiction of Agatha of Sicily, a Christian martyr, who suffered dreadful torture at the hands of the Romans. It is an example of the work of the Baroque master Carlo Dolci (1616–1687), a leading figure of 17th-century Florentine art, whose passionate depictions of holy figures aimed to inspire reverence and empathy for the divine. It captures the miraculous moment when Saint Peter the Apostle appeared to Saint Agatha in a vision and healed her wounds.

John Chu, National Trust Assistant Curator of Pictures and Sculpture explains: “Although an extraordinary number of original furnishings remain at Osterley, its once-famous picture collection has been almost completely dispersed or destroyed. We are lucky to have a number of paintings on loan from the Jersey family, but it is fantastic when a rare opportunity arises to purchase one for the property, especially one as moving and profound as this. The homecoming of Saint Agatha provides the chance to look more closely at the importance of pictures to the story of the house. She will be the highlight of our exhibition exploring the Child family’s meteoric rise and what these precious objects meant to them at a remarkable moment in British history. Saint Agatha will be displayed alongside other European and Asian works of art and design, including furniture and ceramics, bought by the family. We also want to give our visitors a sense of the special meaning that each object held for the people and cultures that created them. Dolci’s Saint Agatha, for instance, held powerful spiritual resonances for its Roman Catholic maker and his first Florentine patrons, but it was seen in a much more secular light when it entered the collection at Osterley and was displayed alongside family portraits. We are very grateful to Art Fund and our other generous donors and supporters for enabling us to acquire Saint Agatha and hope the exhibition will inspire all those who enjoy discovering examples of the highest quality art and design.”

Saint Agatha was purchased for £248,750 at the Christie’s Old Masters Evening Sale [Lot 39] in London on 5 July 2018 thanks to a grant of £85,000 from Art Fund, support from private donors, Trust members, and visitors to Osterley Park, along with support from a fund set up by the late Simon Sainsbury to support acquisitions for the historic houses of the National Trust.

Since the acquisition, the painting has undergone two phases of conservation treatment.

Eleanor McGrath, Head of Grants at Art Fund, said: “It is wonderful to see this striking work return to its home at Osterley Park and House where it will be the highlight of the exhibition, helping visitors imagine the wider historic collections and life of the Child family.”

Treasures of Osterley: Rise of a Banking Family runs from 4 November 2019 until 23 February 2020.

Meadows Museum Announces Four New Acquisitions

Posted in museums by Editor on August 21, 2019

Press release (14 August 2019) from SMU’s Meadows Museum:

The Meadows Museum, SMU, announced that it has acquired four works that reflect the richness and depth of Spanish art across period, style, and mode of production. Among the new acquisitions is Our Lady of Solitude (1769) by Manuel Ramírez de Arellano, which represents both a critical expansion of scholarly knowledge on the artist’s creative output and an important enhancement of the Meadow’s holdings of terracotta sculpture, building on other acquisitions in that medium over the last several years. Further, following the Meadows’s 2018 exhibition Dalí: Poetics of the Small, 1929–1936, which focused on Salvador Dalí’s small-scale paintings, the museum has been given Venus de Milo with Drawers (1936, cast 1971), the first sculptural work by Dalí to enter the museum’s collections. Also among the new acquisitions are a drawing by renowned artist Ignacio Zuloaga, Portrait of Margaret Kahn (1923), which provides new insights into the artist’s process and highlights his success as a portraitist among American audiences, as well as the painting Orchard in Seville (c. 1880), by Emilio Sánchez Perrier, a rare example of the artist’s work at a large scale, produced early in his career.

Together, the new acquisitions underscore the Meadows’s commitment to collecting works that encapsulate significant developments in the trajectory of Spanish art and to establishing essential touchstones within its collection that spur new research, exhibitions, and publications. Of the new acquisitions, Mark A. Roglán, the Linda P. and William A. Custard Director of the Meadows Museum, said, “As we continue to acquire works, we are focused on furthering the established dialogues between and among objects in our collection, while also creating new connections that enhance both scholarly understanding of Spanish art and public enjoyment of it. We are particularly excited to bring these four works into the museum’s holdings because they represent important developments within each artist’s career as well as essential enhancements to our collection. We look forward to displaying these works in the coming months, and to furthering knowledge about each of these artist’s practices.”

Manuel Ramírez de Arellano (1721/22–1789)
Our Lady of Solitude, 1769
Polychromed terracotta

Manuel Ramírez de Arellano, Our Lady of Solitude, 1769, polychromed terracotta, 26 cm high (Dallas: Meadows Museum, SMU; museum purchase with funds from Barbara Wright McKenzie ’74 and Mike McKenzie, MM.2019.04).

Manuel Ramírez de Arellano was born into a prominent artistic family in Zaragoza. Despite the documentation around his family’s workshops and his father’s involvement in the establishment of one of Spain’s earliest art academies, the Academia del Dibujo (Academy of Drawing), very little is known about Ramírez’s life and the full arc of his artistic career. Ramírez is most widely recognized for three major commissions that he completed for the Cartuja de Aula Dei, a Carthusian monastery just outside of Zaragoza. These included the creation of an elaborate decorative door frame (c. 1750), the high altarpiece representing the Assumption of the Virgin (c. 1762), and a series of life-sized statues that line the church’s nave (c. 1772). The last of the commissions represents an historically significant collaboration with Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, who was concurrently commissioned to paint frescos for the nave.

Our Lady of Solitude is exceptionally rare for what it teaches us about the scope and depth of Ramírez’s practice and in the information it yields regarding the work’s making. Specifically, while there is some archival evidence that Ramírez produced small-scale terracotta sculptures for personal devotion, Our Lady of Solitude proves this aspect of his artistic output. Furthermore, the detailed inscription on the statue’s bottom, which reads in English translation, “On January 8th, 1769, in Madrid. Made by Manuel Ramírez,” firmly attributes the work to Ramírez’s hand. This is particularly remarkable as most sculptures of the time were produced by workshops, making individual attributions difficult to identify. It also locates Ramírez in Madrid during a decade in which details about his life were previously unknown.

Despite the Meadows’s extensive sculpture collection, Our Lady of Solitude, which captures the Virgin Mary in a quiet moment of mourning, is the first sculpture of Marian devotion to enter the museum’s collection, filling an important gap within its holdings. Further, the acquisition, which has been made by the Meadows through purchase with funds from Barbara Wright McKenzie and Mike McKenzie, builds on other recent important acquisitions of polychromed terracotta works, enhancing the diversity of objects of this medium in the museum’s collection.

Salvador Dalí (1904–1989)
Venus de Milo with Drawers, 1936, cast 1971, Edition 37/150
White paint on bronze

Salvador Dalí first produced a version of the Musée du Louvre’s well-known 2nd-century BCE Venus de Milo marble in 1936, adding his own Surrealist twist to the iconic work by incorporating six drawers at the statue’s forehead, breasts, stomach, abdomen, and left knee. The motif of a female figure comprised of drawers was one of particular fascination and exploration for Dalí, as it appears in the related painting The Anthropomorphic Cabinet and the drawing City of Drawers—both also produced in 1936. The imagery also reappeared decades later in prints that Dalí created in the 1960s. While never expressed directly by Dalí himself, it has been suggested that the incorporation of drawers within the female torso represented a linguistic examination or play on the English phrase “chest of drawers.”

Dalí’s 1936 plaster version of the Venus de Milo went largely unnoticed until the 1960s, at which point it began to be reproduced in myriad editions that included wide variations of the sculpture’s patina and height. The version acquired by the Meadows Museum—a bronze painted white to mimic the original marble inspiration—closely matches Dalí’s first plaster in all but its small scale. The acquisition of Venus de Milo with Drawers follows the Meadows’s 2018 exhibition Dalí: Poetics of the Small, 1929–1936, which highlighted small-scale painting as another aspect of the artist’s incredible artistic range and captured the ongoing popularity of the artist’s work. The acquisition also represents the first sculptural object by Dalí to enter the Meadows’s collection, providing new dimension to the museum’s holdings of paintings and prints by the artist. Venus de Milo with Drawers enters the Meadows’s collection as a gift to the museum by collector Daniel Malingue, who collaborated with the museum on its recent Dalí exhibition.

Ignacio Zuloaga (1870–1945)
Portrait of Margaret Kahn, 1923
Charcoal and graphite on paper

Ignacio Zuloaga is recognized as one of the most celebrated Spanish painters of the early 20th century. Born to a family of artisans in the Basque city of Eibar, Zuloaga first trained as a metalworker. After viewing the works of Spanish masters such as El Greco, Velázquez, and Goya at the Museo Nacional del Prado in 1887, however, he began his pursuit of painting, studying and working in Rome, Paris, and throughout Spain. By 1900, he was exhibiting his paintings widely, and receiving widespread acclaim for his rich use of color and dramatic landscapes and atmospheres. Although Zuloaga is well known for his depictions of Spanish culture and identity, he gained the widest popularity as a portraitist.

While most of Zuloaga’s portrait commissions resulted in paintings, his drawings reveal many of the same formal qualities. With the acquisition of Portrait of Margaret Kahn, which was given to the Meadows Museum by Zuloaga’s grandson Rafael de Zuloaga y Suárez, the museum is adding an important representation of Zuloaga’s artistic process and technique. Portrait of Margaret Kahn also marks the first drawing by the artist to enter the Meadows’s collection, joining three important paintings within the museum’s holdings: The Bullfighter ‘El Segovianito’ (1912); View of Alquézar (c. 1915–20); and Portrait of the Duchess of Arión, Marchioness of Bay (1918).

Embraced in his home country and across Europe, Zuloaga also became a favorite of American audiences who expressed a particular keenness for having their likenesses painted by him. Portrait of Margaret Kahn captures the relationship Zuloaga developed with America’s elite; the drawing depicts an heir to a New York financial fortune. While it is not known how Kahn came into contact with Zuloaga, it is likely she became aware of his work during his 1916 New York exhibition at the Duveen Gallery, which launched his prominence among American audiences.

Emilio Sánchez Perrier (1855–1907)
Orchard in Seville, c. 1880
Oil on panel

Emilio Sánchez Perrier, Orchard in Seville, ca. 1880, oil on panel, 47 × 71 cm (Dallas: Meadows Museum, SMU; museum purchase with funds from Linda P. and William A. Custard, Gwen and Richard Irwin, and friends of the Meadows Museum, MM.2019.05; photo by Kevin Todora).

Emilio Sánchez Perrier was a popular and widely collected landscape painter—both in Spain and the United States—during and after his lifetime. A member of a group of Sevillian painters sometimes called the school of Alcalá de Guadaíra, Sánchez Perrier exemplifies through his work the evolution of landscape painting during the late 19th century, as the interests of both artists and collectors shifted from the idealized perspectives of the Romantic tradition to a realist, plein air approach that emphasized the direct observation of nature.

The Meadows’s acquisition of Sánchez Perrier’s Orchard in Seville recognizes the artist’s historical prominence, as well as the value of this work within the context of the museum’s existing collection. The Meadows currently holds Sánchez Perrier’s painting River Landscape (Villennes-sur-Seine) (c. 1895)—a work completed significantly later in the artist’s life. The new acquisition dates to early in his career and is larger than River Landscape (Villennes-sur-Seine). Orchard in Seville also complements a number of other works in the collection, including the painting Ladies and Gentlemen Visiting a Patio of the Alcázar of Seville (1857), by Joaquín Domínguez Bécquer, one of Sánchez Perrier’s early teachers in Seville, and the museum’s recent acquisition, Beach at Portici (1874), by Sánchez Perrier’s famous contemporary Mariano Fortuny y Marsal.

Orchard in Seville depicts a public garden adjacent to the Real Alcázar de Sevilla that was known as the Huerta del Retiro, and the work is part of a group of paintings of Seville and its many historical buildings and gardens. However, the work is distinguished by two characteristics. First is the artist’s precise technique, which conveys the play of light on the trees and tall grass of the garden, as well as the walls of the buildings that enclose it. The second is its size: significantly larger than the artist’s other known works, it was painted at a time when Sánchez Perrier’s reputation was growing, and he was increasingly seeking opportunities to show outside of Seville and, especially, in Paris. The work enters the collection through the museum’s purchase, with funds from Linda P. and William A. Custard, Gwen and Richard Irwin, and friends of the Meadows Museum.

Winterthur Acquires Paintings by Krimmel and Bourgoin

Posted in museums by Editor on August 2, 2019

François-Jules Bourgoin, Family Group in a New York Interior, ca. 1807, oil on canvas, 30 × 42 inches
(Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library)

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From the press release (22 July 2019) . . .

Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library is pleased to announce its acquisition of two important paintings with significant stories to tell: Self-Portrait of John Lewis Krimmel with Susannah Krimmel and her Children (ca. 1810–11) by John Lewis Krimmel and Family Group in a New York Interior (ca. 1807) by François-Jules Bourgoin. Together the paintings shed light on the impact of the revolution era in the Atlantic World on American art and material culture.

German-American John Lewis Krimmel (1786–1821) is often referred to as the first genre painter in America. Born Johann Ludwig Krimmel in 1786, in the family of an established baker of fine pastries of Ebingen in Württemberg, Krimmel immigrated to Philadelphia in the aftermath of Napoleon’s invasion of German territories. Following his older brother George to Philadelphia in 1809, Krimmel was to become George’s assistant in business. About a year after his arrival, however, Krimmel decided to pursue a career as an artist. Self-trained, he died 11 years later at the age of 30 in a drowning accident, soon after being elected president of the Association for American Artists and while preparing his most prestigious commission, The Landing of William Penn at Newcastle in October 1682.

John Lewis Krimmel, Self-Portrait of John Lewis Krimmel with Susannah Krimmel and her Children, ca. 1810–11, oil on canvas, 14 × 12 inches (Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library).

Self-Portrait of John Lewis Krimmel with Susannah Krimmel and her Children was likely painted early in the artist’s career in Philadelphia. Later described by Abraham Ritter Jr., a friend of the family, as a representation of Krimmel’s reunion with George’s family at their home on Eleventh and Market streets in Philadelphia, the oil-on-canvas painting, at 14 × 12 inches, is full of interesting objects of the kind found in the Winterthur collection. The eldest son sits on a fancy Windsor chair, painting with watercolors. His younger sister below looks toward the viewer, showing a watercolor in her hand, possibly a metamorphosis booklet used by German Americans for instructing children in religious and moral values. Susannah sits on a low chair with rockers, probably a nursing chair. Behind her, a fly cloth is draped over the clock on the chest of drawers. Above the clock hangs George’s portrait and two drawings. This painting of Krimmel’s family reinforces Winterthur’s strong collection of Krimmel materials, which includes two genre scenes and a series of extraordinary sketchbooks.

“It is an intimate scene,” said Stephanie Delamaire, Associate Curator of Fine Art at Winterthur. “And it shows with such delightful details how everyday objects were being used.”

The painting is the former property of the Westervelt Warner Collection of American Art. It was previously in the Schwarz Gallery, Philadelphia, and at the Duke Kahanamoku Estate, in Hawaii.

The exquisite Family Group in a New York Interior, signed and dated J. Bourgoin pt / New-York-1807, is a conversation piece, or family picture, painted in oil on canvas by the elusive François-Jules Bourgoin (1786–1821). Bourgoin was a painter, miniaturist, and engraver known to have exhibited portraits, landscapes, seascapes, history paintings, and mythological scenes. He is often confused with François-Joseph Bourgoin, a rococo painter of French royal entertainments who was active in Paris during the second half of the 18th century. A student of German painter Anton Raphael Mengs and Italian painter Franceso Guiseppe Casanova, François-Jules Bourgoin is listed in several Paris Salons (1796, 1808, 1810, 1812).

“In some ways, Bourgoin is a big question mark,” said Delamaire. Very few pieces by him are known, and little is known about his life, other than he spent a significant part of it in the Americas. Beside this New York family interior, Bourgoin also painted several scenes in Jamaica and Saint-Domingue (French Soldiers Fighting the Black Population in Santo Domingo; View of a Field on a Caribbean Island; The Kingston Racetrack, overlooking Port-Royal, Jamaica), suggesting that he might have been among those who moved to the United States as a result of the Haitian Revolution. Family Group in a New York Interior is the first of Bourgoin’s oeuvre associated with New York. It is especially interesting for the way it contextualizes many pieces of furniture as well as utilitarian and decorative objects, such as the Argand sconces above a marble mantel piece adorned with neoclassical motifs; the dressing glass on a Pembroke table for the young girl at the left of the composition; the portable writing desk on top of a drop-leaf table with an open drawer showing a wax stick, ink stand and quill ready for use; and the marble- topped server (or chest of drawers), where a Sheffield-plated tea urn and teapots have been placed. This painting’s detailed representation of material culture not only makes it an ideal object of study for Winterthur’s visitors, researchers, and students, the picture also present opportunities for further research into the life of this under-studied artist and its connection to the history of American art and the Revolutions in the Atlantic world. As for the family represented, Delamaire said, “There are lots of possibilities to explore.”

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)

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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.

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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).