At Auction | Chardin’s Basket of Wild Strawberries

Posted in Art Market, museums by Editor on May 7, 2022

Jean-Siméon Chardin, The Basket of Wild Strawberries, shown at the Salon of 1761, oil on canvas, 38 × 46cm. The painting sold for €24,381,400 on 23 March 2022 at Artcurial in Paris. More information is available here.

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From The New York Times and Art Daily:

Laura Zornosa, “Louvre Bids to Keep a Chardin Bought by U.S. Museum in France,” The New York Times (4 May 2022). The Kimbell Art Museum in Texas is revealed to be the buyer of “Basket of Wild Strawberries,” at auction. The Louvre has been working to name it a national treasure.

On a computer screen, the still life Basket of Wild Strawberries by the 18th-century French painter Jean Siméon Chardin is quiet and unassuming. His talent in capturing the reflection of light off the rim of a water glass is muted in that setting. In person, though, it casts a spell.

“It’s deceptively simple, and it’s absolutely captivating and it’s magical,” said Eric Lee, the director of the Kimbell Art Museum, which bought the work at auction in France in March for more than $22 million. “The painting completely mesmerized me, and it mesmerizes almost anyone who sees it.”

But now the Kimbell, whose successful bid for the work was first reported by the Art Newspaper of France, has to wait to see whether it can actually export the picture, which it purchased at the auction house Artcurial in Paris.

The Louvre has requested that the artwork be classified as “a national treasure” and is looking for sponsorship to purchase it. Under French law, the export can be frozen for 30 months, or 2 1/2 years.

“We are fully mobilized to bring it into the national collection,” Laurence des Cars, president and director of the Louvre, told Le Figaro in March. . . .

The full article is available here»




Abbot Hall Receives Screen Painted by George Romney

Posted in museums by Editor on April 30, 2022

From the press release (7 April 2022). . .

George Romney, Painted Screen, ca. 1760s (Kendal: Abbot Hall Art Gallery and Museum).

Lakeland Arts has received a four-paneled painted screen created by English portrait painter George Romney (1734–1802). The work has been allocated to Lakeland Arts for the nation through HM Government Acceptance in Lieu of Inheritance Tax Scheme by the Estate of Patricia Jaffé, administered by Arts Council England. The painted screen now enters the Abbot Hall Collection permanently, alongside several other Romney pieces acquired by Lakeland Arts throughout its 65-year history.

Dated by Alex Kidson as belonging to the early stages of the painter’s career, the screen is believed to have been painted during Romney’s early years in London, from 1762 onwards. The work takes its inspiration from the publication of engravings of wall paintings discovered in Pompeii in 1749 and circulated throughout Europe in Le Antichità di Ercolano Esposte (Antiquities of Herculaneum Exposed), first published in 1757. Romney has reworked the antique figures into poses of his own devising which echo their classical source. In doing so, the screen anticipates his later preoccupation with classical subject matter.

George Romeny, The Gower Family, The Children of Granville, 2nd Earl Gower, 1776–77, oil on canvas, 203 × 235 cm (Kendal: Abbot Hall Art Gallery and Museum).

Abbot Hall is home to one of the finest collections of Romney paintings in Britain, including the 1759–60 portrait of Captain Robert Banks, the 1796 group portrait The Four Friends, a pastel portrait of the Romantic poet Charlotte Smith, and several sketchbooks. Most significantly, the Collection holds claim to Romney’s masterpiece, the 1776–77 depiction of The Gower Family, the Children of Granville Leveson-Gower, 2nd Earl Gower. A direct line can be drawn between the dancer bearing a tambourine in the second leaf of the painted screen and Lady Anne’s posture in The Gower Family.

Romney was one of the most fashionable and sought-after artists of his time and is known for his engagement with classical themes. The son of a cabinet-maker, Romney was born in Dalton-in-Furness in Lancashire (now Cumbria) and received informal artistic training in his youth. His career began in earnest when he moved to Kendal aged 21 to begin an apprenticeship under the Cumbrian portraitist Christopher Steele and later established his own studio in the town. Romney married the daughter of his landlady, who remained in Kendal with their family when he moved to London to pursue his ambitions. Although he returned sporadically to Cumbria, he moved back permanently towards the end of his working career and was nursed by his wife through two years of ill health before passing away in 1802.

The permanent allocation of the screen will provide an unrivalled opportunity for Abbot Hall visitors to see the development of this important aspect of Romney’s art throughout his working life. The screen may be the earliest surviving piece to illustrate Romney’s exploration of antique themes, and The Gower Family is considered his finest example of this genre, in any UK public collection. It is therefore fitting for both works to be in the care of Lakeland Arts.

Rhian Harris, Chief Executive at Lakeland Arts, said: “We are absolutely delighted the Romney screen has been acquired by Lakeland Arts on a permanent basis. Our thanks go to Arts Council England, the Acceptance in Lieu panel and the Trustees of the Patricia Jaffé Estate for recognising the important connection between George Romney and Kendal in allocating this important piece to Abbot Hall.”

Edward Harley OBE, Chairman of the Acceptance in Lieu Panel said: “I am delighted that this remarkable piece dating from the early stages of George Romney’s career has been allocated to Lakeland Arts for Abbot Hall in Kendal. It is fitting that it returns to the town in which the artist spent the early years of his career. It will allow the work to be compared alongside his masterpiece The Gower Children.”

The screen was accepted in lieu of inheritance tax in the 2020–21 financial year but permanently allocated to Lakeland Arts for Abbot Hall in March 2022. In 2020–21, £54 million worth of objects—paintings, archives, and items of cultural importance—were accepted for the nation through the Acceptance in Lieu and Cultural Gifts Schemes and allocated to museums across the UK.

The British Museum Releases NFTs of Piranesi Drawings

Posted in Art Market, museums by Editor on April 29, 2022
Giovanni Battista Piranesi, A Classical Forum with Steps and a Column, ca.1748–52, pen and brown ink, grey-brown wash, and red chalk
(London: The British Museum, 1908,0616.10)

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From the press release, via Art Daily:

For its latest collaboration with The British Museum, LaCollection has announced a new NFT drop drawn from a selection of 20 pen and chalk drawings from The British Museum’s collection by the Venetian-born artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778).

Piranesi is regarded as one of the greatest Italian printmakers of the 18th century, best known for his atmospheric representations of Roman antiquity, and in later years, his celebrated series of fictional prisons, La Carceri. His exceptional work as a draughtsman is less well known; yet, his drawings reveal the evolution of his practice and the relentless experimentation and innovation that underpinned his virtuoso ability with the etching needle.

Works included in this drop chart the evolution of the artist from early scenographic drawings to his more elaborate fantasy interiors. The selection includes some of the earliest drawings in The British Museum’s collection relating to his Prima Parte (1743) series of etchings of imaginary temples, palaces and the ruins of Rome.

A Monumental Staircase in a Vaulted Interior with Column (1750–55) is one of the most impressive Piranesi drawings in technique and scale found at The British Museum. Showcasing a mastery of craft, Piranesi deconstructed classical architecture language and reinvented it through dynamic compositions that animate and exaggerate the space; the use of red chalk combined with brown ink is unique in the Museum’s collection.

Piranesi’s drawings were investigative tools for experimentation that explore complex exercises in perspective and spatial representation as well as compelling fantasies. One such example is Architectural Fantasy with Monuments, Sculpture, and Ruins (1760–65), a fantasy scene bringing together a creative selection of different Roman monuments interspersed with figures drawn in miniature to accentuate the grandeur of the landscape.

The 20 artworks will be sold across three scarcity levels:
• Six will be Ultra Rare (two editions, one of which will be retained by The British Museum).
• Nine will be Super Rare (ten editions, one of which will be retained by The British Museum).
• Five will be Open Edition (a maximum of 50 editions will be sold with the final edition number set at the end of the primary sales window; one edition will be retained by The British Museum).

Ultra Rare artworks will be sold by auction, with a starting price of €4,000. Super Rare and Open Edition artworks will be sold at fixed price, selling for €2,000 and €499 respectively. Three preview artworks will be available to purchase from 25 April with the main drop starting on 2 May. All public sale artworks will be dropped by 13 May and the primary sales window will close on 30 June; after this point, no further sales of these artworks will be made by The British Museum. There will be a preferential sales window, closing on 15 May, after which the price of each Super Rare artwork will increase to €3,000 and each Open Edition to €749. For all existing NFT collectors there will be a private drop on 28 April and a final one on 16 May; artworks available to purchase in these drops will not be available in the public sale.

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Anyone looking for an introduction to NFTs might start with Kevin Roose, “What are NFTs? The Latecomer’s Guide to Crypto,” The New York Times (18 March 2022). Among the questions critics raise are the environmental impacts; some estimates place the carbon footprint of an NFT as equal to a month’s worth of electrical consumption for a person living in the EU, as noted by Justine Calma, “The Climate Controversy Swirling around NFTs,” Verge (15 March 2021). Also, see Charlotte Kent, “Can You Be an NFT Artist and an Environmentalist?” Wired (17 February 2022). CH

Exhibition Programming | Jacques Louis David: Radical Draftsman

Posted in exhibitions, lectures (to attend), museums, online learning by Editor on April 8, 2022

I noted the exhibition in February but included no programming information. Perrin Stein’s introduction is still available to watch on YouTube, and Daniella Berman will focus on a selection of works in her upcoming “Conversations with a Scholar” sessions. Berman will also lead three public tours. CH

Virtual Opening | Jacques Louis David: Radical Draftsman
Online, 28 February 2022 [and still available via YouTube]

Join Perrin Stein, Curator, in the Department of Drawings and Prints, for a virtual tour of Jacques Louis David: Radical Draftsman, the first exhibition devoted to works on paper by the celebrated French artist. David navigated vast artistic and political divides throughout his life—from his birth in Paris in 1748 to his death in exile in Brussels in 1825—and his iconic works captured the aspirations and suffering of a nation, while addressing timeless themes that continue to resonate today. Through the lens of his preparatory studies, the exhibition looks beyond his public successes to chart the moments of inspiration and the progress of ideas. Visitors will follow the artist’s process as he gave form to the neoclassical style and created major canvases that shaped the public’s perceptions of historical events in the years before, during, and after the French Revolution. Organized chronologically, the exhibition features more than eighty drawings and oil sketches—including rarely loaned or newly discovered works—drawn from the collections of The Met and dozens of institutional and private lenders.

From The Met:

Conversation with a Scholar | Daniella Berman on Jacques Louis David: Radical Draftsman
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Mondays, 11 and 25 April 2022, 11.00am

Join Daniella Berman for a lively 30-minute dialogue, exploring a selection of objects from the exhibition Jacques Louis David: Radical Draftsman. Free with museum admission. Please note: Limited space is allotted on a first come, first served basis.

In addition, Berman will lead three public tours of the exhibition on the following dates:
Friday, 22 April 2022, 2.00pm
Friday, 6 May 2022, 10.30am
Monday, 9 May 2022, 2.00pm

Daniella Berman, a doctoral candidate in art history and archaeology at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts, is the 2019–20 Marica and Jan Vilcek Fellow in the Department of Drawings and Prints at The Met.



The Clark Acquires Tea Service of Famous Women

Posted in museums by Editor on April 4, 2022

From the press release (30 March 2022) . . .

Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory, Teapot and cover (théière Asselin) with portraits of Anne of Austria (1601–1666) and Christina of Sweden (1626–1689) by by Marie-Victoire Jaquotot, 1811–12, hard-paste porcelain (The Clark Art Institute, 2021.3.1a-b).

The Clark Art Institute recently acquired an extremely rare tea service that is noted both for the exceptional craftsmanship on the part of the woman artist who was central to its creation and for its subject matter, a remarkable collection of portraits of women noted in European history. The Tea Service of Famous Women (Cabaret des femmes célèbres) is now on view in the Clark’s permanent collection galleries. With miniature portraits painted by Marie-Victoire Jaquotot between 1811 and 1812 for the Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory, the service is one of only three known sets and features portraits of women noted for their achievements within governance, literature, philosophy, and international relations.

One of the most successful porcelain painters of her time, Marie-Victoire Jaquotot (1772–1855) was both an artist and entrepreneur, achieving great professional success at a time when opportunities for women artists were limited. She was awarded the title premier peintre sur porcelaine du Roi (first porcelain painter to the King) in 1816, which allowed her to open her workshop to students. Jaquotot specialized in miniature portraits and reproductions of famous works of art at a time when these subjects were avidly collected and appreciated across Europe, both as prints and on porcelain. She used engraved portraits as sources for her portraits of the women on the tea service.

Jaquotot painted the three tea services over a five-year period from 1807 to 1812. The porcelain sets were produced by the legendary Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory outside Paris, in a complex process involving multiple specialists, including painters and gilders. The Sèvres factory employed many porcelain painters, both men and women, but few achieved the level of fame and success of Madame Jaquotot, who painted the portraits of the femmes célèbres on all three services at her Paris workshop.

These elaborate porcelain services were intended as special gifts. The set now in the Clark’s collection was originally presented in 1812 by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte to his first wife, the Empress Josephine, whom he had divorced in 1810. Josephine rejected the gift and returned the service to the factory. It was then presented by Napoleon’s second wife, the Empress Marie-Louise, to her friend the Countess of Ségur in 1813.

“This exquisite tea service has so many stories to tell, with its of portraits of historic women, its technical expertise, and its association with one of the leading porcelain painters of the day—who just happened to be a woman,” said Kathleen Morris, the Clark’s curator of decorative arts and Marx Director of Collections and Exhibitions. “I am so pleased to be able to add this work by a woman artist who represented the pinnacle of her craft to our collection.”

The women represented on each piece in the set include powerful European rulers including Elizabeth I, queen of England (1533–1603); Christina, queen of Sweden (1626–1689); Maria Theresa, archduchess of Austria (1717–1780); and Catherine II, empress of Russia (1729–1796). Medieval warrior and saint Joan of Arc (c. 1412–1431) appears on the milk jug. Several cups feature women who were influential in political, literary, and philosophical circles, including Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, Madame de Sévigné (1626–1696), Hortense Mancini (1646–1699), and Antoinette du Ligier de la Garde Deshouliéres (1638–1694). The center of each saucer is decorated in gold with antique trophies and musical instruments, reinforcing the theme of power and accomplishment.

Harvard Art Museums Receive Important Gift of American Silver

Posted in museums by Editor on March 26, 2022

Joseph Richardson Sr., The Hannah Emelen Logan Teapot, ca. 1745, silver and wood (Harvard Art Museums / Fogg Museum, The Pollack Collection, gift of Daniel A. Pollack A.B. ’60 and Susan F. Pollack A.B. ’64, 2020.199).

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From the press release(22 March 2022) . . .

The Harvard Art Museums announce a transformative gift of 21 works of 18th-century American silver from the collection of Daniel A. Pollack and Susan F. Pollack. The gift comprises a range of finely made vessels and table implements intended for domestic use, including cups, bowls, spoons, tankards, and teapots crafted by noted silversmiths from Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Trenton. There is also a stunning caudle cup, an example of ecclesiastical silver made by Edward Winslow and believed to have been used during communion at First Congregational Church in Milford, Connecticut. The Pollacks’ gift strengthens the museums’ noted holdings of 17th- to 20th-century silver and comes at a time when curators and postdoctoral fellows are working to reimagine the balance among paintings, sculptures, and design objects on view in the galleries.

“The story of silver is in many ways a story of the Americas. Like other commodities such as coffee, mahogany, sugar, and tea, silver helps us unite the known world of the 16th century with our own time,” said Horace D. Ballard, the Theodore E. Stebbins Jr. Associate Curator of American Art at the Harvard Art Museums. “The Pollacks’ generosity allows us to more fully engage the capacious and complex story of European privilege and Afro- and indigenous labor across the Spanish-occupied Americas and British North America during the age of colonialization. It is estimated that 50 to 80 percent of the world’s silver from the 16th to early 19th century came from the infamous silver mines of Potosi in the Viceroyalty of Peru. Silver ore was shipped to China from America’s primary Pacific port in Peru; traded to Europe along with porcelain; melted into coin, plate, or brick; and then traded back to the Americas through the eastern seaboard ports of the Atlantic coast, to be molded, designed, and sold to merchants, religious institutions, and wealthy families. Works by American silversmiths of the 18th and 19th centuries are noted for their innovative silhouettes, turnings, and naturalistic allusions to animals and plants. The Pollack gift and its upcoming installations in our galleries will foreground this global orientation around luxury, leading us to ask new questions about hemispheric identity and aesthetic legacy.”

Paul Revere Jr., Two ragout spoons, 1786, silver (Harvard Art Museums / Fogg Museum, The Pollack Collection, gift of Daniel A. Pollack A.B. ’60 and Susan F. Pollack A.B. ’64, 2020.197.1, 2020.197.2).

Highlights of the gift include, from Boston-based silversmiths, a pair of ragout (serving) spoons from 1786 by Paul Revere, Jr., and a c. 1765 rococo-style cream jug and c. 1775 porringer (small bowl) with a keyhole-pattern handle by Benjamin Burt; a soup ladle with a shell-shaped bowl from c. 1772 and a waiter (small salver) from c. 1765 by the pioneering Jewish silversmith and philanthropist Myer Myers of New York; and an apple-shaped teapot from c. 1745 by Joseph Richardson, Sr., for prominent Quakers Hannah and William Logan, as well as a coffeepot by Richardson’s sons, Joseph Jr. and Nathaniel, both of whom trained with their father in Philadelphia. These are the first works by the Richardsons to enter the museums’ collections. The earliest object from the gift is the aforementioned caudle cup from 1707 by Edward Winslow of Boston.

Over the next six months, select objects from the Pollack gift will be installed in galleries on Level 2 of the museums. By mid-March, the Winslow caudle cup and the Myers soup ladle, among other objects, will be installed in the silver cabinet. By mid-May, the case featuring design objects in the museums’ Atlantic World gallery will highlight a rare two-handled silver punch strainer designed in the 1760s by Daniel Parker of Boston. By late July, the Pollack Arcade gallery on the second floor will host a case of 14 objects from the gift. Interpretive labels for the case will address Daniel Pollack’s longstanding commitment to American art at the Harvard Art Museums while also foregrounding the global threads of racialized labor and colonial trade at the heart of America’s colonization and our national becoming.

This gift of silver follows Daniel Pollack’s passing in October 2019 and builds upon a number of other significant gifts and generous support from the Pollacks over the last 17 years. An ardent supporter of the museums, Daniel was a member of the Director’s Advisory Council and served as chair of the American Art Curatorial Committee. The couple’s commitment also includes contributions toward the renovation and expansion of the Harvard Art Museums (which reopened in the fall of 2014) as well as the naming of four arcade galleries on the second floor overlooking the Calderwood Courtyard.

Edward Winslow, Caudle cup, 1707, silver (Harvard Art Museums / Fogg Museum, The Pollack Collection, gift of Daniel A. Pollack A.B. ’60 and Susan F. Pollack A.B. ’64, 2020.203).

“We are thrilled to be able to honor Dan’s legacy; I’m grateful to Susan for her gracious partnership and support,” said Martha Tedeschi, the Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard Art Museums.

Previous gifts of art include a 2016 gift of three pieces of ecclesiastical silver: a beaker (c. 1670) and two tankards (1690; 1759) used by churches in Salem, Massachusetts, for over 300 years. Other gifts have included prized paintings by American artists: Still Life with Pewter Candlestick and Clarinet (1886) by William Michael Harnett; and the trompe l’oeil-style Hanging Woodcock (1897) by George Cope and Theodore Roosevelt’s Cabin Door (1905) by Richard LaBarre Goodwin, the first works by either of these artists to enter the museums’ collections. Through the establishment of the Daniel A. Pollack, Class of 1960, American Art Acquisition Fund, the couple has supported the purchase of 19 paintings, including the highly detailed Still Life with Watermelon (1822) by Sarah Miriam Peale, one of the first professional female artists in the United States; the kaleidoscopic Ventriloquist (1952) by Jacob Lawrence, a prodigy of the Harlem Renaissance; and a stunning littoral scene of Rhode Island by Canadian-born African American painter Edward Mitchell Bannister—the first acquisition for the museums made by new American art curator Horace Ballard.

Daniel A. Pollack (Harvard College A.B. ’60, University of Oxford M.A. ’62, Harvard Law School LL.B. ’65) was a distinguished lawyer who founded and led the Pollack & Kaminsky law firm in New York City for more than 40 years, before joining the New York office of McCarter & English in 2009. Susan F. Pollack (Harvard Radcliffe Class of 1964, Harvard Law School ’67) has served as general counsel to New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs and as a senior lawyer at Citibank; she has worked with the law firms of Barrett, Smith, Schapiro & Simon as well as Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle.


Online Talk | Gus Casely-Hayford on Crafting the New V&A East

Posted in lectures (to attend), museums, online learning by Editor on March 19, 2022

From The Institute of Fine Arts:

Gus Casely-Hayford | Making a Museum: Crafting a New V&A for East London
Online, The Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, 21 March 2022, 2pm ET

The Institute of Fine Arts invites you to a lecture by Dr. Gus Casely-Hayford, Director of the V&A East, a new museum and collection center in London. This virtual program takes place on Monday, 21 March 2022, at 2pm (Eastern Time).

Advanced registration is required–and available here.

A curator and historian who writes, lectures, and broadcasts widely on culture, Dr Gus Casely-Hayford, OBE, Prof by Practice, SOAS, University of London (the leading Higher Education institution in Europe specializing in the study of Asia, Africa, and the Near and Middle East), is the founding Director of V&A East, a museum and collection center presently under construction. He was previously the Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.

Over the course of his career, Casely-Hayford has been a constant champion for the arts. He has presented two television series of The Lost Kingdoms of Africa for the BBC (and wrote the companion book), two television series of Tate Britain: Great Art Walks for Sky, and has worked for every major British TV channel. His TED talk on Islamic culture has been viewed more than a million times. Former Executive Director of Arts Strategy, Arts Council England (Britain’s major arts funder) and ex-Director of the Institute of International Contemporary Art, he has offered leadership to both large and medium scale organizations. Dr Casely-Hayford has lectured widely on art and culture, including periods at Sotheby’s Institute, Goldsmiths, Birkbeck, City University, University of Westminster, and SOAS. He has advised national and international bodies on heritage and culture including the United Nations and the Canadian, Dutch, and Norwegian Arts Councils. In 2005 he deployed these leadership, curatorial, fundraising, and communications skills to organize the biggest celebration of Africa Britain has ever hosted with Africa 2005 when more than 150 organizations put on over 1000 exhibitions and events to showcase African culture.

Amongst a range of honors, he has been awarded a King’s College cultural fellowship for service to the arts and a SOAS Honorary Fellowship for service to Africa. He speaks widely, gave a SOAS Centenary lecture, judged the Art Fund’s British Museum of the Year award, advised the Royal Shakespeare Company on their production of Hamlet, and is a member of English Heritage’s ‘Blue Plaques Group’.

This program is made possible with generous funding from the Paul Lott Lectureship.

Internal render view of the central public collection hall in new V&A East Storehouse at Here East, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. © Diller Scofidio + Renfro, 2018.

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From the V&A:

One of the world’s most significant new museum projects, V&A East will comprise two sister sites currently under construction in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. Opening at Here East in 2024, V&A East Storehouse offers a new immersive experience, taking visitors behind the scenes and providing unprecedented public access to V&A collections. A short walk across the park, opening in 2025, V&A East Museum celebrates global creativity and making relevant to today’s world. Both sites are part of East Bank, the Mayor of London’s £1.1 billion Olympic legacy project, which will create a new arts, innovation and education hub in Stratford’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. . . .

Additional information is available here»

The Met Acquires Painting by Poussin on Copper

Posted in museums by Editor on January 23, 2022

Nicolas Poussin, The Agony in the Garden, 1626–27, oil on copper, 61 × 49 cm (New York: The Met, Gift of Jon and Barbara Landau, in honor of Keith Christiansen, 2021.378).

As reported by Art News (20 January 2022), The Met has recently acquired an exceptional work by Poussin on copper: Agony in the Garden (1626–27), from the collection of Barbara and Jon Landau, one of only two settled works on copper by the painter. As David Pullins notes in his catalogue entry for the piece, this is early Poussin when the artist was still working out his place within line-and-color debates, guided here particularly by the Venetian legacies of Titian and Tintoretto. The painting caught the attention of some of the most artistically attuned visitors to Rome in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, including the Swedish diplomat count Nicodemus Tessin; the secretary to Rome’s Accademia di San Luca, Giuseppe Ghezzi; and the director of the Académie de France à Rome, Nicolas Vleughels. The eighteenth- and nineteenth-century provenance is also interesting as the painting moved from Rome to Paris, and then on to London through the American artist John Trumbull (it was part of the Trumbull sale at Christie’s in 1797). That said, the work was—as noted in the press release—rediscovered only in 1985, when it was “heralded as a major addition to Poussin’s corpus.” CH

IDEAL Internship Grants from Decorative Arts Trust

Posted in museums by Editor on January 12, 2022

Hermann-Grima House parlor and dining room, 1831
New Orleans

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From the press release (22 December 2021) . . .

The Decorative Arts Trust announces that four organizations will receive IDEAL Internship Grants for 2022: Drexel’s Lenfest Center for Cultural Partnerships/Atwater Kent Collection and the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, the Hermann-Grima + Gallier Historic Houses in New Orleans, and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.

The primary objective of the IDEAL Internship program is to improve access to curatorial careers and mentorship for students of color as a path toward achieving comprehensive change in the museum field. The partners were selected based on the likely impact of the internships, which offer students consequential experience and stipends while providing the host organizations valuable contributions to curatorial projects and to meaningful discussions about inclusion, diversity, and equity.

• Drexel’s Lenfest Center for Cultural Partnerships will receive a second year of internship funding to hire an undergraduate student to assist with the development of two exhibitions highlighting objects from the Atwater Kent Collection.

• The Hermann-Grima + Gallier Historic Houses is creating a year-long internship for a local college student that will focus on the collection at the 1831 Hermann-Grima House, seeking narratives of invisible labor in fine and decorative arts as well as architectural elements to enhance the organization’s successful Urban Enslavement Tours.

• The High Museum will hire a summer intern to develop a gallery rotation after researching objects, rethinking narratives, and drafting labels while also generating a public outreach initiative through a gallery tour, social media campaign, or hosted event.

• The Museum of the American Revolution aims to hire a summer intern to increase awareness of the diverse communities that contributed to the Revolution through research into the permanent collection.

Visit each institution’s website and follow them on social media for updates about internship opportunities. The Trust is committed to offering IDEAL Internship funding in the coming years; visit the Trust’s website for more information.


NGS Acquires Rare Watercolour of a Black Milkmaid by David Allan

Posted in museums by Editor on January 5, 2022

From the press release (18 November 2021), via Art Daily:

David Allan, Edinburgh Milkmaid with Butter Churn, ca. 1785–95, watercolour on paper, image size: 21 × 16 cm (Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland, D 5721, purchased 2019).

One of the earliest known images of a Black person by a Scottish artist has been acquired by the National Galleries of Scotland. Edinburgh Milkmaid with Butter Churn by David Allan (1744–1796) is a beautifully painted watercolour, which is both exceptionally rare and striking. It depicts a Black woman alone and centre stage at a time when Black sitters more often appeared as marginal or subservient figures in group portraits.

Looking directly at the viewer, the woman is shown in working dress, going about her daily duties and set against the backdrop of an elegant Edinburgh street. Her name and life story is unknown, but it is likely that she was a servant, a milkmaid, as suggested by the large vessel or butter churn shown beside her.

Modest in scale, the image is dated to the mid-1780s to early 1790s, a period when Allan created evocative drawings of ordinary people going about their daily lives in Edinburgh, such as soldiers, coalmen, fishwives, sedan chair porters, firemen, and officers of the city guard. These works, known as Allan’s ‘Edinburgh Characters’, suggest a background context for Edinburgh Milkmaid with Butter Churn, but they are generally sketched in a summary way, intended to capture character types, rather than specific personalities, and were often copied and duplicated. The Edinburgh Milkmaid, however, is highly detailed, precisely painted, and clearly a portrait of a specific person. It is hoped that further research may reveal more about the connection between the artist and the young woman and shed some light on her identity.

Director of European and Scottish Art at the National Galleries of Scotland, Christopher Baker, commented: “We are so pleased to bring this remarkable, rare, and extraordinary watercolour into Scotland’s national collection. It is an incredibly striking and special work, one which we believe will be enjoyed by many and, we hope, lead to new research on its background and most importantly the story of the woman depicted.”

Born in Alloa, David Allan was arguably the first Scottish artist to take contemporary life and customs from across the social hierarchy as a subject worthy of art. With the support of his patrons, Lord and Lady Cathcart of Shaw Park, near Alloa, he travelled to Italy around 1767 and remained there for a decade, painting historical pictures and portraits. He became interested in drawing scenes of street life, inspired by the popular print tradition of depicting street criers who called out to advertise their produce or trades. He sketched street vendors, aristocrats on the Grand Tour, coffee house scenes, dances, carnivals, and local costume in Rome and Naples and on a visit to the islands of Procida, Ischia, and Minorca.

These experiences led Allan to take a similar approach after his return to Scotland in 1779. He drew his subject matter from contemporary life, ranging from specific events such as The Ceremony of Laying the Foundation Stone of the New College of Edinburgh (1789) to timeless traditions and customs, such as A Highland Dance and The Penny Wedding. In 1786 Allan was appointed to a teaching post as Master of the Trustees’ Academy and he settled permanently in Edinburgh. The city and its inhabitants became a particular focus for this work. From about 1788 he developed the series of over twenty drawings of workers and traders; often referred to as his ‘Edinburgh Characters’, they typically show an individual or pair of figures with the tools of their trade, set against a simple architectural or rural background.

Allan’s subjects range from higher status figures, such as a Highland officer in uniform and officers of the Town Guard, to those who did the city’s heavy labour, such as the coalmen, chimney sweeps, porters, and water carriers. Female workers are represented by a fishwife, a salt vendor, and a lacemaker. The figures are drawn with strong outlines in ink to enable them to be traced easily, as Allan made multiple versions of his character drawings, several of which are held in the National Galleries of Scotland collection. He also reproduced his Edinburgh characters on a smaller scale as the cast that populate his landscape views of the Royal Mile, such as High Street from the Netherbow, made in 1793. Seen as a group, Allan’s street characters give a broad and fascinating insight into late 1780s Edinburgh as a living, working city.

Edinburgh Milkmaid with Butter Churn is one of several notable acquisitions highlighted in the recently published NGS Annual Review, covering the years 2019–2021. The painting will go on display at a later date following some conservation work, which is currently being prepared. With much still unknown about the painting, the Galleries would welcome information, comments, or feedback about it.

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