New NGA Online Edition: French Paintings of the Eighteenth Century

Posted in museums, resources by Editor on June 27, 2017

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This new online component from the NGA in Washington, D.C. includes convenient access to lots of interesting material, including videos (under ‘related content’). It might be particularly useful for teachers looking to enrich course materials with digital offerings (and plenty of other things). CH

In conjunction with the recently opened exhibition, America Collects Eighteenth-Century French Painting, the National Gallery has released a new offering in its NGA Online Editions series, Focus Section—French Paintings of the Eighteenth Century.

The web-based Online Editions series is part of an ongoing effort to digitize and provide open access to the Gallery’s permanent collection catalogs and will eventually document more than 5,000 works of painting, sculpture, and decorative arts. Focus Section—French Paintings of the Eighteenth Century includes essays devoted to 20 paintings and their four related artists’ biographies. Like other Online Editions, this iteration provides free and open access to illustrated scholarly entries, biographies of the artists, and technical summaries.

Other highlights of the features available to researchers include
A customized reading environment: An adjustable split-screen ‘reader mode’ allows users to view scholarly text alongside images, notes, and comparative figures or to view them in line with the text.
Compare and explore images: An image-comparison tool enables users to view primary and comparative images side by side or to explore technical images via overlay and cross-fading techniques.
Ease of research: The Online Editions toolbar provides preformatted citations for an object or biography, easy export, and quick access to archived pages.
Archived versions and permanent URLs: Immediate access to PDFs of earlier versions and the assurance of permanent web addresses are a convenience to students and scholars alike.
Enhanced search capabilities: An interactive search index is driven by an evolving list of terms particular to each area of the collection.

The NGA Online Editions series presents the same authoritative, peer-reviewed scholarship found within the Gallery’s bound volumes but enriched with customized tools for a more dynamic research experience.





Frick Pittsburgh Unveils New Strategic Plan and Acquisitions Program

Posted in museums by Editor on June 26, 2017

Manufacture de Monsieur le duc d’Angoulême, Paris, Pair of Vases, ca. 1785, porcelain with enamel and gilded decoration; each 9 × 5.5 × 5.25 inches (The Frick Pittsburgh Collection).

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Press release from The Frick Pittsburgh (via Art Daily) . . .

The Board of Trustees of The Frick Pittsburgh announces the adoption of a new five-year strategic plan, 2017–22 and Beyond, and the activation of a new acquisition program, resulting in the recent acquisition of new collection objects.

Strategic Plan

On Tuesday, June 20, Frick Board of Trustees Chair Charles R. (‘Chip’) Burke, Jr. and Executive Director Robin Nicholson presented the museum’s recently adopted strategic plan to more than 20 representatives from regional foundations assembled at The Duquesne Club in Downtown Pittsburgh. 2017–22 and Beyond is the result of a two-year planning process which began shortly after the late 2014 appointment of Mr. Nicholson as the institution’s third executive director. The process was led by the Board’s Strategic Planning Task Force, under the leadership of Chair, Trustee Louis L. Testoni. The new strategic plan features a revised ideology for the organization, encompassing new vision, values, and mission statements. These new guiding principles provide the foundation for three overarching institutional goals: audience growth, organizational efficiency, and long-term planning.

Mr. Burke, Chair of the Board of Trustees says, “We are excited about the clearly defined vision and direction articulated in the new strategic plan. In addition to laying the groundwork for the next 25 years, the plan reflects the commitment of The Frick’s board and staff to leverage and enhance the museum’s assets for the benefit of all visitors and program participants.”

The plan identifies three equal and interwoven components to the unique experience offered by The Frick: art, history, and nature—all of which, in turn, underpin the museum’s core ideology, or three ‘powers’: the power of art to inspire and educate, the power of the past to inform the future, and the power of beauty and place. Five strategies build on these principles with specific calls to action: to define and refine the many experiences that The Frick offers, invest in marketing to build audience and revenue, increase efficiency, acquire better information and data, and to think realistically about the future. The museum’s new mission statement aligns with the newly defined institutional ideology: “Continuing the legacy of Helen Clay Frick, we will offer one of the best experiences of art, history, and nature, in a welcoming environment that inspires and delights.”

Executive Director Nicholson comments, “Planning for the future provides an extraordinary opportunity for innovative and aspirational thinking about the role of museums and culture for future generations. The Frick’s new strategic plan thoughtfully addresses both the short- and long-term challenges faced by all cultural organizations in the United States. At the same time, it recognizes that nothing we do has any value unless it helps to ‘inspire and delight.'”

The complete strategic plan is available on The Frick’s website.

New Acquisition Program

Museum benefactress Helen Clay Frick envisioned The Frick to be a vital, growing museum that continues to acquire items that build on the strength of its collection. Building on the strategic goal of “defining and refining the Frick experience,” the museum recently activated a new acquisition program by holding its inaugural Collectors Dinner on April 25, 2017. Fifty members of The Frick Societies, a recognition group for individuals who support The Frick by contributing $1,000 or more annually, attended a black-tie event at The Frick Art Museum, during which three works of art were presented for potential acquisition. Guests were invited to vote for the objects of their choice. Receiving the most votes were a pair of late-18th-century Angoulême porcelain vases and Cream (2015), a color photographic print by Dutch artist Hendrik Kerstens. At its June 14, 2017 meeting, The Frick’s Board of Trustees approved these two objects for purchase.

Produced around 1785 by Manufacture de Monsieur le duc d’Angoulême, Paris, which operated from 1781 to 1793, the pair of exquisite porcelain vases feature enamel and gilded decoration. The vases are an extraordinary example of Parisian porcelain produced at the end of the ancien régime in France. The Manufacture le duc d’Angoulême was one of the few factories at the end of the 18th century to rival Sèvres in the quality of its porcelain and the technical excellence of its decoration. The vases enhance the museum’s collection of 18th-century French decorative art, complementing the fabulous examples of French furniture and paintings collected by Helen Clay Frick. The Frick owns two examples of furniture by Martin Carlin, which incorporate Sèvres porcelain plaques. Angoulême works are in the collections of other major museums: a vase related to the pair acquired by The Frick is in the collection of The British Museum. Tableware by Angoulême is also part of the collections of museums such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and Winterthur. Mount Vernon owns a service by Angoulême purchased by George Washington in 1790.

Contemporary Dutch artist Hendrik Kerstens creates a dialogue between past and present through an almost hyper-conscious homage to the history of Dutch art combined with a slightly playful subversity. The artist began studying photography at age 40 and quickly became known for his interest in creating large-scale painterly photographs with an emphasis on light effects and the use of poses and props that echo the conventions found in Old Master painting, particularly of the 17th century. He began working with his daughter Paula as his subject in 1994. His 2007 photograph, Bag, in which she is posed with a plastic grocery bag on her head caused a sensation, winning the prestigious Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize awarded by the National Portrait Gallery, London. Bag also attracted the attention of fashion designer Alexander McQueen, who based his 2009 collection on the image. In Cream, Paula is posed against a dark background and beautifully lit, allowing for a painterly, Baroque sense of chiaroscuro and an emphasis on luminous skin tones. Kerstens typically injects his work with humor and disrupts his emulation of Old Masters through the interjection of unexpected materials or props—in this case, a coiffure of shaving cream. Cream is a compelling photograph that serves as a catalyst for conversation about painting and photography, past and present. Acquisition of this work enables The Frick to further explore ideas of portraiture and representation by providing a contemporary counterpoint to works in the collection, such as the Rubens Portrait of the Princess of Condé, as well as other examples of portraiture in the collection by Nattier, de Troy, Hogarth, Gainsborough, and Reynolds. Since gaining public attention through his Paula pictures, Kerstens has been commissioned to create commercial portraits for Vanity Fair and The New York Times Magazine. His work is widely represented in public and private collections in the Netherlands as well as the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Museum of Photographic Art in San Diego, the Pilara Family Foundation Collection in San Francisco, the Elton John Collection, the Alexander McQueen Collection, and others.




Musée d’art Hyacinthe Rigaud to Reopen This Week

Posted in books, museums by Editor on June 23, 2017

The newly renovated and expanded Hyacinthe Rigaud Art Museum in Perpignan is scheduled to open on June 24th. From Snoeck Publishers:

Musée d’art Hyacinthe Rigaud, 14th–21st Centuries (Gent: Snoeck Publishers, 2017), 214 pages, ISBN: 978 946161 3998, 25.

In 2017 the Musée d’Art Hyacinthe Rigaud is reopening. After three years of work, a renovated building now houses an enriched and restored collection, to be discovered through a completely redesigned itinerary. To accompany the rediscovery, this guide presents a selection of works chosen to reflect the diversity and excellence of this heritage. Richly illustrated, it is both a souvenir of your visit and an invitation to open the museum’s doors.



Major Donations from the Colección Cisneros

Posted in museums by Editor on June 20, 2017

Press release from the Cisneros Collection:

Juan Pedro López (1724–1787), Venezuela, Our Lady of Guidance, ca. 1762; oil on wood, 100.3 × 69.2 cm (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; promised gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros in honor of Jorge Rivas).

The Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros announced the donation of 119 pieces from its collection of colonial art, one of the five collections that comprise the CPPC, to five leading institutions committed to the conservation and study of the legacies of art from the colonial and early republican periods in Latin America: the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas; Denver Art Museum, Colorado; Hispanic Society Museum & Library, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Massachusetts; and the Museo de Arte de Lima (MALI), Peru.

The colonial art collection of the CPPC was formed with the intention to create a broad representation of Venezuelan art from the middle of the seventeenth century to the mid-nineteenth century. This core is complemented by select works from the viceroyalties of New Spain (Mexico) and Peru, as well as pieces from elsewhere in the Spanish Caribbean.

This 119-piece donation from the Coleccion Patricia Phelps de Cisneros to these five museums will expand their geographic and temporal horizons, with the primary objective of encouraging a broader, more diverse and inclusive view of Latin American artistic production from the 17th to mid-19th centuries.

In choosing these five institutions, the CPPC has carefully considered their individual profile and research focus. For the Blanton Museum of Art of the University of Texas, Austin, the donation will contribute to the founding nucleus of a collection of colonial and republican art, and will be an important complement to the museum’s remarkable and growing collection of modern and contemporary art that has made the Blanton a reference for scholarship in the field.

For the Denver Art Museum, the custodian of the largest and most extensive collection of colonial art in the United States, the donation will add depth to its holdings from Venezuela and the Caribbean, until now among the least represented regions in its collection. This donation also celebrates nearly half a century of the Denver Art Museum’s commitment to the study and dissemination of and education about Latin American colonial art.

In the case of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the gift represents the fruitful culmination of an institutional relationship that began in 2010. With this gift, the CPPC will formally transfer to the MFA a group of furniture, silver and paintings that had been on long-term loan and which originally served to complete the museum’s colonial art collections on the occasion of the opening of the widely-admired Art of the Americas wing. The gift includes some additional works that enrich the initial group and extol the museum’s continued effort and commitment to research and education about Latin American colonial art, and place this production in active dialogue with North American colonial art.

The Hispanic Society Museum & Library in New York, one of the institutions to pioneer the collection and study of Latin American colonial art, will receive a very important piece of furniture: the golden armchair for the brotherhood of San Pedro of the Cathedral of Caracas. Made around 1755 by the cabinetmaker Antonio Mateo de los Reyes, this imposing armchair, the first Venezuelan colonial masterpiece to enter this important collection, was used to seat the life-size sculpture of the patron saint of the brotherhood.

A special donation is being made to the Museo de Arte de Lima (MALI), a museum considered a model among Latin American cultural institutions. With the donation of an important portrait by the republican painter Jose Gil de Castro, the CPPC wishes not only to add this work to the collection, but to also recognize the pioneering work being carried out by its patrons and staff.



National Portrait Gallery Awarded Funding from UK’s National Lottery

Posted in museums by Editor on June 17, 2017

Press release (15 June 2017) from the NPG in London:

The National Portrait Gallery has been awarded funding of £9.4 million from The National Lottery towards a £35.5m transformation programme, which will be the Gallery’s biggest ever development and its most significant project since the opening of its Ondaatje Wing in 2000, it was announced today, Thursday 15 June 2017.

The National Lottery support will go towards the project Inspiring People: Transforming our National Portrait Gallery. For the first time in the Gallery’s history there will be a comprehensive re-display of the Collection across all the galleries combined with a significant refurbishment, creating twenty per cent more public and gallery spaces. The transformation will also see the Gallery’s most extensive programme of activities nationwide with plans to engage audiences onsite, locally, regionally, and online.

As part of the project, the National Portrait Gallery will restore its East Wing—last used for galleries in the 1980s—to public use; will improve its main entrance and will create a new state-of-the-art Learning Centre with a number of studio spaces. As well as extending activities for schools, families, young people, and students, a volunteering programme will be introduced.

A nationwide schools programme for teaching history, citizenship, literacy, and art through portraiture will be underpinned by a large-scale training programme for teachers and through targeted university partnerships with PGCE tutors. With this development programme, the Gallery hopes to reach over 200,000 school children across the UK and over 300,000 young people including those not in education, employment, or training.

New partnerships with museums and organisations throughout the country, will build on the Gallery’s national presence. In Creative Connections the Gallery will work with museums in Coventry, Manchester, Southampton, and Sheffield on a co-curated exhibition programme for young people, which will result in a new artist commission and the display of up to 20 portraits from the Gallery’s Photographic Collection at each partner venue.

In The Photographic Portrait Now the Gallery will work with course leaders at universities and colleges in Plymouth, Farnham, South Wales, Westminster, and Bournemouth to connect students to high profile photographers through master-classes.

Citizen UK will explore immigration from the West Indies, China, and South Asia through films, sound archives, oral histories, walking tours, and photo-galleries. The project will be partnered by archives, libraries, and community centres in Lambeth, Kensington, Tower Hamlets, Soho, Southall, and Ealing.

A National Skills Sharing Partnership involving staff at museums in Belfast, Nottingham, Plymouth, and Sudbury, followed by a further eight locations, will create a learning network involving exchanges, mentoring, seminars, and internships at each location with a focus on identity and representation around the theme of  ‘What is a Portrait?’

The process of appointing an architect for the Gallery’s building development will begin in the autumn. The Gallery has already embarked on its fundraising with over £7m pledged towards the project. With the HLF’s support, which includes an initial development grant of £900,000, building work is scheduled to start on Inspiring People: Transforming our National Portrait Gallery in 2020. The Gallery aims to reach its target of £35.5m by March 2019 in order to complete the project by 2022.

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: “The National Portrait Gallery is the nation’s family album, from Katherine Parr to Martin Parr. Understanding our national identity is more relevant now than ever, so we have an urgent job to do. We are very grateful for the vital support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, which crucially represents, as we do, people nationwide. This major grant enables the biggest transformation the Gallery has ever undertaken. We are going to make ourselves an essential place for everyone to feel part of the culture they have been born into, chosen, or are seeking to understand, to become a truly national gallery for all.”

Sir Peter Luff, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund, says: “The National Portrait Gallery is loved and admired not just for its wonderful collection but also as a centre for serious debate about how best we engage with our national identity. Thanks to this investment of £9.4m from The National Lottery, the National Portrait Gallery can begin an extensive modernisation programme. We are particularly pleased that this funding will also be used to increase the Gallery’s reach across the UK by working closely with a number of cultural institutions, from South Wales to Sheffield, and with a focus on young people, families and those with special needs.”

Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, says: “The National Portrait Gallery is one of our finest and most loved art institutions, attracting huge numbers of visitors every year. Thanks to £9.4m of funding from National Lottery players, the gallery will undergo an incredible transformation. By reaching out to thousands of young people across the UK and partnering with museums outside of the capital it will share its unique, world-class collection even wider.”

Kim Mawhinney, Head of Art, National Museums NI, says: “Central to the National Portrait Gallery’s development has been its commitment to working closely with organisations throughout Britain and Northern Ireland. To be so closely involved in a development project from the outset has been really important in helping us forge a long term relationship based on sharing skills and collections knowledge both within organisations and in building our audiences and public programmes.”

The Getty and YCBA Make 100,000 Images Available via IIIF

Posted in museums, resources by Editor on June 6, 2017

Press release (1 June 2017) from The Getty:

The Getty today made available more than 30,000 images of objects in the J. Paul Getty Museum collection using the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) [pronounced ‘triple eye eff’], which allows researchers to bring together images from different institutional websites for comparison, manipulation and annotation. By clicking on the IIIF logo next to an image, users can pull together images from different collections, dragging and dropping millions of images and associated metadata from institutions across the world for side-by-side analysis. As a result, for the first time, users can digitally examine works of art held in separate collections worldwide and easily share their findings.

“With IIIF, scholars can move images beyond the confines of separate institutional websites and bring them together for study. It allows for deeper digital engagement with our collections than ever before,” said James Cuno, president of the J. Paul Getty Trust.

The Getty is a member of the International Image Interoperability Framework Consortium, a group of museums, libraries, archives and other research and educational institutions working together to advance the adoption of IIIF to facilitate scholarship and research. Another Consortium member, The Yale Center for British Art, also announced today the availability of nearly 70,000 images in its collection. The Yale Center and Getty join a growing number of institutions that are using IIIF or moving toward its implementation.

“The release of these images is just the first step for the Getty as we move toward universal adoption of IIIF for images from both the Getty Museum and the Getty Research Institute collections,” said Rich Fagen, the Getty’s Vice President and Chief Digital Officer. “We are excited to help digital arts scholarship reach this next frontier.”

The Getty and Yale Center for British Art release of IIIF images comes as both organizations are joining other members of the IIIF community at an international conference on IIIF development and implementation at the Vatican beginning June 5.

Learn more about IIIF at the Getty Iris.

Left: Joseph Mallord William Turner, Van Tromp, going about to please his Masters, Ships a Sea, getting a Good Wetting, 1844, oil on canvas (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum). Right: Joseph Mallord William Turner, Dort or Dordrecht: The Dort Packet-boat from Rotterdam Becalmed, 1818, oil on canvas (New Haven: Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection).


Montreal Acquires Rigaud’s Modello for Portrait of Louis XIV

Posted in Art Market, museums by Editor on June 2, 2017

Press release via Art Daily (31 May 2017). . .

Hyacinthe Rigaud, Modello for the Portrait of Louis XIV in Royal Ceremonial Robes, 1701, oil on canvas, 55 × 45 cm (Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal).

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has just acquired a remarkable work: the modello, or painted sketch, for the famous Portrait of Louis XIV in Royal Ceremonial Robes by Hyacinthe Rigaud (Musée du Louvre, Paris).

“We are pleased that we were able to acquire this iconic painting on the art market. It is the modello for one of the most famous portraits in the history of Western art,” said Nathalie Bondil, the MMFA’s Director General and Chief Curator. “Often copied and even imitated, the painting is the origin of a rich iconographic lineage in the history of state portraiture. It is an important addition to our collection of historical international art, since Louis XIV enabled New France to evolve from a trading outpost to a populated settlement.”

Hilliard T. Goldfarb, Senior Curator of Old Masters, had this to say about the work: “The canvas is in very good condition and has not been refixed. The exquisite execution succeeds in concentrating formidable power into a small format. The attention paid to the textures is admirable and is to some extent more impressive than the large final version: look attentively at the rendering of the ermine and the velvet and also the way in which the fleurs de lys, following the curves of the folds in the cloak bend and twist, catching the light, something that is not evident in the final version.”

“By representing the contact of the king’s skin with the regalia, the painter is accentuating his special status among men,” added Sylvain Cordier, Curator of Early Decorative Arts. “Louis XIV is the only one who can touch with his bare hands the sacred instruments that confirm his royalty: anyone looking at the painting was aware of this. In our world, awash in political images, it is exciting to look at the composition of an official portrait as emblematic as this one, which uses specific codes and a profusion of detail to depict his royal majesty and legitimacy as a ruler in the seventeenth century. We are the inheritors of this past, which also raised profound questions that led to the rise of democracy and citizenship. Today, as we view this ‘icon,’ it feels both familiar and distant.”

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The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal acquired the painting from Paris-based Galerie Éric Coatalem, which, as reported by Didier Rykner for La Tribune de l’Art (16 May 2017), displayed the painting at this year’s TEFAF in Maastricht.

Much more information is available from Ariane James-Sarazin’s essay “Le modello du portrait de Louis XIV en grand costume royal” for the online catalogue raisonné Hyacinthe Rigaud (1659–1743). L’homme et son art (Editions Faton, added 2 March 2017 and updated 17 May 2017).




Cincinnati Receives $11.75million for Bimel Asian Art Endowment

Posted in museums by Editor on May 18, 2017

Press release (16 May 2017) from the Cincinnati Art Museum:

A Royal Couple and Women of the Court Playing Holi, ca. 1760, Mughal period, Mughal/India; opaque watercolor, gold, and silver on paper (Cincinnati Museum of Art, 1986.1174).

A landmark $11.75 million gift to the Cincinnati Art Museum to establish the Alice Bimel Endowment for Asian Art was announced at the museum’s 137th Annual Meeting of the Shareholders of the Cincinnati Museum Association on May 15. The largest single monetary gift in the museum’s history, the endowment will enhance collections in the arts of South Asia, Greater Iran, and Afghanistan.

During their lifetimes, the Bimels developed a fascination with South Asian art of all periods and extended their interests to include the regions of Greater Iran and Afghanistan. Their gifts to the Cincinnati Art Museum followed closely their own art collecting, study, and travel interests. In sum, Alice and Carl Bimel generously donated more than $14 million in addition to significant collection objects to the museum.

“It would be impossible to express in full our gratitude for what Carl and Alice Bimel have given to the public through their museum. The Bimels’ act of immense generosity will advance a key area of study that is immeasurably important and highly relevant in contemporary society. The Bimels gave countless volunteer hours, support and collections while they were with us. Now they add their vision to the future,” said Cameron Kitchin, the Louis and Louise Dieterle Nippert Director of the museum.

Newly appointed Curator of South Asian Art, Islamic Art and Antiquities, Dr. Ainsley Cameron, adds, “The opportunity to build an ambitious collection in a public museum today is rare. Alice and Carl Bimel have made that possible for Cincinnati. With this endowment, we can create an exceptional collection, one that represents the vibrancy and vitality prevalent in the arts of the region, from both the historic period and the contemporary.”

Alice and her husband, Carl, were longtime supporters of the museum who, with their passing, left a legacy of philanthropy. Alice died in 2008 and Carl in 2013. Alice was a Cincinnati Art Museum volunteer for more than 40 years, and was a member of the first docent class in 1960. In 1972, she was the first woman named to the museum’s board of trustees. She was one of the principal volunteers assisting with the museum’s fundraising efforts before the Development department was established in the fall of 1981. Alice was passionate about art and fiercely committed to the excellence of the Cincinnati Art Museum. She has been described as “thoughtful, energetic, patrician and deeply caring.” Former director Millard Rogers said in 1990: “Alice Bimel represents all the good qualities of volunteerism. She has provided many firsts through her insight and creativity; she is a worker as well as a leader, and has continued to be active long after others with less dedication and perseverance have quit.”

The Bimels traveled extensively throughout Asia. They collected miniature paintings and other South Asian works of art which are now in the Cincinnati Art Museum’s permanent collection, and also provided support for the purchase of acquisitions in other regions represented in the Art Museum’s Asian collections.

In 2004, the Cincinnati Art Museum dedicated its courtyard in honor of Alice in recognition of a major gift. Other gifts included endowing several galleries in honor of Alice and their daughters Carlyn and Natalie.   The Bimel family has previously provided more than $2 million in other endowments and gifts to the Cincinnati Art Museum since 1977. In 1998, Carl and Alice Bimel gifted the museum a 9th-century carved stone pillar from the Pala dynasty depicting a Serpent King and Queen. In 2008 the Art Museum celebrated a gift of Indian paintings from the Bimels that included exquisite works of art created in the 17th and 18th centuries at the royal Hindu courts of Rajasthan and the Punjab Hills. This gift enhanced the collection of courtly and sacred Indian paintings, most of which were given by the Bimels over many years. In 2006, Alice was awarded the Cincinnati Art Museum’s George Rieveschl Medal for Distinguished Service.


Getty Research Institute Director Thomas Gaehtgens to Retire in 2018

Posted in museums by Editor on May 12, 2017

Press release (9 May 2017) from The Getty:

The J. Paul Getty Trust announced today that Thomas W. Gaehtgens, director of the Getty Research Institute, will retire in early spring 2018 after more than a decade of leading one of the world’s foremost institutions for art historical research. After his retirement, Gaehtgens, who is 77, will return to Germany, where he plans to continue to write and conduct independent research.

“Thomas Gaehtgens’s international standing as a leading scholar has enabled him to significantly broaden the vision and reputation of the Getty Research Institute,” said James Cuno, president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust. “The GRI has always been known as one of the world’s largest and finest arts and architecture libraries, but under Thomas’s leadership the GRI has become a robust, international center of original scholarship. In addition to groundbreaking exhibitions and publications, Thomas’s commitment to the digitization of the GRI’s collection, and his enthusiasm for open access tools and research databases, has put the GRI, and by extension the Getty, at the forefront of the digital humanities. He is an energizing and inspiring leader who has created a culture of collaboration and spearheaded tremendous growth in research, collecting and innovating at the GRI. I’m grateful to him for his contribution and I know we will all miss him.”

Since becoming director of the Getty Research Institute (GRI) in 2007 Gaehtgens has overseen a dramatic expansion in the Institute’s research projects, scholars department, exhibitions program, and digital initiatives in addition to the robust growth of the GRI’s Special Collections. One of his important accomplishments was to move the GRI from an institution focused primarily on Western art to one with a more global approach, supporting collaborations with Chinese, Japanese, Indian, African, and above all Latin American institutions.

Under his stewardship, the GRI acquired many significant collections of archival material relating to art and architecture, including the archives of important artists, architects, art historians, dealers, curators, and scholars. Max Lieberman, Kathe Kollwitz, Man Ray, Robert Mapplethorpe, Harmony Hammond, Frederick Hammersley, Harry Smith, Lewis Baltz, Allan Sekula, Barbara T. Smith, and Ed Ruscha are among the many artists now represented in the GRI’s special collections. Architects in the collection now include John Lautner, Ray Kappe, Welton Beckett, and most recently Frank Gehry, whose archive was acquired in 2017. Dealer archives acquired under his tenure include the tremendously important Knoedler Gallery archives, which chronicles the flow of Western art between Europe and the US throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. Recently, the GRI acquired the archive of the notable Margo Leavin Gallery. Scholar/writer/curator archives are an especially important collecting area, with archives from Svetlana Alpers, Annette Michelson, Ada Louise Huxtable, and Thomas Hines recently added to the GRI’s  collections.

Among these acquisitions, the Harald Szeemann Archive and Library, acquired in 2011, stands out for its sheer scale (it is more than 1,500 linear feet of archival documents and photographs) and its great art historical significance. As the largest single archival collection ever acquired by the Getty Research Institute, the Harald Szeemann Archive and Library is the massive collection of letters, papers, books, and research of the most famous curator of the post-World War II era, who was an ardent advocate of modern and contemporary art, from Dada, surrealism, and futurism, to conceptualism, postminimalism, performance art, and new forms of installation and video art. It is this essential resource for the study of 20th century art and art history that will cap Gaehtgens’ time at the Getty Research Institute; he will stay at the GRI to oversee the completion of the bulk of the digitization and organization of the archive and the presentation of the major scholarly exhibition derived from Szeemann’s archive presented at the GRI in 2018.

“It has been an outstanding privilege to serve for so many years the philanthropic mission of the Getty, as the donor himself expressed it, to extend ‘the advancement of knowledge and appreciation of the fine art’ at this unique ensemble of collaborating institutions,” said Gaehtgens. “There is no way I could express my gratitude to the Trustees for their confidence and to the whole Getty community, this exceptionally devoted, lively and multilingual staff. And I would like to acknowledge the members of the GRI council who were so wonderfully supportive during my tenure.”

“Of course, I especially want to praise my colleagues at the GRI, for participating and sharing with me 10 years of unforgettable common adventures and accomplishments in a spirit of energetic advancement and serene collegiality,” Gaehtgens continued. “I will miss my Getty colleagues in Berlin. But I am sure we will stay in contact to continue our scholarly exchanges and keep the grown friendship alive. ”

Gaehtgens transformed the GRI from an institution that primarily hosted scholars to one that employs its major resources to advance an exceptionally active scholarly program and supports staff to participate in projects and publications. In recent years GRI’s scholar program—with themes such as ‘Connecting Seas’, ‘Display of Art’, ‘Art and Anthropology’, ‘Art and Materiality’, and ‘Object, Value, Canon’—has attracted an unexpectedly high number of applications, opened a new field of research, and often inspired other institutions internationally. In 2009 Gaehtgens directed the creation of the Getty Research Journal, an annual publication by the Getty Research Institute that presents scholarship by members of the GRI’s research community. Featuring the work of established and emerging art historians, museum curators, and conservators from around the world, the articles present original research related to the Getty’s collections, initiatives, and projects. Shorter texts highlight acquisitions and tools for scholarship under development at the Getty. In addition to the Getty Research Journal, the GRI publishes about 10 art historical books and exhibition catalogs a year.

Digital initiatives have been especially important to Gaehtgens in his time at the Getty. In 2011 the GRI launched the Getty Research Portal, which offers free access to the world’s art libraries. The GRI has also created the Scholars’ Workspace, a digital tool for art historical collaboration and publication. The GRI further leads the way in online provenance research and provides widely used tools such as the Getty Vocabularies in linked-open data. And hundreds of thousands of GRI images and publications are available online through the GRI’s standard-setting open access practices.

Since the Getty Center opened in 1997, the Getty Research Institute galleries have presented a robust  schedule of exhibitions drawn from or relating to the GRI’s collections. In 2013, Gaehtgens oversaw the addition of a larger gallery in the Getty Research Institute, tripling the GRI’s exhibition space. In recent years, the GRI exhibitions program has also expanded to include off-site exhibitions, traveling exhibitions, and collaborations with other institutions, including the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Getty Conservation Institute. Last year, the GRI collaborated with the Getty Conservation Institute to present Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road, which featured life-size recreations of the caves of Magao as well as rare international loans such as the Diamond Sutra.

Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A., 1945–1980, an unprecedented multi-institution collaboration launched in 2011, established the Getty, and especially the Getty Research Institute, as leading experts in 20th-century Los Angeles art. The subsequent Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A. was made possible by the Getty Research Institute’s unparalleled collections and research on Los Angeles architecture. And the upcoming Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA positions the Getty and the GRI at the forefront of new scholarship on Latin American art from the ancient to the contemporary. The GRI will participate with four exhibitions, one of which, Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas, together with the Getty Museum and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, got Gaehtgens’s special support. The exhibition is dedicated to the Pre-Columbian period and will provide new ways of thinking about materials, luxury, and the visual arts in a global perspective.

An international search for a new director of the Getty Research Institute will be conducted by the J. Paul Getty Trust.

About Thomas Gaehtgens
Thomas W. Gaehtgens received his doctorate in 1966 at the Institute of Art History at the Universität Bonn and his habilitation in 1972 at the Universität Göttingen. In 1979, he was a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton. Between 1980 and 2006 he served as professor at the Freie Universität in Berlin. He was a Getty Scholar at the J. Paul Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, Santa Monica, from 1985 to 1986. In 1992, he organized the 26th International Congress of Art History in Berlin and served as the president of the Comité International d’Histoire de l’Art (CIHA) from 1992 to 1996. Professor Gaehtgens taught at the Collège de France in 1995 and held the position of European Chair at the Collège de France between 1998 and 1999. He was director of the Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte/Centre allemand d’histoire de l’art in Paris, an organization he founded in 1997. In 2004, he received an honorary doctorate at the Courtauld Institute of Art. Since 2007, he has been the director of the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. Professor Gaehtgens was awarded the Grand Prix de l’Académie Française pour la Francophonie in 2009. In 2011, he received an honorary doctorate from the Paris-Sorbonne, and was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In recognition of his influential scholarship, Gaehtgens was awarded the prestigious Prix Mondial Cino del Duca 2015 by the Institut de France. His research interests include eighteenth- to twentieth-century French and German art history, as well as the history of the museum.

Summary of Publications by Thomas Gaehtgens
Versailles als Nationaldenkmal (1984); with Jacques Lugand, Joseph-Marie Vien: Peintre du Roi (1988); Anton von Werner: Die Proklamierung des Deutschen Kaiserreiches, ein Historienbild im Wandel preußischer Politik (1990); Die Berliner Museumsinsel im Deutschen Kaiserreich: Zur Kulturpolitik der Museen in der wilhelminischen Epoche (1992); with Krzystof Pomian, Le XVIIIe siècle (1998); L’art sans frontières, Paris-Berlin: Les relations artistiques franco-allemandes (1999); and L’art, l’histoire, l’histoire de l’art (2011). He has also edited a wide range of books and authored many articles about French and German history of art from the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries and is currently completing a book manuscript on the shelling of Reims cathedral and the intellectual conflict between Germany and France during the First World War.




MFA Reaches Agreement to Retain Seven Rare Pieces of Porcelain

Posted in museums by Editor on May 7, 2017

Press release (4 May 2017) from Boston’s MFA:

Figure of Harlequine, Höchst Manufactory, ca. 1752; hard-paste porcelain (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts).

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), has reached an agreement with the Estate of Emma Budge, allowing the Museum to retain seven pieces of rare 18th-century German porcelain that were sold in Berlin in 1937. As the direct result of Nazi persecution, the proceeds from the sale were never realized by Budge’s heirs. The Italian comedy figures (commedia dell’arte), made by the porcelain manufactories Höchst, Fürstenburg, and Fulda, all belonged to Emma Lazarus Budge (1852–1937), who built a large collection of decorative arts in her home in Hamburg. These seven objects combine with works from the MFA collection to represent the only complete sets of these figures known to exist.

Upon Budge’s death in 1937, she left the disposition of her art collection to her estate executors. Emma Budge, who was Jewish, had specified that she did not wish her collection to be sold within National Socialist Germany. Nevertheless, on October 4–6, 1937, a large portion of her collection was sold by her estate at auction in Berlin. The proceeds from the sale were credited to the account of the Budge estate at M. M. Warburg Bank in Hamburg, but the ultimate settlement of the estate was delayed until 1939. In the meantime, Warburg Bank was Aryanized, or sold to non-Jewish owners, and several of Mrs. Budge’s estate executors, who were also Jewish, were dismissed from their roles. Many of her heirs fled Germany, and those who remained were subject to persecution. The estate funds that were ultimately disbursed were placed into tightly controlled, blocked accounts to which those heirs did not have free access.

Mel Urbach and Lothar Fremy, the lawyers representing the Budge Estate, thanked the MFA for efforts in reaching a “just and fair” solution. “The MFA has set another example of how provenance issues can be resolved through mutual cooperation, respect and recognition.”

The seven pieces of porcelain at the MFA were purchased at the 1937 auction by Otto and Magdalena Blohm, also porcelain collectors from Hamburg, and probably acquaintances of Emma Budge. Mrs. Blohm moved to New York after World War II, bringing the porcelain collection with her. Edward and Kiyi Pflueger acquired the figures from the Blohm collection and bequeathed them to the MFA in 2006. The series of Italian Comedy figures assembled by the Pfluegers formed part of their internationally known collection of European ceramics. Over the course of several years, the MFA acquired the Pflueger Collection, which offered a rare comprehensive survey of the art and technology of porcelain and pottery production in Europe from the late 15th to the 18th century.

The Budge figures belong to three distinct sets that were produced by German porcelain manufactories that flourished in the 1750s and ‘60s. The Höchst figures are unusual for standing on architectural plinths that were probably inspired by the ‘Comedy parterre’ garden at Schönborn Palace in Vienna. Their Fürstenberg counterparts, probably made a year or two later, stand on the ground. The single figure of Harlequin from the Fulda factory may be the rarest of all, since it was made a decade later at a much smaller, short-lived factory.

Objects included in the settlement:
Harlequin, Höchst Manufactory, ca. 1752
Harlequine, Höchst Manufactory, ca. 1752
Il Capitano, Höchst Manufactory, ca. 1752
Scaramouche, modeled by Simon Feilner, Fürstenberg Manufactory, ca. 1754
• Ragonda, modeled by Simon Feilner, Fürstenberg Manufactory, ca. 1754
Columbine, modeled by Simon Feilner, Fürstenberg Manufactory, ca. 1754
Harlequin, Fulda Manufactory, ca 1765

The MFA is a leader in the field of provenance research, employing a full-time Curator for Provenance, who works with curators throughout the Museum to research and document the MFA’s collection on an ongoing basis. Findings are included in the Museum’s online collections database. The MFA follows the highest standards of professional practice in regards to issues of ownership and in its response to claims for works in the collection. If research demonstrates that a work of art has been stolen, confiscated or unlawfully appropriated without subsequent restitution, then the Museum will notify potential claimants, and seek to resolve the matter in an equitable, appropriate and mutually agreeable manner. A list of ownership resolutions at the Museum since the late 1990s can be found here.