Exhibition | Armenia: Art, Culture, Eternity

Posted in exhibitions, museums by Editor on November 18, 2018

Press release (25 October 2018) from the Armenian Museum of America:

Armenia: Art, Culture, Eternity
Armenian Museum of America, Watertown, Massachusetts, exhibition open from November 2018

Kütahya vessel, 18th century, polychrome fritware (Watertown, Massachusetts: Armenian Museum of America).

The Armenian Museum of America is pleased to share its vision for the future. Founded in 1971, the Museum serves as the largest repository of Armenian artifacts in the diaspora, as well as the largest ethnic museum in Massachusetts. As the Museum builds towards the future, it strives to create a stronger, more connected community through shared exploration of Armenian art and history, both for Armenians and those who are new to Armenian culture.

The Museum’s new gallery Armenia: Art, Culture, Eternity provides an overview of Armenian culture from antiquity to present-day Armenian experience here in the United States. Over fifty objects are on display, illustrating Armenia’s origins in the Asian continent, the invention of a unique Indo-European language and alphabet, the early adoption of Christianity, Armenian medieval illuminated manuscripts, interconnected trade routes, and the tragedy of the Genocide.

Armenia: Art, Culture, Eternity is the culmination of twelve months of intense research and design and represents a new level of scholarship and interpretation at the Museum. The project was made possible by the support of the Board of Trustees and was spearheaded by Executive Director Jennifer Liston Munson and architect Virginia Durruty, who worked side-by-side with Michele Kolligian, President of the Board of Trustees, on the inspired design. The gallery represents an incredible achievement and is the start of a holistic consideration of the entire Museum, which will examine everything from the building’s distinctive Brutalist architecture—including how the hard space is a meaningful metaphor for Armenia’s difficult history—to the Museum’s role in telling the modern Armenian-American cultural narrative.

Colonial Williamsburg Acquires Revolutionary War Portrait

Posted in museums by Editor on November 12, 2018

Press release (8 November 2018) from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, via Art Daily.

Unidentified artist, Portrait of Major Patrick Campbell, 1775–76, oil on canvas (Williamsburg: Colonial Williamsburg Collections, 2018-26).

Likenesses of British officers who served in the Revolutionary War are rare. Therefore, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s recent acquisition of the first bust-length, British military portrait for its collection is significant especially given the connection of this oil on canvas to events that happened nearby. The subject, Major Patrick Campbell, was a Scottish officer who served in the British lines at the Siege of Yorktown. Until the last few decades, the portrait descended through the family of Major Campbell’s sister.

“To be able to accurately depict our nation’s enduring story, especially the individuals who participated in events that happened in such close proximity to Williamsburg, is essential to our mission,” said Mitchell Reiss, president and CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. “The exceptional portraits in our collection, such as that of Major Campbell, enable us to fulfill this duty in an authentic way.”

The portrait of Major Campbell joins Colonial Williamsburg’s important collection of militaria pertaining to the Siege and Surrender of Yorktown, which took place approximately 13 miles away. The collection includes maps such as Joseph Frederick Wallet Des Barres’s A Plan of the Posts of York and Gloucester (1782) and Major General Marquis de Lafayette’s manuscript field map used during the Virginia Campaign. Among the paintings are James Peale’s group portrait of George Washington and his generals after the Surrender and two by French artist Louis-Nicholas Van Blarenberghe after drawings from eyewitnesses to the Siege and Surrender. The collection also features objects relating to other regions where the Revolutionary War occurred.

“Our goal is to tell the whole story of the Revolution in Virginia,” said Ronald Hurst, the Foundation’s Carlisle H. Humelsine chief curator and vice president for collections, conservation and museums. “Objects such as the portrait of Patrick Campbell allow us to put faces on the players and therefore humanize these events that changed the course of American history.”

The portrait of Major Campbell was painted in Scotland by an unidentified Scottish artist in late 1775 or early 1776 after Campbell was commissioned into the 71st Regiment to see action in the Revolutionary War. (He also sat for two portraits by John Singleton Copley.) The Major is shown in the uniform of the 71st Regiment prior to receiving command of the Grenadier Company of the 2nd Battalion, at which point a second silver epaulette was added to his uniform. His military career in America was vast: he served in the New York Campaign of 1776, the Philadelphia Campaign of 1777, and sailed to Savannah in late 1778 where he fought in the Campaign of 1779. In December of that year, he was captured aboard a sloop sailing to New York and taken as a prisoner of war to Newport, Rhode Island. He was exchanged back to the British for an American officer of the 2nd Virginia Regiment in 1780. On January 1, 1781, Campbell married Sarah Pearsall, a young woman from a prominent Loyalist Quaker family in New York City, with whom he fathered a son. Major Campbell survived in the British lines at Yorktown in October 1781, where he surrendered as part of the garrison of Redoubt #10, the earthwork fortification in the British defensive line protecting the town. He died in New York City in 1782 and was buried there.

The acquisition of Major Campbell’s portrait also exemplifies the collaborative efforts between two Colonial Williamsburg curators, who each brought forth their expertise in different media: Laura Pass Barry, Juli Granger curator of paintings, drawings and sculpture, and Erik Goldstein, senior curator of mechanical arts and numismatics. “It’s always a win-win situation for Colonial Williamsburg when two specialists can join forces on a project. I am fortunate to be able to rely on Erik for his expertise in military history, especially the people and events of the American Revolution,” said Barry. Added Goldstein, “And, I am appreciative for Laura’s insight into the context for which this portrait was made. Together, we’re able to better understand and therefore tell a more comprehensive story about objects like this in our collection.”

Generous donations by the Friends of Colonial Williamsburg Collections made this acquisition possible.

Met Names Andrea Bayer Deputy Director for Collections, Administration

Posted in museums by Editor on November 10, 2018

Press release (8 November 2018) from The Met:

Andrea Bayer (Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art).

Max Hollein, Director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, announced today that Andrea Bayer has been appointed Deputy Director for Collections and Administration. In May 2018, Dr. Bayer was appointed Interim Deputy Director for Collections and Administration, continuing in her position as Jayne Wrightsman Curator in the Department of European Paintings.

“Andrea Bayer is a highly respected scholar, an imaginative exhibition curator, and an esteemed colleague at The Met,” said Hollein. “Throughout her time as Interim Deputy Director and before, she has shown exceptional leadership and great loyalty to our beloved Museum. I have been deeply impressed by her commitment and capabilities during my first few months as Director of the Museum and am excited that she has just accepted our offer to become Deputy Director.”

“As Curator in the Department of European Paintings, often working on projects that went across multiple departments, I know how rewarding it is to work alongside colleagues throughout the Museum,” said Bayer. “I am thrilled to take on this new role, one which will allow me both to support the Director and continue to collaborate with these colleagues on an institutional level.”

Since joining The Met’s Department of European Paintings in 1990 as a scholar of Italian Renaissance art, Andrea Bayer has curated groundbreaking exhibitions including Dosso Dossi, Court Painter in Renaissance Ferrara (1999); Painters of Reality: The Legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio in Lombardy (2004); Art and Love in Renaissance Italy (2008–09); and the current exhibition Celebrating Tintoretto: Portrait Paintings and Studio Drawings, with Alison Manges Nogueira, Associate Curator in the Robert Lehman Collection. Bayer also co-curated Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible, one of the inaugural exhibitions at The Met Breuer.

Bayer was named Curator in European Paintings in 2007 and was appointed Jayne Wrightsman Curator in 2014. She served as Interim Head of Education in 2008–09 and for six years acted as coordinating curator for the Curatorial Studies program with New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. Bayer is also Co-Chairman of the Director’s Exhibition Committee.

In addition to authoring numerous exhibition catalogs, Bayer has written two Museum Bulletins and recently co-authored two articles for the Metropolitan Museum Journal: “Andrea del Sarto’s Borgherini Holy Family and Charity: Two Intertwined Late Works” and “An Examination of Paolo Veronese’s Portrait of Alessandro Vittoria,” both in volume 52 (2017).

Andrea Bayer studied at Barnard College and Princeton University and received her PhD from Princeton University in 1990.

Thomas Campbell to Direct the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Posted in museums by Editor on November 8, 2018

From the FAMSF press release (30 October 2018). . .

Photo by Scott Rudd; courtesy Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

The Board of Trustees of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) and the Corporation of the Fine Arts Museums (COFAM) today appointed Thomas P. Campbell as the new director and CEO of the largest public arts institution in Northern California, effective 1 November 2018. As head of FAMSF, which comprise the de Young museum in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park, Mr. Campbell will oversee a wide-ranging curatorial program and education programs and will manage a staff of more than 500.

“I am deeply gratified to take up the responsibility of leading the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco,” Campbell said. “It is a great privilege to become part of an institution with such outstanding curatorial expertise and famously loyal audiences and supporters, and I am especially pleased to have the opportunity to continue the great work done by my friend and predecessor Max Hollein. I am eager to begin collaborating with the Trustees, the staff, and the entire cultural network of San Francisco.”

Mr. Campbell served as Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art from 2009 to 2017, having joined the Met as a curator in 1995. During his tenure at the Met, he led a revitalization and modernization achieved through award-winning exhibitions and publications, major capital projects, and historic donations of works of art. Attendance grew by more than 50 percent to a record seven million visitors a year, with audiences that are now more diverse than ever before.

Most recently, from November 2017 through October 2018, he was a Getty/Rothschild Fellow with residencies at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles and at Waddesdon Manor in the UK, undertaking independent study of the impact of global changes on museums and cultural life in general. . . .

Over his thirty-year career, Mr. Campbell has dedicated his life to the preservation, study and promotion of art as a gateway to human understanding. A distinguished art historian who was educated at Oxford and the Courtauld Institute, University of London, he joined the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1995 as an assistant curator in the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts and supervising curator of the Antonio Ratti Textile Center. As curator, he conceived and organized the acclaimed exhibitions Tapestry in the Renaissance: Art and Magnificence (2002) and Tapestry in the Baroque: Threads of Splendor (New York, 2007; Madrid, 2008). The 2002 exhibition was named ‘Exhibition of the Year’ by Apollo Magazine, and its catalogue won the Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Award (College Art Association) for distinguished exhibition catalogue in the history of art (2003). His book, Henry VIII and the Art of Majesty: Tapestries at the Tudor Court, a reappraisal of the art and patronage of the era, was published in 2007.

During his tenure as Director, he elevated the Met’s national and international profile through conservation exchanges in the Middle East and India, ambitious loan exhibitions in China, Japan and Brazil, the launching of a biannual global museum directors’ colloquium, and a new international donor council.

New Acquisitions at the McNay Art Museum

Posted in museums by Editor on November 4, 2018

Press release (30 October 2018) from the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio:

Yasumasa Morimura, ‘Dedicated to La Duquesa de Alba/Black Alba’, 2004, chromogenic print, mounted on canvas (San Antonio: Collection of the McNay Art Museum, 2018.33, ©Yasumasa Morimura).

Richard Aste, Director of the McNay Art Museum, announced today the acquisition of two major works that broaden the McNay’s permanent collection of contemporary art: Dedicated to La Duquesa de Alba/Black Alba by Yasumasa Morimura and Robert by James Gobel.

Funds for these newly acquired works of art were generated by the McNay Contemporary Collectors Forum. The McNay Contemporary Collectors Forum (MCCF) supports contemporary art at the McNay and builds bridges between the Museum and San Antonio’s vibrant art community. In addition to other programs, MCCF initiated the Artists Looking at Art series, which features four artists each year and displays their work in the Museum for three months. MCCF also hosts an annual fundraising event each fall that directly supports the McNay’s art acquisition fund.

“We are thrilled to include the vision of Morimura and Gobel in the collection of the first modern art museum in Texas,” said Aste. “Their works expand the canon of art history and new ideals of beauty and truth in the 21st century.”

“These particular acquisitions enhance two expanding priorities of the McNay’s contemporary holdings—an increasing global presence and greater emphasis on under-recognized communities,” said Head of Curatorial Affairs René Paul Barilleaux. “Together with other judicious purchases made by MCCF since 2003, these artworks demonstrate the ever-expanding ways in which artists communicate their vision through content, subject, materials, and presentation.”

Francisco de Goya, ‘Mourning Portrait of the Duchess of Alba’ (‘The Black Duchess’), 1797, oil on canvas, 77 × 51 inches (New York Hispanic Society).

Both newly acquired works of art will be featured in the McNay’s major summer 2019 exhibition, Transamerica/n: Gender, Identity, Appearance Today. Presented in tandem with Andy Warhol: Portraits and following Warhol’s lead, Transamerica/n is a broad survey of works  by visual artists, performers, and self-identified artists who explore gender identity as manifest in outward appearance, individual presentation, and societal perception.

Yasumasa Morimura was born in Osaka, Japan in 1951, and received a BA from Kyoto University of Art in 1978. Morimura is featured in the collections of Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Morimura has composed works of art by referencing seminal paintings by Frida Kahlo, Vincent Van Gogh, Diego Velázquez, and Francisco de Goya, as well as images culled from historical materials, mass media, and popular culture. The artist’s first solo-exhibition at the Japan Society, New York, Yasumasa Morimura: Ego Obscura, is on view through January 13, 2019.

Through extensive use of props, costumes, makeup, and digital manipulation, Morimura masterfully transforms himself into recognizable subjects, often from the Western cultural canon. In Dedicated to La Duquesa de Alba/Black Alba, a self-portrait, Morimura draws reference from Francisco de Goya’s 1797 painting of María Cayetana de Silva, 13th Duchess of Alba. Painted the year after the Duke’s death, this portrait of the Duchess depicts her in mourning black, wearing the traditional costume of a maja. The artist’s reinvention of art historical masterpieces and iconic photographs challenges associations the viewer has with the subjects, while also commenting on Japan’s complex absorption of Western culture.

James Gobel received his BFA in Photography from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 1996 and his MFA in Painting from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1999. Gobel’s work has been featured in Artforum, Art in America, Flash Art, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, as well as the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York (2014); Las Vegas Art Museum (2008); New Museum, New York (2005); and Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2000).

Gobel begins his process with photographs, either posed or found, and proceeds to make drawings in pencil and yarn, then composes a mosaic of felt pieces. When viewed from a distance, the McNay’s newly acquired work, Robert, could be mistaken for an oil painting, but upon further inspection reveals a fuzzy, warm texture of delicately placed felt. Robert references Giovanni Battista Moroni’s The Tailor (‘Il Tagliapanni’), 1565–70. Although inspired by traditional portraiture, the artist’s interpretation questions the lack of visibility given to heavyset, homosexual bodies. Gobel’s portraits of zaftig male figures blend references to art history with gay culture and break down boundaries between masculine and feminine.

Sweden’s Nationalmuseum Reopens

Posted in museums by Editor on October 15, 2018

Stockholm: Nationalmuseum
(Photo: Anna Danielsson/Nationalmuseum, 2018)

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After a five-year renovation, Sweden’s Nationalmuseum in Stockholm reopened on Saturday; from the press release, via Art Daily:

In parallel with the renovation of Nationalmuseum, extensive work to create totally new presentations of the museum’s collections has taken place behind the scenes. Among other things, visitors notice that the various art forms are displayed side by side, accompanied by a chronological narrative. In addition to the so-called ‘Timeline’, there are also new spaces such as the Treasury, the Design Depot, Children’s Art World, and the Sculpture Courtyard.

Nationalmuseum has the richest and most extensive collections in the Nordic region, with more than 700,000 objects and works of art. The work with the presentations of the collections began with a desire to be able to display more art and design in the museum building than had previously been possible. It was also important that the collections interacted harmoniously with the building’s original architecture and that daylight was afforded a prominent role, because over 300 big windows were unshuttered. The various art forms—painting, sculpture, art on paper, applied art, and design—would also be integrated.

The largest collection presentation was dubbed the Timeline. Both chronologically and thematically, it traces art and design from 1500 to the present day. Recurring themes include art and politics, nearness to nature, collection history, nationalism and gender. The timeline spirals out through the museum floor plan, and international and Swedish art are displayed side by side, thus encouraging new perspectives and experiences.

Other presentations demonstrate the potential of the collections. In the Treasury, visitors can marvel at the wealth of jewelry, accessories, boxes, and pocket watches, as well as a selection of more than 600 portrait miniatures from the museum’s extensive miniature collection. Many of these objects have never been exhibited before. In the so-called Design Depot on the ground floor, a study collection of ceramics is on display, with more than 1,000 objects from the early 1700s to today. In the depot, the development of the ceramic arts through the ages is depicted, with a focus on materials, technologies and design process. In the Sculpture Garden, visitors can encounter works from the museum’s collection of 19th-century sculpture. Also on the ground floor, a special exhibition called Villa Curiosa is on display in the Children’s Art World. It focuses on our minds and is meant to serve as an introduction to the collections for children and young people. Art from the collections is even on display in the restaurant, where diners can admire Denise Grünstein’s series of photographs entitled 1866, which documents the empty museum building shortly before the renovation was begun.

Dynamism is the guiding principle of the presentation approach. The art will rotate through all or part of the exhibition space, and individual objects will be regularly switched out so that more of the comprehensive collections can be displayed. This also makes it possible to show more light-sensitive art such as drawings and textiles. The collections will also continue to evolve; several large donations received by the museum in recent years, combined with the museum’s own funds, have made it possible to complete a number of acquisitions to complement the collections and fill in some gaps.


Williamsburg Acquires Silver Teapot

Posted in museums by Editor on September 24, 2018

Teapot, 1771–72, marked by Andrew Fogelberg, Swedish/English, working ca. 1767–deceased ca. 1815; sterling silver and wood (Colonial Williamsburg, gift of Angus Sladen of Hampshire, England, a descendant of the fourth earl of Dunmore, 2018-128).

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Press release (17 September 2018) from Colonial Williamsburg:

A small, delicately engraved, silver teapot that belonged to the Scottish nobleman John Murray (ca. 1730–1809), fourth earl of Dunmore and Virginia’s last royal governor, which descended through Lord Dunmore’s family, is now part of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s collection. Engraved with the Murray family armorial crest beneath an earl’s coronet, it was made in London in 1771–72 under the sponsorship of the Swedish-born silversmith Andrew Fogelberg. This gift is the first example of silver marked by Fogelberg to enter the collection.

“This remarkable teapot owned by Virginia’s last royal governor represents our nation’s history in a unique way that enables us to authentically tell America’s enduring story,” said Mitchell B. Reiss, president and CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. “Gifts such as this one permit us to better convey the human dimension of our country’s history in an exceptional manner.”

Lord Dunmore, a Scottish peer initially sent to the colonies as royal governor of New York, was transferred to Virginia less than one year later as King George III’s representative in the same capacity. He had a strife-filled time in Williamsburg from 1771 to 1776. Dunmore likely acquired the teapot during the earliest years of his residency in the colonies, before his family joined him from Scotland in 1774. Although there is no written documentation to prove that this teapot was used in Virginia, the likelihood that it was is quite strong. The diminutive scale of the teapot would have been suitable for Lord Dunmore’s personal use while in the colonies before his family’s arrival.

All semblance of peaceful governance in Virginia ended when Dunmore seized the colony’s store of gunpowder in April 1775. Notoriously unpopular and sensing the danger of an armed rebellion, Dunmore took his family and some of their small valuables and fled the Governor’s Palace two months later. Lady Dunmore and their children returned to Britain and Dunmore lodged on an English warship anchored in the Chesapeake Bay. In the process, he abandoned most of his household furnishings and personal property. It is believed that the Fogelberg teapot returned to Britain with the family, as it passed down among his descendants until it was given to Colonial Williamsburg recently.

“Only a handful of objects have come down to us from Lord Dunmore’s time in the Governor’s Palace,” said Ronald L. Hurst, the Foundation’s Carlisle H. Humelsine chief curator and vice president for collections, conservation, and museums. “Given his explosive role in Virginia’s Revolutionary uprising, Dunmore’s personal possessions are now powerful interpretive tools. This well-preserved teapot comes as a very important addition to our collections.”

Diminutive in size and cylindrical in shape, the teapot is engraved with arcaded columns beneath a shell and acanthus border. The proper right side is engraved with the Murray family crest as used by the earls of Dunmore: a bearded man holding in his right hand a sword and in his left a key; above is an earl’s coronet with five pearls on raised stalks interspersed with four strawberry leaves. This unique combination of elements, together with the date of the teapot, identifies it as the property of John Murray, the fourth earl of Dunmore and royal governor of Virginia.

The teapot has a loose—rather than hinged—lid, perhaps indicative of the Swedish background of its silversmith/sponsor Andrew Fogelberg, as this feature is more typically found on Scandinavian, Baltic and Continental vessels. Few objects from Fogelberg’s shop survive, and he is best remembered today as the master who trained the better-known English silversmith Paul Storr.

“This teapot tells a fascinating story,” said Janine E. Skerry, senior curator of metals at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. “Made in the shop of a Swedish-born craftsman working in London, it was used in Virginia by a Scottish nobleman on the eve of the American Revolution. It then traveled back to Britain only to be rediscovered almost 250 years later.”

The teapot is a gift of Angus Sladen of Hampshire, England, a descendent of the fourth earl of Dunmore. It descended to him via Lady Evelyn Cobbold, née Murray (1867–1963), daughter of the seventh earl of Dunmore and Lady Gertrude Coke, daughter of the second earl of Leicester. “I have a great love of and admiration for the United States,” said Mr. Sladen. “It seemed clear to me that this small object most probably witnessed part of American Revolutionary history. Colonial Williamsburg, with its great collections and knowledgeable curators and experts, seemed the ideal home for it, and I felt it might mean a great deal to [its] visitors.”

The Dunmore teapot will be included in a multimedia exhibition focused on objects made or used in Williamsburg scheduled to open at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg in 2019.

Rijksmuseum Acquires Floral Painting by Gerard van Spaendonck

Posted in museums by Editor on September 1, 2018

Press release (29 August 2018) from the Rijksmuseum:

Gerard van Spaendonck, Still Life of Flowers in Alabaster Vase, 1783, oil on canvas, 80 × 64 cm (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum).

The Rijksmuseum has procured a painting by Gerard van Spaendonck, the most famous painter of floral still lifes of the second half of the 18th century. It was a long-cherished wish of the museum to include in its collection an important work by this Dutch painter of international renown. The Rijksmuseum’s director Taco Dibbits describes this painting as “a radiantly beautiful acquisition.” The purchase of Still Life of Flowers in an Alabaster Vase from a gallery in Paris for €900,000 was made possible in part by participants in the BankGiro Lottery. The painting is now on display in Gallery 1.11.

Gerard van Spaendonck (1746–1822) was born in the southern Dutch city of Tilburg and settled in Paris in the 1760s. He gained fame not only as a painter of floral still lifes, but also as the illustrator of the French king’s botanical collection, a highly prestigious position. He was a leading and active figure in the Parisian art world and a teacher of countless French and foreign artists. Gerard van Spaendonck did not make a great number of paintings, instead devoting much of his time to his watercolours of plants, and to his students. He is nonetheless considered to be his era’s best painter of flowers.

Gerard van Spaendonck exhibited this floral still life at the Salon de 1783 in Paris, and it received great praise from critics, including compliments for his lifelike depictions of insects. The painting shows a bouquet of flowers in an alabaster vase standing atop a marble block on which children are depicted in relief. The painter’s studio window can be seen reflected in the polished surface of the vase. The flowers that feature in this painting include large white and smaller pink peonies, blue delphiniums, purple lilacs, and yellow and purple flamed tulips. Insects can be seen dotted about, and five green blackbird eggs lie in the nest on the right. Even the wicker basket seems almost real enough to touch.

Frick Acquires Vase by Luigi Valadier

Posted in exhibitions, museums by Editor on August 8, 2018

Press release from The Frick:

Luigi Valadier (1726–1785), Vase, ca. 1770s, Rosso Appennino marble and gilt silver, approximately 9 × 6 × 4 inches (New York: The Frick Collection; photo by Michael Bodycomb).

Luigi Valadier was the preeminent silversmith in Rome during the second half of the eighteenth century. His work was admired by popes, royalty, and aristocrats throughout Europe. His oeuvre will be the subject of an upcoming monographic exhibition and publication at The Frick Collection, Luigi Valadier: Splendor in Eighteenth-Century Rome (31 October 2018, through 20 January 2019). Inspired by this project—the second in a series of much-needed exhibitions to focus on decorative artists who deserve fresh scholarship—the museum has purchased a unique vase by the artist. The vase, believed to be a special commission, is the only known marble example attributed to Valadier that was executed with gilt-silver mounts, rather than his more typical gilt bronze. The marble used for the vase is also unusual, a rarely used blood-red variety identified as Rosso Appennino. The vase is currently on view in the museum’s Library gallery.

The design of the vase—an ovoid body on a square base, with lanceolate leaves at the bottom and two lion heads with rings in their jaws at the neck—appears in a number of Valadier drawings: two sheets in the Museo Napoleonico, Rome, and one in the Museo di Roma. They all illustrate marble or alabaster vases to be used for flowers or as candlesticks, with lion heads on their sides. Four vases in alabaster following this design were given by the Roman senator Abbondio Rezzonico to Cardinal Giuseppe Doria Pamphilj and are still preserved in the family palace in Rome. One of the drawings in the Museo Napoleonico shows measurements in Genoese palmi, suggesting that this specific design was made for the work done about 1779, at Palazzo Spinola in Genoa, by the French architect Charles de Wailly, who was collaborating with Valadier at the time.

Professor Alvar González-Palacios, the world’s expert on Valadier and the curator of the Frick’s upcoming exhibition, believes that the marble vase may have been carved by Francesco Antonio Franzoni (1734–1818), a sculptor known for producing precious objects, often in bizarre and uncommon materials. The precious materials used for this vase—Rosso Appennino marble and gilt silver—and the quality of the chasing of the metal suggest that it was a private commission for an important aristocrat. The top, unlike the lids of other vases of similar design by Valadier, is not detachable, indicating that the vase was ornamental rather than utilitarian. The finial also differs from the other vases depicted in the drawings by Valadier; whereas the other finials are pine cones, the finial of the Frick vase is an acorn. Professor González-Palacios suggests that this may have heraldic significance and allude to one of Rome’s most prominent aristocratic families, the Chigi, whose coat of arms included oak branches and acorns. Prince Sigismondo Chigi (1736–1793) was one of Valadier’s most important patrons in the 1770s and early 1780s.

Sometime after 1716, Valadier’s father, André, moved from Avignon, in the south of France, to Rome, where he established a silversmith workshop that became one of the best known in the city. Luigi inherited his father’s business in 1759, and his unsurpassed technical expertise combined with his aesthetic taste led to a successful career marked by the production of extraordinary objects in gold, silver, and bronze. Antique sculptures, cameos, architectural details, and ruins of Roman monuments served as the inspiration for his imaginative candelabra, tableware, church altars, and centerpieces. The financial state of the Valadier workshop, however, was often precarious, and it seems the artist suffered as a result of commissions that were never paid. He committed suicide in 1785, drowning himself in the Tiber, presumably because of the debts he had accumulated.

Comments Xavier F. Salomon, Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator, “An exceptional object by Valadier, this vase is an excellent example of the silversmith’s art and a superb object to represent him at The Frick Collection. We are thrilled to add it to our holdings, as it perfectly complements our works by Pierre Gouthière, Valadier’s contemporary in France. It provides a wonderful introduction to New Yorkers as a part of the forthcoming exhibition.”

Xavier Salomon Named Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia

Posted in museums by Editor on August 8, 2018

Press release (28 June 2018) from The Frick:

Xavier F. Salomon, Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator of The Frick Collection has been named Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia for his contribution to the artistic heritage of Italy, his native country. In a private ceremony at the museum in late May, the honor was bestowed by the President of the Republic of Italy, and Salomon was invested by Armando Varricchio, Ambassador of Italy to the United States. The Ordine della Stella d’Italia was established in 2011, to reward individuals who have collaborated and solidified friendly relationships and cooperation between Italy and foreign countries. This award was reformed from the Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana, established after World War II to recognize individuals who were contributing to the reconstruction of Italy.

Salomon, an internationally renowned scholar of Paolo Veronese, was appointed by The Frick Collection in January 2014 as the museum’s Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator. In addition to overseeing the Frick’s curatorial activities, he has organized several exhibitions focusing on Italian and Spanish art. Salomon is the curator of the Frick’s current acclaimed exhibition Canova’s George Washingtonwhich explores the creation of Antonio Canova’s lost statue of George Washington, the only work he created for America. The exhibition features the artist’s full-size preparatory plaster model, executed in 1818, as well as other objects connected to its creation. Following its presentation at the Frick, the show will travel to the Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova in Possagno, Italy, in the fall of 2018. The catalogue, written by Salomon; Mario Guderzo, Director of the Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova; and Guido Beltramini, Director of the Palladio Museum, is a major addition to the current body of knowledge on Canova’s work, as well as on the classical revivalist sculpture of the early nineteenth century on both sides of the Atlantic. Salomon is also co-curating (with Professor Alvar González-Palacios) the Frick’s upcoming exhibition Luigi Valadier: Splendor in Eighteenth-Century Romeopening in the fall of 2018. This show is the next in an ongoing series of monographic exhibitions presented by the Frick that focus on remarkable decorative arts artists. Accompanying the exhibition will be the first complete publication on the Roman silversmith. A related presentation of this exhibition will be shown in 2019 at the Galleria Borghese, Rome.

Other notable exhibitions at the Frick organized by Salomon include Murillo: The Self Portraits (2017), Veronese in Murano: Two Venetian Renaissance Masterpieces Restored (2017), Cagnacci’s Repentant Magdalene: An Italian Baroque Masterpiece from the Norton Simon Museum (2016), and El Greco at The Frick Collection (2014). In addition to contributing to and authoring several exhibition catalogues, Salomon has written on the museum’s rich holdings, including the recently published Holbein’s Sir Thomas More. Co-authored with the celebrated novelist Hilary Mantel, author of the best-selling Wolf Hall, Salomon and Mantel’s is the inaugural book of Frick Diptychs, a series of small-format books that focus on a single work from the museum’s permanent collection. Each book pairs an in-depth essay by a Frick curator with a contribution from a contemporary cultural figure.

Salomon has also been published in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Journal, Apollo, The Burlington Magazine, Master Drawings, The Medal, The Art Newspaper, and the Journal of the History of Collections. Additionally, he oversees the museum’s acquisitions program, and, under his purview, the Frick has added several objects to complement the collection, including its newest acquisition, a vase by the Italian silversmith Luigi Valadier, which will be included in this fall’s upcoming exhibition on the artist. He sits on the Consultative Committee and is a trustee of The Burlington Magazine and Save Venice, and is a member of the International Scientific Committee of Storia dell’Arte and Arte Veneta. He is an alumnus of the Center for Curatorial Leadership (2015).

In 2015, Salomon helped launch the Frick’s groundbreaking collaboration with the Ghetto Film School, a Bronx-based independent film organization that brings high school students from New York City into the museum for onsite instruction across two creative disciplines, the fine arts and the cinematic arts. The program culminates with the creation of a student-produced short film inspired by the Frick and filmed on location at the museum. The partnership was recently featured in an episode NYC-Arts on THIRTEENand in an episode of the documentary series Treasures of New York, which focused on The Frick Collection. This program is now heading into its fourth year.

Born in Rome and raised in Italy and the United Kingdom, Salomon received his Ph.D. from the Courtauld Institute of Art for his research on the patronage of Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini. He began his professional career at the Frick in 2004, where he spent two years as the museum’s Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow. From 2011 to 2014 he was Curator in the Department of European Paintings at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and, prior to that, the Arturo and Holly Melosi Chief Curator at Dulwich Picture Gallery, London. During his tenure at Dulwich, he co-organized, with Colin B. Bailey (then the Frick’s Chief Curator) Masterpieces of European Painting from Dulwich Picture Gallery, which was presented by the Frick in 2010. As a Veronese scholar, he has organized several exhibitions on the artist, including the Frick’s acclaimed dossier show Veronese’s Allegories: Virtue, Love, and Exploration in Renaissance Venice (2006) and the monographic exhibition on the artist at the National Gallery, London (2014).

Comments Frick Director Ian Wardropper “We are thrilled that Xavier’s contributions have been recognized by the Italian government and he has been honored with the Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia. His achievements at the Frick are many and include a number of remarkable exhibitions focusing on Italian artists. These exhibitions were the result of rigorous scholarship and created opportunities for engaging public programming and wonderful collaborations with Italian institutions.”