Current & Coming | By Carolin C. Young

Farther afield: Highclere Castle: The real Downton Abbey

August 20, 2014  |  

The staggering luxury of Downtown Abbey's turreted house and lush grounds have mesmerized audiences as much as any of the adventures of the Crawley family and their staff

The real Downton Abbey is Highclere Castle, located in Berkshire at a crossroads between Winchester and Oxford, Bristol and London. The property's thousand acres of parklands include the remains of an Iron Age hill fort, and the current house stands on foundations that for roughly eight hundred years held up the palace of the bishops of Winchester.

Since 1679 the property has belonged to the Herbert family. Henry Herbert (1741-1811), a grandson of the eighth Earl of Pembroke, inherited the estate from an uncle in 1769 and shortly afterwards commis­sioned Lancelot "Capability" Brown (1716-1783) to redesign the gardens, a project that included moving an extant folly and creat­ing new ones.

In 1793 Herbert was granted the hereditary title o…» More

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Current & Coming | By James Gardner

Smelling the flowers: A closer look at permanent collections

August 12, 2014  |  In this, the quietest season of the year for the New York art world, when most of the commercial galleries are shuttered and the museums have been abandoned to the tourists, it behooves the critic to slow down for a few weeks and smell the flowers. By that I mean returning to the permanent collections and observing the recent addition of several significant objects. I refer in specific to two seventeenth-century paintings that have just entered the collections of the Metropolitan Museum: Saint Francis in Ecstasy by the Genoese master Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione and The Sacrifice of Polyxena by Charles Le Brun.

These are not exactly blockbuster acquisitions and have not even been done the honor of a press release. Rather, when no one was looking, they quietly appeared out of nowhere, assuming their places among the immortals of the collection. One will not love the Old Master tradition because of these two works: rather one will love these two works because they form part o…» More

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Current & Coming | By James Gardner

Current and coming: Books at the Morgan

July 30, 2014  |  Whatever my other sins might be, envy is not usually among them. And yet, I recently felt that unwelcome emotion as I leafed through a coffee table book devoted to, of all things, the private library of Carl Gustav Jung. To turn from those rows of solemn volumes to the calamitous misalliance of dust jackets and trade paperbacks that make up my library was to form no very flattering notion of the modern book business. What was so charming about Jung's collection was that, in addition to its sixteenth- and seventeenth-century volumes, it was made up chiefly of those austerely elegant German, French, and English editions that formed the bedrock of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century publishing.

As it happens, my own library may resemble Jung's a little more than do most of my contemporaries': for reasons of predilection and economy, I have been acquiring old books from the earliest moment when I had the money to do so. In younger years I haunted New York's great and ve…» More

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Current & Coming | By Carolin C. Young

Farther afield: Philosophy in the museum

July 30, 2014  |  

In a refreshing new twist on how to bring new life to long-revered art and objects both the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen in Dresden and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam have invited philosophers to play the role of curator

DRESDEN CONSIDERS THE BOWL

Philosopher Wolfgang Scheppe has collaborated with the staff of the Dresden State Art Collections to present an exhibition in tribute to the American art historian George Kubler and his 1962 treatise The Shape of Time. The show focuses on a single form: the bowl. Ninety-nine examples drawn from many eras and cultures are presented in a long line and juxtaposed against a series of conceptual photographs, also of bowls, by the late Italian photographer Franco Vimercati. The human imagination cannot help but compare and contrast them according to the visual relationships created by their ordering. The bowl itself is revealed to be timeless and as utilitarian now as it was at the dawn of human c…» More

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The Market | By Barrymore Laurence Scherer

New collector: Spratling silver

July 28, 2014  |  The son of Dr. William P. Spratling, a celebrated neurologist and pioneer in treating epilepsy, William Spratling had a tragic childhood, losing his mother and a sister when he was ten, and his father five years later. He went on to Auburn University in Alabama, where he majored in architecture and was apparently teaching the subject there within two years of his arrival. At twenty-one he became an associate professor of architecture at Tulane University in New Orleans, and during the ensuing years he also wrote on architecture and related subjects for Scribner's Magazine, the Journal of the American Institute of Architects, and other publications.

His personal charm, his intellectual abilities, and his writing (he was eventually the author of eight books including an autobiography) gained him entrée into literary circles, where he forged close friendships with such luminaries as Sherwood Anderson, John Dos Passos, and William Faulkner. Faulkner and Spratling lived together …» More

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NYG 2013

by Émile Jacques Ruhlmann (1879-1933), 1926. Macassar ebony, amaranth, and ivory. Metropolitan Museum of Art. By Cynthia Drayton

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