November 14, 2014 | In the nineteenth century there was an oft-repeated tale about the young Thomas Coleentering New York from the far reaches of rural Pennsylvania and being met with hosannasfrom the city's artists. Like most oft-told tales this one turned fact toward myth (to beginwith, Cole had arrived from nowhere more obscure than Philadelphia), and yet it suggests somethingintriguing and durable about the artist: clouds of transcendent glory do seem to clingto him. Alexander Nemerov, in one of his aerial feats of art historical criticism that we are luckyenough to publish in this magazine, suggests why this should be so. "Thomas Cole's hat, or What is it to be an artist?" looks beneath the hat on display at the Thomas Cole house in Catskill, New York, to consider what we can and cannot know about a creative mind attuned to a different world while living in this one. The article is, if I may be oxymoronic for a moment, an effortless tour de force, so hang on to your hat and take the ride. It …» More
November 13, 2014 | By Katharine Morrison McClinton; originally published in September 1950.
From time to time Mrs. McClinton contributes a note to ANTIQUES on some intriguing bypath of collecting interest. This one, which offers an appealing approach to nineteenth-century ceramics, will be incorporated in expanded form, in her forthcoming book on antiques, to be published next year by McGraw-Hill.
Nineteenth-century children's mugs have long attracted collectors, but few are perhaps aware of the wide variety of patterns in which these mugs may be found. The collection of pottery mugs formed by Margaret H. Jewell, now on display at the Harrison Gray Otis House in Boston, includes no less than 1200 examples, with hardly a duplicate.
Among the earliest, made before 1840, are mugs decorated simply with a name and inscription, sometimes adding a wreath of leaves. Today these mugs are rare. They were made in canary as well as cream color, with transfer decoration most commonly in black, though other…» More
November 1, 2014 | For art lovers, the most interesting thing in Austin, Texas, is not the LBJ Presidential Library or the grandiose State House--impressive as both of them are--but the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art on the campus of the University of Texas. A fine example of a university or college museum, it has strong collections of American and Latin American art, as well modern and contemporary. But what raises the Blanton far above most good university museums is its collection of Old Master paintings. What is so special about these works is that they come almost entirely from a single source, the famed Suida-Manning Collection, which the university acquired nearly intact in 1998 and around which it built the stylish Blanton Museum, which opened its doors in 2004.
Above: Saint Cecilia by Simon Vouet, c. 1626. Oil on canvas. The Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas, the Suida-Manning Collection, 1999.
What is so special about the Suida-Manning Collection, relative to most o…» More
October 31, 2014 | By Amy a. Weinstein; originally published in January 2005.
Appealing to the imagination of children of all ages, the toy collection of the New-York Historical Society offers a miniature window into nineteenth-century American family life. The approximately three thousand objects that constitute the collection are made of wood, metal, paper, ceramic, and cloth and trace the social, economic, political, and military history of the nation. The collection documents how new toys were created in response to great events and as new materials and technologies were adapted by the European and American toy industries.1 Although the collection most clearly illuminates the leisure pursuits of wealthy and middle-class children, simpler versions of expensive toys made it possible for children living in less privileged circumstances to own toys of their own.
The growing presence of toys in the United States was in part an outgrowth of the emerging recognition of childhood as a special phase…» More
October 31, 2014 | When Virginia-born George Caleb Bingham was seven, his father lost most of the family's fortune, and they moved to Missouri to build a new life, settling first in Franklin, on the banks of the Missouri River, and later on a farm in Saline County. Who knows what would have caught his imagination had Bingham stayed in Virginia, but there is no question that life on and near the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers as the nation moved westward brought him lasting fame as a painter, providing him with subject matter that satisfied both his artistic aims and his belief in democracy. For the first time, Bingham's river pictures are being examined in depth in an exhibition organized by the Saint Louis Art Museum and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas, where it opens on October 2.
Above: The Wood-Boat by George Caleb Bingham 91811 - 1879), 1850. Saint Louis Art Museum.
At a time when images of the West proliferated--in paintings, prints, maps, magazine illustr…» More
[Compiled by Bill Stern, Executive Director at the Museum of California Design, Los Angeles. Originally published in "Curator's Eye" in Modern Magazi» View All