| By Kathleen Luhrs

Museum accessions, part 2

February 18, 2010  |  

This short list of notable acquisitions began with a request to decorative arts curators in major American museums to choose and discuss a favorite recent gift or purchase.

The design of this elegant Gothic revival center table is attributed to the renowned Alexander Jackson Davis. The leading advocate for the "pointed style" in the United States in the mid-nineteenth century, Davis incorporated medieval elements in his architecture, furnishings, and interiors.  Strikingly similar to his center table illustrated in Andrew Jackson Downing's Architecture of Country Houses (1850), this recent acquisition features a hexagonal white marble top supported by a bracketed apron with drops and turrets, a suspended pierced tracery cage, three-clustered columns, and a tripod base. Its fine craftsmanship suggests that it was produced in the New York shop of Alexander Roux, the émigré cabinetmaker whose knowledge of European styles and techniques attr…» More

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| By Kathleen Luhrs

Museum accessions, part I

February 4, 2010  |  This short list of notable acquisitions began with a request to decorative arts curators in major American museums to choose and discuss a favorite recent gift or purchase.

This porcelain sculpture representing the ancient Roman goddess Juno is one of only eleven known examples in the world of large-scale figures produced by the Doccia manufactory in the middle of the eighteenth century. Carlo Ginori, founder of the factory, undertook an ambitious but short-lived plan to create a museum of porcelain sculpture, translating famous examples of ancient and modern sculpture into the challenging medium of porcelain. The rarity of Juno is matched by the beauty of the figure, the virtuoso modeling of the animated drapery, and the ambitious technical feat of firing and assembling the pieces. The model can be identified with an entry in the Doccia archives listing the molds for sculptures by Piamontini, and it would have been paired with a figure of Jupiter. Paris, a sculpture also based on a model by Piamontini and which seems to come from the same series, is in the Liechtenstein Museum, Vienna. — Marietta Cambareri, curator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Art of Europe, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
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| By Kathleen Luhrs

Sèvres extraordinaire in Detroit

May 14, 2009  |  The Sèvres tea and coffee service recently acquired by the Detroit Institute of Arts, and featured here, is extraordinary in style, design, fabrication, and decoration. The service is comprised of fourteen pieces: a footed tray (porte jatte), coffeepot, teapot, covered sugar bowl, milk pitcher, waste bowl (on the center pedestal), and four cups and saucers. A breakfast set, it is referred to as a "déjeuner Chinois Réticulé" and is said to have been inspired by a set of Chinese porcelain that was acquired at auction in Paris in 1826 by Alexandre Brongniart, director of the Sèvres factory from 1800 to 1847. The auction catalogue described that set as having openwork designs like paper cutouts on a double-walled body.

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Current & Coming | By Kathleen Luhrs

In conversation with...Rosemary Hill, Pugin biographer

April 9, 2009  |  God's Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain by Rosemary Hill (Yale University Press, 2009), an extensive biography of Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-1852), won the Wolfson Prize for History and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography in 2007, when it was published in England. The book is recently published in the U.S. by Yale University Press. Hill, a writer and cultural historian in London, agreed to answer some questions for The Magazine ANTIQUES regarding this extensive and detailed biography:

A.W.N. Pugin seems to be catching a great deal of attention, thanks to you. What was there about him that first led you to launch into a biography of him?

I have always been interested in the connections between art and ideas—why should a particular philosophy or a religion make somebody decide that, say, wallpaper or furniture ought to look a certain way? You find those connections in all sorts of places—with the Shakers, in the work of William Morris and in the writings of Ruskin. Gradually I became aware of Pugin as somebody else in that line who hadn't been talked about so much.
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| By Kathleen Luhrs

Stickley in Dallas

February 17, 2009  |  Gustav Stickley is well-known for his American arts and crafts furniture, characterized by its sturdy and utilitarian appearance. While he promoted the idea of handcrafted furniture, as a businessman, mindful of cost, he took full advantage of the available technology of the time. His emphasis on structure with simple, or better yet, no applied decoration, however, put him in the spotlight at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Stickley, the eldest of five brothers, all of whom became furniture makers, was arguably the most talented and forward-looking. First apprenticing in his uncle's chair factory in Pennsylvania, he later formed a partnership with furniture salesman Elgin Simonds, and together they produced fashionable furniture in various popular styles. In 1898 Stickley broke from Simonds and soon began designing and turning out furniture with a new look. Often controversial (and today known as much for his promotional abilities as for his furniture designs), he was active in the business for about another seventeen years. Yet he influenced American taste significantly.

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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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