November 5, 2013 | Watson and the Shark by John Singleton Copley (1738–1815), 1778. Oil on canvas. National Gallery of Art, Washington, Ferdinand Lammot Belin Fund.
An adventurous exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston should alter our views on the influence of early American painting and painters. American Adversaries: West and Copley in a Transatlantic World explores the way in which two colonial painters in particular, John Singleton Copley and Benjamin West, put American art on a world stage. If this comes as a surprise to people who think American art languished in provincial isolation until the mid-twentieth century when abstract expressionism burst on the scene, the exhibition's curator Emily Ballew Neff and her catalogue (distributed by Yale University Press) will enlighten them. "There was always an interesting international aspect to early American art," Neff says, explaining that the two centerpieces of the exhibition, Copley'sWatson and the Shark, and West's The Death of…» More
November 5, 2013 | Censer, Russian, late seventeenth century. Silver and parcel gilt. Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens, Washington, D. C.
Crowned empress of Russia in 1762, Catherine II was determined to change the perception throughout Europe that Russia was a cultural backwater. Having lived at court since 1744, when she became engaged to the future Peter III, Catherine had immersed herself in Russian culture, language, and the Orthodox Church while still maintaining ties with Western Europe. Her correspondence with the French philosophes in particular eventually strengthened French taste in Russia and enabled Catherine to foster the arts, science, and education.
Though best known for collecting paintings, the empress commissioned splendid metalwork, porcelain, glasswork, and books-for her own use and as gifts for courtiers-that expressed her desire to blend the traditions of Byzantine art with the Western neoclassical style that was a hallmark of the Enlightenment. Thirty-eight example…» More
November 5, 2013 | Folding screen with the Siege of Belgrade (front), Mexican, c. 1697–1701. Oil on wood, inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Brooklyn Museum, gift of Lilla Brown in memory of her husband, John W. Brown, by exchange.
Objects in gold and silver, inlaid and gilded furniture, sumptuous fabrics, Asian porcelains, dazzling portraits-the Spanish colonial elite had it all, and flaunted it proudly within the confines of their private houses. Though surviving in relatively large numbers, these riches have been largely understudied until recently but are now enjoying a renaissance in collecting and scholarship. Drawing on its own strong holdings (supplemented by loans from the Hispanic Society of America, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, Roberta and Richard Huber, and other private collectors), the Brooklyn Museum has organized a traveling exhibition that celebrates the colonial home as a principal repository for these arts.
The show and its excelle…» More
November 5, 2013 | Dragonfly lamp by Tiffany Studios, shade designed by Clara Driscoll (1861–1944), c. 1902–1906. Blown glass, patinated bronze. Richard H. Driehaus Museum, Chicago; photograph by John Faier.
The distinguished Chicago philanthropist Richard H. Driehaus has pursued Louis Comfort Tiffany's "quest of beauty" since the early 1980s, when he bought his first stained-glass window attributed to the master artist. Over the next thirty years, Driehaus not only continued to expand his collection of Tiffany artworks but he also purchased the Gilded Age Samuel M. Nickerson mansion in Chicago. After meticulously restoring its aesthetic period interiors and opening it to the public, he established an exhibition space on the second floor, where the inaugural exhibition, Louis Comfort Tiffany: Treasures from the Driehaus Collection, opens this month.
More than sixty Tiffany objects, including stained-glass windows, lamps, vases, accessories, and furniture are displayed together publicly for …» More
November 5, 2013 | When it comes to historic preservation too much reverence is not always a good thing. Philip Zea, president of Historic Deerfield, observes that one of the most devastating effects of 2011's Hurricane Irene was the closing of the Deerfield Inn in the village. "The inn animates the street," he says. "It's right in the middle of things and even its delivery trucks give an important sense of activity here." The 1884 structure took in as much as six feet of water from Irene, affecting every aspect from the foundation on up. Now, two years later, the rebuilding is complete and the inn has reopened with what Zea describes as a "vastly improved interior," modern amenities in its guest rooms, a remodeled carriage house, and a reconfigured and redesigned dining room and bar. One of the owners, Jane Howard Sabo, describes the restoration as an opportunity to enhance the inn's sense of place with the work of such local artists as Stephen Mariatti (1910-1984) and James Wells Champney (1…» More
Pickle Dish, American China Manufactory (Bonnin and Morris), Philadelphia, 1771-72. Soft-paste porcelain with lead glaze; height 4 3/16, width 4 1/2» View All