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Monday, 18 August 2014 11:37

German government-appointed experts on Friday gave the green light to the restitution of one of the most valuable artworks in the trove of late collector Cornelius Gurlitt to its American owners.

Art experts mandated by Berlin to comb Mr. Gurlitt's collection for Nazi loot said that "Two Riders on the Beach," a 1901 Max Liebermann painting, was looted during World War II and rightfully belonged to the heirs of David Friedmann, a German-Jewish collector who died in the early 1940s. The family is currently suing the Bavarian government for its return.

Saturday, 16 November 2013 05:22

I prefer white walls so I can move art without a concern for colors clashing with one another,” says this collector, whose practical design sense is well honed from years of experience acquiring period furniture, accessories, and folk art. After a moment’s consideration she adds, “I sometimes use ‘mushroom’ or blue because those colors are frequently seen in early material.”

Saturday, 16 November 2013 05:13

Viewers of the hit PBS series Antiques Roadshow are familiar with the dealers and auctioneers who appraise the voluminous amount of material brought to each show venue, but what do these experts collect when they are on the hunt? In a new series of articles with Antiques & Fine Art, Roadshow appraisers showcase and discuss the types of objects that make them tick. 

The first expert to be featured is David Rago. At the age of sixteen, David began dealing in American decorative ceramics at a flea market in his home state of New Jersey. Today, he oversees the auction house that bears his name and sells privately in the field. An author and lecturer, he is an expert appraiser for Antiques Roadshow, where he specializes in decorative ceramics and porcelain. Join us as David shares some of the favorite pieces he and his wife, Suzanne Perrault, have collected through the years.

Saturday, 16 November 2013 05:07

When he collected maps, Winterthur Museum founder Henry Francis du Pont brought to them the same discerning eye for color, form, and verity he applied throughout the collection. His correspondence with dealers was always polite though brief; understandable, given the sheer number of “rarities of every description” offered to him for sale. The letters also indicate du Pont’s curiosity about certain material aspects of maps—their format for display and early color.

Saturday, 16 November 2013 05:00

Opportunity. That was what brought James Thompson to New York in 1748 at age twenty.

He came from the linen-manufacturing town of Newry in Northern Ireland.1 Some of the best seed for growing flax, from which linen was made, came from New York, so there was active trade between the two communities. It was not surprising, then, that Thompson gravitated to the merchant community in his new land, establishing his own shipping business between New York and his home country.

Friday, 15 November 2013 06:13

The use of both factory woven and homemade hearth rugs coincides with the increasing use of carpeting in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as people sought to protect their investments in woven floor coverings and participate in a growing fashion trend. Homeowners discovered that carpets became worn and developed holes at that spot in front of the fireplace where people gathered to warm themselves. As a result, protective hearth rugs soon became a standard component in rooms with room-sized carpets. Placed over the carpet in wintertime and over the hearthstone in summer, these rugs added a powerful ornamental feature to the domestic setting throughout the year.

Friday, 15 November 2013 05:51

More walls and floor space—the recurring dream of collectors and museums alike. And a dream that came true for the recently renamed Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 2012, when the museum was increased to 176,000 square feet, becoming the second largest university art museum in the country.1 Forty-two years earlier, university-owned works of art from various campus buildings were transferred to the newly established art museum, named after Conrad Elvehjem, a past president of the university, and the task of building a comprehensive art collection began.

Friday, 15 November 2013 05:44

Silver served several functions in early American life. It was seen as a sound financial investment and as a testament to social status and family continuity. William Fitzhugh (1651–1701), one of Virginia’s first settlers, esteemed it “as well politic as reputable to furnish myself with an handsom Cupboard of plate which gives my self the present use & Credit, is a sure friend at a dead lift [hopeless situation], without much loss, or is a certain portion for a Child after my decease.”1

Friday, 15 November 2013 05:37

Furniture tells us much about the past—about social customs and human interaction, about the relationship between Americans and the world, about the changing nature of technology and the evolution of aesthetics. The Cabinetmaker and the Carver: Boston Furniture from Private Collections, October 4, 2013–January 17, 2014 is part of Four Centuries of Massachusetts Furniture, a unique initiative undertaken by eleven cultural institutions to celebrate and document the Commonwealth’s long tradition of furniture making that started in Boston in the 1630s and continues today.1 This exhibition offers visitors to the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston a rare opportunity to see nearly fifty examples of significant furniture borrowed from private collections in the greater Boston area. Ranging in date from the late seventeenth century to about 1900, these privately held treasures, supplemented with documents, portraits, and other material from the MHS collections, provide in capsule form a look at the trajectory of cabinetmaking in the Hub.

Friday, 15 November 2013 05:26

Daniel Chester French’s (1850–1931) best known works are rooted in American culture and history. He sculpted the country’s heroes, philosophers, and patriots (Fig. 1). The Minute Man (1871–1875) in Concord, Massachusetts, launched his career, and the seated Abraham Lincoln (1911–1922) in Washington, D.C., marks the high point of his work. While much of French’s sculpture has been on view at Chesterwood, his studio in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, since his daughter, Margaret French Cresson, first opened it to the public in 1955, there has not been a major exhibition of his work since 1976. From the Minute Man to The Lincoln Memorial: The Timeless Sculpture of Daniel Chester French,” is the first exhibition to highlight how French’s grounding in Concord influenced his career and his most iconic works.

Friday, 15 November 2013 05:11

One aspect of my research for the New-York Historical Society’s exhibit (see The Armory Show at 100: Modern Art and Revolution, pp. 150–159) was to identify and locate as many as possible of the over 1400 objects included in the 1913 exhibition. For major works by major artists, this was a straightforward task. But for minor works by major artists and for works by more obscure artists, it was not so simple.

Friday, 15 November 2013 05:00

For the past hundred years the International Exhibition of Modern Art has been considered a signal event in the history of American art. Now known as the Armory Show, it was mounted by the Association of American Painters and Sculptors (A.A.P.S) in New York at the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue, between East Twenty-fifth and Twenty-sixth Streets, from February 17 through March 15, 1913, and introduced avant-garde European art to an American audience. Some 1,400 works—paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture, and decorative objects by European and American artists—drew approximately 87,000 visitors, and sparked an impassioned debate over the nature and future of modern art that played out in the press, as well as in meeting rooms, drawing rooms, and dining rooms across the country. Portions of the exhibition later traveled to the Art Institute of Chicago and the Copley Society in Boston.

Friday, 15 November 2013 04:49

Since the mid-1950s, Massachusetts has seen a growth in the production of studio furniture. Many influential makers who trained and worked in the Bay State, like Tom Loeser, Alphonse Mattia, and Rich Tannen (Fig. 1), have carried forward the tradition by teaching furniture design in schools around the country. Today, studio furniture in Massachusetts spans the stylistic poles—from interpretations of historical prototypes to nonfunctional, sculptural, and conceptual works—earning its makers national and international acclaim.

Saturday, 20 July 2013 04:23

Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont, is one of North America’s finest, most diverse, and unconventional museums of art, design, and Americana. Over 150,000 works are exhibited in a remarkable setting of thirty-eight exhibition buildings, twenty-five of which are historic and were relocated to the museum’s beautifully landscaped forty-five-acre campus. Shelburne’s collection includes works by the great Impressionists Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, and Edgar Degas, as well as a prized collection of folk art including trade signs, weathervanes, and quilts.

Saturday, 20 July 2013 04:19

Printed textiles can be characterized by the technology used to print them (block, copperplate, or roller) or by the “style,” which in this case does not mean the characteristics of the design but rather the chemistry that is needed to print the colors. One style of textile printing that is not very well known is the “pigment style.” Traditionally taken to mean the later nineteenth-century practice of printing pigments with an albumen binder, an earlier method of printing pigments with an oil binder (oil paint) has recently been identified on textiles printed in America (Figs. 1, 4).1 This earlier method of printing [or “stamping”] patterns on textiles with wooden blocks coated with oil paint is easily confused with the technique of stenciling, that is, the application of paint (more often tempera than oil) through a stencil (Figs. 2, 3).

Saturday, 20 July 2013 04:12

The new Anne P. and Thomas A. Gray Library and MESDA Research Center at Old Salem Museums and Gardens in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, houses an impressive array of resources, including more than 20,000 catalogued volumes focused on southern history, material culture, and decorative arts; a craftsman database with more than 84,000 artisans; and an object database with more than 20,000 examples of southern decorative art.

Saturday, 20 July 2013 04:04

The first American art colonies appeared during the 1880s, when young artists, fresh from their experiences in France and Germany, began to return to America. These young Americans were a generation that returned to America carrying the most advanced ideas of European art. The early art colonies fed the spirits of these young artists and were located in rural settings that recreated the environments they had known during their student days in Europe.

Saturday, 20 July 2013 03:50

At the same time that Waylande Gregory (1905–1971), one of America’s most important ceramists of the 1930s, was creating his monumental ceramic sculptures (Fig. 1)—some weighing over one ton—he was also producing some of the finest American porcelains of their era. These smaller porcelain sculptures may have been Gregory’s greatest contribution to Art Deco.

Saturday, 20 July 2013 03:41

Very few artists attending art school in California in the 1920s were interested in the lush, romantic landscape painting that had dominated California art for the previous thirty years. Instead, they looked to the work by California artists dating back to the period of 1850 to 1880, when the state was forming. Some of the most interesting capture daily routines in the gold mining camps and street scenes in busy downtown San Francisco in the 1870s. Those works alongside the art of George Bellows and the Ash Can School served as inspiration for a new generation of artists interested in taking California art in another direction.

Saturday, 20 July 2013 03:31

A passerby might notice this early house and attached barn and comment on how nicely it has been restored and how appropriate the landscaping is to its setting. Small “Capes” like the one in our story are all over New England. But appearances can be deceiving. Hidden from view are well-designed structural additions, visible from the rear, and, at the end of a long sloping lawn, a seventeenth-century style “pool house.” Contained within both buildings is one of the finest collections of pre-Revolutionary vernacular New England material culture in private hands.