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Art Collection Curatorial Exhibitions

Questions of Provenance–Stories Behind the Names

The Milwaukee Art Museum’s current feature exhibition, Milwaukee Collects, includes more than 100 objects from nearly 50 private collections in the Greater Milwaukee area. It offers an opportunity to see treasures that are typically not on public view. At the same time, it reminds us that the Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection is part of a long tradition of collecting in the community. This is the third in a series of blog posts that will explore the provenance of selected artworks in the collection and how they came to be here.

Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch (Dutch, 1824–1903), Low Tide at Zeeland, Scheveningen, ca. 1900. Oil on wood panel. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the Samuel O. Buckner Collection M1919.28. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch (Dutch, 1824–1903), Low Tide at Zeeland, Scheveningen, ca. 1900. Oil on wood panel. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the Samuel O. Buckner Collection M1919.28. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

As we’ve explored in the past, in many ways the collection of any museum is the result of the interests of its donors. Here at the Milwaukee Art Museum, we have outstanding European decorative arts from the Renaissance and Baroque periods due to Richard and Erna Flagg. We can boast of one of the deepest collections of nineteenth century German art in the country because of the generosity of René von Schleinitz. And with the gift from Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley, we have a world-class collection of twentieth century art.

Today, we’re going to take a closer look at a few of the local collectors of earlier generations that you probably don’t know. Their story is the story of Milwaukee.

And this is just the whirwind tour—some of these historical donors warrant a longer post in the future!

We will start with Samuel O. Buckner (1862–1945), who was instrumental to the art community of early twentieth century Milwaukee. Buckner is sometimes called “the father of the Milwaukee Art Institute,” since he was president of this predecessor institution of the Milwaukee Art Museum from 1910–1926. He even gave the Institute its first painting!

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European

From the Collection–Character Steins

VEB Porzellanmanufactur Plaue (Plaue, Germany, established 1816). "Singing Pig" Stein, ca. 1900. Glazed hard paste porcelain, colored underglaze decoration, and pewter. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.984. Photo by Melissa Hartly Omholt.
VEB Porzellanmanufactur Plaue (Plaue, Germany, established 1816). “Singing Pig” Stein, ca. 1900. Glazed hard paste porcelain, colored underglaze decoration, and pewter. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.984. Photo by Melissa Hartly Omholt.

[Once a year, the Milwaukee Art Museum will rotate the German steins on view in the gallery of nineteenth century German art. The newest installation is a selection of character steins, so we’d like to highlight the change by re-posting this entry from 2015.]

Ready for some laughs? In this post, we’ll be looking at German steins meant to be amusing.

The industrial revolution of the nineteenth century meant that more goods could be produced quickly and more people could afford those goods. Developments in the technique for shaping ceramics meant that steins didn’t have to be a standard shape—they could be molded in all sorts of ways. And, in a never-ending quest for novelty, they were!

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Art Collection Curatorial European Exhibitions

Questions of Provenance: Evening on the Seashore—Tangiers by Jean Joseph Benjamin Constant

The Milwaukee Art Museum’s current feature exhibition, Milwaukee Collects, includes more than 100 objects from nearly 50 private collections in the Greater Milwaukee area. It offers an opportunity to see treasures that are typically not on public view. At the same time, it reminds us that the Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection is part of a long tradition of collecting in the community. This is the second in a series of blog posts that will explore the provenance of selected artworks in the collection and how they came to be here.

Jean Joseph Benjamin Constant (French, 1845–1902), Evening on the Seashore—Tangiers, ca. 1891. Oil on canvas. 58 1/2 × 39 3/4 × 1 1/4 in. (148.59 × 100.97 × 3.18 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Marie K. Ingersoll and George L. Kuehn M1962.1158. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Jean Joseph Benjamin Constant (French, 1845–1902), Evening on the Seashore—Tangiers, ca. 1891. Oil on canvas. 58 1/2 × 39 3/4 × 1 1/4 in. (148.59 × 100.97 × 3.18 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Marie K. Ingersoll and George L. Kuehn M1962.1158. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

Evening on the Seashore—Tangiers is a highlight of the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Orientalism gallery. Orientalism is a style in which the Near East is interpreted by western artists. This interest in the “exotic” was extremely popular in nineteenth century Europe and provided subject matter not just for paintings, but also decorative arts and interior decoration.

Even houses in small-town Wisconsin might have a “Turkish Corner” featuring a table, platter, and rug just like those found in the foreground of our painting. Just check out this one at the Hixon House in La Crosse!

The French painter Jean Joseph Benjamin Constant (1845–1902) found a ready clientele for his Orientalist works in late nineteenth century American collectors. The relaxed atmosphere, monumental figures, and Mediterranean setting of Evening on the Seashore-Tangiers would have been of particular interest to wealthy patrons who had large new homes to decorate.

One of those homes would have been the Pillsbury mansion of Milwaukee. The red-brick Queen Anne home stood at what is now 1626 N. Prospect Avenue. The house was razed in the 1960’s and to be replaced by the highrise apartment building known as Prospect Towers.

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European Exhibitions

From the Collection: Fighting Fauns by Franz von Stuck

The current exhibition in the European works on paper rotation space (on view until April 2) is Gods and Heroes: Classical Mythology in European Prints. The show features 21 prints that cover the Renaissance through the early twentieth century and are by artists from Germany, Holland, France, Italy, and England. Each print offers insight into why European artists used the narratives of classical mythology. This is the third and final in a series of posts focusing on the exhibition.

Franz von Stuck (German, 1863–1928), Fighting Fauns (Kämpfende Faune), 1889. Etching. Plate: 3 7/8 × 5 5/8 in. (9.84 × 14.29 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase, René von Schleinitz Memorial Fund M1995.294. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.
Franz von Stuck (German, 1863–1928), Fighting Fauns (Kämpfende Faune), 1889. Etching. Plate: 3 7/8 × 5 5/8 in. (9.84 × 14.29 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase, René von Schleinitz Memorial Fund M1995.294. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.

Remember how French Rococo artist Jean Honoré Fragonard showed satyrs as lighthearted, family-orientated creatures?

Well, today we’re going to see how another artist used those creatures to represent something totally different.

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European Exhibitions Prints and Drawings

From the Collection–The Mocking of Ceres

The current exhibition in the European works on paper rotation space (on view until April 2) is Gods and Heroes: Classical Mythology in European Prints. The show features 21 prints that cover the Renaissance through the early twentieth century and are by artists from Germany, Holland, France, Italy, and England. Each print offers insight into why European artists used the narratives of classical mythology. This is the second in a series of posts focusing on the exhibition.

Hendrik Goudt (Dutch, 1583–1648), after Adam Elsheimer (German, 1578–1610). The Mocking of Ceres, 1610, published 1633. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Friends of Art, from the collection of Philip and Dorothy Pearlstein M2000.136. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.
Hendrik Goudt (Dutch, 1583–1648), after Adam Elsheimer (German, 1578–1610). The Mocking of Ceres, 1610, published 1633. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Friends of Art, from the collection of Philip and Dorothy Pearlstein M2000.136. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.

We’ve already seen how the ancient sculpture of Italy inspired a French Rococo artist in the four prints of the Bacchanals. In this post, we’ll explore another artist’s use of Classical mythology.

The Mocking of Ceres shows Ceres, the goddess of the earth and agriculture, taking a drink. She has been searching the world for her daughter Persephone, who was abducted by Pluto, the ruler of the underworld. Coming upon a small cottage, she asks an old woman for some water. Because Ceres is drinking quickly, a little boy mocks her for her greediness. Angry, Ceres throws her drink at the boy and turns him into a lizard.

This story is just one of the many told by the Roman poet Ovid (43 BC–AD 17) in his work called Metamorphoses. The book-length poem, written in Latin, collected together Greek mythological stories that had some element of transformation as a plot point.

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Art Behind the Scenes Collection Curatorial European

MAM Behind-the-Scenes: Where Did They Go?

Academic Gallery with Homer and His Guide by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Academic Gallery with Homer and His Guide by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

There are some things in the Museum that are always changing—exhibition galleries, works on paper, portrait miniatures. But sometimes we make smaller changes to those galleries that seem to be “permanent”. For instance, every once in a while, individual artworks disappear from the walls and are replaced by others. Have you ever wondered why?

In today’s post, we’ll take a look at two different reasons that paintings in the European galleries have gone off view and learn a little about the things that replaced them.

First, let’s look at the Layton Art Collection’s fabulous painting Homer and His Guide by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. This monumental painting—it’s almost 7 feet tall!— usually hangs in the Academic Gallery, S200. It’s not on view right now because it is out on loan.

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European

From the Collection–“Meissen in Winter” by Ernst Ferdinand Oehme

Ernst Ferdinand Oehme (German, 1797–1855), Meissen in Winter, 1854. Oil on canvas; 27 x 23 in. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.105. Photo credit P. Richard Eells.
Ernst Ferdinand Oehme (German, 1797–1855), Meissen in Winter, 1854. Detail. Oil on canvas; 27 x 23 in. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.105. Photo credit P. Richard Eells.

[We hope that you enjoy this re-posted 2012 blog post in honor of the holiday season! ]

Speaking of the holidays, one of my favorite paintings in the Museum Collection is Meissen in Winter by German artist Ernst Ferdinand Oehme. Oehme (pronounced EHR-ma) shows us a snowy street in the German town, with the church tower silhouetted against the dusky sky, and a single star shining brightly.

I’ve seen many evenings like this in Wisconsin!

A few inhabitants have braved the cold, crisp air in this Meissen scene: a couple is talking a walk, a man makes his way up the hill, and a gentleman in the foreground has stopped to gaze up at a brightly lit bay window with a cheerfully decorated Christmas tree shown in the detail at left.

The holiday scene is subtle, quiet and calm—and clearly chilly—but I think that the happy glow of that window and the hopeful promise of the single star in the darkening sky are reassuring in what could be a desolate winter scene.

I see hope in that star, and spirit.

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European Exhibitions Prints and Drawings

From the Collection— Bacchanals by Jean-Honoré Fragonard

The current exhibition in the European works on paper rotation space (on view until April 2) is Gods and Heroes: Classical Mythology in European Prints. The show features 21 prints that cover the Renaissance through the early twentieth century and are by artists from Germany, Holland, France, Italy, and England. Each print offers insight into why European artists used the narratives of classical mythology. This is the first in a series of posts focusing on the exhibition.

Jean-Honoré Fragonard (French, 1732–1806), Nymph Supported by Two Satyrs, from the series Bacchanals, 1763. Etching. Plate and sheet: 5 7/16 × 8 1/8 in. (13.81 × 20.64 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the DASS Fund M2010.65.1. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Jean-Honoré Fragonard (French, 1732–1806), Nymph Supported by Two Satyrs, from the series Bacchanals, 1763. Etching. Plate and sheet: 5 7/16 × 8 1/8 in. (13.81 × 20.64 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the DASS Fund M2010.65.1. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

For most visitors to the Milwaukee Art Museum, the French artist Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806) is known as a painter. He painted The Shepherdess (pictured below), which is the focal point of our Rococo gallery.

And it is the centerpiece of this gallery for good reason! It is a perfect example of the elegant and amorous style so popular in eighteenth century France.

A beautiful young lady, dressed in a fashionable and revealing costume (we can see her ankles!), sits in the countryside awaiting her lover, who enters the scene over the distant hill. The composition is full of delicate curlicues and pastel colors, creating a frothy vision of the pastoral ideal.

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European Exhibitions

Questions of Provenance: William and Gertrude Schuchardt

Installation of Corot, Daubigny, Miller: Visions of France. Photo credit: the author.
Installation of Corot, Daubigny, Miller: Visions of France. Photo credit: the author.

In the past, in posts related to provenance (or the history of an artwork, such as who has owned it and where it’s been), we’ve talked a little bit about credit lines.  Credit lines are the part of an object label that tells you how the Milwaukee Art Museum acquired that artwork.  The most common credit lines are gifts or bequests, but we also purchase artwork with funds given to us for that reason.

Today, I want to explore the story behind a more unusual credit line.

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European Exhibitions Prints and Drawings

From the Collection: The Nudes of Anders Zorn

The current exhibition in the European works on paper rotation space (on view until July 31) is Anders Zorn: Sweden’s Painter-Etcher. Featuring all 18 prints in the Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection by Zorn, this is the first time ever that they have been on view at the same time. This is the fifth and final in a series of posts focusing on the exhibition.

Anders Leonard Zorn (Swedish, 1860–1920), Dal River (Dalälven), 1919. Etching, roulette, drypoint, and engraving. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mr. Lindsay Hoben M1966.111. Photo credit: John R. Glembin
Anders Leonard Zorn (Swedish, 1860–1920), Dal River (Dalälven), 1919. Etching, roulette, drypoint, and engraving. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mr. Lindsay Hoben M1966.111. Photo credit: John R. Glembin

This week, we’ll wrap up our consideration of the prints of Anders Zorn with a look at one of his favorite subjects: the female nude.

In 1888, Zorn became one of the first artists to paint nude women outdoors in a publicly accessible setting. Before this time, if an artist wanted to show a nude out-of-doors, the proper thing was to sketch or paint the outdoor setting and then add the nude from a model later in the privacy of the studio.

How different was Zorn’s use of the female nude? Just compare the 1875 painting Nymph of the Hunt with Fauns by Swedish artist Julius Kronberg (1850–1921) with Zorn’s copy in watercolor, Love Nymph from 1885, both in the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.