Categories
Art Behind the Scenes Collection Reflection Curatorial European

Questions of Provenance: Recent Discoveries: “Wedding Procession in the Tyrol” by Wilhelm Ludwig Friedrich Riefstahl

Wilhelm Ludwig Friedrich Riefstahl (German, 1827–1888), Wedding Procession in Tyrol (detail), ca. 1866. Oil on canvas. Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation, M1962.90.

Periodically in the past, the blog has featured a series of posts called “Questions of Provenance,” which discussed issues related to provenance, or the history of ownership of a work of art. Over the next few months, this series will continue with posts highlighting recent research into works in the Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection. In case you missed it, the first one was published in January.

The last story I shared was about an accidental discovery related to the provenance of the painting Dance Under the Linden Tree (1881) by Ludwig Knaus. Today, I’m going to share a similar surprise discovery, about Wedding Procession in the Tyrol by Wilhelm Ludwig Friedrich Riefstahl (German, 1827–1888).

Categories
Art Behind the Scenes Contemporary

A Living Collection: The Contemporary Art Galleries

Three men preparing to hang an abstract work of art
Paul Jenkins (American, 1923 – 2012), Phenomena 831 Broadway, 1963. Acrylic on canvas. 111 × 69 in. (281.94 × 175.26 cm). Gift of Jane Bradley Pettit, M1975.187. © Estate of Paul Jenkins/Licensed by ADAGP, Paris/Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York

The Museum’s collection of more than 32,000 works of art spans from antiquity to the present and includes gifts and purchases dating from 1888 to today. There are the favorites that everyone looks forward to seeing with each visit, yet works come in and out and are frequently moved about. They rest (in the vault), travel to other institutions, and enter new social circles in the galleries, striking up new conversations. Each work of art has a “life” that makes the collection itself dynamic—one with many stories to share. 

Categories
Art Behind the Scenes Collection Reflection Curatorial European

Questions of Provenance: Recent Discoveries: “Dance Under the Linden Tree” by Ludwig Knaus

Gathering of people dancing underneath a large tree
Ludwig Knaus (German, 1829–1910), Dance under the Linden Tree, 1881 (detail). Oil on canvas. Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.31. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Gathering of people dancing underneath a large tree
Ludwig Knaus (German, 1829–1910), Dance under the Linden Tree, 1881. Oil on canvas. Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.31. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

Periodically in the past, the blog has featured a series of posts called “Questions of Provenance,” which discussed issues related to an artwork’s provenance, or its history of ownership. Over the next few months, this series will continue with monthly posts highlighting recent research that focuses on provenance.

The curatorial staff of the Milwaukee Art Museum are constantly researching the collection. Sometimes we request books and articles through interlibrary loan. Other times, we page through archival files either in person or online. And it’s not unusual to talk to colleagues in the field. But believe it or not, every once in a while, an important discovery is made by accident.

Categories
Art Behind the Scenes Collection Curatorial European Exhibitions Prints and Drawings

Early Printed Books: A Chance to Turn the Pages

Woodcut by Michael Wolgemut and Wilhelm Pleydenwurff. Printed by Anton Koberger and Johannes Schoensperger, Two leaves from the book The Nuremberg Chronicle (Liber Chronicarum or Weltchronik), with a woodcut of a view of Bamberg, 1493 (detail). Woodcut and letterpress, Purchase, Gertrude Nunnemacher Schuchardt Fund, presented by William H. Schuchardt M1970.51. Photo by John R. Glembin.
Woodcut by Michael Wolgemut and Wilhelm Pleydenwurff. Printed by Anton Koberger and Johannes Schoensperger, Two leaves from the book The Nuremberg Chronicle (Liber Chronicarum or Weltchronik), with a woodcut of a view of Bamberg, 1493 (detail). Woodcut and letterpress, Purchase, Gertrude Nunnemacher Schuchardt Fund, presented by William H. Schuchardt M1970.51. Photo by John R. Glembin.

I’m a book lover. Always have been, always will be. For me, the physicality of a book—the tactile qualities of holding it in my hands, the smell of the paper and ink, and the sound of turning the pages—it is part of a complete experience that I never want to give up. And I’m not the only one. Although e-readers have taken part of the book market, readers still prefer physical books and physical books outsell e-books.

I don’t own an e-reader, but I do a lot of reading on screens, usually on my computer. Compared to even ten years ago, an enormous amount of important scholarship for the art historian is on the internet. I still conduct good and thorough research using printed books, but it’s amazing what is available with a few taps of the keyboard.

Categories
Art Behind the Scenes Collection Curatorial European

The Neapolitan Crèche: A Holiday Tradition

Woman holding a baby surrounded by people, angels, and goats
Naples, Italy, “Nativity Scene (Crèche)”, mid-18th century. Polychromed terracotta, painted wood, and fabric, on a later support. Dimensions variable. Gift of Loretta Howard Sturgis, M2006.9.1-.20. Photo by John R. Glembin.

Although this year we cannot gather at the Museum to see the Neapolitan crèche in the European galleries, an annual tradition for many, it is still possible to appreciate the joy this special tableau brings.

Categories
Art Behind the Scenes Collection Curatorial European

Crèche Redux: A Storyboard

Woman holding a baby surrounded by people, angels, and goats
Naples, Italy, “Nativity Scene (Crèche)”, mid-18th century. Polychromed terracotta, painted wood, and fabric, on a later support. Dimensions variable. Gift of Loretta Howard Sturgis, M2006.9.1-.20. Photo by John R. Glembin.

Back in early 2018, Tanya Paul, Isabel and Alfred Bader Curator of European Art, proposed that the Museum again install its Nativity scene, or crèche, in the galleries for the holidays. The work, a visitor favorite, hadn’t been on view since 2013, because the setting for the Holy Family and other figures was worn and needed repair—such stage sets are often fragile constructions that require replacing. The Museum’s setting needed either to be restored or refabricated. The decision was made to make a new stage set, and a group of us, from the Conservation department and the preparatory staff, started to explore the possibilities.

Categories
Art Behind the Scenes Museum Buildings

A Night at the Museum

Alberto Rios is not only one of the Museum’s wonderful third-shift security officers; he is also a talented photographer. You may have seen some of his photos featured on the Museum’s social media pages. He captured this gorgeous sunrise on the East End and an image of Schroeder Galleria lit up for Pride Month, among other views of the Museum. Because he has such a great eye, and he has the unique opportunity to capture the Museum at a time when most are asleep, I asked if he would create a photo diary, taking viewers through one of his shifts. Get a behind-the-scenes—and somewhat eerie—look at the Museum (after dark!) below.
—Erin Aeschbacher, associate content writer

Categories
Art Behind the Scenes Collection Contemporary

The Man That Time Forgot: Duane Hanson’s “Janitor”

Time changes everyone—or almost everyone. Through the years, the Janitor has remained a constant in the galleries of the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Categories
Art Behind the Scenes

We’re Keeping the Lights On for You (but only figuratively speaking)

Lifelike Janitor sculpture leaning against a wall and a black and white portrait drawing of a woman
The building is eerily quiet, but Duane Hanson’s “Janitor” keeps continual watch over the Museum.

As we wait to welcome you back to the Museum, work continues behind the scenes. In the conservation department, we prepare for many different disaster scenarios that might potentially strike our collection. Fire, flood, insect infestations, mold, and even terrorism are all covered in the Museum’s Emergency Preparedness Plan; COVID-19 and Wisconsin’s Safer at Home order are not. Having the Museum closed to the public for an extended period presented us with an entirely new set of challenges.

Categories
Art Behind the Scenes Collection Curatorial

The Curators’ Game: Collection Rotation

Open sea under a gray and blue sky
Milwaukee Art Museum Purchase, Richard and Ethel Herzfeld Foundation Acquisition Fund M2001.154 Photo by John R. Glembin
Open sea under a gray and blue sky
Milwaukee Art Museum Purchase, Richard and Ethel Herzfeld Foundation Acquisition Fund M2001.154. Photo by John R. Glembin

What happens when a group of curators following the Safer at Home order plays a game with works from the Museum’s collection? You’re about to find out.