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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.

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Art Collection Curatorial European

The Neapolitan Crèche

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.

Around this time each year the Museum places its beloved Neapolitan crèche in the galleries. But because the Museum is temporarily closed through the holiday season, we unfortunately can’t share the crèche with you in person. I invite you, however, to read on to learn more about it, and about the history of restaging the Nativity scene.

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European Library/Archives

A Painting, a Director, and the Mexican Film Industry

Francisco de Zurbarán, Saint Francis of Assisi in His Tomb, 1630/34. Oil on canvas. Purchase, M1958.70. Photo by John R. Glembin.
Man in brown hooded robe looking down at a skull in his hands
Francisco de Zurbarán, Saint Francis of Assisi in His Tomb, 1630/34 (detail). Oil on canvas. Purchase, M1958.70. Photo by John R. Glembin.

When I returned to the Milwaukee Art Museum after the state’s Safer at Home order, one of the first things I did was visit an old friend: Saint Francis of Assisi in His Tomb (1630/34) by the Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbarán. I’ve walked by the painting nearly every workday in my time at the Museum, but never have I been more appreciative of its quiet contemplativeness and the sense of stability it brings me. Indeed, the painting is such a fixture of the Museum that it is hard to imagine that it was ever not here, that it lived in three different countries, across two continents, before arriving in Milwaukee.

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European

From the Collection: Portrait of Henry VII of England

Probably after Meynnart Wewyck, Henry VII of England, 1504/09. Bequest of Catherine Jean Quirk, M1989.63. Photo by P. Richard Eells.
Man with medium-length hair wearing a black hat and a red and yellow robe
Probably after Meynnart Wewyck, Henry VII of England, 1504/09 (detail). Bequest of Catherine Jean Quirk, M1989.63. Photo by P. Richard Eells.

English history can appear to be a long list of kings and queens with the same names. The queen that most of us are familiar with today is Queen Elizabeth II. The first and only other Queen Elizabeth ruled from 1558 to 1603.

Categories
Art Collection Education European Studio at Home

Kohl’s Art Studio at Home: Make Your Own Flower Still Life

Multi-colored flowers overflowing in vase
Jan van Os (Dutch, 1744–1808), Flowers in Terra-cotta Vase, after 1780. Oil on panel, 35 1/8 × 27 5/8 in. (89.22 × 70.17 cm). Layton Art Collection Inc., Gift of Frederick Layton L111 Photo by John R. Glembin
Multi-colored flowers overflowing in vase
Jan van Os (Dutch, 1744–1808), Flowers in Terra-cotta Vase, after 1780 (detail). Oil on panel, 35 1/8 × 27 5/8 in. (89.22 × 70.17 cm). Layton Art Collection Inc., Gift of Frederick Layton L111 Photo by John R. Glembin

It’s almost Mother’s Day! Give your mom, grandma, or any other special person in your life a flower bouquet that will last forever. This week, we’re making paper flowers inspired by the gorgeous blooms you can find in artworks throughout the Museum’s galleries. This is one of my favorite floral still lifes.

Let’s get started! Here are instructions for making two different kinds of paper flowers.

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Art Collection Collection Reflection Curatorial European

Collection Reflection: Curator Tanya Paul on Jan van Os

Multi-colored flowers overflowing in vase
Jan van Os (Dutch, 1744–1808), Flowers in Terra-cotta Vase, after 1780 (detail). Oil on panel, 35 1/8 × 27 5/8 in. (89.22 × 70.17 cm). Layton Art Collection Inc., Gift of Frederick Layton L111 Photo by John R. Glembin

A museum’s collection is, by its very nature, carefully organized, its objects categorized by geographic origin, medium, chronology, and other defining characteristics. However, works of art have many qualities that defy these traditional institutional divisions. Through a series of videos, we will examine these broader elements, seeking commonalities and new ways of connecting the works in the Museum’s collection. We invite you to join us as each curator focuses on a single work of art, exploring both that object and how the object speaks to the collection as a whole, as well as to the chosen theme in particular. 

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European Exhibitions Prints and Drawings

From the Collection: An Illuminated Manuscript

French, Leaf from a Liturgical Psalter, early 14th century. Tempera, ink, and gold leaf on parchment. 6 3/8 × 4 7/16 in. (16.19 × 11.27 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Paula Uihlein M1932.108. Photo credit: John R. Glembin
French, Leaf from a Liturgical Psalter, early 14th century. Tempera, ink, and gold leaf on parchment. 6 3/8 × 4 7/16 in. (16.19 × 11.27 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Paula Uihlein M1932.108. Photo credit: John R. Glembin
French, Leaf from a Liturgical Psalter, early 14th century (detail). Tempera, ink, and gold leaf on parchment. 6 3/8 × 4 7/16 in. (16.19 × 11.27 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Paula Uihlein M1932.108. Photo credit: John R. Glembin

Before the invention of the printing press in the fifteenth century, books were handwritten. Imagine…every time a copy of a text needed to be made, someone had to do it painstakingly by hand. In our world of quick reproductions and the ease of hitting “print”, this can be hard to believe!

The exhibition The Art of Devotion: Illuminated Manuscripts from Local Collections, on view at the Milwaukee Art Museum through June 16, 2019, aims to provide an introduction to these handwritten texts—called manuscripts—that were made in the middle ages and early Renaissance. A good number of those manuscripts are also illuminated, or decorated with gold, silver, and bright colors that make them literally look like they shine from within.

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European

From the Collection: An Update on Meissen

Meissen Porcelain Manufactory, Modeled by Ernst August Leuteritz, Probably painted by Carl August Müller, Possibly after Eduard Julius Friedrich Bendemann, Two-Handled Crater Vase, ca. 1865 (detail). Hard paste porcelain, hand-painted overglaze decoration, and gilding. Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.248. Photo by John R. Glembin
Meissen Porcelain Manufactory, Modeled by Ernst August Leuteritz, Probably painted by Carl August Müller, Possibly after Eduard Julius Friedrich Bendemann, Two-Handled Crater Vase, ca. 1865. Hard paste porcelain, hand-painted overglaze decoration, and gilding. Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.248. Photo by John R. Glembin

It’s always exciting when new research comes to light! Just last month, while preparing for a lecture on Meissen in the Milwaukee Art museum collection, I discovered new information related to an object from an earlier post, the Meissen urn at left.

When last researching the urn in 2015, I was pretty sure that it was made by Meissen Porcelain Manufactory, the important German company, because it was marked on the bottom with crossed swords in blue. It has the snake handles popular on these types of vessels, particularly in the nineteenth century. The scene on the vase is the Greek myth of the Calydonian boar hunt.