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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.

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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.

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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.

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Art Art News Collection Curatorial Membership Prints and Drawings

Happy 40th Anniversary Print Forum

People riding into a party on horseback
Warrington Colescott, I Ride with the Blue Riders. We Visit die Brücke Picnic and Enjoy a Bratwurst, Reminding Me of Summer in Milwaukee, from the portfolio My German Trip, 1992. Color soft-ground etching, spit bite bitumen aquatint, and color relief; plate: 11 13/16 × 13 7/8 in., sheet: 14 11/16 × 20 in. Purchase with funds from Print Forum, M2006.38.9. Photo by Michael Tropea. © Warrington Colescott
People riding into a party on horseback
Bratwurst, Reminding Me of Summer in Milwaukee, from the portfolio My German Trip, 1992. Color soft-ground etching, spit bite bitumen aquatint, and color relief; plate: 11 13/16 × 13 7/8 in., sheet: 14 11/16 × 20 in. Purchase with funds from Print Forum, M2006.38.9. Photo by Michael Tropea. © Warrington Colescott

Nearly forty years ago, in 1981, a group of twelve Museum Members with an interest in prints and drawings established Print Forum. George Evans and Kent Anderson served as the group’s first president and vice-president, respectively. One of the Museum’s nine currently active support groups, Print Forum is among the longest standing.

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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.

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Art Collection Collection Reflection Contemporary Curatorial

Collection Reflection: Curator Margaret Andera on Beth Lipman

Various glassware stacked and laid out on top of a short, black, wooden table
Beth Lipman, Laid Table (Still Life with Metal Pitcher), 2007. Blown, sculpted, lamp-worked, and kiln-formed glass on wood table. 85 × 103 × 96 in. (215.9 × 261.62 × 243.84 cm). Purchase, Jill and Jack Pelisek Endowment, Jack Pelisek Funds, and various donors by exchange M2009.48. Photo credit by John R. Glembin © Beth Lipman
Various glassware stacked and laid out on top of a short, black, wooden table
Beth Lipman, Laid Table (Still Life with Metal Pitcher), 2007. Blown, sculpted, lamp-worked, and kiln-formed glass on wood table. 85 × 103 × 96 in. (215.9 × 261.62 × 243.84 cm). Purchase, Jill and Jack Pelisek Endowment, Jack Pelisek Funds, and various donors by exchange M2009.48. Photo credit by John R. Glembin © Beth Lipman

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

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.

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Art Curatorial

#AskACurator Day 2020

Woman in short hair and glasses talking to a small group of people about art
Ariel Pate, assistant curator of photography, giving a gallery talk in the Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media Arts. Photo by Kat Schleicher.

On Wednesday, September 16, we invited the Museum’s social media followers to ask the curators anything—and they delivered! Check out some of the questions and responses below.

Categories
American Art Collection Curatorial Modern

Lois Mailou Jones and “The Ascent of Ethiopia”

Egyptian face in the foreground with a group of people climbing a hill to the city
Lois Mailou Jones, The Ascent of Ethiopia, 1932. Oil on canvas. 23 1/2 × 17 1/4 in. Purchase, African American Art Acquisition Fund, matching funds from Suzanne and Richard Pieper, with additional support from Arthur and Dorothy Nelle Sanders, M1993.191. Photo by John R. Glembin. © Lois Mailou Jones Pierre-Noel Trust
Lois Mailou Jones, The Ascent of Ethiopia, 1932. Oil on canvas. 23 1/2 × 17 1/4 in. Purchase, African American Art Acquisition Fund, matching funds from Suzanne and Richard Pieper, with additional support from Arthur and Dorothy Nelle Sanders, M1993.191. Photo by John R. Glembin. © Lois Mailou Jones Pierre-Noel Trust
Lois Mailou Jones, The Ascent of Ethiopia, 1932 (detail). Oil on canvas. 23 1/2 × 17 1/4 in. Purchase, African American Art Acquisition Fund, matching funds from Suzanne and Richard Pieper, with additional support from Arthur and Dorothy Nelle Sanders, M1993.191. Photo by John R. Glembin. © Lois Mailou Jones Pierre-Noel Trust

The artistic talent of Lois Mailou Jones (1905–1988) was recognized at an early age. She received a wide range of encouragement, including scholarships to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, in her native Boston, and after graduating with honors, she assumed teaching was a likely next step. But, in what was the first of several rejections in an openly racist society, she was told to go south and help “her people.”