Categories
Art Exhibitions

From the Collection–The Temple of Flora

The current exhibition in the European works on paper rotation space (on view until December 3) is The Temple of Flora. The show features fifteen large-scale color prints from the illustrated book The Temple of Flora. They reflect the true passion of English doctor John Robert Thornton: botany. In honor of the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778), Thornton hired eminent artists to produce the engravings, envisioning a series of seventy plates. The extreme cost of hiring top artists to create such labor-intensive prints, however, resulted in the creation of only thirty-three plates, which he released individually between 1799 and 1812. Learn more about what makes these prints so unique with today’s post.

Richard Earlom (English, 1743–1822), after Philip Reinagle (English, 1749–1833), The Superb Lily, published June 1, 1799. Color aquatint, etching, stipple, and mezzotint with hand coloring, varnished. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William F. Pabst Jr. and Mr. and Mrs. Harry Starr III in memory of Mrs. Carl Eberbach M1973.100. Photog credit: John R. Glembin.
Richard Earlom (English, 1743–1822), after Philip Reinagle (English, 1749–1833), The Superb Lily, published June 1, 1799. Color aquatint, etching, stipple, and mezzotint with hand coloring, varnished. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William F. Pabst Jr. and Mr. and Mrs. Harry Starr III in memory of Mrs. Carl Eberbach M1973.100. Photog credit: John R. Glembin.

Giving a bouquet of flowers to your sweetheart? You’d probably agree, that’s very romantic!

It makes sense, then, that the prints of flowers from the series known as The Temple of Flora would be Romantic, too, right? Well, kind of.

Notice that I wrote Romantic, with a capital “R”. What does that mean?

Romanticism is one of those “isms” that art historians like to use. These terms provide general information about the style and context of an artwork. They offer guidelines for further exploration. For example, in an earlier post, we learned about the style called Mannerism. Romanticism, like Mannerism, is more complicated than a single term suggests but provides a good starting point.

So, let’s take a closer look at The Temple of Flora and see how these flower prints are Romantic.

Categories
Art Curatorial

From the Collection–Miss Grace Ashburner by George Romney

George Romney (English, 1734–1802), Miss Grace Ashburner, 1792. Oil on canvas. 30 1/8 × 25 1/8 in. (76.52 × 63.82 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection Inc., Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur N. McGeoch, Sr. L1941.9. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
George Romney (English, 1734–1802), Miss Grace Ashburner, 1792. Oil on canvas. 30 1/8 × 25 1/8 in. (76.52 × 63.82 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection Inc., Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur N. McGeoch, Sr. L1941.9. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

What do you notice first about Miss Grace Ashburner? Maybe her porcelain-white skin highlighted by pink cheeks? Her fashionably powered hair decorated by a shiny blue ribbon? Or maybe her smart green coat with bright brass buttons?

This portrait of Grace, painted by fashionable English portraitist George Romney (1734-1802), shows her wistfully gazing off in the distance. In 1792, the year of the painting, Grace would have turned 18. She is certainly the epitome of a lovely young lady of late eighteenth century England.

Would it surprise you to learn that, just five years later, Grace was involved in a love triangle that resulted in a scandalous trial?

Categories
Art Behind the Scenes Curatorial Exhibitions

Curating Mrs. M.––––– ’s World, a New Installation: Part 2

View of Mrs. M.––––– ’s Cabinet.
View of Mrs. M.––––– ’s Cabinet.

Mrs. M.––––– ’s Cabinet is currently featuring an installation that was developed by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee students enrolled in the course “Curating Mrs. M.––––– ’s World.” The project resulted in the display of seven acquisitions by the Chipstone Foundation. The exhibition opened to the public on Sunday, December 18th and will run throughout the spring.

Mrs. M.––––– ’s Cabinet is one of five galleries, located in the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Constance and Dudley Godfrey American Wing, that are curated by the Chipstone Foundation. In the fall of 2016, Chipstone Curator and Director of Research Dr. Sarah Anne Carter taught a graduate seminar in museum studies in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Art History Department. The seven creative and up-and-coming student curators in this course researched and developed the innovative installations found in this exhibition in order to expand and enhance Mrs. M.––––– ’s mysterious story.

Each student was assigned an object to research and install in the cabinet as part of the museum studies course. Their challenge was to create an installation that fit in with the theme of Mrs. M.––––– ’s Cabinet: her desire to create a nuanced and complete history of America and its material cultures.

Categories
Art Curatorial Exhibitions

From the Collection–Andrea Locatelli’s Landscapes

A number of artists featured in the special exhibition Of Heaven and Earth: 500 Years of Italian Painting from Glasgow Museums are represented in the collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum.  This is the second in a series of blog posts that will highlight Milwaukee’s paintings during the run of the exhibition.

Andrea Locatelli (Italian, 1695–1741), Landscape with a River and a Group of Figures Near A Roman Altar, ca. 1730. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William D. Kyle, Sr. M1967.126. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Andrea Locatelli (Italian, 1695–1741), Landscape with a River and a Group of Figures Near A Roman Altar, ca. 1730. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William D. Kyle, Sr. M1967.126. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

Imagine it is the early 18th century.  You are an Italian noble and need to decorate your villa.  Who do you hire to make some paintings for you?

For many, the answer would have been Andrea Locatelli (Italian, 1695-1741).  He’s not a household name today, but during his lifetime, Locatelli was famous.  The venerable Colonna family of Rome, who were great art patrons, owned 80 of his paintings!

The Milwaukee Art Museum has a lovely pair of paintings from Locatelli’s late career: Landscape with a River and Group of Figures Near A Roman Altar and Mountainous Landscape with Shepherds and Animals.

Categories
Art Curatorial Exhibitions

From the Collection–Antonio Balestra’s The Meeting of Telemachus and Calypso

A number of artists featured in the special exhibition Of Heaven and Earth: 500 Years of Italian Painting from Glasgow Museums are represented in the collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum.  This is the first in a series of blog posts that will highlight Milwaukee’s paintings during the run of the exhibition.

Antonio Balestra (Italian, 1666–1740), The Meeting of Telemachus and Calypso, ca. 1700. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Bequest of Eliza Eliot Fitch M1955.3. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.
Antonio Balestra (Italian, 1666–1740), The Meeting of Telemachus and Calypso, ca. 1700. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, bequest of Eliza Eliot Fitch M1955.3. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.

Active in the very end of the 17th century and the first part of the 18th century, Antonio Balestra was an Italian painter of the “late Baroque.”

What does that mean?  Well, it means that he worked during a time of transition between the theatrical narratives and dramatic light and shadow of the high Baroque (think Caravaggio) and the bright, elegant style called Rococo (think Tiepolo).