Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European

From the Collection–Porcelain Tankards

Meissen Porcelain Manufactory (Dresden, Germany, established 1710), Possibly Johann Gregorius Horoldt (German, 1696-1775), Tankard, ca. 1725. Glazed porcelain, polychrome overglaze decoration, gilding, and brass. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation, M1995.2. Photo: John  Glembin
Meissen Porcelain Manufactory (Dresden, Germany, established 1710), Possibly Johann Gregorius Horoldt (German, 1696-1775), Tankard, ca. 1725. Glazed porcelain, polychrome overglaze decoration, gilding, and brass. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation, M1995.2. Photo: John Glembin

[Last month, the Milwaukee Art Museum put on view three important Meissen tankards. Learn more about two of them with this re-posted entry from 2014.]

Previously, we demystified tin-glazed earthenware while putting it into a historical context. In this post, we’ll figure out the magic behind the material that tin-glazed earthenware attempted to fill in for: porcelain.

Introduced to Europe from China in the fourteenth century, porcelain was the most elegant and fascinating of materials. It was pristine, white yet translucent, and although it was thin and light-weight, it was also amazingly strong and durable. In other words, it was everything that tin-glazed earthenware and stoneware was not.

Categories
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 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 Behind the Scenes Curatorial Exhibitions

Curating Mrs. M.––––– ’s World, a New Installation: Part 1

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.

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European

From the Collection: Monumental Orientalist Vase

Designed by Louis-Constant Sévin (French, 1821–1881) and Manufactured by Firm of F. Barbedienne (French, 1858–1955), Monumental Ormolu-Mounted Enamel Vase, 1867. Copper, gilt bronze, and cloisonné enamel. 30 1/2 × 12 in. (77.47 × 30.48 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase, with funds from Avis Martin Heller in honor of the Fine Arts Society and the Fine Arts Society in memory of Jane and Donald Doud M2014.10. Photo credit: Photograph courtesy of H. Blairman & Sons Ltd, London.
Designed by Louis-Constant Sévin (French, 1821–1881) and Manufactured by Firm of F. Barbedienne (French, 1858–1955), Monumental Ormolu-Mounted Enamel Vase, 1867. Copper, gilt bronze, and cloisonné enamel. 30 1/2 × 12 in. (77.47 × 30.48 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase, with funds from Avis Martin Heller in honor of the Fine Arts Society and the Fine Arts Society in memory of Jane and Donald Doud M2014.10. Photo credit: Photograph courtesy of H. Blairman & Sons Ltd, London.

You may  have noticed that some of our past “From the Collection” posts have highlighted new acquisitions.  Just in the last year we explored a pair of paintings by Alexandre Cabanel and a painting by Franz Ittenbach.

When museum curators buy new artwork for the collection, they often look for things that will make a strength of the collection stronger or fill a gap in an important story we want to tell.

One recent acquisition that does both of these things is a Monumental Ormolu-Mounted Enamel Vase created in France in 1867.

The vase, designed by Louis-Constant Sévin (French, 1821–1881), brings together different elements from what he would have considered the exotic Orient. Today this is known as the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey, Greece, and Asia.

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European

From the Collection–Christopher Dresser, Pitcher and Claret Jug

Christopher Dresser (English, 1834-1904) Manufactured by Watcombe Terracotta Clay Company (Torquay, Devon, England, established 1867) Pitcher, designed 1870-75; produced by Watcombe of Torquay. Terracotta or red stoneware, gilding 7 1/8 × 5 1/2 × 5 1/4 in. (18.1 × 13.97 × 13.34 cm) . Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Daniel Morris and Denis Gallion M1991.323
Christopher Dresser (English, 1834-1904) Manufactured by Watcombe Terracotta Clay Company (Torquay, Devon, England, established 1867) Pitcher, designed 1870-75; produced by Watcombe of Torquay. Terracotta or red stoneware, gilding 7 1/8 × 5 1/2 × 5 1/4 in. (18.1 × 13.97 × 13.34 cm) . Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Daniel Morris and Denis Gallion M1991.323

In 1898, the artists periodical The Studio called Christopher Dresser “perhaps the greatest of commercial designers imposing his fantasy and invention upon the ordinary output of British industry.” This seems an appropriate description for an Englishman who was interested in art but first trained in botany, and then found inspiration for his designs both in the ancient past and traditions of Japan.

Looking at two of Dresser’s designs in the collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum–a pitcher produced by the Watcombe Terracotta Clay Company and a claret jug produced by Hulkin & Heath–you can see how he applied his own personal motto to his work: truth, beauty, power. The sleek and angular vessels lack the decoration that most people associate with the Victorian period, which would have been at its height in the 1870’s.  They look like something from the 20th century!

It may surprise you then, that Dresser was also known for his interests in flat patterning.

Categories
Education

Teens Discuss Michelle Erickson’s Texas Tea Party

Michelle Erickson, Texas Tea Party, 2005. Chipstone Foundation, Photo by Gavin Ashworth.
Michelle Erickson, Texas Tea Party, 2005. Chipstone Foundation, Photo by Gavin Ashworth.
At the end of February, teens in the Satellite High School Program gathered around Michelle Erickson’s Texas Tea Party (2005). They’ll study this object for the whole semester, using different methods of looking to form their own interpretations. For their first session, we spent one full hour looking closely at the work and having an open-ended dialogue about what we saw, the artist’s intent, and what it all might mean.

We began our discussion with a moment of silence to take in the piece individually. Michelle Erickson packs quite a lot into her small-scale ceramic sculpture, Texas Tea Party—it’s just 8” x 8” x 8”. After a few minutes, I invited the group to share comments, ideas, and thoughts. Although we’ve been in session for a few weeks now, this is our first time as a group discussing a work of art together.

Categories
20th and 21st Century Design Art Collection Contemporary Curatorial Modern

Dandelions and Deck Chairs: Harry Bertoia

Harry Bertoia (American, b. Italy, 1915–1978), Dandelion, 1970. Gold-plated bronze and beryllium. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley M1975.131. Photo credit: P. Richard Eells. © 2010 Estate of Harry Bertoia / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Harry Bertoia (American, b. Italy, 1915–1978), Dandelion, 1970. Gold-plated bronze and beryllium. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley M1975.131. Photo credit: P. Richard Eells. © 2010 Estate of Harry Bertoia / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Now that it’s finally starting to feel like summer, let’s talk about dandelions. Sure, they’re technically weeds, and you probably don’t want them taking over your lawn. But it’s fun to make wishes on the white puffy ones, even if it does scatter seeds and just increases the dandelion population exponentially.

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European

German Tankards and Steins: Part 3—Tin-Glazed Earthenware

Probably Thuringia, Germany, Tankard, before 1754. Tin-glazed earthenware with polychrome decoration and pewter. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Albert Finkler M1937.26. Photo credit: John R. Glembin
Probably Thuringia, Germany, Tankard, before 1754. Tin-glazed earthenware with polychrome decoration and pewter. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Albert Finkler M1937.26. Photo credit: John R. Glembin

My post this month is about tin-glazed earthenware. Wait! Don’t run! I know that this is one kind of ceramic that makes the study of decorative arts confusing. So many names, so much technical jargon—it’s a headache! But stick with me for a moment, because I hope to explain it in a way that this not too complicated. The reward is another glimpse into the history art, trade, and technology.

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European

German Tankards and Steins: Part 2–Stoneware Vessels

Probably Raeren, Rhineland, Germany. Jug, ca. 1583. Salt-glazed stoneware with later silver mount. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Richard and Erna Flagg, M1991.86. Photo credit John Nienhuis
Probably Raeren, Rhineland, Germany. Jug, ca. 1583. Salt-glazed stoneware with later silver mount. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Richard and Erna Flagg, M1991.86. Photo credit John Nienhuis
Many people probably thing that international trade and technical innovations is something new: it’s important now, in the digital age; it was important in the 20th century, and perhaps influential as far back as the industrial revolution of the 19th century. But those that study the history of decorative arts know that international trade and technical innovations go back much further!