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Art Curatorial Exhibitions

From the Collection: Fighting Fauns by Franz von Stuck

The current exhibition in the European works on paper rotation space (on view until April 2) is Gods and Heroes: Classical Mythology in European Prints. The show features 21 prints that cover the Renaissance through the early twentieth century and are by artists from Germany, Holland, France, Italy, and England. Each print offers insight into why European artists used the narratives of classical mythology. This is the third and final in a series of posts focusing on the exhibition.

Franz von Stuck (German, 1863–1928), Fighting Fauns (Kämpfende Faune), 1889. Etching. Plate: 3 7/8 × 5 5/8 in. (9.84 × 14.29 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase, René von Schleinitz Memorial Fund M1995.294. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.
Franz von Stuck (German, 1863–1928), Fighting Fauns (Kämpfende Faune), 1889. Etching. Plate: 3 7/8 × 5 5/8 in. (9.84 × 14.29 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase, René von Schleinitz Memorial Fund M1995.294. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.

Remember how French Rococo artist Jean Honoré Fragonard showed satyrs as lighthearted, family-orientated creatures?

Well, today we’re going to see how another artist used those creatures to represent something totally different.

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Art Curatorial

Questions of Provenance: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Three Cuirassiers, Part 2

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864–1901), Three Cuirassiers, 1879. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley M1977.149. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864–1901), Three Cuirassiers, 1879. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley M1977.149. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

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 first in a series of blog posts that will explore the provenance of selected artworks in the collection and how they came to be here.

Last summer, we took a closer look at a little gem of a painting in the European collection: Three Cuirassiers by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864–1901). It is a rare early oil painting by the great Post-Impressionist artist, done when Lautrec was only fourteen! So, how did the painting come to be in Wisconsin, at the Milwaukee Art Museum? Let’s take a closer look at the provenance trail.

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Art Curatorial Exhibitions

From the Collection–The Mocking of Ceres

The current exhibition in the European works on paper rotation space (on view until April 2) is Gods and Heroes: Classical Mythology in European Prints. The show features 21 prints that cover the Renaissance through the early twentieth century and are by artists from Germany, Holland, France, Italy, and England. Each print offers insight into why European artists used the narratives of classical mythology. This is the second in a series of posts focusing on the exhibition.

Hendrik Goudt (Dutch, 1583–1648), after Adam Elsheimer (German, 1578–1610). The Mocking of Ceres, 1610, published 1633. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Friends of Art, from the collection of Philip and Dorothy Pearlstein M2000.136. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.
Hendrik Goudt (Dutch, 1583–1648), after Adam Elsheimer (German, 1578–1610). The Mocking of Ceres, 1610, published 1633. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Friends of Art, from the collection of Philip and Dorothy Pearlstein M2000.136. Photo credit: Larry Sanders.

We’ve already seen how the ancient sculpture of Italy inspired a French Rococo artist in the four prints of the Bacchanals. In this post, we’ll explore another artist’s use of Classical mythology.

The Mocking of Ceres shows Ceres, the goddess of the earth and agriculture, taking a drink. She has been searching the world for her daughter Persephone, who was abducted by Pluto, the ruler of the underworld. Coming upon a small cottage, she asks an old woman for some water. Because Ceres is drinking quickly, a little boy mocks her for her greediness. Angry, Ceres throws her drink at the boy and turns him into a lizard.

This story is just one of the many told by the Roman poet Ovid (43 BC–AD 17) in his work called Metamorphoses. The book-length poem, written in Latin, collected together Greek mythological stories that had some element of transformation as a plot point.

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Art Curatorial

From the Collection–“Meissen in Winter” by Ernst Ferdinand Oehme

Ernst Ferdinand Oehme (German, 1797–1855), Meissen in Winter, 1854. Oil on canvas; 27 x 23 in. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.105. Photo credit P. Richard Eells.
Ernst Ferdinand Oehme (German, 1797–1855), Meissen in Winter, 1854. Detail. Oil on canvas; 27 x 23 in. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.105. Photo credit P. Richard Eells.

[We hope that you enjoy this re-posted 2012 blog post in honor of the holiday season! ]

Speaking of the holidays, one of my favorite paintings in the Museum Collection is Meissen in Winter by German artist Ernst Ferdinand Oehme. Oehme (pronounced EHR-ma) shows us a snowy street in the German town, with the church tower silhouetted against the dusky sky, and a single star shining brightly.

I’ve seen many evenings like this in Wisconsin!

A few inhabitants have braved the cold, crisp air in this Meissen scene: a couple is talking a walk, a man makes his way up the hill, and a gentleman in the foreground has stopped to gaze up at a brightly lit bay window with a cheerfully decorated Christmas tree shown in the detail at left.

The holiday scene is subtle, quiet and calm—and clearly chilly—but I think that the happy glow of that window and the hopeful promise of the single star in the darkening sky are reassuring in what could be a desolate winter scene.

I see hope in that star, and spirit.

Categories
Art Curatorial Exhibitions

From the Collection— Bacchanals by Jean-Honoré Fragonard

The current exhibition in the European works on paper rotation space (on view until April 2) is Gods and Heroes: Classical Mythology in European Prints. The show features 21 prints that cover the Renaissance through the early twentieth century and are by artists from Germany, Holland, France, Italy, and England. Each print offers insight into why European artists used the narratives of classical mythology. This is the first in a series of posts focusing on the exhibition.

Jean-Honoré Fragonard (French, 1732–1806), Nymph Supported by Two Satyrs, from the series Bacchanals, 1763. Etching. Plate and sheet: 5 7/16 × 8 1/8 in. (13.81 × 20.64 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the DASS Fund M2010.65.1. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Jean-Honoré Fragonard (French, 1732–1806), Nymph Supported by Two Satyrs, from the series Bacchanals, 1763. Etching. Plate and sheet: 5 7/16 × 8 1/8 in. (13.81 × 20.64 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the DASS Fund M2010.65.1. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

For most visitors to the Milwaukee Art Museum, the French artist Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806) is known as a painter. He painted The Shepherdess (pictured below), which is the focal point of our Rococo gallery.

And it is the centerpiece of this gallery for good reason! It is a perfect example of the elegant and amorous style so popular in eighteenth century France.

A beautiful young lady, dressed in a fashionable and revealing costume (we can see her ankles!), sits in the countryside awaiting her lover, who enters the scene over the distant hill. The composition is full of delicate curlicues and pastel colors, creating a frothy vision of the pastoral ideal.