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Art Curatorial

From the Collection–St. Nicholas Day by Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller

Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller (Austrian, 1793–1865), St. Nicholas Day, 1851. Oil on wood panel. Milwauke Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.124. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller (Austrian, 1793–1865), St. Nicholas Day, 1851. Oil on wood panel. Milwauke Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.124. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

Today, in celebration of the holiday season, we’re going to discuss one of my favorite paintings in the collection.

In St. Nicholas Day, painter Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller (1793–1865) shows an Austrian family celebrating the feast of St. Nicholas on December 6. On St. Nicholas Eve, Austrian children would put their shoes on the windowsill. If they had behaved well all year, the children would discover the next morning that St. Nicholas had filled their shoes with fruit, sweets, and small toys.

While at first glance the crowded room is full of excitement and joy, a closer look shows why Waldmüller was considered one of the most important Austrian artists of the nineteenth century. Rather than a chaotic scene, the painting is balanced and orderly. The gestures and glances of each subject draw the viewer’s eye around the painting, creating a sense of harmony.

Categories
Art Curatorial

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 Curatorial

From the Collection–Character Steins

VEB Porzellanmanufactur Plaue (Plaue, Germany, established 1816). "Singing Pig" Stein, ca. 1900. Glazed hard paste porcelain, colored underglaze decoration, and pewter. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.984. Photo by Melissa Hartly Omholt.
VEB Porzellanmanufactur Plaue (Plaue, Germany, established 1816). “Singing Pig” Stein, ca. 1900. Glazed hard paste porcelain, colored underglaze decoration, and pewter. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.984. Photo by Melissa Hartly Omholt.

[Once a year, the Milwaukee Art Museum will rotate the German steins on view in the gallery of nineteenth century German art. The newest installation is a selection of character steins, so we’d like to highlight the change by re-posting this entry from 2015.]

Ready for some laughs? In this post, we’ll be looking at German steins meant to be amusing.

The industrial revolution of the nineteenth century meant that more goods could be produced quickly and more people could afford those goods. Developments in the technique for shaping ceramics meant that steins didn’t have to be a standard shape—they could be molded in all sorts of ways. And, in a never-ending quest for novelty, they were!

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Art Collection Curatorial European 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 Behind the Scenes Collection Curatorial European

MAM Behind-the-Scenes: Where Did They Go?

Academic Gallery with Homer and His Guide by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Academic Gallery with Homer and His Guide by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

There are some things in the Museum that are always changing—exhibition galleries, works on paper, portrait miniatures. But sometimes we make smaller changes to those galleries that seem to be “permanent”. For instance, every once in a while, individual artworks disappear from the walls and are replaced by others. Have you ever wondered why?

In today’s post, we’ll take a look at two different reasons that paintings in the European galleries have gone off view and learn a little about the things that replaced them.

First, let’s look at the Layton Art Collection’s fabulous painting Homer and His Guide by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. This monumental painting—it’s almost 7 feet tall!— usually hangs in the Academic Gallery, S200. It’s not on view right now because it is out on loan.

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Art Collection Curatorial European

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

German Tankards and Steins: Part 8–Character Steins

VEB Porzellanmanufactur Plaue (Plaue, Germany, established 1816). "Singing Pig" Stein, ca. 1900. Glazed hard paste porcelain, colored underglaze decoration, and pewter. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.984. Photo by Melissa Hartly Omholt.
VEB Porzellanmanufactur Plaue (Plaue, Germany, established 1816). “Singing Pig” Stein, ca. 1900. Glazed hard paste porcelain, colored underglaze decoration, and pewter. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.984. Photo by Melissa Hartly Omholt.

Ready for some more laughs? In this post, we’ll be looking at more German steins meant to be amusing.

The industrial revolution of the nineteenth century meant that more goods could be produced quickly and more people could afford those goods. Developments in the technique for shaping ceramics meant that steins didn’t have to be a standard shape—they could be molded in all sorts of ways. And, in a never-ending quest for novelty, they were!

Categories
Art Curatorial

German Tankards and Steins: Part 6–Mettlach and the Germany Identity

Villeroy & Boch (Mettlach, Saarland, Germany, established 1836), designed by Heinrich Schlitt (German, 1849–1923). "2765" Stein, 1902. Stoneware, with colored slip and glaze decoration, and pewter. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.848. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Villeroy & Boch (Mettlach, Saarland, Germany, established 1836), designed by Heinrich Schlitt (German, 1849–1923). “2765” Stein, 1902. Stoneware, with colored slip and glaze decoration, and pewter. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.848. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

Last time, we looked at the historical context for artwork in late nineteenth century Germany. In 1871, Germany officially became a unified country. This time, we’ll look at the cultural ramifications of the unification and how it impacted art.

Although German-speaking princes had been allied for centuries, the individual provinces needed to strengthen their commitment in order to counter military and economic competition from other countries such as Austria and France. But just because the people in the new country spoke German and shared much in the way of their cultural identity didn’t mean that they felt like a big happy family.  And the disruptive forces of the industrial revolution did nothing to help the sense of confusion and frustration.

The people of the German Empire needed to ask themselves: what does it mean to be German? The imagery on Mettlach steins of the time offers some interesting answers to that question.

Categories
Art Curatorial

German Tankards and Steins: Part 5–Introduction to Late 19th Century Germany

Villeroy & Boch (Mettlach, Saarland, Germany, established 1836), designed by Christian Warth (German, active 1854–1892). "1395" Stein, 1885. Stoneware with colored slip and glaze decoration, gilding and pewter. Milwaukee Art Museum, Bequest of Dorothy Trommel in memory of her parents, Eunice and Howard Wertenberg M2013.43.  Photo credit: John Glembin.
Villeroy & Boch (Mettlach, Saarland, Germany, established 1836), designed by Christian Warth (German, active 1854–1892). “1395” Stein, 1885. Stoneware with colored slip and glaze decoration, gilding and pewter. Milwaukee Art Museum, Bequest of Dorothy Trommel in memory of her parents, Eunice and Howard Wertenberg M2013.43. Photo credit: John Glembin.

Over the past year, we’ve taken a look at some of the German drinking vessels in the Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection.  The subjects have ranged from luxurious silver tankards to early stoneware vessels, and from high-quality Meissen porcelain to the prized tin-glazed earthenware that was developed to mimic it.

Now we’ve come to the end of the 19th century, the time of the most dramatic changes for the German drinking vessels.  This was due to a powerful combination of events.

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European

German Tankards and Steins: Part 4—Porcelain

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, we demystified tin-glazed earthenware while putting it into a historical context. This month, 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.