Categories
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 Collection European

Jules Bastien-Lepage and the Newlyn School

Older man with wood on his back and a little child running in front
Jules Bastien-Lepage (French, 1848–1884), Le Père Jacques (Woodgatherer), 1881 (detail). Oil on canvas. Miwlaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection, Gift of Mrs. E. P. Allis and her daughters in memory of Edward Phelps Allis L102. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Older man with wood on his back and a little child running in front
Jules Bastien-Lepage (French, 1848–1884), Le Père Jacques (Woodgatherer), 1881. Oil on canvas. Miwlaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection, Gift of Mrs. E. P. Allis and her daughters in memory of Edward Phelps Allis L102. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

One of the things that I enjoy about being a curator is that I am always learning something.  Here is one example.

In the middle of August, the Cornish American Heritage Society held their “Gathering of the Cornish Cousins” in Milwaukee.  The event offered talks and workshops on all things Cornish, and one of the organizers had asked me to do a presentation on the artists of the Newlyn School.

I knew a little about Cornwall from visits to the southwestern part of Wisconsin, plus I loved pasties, but I knew nothing about art in Cornwall.  A quick search told me that they were a group of artists that, in the 1880s, formed an art colony in a Cornish fishing village called Newlyn.  So, I said, sure, why not?

And now, after a year of reading about the Newlyn artists and looking closely at the artwork produced by them, I’m so glad that I did!

Categories
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.

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 Collection Curatorial European Exhibitions

From the Collection–Girl in Straw Hat (Femme au Chapeau Rouge) by Pierre Bonnard

Pierre Bonnard (French, 1867–1947), Girl in Straw Hat (Femme au Chapeau Rouge), 1903. Oil on canvas; 15 1/8 x 17 5/8 in. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley M1958.13. Photo credit P. Richard Eells. ©2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.
Pierre Bonnard (French, 1867–1947), Girl in Straw Hat (Femme au Chapeau Rouge), 1903. Oil on canvas; 15 1/8 x 17 5/8 in. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley M1958.13. Photo credit P. Richard Eells. ©2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

The Museum’s current exhibition Posters of Paris: Toulouse-Lautrec and his Contemporaries features a number of posters by Pierre Bonnard (French, 1867-1947)—including the fantastic France-Champagne lithograph, a work that inspired the master Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec to make ground-breaking posters.

Did you know that the Museum’s Permanent Collection has two paintings by Bonnard?

The paintings are gorgeous, and can be found on the upper level in the Bradley Collection Galleries.

One of the two paintings, Girl in Straw Hat (Femme au Chapeau Rouge), has long been one of my personal favorite artworks.  I suspect that Girl in Straw Hat was also one of Mrs. Bradley’s favorites, and there is good reason why.

Categories
American Art Behind the Scenes Collection

Who’s That Girl?: Wisconsin Edition

Nana Kennedy with Lester W. Bentley (American, 1908-1972). Nana, 1939. Oil on masonite. Milwaukee Art Museum, Loan to Layton from Milwaukee Public Museum.  Allocated to MPM by Federal Works Agency, Works Progress Administration. Photograph by Dick Kennedy
Nana Kennedy with Lester W. Bentley (American, 1908-1972). Nana, 1939. Oil on masonite. Milwaukee Art Museum, Loan to Layton from Milwaukee Public Museum. Allocated to MPM by Federal Works Agency, Works Progress Administration. Photograph by Dick Kennedy

Every so often, Museum staff gets an email or learns a story that connects the art in our collection with our community. These might be far-away communities, as in the case of the English ancestors of Miss Frances Lee, or it might be close by here in Milwaukee.

Nana Kennedy is the subject of this painting by Lester Bentley, entitled “Nana” (fitting!). Nana grew up in Two Rivers, WI, and so did artist Lester Bentley. Bentley was good friends with Nana’s parents, and completed this painting as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which was a New Deal program to employ millions of workers and artisans during the American Great Depression.

After being separated for many years, Nana recently came to the Milwaukee Art Museum to visit her childhood portrait.

Categories
American Art Collection Curatorial

Who’s That Girl?

For years, she was just a pretty face.

Now, we’re close to identifying the sitter of this elegant portrait by artist Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860).

When this portrait was given to the Museum in 1961 by Mr. and Mrs. Maurice Berger, it was known simply as Portrait of a Lady.  The painting had been passed down through a South Carolina family with New York origins and was sold through a gallery in Boston.  At that time, the last owners knew this mystery woman was a relative, but weren’t exactly sure which long-lost great-great auntie she was.

Anyone who works with portraits knows how these things happen.  Sadly, it’s not an uncommon story.   As time and generations pass, people forget just who is in that canvas.  It happens to us, too.

Go dig your first-grade class photo out of that box in your basement and try to remember the names of all your classmates in each row.  It’s the reason your mother was always after you to write on the back of photographs, back when photographs were on paper instead of your hard drive.  Or why we tag images now on Facebook.

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European Modern

From the Collection–Hans Baluschek’s “Working-class City”

Hans Baluschek (German, 1870–1935), Arbeiterstadt (Working-class City), 1920. Oil on Canvas, 48 7/16 x 36 1/4 in. Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase with funds from Avis Martin Heller in honor of the Fine Arts Society M2010.49. Photo by John R. Glembin
Hans Baluschek (German, 1870–1935), Arbeiterstadt (Working-class City), 1920. Oil on Canvas, 48 7/16 x 36 1/4 in. Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase with funds from Avis Martin Heller in honor of the Fine Arts Society M2010.49. Photo by John R. Glembin.

The industrial revolution of the 19th century brought drastic and sometimes violent changes to European cities. By the beginning of the 20th century, artists in Germany were responding to the time’s social struggles and political unrest through their revolutionary artistic style and new subject matter.

The German Expressionists were one such art movement that reacted to these changes. Turning to simplified or distorted forms and bold colors, these artists tended to focused on humanistic themes and high emotion.

German Expressionism is one of the strengths of the Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection, which includes multiple works by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (Street at Schöneberg City Park, 1912–13), Ludwig Meidner (Portrait of a Young Man, 1912), Käthe Kollwitz (Self-Portrait; from the deluxe periodical The Creators, vol. 5, no. 1, 1924), Emil Nolde (Roses on Path, 1935), and Max Pechstein (Calla Lilies, 1914).

In October 2010, the Museum added a new dimension to its early 20th-century German collection by acquiring a painting by the artist Hans Baluschek (German, 1870-1935), which has just been put on display in Gallery #12 with other European Modernism.