Categories
Art Curatorial

Questions of Provenance—Nazi-era Germany

This post is the second to introduce a series that that will highlight some of the interesting provenance cases in the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Collection. 

Adolf HItler presents Hermann Goering with The Falconer, 1880, by 19th century Austrian painter Hans Makart. Library of Congress.
Adolf HItler presents Hermann Goering with The Falconer, 1880, by 19th century Austrian painter Hans Makart. Library of Congress.

To fully understand how important provenance research is for museums, we will need to look more at the period of art looting that is most familiar to many: the Nazi period in Germany.

Categories
Art Behind the Scenes Curatorial

From the Collection–Margaret, Lady Tufton by Anthony Van Dyck and Studio

Anthony van Dyck and Studio. Margaret, Lady Tufton, ca. 1632. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William D. Vogel. Photo credit John R. Glembin
Anthony van Dyck and Studio. Margaret, Lady Tufton, ca. 1632. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William D. Vogel. Photo credit John R. Glembin

Recently brought out of the vault for display in Gallery #5 is a portrait of Margaret, Lady Tufton (1636-1687).  A beauty of the English court, she was the granddaughter of Edward, 1st Baron Wotton, a diplomat and court official for Queen Elizabeth I.

Margaret is shown in her elegant silk gown (which is actually an informal dress because of the loose, flowing fabric and lack of lace collar and cuffs; it shows a significant amount of bare skin!).  She has beautifully arranged curls and wears expensive matched pearls.  To accentuate her loveliness, she holds delicate roses in her lap.

When this painting entered the Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection in 1956, it was heralded as a masterpiece of the Flemish painter Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641).  Van Dyck was one of the greatest portrait painters of all time. He influenced generations of later portrait painters, including Thomas Gainsborough (English, 1727-1788).  Using brilliant brushwork, elegant compositions, and luscious textiles, he gives his subjects an easy aristocratic air while still making it clear that they are beautiful, virtuous, and powerful.

But now the artist of this work is listed as “Anthony van Dyck and Studio.”  What does this mean?

Categories
Art Curatorial Exhibitions

Face Jugs—Art and Ritual

Face Jug, 1860-1880 Chipstone Foundation Photo by Jim Wildeman
Face Jug, 1860-1880. Chipstone Foundation. Photo by Jim Wildeman.

Last month I wrote about the Chipstone Foundation’s new acquisition, an early Edgefield face jug with writing on the back. Since then, our curatorial team has uncovered the meaning behind the elusive inscription. Before revealing this discovery, I’ll catch you up on new research for Face Jugs: Art and Ritual in 19th-Century South Carolina, on view until August 5 at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

“Face jugs” is a term created by art historians, historians and archeologists to refer to turned stoneware vessels with applied faces. The eyes and the teeth are made of kaolin, a white river clay that is one of the primary components of porcelain. You will notice when you visit the exhibition that there are also face cups and face pitchers.

Many different cultures have created pottery with faces or human elements, but the Edgefield face jugs are unique.

For starters, we know very little about them.