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Art Collection Curatorial European

From the Collection–The Martyrdom of St. Justina of Padua by Domenico Brusasorci

Attributed to Domenico Brusasorci (Italian, ca. 1516–1567), Martyrdom of St. Justina of Padua, mid–16th century. Oil on slate. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Myron Laskin Jr. M2016.117 Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Attributed to Domenico Brusasorci (Italian, ca. 1516–1567), Martyrdom of St. Justina of Padua, mid–16th century. Oil on slate. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Myron Laskin Jr. M2016.117 Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

Images of women martyrs have always been popular in art. Their stories are ripe with dramatic moments that capture the imaginations of both artist and audience. The subject also offers examples of moral virtue. Images of martyrs could be used as teaching tools for women in the early modern era, visually showcasing the moral ideals that they should embody.

Because of this didactic nature, female martyrs are often depicted in one of two ways: the moment of her martyrdom, or as if a portrait, surrounded by symbols. Showcasing the female martyr in the moment of her death offers the audience a dramatic story, while a portrait clearly illustrates the appropriate virtues for the viewer.

The subjects of today’s post, the Milwaukee Art Museum’s recent acquisition The Martyrdom of St. Justina of Padua, will let us look at this subject matter more closely.

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European

From the Collection—The Countess of Exeter by Cornelius Janssen van Ceulen

Cornelius Janssen van Ceulen (English, 1593–1661), The Countess of Exeter, ca. 1620. Oil on panel. Milwaukee Art Museum, Bequest of Catherine Jean Quirk M1989.68. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Cornelius Janssen van Ceulen (English, 1593–1661), The Countess of Exeter, ca. 1620. Oil on panel. Milwaukee Art Museum, Bequest of Catherine Jean Quirk M1989.68. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

It’s always so exciting to get a painting out of storage! I’m happy to report that a lovely seventeenth century portrait is newly on view in the Renaissance galleries (Main Level S103). It has been carefully cleaned and looks marvelous.

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European

From the Collection–Miss Grace Ashburner by George Romney

George Romney (English, 1734–1802), Miss Grace Ashburner, 1792. Oil on canvas. 30 1/8 × 25 1/8 in. (76.52 × 63.82 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection Inc., Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur N. McGeoch, Sr. L1941.9. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
George Romney (English, 1734–1802), Miss Grace Ashburner, 1792. Oil on canvas. 30 1/8 × 25 1/8 in. (76.52 × 63.82 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection Inc., Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur N. McGeoch, Sr. L1941.9. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

What do you notice first about Miss Grace Ashburner? Maybe her porcelain-white skin highlighted by pink cheeks? Her fashionably powered hair decorated by a shiny blue ribbon? Or maybe her smart green coat with bright brass buttons?

This portrait of Grace, painted by fashionable English portraitist George Romney (1734-1802), shows her wistfully gazing off in the distance. In 1792, the year of the painting, Grace would have turned 18. She is certainly the epitome of a lovely young lady of late eighteenth century England.

Would it surprise you to learn that, just five years later, Grace was involved in a love triangle that resulted in a scandalous trial?

Details of Grace’s life come alive through some primary resources. The story first broke in a number of English newspapers in late June 1797. Notices appear all over the county, from Kent southeast of London, to Chester near Liverpool, to Norfolk on the east coast, to Staffordshire in the Midlands. It even made the newspapers in Ireland. Then, when the civil jury trial happened in September, more newspapers took up the story. There even exists a pamphlet that captures all of the details. It sold for twopence and had as its title:

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European Exhibitions Prints and Drawings

From the Collection: Preparations for the Wedding Banquet of Cupid and Psyche by Diana Mantuana

Scene of people laying around and eating, drinking, and talking
Diana Mantuana (Italian, ca. 1547–1612), after Giulio Romano (Italian, probably 1499–1546), Preparations for the Wedding Banquet of Cupid and Psyche, 1575 (detail). Engraving. Plate and sheet: 14 13/16 × 44 1/8 in. (37.62 × 112.08 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the DASS Fund M2013.34. Photo credit by John R. Glembin.
Scene of people laying around and eating, drinking, and talking
Diana Mantuana (Italian, ca. 1547–1612), after Giulio Romano (Italian, probably 1499–1546). Preparations for the Wedding Banquet of Cupid and Psyche, 1575. Engraving. Plate and sheet: 14 13/16 × 44 1/8 in. (37.62 × 112.08 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the DASS Fund M2013.34. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

The current exhibition in the European works on paper rotation space (on view until July 30) is Alluring Artifice: Mannerism in the Sixteenth Century. The show features 30 prints that explore Mannerism, a movement that emerged in European art around 1510-20 and lasted until about 1600. Characterized by densely packed compositions and a focus on the human form, the style resulted in images that are deliberately challenging in both design and technique. One of the prints featured in the show is Preparations for the Wedding Banquet of Cupid and Psyche, an important recent acquisition by the Italian female engraver Diana Mantuana (ca. 1547–1612), who is sometimes referred to as Diana Scultori. 

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European Exhibitions

Questions of Provenance: Evening on the Seashore—Tangiers by Jean Joseph Benjamin Constant

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

Jean Joseph Benjamin Constant (French, 1845–1902), Evening on the Seashore—Tangiers, ca. 1891. Oil on canvas. 58 1/2 × 39 3/4 × 1 1/4 in. (148.59 × 100.97 × 3.18 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Marie K. Ingersoll and George L. Kuehn M1962.1158. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Jean Joseph Benjamin Constant (French, 1845–1902), Evening on the Seashore—Tangiers, ca. 1891. Oil on canvas. 58 1/2 × 39 3/4 × 1 1/4 in. (148.59 × 100.97 × 3.18 cm). Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Marie K. Ingersoll and George L. Kuehn M1962.1158. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

Evening on the Seashore—Tangiers is a highlight of the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Orientalism gallery. Orientalism is a style in which the Near East is interpreted by western artists. This interest in the “exotic” was extremely popular in nineteenth century Europe and provided subject matter not just for paintings, but also decorative arts and interior decoration.

Even houses in small-town Wisconsin might have a “Turkish Corner” featuring a table, platter, and rug just like those found in the foreground of our painting. Just check out this one at the Hixon House in La Crosse!

The French painter Jean Joseph Benjamin Constant (1845–1902) found a ready clientele for his Orientalist works in late nineteenth century American collectors. The relaxed atmosphere, monumental figures, and Mediterranean setting of Evening on the Seashore-Tangiers would have been of particular interest to wealthy patrons who had large new homes to decorate.

One of those homes would have been the Pillsbury mansion of Milwaukee. The red-brick Queen Anne home stood at what is now 1626 N. Prospect Avenue. The house was razed in the 1960’s and to be replaced by the highrise apartment building known as Prospect Towers.

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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 Exhibitions Prints and Drawings

From the Collection: The Nudes of Anders Zorn

The current exhibition in the European works on paper rotation space (on view until July 31) is Anders Zorn: Sweden’s Painter-Etcher. Featuring all 18 prints in the Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection by Zorn, this is the first time ever that they have been on view at the same time. This is the fifth and final in a series of posts focusing on the exhibition.

Anders Leonard Zorn (Swedish, 1860–1920), Dal River (Dalälven), 1919. Etching, roulette, drypoint, and engraving. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mr. Lindsay Hoben M1966.111. Photo credit: John R. Glembin
Anders Leonard Zorn (Swedish, 1860–1920), Dal River (Dalälven), 1919. Etching, roulette, drypoint, and engraving. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mr. Lindsay Hoben M1966.111. Photo credit: John R. Glembin

This week, we’ll wrap up our consideration of the prints of Anders Zorn with a look at one of his favorite subjects: the female nude.

In 1888, Zorn became one of the first artists to paint nude women outdoors in a publicly accessible setting. Before this time, if an artist wanted to show a nude out-of-doors, the proper thing was to sketch or paint the outdoor setting and then add the nude from a model later in the privacy of the studio.

How different was Zorn’s use of the female nude? Just compare the 1875 painting Nymph of the Hunt with Fauns by Swedish artist Julius Kronberg (1850–1921) with Zorn’s copy in watercolor, Love Nymph from 1885, both in the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European Prints and Drawings

From the Collection–Dancer Holding her Right Foot in her Right Hand by Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917), Dancer Holding Her Right Foot in Her Right Hand [Danseuse tenant son pied droit dans la main droit], ca. 1904; cast 1919–20. Bronze. Purchase, Bradley Conservation Endowment Fund M1984.70. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917), Dancer Holding Her Right Foot in Her Right Hand [Danseuse tenant son pied droit dans la main droit], ca. 1904; cast 1919–20. Bronze. Purchase, Bradley Conservation Endowment Fund M1984.70. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Though many of his formal principles are similar, Edgar Degas (1834–1917) stands out from the other major Impressionists because of his decision to depict urban spaces and the people that inhabit them, rather than natural landscapes. Arguably Degas’ most famous subject is the Parisian Opéra and its ballet dancers.

Categories
Ancient Mediterranean Art Art Collection Curatorial

From the Collection: Ancient Roman Head of a Noble Woman

Detail of a bust of a noble woman made of tan marble
Roman [Flavian Period], Head of a Noble Woman, 96–100 AD (detail). Pentelic Marble. Milwaukee Art Museum, purchase, with funds from the Woman’s Exchange. Photo credit Larry Sanders.
Bust of a noble woman made of tan marble
Roman [Flavian Period], Head of a Noble Woman, 96–100 AD. Pentelic Marble. Milwaukee Art Museum, purchase, with funds from the Woman’s Exchange. Photo credit Larry Sanders.

Part of what drew me to studying Roman portraiture in college was my fascination with fashion.  When growing up, if I wasn’t pouring over floorplans of Victorian houses, I was pouring over Victorian photographs and fashion plates.

So of course, when I found out that hairstyles were so important in portraits of women in ancient Rome, I was thrilled!  Sabina, the wife of Hadrian, wore lovely waves similar to sculptures of Greek goddesses.  Meanwhile, Septimius Severus’s wife, Julia Domna, is known for her helmet-like rolls of hair.  The timeline of the Roman world unfolds before the fashion-conscious.

But what makes this topic even more fascinating is that, in true Roman-style, hairstyles are not just about beauty. Read on for a closer look at the political importance of Roman hairstyles (yes, you read that right), as well as a video how-to so you can give the hairdo a try yourself.