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Thursday, 03 May 2012 16:08
Over the past quarter century, growing interest in the arts of the South has led to significant research and new discoveries by furniture scholars. Winterthur’s collection has benefited from this research as a number of pieces previously attributed to Northern craftsmen are now recognized as Southern, while information on others has increased with well-documented new discoveries. Southern furniture added to the museum’s collection in recent years has filled significant gaps in regional representation.
Thursday, 03 May 2012 15:54
A Flemish walled town is the setting for a scene populated with people all busily engaged in a variety of seemingly absurd and unrelated activities. The meaning of each little episode only becomes clear when one realizes that the artist has used the actions of ordinary folk to give pictorial expression, often in very literal terms, to popular period sayings or proverbs.

Proverbs and sayings have been collected in compendia since time immemorial, but interest in them reached a new peak in the sixteenth century. Broadly speaking, the proverbs in this image address the theme of the sins and follies of mankind. Brueghel offers an image of the peasant that is at once comical and brutally caricatured, but also heroically monumental.

Wednesday, 01 February 2012 03:36
In 1815, when trade between America and England resumed after the War of 1812, Staffordshire potters regained access to one of their most lucrative markets, and America, with its limited industrial base, was ready to import both the necessities and the luxuries of life (Fig. 1).

Blue printed pottery had been a staple import since its introduction in the late eighteenth century. From 1815 the most popular prints were in a bright “royal” blue, available in a wide variety of patterns. By about 1818 a small number of manufacturers produced darker blue wares that enjoyed a brief and intense popularity for about thirteen years. In the twentieth century a small group of the dark blue designs became the most desirable of all collectable printed pottery—patterns illustrating the new nation of the United States.
Wednesday, 01 February 2012 02:16
Exquisite in craftsmanship, unique in detail, and few in number, “lover’s eyes”—as they are popularly known today—are hand-painted miniature portraits of individual human eyes presented in an astonishing array of settings, both decorative and functional. Among the many objects housing these miniatures are lavish rings, brooches, necklaces, and boxes. From February 7 to June 10, 2012, the Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama, will present The Look of Love: Eye Miniatures from the Skier Collection, the first major exhibition of these enigmatic works of art.

Struck by the splendor of a circa-1790 diamond and blue enamel ring featuring a lover’s eye (Fig. 1), Nan and David Skier of Birmingham, Alabama, began their eye miniature collection with this solitary purchase at an antique show in 1993. With fewer than a thousand lover’s eyes thought to exist, over the past two decades the Skiers have quietly built the largest collection of these miniatures in the world, now at one hundred examples. “These rarities are at once works of art, precious jewels, and fragments of history. How poignant it is that each eye represents an actual person and an actual story of a long-ago love or bereavement, now lost to the passage of time,” says Mrs. Skier.
Wednesday, 01 February 2012 02:11
The Lorraine and Alan Bressler Gallery in the new Art of the Americas Wing at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, features works inspired by the American Arts and Crafts movement (Fig. 1). Despite the fact that the founding and early formative years of the museum were integrally related to the development of the Arts and Crafts movement in Boston and the United States at large, this is the first time in the MFA’s 140-year history that a significant gallery has been dedicated to this material.

The MFA’s founding in 1870 was in part motivated by design reform efforts begun earlier in the century in England. Design reformers lamented the decline in aesthetic standards brought on by industrial production, and debated the role of art, design, and morality in ornament and manufacture and, by extension, in everyday life. With “Art, Industry, Education” as its motto, the MFA was modeled after London’s South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert Museum, established in 1852), as a “resource whence artisanship and handicraft of all sorts may better and beautify our dwellings, our ornaments, our garments, our implements of daily life.” 1 The art and artifacts (or copies of originals) shown in the MFA were meant to inspire and educate artists, designers, and the general public, and therefore improve the aesthetic quality of manufactures and domestic settings in Boston and beyond.
Wednesday, 01 February 2012 02:07
Mark Twain considered the game of golf “a good walk spoiled,” while J. Carter Brown believed games like golf invite us to “leave behind the toils and trouble of daily life in search of pleasure, exercise, and spirited competition.” From Hendrick Avercamp’s seventeenth-century scenes of people playing kolf, a cousin of the game, to Andy Warhol’s portrait of Jack Nicklaus, artists too, have approached the subject of golf from a variety of perspectives. In ninety works from artists as diverse as Rembrandt, Charles Lees, Norman Rockwell, and Andy Warhol, The Art of Golf, organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and the National Galleries of Scotland, explores how European and American artists have depicted the royal and ancient game across four centuries, its origins in Scotland, and its growth in America in the twentieth century.
Thursday, 26 January 2012 05:53
When the investment banker moved into one of Manhattan’s iconic Upper West Side prewar buildings, he was at the beginning of his collecting career. The three-bedroom co-op, which offered beautiful views of Central Park, was perfect for a recently divorced bachelor. But as he assembled one of the top collections of Hudson River School works, he wanted what every collector seeks: more space. So when the adjoining three-bedroom apartment became available, he jumped at the chance to buy it.

He called on interior designer Ellie Cullman and architect John B. Murray, the same team he had commissioned for the initial “gentle” move-in renovation in 1997, to create a unified 8,000-square-foot space to showcase his art and antiques.
Thursday, 26 January 2012 05:42
Ruby Devol (Finch) (1804–1866) of Westport, Massachusetts, was the subject of an in-depth article more than thirty years ago.1 While one signed portrait (Checklist, 2 ) came to light shortly after the initial publication in 1978, it was not until recently that additional works have been discovered.

Jim and Barbara Faria, antiquarians living in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts, have long had nineteenth-century folk artist Ruby Devol on their radar. Jim Faria, who grew up in the vicinity of neighboring Westport, was employed in the 1970s by antiques dealer George Considine, owner at the time of two watercolors by Devol (Checklist, 6 and 8). In 2005 the Farias had hopes of unearthing fresh clues to Ruby’s life and, conceivably, artwork, when they were asked by a sixth-generation Westport resident (and Devol family relation) to advise on the dispersal of what remained from generations of accumulated household belongings. Included in this material were goods originally from a Devol family farm, which was located across the road from yet a second Devol farm. Ascertaining that these were the farms where Ruby Devol had lived, the Faria’s painstakingly began processing hundreds of household objects, photographs, and documents. Over the course of several months they unearthed the only known photographic image of Ruby Devol (Fig. 1, Checklist, 16) and four unrecorded works that had been protected from light for over 150 years. In conjunction with the Farias’ findings, my recent research has made it possible to provide for the first time a checklist of Ruby’s known works and resulted in the reexamination of Ruby Devol, one of the most uniquely creative female American folk artists of her time.
Saturday, 21 January 2012 03:51
Antiques & Fine Art has selected twenty works of fine and decorative arts that museums acquired in 2011. We are pleased to highlight the generosity of donors and those supporting museums, which continue in their the vital role of presenting great works to the public. We thank those who have made such purchases possible, the continued commitment of museums to acquire the products of our many cultures, and the dealer and auction communities that have located the material; all important symbiotic relationships. We hope you will make a point to support museums and see the selected objects in person, and to visit dealers, shows, and auction houses to learn from and acquire antiques and art that will enrich your lives.
Saturday, 21 January 2012 03:41
The New American Wing galleries for paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts that opened at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on January 16, 2012, comprise twenty-six galleries, encompassing nearly 30,000 square feet on the Wing’s second floor. The first eight, the Anthony W. and Lulu C. Wang Galleries of Eighteenth-Century American Art, showcase all the decorative and fine arts of the colonial and early Federal periods. The remaining eighteen, the Joan Whitney Payson Galleries, offer the principal display of the museum’s collection of nineteenth and early twentieth-century American paintings, together with important examples of American sculpture. The galleries, with their coved or barrel-vaulted ceilings, skylights, quarter-sawn white oak floors, and Cohare limestone trim, pay contemporary homage to traditional Beaux-Arts museum design.
Thursday, 19 January 2012 03:35
One of the foremost female patrons of the arts, Isabella Stewart Gardner’s (1840–1924) (Fig. 1), interest in collecting began in the 1880s after attending lectures on art history and readings of Dante at Harvard College. Enamored by the writer, Gardner began collecting Dante’s rare editions. In the coming years her interests grew and she began collecting Dutch and Italian paintings and, in 1894, Gardner turned to the young art historian Bernard Berenson (1865–1959) for advice on her acquisitions. Under Berenson’s instruction Gardner added Sandro Botticelli’s (ca. 1445–1510) Lucretia, Titian’s (Tiziano Vecellio, ca. 1488–1576) Europa (Fig. 2), and Rembrandt’s (1606–1669) Self-Portrait to her holdings. To this day, Europa is revered as the most important work in Boston by many museum directors in the area.
Thursday, 19 January 2012 03:28
When Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, partners in marriage and in business, decided to part with some of their $10 million contemporary art collection they didn’t store it, sell it, or donate it to a museum. Instead they built a hotel in which to showcase it. The stunning result is the 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky.
Thursday, 19 January 2012 03:17
In 1973, Robert Scull, the owner of a New York City taxi fleet, sold off the bulk of his noted Pop Art collection at Sotheby’s, in the process earning $85,000 for a painting by Robert Rauschenberg entitled Thaw that he had bought fifteen years earlier for $900 from the artist’s dealer. Rauschenberg, who had attended the sale, came up to the collector at the end, shoved him and said scornfully, “I’ve been working my ass off for you to make that profit?” Scull replied to the artist, “You’re going to sell now, too. We’ve been working for each other.” In other words, higher prices on the secondary market result in greater demand and higher prices on the primary market. However, Rauschenberg’s anger did not abate, and he became an advocate for “resale royalties,” whereby collectors pay artists (or their heirs if it’s within seventy years of the artist’s death) a percentage of the profits they earn when they sell an artwork.
Wednesday, 18 January 2012 00:13
Founded as Sleepy Hollow Restorations in 1951 by noted philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. (1874–1960), Tarrytown-based Historic Hudson Valley is a collection of National Historic Landmarks that serve as distinct, robust platforms for fulfilling the organization’s mission of celebrating the region’s significant history, architecture, and culture. The organization owns and operates five sites that are open to the public, and administers the tour program at Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate, which is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Stretching from lower to mid-Hudson Valley, Historic Hudson Valley preserves the following five sites:
Wednesday, 18 January 2012 00:08
In the course of his painting expeditions, Edgar Alwin Payne’s artistic journey covered some 100,000 miles throughout the United States and Europe.1 Payne (1883–1947) found magnificence in diverse settings, including the Southern and central California coast, the Sierra Nevada, the Swiss Alps, the harbors and waterways of France and Italy, and the desert Southwest (Fig. 1). In each locale, he sought vitality, bigness, nobility, and grandeur, which he turned into unified, carefully calculated compositions with brushwork that seemed to pulsate with life.
Saturday, 14 January 2012 04:55
Historic Hudson Valley, a museum of historic sites, possesses a strong American fine arts collection. Particularly notable are its portraits of New Yorkers, their kinfolk, and their associates dating from the colonial and early national periods. These canvases by John Wollaston, Gilbert Stuart, and other artists have a direct or a thematic connection to four of Historic Hudson Valley’s sites: Philipsburg Manor, Van Cortlandt Manor, Sunnyside, and Montgomery Place. While significant in their own right, these works also contribute to the authenticity and completeness of Historic Hudson Valley’s properties and their interiors. Some have hung in these properties for one or even two centuries.
Saturday, 14 January 2012 04:31
On October 15, 1922, The Metropolitan Museum opened to the public Furniture from the Workshop of Duncan Phyfe (Fig. 1), the first exhibition ever held in an art museum on the work of a single cabinetmaker. Ninety years later and only for the second time in history, a major retrospective on this iconic American craftsman and his furniture is again on view there, in the Erving and Joyce Wolf and Israel Sack Galleries of the American Wing. Duncan Phyfe: Master Cabinetmaker in New York (Fig. 2) seeks to provide a fresh new perspective on Duncan Phyfe (1770–1854) and his work by bringing together for the first time documented furniture made during each successive style phase of his long, distinguished career.

Sunday, 01 January 2012 04:13
"A neglected house gets an unhappy look; this one had it in spades." Joe Gillis, the doomed screenwriter protagonist of Sunset Boulevard, could have been talking about The Cedars in an earlier incarnation, when he said those words. Indeed, some interior scenes from the classic film noir were shot in the house, which was built in 1926 for film director Marcel Tourneur.1 The hilltop villa in Los Feliz, which looks over Los Angeles, has been, variously, a home, rock stars' play pen, movie location, and a book repository before being rescued by its present owner, fashion designer Sue Wong.
Sunday, 01 January 2012 04:08
Thirty years ago a Pennsylvania couple purchased a plot of land in the rolling countryside of Bucks County. Their plans were to build a home emulating an early Pennsylvania house. Their mind was swayed, however, after a visit to Shelburne Museum in Vermont. The husband walked into the "Stencil House," an early "saltbox," and had an epiphany, deciding on the spot that he wanted instead a New England-style home, despite their living in Pennsylvania. Their saltbox was custom built for the couple, incorporating eighteenth-century techniques with modern technology. To add elements of authenticity, the couple spent many months acquiring historic components from resources they knew in Connecticut, which their builder integrated into the structure. Twenty-six eighteenth-century white pine doors are used throughout the house, made with board and batten construction with leather washers on the hinges. The 16 to 22-inch wide floorboards and ceiling beams are historic. Old, paper-thin glass was used in making the new windows; a Connecticut craftsman provided frames necessary to achieve the period look. The five fireplaces feeding into the generous center chimney have been outfitted with period firebacks and sets of period tools. The paint used throughout the house has a historic appearance and was made with a secret formula created by the artisan. In homage to the Shelburne Museum, the front hall is painted with stencils replicating, minus the eagles, those applied sometime between 1820 and 1830 to the 1804 Stencil House.
Sunday, 01 January 2012 04:00
Hiram Powers (1805-1873) was one of the most celebrated American sculptors of the nineteenth century. His full-length nude marble statue The Greek Slave (1844), one of his best-known works, earned him international acclaim. A retrospective exhibition of Powers' work at the Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati, hopes to restore attention to the work of this "American Michelangelo." The exhibition, which focuses on his Cincinnati connections, represented in part by portraits he executed of its citizens, offers a rare opportunity to study his portraiture over the course of his career: from his first essays in wax to marble busts done mid-career and some of the last portraits to be produced by his studio.