The Cleveland Museum of Art’s strategic plan recognizes that the collection is the institution’s greatest asset and indispensable foundation, telling the story of human achievement in the arts throughout time and across many cultures. In the pages that follow, the museum’s curators offer a glimpse at some of the most significant objects acquired over the past year, both by purchase and through the generosity of our donors.
It was an outstanding year for collecting in the area of European paintings and sculpture from 1500 to 1800. Known as “Genoa’s Bernini,” Filippo Parodi was one of the most gifted pupils of master sculptor, painter, and architect Gianlorenzo Bernini, whose expressive grace defined the Baroque style. Parodi’s marble sculpture Sleeping Christ Child (c. 1675) now occupies a place of honor in the center of the barrel-vaulted Donna and James Reid Gallery for Italian Baroque Art (217), opposite Caravaggio’s celebrated Crucifixion of Saint Andrew, another masterpiece of the period.
Other acquisitions include two paintings on view in the recently reinstalled Harold C. Schott Foundation Gallery for Dutch Art (213): Dirck van Baburen’s Violin Player with a Wine Glass (1623) and Jacob van Hulsdonck’s Still Life with Meat, Fish, Vegetables, and Fruit (c. 1615–20). While in Rome in the early 1600s, Baburen was profoundly influenced by Caravaggio’s innovative style. He brought this manner of painting back home to the Netherlands, integrating it into his own work. Although the museum already owned paintings by Baburen’s 17th-century colleagues Hendrick ter Brugghen and Gerrit Honthorst, who became known as Northern Caravaggesti, the collection did not include a work by Baburen, who during his short life produced fewer than 40 paintings. Unlike ter Brugghen’s and Honthorst’s depictions of religious subjects, Baburen’s Violin Player represents a more playful manifestation of the Caravaggesque emphasis on naturalism; the outlandishly costumed musician openly demonstrates his enjoyment of life’s sensual pleasures. Janice Hammond and Edward Hemmelgarn generously provided the funds to acquire Hulsdonck’s Still Life, which depicts a table laid with an overly extravagant meal. Exuberant excess characterized this type of mid to late 17th-century paintings, known as pronk (showy) still lifes. They present an ideal vision intended to represent both abundance and the fleeting nature of life’s earthly pleasures.
The decorative arts also enjoyed a banner year. A transformational bequest from the estate of Charles Maurer, a lifelong resident of Cleveland’s West Side, included 33 iconic lamps and accessories from the height of American designer Louis Comfort Tiffany’s prolific career. Several of the objects from Maurer’s collection—lovingly amassed over decades—are currently on view in the Ruth and Charles Maurer Tiffany Gallery (209). Last summer an extraordinary pair of candlestands by 18th-century English cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale were acquired at auction in London. These torchères, made for Sir Peniston Lamb, 1st Viscount Melbourne, for the grand drawing room of Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire, now flank Thomas Lawrence’s Portrait of Catherine Grey, Lady Manners in the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos Gallery for British Painting (203A).
Transformative acquisitions joined the collection of African art. In addition to a rare and magnificently preserved bow stand made by the Luba people in the Democratic Republic of Congo and an Eshu dance staff made by the Yoruba people in Nigeria, three works by contemporary African artists—the first to enter the collection—were acquired last year. Hervé Youmbi’s Totem 01/01-18 (Baga-Batcham-Alunga-Kota) (2018), a six-foot wooden sculpture covered with glass beads, evokes several canonical forms of African sculptures that refer to the life cycle. In Twilight of the Idols (Fetish) 3 (2005), Kendell Geers appropriated a decommissioned nkisi nkondi, a ritual power figure of the Kongo people, that he found in a Belgian flea market. When pierced with nails, such nkisi were used as protective totems to ward off malevolent spirits, to prevent or cure disease, or to punish those with ill intentions. Geers wrapped the sculpture with red-and-white chevron tape—the South African equivalent of the yellow-and-black caution tape used in the United States to secure a crime scene. The layers of meaning in this complex sculpture prompt us to reconsider our understanding of historical African art and to explore the ways in which such art has become a global commodity.
In Pascale Marthine Tayou’s Sauveteur 3 (2014), the upper torso of a human figure rendered in glass is entirely covered with found materials such as plastic snakes, rubber objects, feathers, socks, and shards of wood. The top of the figure’s head is covered by a knitted hat. The sculpture presents the artist’s commentary on Cameroonian street hawkers; avatars of urban life, such peddlers play an essential role in the informal economy of most African cities. The works by Youmbi and Geers can be seen in the sub-Saharan art gallery (108A); Tayou’s sculpture will go on view later this spring.
In the area of Indian and Southeast Asian art, a collection of 121 Rajput and Pahari paintings from the 17th to the 19th century was cited by Apollo magazine as among the most notable acquisitions of 2018 by museums worldwide. Please keep reading to learn more about this extraordinary collection of Indian paintings as well as new acquisitions in the areas of Chinese and American art, drawings, prints, photography, and contemporary art. We invite you to visit the galleries to discover these acquisitions and to enjoy the new and compelling juxtapositions they create.
African Art Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi Curator of African Art
Five outstanding sculptures acquired last year enhance the CMA’s impressive African collection. Among them are two canonical pieces from the Luba and Yoruba cultures of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, respectively. Associated with Mbidi Kiluwe, the hunter and blacksmith who founded the Luba kingdom, the emblematic bow stand is celebrated in African art and is tied to the Luba’s origin myth. These sacred objects of kingship are highly sought by institutions and collectors because of their elegance and refinement. In addition to this example’s delicate facial features and svelte body structure, it has small pointed breasts, a swollen belly, and well-defined male genitalia. Such hermaphroditic figures are rarely found on Luba bow stands, making this object unusual and rare.
The Yoruba dance staff is equally important for our collection, as it is the first representation of Eshu (also called Esu or Esu Elegba), an icon of Yoruba art and spirituality. A complex Yoruba deity, Eshu serves as a divine intercessor between the metaphysical realm and the human world. This stellar example features male and female figures, a metaphor of Eshu’s ability to switch between the sexes—and an abundance of cowries, a metaphor for wealth. Both objects are among the finest of their types and enrich our holdings of Central and West African works, the core of the African collection.
Three contemporary sculptures round out the year’s acquisitions. Cameroonian artist Hervé Youmbi’s Totem 01/01-18 (Baga-Batcham-Alunga-Kota) (2018), on view in gallery 108A, stands six feet tall. Carved from a single block of hardwood, it combines four canonical forms: two abutting Kota-Mahongwe reliquary figures from Gabon, an imposing tsesah crest of the Cameroon Grassfields, a section of the four-sided Alunga society’s initiation mask of the Bembe people of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and a double-faced Baga headdress from Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. Through this combination of elements, the awe-inducing sculpture narrates the cycle of life—birth, growth, and the journey in the ancestral realm— a common theme among the objects in the African collection.
Twilight of the Idols (Fetish) 3 (2005) is the largest of the 10 sculptures composing the acclaimed Twilight of the Idols series by Brussels-based South African artist Kendell Geers. The arresting sculpture, an appropriated Kongo nkisi nkondi figure completely wrapped in red-and-white chevron tape, evokes Marcel Duchamp’s idea of the ready-made. As a white African, Geers produces work that undermines the prevailing notion in museums of racial homogeneity regarding cultures and peoples of sub-Saharan Africa.
Accretion is central to the art of the esteemed Cameroonian artist Pascale Marthine Tayou. His large-scale Sauveteur 3 (2014) is a unique object made of crystal—an unusual medium for a sculpture—that was blown in several sections and glued together. A bundle of kitsch and salvaged materials swathes the upper body. One of six sculptures from the groundbreaking series Les Sauveteurs, Sauveteur 3 evokes power figures associated with Central African cultures. Overall, these five works reflect an expansive approach to collecting, displaying, and interpreting African art at the CMA.
Decorative Art and Design Stephen Harrison Curator of Decorative Art and Design
The past year has been notable for decorative art acquisitions, marked especially by the purchase of an exquisite enameled silver-gilt cigar box by Russian jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé and a rare pair of candlestands by English cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale, and by the bequest of 33 highly important works by American designer Louis Comfort Tiffany.
The Tiffany bequest from Cleveland entrepreneur and collector Charles Maurer comprises a diverse group of 25 lamps as well as accessories in glass, ceramic, bronze, and mosaic. Together they span the height of the designer’s prolific career and provide the museum with iconic examples in multiple areas of his wide production of artistic household furnishings.
The lamps reveal Tiffany’s fascination with naturalistic forms and patterns in breathtaking colors, from deep reds, blues, greens, and yellows to soft pale whites, pinks, and creams. They also reflect a Japanese aesthetic, emphasizing the sublime beauty of nature, which was the underpinning of art reform movements, especially Art Nouveau, at the turn of the 20th century. While Tiffany was praised for his prowess in design, many young women artisans, among them Clara Driscoll of Ohio, carefully crafted the masterpieces that brought Tiffany fame and fortune. Several of these are included in this bequest and are now on view in the Ruth and Charles Maurer Tiffany Gallery (209) at the south entrance of the 1916 building.
Pair of Candlestands (Torchères) c. 1773. Thomas Chippendale (British, 1718–1779). Gilt-wood, gesso; each 154 x 56 x 51 cm. John L. Severance Fund, 2018.203
Incorporated into the Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos Gallery for British Art (230A) are the exceptional pair of candlestands made for the grand drawing room of Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire by master 18th-century English cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale. With carved acanthus leaves, swags, fluting, ram’s-head supports, and oval masks depicting the Roman goddess Diana, these gilded confections exhibit Chippendale’s masterful understanding of neoclassical proportion, scale, and ornament. They are monumental in size, designed especially for the grand interior of a country house. In addition, their scale and form allow them to link seamlessly with the paintings in the British gallery. When the candlestands were originally in Brocket Hall, they flanked a large portrait of George IV by Joshua Reynolds. They are now similarly displayed flanking the large portrait of Lady Manners by Thomas Lawrence, bringing texture and context to the presentation in the gallery.
A remarkable addition to the Cara and Howard Stirn Fabergé Gallery (211) is the unusual enameled silver-gilt cigar box by the House of Fabergé. A masterwork of the firm’s production in the old Russian style, the box is distinguished by its large size and the fluid, painterly quality of its cloisonné enamel, which became a hallmark of the firm’s silver production. This work joins a tea and coffee service and two wine cups (kovshi) dating from the same period and decorated in the same early Slavic style by the Moscow shop of Fabergé. With its whimsical size and fine enameled composition, this cigar box wonderfully enhances the CMA’s renowned collection of works from the House of Fabergé.
European Paintings and Sculpture Marjorie E. Wieseman Paul J. and Edith Ingalls Vignos Jr. Curator of European Paintings and Sculpture, 1500–1800
Last year several transformative works of art joined the museum’s collection of European paintings and sculpture before 1800. Two of these, paintings by Dirck van Baburen and Jacob van Hulsdonck, feature in the newly reinstalled Harold C. Schott Foundation Gallery for Dutch Art (213).
Violin Player with a Wine Glass is an arresting depiction of a roguish musician by Dutch painter Dirck van Baburen. While in Rome in the early 1600s, Baburen became fascinated by Caravaggio’s strikingly innovative style, characterized by uncompromising naturalism and dramatic lighting effects. Baburen brought this Caravaggesque style back to the Netherlands and applied it in his paintings of historical subjects and genre scenes. Violin Player represents one of Baburen’s most appealing themes: a half-length figure of a musician, depicted at life size and close to the picture plane. The violinist’s colorful dress marks him as a figure at the edge of society—an association corroborated by his bold gaze, unshaven face, and cheeky grin complete with a broken tooth. This self-assured and unaffected character openly demonstrates his enjoyment of life’s sensuous pleasures through music, drink, and a hint of bared flesh. Painted in 1623, one year before the artist’s death, Violin Player exhibits Baburen’s confident brushwork and characteristic use of cool, bright tonalities. This work of great quality and visual impact documents a key moment in the history of Northern European painting.
A generous gift from Janice Hammond and Edward Hemmelgarn, Jacob van Hulsdonck’s vibrant Still Life with Meat, Fish, Vegetables, and Fruit allows the museum to more fully represent the roots of still-life painting in the 17th-century Netherlands. Painted about 1615–20, this is an exceptionally large and beautifully preserved work by one of the early masters of Netherlandish still-life painting. Hulsdonck spent his entire career in Antwerp but may have trained with the Dutch still-life painter Ambrosius Bosschaert (represented in the CMA collection by a delicate floral still life [1960.108]). Most of Hulsdonck’s still lifes are relatively simple, focusing on a single vase of flowers or basket of fruit. However, early in his career he also painted a handful of elaborate “meal still lifes,” of which the CMA’s new painting is probably the largest and most elaborate.
Spread across the cloth-covered tabletop is a veritable feast, a testament to the rich variety of food and tableware available in Antwerp in the early 1600s. A humble earthenware trencher sits alongside pewter plates and delicate Chinese porcelain imported by merchants of the Dutch East India Company. The foods are a mix of the mundane—bread, butter, herring—and seasonal delicacies like berries and stone fruits. Seventeenth-century viewers would have been struck by the conspicuous abundance of the display: rarely would so many and so varied foods have appeared together on a table. Hulsdonck’s precise brushwork and vibrant palette entice the viewer and invite appreciation of the artist’s ability to re-create the sensual and tactile qualities of this sumptuous feast.
Quite different, but truly exceptional, Filippo Parodi’s tender Sleeping Christ Child brings a rare and important example of monumental Italian Baroque marble sculpture to the collection. Parodi, known as “Genoa’s Bernini,” was one of the most gifted pupils of the master sculptor, painter, and architect Gianlorenzo Bernini, whose work veritably defined the Baroque style: dramatic and expressive, with an acute command of visual and tactile effects designed to appeal directly to the viewer’s emotions. These elements are all quietly present in Parodi’s sweetly elegiac Sleeping Christ Child, sculpted in about 1675 for Genoa’s wealthy Durazzo family. Christ—no longer an infant, but a young child—sprawls atop a cloth-covered bed of straw, his head thrown back in slumber and his right arm draped over a mound. A radiance framing his head indicates his divinity. Parodi used varying degrees of polish to differentiate surface textures: Christ’s body gleams, while his hair and the rough straw bedding absorb rather than reflect the light.
Even more vividly than a painting, Sleeping Christ Child conveys the Counter-Reformation directive to harness the visual arts in the service of the Catholic faith. In this instance, the child’s languid pose and the sensitive rendering of his flesh invite identification with the body of the living Christ, his humanity, and his certain death.
American Painting and Sculpture (until 1960) Mark Cole Curator of American Painting and Sculpture
Last year the CMA acquired two important American paintings, each gift augmenting a different area of our 20th-century holdings. Cleveland West Side, Hillside Houses is August Biehle’s most significant early modern oil. Depicting houses nestled on a steep embankment, the painting features foreground and background forms united through a rhythmic pattern of fractured curvilinear shapes. These stylistic hallmarks are Biehle’s signature fusion of Art Nouveau and Cubist aesthetics, reflecting his exposure to avant-garde artistic trends while a student in Cleveland and Munich.
Supporting himself as a commercial lithographer, Biehle participated in several Cleveland gallery exhibitions of cutting-edge art and engaged with the Kokoon Klub, a local bohemian organization that promoted modernism. This impressive canvas is the gift of John and Susan Horseman, passionate American art collectors based in St. Louis, Missouri, who maintain strong family ties to northeast Ohio.
Jared French’s Washing the White Blood from Daniel Boone ranks among the most idiosyncratic American Scene paintings. Set in a barren landscape on a riverbank, the composition presents a half circle of five stately Native American men ritualistically attending to the frontiersman, variously restraining and cleansing him. The subject relates an obscure episode in Boone’s life: the adoption ritual performed after his temporary capture by the Shawnee people of northeastern Kentucky. Audaciously, French—one of the first American artists whose same-sex desires were recognized by contemporaries who viewed his work—homoeroticized the story by substituting men for the women who were thought to have performed the rite. William Kelly Simpson, a prominent Egyptologist based in Manhattan and Katonah, New York, bequeathed this remarkable painting in honor of his late wife, Marilyn Milton Simpson, and her grandfather John D. Rockefeller Jr.
Contemporary Art Emily Liebert Associate Curator of Contemporary Art
Last year the contemporary collection acquired important new works that meaningfully expand and diversify the narratives it represents. Currently on view in contemporary art gallery 229A, Sandy and Her Husband is one of the most significant paintings by Emma Amos and one of very few works by the artist from the 1970s. It shows her affinity for color and patterned textiles, which frame the work’s layered narrative. At the center of the composition, the eponymous couple enjoys a tender moment as they dance in their living room. The other figure in the painting is Amos herself: in the image behind the couple, Amos repaints an earlier self-portrait, Flower Sniffer, that she had made in 1966. Amos thus asserts her presence as the artist of this work—even engaging the viewer through her direct gaze.
For nearly six decades, Amos has created paintings, prints, and textiles that explore African American identity and culture, often celebrating women’s presence within that heritage. In 1964, at age 26, Amos became the youngest and only female member of Spiral, a collective of African American artists founded by Norman Lewis, Romare Bearden, Hale Woodruff, and Charles Alston that addressed the relationship between art, race, and activism. The intersection of these issues has continued to animate Amos’s work across media.
Sandy and Her Husband and Flower Sniffer were part of the major traveling exhibition We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85 (organized by the Brooklyn Museum in 2017), and Amos’s work from the same period was included in Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power (organized by Tate Modern in 2017).
Mirroring the global scope of the CMA’s encyclopedic holdings, the contemporary department continues to increase the geographic diversity of its collection. With its arresting visual presence and myriad conceptual layers, The Intermediate—Naturalized Klangkoerper (2016) exemplifies Haegue Yang’s widely celebrated hybrid visual language that integrates references to the artist’s native South Korea with the aesthetic legacies of European and American modernism.
Born in 1971 in Seoul, Yang received her BFA at Seoul National University in 1994 and went on to complete her graduate studies at the famed Städelschule in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1999. Each year since then, Yang has presented one or more solo exhibitions or projects around the world, and her work has joined the collections of premier global institutions.
Made of synthetic straw and assorted plastic adornments, The Intermediate—Naturalized Klangkoerper is abstract but evokes many associations, from a vessel displaying greenery to a ritual totem to a body whose motion is implied by the wheels at the base of the sculpture. The work’s anthropomorphic form is suggestive of Korean straw dolls popular in folklore rituals, and the bells integrated throughout it evoke shamanic rituals in which the shaman, usually a woman during the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910), would ring bronze bells to communicate with the otherworld. The artist has described this work as an upside-down, oversized female figure chanting her tantra, an image that is reiterated in the work’s title: Klangkoerper is German for “sounding body.” It resonates with impressive works of assemblage sculpture in the CMA’s collection, while adding a global perspective to this constellation.
Prints and Drawings Emily Peters Curator of Prints and Drawings Britany Salsbury Associate Curator of Prints and Drawings
Additions to the collections of prints and drawings represent a plethora of periods, styles, and subjects, with works by European and American artists from the 16th to the 21st century. The diversity of acquisitions reflects the breadth of the museum’s holdings of works on paper.
Drawings A 16th-century chiaroscuro drawing by Johannes Stradanus (1523–1605) depicts the gruesome conclusion of a mythological tale as told by Ovid, a Roman poet. The Flaying of Marsyas shows the satyr being flayed alive by Apollo at the center of a gathering of the gods. Ovid’s story tells of a musical contest staged between Marsyas, who played a flute, and Apollo, who played a lyre; this pairing was interpreted in the Renaissance as a test between the passions and the intellect. When the muses declared Apollo the victor, he was granted the prize of determining the satyr’s punishment, the result of which is depicted at the center of the drawing. Although born in the Netherlands, Stradanus spent most of his career working in Florence at the court of the Medici family. Artists there were drawn to the subject of Marsyas because it tested their skill at depicting human anatomy, a vital part of the visual repertoire.
Stradanus’s portrayal of the gods surrounding the central scene is a profusion of curving, seminude forms. The artist exhibited amazing subtlety in the spectators’ various reactions to the scene, from sorrow to judgment to active fascination. Renaissance artists used the chiaroscuro technique to portray deep and subtle contrasts between shadow and highlight. Stradanus first painted a white sheet of paper with a pink wash, and then delineated and highlighted the composition using a combination of brown ink, brown and pink washes, and white lead heightening. Despite the grisly subject matter, the palette and luscious, rounded forms create a pleasing warmth and harmony.
Another notable acquisition, made at the height of the American watercolor school in the late 19th century, depicts the tranquil shores of a river. The artist, William Stanley Haseltine (1835–1900), was a master of the medium. A member of the Hudson River school and a practitioner of Luminism, he spent most of his career living and working in Italy and Germany. Haseltine’s highly finished Traunstein River on the Road to Empfig, Bavaria (c. 1893–96) shows the calm shore of the river on a serene summer afternoon. Choosing to work on a blue sheet of paper, he used a warm palette of green, yellow, gray, and pink washes to create a vibrant, glowing surface that interacts with the paper. His treatment of the rocky shore, slowly moving waters, and overgrown bank demonstrates his Luminist focus on atmosphere and reflection rather than grand scale or distant vistas.
Watercolor was a crucial medium for landscape at the end of the 19th century, and by 1893, when this drawing was undertaken, many American artists had turned to a wholly new technique, characterized by broad, transparent washes with little attention to minute detail. Haseltine, however, gained a reputation for his closely observed scenes with shimmering effects, which he sold to a steady clientele of collectors in Europe, particularly fellow American expatriates and travelers on the Grand Tour.
Finally, a bold portrait of a young woman adds compelling new subject matter to the drawings collection. Nefertiti, by American sculptor, printmaker, and draftsman John Woodrow Wilson (1922–2015), depicts Nefertiti Goodman, a friend of the artist’s daughter. Wilson portrays the sitter in the casual setting of his studio in 1973, as part of a series of portraits he made of young women. He depicted Goodman at close perspective and in large scale with bold, decisive strokes created with a combination of deep black charcoal and an oily lithographic crayon. The powerful clarity of the image relays Goodman’s beauty as well as her strength.
Wilson was inspired by the monumental stone sculptures of heads made by the Olmec people of Central America. Responding to the politics of the civil rights era, he saw the scale of these heads as a way to respond to the seeming invisibility of black Americans, as described in Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel, Invisible Man. Wilson’s most well-known work, a bronze bust of Martin Luther King Jr. (1986) that stands in the Capitol Rotunda, builds upon this concept.
Nefertiti was acquired with funds generously donated by the Print Club of Cleveland in honor of past president and club archivist Elizabeth Carroll Shearer, who died in 2014. She bequeathed her collection of 19th- and 20th-century prints to the museum. The club supported the purchase as a fitting tribute to Shearer’s passion for images of women.
Prints French artist Louis Jean Desprez (1743–1804) created Tomb with Sphinx after winning the prestigious Rome Prize, which allowed him to travel extensively throughout Italy. The print depicts a tomb resting on four carved sphinxes, protruding from a deep arched space. Hieroglyphs surround an opening through which, in morbid detail, two human feet can be seen.
Although the image was based on sketches that Desprez made while visiting tombs and catacombs throughout southern Italy, the artist combined observed details with his own fantastic inventions. He added dramatic tone by experimenting with aquatint, a newly developed printmaking process that produces grainy areas of wash-like gray. Desprez used this process to create painterly layers that suggest a dramatic single light source casting shadows throughout the foreboding space and that translate the texture of stone. He manipulated the technique so skillfully that his exact method is difficult to identify even today.
Tomb with Sphinx was one of a series of four prints by Desprez depicting invented tombs. These works were especially popular with audiences for their fictional references to ancient Egypt. Egyptian culture inspired numerous artists, designers, and architects during the late 18th century—an interest that increased when French leader Napoleon Bonaparte launched a failed attempt to colonize the country. Desprez catered to this interest and was awarded special sponsorship from the French government to expand his printmaking practice around the time he created Tomb with Sphinx. His efforts attracted the attention of Gustav III, king of Sweden, who was so taken by the strange yet evocative images that he hired the artist to create stage designs for the Royal Opera House in Stockholm and later appointed him First Architect to the King.
Like Desprez, German artist Eugen Napoleon Neureuther (1806–1862) experimented with etching techniques. His large-scale print Cinderella is one of a series of three that depict German fairy tales and folklore. Here, he drew from the 1812 story published in Grimms’ Fairy Tales about a young woman who escapes her cruel family after being magically transformed into a beautiful princess, and then meets a handsome prince. In Neureuther’s composition, the tale unfolds throughout a complex and ornate architectural setting that begins in the foreground, where Cinderella gazes hopefully at the wishing tree that will change her fortune. The narrative culminates at the center of the image, where she flees the ball at midnight under a dramatic arched structure. Neureuther used the fine lines that could be achieved through etching to depict each aspect of the subject in exacting detail.
As text along the bottom indicates, the print was commissioned by a Czech Kunstverein, or Art Union, a new model for arts patronage that emerged in the early 19th century. These groups became popular as the German middle class grew and could afford to purchase works of art. Neureuther worked closely with these art unions in Germany and neighboring countries, making several prints for various groups. Although typical commissions included reproductions of Old Master paintings, Neureuther instead developed original compositions that featured the innovative designs and native German literary traditions seen in this work. This and another fairy-tale print by Neureuther, which complete a set of three for the museum, are generous gifts from Stephen Dull.
In the 20th century, Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) also used etching to create his print Woman Leaning on Her Elbow, Back of Sculpture, and Bearded Head (1933). This important print enters the collection as part of a remarkable gift of 16 modern American and European works on paper from James and Hanna Bartlett. James is a chair emeritus of the CMA’s board of trustees; both James and Hanna have been longtime, valued supporters of the institution. Woman Leaning on Her Elbow belongs to a series of 100 prints known as the Vollard Suite, commissioned by Ambroise Vollard, a renowned dealer and champion of avant-garde art in 19th- and 20th-century Paris. This etching is unique among the series for its collage-like composition, which focuses on a casual portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter, Picasso’s lover and favorite model at the time. Leaning her head on her hand while thoughtfully gazing forward, she is surrounded by references to classical antiquity, including a column, a nude sculpture facing away from her, and a sketch of a man with a thick beard, considered a symbol of virility in ancient Greece.
The print’s imagery aligns with a major theme of the Vollard Suite: the sculptor in his studio. Around the time he made the print, Picasso was working in a new space outside Paris, a setting that found its way into his prints, which otherwise lack a singular theme or narrative. He was also inspired by classical Greek and Roman sculpture, which—in addition to the references included in this image—he evoked through stark, linear forms devoid of modeling or shading, also seen here. For this innovative technique, as well as the connections between their subject and Picasso’s biography, prints from the Vollard Suite are among the artist’s most celebrated today.
Photography Barbara Tannenbaum Curator of Photography
The photography collection has grown by an unprecedented 823 works, thanks in large part to generous gifts from local, national, and international collectors and artists. A particularly wide range of photographic history and technology is represented in last year’s acquisitions, from Henri Béchard’s 1860s albumen print of Egyptian sculptures to Adam Fuss’s enormous 2014 daguerreotype of the Taj Mahal based on an 1864 paper negative. We enter uncharted territories with Trevor Paglen’s 2017 dye sublimation print on metal, which bears an image conceived by an Artificial Intelligence.
Among the earliest works are five eerie photographs by pioneering French neurologist G.-B. Duchenne de Boulogne, made to illustrate his 1862 book The Mechanism of Human Facial Expression, or an Electro-physiological Analysis of the Expression of the Passions Applicable to the Practice of the Fine Arts. Likely the earliest use of photography in a medical book, the prints are also the first photographs introduced into the practice of French academic art: they were hung in the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris around 1875 as teaching aids.
A pair of powerful images made in Mexico by Edward Weston chronicles this key figure’s transition from Pictorialism to modernism, a critical moment in the narrative of 20th-century photography. Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuacan (1923) and Heaped Black Ollas (1926) came from the collection of Anita Brenner, a scholar of Mexican culture whose commission forced Weston to delve deeply into the country’s precolonial monuments and contemporary art and crafts.
A decade later across the ocean, Parisian photographer Laure Albin Guillot issued Narcisse, a rare unbound folio of Fresson prints, in an edition of between 6 and 14 copies. Her book illustrates Paul Valéry’s poem about the mythological young hunter who falls fatally in love with his own reflection in a pond. The theme of male vanity and the male nude as subject were daring. Equally radical were her compositions and the use of photography for an artist’s book. Albin Guillot’s 1931 book Micrographie Décorative, also acquired, is one of the earliest explorations in France of the decorative use of photography by blending art and science. Its 20 seemingly abstract designs are actually photographs of natural specimens through a microscope.
Two extraordinary donations concluded the year. Bruce Davidson, one of the most highly respected and influential American documentary photographers of the last half century, sought to offer an independent look at America in the age of visual and social homogenization presented by Life and Look magazines. An anonymous gift of 367 photographs spanning the artist’s career from 1955 to 2006 will allow the museum to represent and exhibit in depth Davidson’s most significant achievements.
Longtime supporter George Stephanopoulos gave 362 photographs, including a stellar group of prints by major European photojournalists and documentary photographers. While highly revered in Europe, these artists remain largely unknown in the United States. Their works form a rare and valuable resource for exhibition and research and are a marvelous complement to our American holdings.
Indian and Southeast Asian Art Sonya Rhie Mace George P. Bickford Curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art
Thanks to a generous gift and purchase agreement with Catherine Benkaim and Barbara Timmer, the museum acquired from the prestigeous and meticulously curated Catherine Glynn Benkaim and Ralph Benkaim Collection 121 Rajput and Pahari paintings made in royal courts of northern India between 1605 and 1890.
Stunning in their range of vivid polychrome and intriguing subjects, Rajput paintings were produced at the courts of principalities primarily located in the northwestern Indian state now known as Rajasthan and in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Equally appealing in their own regional styles, Pahari paintings were made for courtly patrons in the kingdoms of the far north, mainly in the modern state called Himachal Pradesh at the western extreme of the Himalayas. These Rajput and Pahari kingdoms became part of the Mughal Empire during the late 1500s, after the Mughals of eastern Uzbekistan invaded and took control of their territories by either negotiation or military force. After subjugation by the Mughals, the Rajput and Pahari rulers were nevertheless allowed to keep their palaces and rule their lands like governors, as long as they served as courtiers and military officers for the empire and gave women from their royal families to the Mughal harem.
While serving at the Mughal court, Rajput and Pahari nobles took note of the Mughals’ intense pace of commissioning, collecting, and close viewing of paintings in albums and books as a required aspect of sophisticated court life. When they returned from the imperial capital for their annual months of governorship at their home courts, Rajput and Pahari rulers began to institute these practices. Some were enthusiastic about their alliance with the Mughals. The king of Bikaner readily agreed to give his kingdom, sister, and daughter to the Mughals in exchange for power and prestige at court, and he convinced an artist from the Mughal atelier to work at his Rajput court as early as the 1590s. Thus, Bikaner paintings often closely emulated Mughal works. As time went on, court painters at Bikaner continued to follow Mughal idioms, as seen in the painting Lady Holding a Flower, in which the artist depicted the woman in a naturalistic setting amid flowering plants and carefully modeled her face and the luxurious variety of textiles, all hallmarks of the Mughal imperial style.
After 1739, when the Mughal court was invaded by Iran and its imperial treasuries taken, artists from the Mughal atelier sought patronage—and pay—elsewhere, especially at the Rajput and Pahari courts, where many of them settled. With this new influx of talent, Rajput and Pahari painting flourished during the late 18th century.
In one painting from a dispersed series of scenes from the life of Rama, a mournful procession of courtiers leaves a palace to seek this divine hero, now living in exile in the forest. The sobriety of the occasion is underscored by the stark horizontals and the flat whites of the walls. The king has just died of grief after exiling Rama, his eldest son, as part of a promise to grant a wish to his favorite queen; she wished for her son Bharata to be the king’s successor instead of Rama. Bharata and his brother sit in the chariot at the center; the queens are in the covered palanquins behind. The overlapping figures of the procession, each with a different expression, reveal the artist’s subtlety of execution and concern with individual psychology, even on such an intimate scale. In the background, daily life goes on outside the city walls.
With this landmark acquisition of paintings from the Rajput and Pahari courts of India, new and coherent stories and themes can be presented in the semiannual rotations of light-sensitive works on paper in gallery 242B. This collection takes the story of Indian art that we tell in the sculpture galleries and brings it not only forward in time but also from the public walls of a temple to the private room of the pious patron, where each painting’s imagery coaxes emotions that bring the viewer closer to the divine bliss of liberation or the pleasure of a heavenly sojourn.
Chinese Art Clarissa von Spee James and Donna Reid Curator of Chinese Art
The shape of this porcelain flask is inspired by Dutch square gin bottles often carried to Asia on East India Company ships. When packed into wooden chests for the sea voyage, their square shape allowed for more stability. This flask’s freely painted decoration with spontaneous brushwork in brilliant shades of blue depicts fantastic animal motifs, including a leopard, a mythical qilin, a horse, and another imaginary beast. The design characterizes 17th-century transitional period blue-and-white porcelain created during the fall of the Ming and the establishment of the Qing dynasties. Without imperial supervision and patronage, potters at the porcelain manufacturing center at Jingdezhen were, for a short time, free to experiment with new shapes and decoration. These designs may have attracted the scholar-official class in China and appealed to clients of the emerging foreign markets in Japan and Europe.
The flask is solidly potted (probably pieced together from two or three premolded parts), while its decoration reveals fine professional execution and novel creative motifs. An excellent example of 17th-century porcelain, the bottle represents a dramatic artistic departure from the classic imperial Ming dynasty style. The museum owns one other transitional period object, a brush pot, which reflects a more domestic, scholarly taste. The bottle will go on permanent display in the Chinese ceramics gallery (238) later this year.