Published: July 4, 2000
CLEVELAND, OHIO – A group of new acquisitions will go on view for about three months at the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA). Dominating this installation in the recent acquisitions gallery is an impressive mid-Nineteenth Century double portrait of two brothers from a prominent French family, “Rene-Charles Dassy and His Brother Jean-Baptiste-Claude-Amede Dassy.”
Painted by the popular French muralist and portraitist Hippolyte-Jean Flandrin, it shows the combined intimacy and formality in portraiture of the time in a work of consummate draftsmanship.
A newly acquired “Jazz Bowl” – an internationally significant ceramic work created by Cleveland artist Viktor Schreckengost – is also a highlight of this group of acquisitions. It will be featured in the major retrospective exhibition “Viktor Schreckengost and Twentieth Century Design” at CMA from November 12 through February 4.
Flandrin (1809-1864) was the most famous pupil of the painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867), and was called upon for such work as the portrait of the Emperor Napoleon III now at Versailles (1861), though he is now best known for his church murals, especially those at St-Germain-des-Pres in Paris.
Viktor Schreckengost (born 1906) produced the “Jazz Bowl” in 1930, when he was working for Cowan Pottery in Rocky River, Ohio. He had just returned to Cleveland after a year of study at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Vienna. The first “Jazz Bowl,” (whereabouts unknown), was produced for Eleanor Roosevelt to celebrate her husband’s recent election to the governorship of New York. Cowan subsequently produced a small edition of such punch bowls.
The “Jazz Bowl” has emerged as one of the masterpieces of the Art Deco style, and as a key artifact of the 1930s. Only about a dozen Jazz Bowls are now known to exist.
The design of the “Jazz Bowl” was created by scratching through a covering of block slip to the white clay underneath, firing the piece, covering the whole bowl with a rich glaze of Egyptian blue, and then firing it again. Says curator of American painting Henry Adams, who sought the piece for acquisition: “The result is a design of amazing vibrancy, in a jazzy, cubist style, which glows like a stained glass window.” A visit to New York inspired the images Schreckengost chose to include – skyscrapers, an ocean liner steaming on the Hudson River, Times Square, the Cotton Club, Radio City Music Hall, and a drumhead featuring the word “Jazz.”
At 16¼ inches in diameter and 11¼ inches high, this is the “Eleanor Roosevelt” type of “Jazz Bowl” – the largest and most desirable of the design – in Adams’s view, “an excellent example of an extremely rare and important object.”
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), considered the greatest printmaker of the Twentieth Century (and certainly the most prolific with some 2,500 works) created 100 plates between 1930 and 1937 that were published by art dealer Ambroise Vollard in 1939 in a set known as the Vollard Suite. One of the most important and beautiful of the prints, “Minotaur Caressing a Sleeping Woman,” has just been acquired by the CMA. An exceptional impression, one of the first 50 printed, it is in perfect condition.
A pen-and-brown-ink landscape by the famous Italian Baroque painter Guercino (1591-1666) has been added to the drawing collection. Most of Guercino’s known extant drawings are compositional studies. This new acquisition, however, “Landscape with a Man Leaning on a Bale” (circa 1640), featuring fluid pen lines rendering picturesque rocks and trees, joins two other genuine Guercino drawings in the collection, the acclaimed “Venus and Cupid” acquired in 1925, to be shown in the traveling exhibition “Master Drawings from the Cleveland Museum of Art” (August 27 through October 15), and a red chalk study for his 1645 painting, “Atlas.”
CMA’s first platinum print photograph by Paul Outerbridge, Jr (1896-1958), a 3½ x 3 inch print called “Semi-Abstraction” (circa 1923), is a view of female torso that skillfully emphasizes formal elements, such as curving lines and patterns created by shadows. It was formerly in the collection of Graham Nash, apparently one of the first people to acquire prints from the Outerbridge estate. A classic modern dance photograph by Barbara Morgan (1900-1992), “Doris Humphrey – My Red Fires” (1938), has also been acquired for the photography collection.
The city of Cleveland is a theme in four other works added to the photography holdings: three photographs of Cleveland by Jeff Brouws – two purchased and the third a gift from the artist (all from 1995 and 1998) – all from the exhibition held here earlier this year, “Jeff Brouws Photographs of Cleveland: A City Renewed”; and a large-scale abstract photogram (1997-99) by Cleveland-based artist Bruce Checefsky, which joins historic examples of this cameraless technique by Man Ray and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy.
The textile department has acquired a group of seven textiles made in India for the Indonesian market, where they signified prestige and privilege whether used as hangings or garments. Two well-documented textiles from much closer to home also entered the collection: a New York State “crazy quilt” of silk with dated ribbons and a woven coverlet from Ohio, both donated by Mr and Mrs John Morrisey of Cleveland, who inherited them from their grandparents.
The museum also accessioned several gifts from new supporters and long-time friends. The Painting and Drawing Society (founded in 1998) has just made its first gift: a drawing of a “Head of a Woman in Profile” by David D’Angers (French, 1788-1856). At 96 years of age, Charlotte M. Trenkamp has been a member of the Print Club of Cleveland – CMA’s oldest affiliate group (founded 1919) – since 1924. Mrs Trenkamp has given 12 European, American, and Japanese prints in memory of her husband, Henry Trenkamp, Jr. They include “Cherry Blossoms,” by Shiko Manukata (1903-1975), which Mr and Mrs Trenkamp purchased from a CMA-organized exhibition of Manukata’s work in 1960.
CMA’s great gold and enamel Auguste Rodin-Felix Braquemond hand mirror, acquired in 1978, has now been reunited with a beautiful plaster cast Rodin created in about 1900 for the mirror’s central image of a graceful female nude, “Venus Astarte.” This mirror, commissioned by one of Rodin’s most important patrons at the time, is believed to be the sole example of Rodin providing sculptural ornament for a luxury object.
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