Published: March 27, 2001
Trade News from around the World
“Pool in a Harem,” a painting by Jean-Leon Jerome (French), 1876, was sliced out of its frame and stolen March 22 from St. Petersburg’s bustling Hermitage Museum, officials told the Associated Press. The work was insured for $1 million in 1995. It was stolen between 3 and 4 pm from an exhibit hall that was closed to visitors, according to the museum’s news service. The picture and its frame were not connected to the museum’s alarm system, said Igor Puchek, an electrician who has worked at the Hermitage for the past 12 years. “Pool in a Harem” was purchased by Tsar Alexander III. It depicts nude and half-nude women around a pool in a lush, ornate setting.
Christie’s announced March 20 that Christie’s East will begin holding exhibitions and sales at Rockefeller Center in the summer of 2001. While Christie’s East will continue to conduct sale at its East 67th Street facility through the end of this year, this is the first phase of an overall plan to move all Christie’s East sales and facilities to Rockefeller Center by January 2002. The move continues Christie’s current globalization plan to integrate specialists on a worldwide basis. “Ever since the opening at Rockefeller Center in 1999, it has been our intention to hold all Christie’s sales in New York at a single location,” said Edward Dolman, chief executive officer of Christie’s International. “After studying our sale calendar and space utilization at Rockefeller Center, it became apparent that we could create a full year of auction activity at Rockefeller Center by transferring Christie’s East business here.” In 2000, the firm undertook extensive expansion plans at Rockefeller Center, creating new gallery and office space, enabling the firm to hold all future New York sales at the facility. This plan is already underway beginning with Christie’s Nineteenth Century furniture department, which transferred its operation to Rockefeller Center several months ago and will hold its first sale at Rockefeller Center on April 24. Carol Vogel of The New York Times writes that the firm will sell the East 67th Street building, valued at $20 million, and that “no experts will lose their jobs in the consolidation.”
The late William Thon, a landscape artist from Port Clyde who continued painting after being declared legally blind, has left the biggest cash gift ever received by the Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Thon left nearly his entire estate to the museum when he died on December 6, days after suffering a heart attack. According to AP, museum officials knew of his plans, but they didn’t know the gift would be about $4 million (most of the bequest to the Portland museum, about $3.8 million, is already liquid; the remaining sum will come from sales of Thon’s works in the estate). The New York native’s will directs the museum to use the funds to support its juried biennial exhibit of Maine art. He also left $100,000 for the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland.
Bernard & S. Dean Levy, Inc., New York City, has given a fully carved and decorated Federal armchair to the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The chair is part of a suite of furniture made for James Beekman’s New York City mansion, Mount Pleasant. This suite is among the most documented groupings of American furniture known. Recent scholarship on the group had uncovered the 1819 bill of sale for the chair from the New York City cabinetmaker John Banks, as well as a 1919 bill for upholstering the chair by William Denny. The underupholstery foundation on the chair is original, and the tapestry cover may very well be original as well. In fact, an 1818 auction bill to James Beekman’s for the tapestry covers exists, and it is believed that these are the fabrics currently on the chairs. The Beekman suite has been on long-term loan at The New-York Historical Society, and was recently sold by the Beekman Family Association. The suite consists of two sofas and 16 armchairs. The gift of the chair is in celebration of the Levy family’s 100th anniversary in the field of American antiques.
An important chest of drawers has been donated to the Brick Store Museum by three sisters with ties to the Kennebunk, Me. area. The so-called Capen Perkins Chest, made in 1685 at a joinery shop in the Ipswich, Mass. area, is one of the oldest and most valuable pieces of its kind. Marcene Molinaro, the Brick Store Museum’s executive director, estimated that the chest would be worth “in the seven digits” if put on the market. “What makes the Capen chest so important are its superb condition and elaborate carved and applied ornament,” Robert Trent, a former curator of the Henry Francis du Pond Winterthur Museum, told the Associated Press. The chest’s donors, Joan Lamborn, Janet Goedecke and Ann Hooker, have lived or still live in the Kennebunk area and are descendants of the chest’s original owners. The piece will be go on exhibit starting March 31. It will be loaned to the Milwaukee Art Museum in May.
Milo Cleveland Beach, director of the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, adjoining parts of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., announced his retirement March 19 after 13 years in charge. Beach, 71, said he wanted to return to his career as a scholar of the Mughal period of Indian painting. He will continue as head of the galleries until October 1. “Milo’s unique knowledge and passions have singularly shaped the two museums and their combined reputation as a place to engage in the finest range of Asian art, culture and history in America today,” Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence Small told AP.
And speaking of the Freer, professor Oleg Grabar, who has been pivotal in the study of Islamic art in the United State in the last 50 years and has had an enormous impact on American understanding of the arts of Islam, will be awarded the Charles Lang Freer Medal of the Freer Gallery of Art in the Freer’s Meyer Auditorium on April 5. Born in Strasbourg, France, in 1929, the first of two sons of the Byzantinist Andre Grabar, Oleg Grabar came to American for his university education, earning his bachelor’s degree in medieval history (1950) from Harvard College and his master’s (1953) and doctoral degrees (1955) in Oriental languages and literatures and the history of art from Princeton University. He also received certificats de licence in ancient, medieval and modern history from the University of Paris in 1948 and 1950. He began his teaching career in 1954 at the University of Michigan and in 1969 he began teaching at his alma mater, Harvard, where he was named the first Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture in 1980.
Christine J. Vincent has been elected the 15th president of the Maine College of Art (MECA), Portland, Me., and will begin her duties on July 1. Vincent is currently deputy director of media, arts and culture in the Ford Foundation’s education, media, arts and culture program in New York City. She is responsible for the foundation’s philanthropy in the arts and culture in the US. During her eight-year tenure at Ford, she led a revitalization and expansion of the foundation’s grant-making in the arts across its global network of international offices. Vincent will succeed Roger Gilmore, who will retire in June after 12 years as president of the college. Founded in 1882, Maine College of Art is ranked as one of the top art colleges in the country. It is the only professionally accredited college of art and design in northern New England. It is the largest art educational institution in Maine.
Home to one of the largest collections of Spanish art outside of Europe, the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University reopened March 25 in a new $20 million building, writes AP’s Susan Parrott. Ceremonies later this week will include a visit by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain. The 66,000-square-foot building is six times larger than the museum’s previous location on campus, providing more space for galleries, special exhibitions, research and educational programs. The 670-piece permanent collection spans more than 1,000 years of Spanish and Hispanic art, featuring masterpieces from the Middle Ages through the Twentieth Century. Paintings include Picasso’s cubist “Still Life in a Landscape,” Velazquez’s “Female Figure” and El Greco’s “Saint Francis Kneeling in Meditation.” Also exhibited are paintings by Goya, Murillo, Ribera and Miro, along with Renaissance altarpieces, polychrome wood sculptures, and hundreds of works on paper by Goya. Much of the collection was donated by Algur Meadows, a Texas philanthropist and oil financier who frequented the Prado Museum in Madrid on business trips to Spain in the 1950s. In 1962, he gave SMU the funds to build a museum for his collection, which became known as the Prado of the Prairie. That building, which opened in 1965 and closed last November for the relocation, will be used for art studies. The Meadows Foundation donated the funds used for design and construction of the new building.
The Civil War Library and Museum, founded by Union officers more than 100 years ago and occupying a four-story rowhouse in a residential section of downtown Philadelphia, has been barred by a Philadelphia court from lending any part of its collection of artifacts to sites outside the city. The Orphans Court order March 19 came in response to a request from the state attorney general’s office, which maintained that the museum is bound to the city by the terms of its charter. “We want to be sure these rdf_Descriptions remain in Philadelphia while the court has an opportunity to address the issues raised” in the suit, Sean Connolly, spokesman for Attorney General Mike Fisher, told the Associated Press. “We want the inventory taken. We want to know what the plans are. We believe rdf_Descriptions were donated to the museum with the understanding that they would remain in Philadelphia.” The institution is prized by scholars for its approximately 3,000 artifacts, 7,000 photographs, 13,000 books and uncounted manuscripts. It receives a fraction of the thousands of visitors who flock to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell and currently faces a rapidly shrinking endowment. It had hoped to lend to the Tredegar National Civil War Center in Richmond, Va.
Mischa Richter, 90, who immigrated to America from Russia as a young boy and became a noted New Yorker cartoonist and liberal intellectual, died of a heart attack in Provincetown, Mass., on March 23. Richter was best known for his cartoons in The New Yorker magazine, says AP, though his work also appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, Esquire and other magazines. He also had a distinguished painting career.
David Rodney Arman, 60, Staffordshire expert and auctioneer, died Sunday, March 4, at his home in Portsmouth, R.I. The cause was cancer. After his term as an officer in the Navy ended in 1968, Arman and his wife, Linda Donohue, began careers in the antiques field. Over the next 30 years they wrote several books: Historical Staffordshire: An Illustrated Checklist (1977); Anglo-American Ceramics: Part I (1998); Anglo-American Cup Plates: Part I and II (2000). David was the founder and editor of The China and Glass Quarterly and helped to co-found the China Collector’s Club. He was one of the ranking experts in the field of American views on Staffordshire. Throughout his career he lived in Virginia, Maryland and Connecticut before moving to Rhode Island in 1990. In the 1980s he and Linda established Collector’s Sales and Services, an absentee auction service which is now run by their son Joseph. Later, in 1999, they opened a small painting gallery in Newport.
Rienzi, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s center for European decorative arts, has acquired Angelica Kauffman’s “Portrait of Eleanor, Countess of Lauderdale,” circa 1780-81. Rienzi is the former home and collection of Houston philanthropists Carroll Sterling Masterson and Harris Masterson III. The Mastersons collected Eighteenth Century English furniture, paintings, and Worcester porcelain. The painting was purchased with proceeds from the Rienzi Society, a new support group whose annual benefit dinner party at Rienzi is dedicated to purchasing fine European decorative arts and paintings from Mrs T.R. Reckling III, daughter of Carroll Sterling Masterson, was chairman of this year’s event. “Portrait of Eleanor” is now on view in the Drawing Room at Rienzi, 1406 Kirby Drive. “Angelica Kauffman was one of Europe’s leading neoclassical painters,” MFAH director Peter Marzio said. “The painting is a wonderful addition to the English portraits collection at Rienzi. This is the second Kauffman painting to enter the MFAH collection. The first, Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus on Naxos, was a gift to the museum from the Mastersons, and is on view in the European galleries of the Audrey Jones Beck Building.”
Harvey Pitt has decided to give his collection of 1,800 decoys – one of the most admired waterfowl decoy collections in the country, with some specimens dating to the 1870s – to his alma mater, McKendree College, Springfield, Ill., reports Ralph Loos of The State Journal-Register to AP. The college will sell the collection, estimated to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, upon Pitt’s death to establish a scholarship fund for biology students. Pitt began his duck decoy collection in 1960, while he was working or Winchester Ammunition Co. He met the Ward brothers, who were big decoy makers at the time, and begged them to make him a decoy to begin his collection. More than 2,000 people visit Pitt’s home every year, where there are more than 550 antique decoys, including 100 Mason decoys and 19 original Ward brothers decoys. He also owns about 115 mounted waterfowl representing all the major waterfowl areas of the world, a collection of one of every federal duck stamp ever distributed, a 16-foot boat made into a bar, boats filled with antique waterfowl hunting accessories and a wall-sized painting of a lake with ducks flying over.
The Barnes Foundation, which operates an art gallery in Lower Merion Township, Pa., is fighting with neighbor Robert A. Marmon – again – but this time over what constitutes a fund-raiser. AP reports that Marmon has filed court petitions in Montgomery County asking a court to find the suburban-Philadelphia foundation and the state Attorney General’s Office in contempt. He alleges two events hosted by pharmaceutical companies turned the gallery into a rental hall. The foundation is guided by strict regulations which prohibit it from acting as a “hall-for-hire.” The Barnes responded in a filing which said the events were fund-raisers. The attorney general’s office agreed with the foundation.
A group of shepherds on the eastern Aegean Sea island of Kalymnos have uncovered nine marble statues believed to be 2,300 years old, Greece’s Culture Ministry told the Associated Press March 19. The well-preserved Hellenistic sculptures were discovered together with dozens of other statue parts and handed over to the local museum.
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