Category: Exhibitions

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2016 in Review

Throughout 2016, the Decorative Arts Trust’s programs followed one after another in dizzying succession. With more events than ever before, including sold-out domestic symposia and fully subscribed Study Trips Abroad, this has been the busiest year on record, and one packed with wonderful memories.

Our Spring Symposium to Winston-Salem brought the Trust “home,” thanks to the many friends who live in the area and work in the local institutions. Full-access, in-depth tours of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts’s reinstalled collections showcased phenomenal objects in new settings. In contrast, many of the city’s museums and cultural organizations occupy 20th-century mansions built by notable families, such as the Reynolda House Museum of American Art, where a stunning collection of paintings complement interiors and furnishings from the 1910s and 20s.

Winchester and the surrounding counties welcomed participants of our Fall Symposium to the breathtaking landscapes of the Shenandoah and Potomac River valleys to explore some of the region’s earliest homes and most important collections. Many of these sites belonged to the friends and families of our country’s founding fathers, and the objects found there showed how the area’s material culture reflects immigration and trade routes extending from Europe and the urban centers of the East Coast.

On the international front, the Spring Study Trip Abroad brought two back-to-back tours to Poland, a country rarely visited by American cultural organizations. From the medieval frescoes of the 13th-century Church of Saint Jacob in Małujowice to the painstakingly reconstructed historic center of Warsaw, the country yielded rich decorative and architectural treasures spanning the country’s long, eventful, and often tragic history.

Our two fall tours, titled Yorkshire in the Age of Chippendale, took Trust participants through some of the greatest country house collections in England. Led by Trust Governor Brock Jobe, we saw more than two-thirds of the known documented Thomas Chippendale furniture in existence. Many of the houses possessed family collections dating back to earlier centuries as well, not to mention fabulous paintings, sculpture, and other decorative arts!

Our calendar was complemented by a flurry of curator-led tours for members, including visits to the Rhode Island furniture show at the Yale University Art Gallery, the Nadelman folk art collection at the New-York Historical Society, and exhibits at Winterthur and the Peabody Essex Museum. As part of our commitment to new and accessible member programming, we also hosted our second special one-day symposium in conjunction with the Philadelphia Museum of Art: “Latrobe and Philadelphia: The Waln House Furniture Revealed and Reconsidered”.

Our phenomenally successful year could not have happened without the enthusiastic participation and support of our members, whose dedication to our mission makes work meaningful for Matt and Christian. 2017 will be an equally exciting year, particularly as we introduce new staff members and more programming to the Trust. Stay tuned!

"Naizen, Southern Barbarians Come to Trade, About1600"
Ink, color, gold, gold leaf on paper. Anonymous Loan. Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Member Tour of “Made in the Americas: The New World Discovers Asia”

On Saturday, December 5, the Decorative Arts Trust will offer an exclusive curator-led tour of the groundbreaking exhibition “Made in the Americas: The New World Discovers Asia” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Curated by Trust member Dennis Carr, this is the first large-scale exhibition to examine the profound influence of Asia on the arts of the colonial Americas.

José Manuel de la Cedra, Desk on Stand, 18th Century. Lacquered and polychromed wood with painted decoration. On loan from The Hispanic Society of America, New York, NY. Image Courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
José Manuel de la Cedra, Desk on Stand, 18th Century.
Lacquered and polychromed wood with painted decoration. On loan from The Hispanic Society of America, New York, NY. Image Courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Although the flow of style and goods from Europe to the Americas is a standard tenant of decorative arts scholarship, a wider view of the Pan-American scene reveals a more complex view. Blocking Columbus’ theoretically direct route to the Far East, the Americas became a trading hub, a place where everything from textiles and ceramics to decorative screens and case furniture arrived from Asia on its way to Europe, and luxury goods from the colonizing powers made their way back.

Featuring nearly 100 of the most extraordinary objects produced in the colonies, the show explores the rich, complex story of how craftsmen throughout the hemisphere adapted Asian styles in a range of materials. “To be a colonial citizen in the Americas,” states Carr, “was to be a global citizen. Households in this period frequently contained goods collected from across the world, testifying to the complex material lives of their owners.” These objects established links with the sources of Asian luxury goods, endowing their owners with commercial prestige, regardless of whether they had directly imported them from the Far East, waited for them to disseminate back from Europe, or had been manufactured in the Americas themselves thanks to the stylistic inspirations of local artisans.

The benefit is free to our members, but registration is required. Tours will be offered on Saturday, December 5, 2015, at 1 PM and 2 PM and participation is capped at 25 people per tour. Members can register online through our website. For more information about the show, see the review from the New York Times.