Give Now
 
 

Category Archives: Instagram

Picture Books of the Past: Pieter Fransz. de Grebber

Enjoy this series of segments highlighting Picture Books of the Past: Reading Old Master Paintings, a loan exhibition of 60+ works from the M&G collection. The exhibit has traveled to The Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. and the Orlando Museum of Art in Florida.

This intimate, interior setting highlights the wonder of beholding the child whose birth inspired angels to break through the heavens with the news. The dramatic lighting, eye-level viewpoint, and “crowding in” of characters provide an informal portrait of familial love.

Juan Sanchez, the Younger

The Flight into Egypt and The Nativity

Juan Sanchez, the Younger (formerly, Master of the Large Figures)

Below the image, click play to listen.

Picture Books of the Past: Lorenzo di Niccolo di Martino

Enjoy this series of segments highlighting Picture Books of the Past: Reading Old Master Paintings, a loan exhibition of 60+ works from the M&G collection. The exhibit has traveled to The Museum of the Bible in Washington, D. C. and the Orlando Museum of Art in Florida.

Each member of the Trinity has distinguishing attributes. However, when illustrating the unity of the Godhead, Old Master painters highlighted similarities rather than differences among the three. This groundbreaking composition is a good illustration.

Denys Calvaert, called Dionisio Fiammingo

St. Francis Receiving the Christ Child from the Virgin

Denys Calvaert, called Dionisio Fiammingo

Below the image, click play to listen.

 

 

Collection on View

View Works from the Museum & Gallery Collection

While the Museum & Gallery is closed to the public and unable to offer public viewing hours, we continue removing the collection in preparation for moving to a new building and new location. Meanwhile, you can still see selected paintings and objects on display in these campus locations:

 

Gustafson Fine Arts Center: Atrium

Public Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 AM-5 PM or by tour request

Luther’s Journey:  Experience the History commemorates Luther’s posting his 95 Theses—an act that changed the world.  His probing questions about man’s ultimate purpose, potential, and place in the world are still central to our own time and culture.  Luther’s life journey reminds us that ordinary people can be used by God to inspire extraordinary and enduring change.

 

War Memorial Chapel

Open only by appointment or tour request

The Benjamin West Collection
The seven, monumental paintings that hang in the War Memorial Chapel constitute the largest assemblage today of works by Benjamin West, the father of American painting.

 

Rodeheaver Auditorium Atrium Lobby

Public Hours: Monday-Friday, 12 PM-5 PM and on performance days

See M&G’s Christ and the Samaritan Woman by French artist, Francois de Troy on display.

 

Mack Library

Public Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 AM-5 PM

View several Medieval and Renaissance objects from M&G’s collection, including a 16th-century Antiphonary, a 15th-century keepsake box made of bone, and more!

Object of the Month: October 2022

Cabinet on Stand

White Oak with Ivory and Ebony

Italian, 17th or 18th century

Donated to the Museum & Gallery in 1973, this beautiful antique was described merely as a “Chest of Drawers,” believed to be Dutch, from the late 16th century. During the cabinet’s history in the collection, the mirrored base on which it was first displayed was swapped out for the more suitable, baluster-turned legs on which it currently stands (though not original).

The Cabinet is substantial, standing five-and-a-half feet tall (including the base), almost four feet wide, and 15 inches deep. Beyond that, not much has been known about the Cabinet beyond its style (Baroque) and composition (finely detailed ebony and inlaid ivory veneers on the face of oak drawers and doors). Three etched ivory plaques, possibly based on engravings, grace the front of the piece. These picture the Apostle John on the left lower door and John the Baptist on the right. Both doors are lockable with the original key. The central, etched ivory plaque depicts Mary, the mother of Christ, framed by three-dimensional carved ivory columns to either side.

While those details of the Cabinet are basic, they communicate a significant amount about the furniture’s place and date of origin, as well as the type of owner it was likely built for. First, however, it’s helpful to know some of the history of cabinets as furniture.

Cabinets utilizing ebony wood date back at least to Egyptian times, like several discovered in Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922. Such dedicated, highly decorated storage furniture demonstrated the status and wealth of its owner. Over intervening centuries of adaptation, storage and collection cabinets proliferated in both Eastern and Western cultures, though only the wealthy could afford the most finely constructed and exotically decorated pieces.

Ebony wood was a favorite material, sourced only from ebony tree varieties in western Africa, India, and Indonesia.  Because ebony was scarce, craftsmen learned to shave and apply thin veneers of the jet-black ebony heartwood on top of readily-available wood species used for the rest of the object. The dark background was then inlaid with contrasting materials such as ivory, metal, lighter woods or semiprecious stone.

As early as 1566, the inventory of a room in the Ducal Palace of Mantua (in northern Italy) lists an ebony cabinet with inlaid ivory panels. Though the Ducal version was likely made 150-plus years prior to M&G’s Cabinet (dating sometime in the late-17th or early 18th century), both share similar intricate ivory inlay and metal filigree.

Piecing together that general history helps in suggesting the origins and ownership of M&G’s Cabinet on Stand The condition of the ivory and construction methods distance the cabinet from the 19th-century revival of ebony and ivory furnishings.

However, the ivory demonstrates some discoloration and shrinkage from age, while the cabinet frame, back, and drawer construction seem more consistent with an earlier date. The white oak used as the secondary wood was common only in northern Italy (Venice or Milan, but not Rome) and Northern Europe (German, Holland, and Flanders).

The etched biblical figures expressed in the inlaid ivory seem more “lively” and less restrained than is common when artists in Protestant countries present the same figures. That suggests a Roman Catholic country of origin, such as Italy.

Finally, the totality of the Cabinet—exotic materials, time-consuming craftsmanship, and subject matter—indicate a prominent and wealthy patron. The religious subject matter likely indicates that the original owner was a highly-placed churchman, perhaps a bishop, using the cabinet as a way to flaunt both his religious devotion and his prominence/wealth.

Good examples of similarly inlaid antique chests exist. Some of the best examples can be found in the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum (dating from about 1600), the Museum fur Kunst & Gewerbe (Hamburg, Germany), and some auction sites such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s, as well as high-end antique dealers.

 

Dr. Stephen Jones, M&G volunteer

Resources

David L’Eglise, partner at Village Antiques at Biltmore

Sotheby’s

Anticstore.art 

1st Dibs

Antiques-Atlas 

Amherst.edu  

French Accents

 

Published 2022

Picture Books of the Past: Unknown Follower of Paolo Caliari, called Paolo Veronese

Enjoy this series of segments highlighting Picture Books of the Past: Reading Old Master Paintings, a loan exhibition of 60+ works from the M&G collection. The exhibit has traveled to The Museum of the Bible in Washington, D. C. and the Orlando Museum of Art in Florida.

This work introduces one of Jesus’s most devoted followers, Mary Magdalene. Notice that her clothing is of silk and velvet, the rich fabrics of a prosperous woman. However, this imagery of prosperity is offset by the murky background and the presence of a skull. Her body position (which turns her away from death’s symbol) and her long, flowing hair (reminiscent of her repentance) shifts the narrative mood from one of despair to hope.

Mario Balassi

St. Margaret

Mario Balassi

Below the image, click play to listen.

 

Object of the Month: September 2022

Esther before Ahasuerus

Oil on canvas, c. 1624

Claude Vignon

French, 1593–1670

Vibrant reds. Golden yellows. Burnt oranges. These colors typically signal the arrival of autumn, but French artist, Claude Vignon, used them to bring to life a scene in the story of Esther. Vignon was born in Tours, France on May 19, 1593, to a wealthy family. His father served as a valet to King Henry IV of France. Claude’s earliest training was probably in Paris in the workshop of Georges Lallemand where he learned the mannerist style. He eventually traveled to and spent time in both Italy and Spain. These travels exposed him to the works of the great artists Caravaggio, Guercino, Reni, and Caracci. He also joined the French community of painters in Italy who followed Caravaggio such as Simon Vouet and Valentin de Boulogne.

Upon returning to France, he became a member of the Painter’s Guild in Paris and received patronage from King Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu. This patronage boosted his career and earned him respect and success as an artist. He also dabbled in printmaking, etching, and illustration as well as working as an art dealer and art expert for notable clients including Marie de’Medici. His work in a variety of mediums as well as his art expertise earned him admission into the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in 1651. Three of his children continued his legacy studying in his workshop: Claude-François, Philippe, and his daughter, Charlotte (who focused solely on still life and was also admitted to the Academy). His eclectic work demonstrates a wide array of influences such as mannerism, Venetian, Dutch, and German making it difficult to describe or define his style.

In 1624, Vignon painted Solomon and the Queen of Sheba now in the Louvre. This painting bears a striking resemblance to M&G’s Esther before Ahasuerus. The common compositions feature a king on a richly embellished throne to the far left of the painting. In the center, a beautifully adorned queen approaches the throne. Behind the queen and off to the right are several servants, guards, and pages. Vignon used this composition numerous times for various paintings including both M&G’s and the Louvre’s as well as Saint Catherine Refusing to Sacrifice to Idols, and his Adoration of the Magi (though in this painting, he reverses the scene by placing the infant king on the far right side of the painting). It is likely that Esther before Ahasuerus was also painted around 1624.

The scene depicted here by Vignon comes from the fifth chapter of the book of Esther. Through a series of events outlined at the beginning of the book, Esther, a Jewess, is selected by King Ahasuerus to be the new queen of Persia. The name Esther means “hidden or concealed” and is fitting as her cousin Mordecai advised her to keep her background secret. One of the king’s officials, Haman, hated the Jews and deceived Ahasuerus into ordering the annihilation of the Jewish people in the Persian empire which would include Queen Esther. Mordecai pleaded with Esther to go to the king to plead for mercy. However, Esther was afraid. In Persian culture, to appear before the king without being summoned could mean death unless the king held out his golden scepter. After much prayer and fasting, Esther chose to risk her life to save her people from destruction.

Vignon captures the moment where Esther humbly and courageously kneels before the king. The king in turn holds out his scepter to Esther granting his favor. Vignon’s use of vibrant, heavily saturated colors shows his Venetian influence. He excelled at painting textiles, gold and precious stones which are abundant throughout this work in which the gold especially glimmers off the canvas. The clothing he used in the scene displays 17th-century European fashion rather than 4th-century Persian garments. Vignon’s color palette and brushstrokes reveal the intensity of this pivotal moment in Esther’s life. To find out how the story ends, read Jan Victors’ Esther Accusing Haman.

 

Rebekah Cobb, M&G Registrar

 

Published 2022

Hebrew Demi Omer

Hebrew Demi Omer

1400 BC

Below the image, click play to listen.