Birthday Celebrations in Chinese Art to be Theme of New Installation at Metropolitan Museum
A new installation at The Metropolitan Museum of Art explores themes of birthday celebrations and long life in Chinese art. Drawn entirely from the Museum's collection and promised gifts, and on view in The Florence and Herbert Irving Galleries for Chinese Decorative Arts, Celebration: The Birthday in Chinese Art showcases more than 50 works—paintings, garments, and decorative art objects—depicting the birthday and longevity themes that were pervasive in China especially during the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties. While the earliest work in the installation is a 13th-century painting, most date from the 16th to 18th centuries. Celebration includes several works never before exhibited, including a monumental 18th-century tapestry (kesi) woven in silk and gold with the character for longevity shou as well as a recently acquired lacquer box with mother-of-pearl inlays capturing a party setting and lively boys at play. The installation will remain on view through August 15, 2010.
Sumptuously Illustrated Medieval Manuscript—The Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry—On View at Metropolitan Museum
One of the most beautiful manuscripts in the world is the lavishly illustrated medieval prayer book known as the Belles Heures (Beautiful Hours). It was created by the Limbourg Brothers—three of the greatest illuminators in Europe—for one of the most famous art patrons of all time, Jean de France, duc de Berry (1340–1416). The son, brother, and uncle to three successive kings of France, Jean de France commissioned luxury works in many media—from chalices to castles—without regard for cost, but is best remembered for his patronage of manuscripts. Herman, Paul, and Jean de Limbourg were in their teens when he selected them to create a sumptuous Book of Hours for his private prayers, and he allowed the young artists rare latitude in designing the work.
Evocative Medieval Mourning Sculptures from Court of Burgundy Featured in Metropolitan Museum Exhibition
The renowned 15th-century sculptors Jean de la Huerta and Antoine Le Moiturier labored together for more than 25 years on a grand and complex commission: the tomb of John the Fearless (Jean sans Peur, 1371–1419), the second Duke of Burgundy, and his wife, Margaret of Bavaria, which featured 41 alabaster mourning figures, among other elements. Following the precedent of the mourners carved for the tomb of Philip the Bold, the first Duke of Burgundy, de la Huerta and Le Moiturier created astonishingly realistic and highly individualized pleurants (mourners) that serve as a permanent record of the lavish funeral of one of the richest men in medieval France. The figures express a broad range of powerful emotions—from melancholy to desolation—through facial expression, gesture, and the eloquent draping of garments. The renovation of the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon, France—where 37 of the statuettes from the tomb of John the Fearless are housed—provides an opportunity for the unprecedented loan of these figures for the exhibition The Mourners: Medieval Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy, opening March 2 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the first venue in an eight-city tour. Three additional figures from the tomb of John the Fearless (now in the collections of the Louvre, the Musée National du Moyen Âge, and the Cleveland Museum of Art) and three from the tomb of Philip the Bold will also be shown, along with an architectural element (Cleveland Museum of Art and Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, respectively). The installation at the Metropolitan will be supplemented by related works from the Museum's collection, including the monumental Enthroned Virgin from the convent at Poligny (established by John the Fearless and Margaret of Bavaria) that was carved by Claus de Werve.
André Mertens Galleries for Musical Instruments Reopen March 2 at Metropolitan Museum
After an eight-month hiatus, The Metropolitan Museum of Art reopens its André Mertens Galleries for Musical Instruments on March 2, featuring a refreshed and reinstalled presentation of its renowned collection of Western musical instruments.
Three Press Previews at Metropolitan Museum
Monday, March 1, 10am-Noon
The Mourners: Medieval Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy
(opening Tuesday, March 2) – an unprecedented loan from the Musée des Beaux Arts in Dijon of 38 dramatic alabaster statuettes, considered among the most sumptuous and innovative of the late Middle Ages.
Northern European Manuscript Illuminations from Robert Lehman Collection to Go on View March 16
Fourteen rare and important manuscript illuminations from The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Robert Lehman Collection—ranging in date from the 13th through the 16th century and representing high points of the German, French, and Netherlandish schools of illumination—will be on view beginning March 16.
Medieval Costume Demonstration at The Cloisters, February 28
In a special presentation at The Cloisters museum and gardens—The Metropolitan Museum of Art's branch devoted to the art and architecture of the Middle Ages—some 30 citizens of Nijmegen (The Netherlands) wearing historically accurate attire based on medieval designs will participate in a lecture demonstration with costume historian Desirée Koslin. The program will take place twice on Sunday, February 28, 2010, at 1:00 p.m. and again at 3:00 p.m., and will focus on 15 different costumes. Although they are of contemporary construction, each unique costume relates to a specific depiction in one of several well-known illuminated manuscripts of the 15th century. Costumes featured in the demonstration will include those that would have been worn by dukes, duchesses, ladies of the court, and merchants, as well as citizens, servants, and peasants. The costumed citizens of Nijmegen will be available for photographs by the public—taken without flash—during the intermission. The event is free with Museum admission.
How Did Chinese Artists Learn and Practice Their Craft? Met Museum Explores the Topic in New Installation
A new installation opening at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on February 6, Mastering the Art of Chinese Painting: Xie Zhiliu (1910-1997) , demonstrates how Chinese artists learned their craft from earlier masterpieces and from nature. It showcases more than 100 works—including paintings, sketches, drawings, calligraphies, and poetry manuscripts—by Xie Zhiliu (pronounced "shay jer leo"), one of modern China's leading artists and connoisseurs. It also marks the centenary of his birth. A number of his sketches and copies will be accompanied by photographs of the works that inspired him and by his own completed works, in order to trace how he developed his unique style. Drawn primarily from a recent gift to the Metropolitan Museum from the artist's daughter Sarah Shay, the works on view comprise the first solo exhibition of Xie Zhiliu's works to be organized outside China.
Magnificent Manuscript and Sculptures Commissioned by Two Early 15th-Century Dukes of France on View in Pair of Metropolitan Museum Exhibitions
A unique window into the lavish French courts of the Valois dukes of Burgundy and Berry will be offered at The Metropolitan Museum of Art this spring with the simultaneous opening, on March 2, of two landmark exhibitions: The Art of Illumination: The Limbourg Brothers and the Belles Heures of Jean de France, duc de Berry and The Mourners: Medieval Tomb Sculpture from the Court of Burgundy. The former features the exquisitely illustrated pages of a luxurious prayer book that belonged to Jean de Berry (1340–1416); the latter shows expressive alabaster figures from the tomb of his nephew, John the Fearless (Jean sans Peur, 1371–1419).
Photocollages Reveal Wit and Whimsy of the Victorian Era in Metropolitan Museum Exhibition Opening February 2
In the 1860s and 1870s, long before the embrace of collage techniques by avant-garde artists of the early 20th century, aristocratic Victorian women were experimenting with photocollage. Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage, on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art February 2 – May 9, 2010, is the first exhibition to comprehensively examine this little-known phenomenon. Whimsical and fantastical Victorian photocollages, created using a combination of watercolor drawings and cut-and-pasted photographs, reveal the educated minds as well as accomplished hands of their makers. With subjects as varied as new theories of evolution, the changing role of photography, and the strict conventions of aristocratic society, the photocollages frequently debunked stuffy Victorian clichés with surreal, subversive, and funny images. Featuring 48 works from public and private collections—including many that have rarely or never been exhibited before—Playing with Pictures will provide a fascinating window into the creative possibilities of photography in the 19th century.