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In Season

The Portal of Villeloin-Coulangé at The Cloisters: Attribution After Eighty Years of Anonymity

Lucretia Kargère, Conservator, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens; and Nancy Wu, Museum Educator, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, November 20, 2014

Every curator, at one point or another, has to grapple with questions of provenance. In the case of medieval stone sculpture, works often come to us in fragmentary states, roughly removed from their original sites during revolutionary events, or cautiously salvaged from monuments that have not been cared for over time. Conservators, scientists, and art historians often collaborate to solve questions of geographic origin and attribution.

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In Season

On Voyages and Vessels

Caleb Leech, Managing Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, November 13, 2014

But if you let the gourd stay
Enjoying the summer sun on its parent tree and only
set your blade to it late in the year, then after scooping
the flesh from its ponderous belly and shaving the sides
on a nimble lathe, you can put it to practical use as a vessel.
A pint this mighty paunch will sometimes hold, sometimes half a gallon or more; and if you seal your jar with gummy pitch it will keep wine good for many a day.

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In Season

The Curious Tale of the "Vegetable Lamb"

Carly Still, Assistant Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Friday, November 7, 2014

Levant cotton (Gossypium herbaceum) is a beautiful plant. I was quickly charmed by its flawless, creamy white flowers, which bloom in our Medieval Artists and Craftsmen bed through the summer months. This economically important fiber plant belongs to the Mallow family (Malvaceae), and is a relative of some of my garden favorites, like the hollyhock (Alcea rosea) and common mallow (Malva sylvestris), both of which are medieval and grown in the medicinal bed.

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In Season

In Anticipation of "Soft-Dying" Days

Christina Alphonso, Administrator, The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, October 30, 2014

I have borrowed an evocative description of the season from the great English Romantic poet John Keats. His "Ode to Autumn" (see below) was written in September 1819 and published the following year, and it serves as an elegy to his career as a poet. Keats's personification of autumn reveals the progression from the ripening of summer fruit to the fall harvest, the fading of spring birdsong to the bleating of mature lambs.

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In Season

A Swim to The Cloisters

Carrie Rebora Barratt, Deputy Director for Collections and Administration

Posted: Thursday, October 23, 2014

Saturday, September 20, was a bright, sunny day, a perfect day for a late-summer swim. While many New Yorkers enjoyed the beaches and lakes that afternoon, an intrepid—some would say crazy—group of about 250 swimmers took their dip in the Hudson River, sliding in off the kayak pontoon at Pier 96, at 56th Street.

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In Season

Holly Bears the Crown

Caleb Leech, Managing Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, October 16, 2014

The gardens are abuzz with activity as autumn settles upon us, and sporadic blazes of fall color across the Hudson River herald the season. To some, the onset of cooler temperatures is cause for despair. Others welcome the respite from hot summer days. What many of us share in common, though, is a renewed awareness of the natural world. It is a poignant time.

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In Season

The Horticultural Roots of Joseph Breck

Christina Alphonso, Administrator, The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, October 9, 2014

Recent posts by Michael Carter and a special seventy-fifth anniversary Bulletin by Timothy B. Husband introduced readers to a pivotal yet seldom-recognized figure in the formative years of The Cloisters museum and gardens—Joseph Henry Breck (1885–1933). The basic layout of the galleries and gardens of The Cloisters is primarily due to Breck's close collaboration with the architect Charles Collens, and their final plans provide coherence when the museum and gardens are seen as a whole. Sadly, Breck died suddenly in 1933 and never saw his plans realized. In addition to his formidable talents as an art historian, Breck was also a skilled artist, contributing many illustrations to the Harvard Lampoon during his undergraduate years. His watercolors and pencil sketches serve as visual evidence of his inspirations and thought processes while planning The Cloisters. While Breck's curatorial training and career are well documented, his interest in gardens is not.

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In Season

Rye Gone Awry

Tim Husband, Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, October 2, 2014

Caleb Leech, managing horticulturalist at The Cloisters museum and gardens, recently wrote a post for In Season entitled "Successful Secale," in which he discussed the use of rye (Secale cereale) in the Middle Ages. Rye was considered humble and undesirable during Roman and early medieval times, but because it thrived in poor soil and harsh conditions, it became widespread throughout Europe and was considered the basis of an excellent bread by the fourteenth century. Its widespread use, however, brought darker consequences—which will be shown in highlighting another object from The Cloisters Collection.

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In Season

The Garden in Heraldry: A Badge of Garlic, Please

R. Theo Margelony, Associate Administrator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, September 18, 2014

All sorts of plants have come to be cultivated on the heraldic shield. Roses grow there abundantly, as do lilies, which are usually depicted in the graceful and stylized guise of the fleur-de-lis. Prickly thistles appear, warning the beholder not to touch, and fields of wheat grow bountifully, suggesting the wealth of land and the richness of harvests.

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In Season

The Death of Joseph Breck and the Formation of The Cloisters Library

Michael Carter, Librarian, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, September 11, 2014

When, in 1925, the Metropolitan Museum purchased the building and collection amassed by George Grey Barnard that he had named "The Cloisters," its stewardship was given to Joseph Breck, then chief curator of the Decorative Arts Department. As the first director of The Cloisters museum and gardens, he oversaw a new installation of the collection, the electrification of the galleries, and the laying of garden spaces. But his greatest charge was coordinating the design of an entirely new building, funded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., in what is now Fort Tryon Park.

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About this Blog

In Season features all the latest news about The Cloisters museum and gardens, the branch of the Museum in northern Manhattan devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe.