Tag Archives: Art Institute of Chicago

Cabinet of Curiosities


This week’s Cabinet of Curiosities is from the Rijksmuseum, posted by the author Maaike Dirkx of Rembrandt’s Room.  A fabulous display of rococo furniture, this buffet contains a water fountain and wine cooler.  Specifically made for Anthony Grill, well known art collector of the age and resident of the “House of Heads”.  Carved decorations of the highest rococo style decorate the outside, possibly from the hand of Asmus Frauen, a Transylvanian sculptor, and resident of Amsterdam after 1738.

Opening the doors of this exquisite cabinet, I want to share four epic paintings currently displayed at the Chicago Art Institute, Gallery 28.  These choice items by French artist Hubert Robert, 22 May 1733 – 15 April 1808, created specifically for the residence of Marquis Jean-Joseph de Laborde, owner of the Chateau de Mereville. The Old Temple, The Obelisk, The Landing Place, and The Fountains, this suite of canvases were set into the paneled walls of the Marquis’ salon, creating an alternate space, accentuated by the Neoclassical décor of the room.

The Old Temple

The Old Temple, 1787/88 Gift of Adolphus C. Bartlett, 1900.382

The Obelisk

The Obelisk, 1787/88
Gift of Clarence Buckingham, 1900.383

The Landing Place

The Landing Place, 1787/88
Gift of Richard T. Crane, 1900.384

The Fountains

The Fountains, 1787/88 Gift of William G. Hibbard, 1900.385

Sold by Galerie George Petit, Paris, June 13, 1900, to Durand-Ruel, acting on behalf of the Art Institute, with funds provided by Adolphus C. Bartlett, Clarence Buckingham, Richard T. Crane, and William G. Hibbard – Titans of Chicago industry during their day.  The old ruins continue their enduring journey through the ages as mere mortals play and work amongst them, a stony, silent witness to history.

My latest guilty pleasures can be found in the hidden drawers of our cabinet, HistoryHit and Art Detective.  If you haven’t had the inclination of enjoying these podcasts hosted by Dan Snow and Janina Ramirez, I urge you to follow them on Twitter and give them a listen.  Their enthusiasm brims over with each new subject, and I don’t feel like I am the only History Geek in the world.  Given the state of continuing education in the arts and history, these podcasts reinvigorate the listener to learn more and expand their intellectual horizons.

Their Mortal Remains Banner

My next hidden drawer brings us London’s Victoria & Albert Museum and the first retrospective of Pink Floyd, beginning May 13.  Celebrating the 50th anniversary of their first single Arnold Layne, ‘Their Mortal Remains’ continues through the journey of Pink Floyd’s extraordinary world.  The exhibition celebrates Pink Floyd’s place in history as a cultural icon surviving the changing landscape of the times.  Their flying pigs still carry a relevancy to this day.


I truly hope this exhibition will see the world tour it deserves, as did Bowie’s costume collection.  A virtual tour of this one would suffice, nonetheless.  Admit it, you’re off to find the link to the Wizard of Oz synced with Dark Side of the Moon.  Here’s a good one.

Marching Hammers

P21431 2001.PR.2 001

My final hidden drawer, way back behind the others, contains treasure from the Getty.  From their online archive, The Prospetto dell’alma citta di Roma visto dal monte by Giuseppe Vasi 1710-1782 is truly epic in size and execution.   Dedicated to King Charles III of Spain, the monumental panorama of the city of Rome extends from St. Peter’s Basilica on the left to the Pyramid of Cestius and Fonte dell’Acqua Paola on the far right.


The entire piece is available in minute detail, check out this close up in comparison to the actual breadth of the engraving.  Stunning craftsmanship covers every fiber of the page.

Thank you for sharing my Cabinet of Curiosities.  Our cabinet shared many special treasures and I hope your interest is piqued.

What I am reading, City of Light, City of Poison, Holly Tucker.

Blogs to follow, Messy Nessy Chic.




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Art Insitute of Chicago on Museum Monday

Welcome to Museum Monday, where I showcase some of the great events going on at museums and the interactive museum experience.  This week I am pleased to share the latest news from the Art Institute of Chicago and their involvement in the Google Art Project.

Chai Lee, Associate Director of Public Affairs, was kind enough to take time from his busy schedule to discuss the addition of the Art Institute in the expansion of the Art Project.  “Google came to us after going around the world approaching different museums.  They captured 50 percent of the medium base, and the results were spectacular.”

Impressionism, Post Impressionism, Asian art, and African art galleries are all represented on the Google Gallery views.  This ‘street view’ of the various collections was accomplished during December and January over five evenings, photographing the galleries to give the world access to what is available at the Art Institute.  The masterpieces featured combine contributions from all 34 curators who chose from the Institute’s 300,000 objects.  The 550 choices were reduced to a final count of 155 pieces of art by 125 artists that can be viewed individually or in their gallery setting.

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat, 1884

For the mega pixel image, the museum chose the famous “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte”, by Georges Seurat, 1884.   An icon of Chicago and the Art Institute, this popular painting of immense proportion commands a majority of its gallery location.  A detailed study of the finite brush strokes is difficult to surmount without the technology offered by the Google Art Project.  Taken off the wall, the painting was put into the conservation lab, and special photographers worked in the dark detailing this spectacular painting.  On display, viewing this work up close is not possible, due to its popularity and size.  But thanks to Google, every bit of action captured in this painting can be studied and scrutinized.

Mega Pixel detail Google Art Project

I have chosen to highlight some of my personal favorites from the Art Institute, interspersed with my own photographs.  The history of these objects on the details page was a bonus to my own museum experience.

Bust of a Youth, 1630/40, Francesco Mochi

This marble statue is believed to be a bust of St. John the Baptist, and instantly commands attention upon entering the gallery where it is displayed.  The technical prowess of the sculptor Mochi is shown by the sharp turn of the youth’s head, the distant gaze, and the parted lips.

The provenance of this piece proves interesting; originally from the collection of Federico Gentili di Giuseppe (d. 1940), and the estate sale at the Hotel Drouot, Paris, 1941.  This curatorial auction was declared void by the French court; sold at the Arcole auction house in 1988 to the Anthony Roth of London, and subsequently sold to the Art Institute that same year.

Room View, Author’s Own

Federico di Giuseppe, an Italian of Jewish descent, amassed a large collection of art that he displayed at his home in Paris.  He died of natural causes in the weeks prior to the Nazi invasion of France in 1940, which forced many of his family members to flee the country.  The French Vichy government auctioned many objects from his collection in 1941.  The Art Institute reached an agreement with the heirs of di Giuseppe in 2000, through a purchase and donation agreement that allowed the museum to keep this beautiful sculpture.

Saint George Killing the Dragon, 1434/35, Bernat Martorell

This vivid painting once formed the center of an altarpiece in the chapel of the Catalan government palace in Barcelona.   Saint George was the patron Saint of Catalonia, and Martorell was the leading painter of Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia in northeastern Spain.  The image was flanked by smaller, narrative panels, now at the Musee du Louvre in Paris, that illustrate the martyrdom of the Saint in typical gothic style and gruesome detail.

To the left of the St. George picture in the museum view is an interesting room that I wish the Google Art Project had been able to share.  Several religious reliquaries and icons are displayed in a tightly controlled atmosphere, the darkened room only adding to the mystic of these unusual items.

Room of Religious Icons and Reliquaries

Reliquary at the Chicago Art Institute

The Resurrection, 1619/20,Francesco Buoneri, called Cecco del Caravaggio

The only documented painting by Buoneri, commissioned in 1619 by the Tuscan ambassador to Rome, Piero Guicciardini.  Originally rejected by the patron, it was subsequently sold to another collector.  Buoneri is considered one of Caravaggio’s closest followers, and may have been the “boy Francesco” who assisted the painter during his last years in Rome.  This personal connection is suggested by his nickname, Cecco del Caravaggio.  References to this artist can be found in Andrew Graham Dixon’s “Caravaggio, A Life Sacred and Profane”, as the model for the artist’s ‘Cupid’, and the assistant who prepared his paints and canvases.

Detail of The Resurrection

Minute details of The Resurrection

My thanks to Chai Lee at the Art Institute of Chicago, for sharing his experiences with the Google Art Project and the help of Robby Sexton at the Institute for supporting my blog with great information.  My next Museum Monday will continue the latest from Chicago with the current exhibition of Roy Lichtenstein.  And just for fun, here is the scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off featuring the Art Institute of Chicago.

Author and Trusted Museum Companion


Federico Gentili di Giuseppe, Artnet.com

The Flagellation of Saint George, Louvre

Saint George Dragged Through the City, Louvre

The Proconsul Dacian Sentencing Saint George, Louvre

The Beheading of Saint George, Louvre

Graham-Dixon, Andrew, “Caravaggio, A Life Sacred and Profane“, WW Norton & Company, New York, London, 2011, pages 247, 248.


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