Self-Guided Tour of the Ackland Art Museum: Women’s Views, Women on View
BWWC Steering Committee member Elizabeth Shand has put together a virtual tour of the Ackland Art Museum to accompany the conference. We would like to invite all conference attendees to visit these pieces in person during their stay in Chapel Hill. The Ackland is just a few steps from the Carolina Inn (please see map below) and is open from 10am to 5pm on Wednesdays through Saturdays, and from 1pm to 5pm on Sundays. Admission is free.
For more information on the European painting and sculpture exhibit and others, please visit the Ackland’s homepage.
Madame de Villeneuve-Flayosc, 1789
by Jean-Louis Le Barbier Le Jeune, French, 1743–c.1797
oil on canvas
Gift of the Tyche Foundation in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Ackland Art Museum, 2008.16
The sitter is Mélanie de Forbin-Gardanne (1759–1841), who in 1788 married Alexandre de Villeneuve, the marquis de Flayosc, and then became known as Madame (or Marquise) de Villeneuve-Flayosc. The artist’s wife, Victoire-Julie de Villeneuve-Flayosc, was the sitter’s sister-in-law. Madame de Villeneuve-Flayosc most likely had this portrait painted as a souvenir for her 1789 trip to Rome, part of a Grand Tour. The Marquise’s lavish, fashionable clothing and surroundings demonstrate her wealth. The stylus in her right hand, her books, and her drawing papers demonstrate her learning and artistic ability.
This painting inspired a short story by Alan Gurganus, written in 2010, and a short play by Daniel Wallace that was performed at the Ackland in 2012.
The Falls at Tivoli with the Temple of the Sibyl, c. 1815
by Pierre-Athanase Chauvin, French, 1774–1832
oil on canvas
The William A. Whitaker Foundation Art Fund, 79.65.2
Between 1809 and 1814, under the French occupation of Rome, the city began a systematic excavation and restoration of the city’s Classical ruins. This sparked an increase in demand for paintings of the ruins. Chauvin, who was living in Rome, was well placed to meet that demand. It is likely that Chauvin sketched this scene in person and then combined the sketches in his studio to create a finished composition. In his 1856 guide to French Artists Abroad, Louis Dussieux compared Chauvin to the famous seventeenth-century landscape painter Claude Lorrain:
Mr. Chauvin, by the sweetness of his color, rendered in the freshness of the morning or in the heat of the sun, by the charm of its lines and the air we breathe in front of his paintings, has taken a lot from Claude Lorrain … Personally, I believe, has made more of him …
Falls of Tivoli, 1807
by Robert Freebairn, British, 1764–1808
oil on canvas
From the Ruth and Sherman Lee Collection, Gift of Katharine Lee Reid, 2012.41
Freebairn studied the famous site of Tivoli–with its ancient temples, Renaissance villas, and striking natural scenery–while he lived in Italy, but he painted this version after he returned to Britain. In 1806, Freebairn published a collection of prints entitled Six Select Views in Italy; the sixth print is described as the “Subterraneous Entrance into Maecenas’ Villa” situated in the Vicinity of Tivoli, suggesting the kind of scenery depicted in this painting. Tivoli’s architecture and landscapes were especially popular with artists; the Ackland’s collection includes at least seventeen prints, drawings, paintings, and photographs of Tivoli.
by Elisabeth Jerichau-Baumann, German, born in Poland, died in Denmark, 1819–1881
oil on canvas
Gift of Ruth and Sherman Lee, 2003.35.1 Conservation treatment for this painting, completed in 2009, was made possible by the generous support of Katharine Lee Reid and Charles W. Millard.
The red inscription on the left of the canvas indicates that Baumann made the painting in Rome during the period of struggle for Italy’s unification and independence from Austria. Baumann painted a number of political works; commentators both praised her powerful subject-matter and noted what they called her “un-feminine style”. An 1860 review of this painting noted that it showed “such power of drawing and colouring as have rarely been manifested by a female painter.” Layers of darkened varnish obscured parts of the painting when the Ackland acquired it, including the writing on the prison wall in the upper left. A conservation treatment now allows viewers to see the Italian word Libertà (Liberty), a crucial element of the painting’s meaning.
Young Girl with a Mandolin, c.1843-45
by Francois Millet, French, 1814–1875
oil on canvas
Gift of Dr. & Mrs. W. Lunsford Long, Jr., 59.13.1
The young girl in the painting may be a singer of romantic songs. If so, the other figures might be members of her troupe. During the time this painting was made, Millet made many such works depicting imaginative fantasy subjects characterized by sensuous brushwork and this type of color palette. The style relates to Millet’s admiration, at this point in his career, of eighteenth-century artists like François Boucher and Antoine Watteau, who had fallen out of favor after the French Revolution of 1789. In the first half of the nineteenth century, however, their work became attractive to patrons and collectors who saw it as a symbol of wealth and status.
At the Window, 1869
by John Everett Millais, British, 1829 –1896
oil on canvas
Lent by Mary Ellis Gibson and Charles Orzech, L2003.084
Millais was a child prodigy and the youngest student ever to enter the Royal Academy. He was also the first ever native British artist to be given a hereditary title—the Baronet of Palace Gate, Kensington, in the county of Middlesex and St. Ouen, Jersey in the Channel Islands. Millais normally spent his holidays in Scotland, and beginning in 1870 he painted a series of large autumn and winter landscapes inspired by Scottish scenery. The view in the background here may depict one of these locations.
Spanish Dance, c.1885, cast 1921
by Edgar Degas, French, 1834–1917
Ackland Fund, 74.21.1
Degas made wax and mixed media statuettes of dancers as a way of studying their movement, often applying soft wax over a cork frame. When he died, there were more than 150 wax sculptures and fragments in his studio; seventy-four of these were later cast into multiple bronze versions. Spanish Dance was one of three wax sculptures that Degas had cast in plaster between 1900 and 1903, although the Ackland’s was cast later, after the artist’s death. During his career, Degas exhibited only one sculpture—Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen. It was on view for less than one month and then remained in the artist’s apartment until his death thirty-six years later. Art dealer Ambroise Vollard recalls the artist’s hesitation to show his sculptures or have them cast in bronze: “It’s a tremendous responsibility to leave anything behind in bronze—this medium is for eternity.”
Promenade Matinale: Her Majesty the Queen Empress (Queen Victoria), June 17, 1897
Jean Baptiste Guth, French, active 1883–1921
Transferred from the Joseph C. Sloan Art Library, 22.214.171.124
In 1897, Queen Victoria, who at the time was also called Empress of India, celebrated the sixtieth year of her reign–her Diamond Jubilee. The date of this print is five days before the official celebrations took place. Guth made portraits of many notable Europeans, often for Vanity Fair magazine, including Czar Nicholas II of Russia and Gustave Eiffel, the designer of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Some of Guth’s portraits–though certainly not this one–were caricatures.
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