Sunday, January 25, 2015

Art Eyewitness Essay: Discovering Impressionism

Discovering Impressionism:

Paul Durand-Ruel, Theophile Thoré and the New Painting

By Ed Voves

It is impossible to predict what will be the most influential or most innovative art exhibition for the coming year. It's a safe bet, however, that the big Impressionist exhibit honoring Paul Durand-Ruel will be in the running.

Paul Durand-Ruel (1831-1922) was the art impresario who discovered Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro while they were refugees in London during the War of 1870-71. Durand-Ruel went on to market the work of the "New Painters” until the once-derided Impressionists were a global art phenomenon. 

Over the course of his long career, Durand-Ruel bought and sold the work of the Impressionists. Often nobody else was doing so and early sales ventures were failures. Durand-Ruel came close to bankruptcy on several occasions. In 1886, the tide turned when a New York exhibition caught the attention of American art enthusiasts.

Dornac, Photograph of Paul Durand-Ruel in His Gallery, about 1910

“At last the Impressionist masters triumphed …," Durand-Ruel later declared. "My madness had been wisdom. To think that, had I passed away at sixty, I would have died debt-ridden and bankrupt, surrounded by a wealth of underrated treasures.”

Amazingly, this is the first museum exhibition to highlight the pivotal role of Durand-Ruel in the saga of Impressionism.

The Durand-Ruel exhibit is in its final weeks in Paris at the Musée du Luxembourg. Then Inventing Impressionism: Paul Durand-Ruel will appear at the National Gallery in London from March 4 to May 13, 2015. The exhibition travels to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, June 18 to September 13. The Philadelphia exhibit will be entitled Discovering Impressionism: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting.

One of my favorite paintings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art appears in the exhibits: Pierre-Auguste Renoir's Portrait of Mademoiselle Legrand. The little girl, Adelphine Legrand, was eight years old when Renoir painted her. It was 1875, the year after the first Impressionist exhibition when profits were meager and criticism was harsh. Renoir needed the money that portrait painting offered.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Portrait of Mademoiselle Legrand, 1875 (detail)

Portrait of Mademoiselle Legrand is more than a wonderful work of art - though it certainly is that. This marvelous painting is a link back in time from the Impressionists to the Dutch Golden Age of the 1600's.

There are many reasons for the tremendous – if not immediate – impact of Impressionist paintings. Durand-Ruel's  business acumen and risk-taking courage are certainly primary factors. But I think there is another element to this success story, rooted in an earlier school of art that shared many of the same concerns and strengths of the Impressionists.

Old Master art of the seventeenth century was accorded the highest prestige by the Academic art establishment of the nineteenth century. Praise was heaped upon Rembrandt and Rubens and new techniques in painting were frowned upon.  

Yet, just a few years before Durand-Ruel began selling Impressionist works, the French art critic, Theophile Thoré, rediscovered the paintings of Jan Vermeer and Frans Hals. Thoré showed that these forgotten Dutch masters of genre and portraiture had explored themes and techniques that the Impressionists would shortly embrace.

Thoré (1807-1869) was a left-wing journalist whose newspaper was banned during the 1848 Revolution. He went into exile to Belgium after the liberal revolts failed. Thoré had already discovered the almost totally forgotten Vermeer on an earlier visit to Holland in 1842 and during his years in exile, 1849-1859, he continued researching the Dutch Golden Age. 

There were political reasons, as well as artistic ones, motivating Thoré. Holland was governed by a republican government during its Golden Age. Thoré, writing under the pseudonym of Willem Bürger, was able to skewer the despotic regime of Napoleon III by extolling the amazing cultural achievements of the Dutch Republic during the 1600s.

Thoré succeeded in rescuing Vermeer and Frans Hals from lingering under the shadow of Rembrandt. In 1869, the Louvre received a huge bequest of Dutch paintings collected by Louis La Caze, a doctor who shared Thoré's enthusiasm for Dutch painting. Hals' smiling Gypsy Girl was one of the major paintings of the bequest and is now an iconic work in the collection of the Louvre.

Sadly, Thoré died the same year as the La Caze bequest. The torch, however, had been passed. Many of the young painters who would form the Impressionist circle were left-wing in political temperament. These “New Painters” eagerly embraced the portraits of the Dutch middle and working class by Hals.

Frans Hals (1580-1666) impressed the artists of the Impressionist era with the spontaneity and simplicity of his technique. Hals was born in Antwerp but had fled the advance of the Spanish armies determined to crush Protestant dissent in the Low Countries. Hals’s immigrant status lends a certain degree of poignancy to the way that he chose the plain folk of Holland as the favorite subject of his art.

The source of Hals’s manner of painting is more of a mystery. The Baroque era valued minute attention to texture and detail. Hals, however,  paid little attention to either. Instead, he created a technique that used the effect of light to delineate the essential form and the inner character of his subject. Hals painted portraits to register from across a room – just as people are viewed in real life. It was a style all his own.

Hals brilliantly captured every possible emotion at one time or another on his canvases. From the smug arrogance of his famous (and misnamed) Laughing Cavalier in the Wallace Collection in London to the look of spiritual fervor on the face of St. John the Evangelist at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, Hals evoked the entire spectrum of human feeling.

Frans Hals, Saint John the Evangelist, 1625 - 1628

Hals’ grasp of human nature has not passed without critical comment. Like 1950’s Cinemascope movies, his range is often said to be "wide but not deep." But if you look closely enough, especially at the children he painted, you will see real psychological insight.

Frans Hals, Saint John the Evangelist, detail

Has there ever been a better depiction of youthful character in the making than Hals’ painting, Boy Reading? This is thought to be a portrait of his son Nicolaes Hals (1628-1686), who later became an accomplished landscape painter. Boy Reading is a wonderful counterpart to Renoir’s Mademoiselle Legrand. Both paintings depict young people striving to be grown-up. Nicolaes and Adelphine, across the divide of two centuries, are shown growing into the persons they will become.

Hals, as befitted a Dutch painter of his sober-dressed countrymen, was accomplished in handling black paint. Nicolaes is in bathed in sunlight in Boy Reading and this meant the use of subtle gradations of black and gray color to convey the parts of his garments reflecting the light or residing in shadow. 

Frans Hals, Boy Reading, between 1597 and 1666

My wife successfully faced a similar challenge, a couple of years ago, when she painted three black-garbed figures emerging into sunlight. I learned from observation of her successful efforts that the level of skill needed to bring this task to fulfillment is very great.

Hals was so far ahead of his time in technique that he could train no students to manipulate paint in the quick, fluid strokes that he used so brilliantly. He had to wait until the Impressionists to find worthy successors.

Does that mean that Hals was the first Impressionist? Was Hals the “inventor” of Impressionism?

Gustave Courbet, Édouard Manet and Vincent van Gogh were vocal in their high regard for Hals. Each had a very different style and objections can be made to including them among the ranks of the Impressionists. Indeed all of the Impressionists were supreme individualists and there was no signature Impressionist style.

There was an affinity, however, between the Impressionists and the Dutch painters rediscovered by Thoré. A brief comparison between Hals and Renoir is worthy of consideration.

I think an instinctive comradeship existed between Renoir and Hals. Rather than a close study of Hals by Renoir, it was a case of two great portrait painters sharing insights across the centuries.

Between 1875 and 1890, Renoir was the leading Impressionist portrait painter. His style and achievements bear comparison with Hals, as can be seen with Mademoiselle Legrand. Many – but not all – of his portraits have the same austere, uncluttered backgrounds of Hals’s work. The essential character of Renoir’s protagonists make their presence felt in a crowded room just as they do in a work by Frans Hals.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Dance at Bougival, 1883

Frans Hals, Young Man and Woman in an Inn, 1623

Later, when rheumatoid arthritis began to grip Renoir’s body and a desire to explore eighteenth century classicism dominated his artistic goals, Renoir's career took a different turn. But In 1910, Renoir summoned up all his old skill to paint one last, magnificent portrait with echoes of the influence of Frans Hals. Significantly, the portrait was of Paul Durand-Ruel.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Portrait of Paul Durand-Ruel, 1910

Durand-Ruel was well aware of the social factors and influences at work in the world at large. It was a nineteenth century middle class world that Durand-Ruel had to coax and entice to buy Impressionist art.  This liberal, progressive society shared many affinities with the Dutch during their seventeenth century "Golden Age." It says a lot that Durand-Ruel found many of the most enthusiastic buyers for Impressionist art in the United States, which had embraced the Dutch Republic as one of its models during the 1800's.

Interestingly, one of the first French  patrons of Impressionist art was Victor Chocquet, who typified the middle class patrons of art of the Belle Epoque in France. The Oskar Reinhart Collection, located in Winterthur, Switzerland, is mounting an exhibition, Victor Chocquet, Art Collector and Friend of the Impressionists, set to run from  February 21 to June 7, 2015. This exhibit will make a fine counterpoint to the Durand-Ruel exhibitions.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Portrait of Victor Chocquet, 1876

A customs official, Victor Chocquet (1821-91) used his limited financial resources to purchase Impressionist paintings, including a matching pair of portraits of himself and his wife by Renoir. He was among the first art patrons to grasp the genius of Cezanne, whom he personally befriended. By the time of his death, Chocquet had amassed sixty paintings, of which thirty-five were by Cezanne. 

Chocquet's collection was impressive for an individual, but it could only make a small impact compared to Durand-Ruel's efforts. Between 1891 and 1922,  Durand-Ruel bought around twelve thousand Impressionist paintings, including more than one thousand by Monet. These he then offered for sale in his galleries and in special exhibits such as in 1905 at London's Grafton Galleries.  

“Without him”,  Monet said of Durand-Ruel, “we wouldn’t have survived.”

If there was an Impressionist “brand” then it was Durand-Ruel who "invented" it.  But the source of Impressionist success was the same as it had been in the Dutch Golden Age:  the market for art among the upwardly mobile middle class.  People like Victor Chocquet and the parents of Mademoiselle Legrand bought paintings that reflected their lives, their dreams, their achievements and their aspirations. 

Such is the foundation of all great art.

Text: Copyright of Ed Voves, all rights reserved 

Introductory Image:                                                                                                         Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919) Portrait of Mademoiselle Legrand, Oil on canvas, 32 x 23 1/2 inches (81.3 x 59.7 cm), 1875. Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Henry P. McIlhenny Collection in memory of Frances P. McIlhenny, 1986, (1986-26-28)  Image: © The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Dornac (Paul François Arnold Cardon) (French,1859-1941) Photograph of Paul Durand-Ruel in His Gallery, about 1910. Archives Durand-Ruel. Image © Archives Durand-Ruel © Durand-Ruel & Cie

Frans Hals (Dutch, 1582/83–1666) Saint John the Evangelist, Oil on canvas,  27 9/16 x 21 5/8 in.,1625 - 1628, J. Paul Getty Museum (97.PA.48) Image: © The J. Paul Getty Trust

Frans Hals (Dutch,  1582/83–1666) Boy Reading,  Oil on canvas, 29.9 × 24.8 in., (76 × 63 cm), between 1597 and 1666. The Oskar Reinhart Collection ‘Am Römerholz’ in Winterthur,Switzerland. Image provided by the Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002, and Wikipedia Images.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919) Dance at Bougival, Oil on canvas,                   71 5/8 x 38 5/8 in. (181.9 x 98.1 cm), 1883. Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Picture Fund purchase,(37.375 )Image: © The Boston Museum of Fine Arts  

Frans Hals (Dutch, 1582/83–1666) Young Man and Woman in an Inn ("Yonker Ramp and His Sweetheart"), Oil on canvas, 41 1/2 x 31 1/4 in. (105.4 x 79.4 cm), 1623. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913, (14.40.602) Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919) Portrait of Paul Durand-Ruel, Oil on Canvas,  25.6 × 21.7 inches (65 × 55 cm), 1910. Private collection. Image © Archives Durand-Ruel © Durand-Ruel & Cie

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919) Portrait of Victor Chocquet, Oil on Canvas, 46 x 36 cm,  1876. The Oskar Reinhart Collection ‘Am Römerholz’ in Winterthur,Switzerland. Image provided  by The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002 and Wikipedia Images.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Art Eyewitness Looks at The Art Scene in 2014

A Look at The Art Scene in 2014

By Ed Voves

It is encouraging to reflect upon the art scene in 2014. Some of the concerns raised at the end of 2013 have been answered in very positive and encouraging ways. 

The demands of the Marketplace did not inhibit the mission of art museums to preserve and present classic  art while fostering new visions of creative expression. Bad money did not drive out good art - so far.

I picked a couple of images to symbolize the art scene during 2014. I chose Wall Street, New York, a 1915 photo by Paul Strand, whose tremendous range as a photographer was celebrated by a huge exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. My second choice was Returning Home, by the Chinese artist, Shitao (1642-1707), displayed in an equally vast exhibit at New York's Metropolitan Museum. The Art of the Chinese Album remains on view through March 29, 2015.

The two pictures show the ying yang of the art world. Art as reality. Art as refuge. We need  both.

Paul Strand,Wall Street, New York, 1915

Strand's platinum print of people hurrying to work past the J.P. Morgan building in New York City shows the "rat race" world that most of us inhabit or feel we do.  The pedestrians in Wall Street are dwarfed by the huge, darkened windows of the Morgan building. The windows loom over them like monstrous examples of Kazimir Malevich’s 1915 painting, Black Square.  

Shitao's depiction of a solitary boatman navigating his way homeward is equally evocative. Shitao (1642-1707) was one of the group of artists known Ming Loyalists because of their continued support for the Ming Dynasty after it fell from power in 1644. Less complimentary was the other name of this group, yimin or "left-over" subjects. 

Shitao, Returning Home, 1695

The boatman is almost certainly intended as an autobiographical image of Shitao. He had courted favor with the conquering Qing Dynasty from Manchuria, but then gave up in disgust. Shitao returned to creating images in the traditional style of Chinese art.

Landscape painting in China, of which Shitao was a master, stressed idealized depictions of the countryside. Yet Shitao was not creating a fantasy world. 

Returning Home is one of twelve images in a 1695 album by Shitao. Expansive landscapes alternate with  realistic“close-ups" of a single tree branch or a small bed of flowers in this carefully preserved book of images. Shitao's boatman is trying to escape the oppression of the soulless "grind" of existence as presented in Strand's Wall Street, but his refuge is still very much in the real world.

Art as window of reality and as a site of refuge scored a major triumph during 2014. The Detroit Institute of Art was "given up for dead" in the final months of 2013. Many of its greatest works were slated for the auction block to help bail-out bankrupt Detroit.

This suicidal sale of the treasures of the Detroit Institute of Art (DIA) did not take place. 

Thanks to an ambitious fundraising effort spearheaded by the DIA itself, the integrity of the museum's collection was preserved and Detroit's financial hemorrhage was "stitched in time." A staggering $800 million was raised by the DIA, including $330 million from the Ford Foundation, the Knight Foundation and seven other philanthropic institutions.

Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, was quoted in the New York Times, stating that the DIA-lead rescue of Detroit was “unprecedented and monumental for philanthropies to undertake this kind of initiative.”  

Mr. Walker concluded that “if there was ever a time when philanthropy should step up, this is it.” 

Vincent van Gogh, Self Portrait, 1887

By stepping-up, the DIA prevented a precedent-setting auction of Van Gogh's straw-hatted Self Portrait and other iconic works. This "monumental" success saved other American museums from facing the same grim prospect every time the credit rating of their city takes a hit. 

The Detroit institute of Art's triumph was counterbalanced by the Delaware Art Museum's travail. The Delaware Museum sold two extremely valuable art works to help dig itself out of massive debt incurred by its renovation plans undertaken back in 2001 to a tune of $32.5 million. That was before 9/11 and the 2007-2008 financial debacle. In response to the  auctioning of the two art pieces, the Delaware Art Museum’s accredited status was suspended by the American Alliance of Museums for “direct violation of museum standards and ethics.”

Art institutions, by the standards of the American Alliance of Museums, are only permitted to sell works of art to finance the purchase of new ones. But U.S. museums constantly engage in renovation and expansion of their buildings to stay competitive. Those with deep pockets like the Metropolitan Museum and MOMA usually can ride out financial down-turns. But smaller institutions have shallow pockets. The ominous threat of Stand's Wall Street affects them too.

Having its accreditation suspended means that the Delaware Art Museum is barred from participating in special exhibitions. Could not the American Alliance of Museums have arranged several exhibitions to help fund the debt payments of the Delaware Art Museum?  
That is particularly worthy of consideration because 2014 proved to be a very good year for special exhibitions. These displays are a type of secular liturgy where persons of good heart can join together to celebrate the shared genius of humankind. Why not use them to help museums in need or for other worthy social causes?

In terms of big, inspirational exhibits during 2014, I feel compelled to give first prize to the Metropolitan Museum’s Lost Kingdoms: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia, 5th to 8th Century.  

Buddha Offering Protection,Pre-Angkor period, 6th century

Lost Kingdoms was curated by John Guy, one of the greatest scholars of Asian art alive today. This profoundly moving exhibition displayed 160 sculptures from museums in Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Myanmar, as well as Europe and the U.S. These Buddhist and Hindu sculptures evoked such a degree of spirituality in the Metropolitan’s galleries that the exhibition seemed more of a religious event than a display of art.

Lost Kingdoms and another magnificent exhibition of Asian art, Treasures from Korea: Arts and Culture of the Joseon Dynasty, 1392-1910, also underscore the role of special exhibits in promoting new insights into art history.

A lot of art has not made it into the textbooks. Frequently, the achievements of small or remotely located nations are overshadowed by those of neighboring empires.  Korea is a perfect illustration of this theme. 

Karma Mirror and Stand, 19th century.

Treasures from Korea premiered in Philadelphia in the spring of 2014 before traveling to Los Angeles and Houston. The exhibit shows that Korea served as much more than a cultural bridge between China and Japan. It also developed its own distinctive art forms, most of which reflected the creative tension between the Confucian ethos of the Joseon court and the Buddhist religion of the people.

Two other major international exhibitions scored huge successes during 2014. The themes of Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs and Rembrandt: the Late Works took Old Master art to a new dimension. The elderly Matisse and Rembrandt created some of their greatest works while coping with the physical and financial adversities old age.

I was struck by a photo of Matisse in the exhibit (now at MOMA until February 10) cutting out strips of colored paper for one of his collages. Look at the trance-like intensity in Matisse's eyes and compare that with the inward focus of An Old Woman Reading, painted by Rembrandt in 1655.  In both cases, you can see the torch of art being kindled for the coming generations.

Henri Matisse, c. 1946-47

Rembrandt, An Old Woman Reading, 1655

These Big Art Shows also registered impressive statistics which helps insure that more exhibitions will follow.

Tate Modern proudly proclaimed Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs as the most visited exhibition in its history with 562,622 visitors. This surpassed even the landmark Matisse-Picasso exhibition of 2002, with an attendance of 467,166. I have fond memories of visiting Matisse-Picasso at MOMA's temporary quarters in Queens on a snowy April day in 2003. Matisse: The Cut-Outs is a worthy successor.

Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at The Museum of Modern Art

If great exhibitions like these reside in your memory, they also can confound one's expectations.

Tate Britain's Kenneth Clark: Looking for Civilization exhibition detailed the pivotal role of Lord Clark, who revitalized the National Gallery in London prior to World War II and pioneered art documentaries on television with Civilization in 1969. The exhibit was filled with masterpieces  that Clark had collected, works by Turner and Seurat, as well as British artists of the 1930's and 40's like Henry Moore and  John Piper. The exhibition, which ran from May to August 2014, was visited by a meager 31,343 art lovers. 

There really is no accounting for taste. But fortunately, art museums don't always think about attendance when planning exhibits. In the case of the Metropolitan Museum, the curators of Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire really were thinking "outside the box."

 Death Becomes Her at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

What might seem to be a display of mannequins wearing black and gray dresses is actually a fascinating examination of the way that Western societies dealt with loss and sorrow during the Victorian era through the end of World War I. The test of a great exhibition, however, is whether you take insights and emotions with you after you leave the gallery. In the case of Death Becomes Her, I had only taken a few steps away from the exhibit, when I had an experience approaching an epiphany. 

Death Becomes Her is on view in the Costume Institute at the Met. To reach its ground floor rooms, you have to travel through the Ancient Egyptian galleries. 

One of the art works on display in Death Becomes Her is Portrait of Catherine Lorillard. This portrait was pointed in oil on silk and embroidered with silk around 1810. Catherine Lorillard was born in 1792 to a prominent New York family. She died in her teens and a haunting memorial portrait was created in her honor. 

Details of Catherine Lorillard  & Young Woman with a Gilded Wreath 

On the way out of the Met, my wife Anne and I passed by an old favorite of mine in the Egyptian galleries, Portrait of a Young Woman with a Gilded Wreath. We were stopped in our tracks. 

Here was the memorial image of another young woman, painted in love and remembrance. In the case of this unnamed, second century A.D. Egyptian woman, this portrait, painted with encaustic wax was intended to accompany her into eternity. It is presently on display in a glass case in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But at that moment of recognition, she and Catherine Lorillard were united in the empathy of two art-loving fellow human beings living in the twenty-first century.

This is a form of eternity and one which may be found by all people in the realm of art.

A new year dawns with hope. 2015 is here! In with the New and the Old Masters, too!

Text: Copyright of Ed Voves, all rights reserved 

Introductory Image:                                                                                                         Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954) Christmas Eve (Nuit de Noël), Maquette for stained-glass window (realized 1952) Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, mounted on board, 107 x 53 1/2" (271.8 x 135.9cm), 1952. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Time Inc., 1953 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 - 1976) Wall Street, New York, 1915 (negative); 1915 (print). Platinum print, Image: 9 3/4 × 12 11/16 inches (24.8 × 32.2 cm), Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Paul Strand Retrospective Collection, 1915-1975, gift of the estate of Paul Strand, 1980 © Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

Shitao (Chinese, 1642–1707) Returning Home, Album of twelve leaves; ink and color on paper, Image (each): 6 1/2 × 4 1/8 in. (16.5 × 10.5 cm) Each leaf with painting: 8 5/16 × 5 5/16 in. (21.1 × 13.5 cm) Each double leaf unfolded: 8 5/16 × 10 5/8 in. (21.1 × 27 cm), ca. 1695.  From the P. Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Family, Gift of Wen and Constance Fong, in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Dillon, 1976 (1976.280a–n) Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 

Vincent Willem van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890) Self Portrait, Oil on artist board, mounted to wood panel, Framed: 20 1/2 x17 x2 3/4 in. (52.1 x43.2 x7 cm.) Unframed: 13 3/4 x 10 1/2 in. (34.9 x 26.7 cm), 1887. City of Detroit Purchase (22.13) Detroit Institute of Art .  Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Buddha Offering Protection, Southern Cambodia, Pre-Angkor period, second half of the 6th century Sandstone with traces of lacquer and gilding. Lent by National Museum of Cambodia, Phnom Penh (Ka.1731), courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, in conjunction with the Lost Kingdoms: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia, 5th to 8th Century, exhibition.

Karma Mirror and Stand, 19th century. Wood with painted decoration, 38 11/16 x 14 5/16 inches (98.2 x 36.4 cm), 19th century. National Museum of Korea, Seoul, courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in conjunction with the Treasures from Korea: Arts and Culture of the Joseon Dynasty, 1392-1910, exhibition.

Matisse at Villa le Rêve, Vence, c. 1946-47. La Biennale di Venezia – Archivio Storico delle Arti Contemporanee. Photo by Interfoto, courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York City, in conjunction with the Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition.

Rembrandt (Dutch 1607–1669) An Old Woman Reading, Oil on canvas, 79.5 × 66 cm, 1655. The Buccleuch Collection 144 © By kind permission of the Duke of Buccleuch & Queensberry KBE, courtesy of the National Gallery, London, in conjunction with the Rembrandt: the Late Works exhibition.

Installation view of Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at The Museum of Modern Art, New York (October 12, 2014-February 10, 2015). Photo by Jonathan Muzikar. © 2014 The Museum of Modern Art

Gallery view of Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (October 21, 2014-February 1, 2015). © 2014 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Unknown Artist Portrait of Catherine Lorillard (detail),  Silk ground cloth, painted with oil and embroidered with silk, 20 3/4 x 18 in. (52.7 x 45.7 cm), ca. 1810. The Metropolitan Museum of Art,  Purchase, Friends of the American Wing Fund, The Masinter Family Foundation Gift, and funds from various donors, 1999, (1999.144) Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 

Portrait of a Young Woman with a Gilded Wreath (detail), Encaustic, wood, gold leaf, H. 36.5 x W. 17.8 cm (14 3/8 x 7 in.),  Roman Period, Egypt,  A.D. 120–140. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1909, (09.181.7)  Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York