This month the Dallas Museum of Art celebrates the opening of its new second-floor European art galleries, which now allow visitors to experience the Museum’s collection in a series of small vignettes that more cohesively reflect the progression of European art across several centuries. The new galleries also enhance the Museum’s ability to place a greater number of works on view, and to present new acquisitions, selections from the DMA’s Decorative Arts collection, and important loans from local private collections.
The Museum will host on Thursday, January 27, 2011, at 7:30 p.m. the seventh annual Michael L. Rosenberg Lecture with Dr. Kathleen Nicholson, Professor of Art History at the University of Oregon. She will speak on the fascination with “allegorical portraits” in 18th-century France by investigating Nicolas de Largillière’s Portrait of the Comtesse de Montsoreau and Sister as Diana and an Attendant, an important double portrait of 1714 on loan from the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation on view in the new second-floor galleries.
“The opening of these new European galleries is transformative for the Dallas Museum of Art and for the visitor experience in our galleries,” said Bonnie Pitman, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. “The re-imagined spaces and the installation design will excite visitors and enrich their understanding of European art across a multitude of genres.”
The significant reconfiguration of the galleries, overseen by Olivier Meslay, Senior Curator of European and American Art and The Barbara Thomas Lemmon Curator of European Art, provides a series of small spaces that make the collections more accessible. “The new design of the gallery, achieved by moving some walls and extending others, invites visitors to examine various works on view in intimate gallery spaces without being visually distracted by others, allowing for a heightened museum experience,” said Meslay.
The new European art galleries showcase more than 150 works from the DMA’s strong collection of European art spanning over 400 years of art history, including works of art by Jacques-Louis David, Joseph Mallord William Turner, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Gustave Courbet, Claude Monet, Piet Mondrian, Pablo Picasso, and Henry Moore. Selections from the decorative arts and design collection are displayed alongside painting and sculpture of the same time period and style to provide a comparison between subject matter, material and movements. Highlighted works include:
- Yellow Roses in a Vase by Gustave Caillebotte, 1882 — The first work by the artist to enter the DMA collection, it was created during Caillebotte’s most intense and fertile engagement with the still-life genre. This painting was purchased by Edgar Degas and kept in his collection until his death.
- Four Wooden Sculptures (Recto) / Ice Skater (Verso) by Ernest Ludwig Kirchner, 1912 and 1929–1930 — A double-sided canvas that features images from two diverse periods in Kirchner’s career and representing the first work by an artist from the Brücke Group in the DMA collection.
- Comblat-le-Château, the Meadow (Opus 161) by Paul Signac, 1887 — This masterpiece is from an important series of landscape paintings completed by the artist during the first crucial years of the neo-impressionist movement. This painting has not been on view since 1930.
- Chestnut Trees by Edouard Vuillard, 1894–1895 — A unique and early work, this painting became the cartoon for a stained-glass window produced by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company.
- Young Man with Flute by George Romney, late 1760s – This portrait entered the DMA collection in 1987 as part of a bequest of Mrs. Sheridan Thompson. The artist was unknown but thought to be American colonial-era portrait painter Ralph Earl. In 2010 it was reattributed to George Romney, a key figure in 18th-century British art and a contemporary of Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough.
- Huntingdon Wine Cistern by Abraham Portal, 1761–1762 — Weighing close to eighty pounds, this monumental cistern was made for Frances Hastings, the 10th Earl of Huntingdon. The size of this cistern and the likelihood that such a large piece would have been melted down as tastes changed make this a particularly rare object.
On Wednesday, January 26, at 12:15 p.m., Heather MacDonald, The Lillian and James H. Clark Associate Curator of European Art, will talk in the European galleries on The Rococo and the Birth of Modern Art: Looking at Early Eighteenth-Century French Paintings.
Please visit DallasMuseumofArt.org for updated information on additional programming related to the works on view in the European galleries.
About the Dallas Museum of Art
Located in the vibrant Arts District of downtown Dallas, Texas, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and groundbreaking educational programs. At the heart of the Museum and its programs are its encyclopedic collections, which encompass more than 24,000 works and span 5,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Established in 1903, the Museum welcomes approximately 600,000 visitors annually and acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary readings and dramatic and dance presentations.
The Dallas Museum of Art is supported in part by the generosity of Museum members and donors and by the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas/Office of Cultural Affairs and the Texas Commission on the Arts.