February 2017
The Dahesh in Florida

Some of the Dahesh Museum’s cherished masterpieces have traveled to Florida for the winter!  This will be their final tour for some time, as they are readied for exhibition in their new home. 

Academic Splendor: Nineteenth-Century Masterworks from the Dahesh Museum of Art opened at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens in Jacksonville on January 27 and will run through April 16, 2017. With more than 40 works, the exhibition features a wide range of themes and styles by famous artists trained in European academies and private ateliers, including Jean-Léon Gérôme, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Gustave Doré, and Antoine-Louis Barye. The exhibition is accompanied by a full-color catalogue, Academic Splendor: 101 Masterpieces from the Dahesh Museum of Art.

The Dahesh has lent four important Orientalist works to the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach for its exhibition Harem: Unveiling the Mystery of Orientalist Art from January 24 to April 16, 2017. The exhibition explores the myths and realities of the harem—a favorite theme in Orientalist art, as well as the fascination that Gilded Age artists, collectors, and tourists from the West had with this exotic subject.

The Museum has also lent five of its most popular Orientalist works to the Cornell Museum, Rollins College, in Winter Park, for its exhibition The Black Figure in European Imaginary from January 14 to May 14, 2017.  The exhibition explores the nuanced, multifaceted, and often ambivalent, vexed relationship between European artists and the black figure.

Salon Thursdays: March 9, 2017
“Paths Forgotten, Calls Unheard: Book Illustration in the Nineteenth Century.”

A book signing and talk by Dr. Patricia Mainardi, who will discuss the development of book illustration in the 19th century, when technological developments in lithography and wood engraving resulted in richly illustrated publications. With illustration today largely confined to children’s books, artists’ books, and graphic novels, this talk offers a surprising look at the “paths forgotten” blazed by their 19th-century predecessors. Dr. Mainardi, Professor Emerita of Art History at the Doctoral Program in Art History of the City University of New York (CUNY), is the author of Another World: Nineteenth-Century Illustrated Print Culture (Yale University Press, 2017), which will be available for purchase at the event.

The event will be held at the Museum Gift Shop at 145 Sixth Avenue, at 6:30 pm. Seating starts at 6:00 pm on a first-come, first-serve basis. Admission is free.

Behind the Scenes
In 1998, the Dahesh Museum purchased The Golden Bracelet, attributed to Archibald Thornburn. Archibald, the fifth son of the successful miniature painter Robert Thornburn, was an established painter of birdlife and mammals.

Recent research has shown however that this painting is more likely the work of Robert Thornburn, who exhibited a work with the same subject matter at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition of 1873, entitled Eliezer and Rebecca at the Well. The story from the Book of Genesis recounts how Abraham sent his servant Eliezer to his birthplace of Aram-Naharaim (or Mesopotamia) to find a suitable bride for his son Isaac. When Eliezer encountered the beautiful Rebecca at the well and she offered water to him and his camels, he recognized her as Isaac’s future bride. In the painting, Thornburn chose to depict the moment Eliezer offers Rebecca jewelry, including the golden bracelet he is putting on her wrist, as he makes the marriage proposal on his master’s behalf.

After studying at the Scottish Academy in Edinburgh and at the Royal Academy of Art in London, Thornburn became a popular miniaturist, counting among his patrons Queen Victoria.  In 1848, he was nominated associate to the Royal Academy (A.R.A.), and in 1855, he won a gold medal at the Exposition Universelle in Paris.  Soon after, Thornburn largely abandoned miniature painting because of the growing competition from photography, and began to paint large-scale portraits in oil and chalk as well as numerous biblical scenes.

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