The Detroit Institute of Arts
The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), one of the foremost art museums in the United States, is home to more than 60,000 works that comprise a global survey of human creativity from ancient times through the 21st century. From the first Van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum (Self portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera’s world-renowned Detroit Industry murals (1932–33), the DIA’s collection is known for its quality, range, and depth.
The DIA in its present configuration covers 658,000 square feet that includes more than 100 galleries, a 1,150-seat auditorium, a 380-seat lecture/recital hall, an art reference library, and a state-of-the-art conservation services laboratory. The original museum, the Detroit Museum of Art, was founded in 1885 and located on Jefferson Avenue in downtown Detroit. In 1927 the museum moved to its current facility on Woodward Avenue—designed by Paul Philippe Cret in the Beaux Arts style—and was re-named the Detroit Institute of Arts. Cret sought to recreate the aesthetics of European house museums and designed each gallery to complement the art displayed in that space. The Cret building was expanded with the addition of the South Wing in 1966 and the North Wing in 1971, designed in a contrasting modernist style by Gunnar Birkerts.
In 2007, a six-year, $158 million building renovation and reinstallation of the galleries was completed. The project included extensive infrastructure upgrades, increased gallery space, expanded visitor amenities, an improved traffic pattern throughout the museum, and a new façade on the North and South Wings. The building project presented the unprecedented opportunity for the museum to reshape the visitor experience, not only through an upgraded building and new amenities, but also by rethinking how to present its world-class collection to the public. More than 5,000 works of art have been reinstalled in some 150,000 square feet in a way that will allow visitors to more easily make personal connections with the art and to understand the objects in the context of their own place and time.
The collection’s particular strengths are in European painting, Italian Renaissance sculpture, French decorative art, African art, American painting, and Islamic textiles. European paintings include works by Bruegel, Rembrandt, Rubens, Degas, Cézanne, Van Gogh and Seurat, among others. Highlights include Bruegel’s The Wedding Dance, Caravaggio’s The Conversion of the Magdalen, and Van Gogh’s Postman Roulin. The collection includes three more works by Van Gogh. Sculpture and decorative arts holdings include sculpture by Donatello, Luca della Robbia, Gianlorenzo Bernini, and other important artists. The medieval collection is notable for its sculpture, as well as its superb ivories, enamels and stained glass. Sèvres porcelain, furniture, silver, and tapestries make up eighteenth-century French holdings. The collection also includes models and rare works by Auguste Rodin, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, and Paul Gauguin.
The foundation of the collection was laid by the Rembrandt scholar William Valentiner, a scholar and art historian from Berlin, who was director from 1924 to 1945. His extensive contacts in Europe, along with support from generous patrons, enabled him to acquire many important works that established the framework of today’s collections.
The Toledo Museum of Art
Beginning modestly in 1901, the Toledo Museum of Art has grown over the generations both in the involvement of the community in the life of the Museum and in the careful building up of an extraordinary collection. The majority of the works in the collection are the fruits of the generosity of the Museum’s founders, Edward Drummond Libbey and Florence Scott Libbey. Edward Libbey, a glass industrialist, left a generous endowment to the Museum, which specifies that some funds be used for capital and operating expenses, while at least fifty percent of the income is restricted to the acquisition of works of art. Florence Scott Libbey also left bequests for the support of general operations and education, as well as art acquisition. This foresight is the explanation for the collections that have made the Toledo Museum of Art nationally and internationally distinguished.
While the collections of the Museum range from ancient Egyptian to contemporary art, with strong concentrations in glass, Japanese woodblock prints, modern artist-illustrated books, and European decorative arts, the core of the Museum is its collection of European Old Master paintings. Since at least the 1940s the development of the collection has been guided by the principle that the primary criterion for acquisition should be the highest quality without regard to culture, material, or an artist’s relative unfamiliarity. Wisely following this creed and buying “against the market,” Otto Wittmann, who came to the Museum in 1946 and became its fourth director in 1959, formed significant bodies of seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish and eighteenth-century French painting, two major fields that were then temporarily out of the limelight.
Following the lean years of World War II, collecting began again in 1946 with the purchase of El Greco’s Agony in the Garden, which joined earlier major paintings acquisitions by Piero di Cosimo, Rembrandt, Holbein, Turner, Manet, Degas, and Van Gogh. Many more significant European works have entered the collection from the 1950s on, including masterworks by Gossart, Primaticcio, Jacopo Bassano, Rubens, Thomas de Keyser, Cuyp, Murillo, Willem van de Velde the Younger, Fragonard, Boucher, Gainsborough, Jacques-Louis David, Cézanne, and in the last decade, a pristine pair of canvases by Chardin, a striking Lot and His Daughters by Guercino, and Frans Hals’ arresting Van Campen Family Portrait in a Landscape.
The Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin
The Allen Memorial Art Museum (AMAM) at Oberlin College, one of the finest academic art museums in the United States, houses a permanent collection of more than 14,000 objects. Founded in 1833, Oberlin was the first coeducational college in the United States and the first American institution of higher education open to students of all races. The AMAM opened to the public in 1917 and has always been free for all. The museum currently occupies two buildings designed by major American architects, Cass Gilbert and Robert Venturi, and the nearly encyclopedic collection was built up over many decades by such notable figures as Wolfgang Stechow, Charles Parkhust, Ellen Johnson, and Richard Spear. The museum plays a vital role in the curriculum of the College, encouraging visual literacy through the first-hand study of original works of art and fostering interdisciplinary connections across a broad spectrum of courses. The AMAM is also a significant cultural resource for the public community of Northeast Ohio.
The museum’s holdings contain nearly 300 Old Master Netherlandish, Dutch, and Flemish paintings, sculptures, and works on paper. Highlights include works by Herri met de Bles, Paul Bril, Michiel Coxcie, Anthony van Dyck, Hendrick Goltzius, Jan van Goyen, Jan Davidsz. de Heem, Maarten van Heemskerck, Meindert Hobbema, Jacob Jordaens, Peter Paul Rubens, Hercules Seghers, Jan Steen, Michiel Sweerts, Rembrandt, David Vinckboons, and Emmanuel de Witte. Undoubtedly, the most famous Northern Baroque painting in the collection is the Saint Sebastian tended by Irene, an exquisite example of the Utrecht Caravaggist Hendrick ter Brugghen’s work that is unparalleled in the United States.
Participants of the study trip will be welcomed with a reception by director Andria Derstine and curator of European and American art Andaleeb Badiee Banta, and have the opportunity to tour the museum’s galleries. Additionally, Dr. Banta will present a private viewing of a selection from the AMAM’s collection of Dutch and Flemish prints and drawings. For those interested, there will be an opportunity to discuss paintings and drawings that have debated attributions or that present particularly intriguing questions. A list of Old Master Dutch and Flemish paintings, sculpture, and works on paper in the AMAM’s collection can be accessed here. A searchable catalogue of all of the AMAM’s holdings is available here.
The Cleveland Museum of Art
The Cleveland Museum of Art is renowned for the quality and breadth of its collection, which includes almost 45,000 objects and spans 6,000 years of achievement in the arts. The museum is a significant international forum for exhibitions, scholarship, performing arts, and art education and recently completed an ambitious, multi-phase renovation and expansion project across its campus. One of the top comprehensive art museums in the nation and free of charge to all, the Cleveland Museum of Art is located in the dynamic University Circle neighborhood.
Half of the museum’s collection is devoted to works on paper so that there are about 20,000 prints and close to 4,000 drawings. Dr. Heather Lemonedes, Curator of Drawings, and Dr. Jane Glaubinger, Curator of Prints, will organize a large group of the most important northern works in the art study room for CODART’S visit. The group will start the morning by viewing two drawings by Albrecht Dürer; the beautiful Arm of Eve executed in black ink and heightened with white gouache on blue paper, a study for the 1507 painting at the Prado, and the Ascension of Christ (ca. 1515). Other German sheets include Albrecht Altdorfer’s chiaroscuro drawing of Salome with the Head of St. John the Baptist (ca.1517) and Hans Hoffmann’s watercolor of a bird, Dead Blue Roller (1583). The museum’s three Rembrandt drawings will be on view; Tobias Healing his Father’s Blindness (ca. 1640-45), Shah Jahan (ca. 1656-61, after an Indian miniature), and The Meeting of Christ with Martha and Mary after the Death of Lazarus (c. 1662) as well as works by Peter Paul Rubens (The Feast of Herod from c. 1637-38 with Tomyris with the Head of Cyrus on the verso) and two colorful studies by Jacob Jordaens from c. 1645-47, The Conversion of Saul with Horseman and Banner and The Conversion of Saul with Christ and the Cross.
There are also many printed treasures such as the only impression of the first state (before the plate was re-engraved) of Antonio de Pollaiuolo’s Battle of the Nudes (1470s-80s). The collection is also rich in German fifteenth-century works including a unique hand-colored impression of a woodcut of the Pietà (ca.1450) and one of only five extant impressions of the Master ES’s The Garden of Love, Large Plate (ca. 1465). The sixteenth-century is represented by Dürer engravings and woodcuts, by a unique impression of Hans Burgkmair’s 1508 woodcut, Maximilian I, printed in black and white ink on blue paper and a rare impression of Pieter Breughel the Elder’s only original print, the etching The Rabbit Hunt (1560). There will be several special impressions of Rembrandt prints, including the Three Crosses, Christ Shown to the People, The Philosopher, and The Blind Tobit.
After the visit to the Prints and Drawings department, Dr. Cory Korkow, Associate Curator of European Art and Dr. Catherine B. Scallen, Chair of the Department of Art History and Art and Andrew W. Mellon Associate Professor in the Humanities, Case Western Reserve University, will tour the group through the appropriate painting galleries. Hereafter, the group will return to the art study room to see a few paintings not on view.
The Indianapolis Museum of Art
The Indianapolis Museum of Art provides a uniquely multidisciplinary art experience. The museum, performing arts theater, 100-acre art and nature park, historic mansion, greenhouse and formal gardens are beautifully situated on the former estate of J.K. Lilly, a National Historic Landmark. The museum, founded in 1883, is one of the ten oldest and ten largest general art museums in the United States. Its 60,000 objects represent cultures from antiquity to the present and from around the world. Its notable collection of Dutch and Flemish pictures is highlighted by Albert Cuyp’s crystalline Valkhof at Nijmegen, Anthony Van Dyck’s monumental Entry of Christ into Jerusalem and Abraham Bloemaert’s enigmatic Coronation Scene. The Clowes Collection of Old Master pictures, collected in the 1930s and 1940s by Dr. George H.A. Clowes and his wife Edith is housed in its own pavilion and features Peter Paul Rubens’ Triumphant Entry of Constantine into Rome and Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait of about 1629. The collection of Dutch and Flemish paintings has been recently reinstalled, in the summer of 2014.
The Dayton Art Institute
Sitting atop a hill on the edge of the Great Miami River over-looking downtown Dayton, the Dayton Art Institute (DAI) was founded in 1919 and is renowned for having one of the finest mid-sized encyclopedic fine art collections in the country. Housed in an opulent renaissance palazzo style building listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the DAI offers to visitors and scholars an extensive array of the fine arts of Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe, and Oceanic/Pacific, spanning from the dawn of civilization to the present day. Ranging in date from 3,000 BCE to the present, the collection includes over 27,000 works in a variety of media and represents nearly every major art historical period and stylistic trend.
The museum’s collection developed slowly and steadily in the first quarter of the twentieth century primarily through gifts, with significant gifts of non-western art by the museum’s founding force and leading patron benefactress, Julia Shaw Carnell. However, it was during the tenure of Director Thomas C. Colt, Jr. from 1957 to 1975 that the museum witnessed the most phenomenal growth in terms of quality and quantity of its European collection, including some of its finest Dutch and Flemish pictures acquired through both purchase and gift.
Dutch and Flemish art are an important focus of the collections at the Dayton Art Institute with representative examples in painting, sculpture, furniture, and decorative arts including a pair of early fourteenth century Franco-Flemish marbles, a late sixteenth century tapestry by Frans Geubels, a seventeenth century rosewood and oak Dutch standing chest, and paintings by Ferdinand Bol, Hendrick van Balen, Abraham van Beyeren, Jan de Bray, Frans Francken the Younger, Gerrit van Honthorst, Peter Paul Rubens, Jacob van Ruisdael, Roelandt Savery, and Hendrik Terbrugghen, among others.
An early Portrait of a Young Man with a Sword, ca. 1635-1640 by Ferdinand Bol gifted to the museum in 1962 by Dayton natives Mr. and Mrs. Elton F. MacDonald is among the highlights of the Dutch collection. This exquisite full-length portrait of a young dandy was once thought to be a self-portrait and probably dates from the time Bol spent in Rembrandt’s studio, however, the sitter’s identity remains unknown. Another Dutch treasure, the museum houses a small, yet powerful and brooding landscape with a waterfall and castle by Jacob van Ruisdael painted in the 1670s that most certainly reflects the artist’s travels in western Germany.
Of singular importance in the museum’s Flemish collection is a rare double portrait sketch by Peter Paul Rubens, Portrait Study of Heads of an Old Man painted around 1612. When the museum acquired the painting in 1960, only a single head appeared. However, during a conservation treatment in the 1990s, an X-Ray revealed the presence of a second sketch and the overpaint, done at some point in the early 20th century to likely lessen the effect of a sketch and create the appearance of a finished portrait, was removed.
The works mentioned herein represent a few of the highlights of Dayton’s collection of Dutch and Flemish art. A complete checklist of the collection as well as an illustrated checklist of objects on view in the related galleries is available for CODART members.
The Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati
The philanthropists and connoisseurs Charles and Anna Taft lived in a neo-Palladian villa (built ca. 1820), which is now a small museum that showcases the couple’s outstanding collection of Old Master paintings, European decorative arts, American art, and Chinese ceramics. Proponents of the arts as a civilizing force, the Tafts were instrumental in founding and endowing the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Cincinnati Symphony, May Festival (a choral group), and Opera. In 1927, they bequeathed their historic house and 690 works of art to the people of Cincinnati. The Taft Museum of Art opened in 1932.
When Anna’s inheritance in 1900 made her the richest woman in Ohio, the couple immediately began to collect art. As Charles wrote to his half-brother, future American President William Howard Taft in 1903: “Annie and I have made up our minds that it would be just as well to invest money in pictures as to pile it up in bonds and real estate. At all events, we get a good deal of pleasure out of pictures.” They had the additional goal of providing cultural enrichment for the people of Cincinnati.
The Tafts competed with Henry Clay Frick, Isabella Stewart Gardner, and other leading American collectors of the Gilded Age. Their collection is especially rich in British, French, and Dutch art, with fine pictures by Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds, J.M.W. Turner, J.A.D. Ingres, Jean-François Millet, Camille Corot, Théodore Rousseau, John Singer Sargent, and James M. Whistler.
Dutch paintings were among the Tafts’ earliest acquisitions. In 1903, after stays in England and France, they went to the Netherlands to study art in museums and private collections. They were especially drawn to Haarlem to look at the work of Frans Hals. In their first of three decades of collecting (1900–1910), the couple purchased fourteen paintings by Dutch artists, including Hals, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jacob van Ruisdael, and Gerard ter Borch. They were active in the art markets of London, Paris, and New York.
Ultimately, the Tafts would also own works by such artists as Meindert Hobbema, Pieter de Hooch, Aert van der Neer, Adriaen van Ostade, and Jan Steen. Most recently, in 2008, the Taft added a painting by Balthasar van der Ast, Still Life with Tilted Basket of Fruit, Vase of Flowers, and Shells (about 1640–45), to its permanent collection, in keeping with the original collection plan of its founding family.
Seventeenth-century Dutch painting appealed to the Taft’s collecting sensibilities in part because of its subject matter. The couple wanted to display the finest examples of the genres in which a practicing American artist could make a successful career. For painting, this meant landscape, portraiture, and genre, and for the decorative arts, they focused on enamels, ceramics, and watches. They regularly invited artists and artisans to study their collections because they believed that a thriving arts community exposed to excellent models would be the key to success for industry and culture in Cincinnati and Ohio.
Before Anna Taft’s father, David Sinton, purchased the Taft historic house in 1870, it had served as home to two former illustrious families in Cincinnati. Nicholas Longworth, the second owner, also amassed a significant art collection, most of which is now unfortunately dispersed. However, a magnificent suite of murals (ca. 1850–52) that Longworth commissioned from the nineteenth-century African American painter Robert S. Duncanson still ornaments the foyer of the house. Since the Museum’s renovation and expansion in 2001–2004, the galleries’ carpets and window treatments illustrate the progression of styles of American interior décor during the period in which the house was inhabited, approximately 1820–1930.
The Cincinnati Art Museum
Founded in 1881, the Cincinnati Art Museum offers visitors an encyclopedic collection of more than 60,000 examples of world art from antiquity to the present day, encompassing paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, photographs and decorative arts. Among its specialties are its holdings in English paintings and silver, Old Master prints, and American paintings and decorative arts. The museum’s Cincinnati Wing opened in 2003, a suite of galleries dedicated to the rich artistic legacy of the city, which was founded on the Ohio River in 1788 and became the leading industrial center of the Midwest. Participants in this study trip will enjoy the opportunity to view the Art Museum’s collection of Dutch and Flemish paintings. The nucleus of the holdings entered the collection in 1927 with a bequest from the collection of Mary M. Emery that included such notable works as Anthony van Dyck’s A Man in Armor and Gerard ter Borch’s The Music Party. Through both gift and purchase, the art museum’s collection has grown to feature paintings by Herri met de Bles, Peter Paul Rubens, Maria van Oosterwijck, and other important masters. The most recent addition was Ludolf Backhuysen’s Dutchmen Embarking onto a Yacht, acquired in 1993.
The works on paper collection numbers over 32,000 including prints, posters, illustrated books, drawings and photographs. At its core is the Old Master print collection donated by Herbert Greer French, which includes notable examples of master printmakers Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt van Rijn, William Blake, and Francisco José Goya y Lucientes. The Albert P. Strietmann collection of color lithography features the work of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and a cross section of international printmakers from the 1950s and early 1960s. The collection is strong in the work of American printmakers from Frank Duveneck and James Abbott McNeill Whistler to Jim Dine. Of particular interest will be the work of the Dutch, Flemish, and German printmakers from the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries, including two works by Hercules Segers, Master W. with Key, Master IAM of Zwolle, Lucas van Leyden, and a recently acquired engraving, The Great Hercules, by Hendrick Goltzius. Participants will be able to view selections from these noteworthy holdings.
The Art Institute of Chicago
Founded in 1879 as the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago opened in its present location in 1893. The museum continued to expand beyond this original Beaux-Arts building facing Michigan Avenue, most recently with the addition of the Modern Wing in 2009, designed by Renzo Piano and showcasing outstanding modern and contemporary collections of paintings, sculpture, photography, architecture and new media. The Art Institute benefits from its historic and ongoing institutional link with a noted art school, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and from its location in a thriving downtown, adjacent to parks and Lake Michigan as well as to offices and shops.
The Art Institute is particularly noted for its Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings. But in the 1890s, while Chicago collectors like Bertha and Honoré Palmer were buying contemporary French painting, other collectors, notably Martin A. Ryerson were acquiring Old Master paintings and decorative arts in addition to avant-garde French painting; these works were all donated to the museum in the early decades of the twentieth century. However, the original core of the collection of European paintings was a purchase of Dutch and Flemish paintings in 1890. Typical of the entreprenial spirit of the museum, several trustees led by Martin Ryerson arranged this purchase through the Paris dealer Durand-Ruel and then persuaded other prominent Chicagoans to join them in supporting the cost of individual paintings. Much of this initial purchase came from the Demidoff collection and reflected a taste for Dutch landscape and genre of the mid-seventeenth century, including works by Hobbema, Ochtervelt, Van de Cappelle, and Adriaen van Ostade. Later gifts and purchases included Rembrandt’s early Old Man with a Gold Chain, as well as outstanding works by Ter Brugghen, Wtewael, Paulus Potter, Jacob van Ruisdael, and a unique tromp l’oeil still life that is the combined effort of Adriaen van der Spelt and Frans van Mieris.
The Art Institute’s excellent collection of prints and drawings was established in 1911, some thirty years after the museum’s foundation. Today the Department of Prints and Drawings includes over 60,000 prints, 17,000 drawings, and 1800 illustrated books. Until very recent years, the collecting emphasis of the Department has been French, Italian, and American works on paper. Highlights of the Dutch and Flemish holdings include drawings by Johannes Stradanus, woodcuts by Hendrick Goltzius, and prints and drawings by Rembrandt and his circle. Recent additions to the collection include a proof impression of the Witch of Mallegem after Pieter Bruegel the Elder, prints from the Rubens workshop, and a chalk drawing by Jacob Jordaens.
During the CODART visit to the Art Institute, participants will visit the Jean and Steven Goldman Study Center in the Department of Prints and Drawings. Highlights of the collection will be on view in the Glore Study Room, featuring Dutch and Flemish holdings, and a tour of the paper conservation lab will also be offered. In addition to touring the galleries of European painting and sculpture, participants will be given a preview of the new installation of Medieval and Renaissance art featuring painting, sculpture, treasury objects, objects for domestic use, jewelry and arms and armor to open in spring 2017.