Museum photo by photo is by Hillsman Jackson
Meadows Museum SMU
The exhibition The Stewart Album: Art, Letters, and Souvenirs to an American Patron in Paris celebrates the Meadows Museum’s recent acquisition of a unique album compiled by the renowned American collector during the latter half of the nineteenth century and which has been Kept in private hands until now.
In a letter written by Martín Rico y Ortega (1833-1908) to French art connoisseur M. Montaignac shortly after the passing in January 13, 1897 of American patron William H. Stewart (1820-1897), the Spanish artist beautifully describes what made the American expatriate “the greatest power at that moment in the artistic market of Paris:”
“I lost in Mr. Stewart a friend, a protector, and almost a father. He made his house ours, and I owe my position in great part to him. His greatest pleasure was the society of artists, and what I say for myself may be said also for Fortuny, Madrazo, Zamacois, and many others. He was the type of the most perfect caballero which I have ever known, and you need only look at the collection of letters which the artists have written to him to be convinced of this. His gallery of pictures will show the world more than I can say.”
The exhibition The Stewart Album: Art, Letters, and Souvenirs to an American Patron in Paris celebrates the Meadows Museum’s recent acquisition of a unique album compiled by the renowned American collector during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Kept in private hands until now, this will be the first time that audiences will have the opportunity to view a significant selection of letters, drawings, and photographs, which belong to this unique album that in total holds 370 photographs (254 portraits and 116 photographic reproductions of works by contemporary artists), six independent drawings, and 193 letters written to Stewart (a handful of them to his wife and two of his sons, Robert and Jules) by many of the most illustrious artists, collectors, aristocracy, and dealers from Europe and the United States.
Over half of these letters were written by artists of the “Modern” Spanish School, among them Martín Rico, Mariano Fortuny y Marsal (1838-1874), Eduardo Zamacois y Zabala (1841-1871), and Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta (1841-1920). Revealing the esteem to which the American expatriate was held by this group of artists, most of the letters include numerous drawings illustrating stories relating to their personal lives and artistic endeavors. Stewart’s album evidences the major role he played in the lives of these four cosmopolitan Spanish artists, who established successful careers outside Spain and garnered international renown, and who paved the way for future generations of Spanish artists that would do the same in the in the turn of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. As a whole, the album is a testament to his connoisseurship, taste, and his important place in the international art scene during his time. Among the letters that will be featured in the exhibition are examples by international artists such as Gustave Clarence Rodolphe Boulanger (1824-1888), Jean-Baptiste Édouard Detaille (1848-1912), Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867), Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier (1815-1891), Jehan Georges Vibert (1840-1902), Mihály von Munkácsy (1844-1900), Jules Worms (1832-1914), the American Charles James Theriat (1860-1937), and two examples of letters written by the collector’s own son, who was also an artist, Julius Leblanc Stewart (1855-1919).
Rarely do we encounter such an extraordinary compendium of letters, drawings, and photographs, as the one compiled by William H. Stewart. It is extremely unique, especially when considering the possibility that the influential American collector personally assembled it, a personal document of his life and of the lives of artists working in France during the second half of the nineteenth century. Its uniqueness is highlighted by the fact that it evidences the very close personal relationships that he established with these important artists in his Parisian milieu, especially those of Spanish origin. The collection of primary sources for the history of art included in this album is essential to a better understanding of the history of Spanish art in the second half of the nineteenth century. Through them it is evident that without Stewart’s patronage and unconditional support, these four artists never would have received the international renown they enjoyed, even posthumously. Stewart was an American collector who favored Spanish art and artists, just as Algur H. Meadows was a collector who favored Spanish art and artists. The acquisition of this unique repertoire of letters, drawings, and souvenirs, the Stewart Album strengthens the Meadows Museum’s position as a primary center for the research of Spanish art in the United States.
This exhibition has been organized by the Meadows Museum, and is funded by a generous gift from The Meadows Foundation.
Portrait of Influential American Merchant Richard Worsam Meade, First Major Collector of Spanish Art in U.S.
A rare portrait of influential American merchant and naval agent Richard Worsam Meade—the first major collector of Spanish art in the U.S.—will be made accessible to the public in its new home at the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University. On May 10, the museum will unveil the masterwork by Vicente López, one of the most significant painters of the Spanish Enlightenment. Acquired with the generous support of six donors from the Dallas community, the unpublished painting will add depth to the museum’s holdings of work by this celebrated court painter and will provide insight into a legendary American family.
Meade was the son of the Philadelphia Revolutionary George Meade, and his son, George Gordon Meade – better known as General Meade – went on to defeat Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg. Around 1800, Richard Worsam Meade moved his export business to the port city of Cádiz, Spain where he began to collect paintings as currency for debts. It was there that Meade developed one of the most outstanding private collections of Spanish art, including paintings by Titian, Correggio, Veronese, Rubens, Van Dyck, Velázquez, and Murillo, and ultimately became the first American collector known to have owned a painting by Murillo.
“Meade could in many ways be considered the earliest predecessor of our museum’s founder, Algur H. Meadows,” said director Mark Roglán. “Both men were influential American entrepreneurs who, in the course of their business abroad in Spain, developed a passion for the country’s art, ultimately creating a new audience for it back home. This exceptional painting will be the first portrait of an American painted by a Spanish painter to enter our collection, and it is fitting that the subject is someone who shares a legacy with our founding patron.”
The painting will be on display at the museum beginning Tuesday, May 10, and will be included in the upcoming exhibition Meadows Collects: Ten Years, Ten Works, which will open in the fall of 2011. The exhibition will feature the ten most significant works the Meadows has acquired over the past decade, and will celebrate the ten year anniversary of their current home, which was funded by The Meadows Foundation.
López, honorary court painter to Charles IV (r. 1788-1808), was later appointed First Court Painter to Ferdinand VII alongside Francisco Goya in 1814. Ferdinand VII eventually began to greatly prefer the work of López, and in 1826 Goya requested permission to retire, leaving López as the primary court painter to the King. López went on to be the court painter for a third monarch, Queen Isabella II (r. 1830-1868), the eldest daughter of Ferdinand VII. This monumental portrait of Meade, which dates from 1815, was likely created in Madrid where López was working at the time. The painting depicts Meade seated at a desk, turned to confront the viewer, and showcases López’s extraordinary technical skill, from his detailed depiction of a wrinkle in the carpet to the color palette on the Meade’s clothing, which is echoed on the patterned rug.
This López painting is a significant addition to the Meadows Museum’s collection, as it provides a more comprehensive understanding of López’s work as a portraitist, and also draws important connections to the Museum’s foundation. The painting is the fourth by López in the Meadows collection, which also includes the Portrait of José Martínez de Hervás, Marqués de Almenara (1812), the Portrait of José Orbaiceta, Marqués de Nevares (1840), and an oil sketch depicting Saint Vincent Martyr Before Dacius (c. 1796).
The painting was purchased through funds generously provided by Linda P. and William A. Custard; Jack and Gloria Hammack; Richard and Gwen S. Irwin; Natalie H. and George T. Lee, Jr.; Mildred M. Oppenheimer; and Catherine B. Taylor. These gifts are eligible for a $5 million matching challenge grant by The Meadows Foundation for the acquisition of Spanish art to enhance the Museum’s permanent collection.
|Support Your Local Galleries and Museums! They Are Economic Engines for Your Community.|
|Copyright 2013 Art Museum Touring.com|