Thursday, May 13, 2010

Georges Braque & Arthur Sullivan Raise A Stiegel Glass to Mourn the Duke of Burgundy-


- At the Met, Portraits of Grief, Written in Stone : "They are so cute, these 16-inch-tall fellows in their floppy robes. Shuffling two by two, 36 strong, behind a choirboy on a black runway in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s cavernous Medieval Hall, they’re like a troop of fairy-tale dwarfs turned to stone by an evil sorcerer. Unhappy campers, they weep, sigh, gesture sadly and pray, mourning the demise of their liege, John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy (1371-1419). They are a long way from home, and it will be a while before they can return. Lovingly carved from alabaster by Jean de la Huerta and Antoine Le Moiturier, they hail from the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon, France. There they usually occupy niches in an extravagantly ornamental, Gothic arcade beneath the slab on which lies an effigy of the duke and his wife, Margaret of Bavaria. As the French museum is currently undergoing restoration, it was decided that the sorrowful gang of monks, clerics and sundry laymen would be liberated from the duke’s tomb and sent on a journey around the United States. This is the first stop on the eight-city tour, and anyone who cares about the art of sculpture should pay them a visit, for each is a small masterpiece of stone carving and humanist realism... Read the whole review


May 13, 1729: Henry William Stiegel, German-American glassmaker, was born in Cologne. Stiegel arrived in Philadelphia in 1750 and became involved in iron forges, eventually making a fortune in that field and owning the town of Manheim, Pennsylvania. From cast iron he moved on to glass manufacture, becoming one of the most well-known and talented glass manufacturers in America before the American Revolution.

May 13, 1842: Arthur Sullivan, English composer, was born. "Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan MVO was an English composer, of Irish and Italian descent, best known for his operatic collaborations with librettist W. S. Gilbert, including such continually popular works as H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado. Sullivan's artistic output included 23 operas, 13 major orchestral works, eight choral works and oratorios, two ballets, incidental music to several plays, and numerous hymns and other church pieces, songs, parlour ballads, part songs, carols, and piano and chamber pieces. Apart from his comic operas with Gilbert, Sullivan is best known for some of his hymns and parlour songs, including "Onward Christian Soldiers", "The Absent-Minded Beggar", and "The Lost Chord". His most critically praised pieces include his Irish Symphony, his Overture di Ballo, The Martyr of Antioch, The Golden Legend, and, of the Savoy Operas, The Yeomen of the Guard. Sullivan's only grand opera, Ivanhoe, was initially highly successful, but it has been little heard since his death."

May 13, 1882: Georges Braque, French painter, was born. "A major 20th century French painter and sculptor, Braque, along with Pablo Picasso, developed the art movement known as Cubism. Although Braque began his career painting landscapes, in 1908, he, alongside Picasso, discovered the advantages of painting still lifes instead. During the period between the wars, Braque exhibited a looser and freer approach to Cubism, intensifying his color use and a looser rendering of objects. However, he still remained strongly committed to the cubist method of simultaneous perspective and fragmentation. In contrast to Picasso, who continuously reinvented his approach to painting, producing both representational and cubist images, and incorporating surrealist ideas into his work, Braque continued in the Cubist style, producing luminous, other-worldly still life and figure compositions. By the time of his death in 1963, he was regarded as one of the elder statesmen of the School of Paris, and of modern art."


"Stiegel Glass"
By Frederick W. Hunter.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company in 1914. Edition limited to 420 signed copies.

Although Hunter, along with his brother-in-law / collaborator J.B. Kerfoot, was overzealous in his attempts to attribute much too much glass to the Stiegel factory, his book nonetheless "set a standard of excellence for factory histories that seldom has been surpassed." (Kirk Nelson writing in Ames & Ward).

Nelson continues, "Hunter's work remains the most comprehensive study of this celebrated eighteenth-century Pennsylvania glass manufactory. In the first two major sections Hunter provides a detailed biography of Henry William Stiegel and illuminates the account with information drawn from period documents. Typescripts of many of these documents are presented in the Appendix...the second section explores the materials, techniques and products of the Stiegel glasshouses."

Hunter's style and presentation have also been widely praised; Helen McKearin notes in her preface to the Dover edition that "in all American glass literature, "Stiegel Glass" alone approaches belles letters." George McKearin once wrote "As a beginner in collecting American glass I pored for hours over the pages of this fascinating book." An important, well-written and researched study of American glassmaking, despite the fact that the actual pieces attributed to Stiegel too often turned out to be the products of other factories.


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