Salvaging the Past: Georges Hoentschel and French Decorative Arts from The Metropolitan Museum of Art
April 4 - August 11, 2013
Organized by the Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
"An understudied and critical chapter of the Metropolitan’s history."
From April 4 to August 11, 2013, the Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture (BGC) presents Salvaging the Past: Georges Hoentschel and French Decorative Arts from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Focusing on a remarkable but little-known collection that entered the Metropolitan Museum as a gift of J. Pierpont Morgan in the early twentieth century the exhibition features more than 200 objects of primarily medieval art and French eighteenth-century paneling, furniture, metalwork, textiles, paintings, and sculpture, as well as late nineteenth-century art pottery, most of which have rarely been viewed since the 1950s. The fourth in a series of collaborations between The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the BGC, the exhibition provides the first comprehensive examination of Georges Hoentschel—a significant figure in the history of collecting—and illuminates an understudied and critical chapter of the Metropolitan’s history.
Drawn primarily from the Metropolitan Museum’s holdings, with loans from other public and private collections in the United States and France, the exhibition tells the story of this unique collection in four sections. The first introduces Georges Hoentschel, who was an enterprising and successful decorator during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when France witnessed a great scientific, industrial, and social transformation and the newly moneyed bourgeoisie adopted a lifestyle based on an aristocratic model. As director of the Parisian decorating firm Maison Leys, Hoentschel catered to these affluent clients, creating for them interiors in historic French styles. In this section of the exhibition, ephemera, family papers, photographs, and a film presentation will outline his story within the context of Belle Époque Paris.
Georges Hoentschel (1855–1915) was a leading French interior designer in historic styles, head of a decorating firm, and ceramicist during the Belle Epoque. He found inspiration for his designs in medieval and 18th-century French art, which he avidly collected, amassing more than 4,000 pieces of furniture, woodwork, metalwork, sculpture, paintings, and textiles. After visiting Hoentschel in Paris, the American financier J. Pierpont Morgan acquired the collection and bequeathed it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1906 and 1916–17. These works greatly enriched the museum’s medieval art department and became the nucleus of its decorative arts department, profoundly influencing American tastes in the early 20th century. Through texts, early documentary photographs, and images of newly conserved works, Salvaging the Past goes behind the scenes to explore the history and influence of this remarkable collection.
- Upcoming Exhibitions
- Past Exhibitions
- Waterweavers: The River in Contemporary Colombian Visual and Material Culture
- Carrying Coca: 1,500 Years of Andean Chuspas
- William Kent
- An American Style
- Salvaging the Past
- Circus and the City
- The Islands of Benoît Mandelbrot: Fractals, Chaos, and the Materiality of Thinking
- Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones
- Staging Fashion
- American Christmas Cards
- Knoll Textiles, 1945-2010
- Objects of Exchange
- Dutch New York
- Thomas Hope
- Visiting the BGC
- Gallery Programs
- Gallery Publications
- About the Gallery