Salvaging the Past: Georges Hoentschel and French Decorative Arts from The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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.
Daniëlle Kisluk-Grosheide is curator of European sculpture and decorative arts at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Deborah L. Krohn is associate professor and coordinator for History and Theory of Museums at Bard Graduate Center.
Ulrich Leben is a visiting professor and special exhibitions curator at Bard Graduate Center and associate curator for the furniture collection at Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire.