The Making of Style: Introducing French Decorative Arts to New York
Ulrich Leben
Bard Graduate Center


Thursday, February 23, 2012


6:00 pm – 8:00 pm


BGC, 38 West 86th Street


FREE Adult



Ulrich Leben is currently the Special Exhibitions Curator at the BGC where is working on projects related to Georges Hoentschel and Charles Percier. Dr. Leben studied at the Ecole du Louvre in Paris, and the Freie Universität Berlin, specializing in the history of Western decorative arts and object design, writing his dissertation on the well-known Parisian cabinet-maker Bernard Molitor. He is also Associate Curator for the Furniture Collection at Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire and Curator of the refurbishment project of the Residence of the German Ambassador at Hôtel Beauharnais in Paris. Dr. Leben has written extensively on furniture design and cabinet making, a subject that he has also explored in several museum exhibitions. In 2004 he published his book Object Design in the Age of Enlightenment.

Theodore Dell Collection and Archive

Charles Ryscamp, former director of the Frick Collection noted that Theodore Dell’s library of eighteenth century decorative arts is perhaps the most important in existence. Assembled over forty years, this extensive body of material consists of books, museum catalogues, sale catalogues, commercial gallery exhibition catalogues, journals and magazines that are relevant to the study of French decorative arts. What sets this collection apart is that it appears to be the only collection in the United States focused on French decorative arts created intentionally for the use of students and scholars. Earlier this year the BGC acquired the collection and hopes to begin the challenging process of organizing, cataloguing, and eventually incorporating this material into our library.

A reception will follow the lecture.

Secretary (secrétaire à abattant), 1783
Jean-Henri Riesener (French, 1734–1806)
Oak veneered with ebony and black and gold Japanese lacquer, tulipwood, holly and black stained holly, amaranth, gilt-bronze mounts, white marble

H. 57 x W. 43 x D. 16 in. (144.8 x 109.2 x 40.6 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Bequest of William K. Vanderbilt, 1920 (20.155.11)

Event, Gallery Talk