December 5, 1929: A comprehensive exhibition of rugs from the Near East is being arranged at the Brooklyn Museum to be opened to the public the middle of December. It will consist of pieces carefully selected by Mr. Ernest G. Metcalfe from his famous private collection of Near East rugs and will comprise from 75 to 100 pieces. There will be examples shown from the earliest known rugs of their kind up to the middle of the 19th Century when the decadence of these rugs began to appear. The exhibition will fall into four categories: first, the rare and choice 14th,15th and 16th Century pieces; second, prayer rugs in which Mr. Metcalfe specializes; third, the rugs made by skilled artisans for the courts of the nobility; fourth, examples from the Caucasian states which are the type best known in this country.
The exhibition is particularly appropriate at this time in connection with the recent opening of the 19 early American rooms at the Museum as the Near East rugs were much sought after and considered very choice by our Colonial ancestors. Mr. Metcalfe had already lent several of his rugs to make possible the proper furnishing of the rooms in time for the opening.
The several exhibition will include several fine pieces of the last period and for that reason should be unusually interesting to the present-day public The show will be arranged on the third floor of the Museum and will be opened to the public on December 16th.
Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1916 - 1930. 10-12/1929, 094.
December 5, 1929: According to the report of Dr. Fox, Director of the Museum, a great deal of the energy of the staff of the Museum was put into preparing for the exhibitions which opened on December 2nd. These exhibitions were the remarkable installation of nineteen early American rooms, one of the most important additions that has been made to the Museum's exhibits, and the exhibition of paintings by the late Walter Shirlaw and a group of his pupila, as well as an exhibition of Paintings by John R. Koopman and members of his Brooklyn Institute class of painting and drawing. This took up the energies of both the Departments of Fine Arts and Decorative Arts for the last few weeks.
It was somehow found possible by the Decorative Arts Department to take time to prepare an exhibition of Italian textiles which was shown at the Carroll Park Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library and at which there was an attendance of 3500 persons.
Another event of major importance was the opening of the exhibition of modern Norwegian Prints in the Print Gallery with a first view and tea. This was the first showing of an Exhibition that is to go on tour throughout the museums of the country.
The Department of Ethnology announces two new exhibitions in the course of preparation, that of the rugs of the Near East from the collection of Mr. Ernest G. Metcalfe, which opens on December 16th, and an exhibition of drawings by American Indians, mostly from the collection of Miss A. E. White. This latter exhibition is to be opened about January 15th.
The attendance of 34,705 at the Central Museum for the month covered by the report is accounted for in great part by the 35 separate events such as lectures and special gallery talks which were given by the Department of Natural Science and the Department of Education.
Plans announced by the latter department are those for a Christmas Play to be given for the entertainment of the crippled children on the afternoons of December 18th and December 21st in the place of the story hour. The actors will consist of the children who regularly attend the Saturday story hour and the play will be entitled "Why the Chimes Rang" and will be accompanied by music on the new organ.
An interesting part of the report was the discussion of the meetings of the Brooklyn Entomological Society which was founded in 1876 and is the oldest society of its kind in America. It has held its monthly meetings at the Brooklyn Museum since 1912 and has received considerable prestige from this affiliation. It has prospered under this association and its publications have quadrupled in scope and value during that time. Some time ago the society dispensed with its own library in order to strengthen that of the Museum which now has one of the best all-around working libraries in entomology in the country.
Under the heading of accessions some of the most important were an oil painting, "Pont du Carrousel, Paris" by Frank M. Armington, the gift of Mr. Alfred W. Jenkins and an oil painting "Study" by Charles Conder, the gift of Mrs. John W. Alexander.
The report includes a long list of loans made by people interested in early Americana for the purpose of furnishing the new American rooms.
The print Department announces a gift of two etchings by Caroline Armington, presented by Mr. Alfred W. Jenkins and the loan by Mr. William A. Putnam of forty-one prints important for the inclusion of works by such famous names as Cameron, Dürer, Haden, Legros, Claude Lorraine, Meryon, J.F. Millet, Rembrandt, Whistler and Zorn.
An unusual accession in the Department of Ethnology was a Turkish costume from the vicinity of Constantinople dated about 1800, which was purchased.
The Department of Natural Science received from Mr. Manuel Gufstein a short-eared owl in the flesh.
Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1916 - 1930. 10-12/1929, 095a-c.
December 14, 1929: To the City Editors:
There will be a distinctly social event at the Brooklyn Museum from three to six o'clock on Monday afternoon, December 16. It will be a reception and tea for the opening of the special exhibition of Near Eastern rugs lent by Mr. Ernest G. Metcalfe, lawyer, of 33 Rector Street, New York City.
This is an event in which the society editor will be interested and which I presume you will want as a matter of news. In case you cannot send anyone here that day, I am enclosing a release about the opening.
Very truly yours,
ARTHUR H. TORREY
for the Brooklyn Museum
Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1916 - 1930. 10-12/1929, 096.
December 14, 1929: A valuable collection of nearly one hundred choice specimens of Near Eastern rugs from the collection of Mr. Ernest G. Metcalfe, lawyer of 33 Rector Street, New York City, was put in view at the Brooklyn Museum on Monday afternoon. The opening was signalized by a private view consisting of a reception and tea for the Trustees, members of the Museum, Junior League and friends of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest G. Metcalfe. The exhibition is on view in a special gallery on the third floor of the Museum and will be shown for a month.
Practically every kind of Oriental rug with the exception of Chinese is shown in the exhibition. This includes Turkish, Egyptian, Transylvanian, Persian, Caucasian, Kurdish, Tran-Caspian, Turkoman, Samarkand and Indian. Mr. Metcalfe's purpose in displaying this exhibition is to give the public an opportunity to see how fine genuine Near Eastern rugs can be and he brings out the fact in his catalogue that they can be obtained for prices not far from the cost of elaborate contemporary reproductions. The principal difference between old and modern rugs is that the old ones are colored with vegetable dyes which accounts for their present brilliance, where as the new anilene dyes have not stood up under present day usage.
Two examples of fragments of rugs are shown in the exhibition and mark a discovery made by Mr. Metcalfe. On one of his trips to the Near East he made it a point to visit several members of a family and get together pieces in their possession which, when matched up, made a complete rug. The reason for the separation was discovered to be that when the head of the family went to Mecca and returned with the rug which he took with him on the trip he divided it up between the members of his family. This fact Mr. Metcalfe claims to be a discovery of his own as he has never run across the mention of it in any books on rugs.
There are six particularly important rugs. One is a Ladik 18th Century piece and represents the zenith of Turkish rug achievement and examples of this kind in existence can be numbered on the fingers of one hand. This rug bears all of the fine qualities necessary for a superlative prayer rug. Next is a 15th Century Egyptian rug, usually known as a Damascus piece. It is extremely rate and unique in design. The third is a Persian rug known as a Feraghan, definitely dated 1723. It is a perfect example of the Sennah weave and is unique among prayer rugs. Two other rugs which can be considered as a pair are a Kazak and a Georgian of the 17th Century, remarkable for their exquisite colors. Probably the most monumental piece in, the collection is the Caucasian rug known as a Kuba of the 16th Century and an interesting example of the so-called "Dragon and Phoenix" design usually, but incorrectly, known as Armenian. The Mongolian motif in this rug appears with its singular treatment only in examples of this kind which are recognized among the best and most desirable in the world.
Through his art courses at Pratt Institute while a boy Mr. Metcalfe became interested in color and design and was soon attracted to Oriental rugs which offered great possibilities of study. He carried on this interest through his university career at Harvard where he went into the subject further. Since then he has made six trips to the Near East to find rare specimens, the longest of which trips was the last when he stayed six months. He has gatheres together one of the finest collections of Oriental rugs in this country and specializes in prayer rugs. From this standpoint his collection is unsurpassed by any single collector in the country.
Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1916 - 1930. 10-12/1929, 097a-c.
December 14, 1929: To the Society Editor:
This is to remind you that the opening of the exhibition of Mr. Ernest G. Metcalfe's rugs at the Museum will be a society event as he and Mrs. Metcalfe have invited one hundred of their friends and the Junior League of Brooklyn.
Trusting you will be able to cover this personally,
Very truly yours,
ARTHUR H. TORREY
for the Brooklyn Museum
Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1916 - 1930. 10-12/1929, 098.
April 8, 1930: The Metcalfe Collection of Oriental Rugs, whose exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum was scheduled to close in March, is being kept on until the first of May, due to the interest which it has aroused.
Thirty of the pieces were sent to the Long Island. University last Saturday, so that Mr. Metcalfe could give a lecture on Oriental rugs at the annual faculty tea. The results were surprising as the hall where the lecture was given was crowded to capacity and many found it necessary to stand. There were a great many requests for the privilege to attend the lectures even though the tea was an invitation affair. The rugs borrowed for this occasion are now on view again at the Museum.
Since the opening of the exhibition the collection has been augmented so that instead of the ninety rugs which were on view originally there are now one hundred and twenty-four. The two most important additions are a Seljukian rug of the 14th Century and one of the 18th Century.
There are also five of Mr. Metcalfe's rugs now being used in the section of American rooms. These are all Turkish pieces of the 18th Century of the type that was popular in American Colonial times.
Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1916 - 1930. 04-06_1930, 059.