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Napoleonic Relics, Gift of Marion Reilly

DATES April 11, 1929 through date unknown, 1929
COLLECTIONS Decorative Arts
  • April 5, 1929: The announcement of the next exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum will be by means of special press view rather than the usual mailed newspaper release. For that reason we are writing to invite you or a representative to attend the special press view on Tuesday afternoon, April 9th, at 3:30. At that time the Director and Curators of the Museum will be available to answer questions. Detailed announcement of new material will be made then and a visit will be paid to the new galleries.

    The meeting will be held in the office of the Director on the fourth floor. After seeing the exhibition, tea will be served.

    Summarized briefly, the announcement will consist of the first showing of the Marion Reilly Bequest of objects relating to Napoleon, consisting of a large variety of prints and objects of art; a large gallery of recent accessions, none of which have been announced heretofore; and the formal opening of the enlarged Department of Decorative Arts.

    Enclosed is a card giving directions for reaching the Museum.

    Yours truly,
    ARTHUR H. TORREY
    for the Brooklyn Museum

    AHT:FS

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1916 - 1930. 01-03/1929, 042. View Original
  • Date unknown, approximately 1929: SPRING EXHIBITION

    The spring exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum which will be formally presented to the Museum members at a reception and tea on Friday afternoon, April 12, consists of the official presentation to the public of the bequest of rare prints and characteristic objects that came into being during the career of Napoleon Bonaparte and a large gallery of recent accessions. Along with these exhibitions the enlarged galleries of the Department of Decorative Arts will also be given their first formal presentation.

    THE REILLEY REQUEST

    As result of a clause in the Will of Marion Reilly Ph.D. the well-known educator, the Brooklyn Museum received her entire Napoleonic collection. Miss Reilly was one of America’s famous women scholars. She was graduate of Bryn Mawr and then did post-graduate work Göttingen, Oxford, Cambridge and Rome, and was Dean of Bryn Mawr for period of twelve years. She was one of the best-known mathematicians in the country and highly esteemed for her leadership in many progressive public movements. Her intellectual curiosity lead her into almost every department of culture. Anyone who expected to find a cold, aloof person in Miss Reilly because she was a methematician and of advanced mentality was entirely mistaken, as she was extremely womanly, witty, modest and retiring.

    As a mental recreation, she made a study of the career of Napoleon and built up a remarkable collection of books, illustrations and other objects relating to the famous soldier. she made her collection in New York, Philadelphia and Europe.

    She put special emphasis on prints with the result that she acquired some seven hundred, including extremely rare ones. The collection, as it came to the Museum, consisted of nearly 1500 numbers. Although it is not necessarily the largest collection of its kind made by an American, it is one of the best rounded-out and well-balanced to be found.

    Summarized briefly, it consists of a library of 250 volumes, 700 prints of various kind including caricatures, lithographs, etchings, steel plates and copper plates, and a large group of decorative objects of all kinds fro general use, in which Napoleon, his family and his ideas were memorialized. these objects are in the form of jewelry, snuff boxes, miniatures, statues, chinaware, Toby jugs, pipes, etc. These are interesting as demonstrating the strong hold Napoleon had on the public's imagination. He and his admirers understood their value in popularizing his name and projects and gladly encouraged their production.

    A large L-shaped gallery on the second floor is given over to this exhibition and is decorated with furniture and draperies characteristic of the period. The green hangings with the universally-known capital "N" in gold and gold decorative devices were made for the last Beaux Arts Ball in New York City.

    The print collection is shown in groups. The first follows the chronological order of Napoleon's career. It begins with scenes relating to the trial of Louis XVI and the arrest of the Robespierre. It follows Napoleon from pre-revolutionary days through his emerging from the Revolution and becoming a successful military officer, his career as First Consul, Consul for Life and Emperor. Then comes the period of the great victories and campaigns, his defeat at Leipzig, his banishment to Elba, his return and reign of One Hundred Days, final defeat at Waterloo, banishment to St. Helena, his death and the return of his body some year later to Paris where it was entombed at Les Invalides.

    A second group is composed of prints representing the conception of the Napoleon story as reflected in the work of artists of our own times, such as Messonier, Detaille, Flameng, Orchardsen, etc. Another includes caricatures by Gillray, Cruikshank and other English, Dutch and German artists; another a group of Pellerin prints - crude color prints which were distributed by the thousands throughout France to uphold the Napoleon propaganda; a group of color prints of Napoleon and his period done in serious vein; and a find collection of military illustrations by Raffet and Charlot, some of which were proofs before letters (Namely, those struck off at the printer's where they were being bound in a book, before they were given captions). There is also a collection of original sketches of Napoleon by Charlet, Schmidt and others.

    In addition to these prints there are some original documents. One of the most interesting of these is some extracts from the journal of Dr. O'Meara, Napoleon's physician, written in his own hand and sent by his brother Joseph after Napoleon's death.

    The third classification of this exhibition consists of various objects, some of which have been mentioned above. There is, for instance, furniture of the period, some of which belongs to the Museum and the rest from a loan by Mrs. J. W. Alexander. Other related objects from the Museum's permanent collection have been put on view. They are a lace flounce made at Napoleon's order for Empress Marie Louise, his second wife, showing the Imperial bees; a muff of flamingo feathers one the property of Hortense Beauharnais, Queen of Holland and step-daughter of Napoleon; and leather case carried by Napoleon in his campaigns which is designated as a case for carrying clippings and messages which Napoleon received concerning his reputation in foreign countries, the last lent by Mrs. Arthur M. Blake.

    RECENT ACCESSIONS

    The new gallery of accessions to the Museum's permanent collections is the result of acquisitions of the last two or three months which are given their first public showing. They consist of a large group of oil paintings, water colors, drawings and sculpture from the Department of Fine Arts, pottery, furniture and costumes which will be exhibited in the Department of Decorative Arts and several objects which will be on permanent exhibition in the Department of Ethnology.

    In the section of oil paintings the two outstanding works are Museum purchases, the first "Mme. Boursier and Daughter" by Berthe Morisot, well-known exponent of the French Impressionist School, and "Golgotha" by Franz von Stuck, the well-known German painter who died while the collection of paintings by Bavarian artists, organized by Dr. Carl von Marr of Munich and the Brooklyn Museum, was touring the country. There is also a little painting entitled "Landscape" by Cornelius van Poelenburgh (1586-1660), the gift of Mrs. Arthur M. Blake, and a painting of John White Chadwick's dog by Abbott H. Thayer, the gift of Mrs. John White Chadwick.

    From the more recent French School is "La Tour de Gros Horloege à Bagnols-sur-Cèze" by Albert André, purchased by the Museum. Andre' was a close friend of Renoir and stayed by him during his struggling days when he was not appreciated. The picture belonging to the Museum was painted from the window of the Art Museum in Bagnols, of which M. Andre' is now Honorary Curator-in-Chief. This dignity was conferred upon him for his work on behalf of the museum. At one time its collections were very much neglected and showed no signs of growth, so he persuaded his friends, such as Renoir and other members of the Impressionist School, to contribute paintings to it. This was at a time when these men were little known. The result is that this museum now has a surprisingly representative collection for an institution of its size of many of the leaders of the Impressionist movement. Also from general period is a collection of studies by the famous Dutch draughtsman who worked in France, Constantin Guys. These works are seven drawings and two water colors purchased by the Museum.

    At the exhibition of the New Society of Artists, the Museum acquired by purchase the oil painting, "Girl Meditating" by Adolphe Borie, as well as "right to the Jaw", a small bronze by Mahonri Young. Another piece of sculpture put on view for the first time is the "The Virgin" in white marble by Adolfo Wildt, an Italian sculptor, one of the five chosen to adorn the Italian Victory Monument at Balzano. Wildt, who lives in Milan, became known in this country by his figures shown in the First Exhibition of Modern Italian Art in which the marble surface was treated with a patina which gives the impression of porcelain or ivory and it very suitable, for Wildt's method of sculpture consists of simplified surfaces all exquisitely chiseled.

    As a result of the recent large Water Color and Drawing Exhibition, the Museum is showing its purchases from it, which are: "Golden Lilies" by Carles Avery Aiken, "Sommer Bros. Stoves and Hardware" by Clarence H. Carter, "Afternoon Light" by J. Frank Copeland, "Red Roofs" by Julius Delbos, "Fog Lifting" by Henry G. Keller, "Native Huts" by Robert Martin, "Charcoal Drawing" by Frank Mura, "Lugietta" by Frank H. Schwarz, "Jungle Stream, Santo Domingo" by Carl Sprinchorn and "The Cabin - Tennessee" by John Whorf.

    Other objects acquired for the Department of Fine Arts are "The Mission" and "Mexican Huts on the Ranch", water colors by Charles W. Hawthorne, purchased by the Museum; "Flat Tire", a water color by Anne Goldwaite, the gift of Miss Katherine S. Dreier, "Outdoor Costume Party" by William Baxter Closson, the gift of Mrs. William B. Closson and the bust of Giovanni Boldini by Malvina Hoffman. This last is particularly appropriate for the Museum as is links up with the institution's "Portrait of Whistler" by Boldini, on the best known paintings in its contemporary European collection.

    The Department of Decorative Arts has acquired a remarkably large and fine collection of embroidery work of the period of the Stuarts in England, which is commonly known as stumpwork. This consists of 15 pieces, so that there is great variety of work. These were purchased by the Museum. In this same field there is a group of 16 pieces of English and Italian embroideries given by Mrs. J.W. Alexander. The furniture shown in the new accessions gallery consists of a Chippendale-style Pembroke table, a Goddard chair, a Hepplewhite-style Pembroke table, a card table, a marqueterie cupboard and a slant-top desk with claw and ball feet.

    Additions to the Department's fast-growing collections of costumes are shown in two cases containing a child's dress and jacket of printed challis, given by Miss Sara H. Evans, two boy's suits, the gifts of Mr. Rowland M. Beardsley and Mrs. F. W. Hopkins, and a child's dress made in Paris, the gift of Mrs. V. D. Prentiss Lingan.

    There is also a large piece of colored glazed pottery acquired from the Danish National Exhibition, entitled "Octopus and Faun" by Pol and Jean Gaugin. Two pieces of pottery which will be assigned to the classical collections are a Greek and an Etruscan amphora, both of the 5th Century B.C.

    New and interesting objects which have recently been acquired in the Department of Ethnology are two pieces of antique Chinese sculpture, namely, an iron head of Kwan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) and a stone head of Bodhisaltva, both the gift of Mr. Frederic B. Pratt. Other objects which will be assigned to this department are two groups of Javanese masks and a handsome gold lacquer Japanese saddle.

    GALLERIES OF DECORATIVE ARTS

    The galleries of decorative arts are formally presented at this time, as they have now attained an organic arrangement that shows the logical development of the decorative arts in England and America in the 18th and 9th centuries. One gallery, known as the 18th Century Gallery, contains Curopean [sic] and American objects, such a furniture, glass, silver, costumes and textiles. Set apart from this gallery there are collections of pewter, Sandwich glass, porcelain and pottery. The 19th century section is composed almost entirely of costumes and accessories.

    A unique feature of the Museum's collections are the three Scandinavian galleries of decorative arts, of which there are no duplicates in this country. They contain objects from Sweden, Norway and Denmark and in them is included one of the Museum's most recent accessions, a fine speciment of Scandinavian coach work in the form of a large cart drawn by one hose. Many portions of the vehicle are handsomely carved and brightly colored. The Museum acquired this piece through the generosity of Mr. H. F. du Pont, who presented it. America in the 18th and 19th centuries. One gallery known as the 18th Century Gallery, contains Curopean and American objects, such as furniture, glass, silver, costumes and textiles. Set apart from this gallery there are collections of pewter, Sandwich glass, porcelain and pottery. The 19th century section is composed almost entirely of costumes and accessories.

    A unique feature of the Museum's collections are the three Scandinavians galleries of decorative arts, of which there are no duplicates in this country. They contain objects from Sweden, Norway and Denmark and in them is included one of the Museum's most recent accessions, a fine speciment of Scandinavian coach work in the form of a large cart drawn by one horse. Many portions of this vehicle are handsomely carved and brightly colored. The Museum acquired this piece through the generosity of Mr. H. F. du Pont, who presented it.

    Those who have been invited to act as hostesses at the reception and tea at the Brooklyn Museum on Friday afternoon, April 12th, are members and wives of members of the Board of Trustees of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. They are as follows:

    Mrs. Frank Bailey
    Mrs. E. Le Grand Beers
    Mrs. Henry H.Benedict
    Mrs. Edward C. Blum
    Mrs. R. R. Bowker
    Mrs. S. Parkes Cadman
    Mrs. William H. Cary
    Mrs. Frederick E. Crane
    Mrs. John L. Curtin
    Mrs. Mary Childs Draper
    Mrs. James A. Farrell
    Mrs. Sumner Ford
    Mrs. William H. Fox
    Mrs. Lewis W. Francis
    Mrs. Kenneth Fraziell
    Mrs. John W. Frothingham
    Mrs. William H. Good
    Mrs. Edwin Gould
    Mrs. A. Augustus Healy
    Mrs. Henry W. Healy
    Mrs. Ralph Jonas
    Mrs. Luke Vincent Lockwood
    Miss Hilda Loines
    Mrs. William J. Matheson
    Mrs. Edwin P. Maynard
    Mrs. George V. McLaughlin
    Mrs. John Hill Mirgan
    Miss Alice Morse
    Mrs. James H. Post
    Mrs. Frederic B. Pratt
    Mrs. George D. Pratt
    Mrs. G. Foster Smith
    Mrs. Herman Stutzer
    Mrs. John Thomas Underwood
    Mrs. Adrian Van Sinderen
    Mrs. Edwin G. Warner
    Mrs. Alexander M. White

    Those who have been invited to pour tea on this occasion are:
    Mrs. James J. Byrne
    Mrs. John H. McGooey

    and members and wives of members of the Museums Governing Committee, as follows:
    Mrs. Edward C. Blum
    Mrs. Mary Childs Draper
    Mrs. William H. Fox
    Mrs. Kenneth Frazier
    Mrs. William H. Good
    Mrs. A. Augustus Healy
    Mrs. Luke Vincent Lockwood
    Mrs. John Hill Morgan
    Mrs. Frederic B. Pratt
    Mrs. William A. Putnam



    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1916 - 1930. 04-06/1929, 043-8. View Original 1 . View Original 2 . View Original 3 . View Original 4 . View Original 5 . View Original 6
  • April 13, 1929: Remarks made by the French Consul-General M. Maxime Mongendre, at the official opening on April 12th of the Exhibition of objects relating to Napoleon bequeathed to the Museum by Marion Reilly, Ph.D. of Philadelphia.

    "We may consider ourselves fortunate, I believe, to be present on this occasion which marks the inauguration, not only of an important exhibition of souvenirs of the brilliant period of Napoleon, but also as a real exhibition of Fine Arts.

    "First I want to congratulate Mr. William Henry Fox, Director of the Museums of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences and the Museums Governing Committee, upon the earnestness of their efforts in providing in the splendid way for the better general understanding of French Art and French History.

    "We of France are keenly susceptible of the artistic heritage which we have obtained from the past.

    "But we are also hopeful that the benefits of this inheritance may be enjoyed by other nations more and more throughout the World.

    "'The people of the United States have not been tardy in showing their appreciation of the Art of France. Indeed they have been among the foremost in paying recognition to French Art of all times.

    "There is no stronger indication of this spirit than the present exhibition which itself is made possible by the generosity of Marion Reilly and of so many of your distinguished collectors and institutions of Art.

    "The exhibition which the Brooklyn Museum has prepared here for us, celebrates in a way these magnificent results, for it was they who contributed by their splendid efforts more than anybody else to that victory.

    "On behalf of the Government of France, I desire to express my hearty wishes for the success of this exhibition of collections relating to Napoleon and for the prosperity of the Brooklyn Museum which is the powerful echo of Universal life.

    "In the name of the Government of the Republic of France which I have the honor to represent here today, I declare this exhibition open."

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1916 - 1930. 04-06/1929, 049. View Original
Napoleonic Relics, Gift of Marion Reilly