September 16, 1939:
Ten exhibitions are already on the Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition schedule for the 1939-1940 season. As an opener, in order to be current with the style news, an exhibition of a more or less preliminary character opened on Saturday, September 9th, called Style Foundations--Corsets and Fashions of Yesterday and Today, to run through October 1st.
The first exhibition of the season opens on Friday, September 22nd, and will be called “Long Island in the 70’s". It will be a showing of some 160 prints of Brooklyn and Long Island scenes taken from a collection of over 2000 negatives of scenes in Long Island, Connecticut, New Jersey and the Hudson Valley, taken by George B. Brainard and acquired by the Museum twenty years ago. Only recently these negatives were brought to light by the Photographic Department. It will exhibit a cross section of the Long Island subjects and will demonstrate the character of the hundreds of records that Brainard made during his busy photographing days. Closing date is October 8th.
In memory of William A. Putnam, who made possible the Museum’s Print Room, an exhibition will be arranged to be called “The Putnam Memorial Print Exhibition” to run from October 7th through the 29th. It will consist of prints by Rembrandt, the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Putnam, and other graphic material from the Brooklyn Museum collection.
The year’s accessions will be put on view from Saturday, October 14th, through Sunday, the 29th.1 This will be followed by the first large comprehensive show of the season which will be as complete a collection as possible of masks, drawing for the most part from the Museum’s own possessions. The masks are to be shown in groups according to use. The exhibition will run from Tuesday, October 24th, to Monday, January 1st.
Following will be a watercolor exhibition which will form a memorial to both George Pearse Ennis and Paul L. Gill. This will be shown from Saturday, November 4th, through Sunday, November 26th. This is the last opening scheduled for the calendar year. After the first of the year on Wednesday, January 17th, there will be an extensive showing of the work of Eastman Johnson to run through Sunday, February 25th. Work has been under way for several months to collect examples of this painter that have not been shown before.
On February 9th an exhibition of etchings by Rodolphe Bresdin will be put on view through Sunday, March 31st.
The second large exhibition of the year will be a complete costume show, drawn, as the mask exhibition will be, principally from the Museum’s own collection. This exhibition will open on Tuesday, March 12th, and continue through Sunday, May 5th.
The last exhibition to open this season according to the present schedule will be that of Brooklyn Artists, which will be on view from Friday, April 5th, to Sunday, the 28th. From time to time there will be small special exhibitions that will take form during the season.
LIST BELOW, ABOVE INFORMATION IN TABULAR FORM
Style Foundations---Corsets and Fashions of Yesterday and Today. September 9th through October 1st.
Photographs by George B. Brainard. “Long Island in the 70s.” September 22nd through October 8th.
Putnam Memorial Print Exhibition. October 7th through October 29th.
Recent Accessions. October 14th through October 29th.
Masks, October 24th through January 1st.
George Pearse Ennis and Paul L. Gill Watercolor Exhibition. November 4th through November 26th.
Eastman Johnson Exhibition. January 17th through February 25th.
Rodolphe Bresdin Exhibition. February 9th through March 31st.
Costume Show. March 12th through May 5th.
Brooklyn Artists. April 5th through April 28th.
October 14, 1939:
An exhibition of a selection from the Brooklyn Museum’s accessions since the first of June will be put on view at the Museum Saturday, October 14th, and will run through Sunday, the 29th.
The outstanding additions to the collections are a group of ceramics from Colombia and Ecuador, a Mexican stone figure, a Benin tusk and Benin bronzes, all of which are assigned to the Department of American Indian Art and Primitive Cultures; a varied collection of 19th and 20th Century American costumes and accessories, assigned to the Department of American Rooms and Textiles; several oil paintings and water colors, assigned to the Department of Paintings and Sculpture; and several prints have been added to the Print Collection.
From Benin on the Guinea Coast, west coast of Africa, the Museum has received, in exchange with the University Museum of Philadelphia for some Peruvian textiles, a carved elephant’s tusk, an object of extreme rarity and monetary values It is thought to have been a king’s fetish. Then in use it was set upright, supported by a bronze head, on the altar in a Juju house or temple. Figures are carved on the tusk representing a deceased king and a fish-man with two crocodiles issuing from his head, a number of men holding spears, a European with a crossbow and an ibis with a catfish in its bill. The supporting bronze head is also part of the acquisition and is a portrait of the king with a royal headdress simulating bead work. There are also four other bronze objects: a standing figure of a bird, two bronze arm bands and a plaque with a figure in relief of a warrior carrying a baldric and sword; such plaques are said to have adorned the pillars and walls of the king’s residence. Bronze casting is considered to have reached its highest artistic perfection in the world in Benin. Benin flourished as far back as the 14th Century when it was discovered by the Portuguese.
The collection of pottery is from the northern district of El Angel, Ecuador, and the western district of Esmeraldas, Ecuador, and was secured by Dr. Herbert J. Spinden, Curator of the Department of American Indian Art and Primitive Cultures, on his trip to South America in 1938. Some examples of negative painting on the objects that Dr. Spinden found in Ecuador illustrate the distribution of curtain methods of decoration from Mexico to Peru. Dr. Spinden as an internationally famous archeologist and museum representative was able to secure special permission from the governments of Ecuador and Colombia to take the objects out of the countries. The pottery specimens which he brought back from Colombia represent various cultures and augment the Museum’s collection of Colombian material, secured at the same time, which has been on exhibition since last spring. Still other objects that arc to be shown are pre-Spanish pottery figurines and modern costume material from Ecuador.
In the costume and accessories accessions there is a particularly important group, given anonymously, which includes four dresses of silk, velvet, satin and taffeta respectively, a taffeta blouse, a white satin and mother of pearl fan and a purple silk parasol.
In the Department of Paintings and Sculpture, the most important accession is a water color entitled “Jeune Fille a l’Ombrelle Rouge” by Andre Dunoyer de Segonzac, well-known contemporary French artist; next in importance is a water color “Girl on 14th Street” by Reginald Marsh, well-known contemporary American artist. Two other items worthy of special mention are an oil painting entitled “Church at Stoke Pogis, England” and one entitled “Grimes Hill, Staten Island” by J. R. Cropsey, an American artist who lived from 1823 to 1900. Those pictures wore given by Mrs. A. M. Allen. Other paintings acquired are a water color entitled “Flowers” by G. Aubry, gift of Mr. Robert Lebel of Paris; a water color “Girl on Fourteenth Street” by Reginald Marsh, American, 20th Century; a water color “Still Life” by Francis Chapin, American, 20th Century; a water color “Fire” by Clay Bartlett, American, 20th Century; and an oil painting “East River” by John Koch, American, 20th Century, the last four paintings mentioned having been received as a gift from the Friends of Southern Vermont Artists through Mrs. Harlan Miller of Arlington, Vermont; an oil painting “Landscape” by Andre Derain, 1880- , (Anon); an oil painting “Moudon, Val Flouri” by Jean-Francois Raffaelli, French, 1850-1924, (Anon.); a pastel “Night” by Vincent Canade, (Anon.); and a paste1 “New Mexico” by Marsden Hartley, (Anon.).
The accessions to the Department of Prints and Drawings will be included in the Putnam Memorial Print Exhibition which opens Saturday, October 7th, and also runs through Sunday, the 29th.
A list of the other accessions follows: A group of men’s and women’s costume accessories given by Mrs. M. P. Mangam of Brooklyn; two 19th Century American silk dresses and accessories given by Mr. William J. Whittemore of New York City; an American 19th Century child’s dress, given by Miss Mary F. Street of Brooklyn; a Spanish 19th Century black lace mantilla, gift of Mrs. Florence Harvey Lindor of Groton, Massachusetts; two American dresses of 1911 and 1917 and a 19th Century parasol, lingerie petticoat and nightgowns, four child’s dresses, two infant’s shirts and an infant’s petticoat, gift of Mrs. Arthur S. Walcott of Brooklyn; and an American 19th Century wool jacket and blouse and a child’s dress, given by Miss Katherine Wyckoff of New York City; two flowered taffeta dresses, a taffeta blouse, a child’s baptismal robe, an infant’s dress, slip and two caps from the period of l760-1786 given by Mrs. Ira B. Downs of Bellport, Long Island; a French 19th Century dress and lace handkerchief, given anonymously; an American 19th Century man’s waistcoat, given by Mrs. Lewis Bennett of Brooklyn; and a three piece Albanian costume, given by Miss Elsa Chapin of Brooklyn. In the Department of American Rooms and Textiles there has been added a French Empire gilt bronze clock, given by Mrs. Frederick A. Yenni through Mrs. Arthur S. Walcott.
October 18, 1939:
An important canvas by the famous American painter, Thomas Eakins, entitled “William Rush Carving His Allegorical Figure of the Schuylkill River” has just been acquired by the Brooklyn Museum through the Babcock of Gallery of New York City. The Museum is adding it immediately to its current exhibition of Recent Accessions which runs through Sunday, October 29th. After that it will be shown in the exhibition the 31st this month called “Paintings by Thomas Eakins” at the Kleeman Galleries which will be arranged in cooperation with that gallery and the Babcock Gallery.
The picture is signed on the scroll in the center at the bottom “Eakins 1908”. According to Lloyd Goodrich in his volume “Thomas Eakins, his Life and Work”, this later version of a theme on which Eakins first worked in 1877, fell in the decade 1900-1910, his period of greatest production in which he did some of his most important pictures.
This acquisition supplements other works by Eakins that are already in the Museum’s collection which consist of two landscapes and two portraits.
The painting is interesting aside from its aesthetic merits because it depicts the first native born American sculptor at work. According to Eakins’ own statement “William Rush was a celebrated Sculptor and Ship Carver of Philadelphia. His works were finished in wood, and consisted of figure-heads and scrolls for vessels, ornamented statues and tobacco signs called Pompeys. When, after the Revolution, American ships began to go to London, crowds visited the wharves there to see the works of this Sculptor.
“When Philadelphia established its water-works to supply Schuylkill water to the inhabitants, “William Rush, then a member of the Water Committee of Councils, was asked to carve a suitable statue to commemorate the inauguration of the system. He made a female figure of wood to adorn Centre Square at Broad Street and Market, the site of the water-works, the Schuylkill water coming to that place through wooden logs. The figure was afterwards removed to the forebay at Fairmount where it still stands. Some years ago a bronze copy was made and placed in old Fairmount near the Callowhill Street bridge. This copy enables the present generation to see the elegance and beauty of the statue, for the wooden original has been painted and sanded each year to preserve it. The bronze founders burned and removed the accumulation of paint before moulding. This done, and the bronze successfully poured, the original was again painted and restored to the forebay.
“Rush chose for his model the daughter of his friends and colleague in the water committee, Mr. James Vanuxem, an esteemed merchant.
“The statue is an allegorical representation of the Schuylkill River. The woman holds aloft a bittern, a bird loving and much frequenting the quiet dark wooded river of those days. A withe of willow encircles her head, and willow binds her waist, and the wavelets of the wind—sheltered stream are shown in the delicate thin drapery, much after the manner of the French artists of’ that day whose influence was powerful in America. The idle end unobserving have called this statue Leda and the Swan, and it is now generally so miscalled.
“The shop of William Rush was on Front Street just below Callowhill, and I found several very old people who still remembered it and described it. The scrolls and drawings on the wall are from sketches in an original sketch book of William Rush preserved by an apprentice and left to another ship carver.
“The figure of Washington seen in the background is in Independence Hall. Rush was a personal friend of Washington and served in the Revolution. Another figure of Rush’s in the background now adorns the wheel house at Fairmount. It also is allegorical. A female figure seated on a piece of machinery turns with her hand a water wheel, and a pipe behind her pours water into a Greek vase.”