Beacon Hill Seminars: Worcester Art Museum Trip

On May 1st, we had the pleasure of visiting the Worcester Art Museum with the members of our Beacon Hill Seminar series!  Director Emeritus Jim Welu kindly met us for lunch and took us on a personal, post-lunch tour of the museum.

Since Jim gave two lectures during the seminar, we were familiar with some of the work at the museum, however, it's Jim's stories and the history of the works that really make the museum come alive! 

Jim talking about a piece by Gilbert Stuart -- part of the American Art Collection

We loved hearing all the stories Jim has collected over the years about the pieces.  Whether it was a piece he helped bring to the museum or a work that has an illustrious history, such as the stolen Rembrandt, Jim knows the museum so well that in fact he is in the process of writing a book about its history.

Andrea del Sarto, 'Saint John the Baptist', Oil on Panel transfered to Canvas, 1517

The story behind the acquisition of 'Saint John the Baptist' by Andrea del Sarto is one of our group's most favorite. 

One of only a few Sarto paintings in America, it was brought here in the mid-nineteenth century.  Once it arrived, it spent time on loan at the Worcester Art Museum, it then traveled to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  While the painting was on loan at the MFA, its owner passed away and the piece was returned to his children.  They decided to donate the piece to a church in Worcester the owner had attended.

Over time the piece was forgotten at the church -- until 1977 when the museum was contacted to take a look at some works that were being sold to raise funds.  Jim went over to the church and discovered the Sarto on the floor behind a few other things.  Though it was dirty -- Jim could almost immediately tell what it was!  He brought it back to the museum and the excellent conservators were able to bring it back to its full glory. 

In addition to all the beautiful works and rotating exhibitions that Worcester has to offer, the museum has renowned art classes and a vigorous conservation program.

Seminarians contemplating Rembrandt's 'St. Bartholomew' -- a piece that was once stolen from WAM

The glass roof and second floor balconies overlooking the Renaissance Courtyard

In an effort to get fresh contemporary work on view, the museum started The Wall at WAM -- a rotating series that brings artists into the museum to create a site specific work for the Renaissance Court's second story wall.  The 17 x 67-foot expanse overlooks the 6th-century Antioch Roman mosaics, including the Worcester Hunt.  Part of the current project These Days of Maiuma, by husband & wife team Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, can be seen in the above right photo.

A view looking onto on of the Antioch Mosaics - The Worcester Hunt Mosaic

If you haven't been to the Worcester Art Museum yet -- it is a must!  The museum has an amazing collection of American & European art and is a hidden gem just outside Boston.  We are so thankful that Jim took the time to share his knowledge with us. 

'Saint John the Baptist' photo courtesy of the Worcester Art Museum.

Framed Friday: Museum of Fine Arts

Today, we decided to go outside the gallery for our frames.  This week, we had the pleasure of playing host to new gallery artist -- Daniele Cestari!  Daniele is from Ferrara, Italy but is currently in the midst of spending two months in the United States.  It is always fun to explore your city with someone who has never been there.  We took him to some of our favorite places -- along with discovering new favorites! 

All this fun took us on a Wednesday night visit to the MFA.  Though we were only there for a few hours, we all loved walking around and seeing some of our favorite pieces!  While there are hundreds of frames we could have chosen -- from simple to elaborate -- we chose to feature a frame in a frame.  These beautiful frames can be found on Level 1 in Room 137 -- 18th Century Furniture: Design & Construction.

The shadows that are cast below each frame are just as elegant at the frames themselves.

Thank you to Daniele for a wonderful week -- and a reminder to everyone to visit their local art museum once a month!

Framed Friday: Joshua Flint

Happy Friday!  After three weeks of featuring detailed frames, this week we are going simple.  Sometimes simple and modern work better depending on the painting.  This recently arrived piece from Joshua Flint is titled 'Perfect Temerature'.  Appropriately named as our weather has been all over the place this week!

Joshua Flint, 'Perfect Temperature', 18 x 18, Oil on Panel.

The flat black frame allows Josh's gorgeous color palette to stand out.  Views of the inner and outer corners allow you to see the depth of the frame.  The clean lines of the frame also work to complement the drip affect on the painting, the more organic shape of the figures, and the structured lines of the architecture.  

Stop by to see Josh's piece in person and be sure to check out his great blog!

Framed Friday: Jussi Poyhonen

This beautiful painting and quaint frame come to us from Jussi Poyhonen.  Jussi, originally from Finland, spent some time with studying with Odd Nerdrum as well as studying at the Florence Academy of Art and the University of Art and Design in Helsinki, for a number of years before moving to Florida.  He has recently returned to Florence in order to teach at the Academy.  

Jussi Poyhonen, 'Olivia', 7 x 8, Oil on Panel.

This picture shows a bit of the profile of the frame, with the scoop.  It's such a detailed frame for the size of the piece.  The gilding is beautifully burnished with a crimson finish.

One of the best details on the frame is this metal hanger.  Most frames from Florence come with this for hanging, instead of being wired.  It creates a nice accent. 

Keep an eye out for some more beautiful frames from Jussi.  He recently sent us four landscapes that were painted and framed in Florence.  Jussi says that many of the Florentine framers still do the gilding themselves.


Framed Friday: Carlo Russo

It's Friday again!  This week we are happy to feature a frame, and painting, by Carlo Russo.  Carlo is another one of our artists who makes his own frames.  Having been to his studio, and seen him working through this frame, we know how much he thinks about the color, profile, and finish on his frames.

Carlo Russo, 'Dreams of Ophelia', 22 x 29, Oil on Linen.

Carlo did an amazing job with the gold leaf detail.  The gold picks up on the browns and tans of the painting, playing off her skin tone perfectly.  The frame looks classic, even though it was only made a few months ago. 

If you haven't seen this painting or frame in person, be sure to stop by the gallery soon!  It's hanging in a prime spot behind the nook desk!

Our First Ever: Framed Friday!

We are happy to be starting our weekly blog post called Framed Friday!  Every Friday, we will be featuring our favorite frame from the week.  Sometimes they will be on pieces we have in the gallery and sometimes they will be from places we have visited. 

This week we'd like to show you this beautiful frame (and painting) by Justin Hess. Justin makes all his own frames so that each frame is its own work of art to compliment each painting.


Justin Hess, 'Chinese Vase with Almond Blossoms', 24 x 16, Oil on Linen.

Justin goes in to depth about how in make frames in his book Controlling the Creative Process: A Painter's Guide to Methods & Materials.  He talks about coloring frames, adding gold leaf, and creating a texture.  Please feel free to stop by the gallery to take a look through Justin's book, which talks about more than just framing or purchase a copy for yourself here.


Museum Visit: Worcester Art Museum

Just before the holidays, Ali had a chance to visit the Worcester Art Museum.  Joined by Beacon Hill Seminars collaborators, she met with Director Emeritus James Welu for a wonderful lunch and tour of the museum.  They talked about the gallery's upcoming seminar, Object, Manner, and Means: The Rebirth of Representational Painting, for which Mr. Welu will be a guest lecturer.  

Mr. Welu specializes in seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish art, and was the WAM Director from 1986 - 2011.  Under Mr. Welu's direction, the museum was the first to: create an Art All-State program for high-school artists (1987), originate an exhibition of Dutch Master Judith Leyster (1993), and to focus its contemporary art program on art of the last 10 years (1998).  We cannot wait to hear what Mr. Welu has to share with us on February 6th to kick off the seminar!

Two postcards from the Worcester Art Museum. Left: 'The Fur Jacket: Arrangement in Black and Brown', James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Oil on Canvas, 1877. Right: 'Girl Playing Solitaire', Frank W. Benson, Oil on Canvas, 1909.

For those who haven't had the pleasure of visiting the Worcester Art Museum, the museum houses over 35,000 pieces that span over fifty centuries.  Opened to the public in 1896, the museum has seen a great number of firsts in growing its collection, including being the first museum in the nation to purchase works by Claude Monet.                                                                                    

In addition to the wonderful art and building architecture, the museum offers numerous educational programs for all ages.  The library, which is run in collaboration with the College of the Holy Cross, contains nearly 45,000 titles and an equal number of slides, available for loan.  The museum also has a state-of-the-art conservation department. 

If you are looking for a fun day trip we recommend checking out the Worcester Art Museum!  The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, with late hours (until 8pm) every 3rd Thursday of the month. 

Boston Athenæum

Ali and gallery friend Paul took a quick visit to the Boston Athenæum yesterday afternoon. After being greeted by these beautiful doors, she knew she was in for a treat!

Founded in 1807, the Athenæum was modeled after the Athenæum and Lyceum in Liverpool and contained "the great works of learning and science in all languages."  The great works, however, were not limited to books, but extended to include art and artifacts.  Though it changed locations often during its early years, it has called 10 1/2 Beacon Street home since 1849 when its current building was completed by architect Edward Clarke Cabot.  Since then it has received a few updates and additions to accommodate the growing collection but the feel as remained consistent, a place that "serves as a stimulating center for discussions among scholars, bibliophiles, and a variety of community-interest groups."

Boston Athenaeum Doors at 10 1/2 Beacon Street.

The Athenæum's current art collection contains over 600 paintings and sculptures.  Since its founding in 1870, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has always had a close relationship with the Athenæum.  The MFA's early exhibitions were held at the Athenæum and when the MFA got a building in 1876, the Athenæum placed a major portion of its art collection in the museum. 

In celebration of that partnership, the Athenæum is opening an exhibition titled Brilliant Beginnings: The Athenæum and the Museum in Boston.  Set to open February 12, 2013 and run through August 3, 2013, the exhibit will feature diverse artifacts from the Athenæum's collection that have special meaning to the early collaborations between the two institutions. 

Enrico Meneghelli, 'Picture Gallery of the Boston Athenaeum', 1876. Photograph from the Boston Athenaeum.

Today, in addition to its wonderful collection of books, art, and artifacts, the Athenæum offers a variety of events including bringing in leading authors, hosting lectures and discussion groups, concerts, and art exhibitions, wine and cheese receptions, and events for kids in the children's library.  

We encourage anyone who hasn't visited the Athenæum to spend a little time there!