Monday, April 29, 2013


Louis XV style (ca. 1735-45) Lampas Brocade
Salvaging the Past: GEORGES HOENTSCHEL and FRENCH DECORATIVE ARTS. This remarkable but little- known collection was presented to the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a gift in the early 20th century, by J. Pierpont Morgan, one of the great patrons and collectors of the age and president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art at the time. In collaboration between the Metropolitan and the Bard Graduate Center (BGC) the exhibition presents the first comprehensive examination of the Georges Hoentschel, a significant figure in the history of collecting. Hoentschel's collection is the focus of the exhibition, Salvaging the Past, which has an extended run through August 11, 2013. Image: Lous XV style (ca. 1735-45) Lampas brocade, Fontaine et Lustres French ordered by Georges Hoentschel December 1910. Linen, silk frise and lame silver thread.: Manufacture: Prelle, France.

J. PIERPONT MORGAN’S LARGESS Morgan, a man of large gestures and largess, was so impressed with the Hoentschel collection that he had purchased it, en bloc, in the spring of 1906. It took 364 packing crates to ship the collection from Hoentschel’s gallery. Morgan’s collection of medieval and eighteenth –century furnishings, acquired from Hoentschel, was donated by the financier to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, forming the basis of its decorative arts department, which provided an important collection of French decorative arts, unique in the United States at the time. These holdings are the subject of the groundbreaking exhibition of over 200 objects, drawn primarily from the Metropolitan’s holdings, at the Bard Graduate Center with loans from other private and public collections. The Bard exhibition tells the story of this unique collection in four sections.

WHO WAS GEORGES HOENTSCHEL? The first section introduces Georges Hoentschel, who is described as “an architect of distinction in Paris,” in his various roles as an influential French designer, collector and, art and antiques dealer. He was an enterprising and successful decorator during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when France witnessed a great scientific, industrial and social transformation, and the newly moneyed bourgeoisie, who wanted to be de rigueur, adopted a lifestyle based on the aristocratic model. As director of the Parisian decorating firm Maison Leys, Hoentschel catered to these affluent clients, creating for them interiors in historic French styles. Some of his clients included Robert de Montesquiou, Edmond de Concourt, and J. Pierpont Morgan. Ephemera, family papers, photographs, personal possessions, and a film presentation outlines his story within the context of Belle Époque Paris.

THE HISTORIC COLLECTION All that meets the eye in the second venue dazzles by the historic nature of the items on exhibit; delicately carved woodwork, decorative paintings, and exquisite chased gilt-bronze mounts highlight the holdings here. Treasures include a chair made for Louis-Elisabeth of Parma, daughter of Louis XV; and armchair made for Louis XVI; and a panel from shutters originally installed in a room outside the chapel at Versailles.

The exhibition at the Bard Graduate Center also delves deep into the pottery aspects of this incredible story. The Third and Fourth sections do not disappoint especially the examples of Hoentschel’s stoneware and those of his friend and sculptor and potter, Jean-Joseph Carries.

The Bard Graduate Center is located in New York City at 18 West 86th Street. For information contact Lectures, study days, gallery talks and conversations are offered in conjunction with the exhibition. For details call 212.501.3011 or email

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