And other excerpts from our coverage 100, 75, 50, and 25 years ago
100 Years Ago
“Artist’s Wife a Dealer”
The invasion of so many fields of human endeavor, formerly occupied exclusively by men, has been frequently commented upon of late years. The business of dealing in art works has, however, save for a few exceptions here and there, notably Mrs. Sanchez Wilcox, heroine of the sale of the Hirsch attributed Van Dyck to Mrs. Huntington, Miss Elsie De Wolfe and the late Mrs. Fachiri, formerly Mrs. Mitchell Depew, has in this country, at least, remained one in which men were almost exclusively employed.
It has become known of late that for the first time—Mrs. Wilcox and Miss De Wolfe being independent of any art house—an art house, the old picture firm of Knoedler & Co., has added to its staff of employes a woman, namely, Mrs. Albert Sterner, wife of the pastel and watercolor painter and illustrator, who, for the first time in his career, although he has exhibited in New York, is now holding an exhibition of recent works at the Knoedler Galleries.
Mrs. Sterner, according to friends, has been given an important position with the Knoedler house, and was sent abroad to purchase pictures, she having developed much acumen in the securing, purchasing and placing of pictures and unusual taste in their display. The presence of a woman in the Knoedler Galleries in a professional capacity is such a novelty as to attract the attention of many visitors, and the news of Mrs. Sterner’s and the Knoedlers’ new departure has greatly heartened the Suffragists and encouraged them in their new and fresh campaign.
75 Years Ago
“The Full Stature of Rouault,”
by Alfred M. Frankfurter
At last, at very long last, one of the two or three greatest painters of our time and the only great Christian artist of today receives his just due in this country: Georges Rouault, who of all living masters belongs most to the whole world, is being given his first comprehensive American exhibition in the nearly eighty pictures and further prints which have just been hung to open the new building of the Institute of Modern Art in Boston, then to travel to the Phillips Memorial Gallery in Washington and to the San Francisco Museum of Art. I say “comprehensive” rather than the conventional and here officially used term “retrospective” because it seems to me important to begin with the fact that the formula of chronological analysis and gradual development implied by the theme of retrospect is specifically one that Rouault resists and never rewards. Not only is it impossible, because of Rouault’s own unwillingness and perverseness, to date his output, but at this time it matters very little. The day will come when a full survey of his completed career will have to be made, but for the present, precisely because he is one of the most restlessly alive of modern artists, forever in flux and ferment, his every statement is so interlocked with the next that he must still be considered all of one piece.
50 Years Ago
“Painter to the New York Poets,”
by Ted Berrigan
Jane Freilicher is a poet’s painter who may yet become the public’s painter. Her latest exhibition [de Nagy; Nov. 2-20] continues to look both traditional and radical, because she has always been occupied with the problem of “realism” vs. “abstraction.” “As soon as I do something that seems very tenuous I get bored with it,” she says, and adds, “when I get more and more specific I begin to feel cloistered.”
She is interested in what is seen, in what is felt and in art—not necessarily in that order. Thus her models, along with the outside world, include art and herself. She is at times consciously imitative of the old masters (e.g., Titian, Vuillard, her two favorites), but in a first-hand way. Nature, for her, is what she is (feels), perhaps more than what she sees.
25 Years Ago
“Inside Europe ’90:
Young Turks and Old Masters,”
by Andrew Graham-Dixon
On a sunny day last December the magisterial Rembrandt Research Project (RRP) announced it was deattributing several “Rembrandts” in British collections. The Duke of Westminster, owner of the Portrait of the Painter Hendrick Martensz Sorgh and its pendant, a portrait of Sorgh’s wife, went to bed that night approximately £20 million, or about $32 million, poorer. An even bigger loser was the Wallace Collection, which found that its Self-Portrait and its Landscape with a Coach, always considered on of the painter’s masterpieces were no longer thought to be by Rembrandt.
The Wallace Collection has now become the epitome of what has been jokingly termed “the Rembrandt drain.” When the Fourth Marquess of Hertford bequeathed his collection to the nation in 1870, he believed it contained 13 Rembrandts. After more than a century of reassessment, those 13 have dwindled to one. Josua Bruyn of the RRP commented, with rare eloquence, that “it is impossible to carry the torch of truth through a crowd of people without singeing somebody’s beard.”
A version of this story originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of ARTnews on page 96.