Museum Exhibition of the Week: Manet

Berthe Morisot with a Bouquet of Violets Berthe Morisot with a Bouquet of Flowers, 1872

Exhibition: Manet, Portraying Life

Location: The Royal Academy of Arts, London

Dates: January 26- April 4 2013


In his day, Manet was known as the rebel who became a thorn in the side of the French Academy. Yet portraiture may seem an unlikely genre for challenging the status quo. Now a magisterial exhibition, ‘Manet: Portraying Life’, reveals how the artist made his mark as a modernist during the course of his career by painting friends, family and Parisian society.

This singularly important exhibition is the first ever retrospective devoted to the portraiture of Edouard Manet. Spanning the entire career of this enigmatic and at times controversial artist, ‘Manet: Portraying Life’ brings together works from across Europe, Asia and the USA.

Manet’s engagement with portraiture has never been explored in exhibition form before, despite it constituting around half of his artistic output. Manet painted his family, friends and the literary, political and artistic figures of his day, giving life not only to his subjects but also to Parisian society of the time.

The exhibition consists of more than 50 works, among them are portraits of Manet’s most frequent sitter, his wife Suzanne Leenhoff, luminaries of the period Antonin Proust, Émile Zola and Stéphane Mallarmé, and scenes from everyday life revealing Manet’s forward-thinking, modern approach to portraiture.

Commissioned portraits often tell us more about the aesthetic ideas and fashions of an era than about the artist. Happily, Manet took on remarkably few portrait commissions, thus retaining control over the undertaking, bringing it to a flourishing conclusion or, on occasion, abandoning his attempt. Not only did he pick and choose his models, he innovated with sharper lighting, more natural poses and working alla prima (wet on wet paint), then scraping back the paint, rather than making deadening revisions to his bold brushwork.

Portraits were often paired with subject pictures as Manet’s Salon submissions. While they cannot stand for his whole oeuvre, they offer a strand of vital continuity, unquestionably bringing us closer to the man and his competitive, gossipy and glamorous world. Moreover they give us an insight into the Paris of Manet’s time, seen from an haut bourgeois perspective perhaps, but one whose painterly verve remains fresh and compelling.


“In a face, look for the main light and the main shadow; the rest will come naturally — it’s often not important. And then you must cultivate your memory, because Nature will only provide you with references. Nature is like a warden in a lunatic asylum. It stops you from becoming banal.” – Edouard Manet


 View our entire Manet collection by clicking on one of the images below:

The RailwayThe Railway, 1873

The composition for The Railway was set up by Manet, posing his favourite model Victorine Meurent, as the woman in the black silk bonnet, whose lustre he so lovingly catches, leaving it unclear whether she is the child’s mother, elder sister or nursemaid.

Mme Manet in the Conservatory, 1879Mme. Manet in the Conservatory, 1879

Suzanne regularly appears in Manet’s work, such as Mme Manet in the Conservatory , but the artist does not disguise her increasing corpulence. Manet’s many portraits of other, more glamorous, women such as Isabelle Lemonnier and Madame Guillemet betray his roving eye and attraction to the svelte ladies of his circle.


Art Heists: More Tony Soprano than George Clooney

The concert by Vermeer stolen in art heist

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston would make a spectacular setting for an art heist movie.  Inside, it is a wonderland. A Renaissance courtyard overlooked by Venetian gothic windows forms its lush central space, made from bits of real Italian and Spanish buildings.  On the night of 19 March 1990, this exquisite museum was the setting for a real heist.

Sadly, the biggest art crime in US history was not a fictional one starring George Clooney but the real thing. The thieves were let into the museum in the early morning hours because they were dressed as police officers.  They tied up the two guards on duty and made off with 13 items in 81 minutes. “Included were two large Rembrandt oil paintings that were cut from their frames; single works by Vermeer, Manet and Govaert Flinck; five Degas sketches, and three other items, among them a small etching by Rembrandt,” the Times reports.  The total potential sales value?  Anywhere from $300 million to $500 million.

Nearly a quarter of a century on, the FBI says it knows who is responsible.  The bureau “believes the thieves belonged to a criminal organization based in New England and the mid-Atlantic states”.

All the same, this is a chilling revelation. It squares up strangely with another of the biggest modern art crimes, the theft of Caravaggio’s Nativity from the Oratory of San Lorenzo in Palermo, Sicily in 1969. The mafia was always prime suspect.

It might be the mafia, it might be some lesser bunch of drug and gun lords, but these art heists always seem to be the work of organized criminals.  People fantasize about art theft, imagining gentlemen thieves perpetrating elegant, even tasteful crimes. In reality, it usually turns out to be gangsters.

Meanwhile, Tony Soprano is sitting in a backroom some place, smoking a cigar, gazing thoughtfully at Rembrandt’s Storm On the Sea of Galilee. Yeah, life can get stormy sometimes. It ain’t always pretty.


The Gardner museum is still offering a $5 million reward and the FBI has put together a website listing of  the stolen pieces:

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum website:


Museum Exhibition of the Week

Museum Exhibition: Frederic Remington A Dash for Timber

A Dash for Timber by Frederic Remington


Exhibition: Where the West Rides Again

Location: The Sid Richardson Museum, Fort Worth, Texas

Dates: Permanent Exhibition


One of the finest and most focused collections of western art in America, this Fort Worth museum features paintings of the 19th Century American West by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. The works, reflecting both the art and reality of the American West, are from the collection of the legendary Texas oilman and philanthropist, Sid W. Richardson.  Since opening in 1982, the Museum has been one of historic Sundance Square’s top attractions, drawing more than 50,000 visitors a year from all over the world.

Sid Richardson began collecting the works of Frederic Remington and Charles Russell with the help of Newhouse Galleries of New York City.  Richardson did not limit his collection to Remington and Russell. While he showed no interest in Western landscape artists such as Albert Bierstadt or Thomas Moran, he did acquire works by such relatively unknown late nineteenth-century artists as Gilbert Gaul, Peter Moran, and Charles F. Browne.  But his primary interest was in Remington and Russell, adding an occasional work to his collection until a few years before his death on September 30, 1959. Time has confirmed his wisdom. Remington and Russell remain today what they were in their own day, the “titans of Western art.”

The Foundation has acquired four additional paintings since Mr. Richardson’s death. Although this Fort Worth Museum does not have an active acquisitions program, the board of directors does on occasion add new works to the collection. The Richardson Museum now owns 4 of the 17 oil paintings from Remington’s last, critically acclaimed exhibition, held at Knoedler Gallery in New York City in December 1909 just prior to his death, making its collection “one of the finest assemblages of major late-life Remington paintings in the world” according to Dr. Brian W. Dippie, noted authority and scholar of both Remington and Russell.


Museum Exhibition: The Round Up by Charles RussellThe Round Up by Charles M. Russell

Museum Exhibition: C.M. Russell and his Friends by Charles RussellC.M. and his Friends by Charles Russell

Map Of the Week: Rambles Through Our Country, 1886

Vintage US Map

Map of the Week: Rambles Through Our Country, 1886

Artist: Unknown

Map Maker: American Publishing Company

Rambles through Our Country is a simple educational game requiring players to complete a “grand tour” of the United States, as depicted on a chromolithographic pictorial map. The map bears 200 numbered stations beginning with Hartford—where the game was published—and concluding with New York City, with at least three stops in each state along the way. Players move by spinning a “teetotum” and advancing their token the prescribed number of stops. At each stop, they read aloud a description of the corresponding locale from the accompanying booklet.

The map and direction booklet were published by the American Publishing Company in Hartford, Connecticut during 1880s. At this time, there were 38 states plus the Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Wyoming, Utah, Indian, New Mexico, and Arizona territories and the District of Columbia.

This map is detailed with illustrations of natural and cultural features of each state such as waterways, mountains, cities, railroads, agriculture, mining, people, and historical events. Texas is shown with Indians chasing a large herd of buffalo.  California is dominated by scenes of Yosemite.  Especially emphasized is the Native American presence in the West. Two large vignettes depict Native Americans observing a train and the Statue of Liberty framed by text: “To the rising generation.”

This bright and whimsical vintage map of the United States, may have been designed for a children’s game, but it is quite wonderful in its own right.


Museum Exhibition of the Week

James Whistler's The Conversation


Exhibition: Fine Lines: American Drawings from the Brooklyn Museum

Location: The Brooklyn Museum, N.Y.

Dates: March 8- May 26, 2013


Fine Lines: American Drawings from the Brooklyn Museum presents a selection of over 100 of the finest, rarely seen drawings and sketchbooks from the Museum’s world-renowned collection of American art. Produced between 1768 and 1945 in a wide range of media (including graphite, pen and ink, crayon, charcoal, and pastel), the featured objects represent a variety of iconographies, styles, and practices in the history of American graphic arts. More than seventy artists are represented, including Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, John Singer Sargent, Edward Hopper, and Marsden Hartley.

The exhibition is organized into six thematic sections, examining portraiture, nudes, the clothed figure, narrative subjects, and natural and urban environments.  It is accompanied by a scholarly catalogue including interpretive essays, illustrated catalogue entries, and a selected bibliography.

Fine Lines: American Drawings from the Brooklyn Museum is organized by Karen Sherry, former Associate Curator of American Art, Brooklyn Museum.

Generous support for this exhibition and the accompanying catalogue was provided by Leonard and Ellen Milberg. Additional funding for the exhibition was provided by the Robert E. Blum Fund. The catalogue was also supported by Linda E. Scher, Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund, and a Brooklyn Museum publications endowment established by the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


James Whistler's Canal,1879 James Whistler’s Canal, 1879


Global Gallery March Art Giveaway

Now is your chance to enter our March art giveaway contest.  This month one lucky winner will receive a canvas giclee print of NAXART Studio’s Brooklyn Bridge.  Click  NAXART to enter.

NAXART STUDIOS Brooklyn Bridge Retail Price: $144.99
Image Size: 18 X 24
Canvas Stretch: Deep Bars, Gallery Wrap

Free art is good for you!

Contest ends 3/30/13 at 11:59 p.m.

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Congratulations to our March Art Giveaway winner, Melissa M.!

Map of the Week: San Francisco Birds Eye View, 1878

Map ofSan Francisco Birds Eye View, 1878San Francisco Birds Eye View, 1878, by Charles R. Parsons

The city of San Francisco was incorporated in 1850, and later grew to become one of the most famous cities in the US. The California Gold Rush in 1848 saw the city’s population increase from 1,000 to 25,000 over the course of a year. This beautiful map provides a look back to the early beginnings of the city.

This stunning panoramic map was sketched by Charles R. Parsons and originally published in 1878 by Currier & Ives. This bird’s-eye view of San Francisco from the bay looks southwest across the city to the Pacific Ocean.  The map offers a look into San Francisco’s past with colorful illustrations of buildings, streets, and the bay filled with numerous ships from the 1800’s. Looking west into the distance is Golden Gate Park.

The illustrations include advertisements in German and English for various San Francisco businesses including I.W. Taber. More than one hundred landmarks are named in its index, including Union Square, churches, bank buildings and hotels. It is a two-dimensional time machine that will provide years of fascination, conversation and enjoyment.

 Source: The David Rumsey Map Collection

The David Rumsey Map Collection was started over 25 years ago and contains more than 150,000 maps. The collection focuses on rare 18th and 19th century maps of North and South America, although it also has maps of the World, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania. The collection includes atlases, wall maps, globes, school geographies, pocket maps, books of exploration, maritime charts, and a variety of cartographic materials including pocket, wall, children’s, and manuscript maps. Items range in date from about 1700 to 1950s.



Museum Exhibition of the Week

Waterhouse- Miranda The Tempest
February 17 – May 19, 2013
Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Art and Design, 1848–1900 is the first major survey of the art of the Pre-Raphaelites to be shown in the United States. The exhibition features some 130 paintings, sculptures, photography, works on paper, and decorative art objects that reflect the ideals of Britain’s first modern art movement.  Combining rebellion, scientific precision, beauty, and imagination, the Pre-Raphaelites created art that shocked 19th-century Britain.

The Pre-Raphaelites

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB) was founded in London in September 1848 at a turbulent time of political and social change. Many Victorians felt that beauty and spirituality had been lost amid industrialization.

The leading members of the PRB were the painters John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Holman Hunt, young students at the Royal Academy of Arts. They all believed that art had become decadent, and rejected their teachers’ belief that the Italian artist Raphael (1483–1520) represented the pinnacle of aesthetic achievement. Instead, they looked to medieval and early Renaissance art for inspiration. Whether painting subjects from Shakespeare or the Bible, landscapes of the Alps, or the view from a back window, the Pre-Raphaelites brought a new sincerity and intensity to British art.

Visit The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden are at all times free to the public. visit the Gallery’s Web site at

 Click on one of the images below to view more from our Pre-Raphaelite Collection.HolmanHunt.Our English CoastsRossettiMoore