In honor of the sixty-fifth anniversary of Hirschl & Adler Galleries and Stuart Feld’s fiftieth year as Director of the firm, we are pleased to announce the opening of Augmenting the Canon, Recent Acquisitions of American Neo-Classical Decorative Arts on Thursday, December 13, 2018. This exhibition will be the inaugural decorative arts show in Hirschl & Adler’s new home at the, the Fuller Building, a legendary art destination at the crossroads of 57th Street and Madison Avenue. The exhibition is the eleventh in a series devoted to American decorative arts.
Augmenting the Canon will include about sixty masterpieces of Neo-Classical furniture, embroidery, silver, lighting, ceramics, and glass made in America, or in England, France, or China expressly for an American clientele between the first years of the nineteenth century and the early 1840s. Included will be many works that have never previously been exhibited or published in a scholarly context.
Illustrating the strength and breadth of American artistry and workmanship during the early years of the Republic, and the collecting habits of the patrons who bought or commissioned the works at the time they were made, this exhibition is an in-depth visual study of the indigenously American Neo-Classicism that Hirschl & Adler Galleries has previously explored through exhibitions and publications over the last twenty-seven years. The artworks included in Augmenting the Canon are shown and discussed within the framework of an area of expertise and appreciation that has grown exponentially over the past twenty years, and has recently been the focus of meaningful scholarship disseminated through museum exhibitions, books, articles, and symposia.
Augmenting the Canon brings forth many new and exciting discoveries – and some rediscoveries – at the highest level of production in the various decorative arts media that were being produced in Federal and Neo-Classical America. This exhibition adds significant examples to the known “canon” of those already published and exhibited, and broadens the depth of our knowledge of a field that is still emerging as an important collectible. For example, a richly-figured mahogany pier table attributed to Joseph Barry of Philadelphia, with a profusion of die-stamped brass inlaid into rosewood panels, which has been in a private collection for fifty years, now comes to light to augment our knowledge of what was being produced there at the time. And a Philadelphia récamier, also attributed to Barry, has finally emerged from the family for which it was made two-hundred years ago, to claim its place as the finest example within its genre.
In several instances, this show presents works that are identical, or nearly identical, to examples long held in venerable American museums, including, for example a Thomas Seymour work table that is identical to one in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; a Duncan Phyfe box sofa that may be the original mate to one that Hirschl & Adler sold to the Art Institute of Chicago in 2002; and rare and perfect examples of American glass, from the Bakewell factory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the Sandwich glassworks in Massachusetts.
Background to the broad selection of decorative arts will be provided by a number of paintings and works on paper of the period, including important works by John Wesley Jarvis, Nicolino Calyo, Auguste Edouart, Francis Guy, and Gilbert Stuart, among several dozen others.
Augmenting the Canon will remain on view through Wednesday, February 6, 2019, and will be accompanied by an elaborate catalogue in which all of the objects will be documented through individual essays and illustrations. A comprehensive introductory essay will deal with issues of context, the history of scholarship in the field, new scholarship, and the goals and techniques of responsible conservation. The catalogue will be available for sale on Amazon.com or through the gallery by mail.