Join curator Elizabeth Lay, a regular lecturer on the topics of fashion, textiles, and American furniture, for an image-rich lunchtime lecture series focusing on decorative arts and design topics.
Please Note: Individual sessions are available for purchase.
September 19 Southwest Jewelry: Transitions Through Time
When talking about Native American jewelry, Diana Pardue, chief curator at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, likes to use the phrase “expect the unexpected.” For more than a century, jewelers have used their skills and imaginations to create an amazing range of metalworks, some of which are enhanced with turquoise, coral, and shells and for more than 50 years with semi-precious stones, pearls, or diamonds. Classic works made as early as 1850 with simple tools led to the development of diverse techniques and materials. Pardue examines and discusses early silver jewelry forms and traces the transitions that have developed through time, with a special focus on the pioneering artist Charles Loloma. After a brief career as a muralist and then as a ceramic artist, he introduced new techniques and materials to Southwest jewelry. Loloma’s efforts opened doors for generations that would follow, including younger artists working today.
October 3 France’s Crown Jewels: An American Gilded-Age Treasure
When the French Republic sold the country’s crown jewels at public auction in December 1886, buyers from leading European and American jewelers flocked to the Palais de Tuileries at the Louvre with the hope of acquiring a piece of the magnificent collection. Tiffany & Co. secured one-third of all the lots, eventually selling the jewels to wealthy Americans eager to have a piece of royal heritage themselves. Adopted into the wardrobes of Gilded-Age heiresses, these jewels assumed new meanings. Independent decorative arts curator Amy McHugh explores how symbols of the French monarchy’s inherited power and wealth were reinvented as icons of democratic capitalism and self-made industrial fortunes.
October 17 The Revivalists: 19th-Century Jewelers of Rome, Naples, London and Paris
For collectors of 19th-century Revival jewelry, the names Castellani, Giuliano, Melillo, and Falize are magical and compelling. When many jewelers concentrated on the setting of ostentatious precious stones for the newly wealthy, these families of artists and visionaries dedicated themselves to the rediscovery of lost jewelry arts, including virtuoso gold work such as granulation and glowing polychrome enamels. Their exquisite, rarified, labor-intensive jewels represent the aspirations of European society to recapture the art, wisdom, idealism, and accomplishments of the ancients and the Renaissance. Yet these serene, classically inspired pieces are themselves artifacts of a time of revolution and upheaval. The infant science of archaeology, to which jewelers looked for inspiration, was still more of treasure hunt for art and curiosities and fed a thriving illicit market for antiquities. For creators and collectors, the jewels carried messages of imperialism and nationalism at once. Period jewelry specialist Sheila Smithie explores the lives of the most compelling Revivalists on their journeys of passion, failure, creativity, and triumph.
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