A Soiree Fit for Versailles

Next week on Thursday, November 2 the DMA is hosting a soiree fit for Versailles at the second annual Rosenberg Fête celebrating French art from the 18th century. We’ll step back in time with period music, sketching in the galleries, a sumptuous menu of French classics, and a talk on one of the Rosenberg Collection’s most exquisite paintings.

Let’s take a brief dive into the collection we are celebrating. A significant portion of the DMA’s 18th century French art holdings comes from the private collection of Michael L. Rosenberg (1947-2003), an art enthusiast and philanthropist who amassed works by some of the most influential French artists of the 18th century. Upon Michael’s passing in 2003, his collection was transferred to the the Rosenberg Foundation, which approved a long-term loan to the DMA in his memory, making our Museum the home of this stunning collection since 2004.

While each object commands a closer look, I’ve always been captivated by the two pieces that bookend the collection—the first and last of Rosenberg’s acquisitions.

The first piece that Mr. Rosenberg acquired was The Bather by François Lemoyne. It is a full length portrait of a nude woman dipping her toe into a body of water, aided by an attendant who holds her discarded clothes. Like many paintings of this period, The Bather can be described as sensuous; the scene is cast in a soft light that plays off of the pearlescent tones of the subject’s body and hair and the artist lent as much effort to the beauty of the painting as to the storytelling. A testament to the effect of the painting, Lemoyne actually created a copy of it for himself, which now hangs at the Hermitage. While he was perhaps not as famous as his protégé François Boucher, Lemoyne influenced artists for years to come, making The Bather not only a beautiful start to Rosenberg’s collection but one with great historical significance. Learn more about this painting tomorrow with Colin B. Bailey, Director of the Morgan Library Museum, who will speak about Lemoyne’s Bather in the context of other Rococo bathing scenes.

François Lemoyne, The Bather, 1724, Oil on canvas, Lent by the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation, 29.2004.7

Mr. Rosenberg’s last acquisition was Portrait of Natalia Zakharovna Kolycheva, née Hitrovo by Elisabeth Louis Vigee-Lebrun. Vigee-Lebrun was a portrait painter to Queen Marie Antoinette and one of the few women painters of her time who was successful in an art world dominated by men. During the French Revolution she went into exile, eventually settling in Russia where she painted this and other portraits of aristocrats. At this moment in history only four women artists had been admitted to the prestigious French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. With works by Vigee-Lebrun and two floral still lifes by Anne Vallayer-Caoster, also a painter to the Queen, the DMA had works by two out of four of these trailblazing women artists. In his lifetime Michael Rosenberg supported the acquisition of the Vallayer-Coster pendants, and today his legacy Foundation continues to support the museum’s expanding collection in this area, as exemplified by their generous support to acquire a portrait by Adélaïde Labille-Guiard earlier this year, so that now the DMA can boast having works by three of the four women Academicians of the 18th century.

Elisabeth Louise Vigée-Lebrun, Portrait of Natalia Zakharovna Kolycheva, née Hitrovo, 1799, Oil on Canvas, Lent by the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation, 29.2004.13

Anne Vallayer-Coster, Bouquet of Flowers in a Terracotta Vase with Peaches and Grapes, 1776, Oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund and gift of Michael L. Rosenberg, 1998.51.FA

Anne Vallayer-Coster, Bouquet of Flowers in a Blue Porcelain Vase, 1776, Oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund and gift of Michael L. Rosenberg, 1998.52.FA

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, Portrait of a Conventional, 1795, Oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation. 2017.18

These are just a few of the treasures in the Rosenberg Galleries. Join us next week to see the Collection and immerse yourself in the lavish world of 18th-Century France.

Jessie Frazier is Manager of Adult Programming at the DMA


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