Present Perfect

To get you into the holiday spirit, we’ve gathered and gift-tagged some DMA artworks that were originally made to be gifts for others.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Lise in a White Shawl, c. 1872, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection 1985.R.58

Renoir is thought to have gifted the sentimental Lise in a White Shawl to its model, Lise Tréhot. There are many well-founded rumors about a romantic relationship between Lise and Renoir. We can certainly confirm that Lise was a frequent sitter for Renoir, and according to Emery Reves, the painting’s final private owner, Lise in a White Shawl was the last work Renoir made of his favorite model. Lise kept this portrait, along with the now DMA-owned Lise Sewing, throughout her life.

Aberdeen Painter, Red-figure pyxis and lid, Greek; Attic, last half of 5th century B.C.E., Ceramic, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Junior League of Dallas 1968.28.A-B

This Greek red-figure pyxis was likely given to a young woman as a wedding gift to hold her medicine, jewelry, incense, or cosmetics. The images on the outside of the pyxis depict a leisurely life at home, with closed double doors perhaps symbolizing the transition of a maiden into her new life as a wife. Even the shape of the pyxis is symbolic: the alluring lidded vessels that concealed hidden items were often a classical metaphor for women.

Crawford Riddell, Bedstead, c. 1844, Brazilian rosewood, tulip poplar, yellow pine, and polychromed textile, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of three anonymous donors, Friends of the Decorative Arts Fund, General Acquisitions Fund, Discretionary Decorative Arts Fund, and the Boshell Family Foundation 2000.324

This imposing Gothic revival bed was supposed to be a gift to Henry Clay, a well-known American statesman who ran for president in 1844. Whig supporters were certain that Clay would win the presidency. Before the election even occurred, these supporters commissioned furniture from Crawford Riddell to fill Clay’s White House. When Henry Clay lost the election to James K. Polk, this bed traveled to a new owner in Louisiana instead of D.C.

Hemis Mana, Hopi, c. 1915, Cottonwood, paint, and fiber, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Martin Matyas, Bob Rheudasil and Mrs. Edward S. Marcus in honor of Edward S. Marcus 1982.95

Traditional Hopi Katsina dolls are given to children during ceremonial masked dancer performances. The wooden dolls are the carved representations of spirit intermediaries and are typically hung in the home with string. This DMA Kachina doll, Hemis Mana, was carved to be sold to non-Hopi people, but the traditional giving of Katsinas during Hopi religious ceremonies is still practiced today.

A big thank you to my fellow McDermott Interns who helped me find these objects! Seasons greetings and happy gift-giving!

Kathleen Alva is the McDermott Intern for Adult Programming and Arts & Letters Live.


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