FAMSF Blog

Bouquets to Art 2011: A day in the life of a flower

As Bouquets to Art kicks off its 27th year at the de Young, floral exhibitors poured in with every type of flower and foliage imaginable. We followed floral artist Hiromi Nomura of Belle Flora, who was born and raised in Tokyo, to trace the day in the life of a flower and pay tribute to Japan following last week’s devastating earthquake.

Hiromi Nomura
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Inauguration Day for Honest Abe, 150 Years On…

Alexander Hesler (American, 1823–1895), Abraham Lincoln, 1860 (printed ca. 1881)
Albumen print from glass plate negative, framed, 9 1/4 x 7 1/2 inches
Museum purchase, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts Endowment Fund. 2007.38

Today, March 4, 2011, is the 150th anniversary of the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. At this time in 1861, the nation was deep in the throes of political and social upheaval, with the recent secession of seven southern states—South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas, who had already selected Jefferson Davis as the provisional president of the Confederate States of America only three weeks before. The American Civil War soon started in earnest, with the bombardment of Fort Sumter off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861.

Abraham Lincoln, 1860
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Portrait of King George VI—Dedicatee of the Szyk Haggadah

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Arthur Szyk, King George VI, London: 1938. Original watercolor and gouache painting. 7 ½” x 5 ¼”. In original frame with fine French matting. Signed and dated. “Arthur Szyk Pinxit. [Latin: he painted it] London. 1938.”

The Academy Award-nominated film The King’s Speech sheds new light on the life of King George VI. Currently on view in Gallery 1 at the Legion of Honor is a portrait of the king that provides yet another glimpse of the royal.

King George VI was painted by Arthur Szyk in the illuminated style with an intricate, richly designed border pattern and a profusion of traditional iconography representing Great Britain. In this painting, the 43-year-old king is presented in full military uniform before an open window. Behind the window curtain of royal tartan cloth, the River Thames and the Palace of Westminster appear in exquisite miniature. In the upper right corner is a shield representing a composite of the United Kingdom’s symbols. Topped by St. Edward’s crown are: the motto of the Royal Order of the Garter “honi soit qui mal y pense” (evil be to him who evil thinks); the royal motto “Dieu et Mon Droit” (my God and my right); the lion of England and the royal unicorn of Scotland, the royal orb (crown), Scottish lions, and the Irish harp. Within the quarter-inch illuminated border are additional micro-shields with further symbols of the realm, including Scottish thistles, Irish harps and shamrocks.

Szyk, Arthur, King George VI, London: 1938. Original watercolor and gouache pain
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The Bust in the Bog

One of the rarest pieces in our Olmec exhibition at the de Young is a carved human bust made of a tropical variety of cedar tree. Over three thousand years old, the bust has survived this long because it was buried at the bottom of a freshwater bog for most of its life.

Archaeologists believe it was placed in the bog, along with thirty-six other busts, by the Olmec as part of a large offering, probably in response to a long-term problem facing the community, such as a flood or drought. The busts were bundled in vegetable mats and buried along with other objects of high value—some of which are also  in the exhibition.

Researchers think the Olmec chose the spring, named El Manatí for a nearby hill and the manatees that were abundant in the area, as a site for important offerings because it represented a culmination of important elements. The Olmec believed water and mountains were imbued with sacred qualities, including fertility, and saw tall hills both as a meeting point between the earth and the sky and as “mansions of the rain god.” The area was also abundant in hematite, an iron-rich red pigment that researchers believe the Olmec associated with blood.

Olmec bust
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Interview with the Conservation Interns

Internships are a crucial part of the education and training of conservators. Currently we have three graduate interns in conservation from three different countries, allowing us a unique opportunity to discuss conservation training from an international perspective.

Erin Stephenson and Stephanie Ricordeau are interns in the Paintings Conservation Department. Erin is completing her Master of Arts and Certificate of Advanced Study in Conservation through SUNY Buffalo State College while Stephanie is in the Master’s Program for Conservation-Restoration at La Sorbonne, Paris, France.

In the Objects Conservation Department, Tegan Broderick is an intern completing her Master of Cultural Materials Conservation at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

The interns recently shared some interesting insights into their experiences in conservation.  Here are excerpts from our conversations followed by the full text of their interviews.

  

FAMSF Conservation Interns Erin Stephenson, Tegan Broderick, and Stephanie Ricordeau

FAMSF Conservation Graduate Interns 2011
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Portraits of George Washington for Presidents’ Day

Rembrandt Peale (American, 1778–1860), George Washington, ca. 1850.
Oil on canvas. 53.15.1

Presenting the first blog post by communications intern Gauthier Melin.

George Washington
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