Driving back from our research trip to Virginia’s Eastern Shore, we stopped in Norfolk for lunch and our first visit to the Chrysler Museum of Art. Our lunch was good, only sandwiches but well prepared with fresh ingredients. The museum was nice, too.
There was furniture scattered around and a nice exhibit of Art Nouveaux. All this will be covered in the near future.
I quickly documented all the furniture there and was ready to move on but my wife had other ideas. It was still raining hard and she was not ready to leave. We hadn’t yet seen the glass, the European and American paintings and sculpture, ancient and non-western art or photography. And what is the difference between modern and contemporary art?
There were two paintings in the European gallery of particular interest to me, they were period domestic scenes with furniture. Most of the furniture I see is in auction gallery or antiques shops. There is no context for the furniture. Historic mansions and museums like Winterthur and MESDA do show entire period rooms but these are all curated and idealized representations of the past.
Painted period rooms might be closer to the way things actually were. The artist was living there and then. These might not be 100% accurate but, like Wikipedia articles, close may be good enough.
The first is The Surgeon by David Teniers the Younger, Flemish, 1610 – 1690:
David Teniers the Younger Flemish, 1610–1690 The Surgeon, 1670s Oil on canvas Is there a doctor in the house? Not in this one. The medic in this picture is a lowly barber surgeon, a quack who preyed on the ignorant and poor. Surrounded by his potions and aided by two dimwitted assistants, he operates on a patient’s back, ignoring his painful yelp. The monkey crouching nearby is an age-old symbol of foolishness. He “apes” the patient’s pose, suggesting that the man is chained to the ignorant belief that the barber surgeon will cure him. Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. 71.480
The other painting of interest is Home by Sir Joseph Noel Paton, Scottish, 1821-1901.
Sir Joseph Noel Paton Scottish, 1821–1901 Home, ca. 1855–56 Oil on panel Noel Paton’s scene brims with details that bring its story of military valor and family strength to life. The Scottish soldier seated at center has just returned from the Crimean War. Slumped in a chair, his wife and mother fold over him. He has suffered serious wounds—his head is heavily bandaged and he has lost an arm in battle. But despite the sacrifices the family has made for home and country, the open Bible proclaims its spiritual strength in the face of uncertainty. The promise of a better future is embodied by the child sleeping peacefully in the cradle behind them. Museum purchase and gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.