“A Library of Decorative Arts”: Architecture and Ornament Prints from the Decloux Collection at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Presented by Print Council of America.
Tuesday, October 17, 2023
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum is home to one of the premier collections of European architecture and ornament prints in North America. Included in these holdings are a group of 332 rare bound albums containing more than 13,000 prints acquired in 1921 from the Parisian decorator Jean Léon Decloux (1840–1929). The Decloux collection’s primary strength is in prints executed in France during the long 18th century, when there was an extensive market for serial prints or pattern books translating innovations in architecture, decoration, and interior design into striking works of graphic art. Many of the most influential artists, printmakers and publishers of this period are represented in the collection, including Anne Allen, Jean Bérain, Jean-François Blondel, François Boucher, François de Cuvilliés, Jean-Charles Delafosse, Gabriel Huquier, Richard de Lalonde, Daniel Marot, Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier, Gilles-Marie Oppenord, Jean Le Pautre, Jean-Baptiste Pillement, and Jean Antoine Watteau
For 100 years, the Decloux collection remained a resource available to students and scholars only for in-person study and inspiration. Then, between 2021–23, researchers at Cooper Hewitt catalogued over 5,000 of the prints and published this work online alongside high-resolution images, making a large portion of the collection searchable for the first time. In this panel, Caitlin Condell will offer an introduction to the rich and unique collection, providing background on the history of the acquisition and highlighting some of the most significant etchings and engravings. Then, Rachel Jacobs and Elizabeth Saari Browne will each speak further about works that are newly discovered to have been printed and/or published by women whose names have remained on the periphery of the plate and of art history, their work overshadowed by more familiar designers and by familial patriarchs. The printers and publishers highlighted will include two women within the Chereau dynasty of 18th-century print publishers—Marguerite Caillou Chereau and Geneviève-Marguerite Chereau—and the engravers Marie Michelle Blondel and Marie F. Verard Lattré.
Elizabeth Saari Browne is Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Georgia. Her research focuses on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European art and architecture, and she has published articles on terracotta, rocaille ornament, and sculptural connoisseurship in exhibition catalogues and journals including Art History, Burlington Magazine, the French Porcelain Society Journal, and the Journal of the American Ceramic Circle among others. She is currently preparing a book manuscript titled Modeling Sculpture: Clodion and the Aesthetics of Terracotta in the Eighteenth Century. She was previously Remote Senior Research Cataloguer for the Decloux Collection at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.
Caitlin Condell is Associate Curator and Head of the Department of Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, where she oversees a collection of nearly 147,000 works on paper dating from the 14th century to the present. She has organized and contributed to numerous exhibitions and publications including Underground Modernist: E. McKnight Kauffer (2021-22), After Icebergs (2019-20), Nature—Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial (2019-20), Fragile Beasts (2016-17), and How Posters Work (2015) at Cooper Hewitt, and Making Room: The Space Between Two and Three Dimensions (2012-13) at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA). She worked previously at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in the Department of Prints & Illustrated Books.
Rachel Jacobs is an independent curator and part-time remote Curator of Books & Manuscripts at Waddesdon Manor (Rothschild Collections), National Trust, England. At Waddesdon Manor she has curated several exhibitions of illustrated books and prints including Glorious Years: French Calendars from Louis XIV to the Revolution (2017-18), Royal Spectacle: Ceremonial and Festivities at the Court of France (2014), and Playing, Learning, Flirting: Printed Board Games from 18th-Century France (2012). She was previously Remote Senior Research Cataloguer in the Department of Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.
NB: Join Caitlin Condell, Associate Curator & Head of Drawings, Prints & Graphic Design Department on TUESDAY OCTOBER 24th at 3:00 PM for a private viewing of the Drue Heinz Study Center for Drawings and Prints. This is a companion program to the webinar “A Library of Decorative Arts”: Architecture and Ornament Prints from the Decloux Collection at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Presented by Print Council of America.