Old Friends, New Directions: European Ceramics at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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Old Friends, New Directions: European Ceramics at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

October 24, 2016 - 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

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February 8
Old Friends, New Directions: European Ceramics at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Thomas Michie, the Russell B. and Andrée Beauchamp Stearns Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture in the Art of Europe Department at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Recent gallery renovations at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, have created exciting opportunities for improved and expanded displays of the museum’s renowned collection of European ceramics, which are gradually being integrated into galleries with paintings, sculpture, and furniture. The 2006 bequest of the Edward M. Pflueger Collection transformed the Museum’s holdings of Meissen porcelain, as well as porcelain figures and faience from many other Continental factories. Nine large-scale Meissen birds and vases, made originally for the “Japanese Palace” in Dresden of Augustus the Strong (1670-1733), the Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, stand at the center of a new gallery devoted to 18 century European art. For the first time in a decade, early English porcelain from the collections of Richard Paine of Boston and Jessie and Sigmund Katz of New Orleans, take pride of place in a suite of three new galleries devoted to British art, including two reinstalled period rooms. To coincide with the refurbishing of the Dutch gallery, the MFA acquired the G. Ephis Collection of Delft faience, one of the finest in private hands. Selections are now displayed in the context of Rembrandt and other Dutch masters. Finally, the recent opening of a Kunstkammer gallery, or cabinet of curiosities, provided a new context for important examples of French and Italian renaissance ceramics. This talk provides an introduction to the MFA’s rich holdings of European porcelain and faience and the process of designing these improved displays in recently renovated galleries.

Thomas S. Michie is the Russell B. and Andrée Beauchamp Stearns Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture in the Art of Europe Department at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He joined the staff of the Museum of Fine Arts in 2009 after serving as Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2005-2009) and Curator of European and American Decorative Arts at the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design in Providence (1984-2004). Since 2010 he has overseen a dozen recent gallery renovations at the MFA and the installation of two British period rooms. A graduate of Williams College, he received an M.Phil. degree in history of art from Yale University. He has contributed to exhibition and collection catalogues at the MFA, LACMA, RISD, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and the U.S. Department of State. He is a co-curator of “Europe in the Age of Casanova,” scheduled to open at the MFA in 2017.