LOS ANGELES, CA.- The J. Paul Getty Museum
announced the acquisition of a nine-foot bronze vase by the French sculptor Jean-Désiré Ringel d'Illzach (1847-1916) that was exhibited at the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris, the 1893 World Columbian Exhibition in Chicago, and the 1910 Universal Exposition in Brussels.
"The acquisition of this monumental vase is an inspirational addition to the Getty Museum's permanent collection, it's scale and audacious ambition bringing a new focus to our 19th-century Belgian and French paintings and sculptures, as well as our collection of Roman antiquities at the Getty Villa," said Michael Brand, Director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. "It also complements works by Ringel d'Illzach recently acquired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art--Pair of Chimaeras (1905) and Science and Citizenship (1909)."
The Ringel d'Illzach vase is currently on view in the Museum's West Pavilion (W102) at the Getty Center. The vase will remain on view until January, when the West Pavilion will be temporarily deinstalled to make way for the Getty's presentation of "Leonardo and the Art of Sculpture: Inspiration and Invention" (opening on March 23, 2010).
When the galleries reopen in fall 2010, they will take the viewer from Neoclassicism through Romanticism, culminating with Symbolism in the grand vertical gallery of W103, in which Ringel d'Illzach's vase will be installed as the centerpiece. The abundant natural light in this gallery will make the bronze vase's tremendous Symbolist details (including life casts of spiders, juniper branches, scraps of lace, and still-undecipherable motifs) and Art Nouveau ornament even more vivid for our viewers. The monumental vase will be displayed together with French, Belgian, and German sculpture dating from the same period as well as Ferdinand Khnopff's "Portrait of Jeanne Kéfer", (1885).
Jean-Désiré Ringel d'Illzach was born in Illzach, near Mulhouse, in Alsace. His interest in both music and sculpture was reflected in his studies at the Conservatoire de Musique, the Ecole de Dessin (the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs), and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he trained under Alexandre Falguière. Ringel d'Illzach's introduction to antique and Renaissance art during a trip to Italy in 1877 left an indelible impact on his artistic sensibilities. A few years later the deep impression of the experience was articulated in the large-scale vase that he ordered to be cast by the Compagnie des Bronzes de Bruxelles for the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris. His design drew heavily on a bronze volute krater from Pompeii (now housed at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples), which Ringel d'Illzach had seen and sketched during his visit. The body of Ringel d'Illzach's vase is an elongated adaptation of the "belly" of the krater, while the elaborately curled handles replicate the arms of the ancient vessel.
Unfortunately the piece was submitted too late to be included in the sculpture section of the exposition. Only through an appeal to the General Director was it allowed it be part of the "inventions" category as an extraordinary example of contemporary bronze casting. Ringel d'Illzach never intended the vase to be functional, but instead to impress through technical bravado and scale-much as France hoped to impress the world with its newly erected Eiffel Tower at the same exposition.
Following the 1889 Universal Exposition, the vase was exhibited for two years at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in the Palais de l'Industrie, and Ringel d'Illzach hoped the museum would ultimately acquire the work. The purchase was not made, however, and the artist subsequently submitted the vase for further display, including at the 1893 World Columbian Exhibition in Chicago and the Universal Exposition in Brussels in 1910. The vase was returned to the Compagnie des Bronzes de Bruxelles, presumably since the sculptor was unable to pay the considerable costs for its casting. When the Brussels-based company dissolved in the 1970s, the vase was purchased by a private collector, after which it was sold to its previous owner in 2007. In early 2009 the vase came to the Getty and with this acquisition, the work now finds a permanent home at the Getty Center.