The Cleveland Museum of Art acquires Dutch ceramic flower pyramid and important Old Master and modern drawings
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The Cleveland Museum of Art acquires Dutch ceramic flower pyramid and important Old Master and modern drawings
Jonah Cast Out by the Whale onto the Shore of Nineveh, 1566. Maarten van Heemskerck (Dutch 1498–1574). Pen and brown ink over indications in black chalk, within brown ink framing lines; indented for transfer; 19.6 x 25 cm (7 11/16 x 9 13/16 in.). Leonard C. Hanna Jr. Fund, 2024.28

CLEVELAND, OH.- The Cleveland Museum of Art announced the acquisition of six new pieces including a Dutch tin-glazed earthenware vase produced by the Greek A Factory; a pen and ink drawing by Maarten van Heemskerck; and drawings by Maarten van Heemskerck, Fernand Léger, Gustave Moreau, Joseph Stella, and Sophie Taeuber-Arp.

Flower Pyramid, Adrianus Kocx, De Grieksche A (The Greek A) Factory
Flower pyramids were the most ambitious Delft vases

A trademark of Dutch material culture, blue-and-white pottery had its heyday during the reign of William III and Mary II. Mary contributed to the international spread of the fashion for Delft ceramics. She commissioned pieces from the Greek A Factory—the most prestigious of 34 workshops and potteries active in Delft at the end of the 17th century. Among the most complex and luxurious forms made in Delft were flower pyramids, consisting of stacked tiers with spouts in which flowers were placed.

This piece represents a beautiful hexagonal type of pyramid and is marked by Adrianus Kocx, the owner of the Greek A Factory. It was likely produced for the English market—a desirable product for English aristocrats supporting the Dutch Stadtholder, later William III of England, and his wife Mary.

Flower Pyramid was acquired at TEFAF Maastricht from Aronson Delftware Antiquairs, Amsterdam.

Jonah Cast Out by the Whale onto the Shore of Nineveh, Maarten van Heemskerck
Artist’s designs for prints impacted the art of his century and beyond

Inspired by a four-year stay in Italy in the 1530s, Dutch painter and draftsman Maarten van Heemskerck, active in Haarlem, the Netherlands, helped to define Haarlem Mannerism, with his strong awareness of style, cultivated elegance, and absorption of Italianate architecture and figure types. Heemskerck’s prolific drawing practice, through which he created nearly 600 designs for prints, helped set into motion a burgeoning print publishing industry.

Heemskerck’s pen-and-ink work Jonah Cast Out of the Whale onto the Shore of Nineveh (1566) depicts the climactic episode of the biblical story of Jonah, when the prophet was swallowed by a fish and regurgitated three days later. The figures of Jonah, suspended in mid-air, and of God the Father, in the clouds above, recall types by artists such as Michelangelo, whose work Heemskerck studied in Rome.

Jonah Cast Out of the Whale onto the Shore of Nineveh is the preparatory design for one of a four-part print series on the biblical book of Jonah, all of which were engraved by Philips Galle with text added by Hadrianus Junius. The three other drawings for the series are in museum collections in Boston and in the UK in Oxford and Cambridge. The first drawing by Maarten van Heemskerck to enter the CMA’s collection, its provenance includes the 17th-century architectural painter Pieter Saenredam and most recently the Einar Perman collection, Stockholm.

The Good Samaritan, Gustave Moreau
Early and influential Symbolist painter

Gustave Moreau launched Symbolism, a movement that transformed modern art from realistic depiction of recognizable subject matter toward a new emphasis on imagination and interiority. Moreau was drawn to mythology and religion, producing dreamlike pieces distinguished by rich, jewel tones and an otherworldly sense of stasis.

This drawing presents a scene from the Good Samaritan, a parable that Moreau returned to repeatedly throughout the 1860s and ’70s. Taken from the Bible’s New Testament, it tells the story of a traveler who is robbed, beaten, and left for dead along the side of the road. After being ignored by several passersby, he ultimately obtains aid from an unlikely source: a man from Samaria, whose beliefs and religion are ideologically opposed to his own. The story focuses on the importance of mercy and humanity—values that Moreau highlights by showing the Samaritan giving up his own horse to lead the wounded traveler in the story’s most poignant moment.

The Good Samaritan is the CMA’s first work by this important Symbolist artist.

Free Horizontal-Vertical Rhythms, Sophie Taeuber-Arp
One of the most distinguished abstract female artists during the early 20th century

Sophie Taeuber-Arp is known for working between media—including embroidery, painting, sculpture, and even theater design—to show that the formal concerns of modernist abstraction could be integrated into everyday life. Taeuber-Arp and her husband Jean Arp were involved in Zürich Dada, a movement that brought together artists who were in exile in the Swiss city during World War I and aimed to redefine what art could be. After the war’s end, Taeuber-Arp undertook an intensive period of drawing that used geometric abstraction to explore the interplay of color, form, rhythm, and movement, building upon Dada’s integration of the arts in a new and innovative way.

Created during this period—which was to become her best known and most representative— Free Horizontal-Vertical Rhythms belongs to a series in which Taeuber-Arp aimed to capture such dynamic elements in a fundamentally two-dimensional medium.

Still Life with Bottle, Fernand Léger
Work on paper from the founder of Purism demonstrates his remarkable talent

Fernand Léger is known for creating his own distinctive brand of Cubism, advancing the pioneering style developed by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque early in the 20th century. As a young man, Léger was exposed to the formal experimentation of these artists and became fascinated with the new way in which they broke down an identifiable subject into overlapping and intersecting geometric planes. For Léger, these formal concerns combined seamlessly with the aesthetics and pure functionality of modern machines, in which he developed an interest while serving in the French army during the First World War.

By 1920, Léger had developed Purism, the style for which he is best known today. He focused on depicting recognizable imagery with pure and precise lines, using an objectivity that has been seen as responding to the chaos of war. Still Life with Bottle dates from the height of this period of experimentation and is representative of Léger’s Purist style.

Man Reading a Newspaper, Joseph Stella
Exceptional example of American Cubist collage

Joseph Stella’s Man Reading a Newspaper demonstrates the influence of European abstraction on New York artists during the early decades of the 20th century. After immigrating to the United States from Italy at the age of 19 to study medicine, Stella quickly turned instead to art making, studying at the Art Students League in New York City. After graduating, he returned to Europe and was deeply influenced by contemporary painting—especially Cubism, Fauvism, and Futurism. He frequented gatherings hosted by the famed writer and collector Gertrude Stein (who once owned this drawing) and began to pursue a painting style marked by geometric abstraction.

In 1913, Stella returned to New York City and became deeply involved with the avant-garde scene. Man Reading a Newspaper aligns with Stella’s interest in depicting the motion and experiences specific to the city. The figure for which the work is titled is barely discernible in the jutting, planar ovals throughout the sheet, leaving him only to be identified by formal clues such as his white collar, the brim of his hat and, most significantly, a piece of newspaper affixed to the sheet. The drawing exemplifies a technique that he worked in frequently for over three decades and termed Macchine Naturali or “natural machines.”

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