Picasso’s ceramics, the painting of King George IV, headlining the museum’s collection | New
With a permanent collection of more than 4,000 objects ranging from the 16th century to the present day, selecting three of the Owensboro Museum of Fine Arts’ most significant objects to showcase was no easy task for Mary Bryan. Hood, the museum’s longtime director.
“It’s almost unfair and unfair to ask a museum director or museum professional what their most important pieces or their favorite pieces from a collection are,” Hood said.
However, Hood rose to the challenge and hand-picked three works that she believes are of particular significance to the museum at 901 Frederica St.
Ceramics by Pablo Picasso
In the center of a table in the decorative arts wing of the museum are three individual ceramic works by iconic Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. Born in 1881, Picasso is best known for his involvement in the Cubist movement and his work in painting, sculpture, ceramics and printmaking.
“These are important works from his time when he was creating three-dimensional art,” Hood said of the ceramic pieces.
The oldest of the three pieces was made by Picasso in 1950 and is a ceramic bowl of turned red earthenware with a white painted decoration titled “Fish”.
Two other pieces are titled “Lampe Femme” and are both examples of decorated white earthenware ceramics dating from 1955.
Hood said the group of Picasso ceramics was donated to the museum by the family of H. Scott Holder Jr.
Painting of King George IV by Sir Thomas Lawrence
Going back in time to the Georgian period, Hood said a painting of the British monarch, King George IV, was also of significant significance to the museum. The work is on display in the Decorative Arts Wing, which is in the 1859 John Hampden Smith House.
King George IV, who reigned from 1820 to 1830, is shown in a seated position, the diamond star of the Most Noble Order of the Garter – the highest order of chivalry, founded by King Edward III in 1348 – is pinned to his chest. For those unfamiliar with the museum’s collection, a painting of a British king might not be what one would expect to find.
“Sir Thomas Lawrence was President of the Royal Academy, which is the highest honor a British artist can have,” Hood said.
“He painted two, one is in Buckingham Palace, hanging there today; the other is at the Owensboro Museum of Fine Arts.
Hood said the painting of King George IV was the first gift to the museum’s permanent collection and was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Marshall S. Burlew from their personal collection. Burlew was the founding president of the museum.
Stained glass by Emil Frei
The 16 stained glass windows depicting vividly colored religious figures that make up the museum’s Mildred Stout Field Stained Glass Gallery are significant not only for their historical and artistic value, but also because the acquisition of the stained glass windows served as a catalyst for a project of expansion.
Hood said the windows were made between 1890 and 1900 and were originally installed in St. Joseph’s Church in Owensboro. When the Catholic Diocese of Owensboro chose to close the church, the museum approached the diocese about the future of the historic stained glass windows.
“We felt that not only did they have enormous financial value, but they were historically significant to Owensboro and Daviess County because the donor plaques, for example, on the 16 windows bear the names of some of the early settlers. Germans from the community,” Hood said.
Hood said the windows were made in Munich, Germany by Emil Frei Stained Glass Co. and are unique in their construction.
“They are not produced as stained glass in the traditional guild way,” she said. “These are painted windows, as opposed to putting pieces of colored glass together and fusing them with a substance called cam, the glass is painted and baked and painted and baked.”
The company that created the windows, which had relocated to St. Louis Missouri, was tasked with removing the windows from the church, performing the restoration work, and then installing them in their new frames at the museum.
To see these pieces and more, visit the museum from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Free entry.
For more information about the Owensboro Museum of Fine Arts, visit https://omfa.us.