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Curator Pick of the Month

October 2016

Title: Faust and Margarite
Artist: Unknown
Creation Date: 19th century
Origin: Unknown
Medium: Marble

Located on the third floor of the Main Building, the marble sculpture of Faust and Marguerite is October’s Curator Pick of the Month. Based on a classic German legend, the story of Faust and Marguerite has been a popular basis for many artistic works. Faust is a successful yet unsatisfied scholar who makes a pact with the devil, giving up his soul in order to live a life of indulgence and pleasure. During this time, Faust seduces an innocent and beautiful girl named Marguerite. Faust ends up destroying her life, but her innocence saves her and she is ultimately let into heaven. However, Faust’s fate differs depending on the version of the legend. This sculpture was donated by Anthony J. Drexel.

September 2016

Title: Dragon Bench
Artist: Drexel Students
Creation Date: 20th century
Origin: United States
Medium: Wood

To start celebrating Drexel University’s 125th anniversary, the Drexel Collection chose the Dragon Bench for the Curator Pick of the Month. This 20th century bench is said to have been designed and made by Drexel University students. Each square reserve on the bench contains a different design displaying the varied characteristics of a dragon’s physical appearance as they change from culture to culture, with some depicted as serpent-like creatures and others with wings and fire, as well as demonstrating the skill of the student artists. The Drexel dragon mascot was first mentioned in a 1928 edition of The Triangle.

August 2016

Title: Girl with Violets
Artist: William Adolphe Bouguereau
Creation Date: 1872
Origin: France
Medium: Oil, canvas, board

Girl with Violets is a notable part of the Drexel Collection because it was painted by the French academic painter William Adolphe Bouguereau in 1872. Bouguereau is considered arguably the greatest painter of the human figure of all time. He not only captures the subtle nuances of personality and mood, but is believed to be able to capture the very souls and spirits of his subjects like Rembrandt. While Rembrandt is said to have captured the soul of age, Bouguereau is believed to have captured the soul of youth.

July 2016

Title: Anthony J. Drexel
Artist: Moses Jacob Ezekiel
Creation Date: 1904
Origin: United States
Medium: Bronze, marble

This bronze sculpture of the university’s founder, Anthony J. Drexel, was created by Moses Jacob Ezekiel, who also created the marble bust of Drexel that resides in the Main building. Anthony J. Drexel is remembered not only as one of the most influential financiers of the 19th century but also as a philanthropist and lover of art. His love of the arts helped create The Drexel Collection with a number of pieces from his personal collection being left to the Drexel Institute in 1893. This sculpture is located at 33rd and Market streets. It was first dedicated at Belmont and Lansdowne Avenues in Philadelphia in 1905, but relocated to the Drexel campus in 1966.

June 2016

Title: Grand Piano
Artist: Steinway & Sons
Creation Date: 1876
Origin: United States
Medium: Rosewood

For the month of June, The Drexel Collection chose A.J. Drexel’s original Victorian Steinway Piano. While A.J. Drexel was known to be a private man, we can have a glimpse into his life from a tribute written by the first dean of men, J. Peterson Ryder. He wrote, “Their home had all the charm of an older civilization. Anthony Joseph’s chief pleasure was to spend his evenings in the music room, which had two pianos, playing duets and quartettes from the Old Masters with his daughters”. Today, the piano is kept tuned and on display in the Picture Gallery.

May 2016

Title: Urn
Artist: Saxon Porcelain Manufacturer
Creation Date: late 19th century
Origin: Potschappel, Germany
Medium: Hard-paste porcelain

As spring blooms into full swing, The Drexel Collection chose this Saxon Porcelain Urn as May’s Curator Pick of the Month. This large urn encompasses a number of elements characteristic of German porcelain. The crisp modeled flowers, scattered floral sprigs and elaborate figures are reminiscent of works produced at the Meissen Factory under the famous sculptor Johann Joachim Kaendler (1706–1775). The Meissen Porcelain Factory, located near Dresden, Germany, was the first European producer to discover the secret of hard-paste porcelain, which was long held by the Chinese. Hard-paste porcelain was highly sought after because of its white body, high firing temperature, making it impermeable, and delicateness.

April 2016

Title: Romulus and Remus
Artist: Artist Unknown
Creation Date: 19th century
Origin: Unknown
Medium: Bronze

For the month of April, the Drexel Collection chose this bronze sculpture of the Capitoline she-wolf feeding the twin brothers, Romulus and Remus. As legend has it, Romulus and Remus are responsible for the creation of the city of Rome on April 21, 753 BCE. Abandoned by their parents by the Tiber River, the twin brothers are saved by a series of miraculous interventions, when the river takes them to safety, and are then nursed to health by a she-wolf. The twins are soon discovered by a shepherd and his wife, who continue to raise the brothers. When they are adults, Romulus and Remus decide to return to the area where the wolf found them and establish a city. While arguing about the location, Remus is killed in the dispute, leaving Romulus as the sole founder of the city.

March 2016

Title: Animal Locomotion - Pigeon Flying
Artist: Eadweard Muybridge
Creation Date: 1887
Origin: United States
Medium: Photograph

The Drexel Collection has an extensive collection of photographs, including “Pigeon Flying” from Eadweard Muybridge’s Animal Locomotion studies. Muybridge is known for his work in photographic studies of motion. In order to capture these sequential photographs of successive phases of the pigeon’s flight, Muybridge designed an elaborate photographic system that combined multiple cameras with rapid shutter mechanisms. His work pioneered photographic studies of motion and lead the way for the development of motion picture projection.

February 2016

Title: Cupid Blinding Venus
Artist: Artist Unknown
Creation Date: c. 1900
Origin: Italy
Medium: Marble

Over the centuries, Cupid has become the symbol of Valentine’s Day so it is only fitting that Cupid Blinding Venus is February’s Curator Pick of the Month. Cupid is the god of desire and in Roman mythology is the son of the goddess of love, Venus, and the war god Mars. He is often portrayed as mischievous, and a minor character in myths who simply serves to set the plot in motion. His mischievous ways are accurately captured in this sculpture group with Venus, as the winged Cupid is reaching around Venus’ from behind to cover her eyes, a classic childhood prank.

January 2016

Title: Punch Bowl
Artist: Artist Unknown
Creation Date: Late 19th Century
Origin: England
Medium: Sterling silver

For January, this punch bowl is an appropriate choice as we welcome the New Year. In 19th century England, where this bowl was made, punch was the celebratory drink of choice. Many countries shared this tradition, incorporating the drink into all types of festivities, holidays, and events. By the 19th century, British punches recipes no longer followed strict measurements, although there was a strong preference for sweet and rich flavors. While ingredients and making methods varied across the globe, punch was always recognized as a celebratory drink.

December 2015

Title: Miniature Cow and Landscape Painting
Artist: Artist Unknown
Creation Date: Date Unknown
Origin: United States
Medium: Paper, paint, wood, gilding

In the spirit of the new exhibition opening this month in the Rincliffe Gallery “Toys, Trinkets and Trifles”, the Drexel Collection chose this miniature painting of a landscape with cows. The Drexel Collection has an extensive assortment of elegant miniatures and other tiny treasures. Does this tiny treasure remind you of any of the better known pieces of fine art in the collection? If you aren’t sure, check out the Anthony J. Drexel Picture Gallery and The Peck Alumni Center for a hint!

November 2015

Title: Dojoji (Dojo Temple)
Artist: Artist Unknown
Creation Date: Date Unknown
Origin: Japan
Medium: Woodblock print

For November, The Drexel Collection chose this intriguing piece from the collection’s extensive variety of Japanese woodblock prints. This print captures a moment from popular kabuki play, “The Maiden at the Dojo Temple”. In this scene, the young maiden transforms herself into a demon, after realizing that her love for a young priest is unrequited. On stage, a skillful actor would achieve the effect of the transformation through a rapid costume change by wearing multiple layers that could be easily removed.

October 2015

Title: Through the Fields
Artist: Paolo Michetti
Creation Date: 1900
Origin: Italy
Medium: Oil, board

In the spirit of the fall harvest, the Drexel Collection chose Through the Fields by Paolo Michetti. This painting depicts a group of children marching through a field of wheat and poppy in the Italian countryside. The blue garmets and accessories of the figures communicates to the viewer that these people are most likely shepherds, returning from a long day at work. Michetti was inspired by the Italian region of Abruzzo, and incorporated its people, animals, and local events into his works. Michetti learned to paint from an Italian fresco painter, and embraced modern methods of painting and the use of clear colors.

September 2015

Title: Portrait of Anthony J. Drexel
Artist: Josef Bergenthal
Creation Date: c. 1860
Origin: Philadelphia, PA
Medium: Oil, canvas

September 13 marks the 189th birthday of the University’s founder, Anthony J. Drexel, born September 13, 1826. In honor of his birthday this month, The Drexel Collection chose this portrait of A. J. Drexel. This portrait is considered one of the most successful portraits of Anthony, as he was notorious for not wanting to sit for his portrait; because of this, there are many reproductions of this portrait throughout campus. Try to see if you can find them all!

August 2015

Title: Tall-Case Astronomical Musical Clock
Artist: David Rittenhouse (1732-1796)
Creation Date: c. 1773
Origin: Philadelphia, PA
Medium: Mahogany, white cedar, poplar, oak, brass, silver

This is the David Rittenhouse Astronomical Musical Clock with Chinese Chippendale mahogany case, one of The Drexel Collection’s most prized objects. The Philadelphia Astronomical Society published the book by Ron Hoppes titled “The Most Important Clock in America: The David Rittenhouse Astronomical Musical Clock at Drexel University”. Why is this clock so important you might ask? David Rittenhouse was a renowned Pennsylvania astronomer and instrument maker who designed and built the clock in 1773. He was also a friend of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. The clock tells the time, month and day, location of planets, tracks several esoteric astronomical phenomena, and plays 10 different tunes on its chimes. On the top of the clock, there are six tiny planets that orbit the sun (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto had yet to be discovered). It is also outlined with the names of zodiac constellations, and just by looking at the face of the clock you are able to tell where to look for a particular planet that night. The clock is just about in complete original condition. In 1879, we know that George W. Childs purchased the clock, and it was given to Drexel Institute by his widow in 1894. To learn more, watch the video on the clock's restoration and visit the Picture Gallery to see the newly installed interactive about the clock!

July 2015

Title: Modèle du Comité
Artist: Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi
Creation Date: c. 1876
Origin: France
Medium: Terracotta

What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than with the Modèle du Comité, a model of the Statute of Liberty. The model is made by the same sculptor as the actual statue, Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi. It is possible that A. J. Drexel met Bartholdi because they were both members of the Franco-American alliance, a group dedicated to raise funds to build the pedestal for the statue in New York. In order to raise funds for the project, models like this were sold. This model is numbered “50,” and is one of only four that remain today. The sculpture was displayed in the Christie’s exhibition “Images of Liberty: Models and Reproductions of the Statue of Liberty 1867 – 1917” in 1986, and now has a prominent home in the Main Building’s Great Court.

June 2015

Title: Summer Day in Venice
Artist: Rubens Santoro
Creation Date: 1880
Origin: Italy
Medium: Oil on canvas

To welcome summer, the Drexel Collection chose this seasonal scene titled Summer Day in Venice by Rubens Santoro. Rubens painted from life and incorporated scenes from his European travels, especially Venice. Although Rubens appears to have lived and worked exclusively in Italy, he exhibited his work throughout the world in Chicago, Paris, London, Rome, and Leningrad. This shaded canal scene looks like quite the refreshing retreat from the hot Mediterranean sun!

May 2015

Title: Etruscan Ram’s Head
Artist: Artist Unknown
Creation Date: c. 700-500 BCE
Origin: Italy
Medium: Bronze

This Etruscan rendering of a ram’s head is the oldest object in the Drexel Collection, dating c. 700-500 BCE! The Etruscans, the forerunners of the Romans, were known for their fine metal craft, thanks to the high quality of ores in Tuscany. This explains why this delicate piece of less than 3 1/5 inches in diameter was able to survive so many centuries! The ram’s head was created using the technique of repoussé, where the craftsman hammers the piece of metal into shape from the reverse side. In addition to creating decorative pieces, the Etruscans also used bronze to create small objects of daily use, such as storage jars, handles, and mirrors.

April 2015

Title: Silver Resist Lustre Teapot
Artist: Leeds Pottery
Creation Date: 1815
Origin: Stoke-on-Trent, England
Medium: Earthenware

This teapot may look like heavy silver, but April Fools, it is actually a technique called “lustre”. Lustre is a metallic decoration applied to ceramics through precipitation, using salts of silver, gold, or copper that are dissolved and painted onto the surface of the ceramic before firing. This style of decoration was invented in the Near East around the 9th century BCE and then spread to the Islamic culture in Spain. The technique did not come to England until the 19th century when the potter William De Morgan began to develop lustrewares. The Drexel Collection has an extensive collection of lustrewares that are frequently showcased throughout our cases and exhibitions!

March 2015

Title: Banjo Clock
Artist: Unknown
Creation Date: 19th century
Origin: United States
Medium: Wood, gilding, brass

With daylight savings coming up, what better to help us “spring forward” than the banjo clock! This 19th-century clock, named for its unique shape, is one of the many excellent examples of clocks and watches within The Drexel Collection. Both the case and the inner workings were conserved in 2013. The banjo clock is an American invention, celebrated for its innovation and craftsmanship.

February 2015

Title: Glass Bottle of George Washington
Artist: Unknown
Creation Date: Mid-20th century
Origin: United States
Medium: Glass

Happy Birthday George Washington! In honor of President’s Day this month, The Drexel Collection chose a glass bottle molded after George Washington. In the decades after the birth of the nation, the production of glass bottles decorated with celebrated American figures was common. Also called flasks, these historical glass bottles are distinctly American, and are popular among collectors because of their unique place in the cultural heritage of the nation. Figural bottles like this were produced in many shades of amber and also in blue.

January 2015

Title: Conical Clock
Artist: Albert Ernest Carrier-Belleuse and Eugene Farcot
Creation Date: 1867
Origin: France
Medium: Silver, brass, marble

It’s time to start fresh and prepare for a new year! In recognition of the times gone by and the times to come, this month’s curators pick is the famous Eugene Farcot Conical Clock with sculpture by Albert Ernest Carrier-Belleuse. Drexel’s clock arrived at the university in 1912. It was a donation from Mrs. George W. Childs in memory of her husband, George W. Childs, a close friend and business partner of A. J. Drexel. Childs purchased the clock at the Parisian Exposition in 1867 for $6,000, making it one of the most expensive clocks in the entire world. One of only three conical clocks in the United States; it is one of Drexel’s most notable pieces of art. Conical clocks have a pendulum that operates in a circular motion as opposed to side to side, and they are surprisingly accurate.

December 2014

Title: Horse and Cart
Artist: Unknown
Creation Date: 19h century
Origin: United States
Medium: Wood, metal, paint, horse hair

Happy Holidays! In light of the gift giving season, it seemed appropriate to look back on a toy from the 19th century. Horse toys like these were very popular for children of the 1800’s, including rocking horses, horse heads on the end of a stick, and wheeled ones like this one in The Drexel Collection. While some goods at the time were mass-produced, toys of this size and quality were handmade with wood, fabric, and animal hair. Horse toys were a chance for children to imitate the equestrian skills they were expected to have as an adult, making them very popular. In addition to the horse toy, many hand crafted toys from the 19th century are housed in The Drexel Collection.

November 2014

Title: Bronze Plated Hen Pheasant
Artist: Jules Moigniez
Creation Date: 19th century
Origin: France
Medium: Bronze

Jules Moigniez, the sculptor of this pheasant, was an expert in casting bird representations and was wildly popular in the late 19th century. A French artist, he exhibited much of his most notable work in The Salon, however his work was especially popular in Great Britain and America. After he became ill in 1869, he stopped producing work and took his own life. His father continued to cast his sculpture with his old molds but stopped around the time of the First World War when tastes had begun to change.

Ocotober 2014

Title: Salem Witch Spoon
Artist: Daniel Low & Co.
Creation Date: 1891
Origin: Salem, Massachusetts
Medium: Sterling silver

Happy Halloween! This silver spoon is an example of a Salem witch souvenir spoon from Salem, Massachusetts, that dates to 1891. Several versions of witch spoons were made by Daniel Low & Co., gold and silversmiths of Salem. Upon closer inspection, you will see that the handle of the spoon is shaped like a witch’s broom with a witch at one end and a black cat at the other. We thought this was the perfect choice for the October curator pick of the month!

September 2014

Title: The Barber Shop
Artist: George Cruickshank
Creation Date: 1835
Origin: England
Medium: Oil, panel

It’s back to school season and as students are gathering their books and clothes and getting fresh haircuts to prepare, The Drexel Collection chose The Barber Shop by George Cruikshank to celebrate the anticipation. George Cruikshank began his artistic career as an illustrator of children’s books and later turned to political satire in 1811. While most of his work is done in etchings and illustrations, he also dabbled in painting, like this piece which he created in 1811. One could see how his grotesque, theatrical and humorous style translated well for satire and cartoons.

August 2014

Title: Self-Portrait of the Artist at the Easel with Wife and Daughter
Artist: Francis Martin Drexel
Creation Date: 1824
Origin: United States
Medium: Oil, canvas

This self-portrait of Francis Martin Drexel and his family was exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1825. Francis was the father of A.J. Drexel, the university’s founder, and had a peculiar skillset. He had succeeded as both a portrait artist and as a banker. While he had aspired to become a painter since his adolescence in Austria, Francis eventually abandoned painting in 1838 to open the Drexel Bank on Third Street. However, the love that Francis had for art influenced his children and his son, A. J. Drexel, created The Drexel Collection for the very new Drexel Institute of Science, Art and Industry in 1891.

July 2014

Title: Eagle
Artist: Artist Unknown
Creation Date: c. 1815-1825
Origin: United States
Medium: Pine, paint

The eagle has been the national symbol of the United States since 1782. The Great Seal of the United States depicts the eagle with wings spread and a shield divided into a blue field across the top and 13 red and white stripes on the bottom. The eagle clutches 13 arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other. In its beak is a banner with the motto “E Pluribus Unum” which translates to “Out of Many, One.” This painted and gilded carved wooden eagle from the early 19th century is a stylized version of the eagle from the Great Seal. The flat bottom edge of the carving suggests that it may have been mounted on a wagon or car, possibly for a circus.

June 2014

Title: In the Garden
Artist: Jennifer Bartlett
Creation Date: 1980
Origin: United States
Medium: Steel plates, baked enamel, silkscreen

With the onset of summer just around the corner, Jennifer Bartlett’s In the Garden stood out as a pick to celebrate the season. The massive mural in the URBN center portrays a garden that the artist studied while visiting a villa in Nice, France. The focus of the painting is a small cherub repeated five times, shown from different angles and at different times of day. The unconventional format of the painting consists of 270 one-foot-square steel plates and was conceived in this way to restrict and formalize the composition of the painting. Its progressive composition seemed fit to install in the brand new URBN Center built in April of 2013.

May 2014

Title: Saxon Flower Soup Tureen
Artist: Unknown Artist
Creation Date: c. 1750-1780
Origin: Jingdezhen, China
Medium: Hard-paste porcelain, enamels

April showers bring May flowers and this soup tureen is covered in them! The famille rose palette with shades of pink, yellow, orange, green, lavender and blue, as well as the rabbit head handles found on the tureen, reflect the brilliant colors and new life of springtime. This tureen is an example of Chinese export porcelain made in Jingdezhen, China, for the European market. It’s decorated with a floral pattern that is a Chinese interpretation of Meissen porcelains called “German” or “Saxonian,” which shows the dissemination of ideas to and from the different continents.

April 2014

Title: Runner
Artist: Sterett-Gittings Kelsey (*1941)
Creation Date: 1976
Origin: United States
Medium: Bronze

In light of the 118th annual Boston Marathon on April 21st, this bronze sculpture of a runner seemed an appropriate choice for this month’s curator’s pick. Created in 1976 by the sculptor Sterett-Gittings Kelsey (b. 1941), this sculpture depicts the moment of victory as the runner is crossing the finish line, leaning forward to break the ribbon his face depicting both exhaustion and joy at the completion of the race. This sculpture is one of several completed by Kelsey and commissioned by the Royal Copenhagen of Denmark in 1973 to produce a series of sculptures expressing different types of movement. In order to fully understand the movements involved in different sports, Kelsey worked with champions in each sport including Olympic Skater Dorothy Hamill.

March 2014

Title: George III Silver Nine-Basket Epergne
Artist: Thomas Pitts
Creation Date: 1765
Origin: England
Medium: Silver

In 1893 Anthony J. Drexel gave the Drexel Institute a solid silver epergne, made in 1763 by a London silversmith named Thomas Pitts. Epergnes became fashionable in the 1730’s when large dining halls were popular for ornate dinner parties. It was used to hold fruit, condiments, and relishes for early courses and sweets for dessert. A lot of these delicacies were shipped from the Far East so they were very expensive; epergnes became popular so guests could take as much as they wanted without wasting the food by preparing these luxuries in the main dish. The Drexel epergne serves as a stunning example of Chinese influence in England during the 1700’s as the Chinese pagoda shape is combined with floral motifs.

February 2014

Title: Portrait of Amanda Fell Cassatt
Artist: Jean Charles P. de Chabannes la Palice
Creation Date: 1910
Origin: France
Medium: Oil, canvas

With New York Fashion Week in full swing, I thought it would be a perfect time to highlight one of The Drexel Collection’s best-dressed portraits. Amanda Fell Cassatt was the Daughter of Sarah Drexel, and granddaughter of Anthony J. Drexel. The portrait depicts this statuesque beauty in a fur-trimmed red velvet overdress concealing a light-colored delicate lace and fringed evening gown. A small blue bow fastens the overdress in the front, adding a flare of contrasting color and a bit of winsomeness to the ensemble. To complete the look, Mrs. Cassatt’s headdress is a fashionable black wrap jeweled at the center with a large black plume. This portrait can be found in the Anthony J. Drexel Picture Gallery.

January 2014

Title: New Year's Eve Foxfires at the Changing Tree
Artist: Utagawa Hiroshige
Creation Date: 1857
Origin: Japan
Medium: Woodblock print

Happy New Year! This woodblock print is part of a large collection of Japanese prints donated to The Drexel Collection by James W. Paul Jr., Anthony J. Drexel’s son-in-law. In Japanese folklore, it is believed that on New Year’s Eve all of the foxes of the surrounding provinces would gather at a particular tree near the Oji Inari shrine, headquarters of the god Inari. The animals would emit distinctive flames by which local farmers were able to predict the crops of the coming year. This print was most recently part of Drexel’s celebratory exhibition A Legacy of Art, Science and Industry: Highlights from the Collections, Drexel University, Spring 2012.