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Collecting Treasures Of The Past VII Opens At Blumka Gallery
January 22, 2012  | 

Anthony Blumka of Blumka Gallery in New York and Florian Eitle-Böhler of the Starnberg, Germany–based Kunsthandlung Julius Böhler announce that Collecting Treasures of the Past VII, an exhibition of exceptional Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque objects, opens on Thursday, January 26 through Friday, February 10, 2012 at Blumka Gallery, 209 East 72nd Street in New York. This exhibit coincides with Old Masters Week.

With over 80 rare and historically significant objects on view, Blumka and Eitle-Böhler are particularly pleased to present Pluto and Proserpina, by Matthias Steinl, an Imperial Court sculptor in Vienna (1643/44–1727) and one of the greatest ivory carvers of all time. “We consider Pluto and Proserpina to be the most important Baroque ivory to enter the market in the past 50 years,” said Anthony Blumka. According to Blumka, there are only six or seven pieces by this artist in existence, and this example is possibly one of the 10 most important Baroque ivories in the world today.

This unique carved ivory depicts the ancient Roman gods Pluto and Proserpina. According to the myth, Pluto, god of the underworld, is enraptured by Proserpina (the daughter of Ceres, the goddess of agriculture and crops, and Jupiter, the god of sky and thunder), and their passionate love story forms the basis for the creation myth of winter.

“Art historians around the world have accepted that, indeed, this is a master work by Steinl,” added Florian Eitle-Böhler. “Because of this, it is the first time in memory that an object held in dealers’ hands was requested by a museum — the Liebieghaus in Frankfurt — where it was on view last year in their exhibition, ‘Elfenbein Barocke Pracht Am Wiener Hof.’”

Pluto and Proserpina also has an impressive provenance: It was once one of the prized pieces in the collections of the Princes von und zu Liechtenstein, Baron Anselm Salomon de Rothschild (1803–1874), Baron Albert Salomon Anselm de Rothschild (1844–1911), and Baron Dr. Alphonse Maier de Rothschild (1878–1942).

"Pluto and Proserpina by Matthias Steinl, the foremost sculptor active at the imperial court of Vienna around 1700, is an amazing rediscovery," said Eike Schmidt, the head of the Department of Decorative Arts, Textiles & Sculpture at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and the author of several books on ivory sculpture. "It is quite a sensation that this masterpiece, which was known to scholars only through an old photograph, taken when it was in the Rothschild collection, has re-emerged now. The wafer-thin whirled draperies are carved in the same masterful way as Steinl's ivories made for the Emperors Leopold I and Joseph I, which are all in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna now. Given the fact that the subject of Pluto and Proserpina in its Baroque interpretation celebrates love, and as such it was featured in operas composed for important weddings, I dare to speculate that the Emperor might have commissioned this ivory as a wedding gift for an important Prince close to his court - which would explain why it did not end up in the Kunsthistorisches Museum. The Pluto and Proserpina group is certainly one of the most outstanding ivory sculptures that were made in Austria in the Baroque age."

In addition to Pluto and Proserpina, some of the other highlights of Collecting Treasures of the Past VII include:
*Diptych: The Passion of Christ: A medieval ivory masterpiece from the Workshop of the Master of the Passion Diptychs in Paris, 1360–1370. In this masterwork, four elaborately carved scenes in trefoil arcades represent Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem, The Last Supper, The Washing of the Feet, The Betrayal, The Hanging of Judas, The Road to Calvary, and The Crucifixion. Each wing of the diptych has a hole for a string so it could be fastened to a belt.

*A Highly Important Jeweled and Silver-Gilt Narwhal and Ivory Cup Attributed to Georg Pfründt, Augsburg, 1670–1674: Once in the collection of Baron Nathaniel von Rothschild and exhibited in “The World of Wonder” exhibition at the Walters Art Gallery, this exceptional and exotic cup of carved sea monsters, unicorns, and Native Americans representing the American and European continents, is probably the finest example of similar cups that were avidly collected by German sovereigns.

*A Small Siculo-Arabic Casket of the 12th Century: With its original linen interior, this caskets’ sides are made of sheets of ivory carved with ornate flowers, peacocks, and what are perhaps family crests.

*Sitting Angel: An extremely life-like modeled figure of an angel whose mate is in the Bavarian National Museum, this wood-and-gilt sculpture is by the German Baroque sculptor and woodcarver Johann Joseph Christian, who worked in the mid-18th-century in southern Germany.

*Saint Magdalene, a Precious Ivory Relief by Frans Van Bossuit from the 3rd quarter of the 17th century in the Netherlands: In this work, a beatific Mary Magdalene, wrapped in luxuriant waves of her own hair and standing before streams of radiant light, clutches a skull.

About Blumka Gallery and Kunsthandlug Julius Böhler
Blumka Gallery and Kunsthandlung Julius Böhler, both founded in the 19th century, are two of the leading firms in the field of European works of art. Over the years, each gallery has played a role in enhancing both private and museum collections across the globe. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Treasury at the Cloisters in New York, the Bavarian National Museum, and the Louvre are merely a sampling of museums that have acquired important pieces from Blumka and Böhler.

Blumka Gallery is located at 209 East 72nd Street (between Second and Third Avenues). Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

For more information:
Tel. 212.734.3222