November 11, 2019

Melchers Paintings Loaned to Embassy in Austria

"In Old Virginia," one of the two Gari Melchers' paintings loaned to the residence of newly appointed Ambassador of Austria Jim Gilmore, former governor of Virginia.

“In Old Virginia,” one of the two Gari Melchers’ paintings loaned to the residence of newly appointed Ambassador of Austria Jim Gilmore, former governor of Virginia.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio has loaned two paintings by Gari Melchers for display in the residence of the ambassador to the U.S. Mission in Vienna, Austria. James Gilmore, former governor of Virginia, has been named the new U.S. ambassador. He has expressly asked officials of the Art in Embassies program of the U.S. Department of State to identify paintings that portray characteristic scenes of Virginia. The art of Gari Melchers, an internationally renowned painter who in his later years called Virginia home, was an obvious choice.

Two paintings were selected by Gilmore and the AIE officials. A landscape, entitled In Old Virginia, pictures a bucolic farmyard with cow, the real-life setting of which is down the hill from the artist’s Georgian house in Falmouth, Virginia.

A Native of Virginia

“A Native of Virginia” by Gari Melchers

A nearly life-size portrait of a sturdy pioneering type called A Native of Virginia, will also travel to Vienna, the pair intended as representative of the picturesque beauty of Virginia and the virtues of its citizenry. The loan will continue through the completion of Ambassador Gilmore’s assignment.  Gari Melchers Home and Studio last partnered with the Art in Embassies exhibition program in 2009 when it supplied paintings for display in the U.S. Embassy in Bern, Switzerland.

Contact: Joanna Catron at jcatron@umw.edu or 540 654-1841

Gari Melchers Home and Studio is a 28-acre estate and former residence of the artist Gari Melchers and his wife, Corinne. The property, which is operated by the University of Mary Washington, is both a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. Located at 224 Washington St. in Falmouth, Virginia, a quarter mile west of the intersection of U.S. 1 and U.S. 17, it is open daily with an admission charge.

FBI Seizes Stolen Melchers Painting

"Winter" by Gari Melchers.

“Winter” by Gari Melchers.

A painting by renowned local artist Gari Melchers has been seized by the FBI where it has hung in the Arkell Museum in Canajoharie, New York, since 1934. The painting has been declared as property illegally and forcibly obtained by the Nazis, according to a report by the Washington Examiner, Oct. 18, 2019. The courts will determine who is the rightful owner of the property.

In the years leading up to WWI, American painter Gari Melchers was an expatriate headquartered in Holland and Weimar, Germany. He enjoyed the patronage of important German businessmen and manufacturers like German-American exporter Hugo Reisinger, the Krupp steel and armament dynasty, and Rudolf Mosse, the media giant whose flagship newspaper was the Berliner Tageblatt.

Mosse, a Jew, was a philanthropist and prolific collector of art. In 1900, he visited the Great Berlin Art Exhibition, an international forum of contemporary art, where he acquired a pastel painting entitled Winter by Melchers. The painting features a picturesque Dutch couple as they amble before a wintery village backdrop with skates and skating stick in tow.

When Mosse died in 1920, his extensive art collection, including the Melchers painting, passed to his wife, and following her death in 1924, to his sole heir, his daughter Felicia Lachmann-Mosse. When her husband, Hans, assumed control of his father-in-law’s publishing empire, his press was sharply critical of the rising Nazi powers. When the Reich began to target Jews in business and the media, the Lachmann-Mosses fled Germany and surrendered their businesses and all other holdings, including their art collection, to the state in August 1933.

The surviving heirs of Felicia Lachmann-Mosse have sought restitution of the family art collection confiscated under duress, establishing the Mosse Art Research Initiative (MARI) project with the assistance of the investigating unit of BartkoZankelBunzel. Joanna Catron, curator of the Gari Melchers Home and Studio, Falmouth, assisted the effort by providing papers documenting Rudolf Mosse’s purchase directly from the artist and Winter’s reappearance in 1934 at a Macbeth Gallery sale, New York. Subsequently several gaps in the picture’s trail have been closed.

Winter appeared as Skaters in a 1933 inventory of the Mosse collection in a Rudolf Lepke auction house sales catalog, Berlin, prepared by Nazi collaborator Karl Haberstock. Skaters was sold by Lepke in 1934 to an unknown buyer and appeared a short time later at the MacBeth Art Gallery in New York City, where it was sold on consignment to Bartlett Arkell, the American founder of the Beech-Nut Packing Company. It has hung in the museum he founded in Canajoharie, New York, until Sept. 10, 2019, when it was seized by the FBI.

The story regarding the seizing of Mosse’s publishing empire and art collections by the Third Reich and recent efforts to make restitution to his descendants is featured in the June 2018 issue of Smithsonian Magazine.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio is a 28-acre estate and former residence of the artist Gari Melchers and his wife, Corinne. The property, which is operated by the University of Mary Washington, is both a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. Located at 224 Washington St. in Falmouth, Virginia, a quarter mile west of the intersection of U.S. 1 and U.S. 17, it is open daily with an admission charge.

New Tour Offers Sights and Sounds of Gari Melchers Home in Stafford

The new tour at Gari Melchers Home and Studio was highlighted in The Free Lance-Star:

At one point during the new tour of Belmont, the Falmouth home of American Impressionist artist Gari Melchers and his wife, Corinne, visitors hear the sound of a bell ringing.

It’s a recording of the real servant’s bell that rings in the kitchen of the historic house, and it’s the tour guide’s cue to tell visitors about the servants whose work allowed Gari and Corinne Melchers to live their lives the way they did, said Michelle Crow–Dolby, education and communications manager at Belmont.  Read more.

Belmont Hosts Loan from National Arts Club

Study, by Gari Melchers

A striking portrait of a woman of color entitled Study by Gari Melchers will be featured in an upcoming spotlight exhibition scheduled for October 25 through January 5, 2020. The loan is made possible thanks to the generosity of The National Arts Club, New York. The painting appears for the first time at Gari Melchers Home and Studio.

When it came to subjects of his own choosing, Melchers usually rejected conventional standards of beauty in favor of working-class types, but this well-turned-out woman, with her handsome and serene bearing, is an exception. Joanna Catron, who curates the show, says that “although Study was executed in the era of women’s suffrageit represents a class of American Impressionist painting that perpetuates an old-fashioned view of woman as an object of beauty, or in this case, a ‘study’ in beauty, with no attempt to individualize personality.” The identity and nationality of the black model is unknown, and this is the only known instance in which she sat for the painter.

The mission of The National Arts Club is to foster public interest in the fine arts. It was founded in 1898 by a group of distinguished artists and patrons who conceived the clubhouse as a gathering place to welcome artists of all kinds, as well as art lovers. The National Arts Club took as its residence the historic Samuel Tilden Mansion at Grammercy Park, New York.

In order to build a stellar collection of American art, esteemed artists were invited to submit a representative example of their work in return for a life membership. Melchers was invited to join the NAC in 1917, which he readily accepted with his submission of Study. As the majority of the painter members of the NAC were American Impressionists, Melchers chose an example of singular beauty that could compete with the best.

The exhibition is Included with Museum admission. Contact: Joanna Catron at jcatron@umw.edu or 540 654-1841

Belmont Hosts Talk on Debt to the Musical Past

Gari Melchers Home and Studio hosts Musical Borrowings: Tribute or Plagiarism? a talk on the intriguing history of parodies, tributes, and highway robbery in music, presented by UMW Professor of Musicology Brooks Kuykendall, on Sunday, October 27 in the Pavilion at Belmont, 2 p.m. Admission is free of charge.

“Music is always about other music—perhaps sometimes too much so,” Kuykendall states, citing Handel, whose reputation is blighted because of his “indebtedness” to other composers. Kuykendall echoes T. S. Eliot in the contention that “good composers borrow; great composers steal,” adding that sometimes an allusion to other music is integral to a new artistic statement; sometimes it’s just funny.  Kuykendall will share imagery and audio examples in his exploration of “borrowings” from Handel to Pharrell, via Puccini and Peter Sellers.

Brooks Kuykendall is professor and chair of the UMW music department. He received his Ph.D. in Musicology from Cornell University, and his research has concentrated on British music in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in particular Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Britten, Walton, and Gilbert & Sullivan. He blogs on musical textual issues at www.settlingscoresblog.net.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio is a 28-acre estate and former residence of the artist Gari Melchers and his wife Corinne. The property, which is operated by the University of Mary Washington, is both a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. Located at 224 Washington St. in Falmouth, Virginia, a quarter mile west of the intersection of U.S. 1 and U.S. 17, it is open daily with an admission charge.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio Awarded $15,000 by Stafford Tourism

Gari Melchers Home and Studio will host Art After Hours on Thursday, September 26 from 6-8 p.m. GMHS received $10,000 from Stafford Tourism for the program, as well as another $5,000 for its group marketing program.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio will host Art After Hours on Thursday, September 26 from 6-8 p.m. GMHS received $10,000 from Stafford Tourism for the program, as well as another $5,000 for its group marketing program.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio has been awarded $15,000 in tourism sponsorships by Stafford County. The sponsorships were made available as part of Stafford County’s tourism policy and program.

Established in December 2018, the program invites profit and nonprofit organizations to design programs or events that encourage visitors to Stafford. GMHS’s group marketing program received $5,000 in tourism sponsorships, while its Art After Hours Expanded events received $10,000.

Taking place on September 26 from 6-8 p.m., the next Art After Hours features live music by a local band on the lawn. Guests can take a stroll through the gardens and grounds, tour the art galleries and enjoy local food trucks, beer and wine. The event is free, but registration is required. For more information, please visit  https://www.garimelchers.org/news/calendar-of-events/.

UMW Museums Featured in Civil War Magazine

University of Mary Washington museums, Gari Melchers Home and Studio and the James Monroe Museum, were both highlighted in the fall quarterly issue of The Civil War Monitor magazine. Read more. 

Gari Melchers’ Home and Studio at Belmont: A Closer Look

Tucked away right outside of historic downtown Fredericksburg and overlooking the Rappahannock River, is Gari Melchers’ Home and Studio at Belmont. Beautifully landscaped grounds, formal gardens, and carefully preserved buildings give Belmont loads of charm. What really makes this location interesting, is the fact that the studio and Georgian style country house can be seen today just as they appeared in the 1920’s! It’s one of the most authentic and complete artists’ homes anywhere.  Read more. 

New Interactive Tour Brings Gari Melchers Home & Studio to Life

Gari Melchers Home & Studio has recently turned our traditional historic house tour on its ear.  Led by education and communications manager Michelle Crow-Dolby, the standard 30-minute, guided docent monologue has been torn apart and put back together in a whole new way.

The historic house tour begins with this view looking out over the village of Falmouth and this quote from Gari Melchers, “On my return to Fredericksburg, I walked through the house and opening the back door, looked down the hill across the fields and the river. The beauty of Virginia made me wonder how I could have ever left it even for a winter.”

One of the best preserved artist homes and working studios in the United States, Gari Melchers Home & Studio (GMHS) gives visitors a glimpse back in time when internationally famous painter, Gari Melchers and his wife, Corinne, inhabited their country retreat and gentleman’s farm up the hill in Falmouth overlooking the falls of the Rappahannock River. The elegant 1790s Colonial Revival mansion is crammed with the couple’s belongings. The authentic power of place and creativity found at GMHS is palpable.

“My goal throughout this process was to create a more guest-driven, interactive, exploratory, sensory-rich experience,” explains Crow-Dolby.  “Staff provide the tour’s basic framework and the rest is a collaboration with our visitors who explore what they are drawn to and stories that interest them.” We, in the words of Frank Vagnone, author of the Anarchist’s Guide to Historic House Museums, “Tell a story without someone telling the story for them.”

New tour elements include the addition of ambient sounds (i.e., music, clock ticking, farm noises, dogs barking) that capture what the Melchers would have heard during their residency at Belmont.  Open-ended questions replace rote delivery of dates and facts. Docents and guests spend more time exploring together how Gari and Corinne Melchers made a home that reflected their artistic and eclectic sensibilities. Visitors are given more freedom to explore, enter rooms, snap pictures and engage in conversation. As one veteran docent observed, “Our guests can, in effect, create their own tour.”

“I hope our newly re-imagined house tour will continue to be a work in progress and not a static product,” says Crow-Dolby. “Visitor and staff feedback will continue to inform our process and evolution.”

Belmont Hosts Talk on Venetian Culture

Gari Melchers Home and Studio hosts A Glorious and Beautiful Show, a richly-illustrated talk on the remarkable visual culture of Renaissance Venice, Italy, presented by UMW Professor of Art History Julia A. DeLancey on August 25 in the Pavilion at Belmont, 2 PM. Admission is free of charge.

DeLancey will explore the art of such legendary giants as Bellini and Titian and the hand-blown glass and rich textiles for which the city is renowned. Because color was at the heart of all these crafts, DeLancey will also touch upon Venice’s involvement in the trade of coloring materials and the challenges currently faced by the lagoon city in preserving this precious cultural heritage.

DeLancey, who holds a Ph.D. in the History of Art from the University of St. Andrews, has recently published “Celebrated Citizenship: Titian’s portrait of the Color Seller Alvise Gradignan della Scala and Social Status in Early Modern Venice” in Studi Veneziani, 2017.

Gari Melchers Home and Studio is a 28-acre estate and former residence of the artist Gari Melchers and his wife Corinne. The property, which is operated by the University of Mary Washington, is both a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. Located at 224 Washington St. in Falmouth, Virginia, a quarter mile west of the intersection of U.S. 1 and U.S. 17, it is open daily with an admission charge.