Thursday, June 19, 2014

Leland Stanford Jr. Museum

The Leland Stanford Junior Museum was designed by architects Percy and Hamilton and built by Jane Stanford in memory of her son. The museum was modeled after the National Museum in Athens, Greece. It opened in 1894 and with expansions in both 1898 and 1905, it soon became the largest privately-owned museum buildings in the world.

Salviati decorated the exterior of the original building with mosaic panels between 1903 and 1905, at the time the firm made the mosaics for the Memorial Church. Both were to Paoletti's designs. The subject of the museum's thirteen panels are learning, the arts - like architecture and painting, and ancient civilizations - including Egypt and Rome. There are four, rectangular panels on the facade flanking the main entrance, two large gables at the ends, and three, smaller panels above the entry doors themselves. The museum's north rotunda also had niches decorated with Salviati mosaics.

The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 that also severely damaged the Stanford Memorial Church, destroyed two-thirds of the museum building and collections. Luckily for the mosaics, the original structure sustained the least amount of damage.

Budget cuts led to neglect and the museum fell into further disrepair, fully closing in 1945. Reopening in 1954, the galleries were gradually refurbished through fundraising and volunteers. Another earthquake in 1989 damaged the museum again, but it was subsequently rebuilt and opened as the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for the Visual Arts in 1999.

Barr, Sheldon. Venetian Glass Mosaics: 1860-1917. London: Antique Collectors' Club, 2008. 98-99.
Cantor Arts Center
Stanford University and the 1906 Earthquake
"Facelift for Stanford's Memorial Auditorium, new Roof for Cantor Arts Center." Stanford News. April 17, 2014.
Arcticpenguin's flickr Photostream
Steve Rhodes' flickr Photostream
E. Chen's flickr Photostream

Monday, June 16, 2014

Morosini mosaic in Talygarn House

A fifty square foot mosaic was created by Salviati for the 1881 Italian Exposition in Milan based on an original 1879 design by artist Giacomo Favretto. It's called "Venice Presenting the Baton of Command to Francesco Morosini".

Morosini was a 17th century Venetian soldier and sailor. The composition includes Morosini himself, Venetia as a beautiful woman, Kleio the muse of history, and St. Mark's lion. More than 7,000 color variations in tesserae were used with the noticeable exception of Salviati's signature gold.

In 1885, George Thomas Clark - a friend of Sir Austen Henry Layard - purchased the mosaic from the Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company for 250 British Pounds and had it installed in the Hall of Talygarn House in Wales. Incidentally, Clark also gifted a mosaic reredos of the Last Supper by Salviati to the Charterhouse School in Godalming.

The mosaic - seen above in Talygarn House - was removed in the 1920s when the house became a convalescent home for miners. At one point, it had been left in a field on the property and as of 2008, there was the intent to donate it to the National Museum of Wales.

 Favretto's 1879 painting can be found in Venice's Museo d'Arte Moderna, ca'Pesaro.

Barr, Sheldon. Venetian Glass Mosaics: 1860-1917. London: Antique Collectors' Club, 2008. 60-63.
Plant, Margaret. Venice: Fragile City 1797-1997. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. 175.