New Melchers Comes to Light

Little Green House, The Melchers

The Little Green House

A painting entirely new to me by Gari Melchers entitled The Little Green House has surfaced, and is to be sold at auction in Sotheby’s American Art sale scheduled for March 28, 2018. The signed oil on canvas measuring 18 ½ x 15 1/8 inches has been assigned a presale estimate of $10,000-15,000. Based on comparable examples, I would date the canvas to about 1910.

Melchers found an inexhaustible supply of old world charm in both the people and landscapes of Holland. In his first twenty years there, Melchers made the North Sea’s dunescapes the primary setting for his paintings of Dutch fisher folk.  Next he turned inland to reproduce farmsteads, humble cottages, townhouses with their distinctive stepped and bell-shaped gables and picturesque summer homes perched along the banks of canals or in the setting of gentile gardens.

In my Garden

In My Garden

Many of these paintings began life as modestly sized, sketchy renderings produced from a boat or from the other side of a canal.  Some were worked up into major easel paintings, such as In My Garden, from the Butler Art Institute, while others the artist developed no further.  The Little Green House, with its wonky two story cottage and cursory execution, might be just such an example. I don’t recognize the building in any other known work by Melchers, but the formula is characteristic for him as seen in House with Green Gables at the University of Washington, Little House in Egmond, Holland, privately owned, and Old Houses, Slotweg, also privately owned.

house with green gables   House with Green Gables                            Little House in Egmond, Holland   Little House in Egmond, Holland

Old Houses, Slotweg    Old Houses, Slotweg

 

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2018 Schedule of Events

Ongoing

Preschool Palette Classes

Guided Woodland Hikes
Last Sunday of each month, 2 pm
Conducted by Virginia Master Naturalists, these informative walks cover a mile of trails in both woodlands and fields and also touch on the historic ruins of Belmont’s past. Please wear sturdy footwear. Meet outside the Visitor Center.

Free

Public Programs

Sunday, February 25, 2 pm
Tour
Curator’s Tour
The public is invited to a behind the scenes tour of the museum operation at Gari Melchers Home and Studio led by 35 year veteran at the property, Joanna Catron.

Members free, non-members $5. Limited to 12. Reservations required.
Contact: Meghan Pcsolyar at 540 654-1848

Thursday, March 8, 6-7 pm
Lecture
Crow’s Nest: An Ecological Gem in Stafford County
An illustrated presentation by Mike Lott, Regional Supervisor/Northern Region Steward

Free admission. Pavilion at Gari Melchers Home and Studio.
Contact: Michelle Crow-Dolby at 540-654-1851

Sunday, March 25, 2-4 pm
Family Event
7th Annual Beeping Egg Hunt

This event provides an opportunity for visually impaired and blind children, along with their families, to participate in an audible egg hunt.

Free admission. Families are asked to RSVP to Michelle Crow-Dolby at 540-654-1851 by Friday, March 23.

Saturday, April 7, 8:30-4 pm
Symposium
Sixth Annual Living in the Garden Symposium: Historic Trees and Gardens of Virginia
A day-long symposium presented by the Extension Master Gardeners of the Central Rappahannock Area featuring the topics: Gari Melchers’ garden restoration at Belmont by Beate Ankjaer-Jensen; a tribute to Virginia’s most significant trees by Nancy Ross Hugo; Jefferson’s botanical laboratory at Monticello by Peggy Cornett and antique roses by Connie Hilker.

MGACRA Members and Friends of Belmont $50/non-members $60 Includes light breakfast, lunch and tours.
Contact: Laura Westermeier at 540 479-3835

Saturday, April 7, 7:30 pm
Concert in the Studio
UMW Chamber Music Festival
The UMW Music Department presents an evening of chamber music featuring faculty members Andrew Kraus on the piano and Doug Gately, flute, performing the Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano by Claude Bolling.

Free admission. Seating limited. Reservations beginning March 19 for FOB and UMW Friends of Music, March 23 for the general public.
Contact: Meghan Pcsolyar at 540 654-1848

Sunday, April 8, 4 pm
Concert
UMW Chamber Music Festival
The UMW Music Department presents an afternoon of music featuring the Faculty Jazz Combo under the direction of Doug Gately and another program tbd.

Free admission. Seating limited. Reservations beginning March 19 for FOB and UMW Friends of Music, March 23 for the general public.
Contact: Meghan Pcsolyar at 540 654-1848

Sunday, April 22, 10 am – 5 pm
Tours
Spring Open House
The public is invited to tour the house, studio and galleries of the famous American painter Gari Melchers (1860-1932). Stroll the restored gardens and woodland trails, visit the Fannie Roots House on the property to hear about the latest restoration efforts between 12 and 3 pm, join a preschool palette class in the kitchen classroom between 11 am and 4 pm, and explore the museum shop.

Wednesday, April 25, 7 pm
Concert
UMW Flute and Guitar Ensembles
In celebration of National Guitar Month and National Jazz Appreciation Month, the UMW Guitar Ensemble will present a spring concert featuring arrangements of Classical, Jazz and Contemporary works under the direction of Bruce Middle. The UMW Flute Ensemble will perform selections from the Baroque to the Contemporary, including Latin American selections, under the direction of Doug Gately.

Free admission. Seating limited. Reservations required.
Contact: Meghan Pcsolyar at 540 654-1848

Free admission. Contact: Buffy Knappenberger at 540 654-1843

Thursday, May 17, 6 to 8 pm
Concert on the Lawn
Art after Hours
Join us for another toe-tapping evening of live music in the beautiful spring setting of our lawn and gardens. Enjoy beer and wine from Stafford County’s 6 Bears & a Goat Brewing Company and Potomac Point Winery. Two food trucks will be selling their delicious fare. Visit the studio and galleries of American artist Gari Melchers.

Free admission. Tickets for beer/wine $5 and food trucks accept cash or credit. To reserve your spot, contact Meghan Pcsolyar at (540) 654-1848.

Sunday, June 10, 2 pm
Talk and Tour
Architectural History Tour
Back by popular demand! Cultural Resource Manager Beate Ankjaer-Jensen will present a brief lecture followed by a tour of the historic house at Belmont. We will explore the building inside and out, decoding its architectural fabric to reveal how the building evolved over time.

Friends of Belmont $5, Non-members $10. Limited to 20 guests. Meets at Pavilion.
Contact Beate Ankjaer-Jensen at 540 654-1839

Sunday, September 9, 2 pm
Film
Inhabit
The 92-minute film explores the many environmental and agricultural issues facing us today and examines solutions that are being applied using the ecological design process called “Permaculture,” which uses the principles found in ecosystems to help shift our impact from destructive to regenerative. Focusing mostly on the Northeastern and Midwestern regions of the US, Inhabit provides an intimate look at permaculture peoples and practices across the rural, suburban and urban landscapes.

Free admission. Pavilion at GMHS. Contact: Joanna Catron at 540 654-1841

October 5 through December 2
Spotlight Exhibition
Gossips by Gari Melchers
Gossips, a circa 1925 era painting by Gari Melchers reproducing a setting and personalities long familiar to Falmouth, Virginia, natives will make a first time special appearance at the Gari Melchers Home and Studio, thanks to a generous loan from a private collector.

Included with Museum admission. Contact: Joanna Catron at 540 654-1841

Sunday, November 11, 2 pm
Lecture
The Long Shadow of J.S. Bach
UMW musicologist Brooks Kuykendall will consider examples across the 19th and 20th centuries demonstrating the towering influence of the 18th century German master.

Free admission. Contact: Joanna Catron at 540 654-1841

November 23 through December 30
Tours
Home for the Holidays
Enjoy the house decorated for the holidays in the spirit and style of American painter Gari Melchers and his talented artist-wife Corinne.

Included with museum admission during regular hours. Contact: Buffy Knappenberger at 540 654-1843.

Tapestry and Vase In One!

For the first time in 1000 years it looks like the famed Bayeux Tapestry will be allowed to travel for exhibition to England, the country whose early history it so evocatively recounts.

“In a sensational stroke of cultural diplomacy,” writes the Washington Post, French President Emmanuel Macron, made the announcement at a bilateral meeting in which the French were pressuring Britain to help pay for the cross channel border patrol.  The loan of this fragile masterpiece is not scheduled to take place until 2022 so that conservators can stabilize the 20” x 70 yard wool-embroidered linen panel.

The priceless tapestry depicts, in a continuous narrative, the crushing defeat of England by William the Conqueror. The Battle of Hastings is the centerpiece of the embroidered history, beginning with the story of Harold, Earl of Wessex, who briefly took the throne after the death of Edward the Confessor, only to be defeated just months into his reign by William, Duke of Normandy.

The tapestry’s archaic, yet richly colored drawings in wool inspired the designs of the late nineteenth century French ceramicist Louis-Etienne Desmant (1844-1902). Desmant’s Bayeux series of pottery, an example of which was acquired by Gari and Corinne Melchers, was fabricated out of  earthenware and glazed in a distinctive red and iridescent lustre spatter in the Hispano-Moorish tradition.

The Belmont piece is a superlative example by the Desmant pottery. It is an unusually large vase with a pair of rustic handles, the whole in pristine condition. The vase, signed Desmant, dates to around 1900-10 and is either the work of Desmant or his son Lucien, as the work of both artists is difficult to differentiate. The images featured on either side of the vase were drawn directly from the original tapestry, an enthroned image of Widdo (Latin for Guy) who apprehended Harold on behalf of William of Normandy and two of William’s soldiers on horseback.

Bel 3452 Desmant Vase with Widdo enthroned

Bel 3452 Desmant Vase with Willimas soldiers

Dinosaur-Print Guide is here!

Months of planning and work have finally paid off! Since the discovery of the prints in 2015 a lot of work had to be done before we could make our new dinosaur-footprint guide available to our guests. Dr. Weems and other paleontologists found time to make several visits to map and identify the various prints. I was then tasked with pulling together the information needed and to outline each print to make them a little easier to see.

University of Mary Washington Assistant Director of Design Services Maria Schultz did all of the photography and designed this beautiful pamphlet. I hope our visitors have fun hunting for dinosaurs in the gardens. Please stop by the Visitor Center to pick up a copy of the guide.

Feelin At Home

Recently when my husband and I were visiting our son we spent a pleasurable afternoon in the Seattle Art Museum. They have a wonderful collection.  In anticipation of my upcoming trip to the Hudson River Valley, I paid particular attention to the pioneering examples of American landscape painting produced by the brotherhood of painters known collectively as the Hudson River School.  I wonder if it is too much to expect the same congenial and spirit-filled views of the region’s peace and plenty when visiting the real thing!

IMG_2343

I really felt at home in the museum when I encountered two monumental Dutch cupboards called kasten (kast is the singular, or kas, commonly used by the English), with wide overhanging cornices, deeply beveled paneling and enormous bun-shaped feet to protect the contents from threat of damp in low-lying  Holland (top).  Atop each kast was an impressive garniture set of Dutch Delft earthenware.  Gari Melchers brought back his own pair of seven foot high kasten (one example at bottom), and crates full of Delft, when he returned permanently to the United States in 1915.

Kast

Kasten were popularized in 17th century Netherlands when merchants, enriched by maritime trade with the East, needed tall and roomy cupboards to store valuable household items such as silver, linens, porcelain and Delft .  The massive kasten were usually finished in veneered rosewood and ebony, and were produced in three sections, which must have made moving them a far easier exercise!

The distinctive blue and white earthenware of Holland (the best came out of the city of Delft) was produced in imitation of more expensive Chinese porcelains.  The bodies, though made of clay, and decoration of the best of these wares were prized along with porcelain.

Melchers used the two kasten in his studio for the storage of art supplies, costumes, props and equipment, while Mrs. Melchers hoarded the best Delft and porcelain for display in the couple’s house.

Melchers’ Little Flying Dutchman

An old ship model now hangs aloft in one corner of Gari Melchers’ studio at Belmont. It is the very same model the painter suspended from the ceiling of his studio in Holland years earlier, as documented by a photograph of his studio interior from around 1890/95.

MSW1.25 with detail

The ship model reproduces a three-masted sailing vessel. It is not the typical shallow-drafted fishing botter or bom of the North Sea, with their funny wings (leeboards) that extend out over the water to steady the boat as the nets are worked in the wind. Models reproducing that Dutch type are also on display in the Belmont studio.

Why hang a ship model from the ceiling? Melchers loved all things Dutch and immersed himself in that culture by adopting many of the age-old traditions of his seafaring community. In the region where Melchers once lived and worked, ships models were commonly hung from the ceilings of churches.

Consider the architectural shape and principal features of any Christian church, most notably its vaulting and nave.  Churches have been metaphorically seen as upturned ship’s hulls (the Latin for ship is navis). The imagery of the ship too, has often been viewed as an allegory for the voyage of a Christian life, sometimes navigating through peace, sometimes through storm, to its eventual berth in the Kingdom of God. Several times in the Bible, from Noah’s ark to the miracle of Jesus calming the Sea of Galilee, we read of stories about ships and boats weathering storms with God’s help. So it is not surprising that ship models should appear in churches.

Votive ship models displayed in Western European churches, especially those located in port towns, were common as far back as the Middle Ages. The practice most likely originated out of Denmark, and because of North Holland’s strong trading ties to early Scandinavian sea culture, the tradition proliferated there, exactly where Melchers lived and drew his inspiration.

A church’s ship model might serve as a symbol of a town’s dependence on the sea for its livelihood, presented as a gift by a local shipper’s or fishermen’s guild. The models might also act as reminders of a life or lives lost or as a protection from the perils of the sea for local ships and their crew. Sometimes the ships were gifted in gratitude by sailors who had survived dangerous trips or war at sea.

Gari Melchers’ ship model appeared together with the related painting Old and Young as a Spotlight Exhibition loan in 2016, thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Robert G. Beck, who acquired both pieces in the late 1970s and who have generously presented the ship model as a permanent gift to Gari Melchers Home and Studio.

Fall 2017 Schedule of Events

Thursday, September 14, 6:00-8:00 pm
Concert on the Lawn

Art after Hours

Join us for an evening of live modern folk music by Cabin Creek in the beautiful autumn setting of our lawn and gardens. Enjoy beer and wine from Stafford County’s 6 Bears & a Goat Brewing Company and Potomac Point Winery. The Gourmeltz Food Truck will be selling their delicious sandwiches and the Frufetti Bus will offer Hawaiian ice and other frozen treats.  Visit the Studio and galleries of artist Gari Melchers.

Free and open to the public. Tickets for beer/wine $5 and food trucks accept cash or credit. To reserve your spot, contact Meghan Pcsolyar or call her at (540) 654-1848.

Sunday, October 8, 2:00 pm
Film
Look and See, 80 minutes

A cinematically beautiful and powerful voice for environmental activism, Look and See is a new film by Laura Dunn and Jeff Sewell. It showcases the story of 81-year old writer, farmer and conservationist Wendell Berry, whose eloquent poems and essays regarding the decline of family farming and the displacement of small-town farming communities to modern mass agriculture helped earn him the 2016 Sidney Lanier Prize for Southern Literature.  Premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.

Pavilion at GMHS. Free and open to the public. This community screening is made possible by Dickinson Equipment, Inc., Fredericksburg, Virginia

Sunday, October 15, 2:00 pm
Talk and Tour
Architectural History Tour

Cultural Resource Manager Beate Ankjaer-Jensen will present a brief lecture followed by a tour of the historic house at Belmont. We will explore the building inside and out, decoding its architectural fabric to reveal how the building evolved over time.

Meets at Pavilion.  Friends of Belmont $5 Non-members $10.   Limited to 20 guests.
Contact Beate Ankjaer-Jensen or call her at 540-654-1839.

Thursday, October 26,   8:45 am – 4:00 pm    
Bus Trip – National Gallery of Art
Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry

Examines the artistic exchanges between Johannes Vermeer and his contemporaries from 1650 to 1675, the height of their technical ability and pictorial mastery of domestic life. The exhibition brings together some 65 works by Vermeer and his fellow painters of the Dutch Golden Age, demonstrating how they inspired, rivaled, and surpassed each other in artistic achievement.

Open to Friends of Belmont and Staff $60, Non-members $70.  Lunch at the Cascade Café included.  Contact Meghan Pcsolyar  for more information or to reserve a spot.

Sunday, October 29, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Art Workshop
Portraits in Charcoal

Discover how a portrait is so much more than simply recording proportions; instead, it can be one of the most expressive images you can create. Identifying the simple patterns and forms that are the basis for a well-designed portrait, students will learn through demonstration to use form, value, and line to develop expression. Students should bring a large photo (at least 8″ x 10″) from which to work. Photos taken in natural light with clear contrast are recommended.  Instructor:  Marjorie Perrin.  Organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and funded, in part, by the Paul Mellon Endowment and the Jean Stafford Camp Memorial Fund.

Age: High school students and older.  Meets in the Pavilion.  $15 per student.
Register online.

Sunday, November 5,   2:00 pm
Studio Talk
Painter’s Point of View with Henry Wingate

Acclaimed Virginia painter Henry Wingate showcases his work in the context of Gari Melchers’ art and Belmont’s spirit of place as important influences on his own personal artistic vision.  

Free with admission. Seating first come, first served.  Info: Joanna Catron

Sunday, November 12, 2:00 pm
Studio Talk
Painter’s Point of View with Marcia Chaves

Celebrated local painter Marcia Chaves showcases her work in the context of Gari Melchers’ art and Belmont’s spirit of place as it informs her own personal artistic vision.

Free with admission. Seating first come, first served. Info: Joanna Catron

Friday, November 24 through January 5, 2018
Holiday Decorations
Home for the Holidays

The House and Studio will be decorated for the season in the tasteful and natural style of its artist homeowners, Gari and Corinne Melchers. Included with museum admission.

Wednesday, December 6,   6:00 – 8:00 pm
Friends of Belmont Open House
Home for the Holidays

House, Studio and Pavilion are the setting for holiday decorations, music and refreshment.  Friends of Belmont. RSVP to Meghan Pcsolyar.