The Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery (M&G), in Greenville, SC, is pleased to announce its first significant art purchase since 1997—a 14th century French Carved Ivory diptych panel called, “The Trinity”. Purchased in November 2011, the ivory arrived in spring of 2012 and marks the fruition of M&G’s strategic goal to reenter the arts market and address areas of development within the collection.
The ivory’s provenance can be traced to the collections of two key figures in the French art history: Victor Prosper Martin Le Roy, a noted art-collector, and his son-in-law, Jean-Joseph Marquet de Vasselot, a 20th-century French art historian, curator of the Musée de Louvre, and director of the Musée de Cluny. Together, these men established a collection with “one of the most prestigious French provenances possible in the field of medieval works of art” (Christie’s Publication). Largely hidden from public view for three generations, the collection of Marquet de Vasselot recently returned to prominence with the November 2011 sale of these medieval works by Christie’s fine arts auction house.
M&G’s interest in the ivory stemmed from a focused strategy developed by director Erin Jones and curator John Nolan to make targeted art purchases that would strengthen the medieval portion of M&G’s collections. M&G’s curator, John Nolan, carefully studied the list of available items, and settled upon the ivory as the best choice to fulfill M&G’s interests; however, questions about the actual origin of work led him to seek additional scholarship. He consulted Dr. Charles Little, Curator of Medieval Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, who personally examined the ivory in Paris, France. Dr. Little reported that the work was genuine and probably originated from the north of France or the Low Countries of the late 14th-15th century.
With new scholarship firmly supporting the ivory’s authenticity as a medieval work and the needed funding support, M&G was able to make the purchase. Director, Erin Jones relates the importance of the occasion, “We’re thrilled to introduce this beautiful, delicate work to the collection and our guests, and we’re so grateful for the vision and the generosity of the Audrey Love Charitable Foundation to encourage M&G’s growth in this way! Without the ongoing generosity of donors, M&G would not be able to pursue acquisitions or be able to share the collection with our community.”
Now celebrating over 60 years of serving the Upstate, M&G’s internationally respected collection of European Old Master paintings is viewed by thousands of visitors each year. M&G collected these works during the early 1950s and 1960s when the market was flooded with such unwanted art, allowing the collection to grow quickly from humble beginnings to the over 400 paintings and hundreds of period pieces it features today. As M&G curator John Nolan notes, “Dr. Jones established a reputation for perceiving value in the undervalued when it came to Old Master paintings. Now, we too have been able to acquire a wonderful object, not particularly valued by the market, but from one of the most important medieval collectors in the 20th century and have done so with the endorsement of one of the strongest authorities in the medieval field.”
To commemorate this special occasion, the Museum & Gallery at Bob Jones University is hosting an evening lecture by Metropolitan Museum of Art curator, Dr. Charles Little, and a reception on Thursday evening, Oct. 4 at 7pm. Registration to attend is requested.
For additional information about this new addition and the lecture and unveiling reception, please contact the museum at 864/770-1331 or RSVP at (www.bjumg.org).