Milwaukee Art Museum
Press Release

Mystery Around Painting Attributed to John Constable Solved With Conservation and Research at Milwaukee Art Museum

‘Constable? A Landscape Rediscovered’ gives visitors a peek at the behind-the-scenes investigations into artworks Museum professionals regularly conduct

By - Aug 28th, 2018 01:20 pm
Constable? Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Constable? Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Milwaukee, Wis. – August 28, 2018 – A new focus exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum will unveil a recently conserved painting and reveal the mysteries surrounding the work attributed to John Constable, donated to the Layton Art Collection, Inc. more than 70 years ago.

Opening September 7, 2018, in the European Art Galleries, Level 2, Gallery S202, Constable? A Landscape Rediscovered investigates the provenance of a landscape painting that entered the Layton Art Collection, Inc., as a gift from Arthur Nye McGeoch, a prominent Milwaukee financier, art collector and real estate magnate.

“Since it arrived in the Layton collection in 1941, the painting has remained an open question, and has largely stayed off view, in storage at the Museum,” said Tanya Paul, Isabel and Alfred Bader Curator of European Art at the Milwaukee Art Museum. “It was donated as a Constable, but the handling, as well as the details of the composition, such as the building and the rock formation, has raised questions throughout its time here. This exhibition was an opportunity to answer some of those questions.”

Visitors to the Museum will have the opportunity to see the painting in person, along with images and videos of the conservation process. Conservator Mark F. Bockrath, working in the Milwaukee Art Museum’s on-site conservation lab, removed decades of dirt and grime, revealing the true beauty of the painting.

“Is it a Constable or, if not, who did paint it? It’s the first time that one of our exhibitions has had a spoiler alert,” said Amanda C. Peterson, Director of Marketing and Communications, Milwaukee Art Museum. “I hope people appreciate not only the painting but also the scholarship and science that goes into caring for the art. With over 30,000 works in the Museum’s collection, we have a lot of stories to tell.”

The research shared in the gallery will also include background on the McGeoch family, as art collectors, donors and real estate developers who helped form what is now the city of West Allis. This history helps reveal the path the painting took on its way to the Layton Art Collection.

John Constable (1776-1837) was an English landscape painter in the naturalistic tradition and a member of the Royal Academy. His work displayed in the Paris Salon in 1824 heavily influenced the painters of the Barbizon School.

“It is a beautiful work of art that deserved to be cleaned and studied,” said Jodi Eastberg, a professor of history at Alverno College and the chair of the works of art committee for the Layton Art Collection. “We were all completely prepared that we would end up with just a very beautiful and restored work of art, but instead we’ve solved a mystery.”

A supplemental three-episode podcast is available in conjunction with the exhibition through the Museum’s website at mam.org/mystery.

The painting as well as documents and videos related to the research and conservation will be on view at the Milwaukee Art Museum through February 17, 2019. Constable? A Landscape Rediscovered is a Layton Art Collection focus exhibition.

Supporting events

Gallery Talks

Tues, 1:30 p.m.

Nov 13, Jan 8

With Tanya Paul, Isabel and Alfred Bader Curator of European Art at the Milwaukee Art Museum

About the Layton Art Collection, Inc.

The Layton Art Collection, Inc., an independent not-for-profit organization, honors the legacy of  English-American Frederick Layton (1827–1919), a prominent businessman, philanthropist and art collector, by supporting and promoting exhibitions and other programming based on the works in the Layton Art Collection. The Layton Art Collection is a founding collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum, a gift to the people of the City of Milwaukee from Mr. Layton that began with a single-patron art gallery known as the Layton Art Gallery in Milwaukee in 1888. Since the mid-1950s, a representative portion of the Layton Art Collection, including substantially all of the core works in the Layton Art Collection, has been on display at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

About the Milwaukee Art Museum

Home to a rich collection of more than 30,000 works of art, the Milwaukee Art Museum is located on the shores of Lake Michigan. Its campus includes the Santiago Calatrava–designed Quadracci Pavilion, annually showcasing three feature exhibitions, and the Eero Saarinen–designed Milwaukee County War Memorial Center and David Kahler‒designed addition. In 2016, after a yearlong renovation, the Museum reopened its Collection Galleries, debuting nearly 2,500 world-class works of art within dramatically transformed galleries and a new lakefront addition. This reimagined space also allows for the presentation of additional changing exhibitions. For more information, please visit: mam.org.

General Admission Pricing

$19 Adults

$17 Students (w/ID), Seniors (65+)

Free for Kids 12 & under every day thanks to Kohl’s Cares

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Free to Wisconsin K–12 teachers with valid school ID or pay stub

Free the first Thursday of every month, sponsored by Meijer
Adult tour groups or school groups should call 414-224-3842.

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