January 31, 2012

Driehaus Museum Announces Third Season Schedule for Samuel M. Nickerson Lecture Series

The Richard H. Driehaus Museum announces its third season of the Samuel M. Nickerson Lecture Series, an annual program which seeks to foster appreciation for historic architecture and design. The lectures, which are free and open to the public, feature five notable scholars in the field of nineteenth-century art and architecture. The program commences with the first lecture on Thursday, March 22, 2012; the other four lectures follow in April, May, September, and October. The full year roster of topics and speakers consists of:

Thursday March 22, 6:00 p.m.
Citizen Hearst: Phoebe Apperson Hearst and the Life Behind Her Library
Dr. Amy Lippert, Assistant Professor of History, University of Chicago

The development of Phoebe Hearst’s private collection intersected with her significant role and influence on the University of California at Berkeley. Hearst’s acquired objects revealed her avid interest in obtaining an education and becoming a cosmopolitan, learned citizen of the world, as well as her increasingly self-conscious bid to establish her personal legacy and imbue it with her own political and social values. This lecture examines how Hearst ensured both a material and a figurative place for her legacy and her long-term social goals through the institution of U.C. Berkeley.

Thursday April 19, 6:00 p.m.
Beauty, Money and Power: The Transformation of Taste in America’s Gilded Age
Ulysses Grant Dietz, Senior Curator & Curator of Decorative Arts, Newark Art Museum

In the 1880s, when Samuel M. Nickerson built his mansion in Chicago and John Ballantine built his in Newark, good taste was modern taste. Wealthy Americans looked to designers to synthesize something opulent, artistic, and distinctly American to symbolize their financial status and social power: this meant modern art, modern interiors and modern architecture. However, by 1900, the very idea of what was “good taste” in America had begun to change dramatically. In the new century, anything modern was suddenly “bad taste.” Good taste became anti-modern and included Old Master paintings, period interiors filled with antiques (or at least authentic period reproductions), and styles that reminiscent of European aristocracy. Mr. Dietz explores the reasons why America’s elite, who embraced modern in the nineteenth century, did an aesthetic about-face and embraced anti-modern in the twentieth.

Thursday May 17, 6:00 p.m.
Innovation and Opulence: Stanford White and the Kingscote Dining Room
Caitlin Emery, Museum Programs Coordinator, the Preservation Society of Newport County

At the time of its completion in 1881, the Kingscote dining room was unlike anything previously built in Newport, Rhode Island. Departing from earlier stylistic traditions, the space epitomizes the eclectic aesthetic that defined the early work of its designer, Stanford White, and identified the clients, Mr. and Mrs. David King, Jr. as discernible patrons of the arts. Trained as a painter, White’s prowess is evident in the careful blending of materials and the use of light, texture, and color. The Kingscote dining room helped establish White as a designer and tastemaker, and illustrates the idea of “cultural fusion,” drawing inspiration from Elizabethan, Japanese, Moorish, Aesthetic, and American Colonial sources.

Thursday September 20, 6:00 p.m.
The Gilded Progressive: Edith Wharton’s Literary and Autobiographical Designs
Dr. Caroline Hellman, Assistant Professor of English, New York City College of Technology

Although Edith Wharton is an author associated with novels of manners, old New York, and Gilded Age opulence, this characterization of her legacy does not reflect her significant charitable work during World War I. This talk considers Wharton’s design sensibility in the contexts of her fiction and her war reportage, reconciling reputation and reality.

Thursday October 18, 6:00 p.m.
Cranes, Dragons and Geishas: Metalwork of the Aesthetic Movement
Anna Tobin D’Ambrosio, Director & Chief Curator, Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute

This lecture explores the phenomenal popularity of innovative brass and mixed-metal furniture and accessories that became ubiquitous in fashionable 1880s American interiors. Art brass forms lent decorative touches to grand chandeliers, tables, upholstered furniture and door hardware. Each form was ornamented with motifs, ranging from exotic flourishes drawn from Moorish and Persian designs to cranes, dragons, and geishas. These expressive works of metal, made in response to consumer demand for Aesthetic-style decorative arts, are among the best industrial design of their time.

All lectures begin promptly at 6 p.m. in the Driehaus Museum Ballroom. Museum doors open at 5 p.m. for any attendees who would like to explore the Museum and its collections. The Nickerson Lecture Series is always free to the public, but as space is limited, advance reservations are required. Reservations may be made online at driehausmuseum.org/programs; guests may also call 312-482-8933, ext. 21 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.

About the Nickerson Lecture Series
The Nickerson Lecture Series explores the milieu in which Samuel Nickerson operated and the principles in art, architecture, and design that governed the creation of his remarkable home. The program serves to situate the Nickerson Mansion within the context of social artistic developments of the period and against the wider background of America’s Gilded Age.


< Back to overview

Sign up for e-News

Stay up to date with the latest news and programs from the Driehaus Museum. Click here to subscribe