“Heirloom of the Artist: Rethinking Whistler’s Peacock Room
April 2, 2014, 6 pm, Given Auditorium
Lee Glazer is Associate Curator of American Art at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. She is the author of A Perfect Harmony: The American Collection in the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art (2013) and co-editor of Palaces of Art: Whistler and the Art Worlds of Aestheticism (2013), East-West Interchanges in American Art (2012), and James McNeill Whistler in Context (2008). Recently she oversaw the reinstallation of the Peacock Room to its appearance in 1908, where its shelves were filled with Asian ceramics collected and arranged by museum founder Charles Lang Freer.
Dr. Glazer’s talk will look at the ways in which the Peacock Room, Whistler’s famed decorative interior, has intersected with the history of collecting Asian ceramics in the West. The room began its life as a Victorian dining room filled with blue-and-white porcelain of the Kangxi era. It later became an aesthetic laboratory where the Gilded Age collector Charles Lang Freer juxtaposed a wide variety of roughly textured, subtly glazed ceramics from all over Asia. Far from being a static icon of Victorian aestheticism, the Peacock Room has had a dynamic, international history. And the stories that it can tell us are as much about shifting points of contract between east and west as they are about Whistler’s decorative harmonies.
Previous lectures in this series: