Los Angeles

“Decorative Arts of the 18th Century from California Collections”

Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara

The often expressed desire to experi­ence the work of art within its own specific historic context is here realized in the fragmentary reconstruction of a series of individual 18th century interior spaces. Within the 9 stage-like settings are rooms representative of Italy, of France (Louis XIV, Louis XV, and the Classical Revival), England (Queen Anne and late 18th century) and one example from late 18th century America. It is particularly rewarding to see paintings by such figures as Van Dyck, Van de Velde, Constable and Gainsborough related to furniture and other decorative objects of their time. Even the paintings of the lesser figures of the age assume more stature and meaning within their own context. Normally one does not think of the West Coast (with the excep­tion, of course, of the Huntington) as being particularly rich in objects from the 18th century, or for that matter any earlier historic period; in the realm of painting and sculpture this is all too true, but in the area of the decorative arts California collectors have exhibited a real passion of acquisitiveness. Wright S. Ludington and F. B. Vanderhoef, Jr., who gathered the examples for this exhi­bition, have revealed an element in West Coast collecting of which regrettably most of us are unaware.

David Gebhard