The Museum of the City of New York
Presents: Gilded New York

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Inaugurating the Museum’s Tiffany & Co. Foundation Gallery, Gilded New York explores the city’s visual culture at the end of the 19th century, when its elite class flaunted their money as never before. In New York, this era was marked by the sudden rise of industrial and corporate wealth, amassed by such titans as Cornelius Vanderbilt and Jay Gould, who expressed their high status through extravagant fashions, architecture, and interior design. The exhibition presents a lavish display of some 100 works, including costumes, jewelry, portraits, and decorative objects, all created between the mid-1870s and the early 20th century.

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Display center, large covered jar.
J Bennett, New York, 1881. 15 1/2″ x 11 1/2″. Collection of Robert Tuggle and Paul Jeromack

A treat for lovers of John Bennett pottery, the exhibition displays 2 beautiful examples of John Bennett pottery. A large and stunning covered jar and a small lidded bottle are displayed in the exhibition (not together). Both pieces are from the collection of Robert Tuggle and Paul Jeromack. The large black covered jar astounded me as I have communicated with them many times and wasn’t even aware of this piece in their collection. They acquired it in an auction in 2001. The jar is signed twice (bottom and side). This double signature is rarely seen. The thought is that it was a sign of Bennett’s approval of a piece. I think he probably did not want someone else getting credit for his work. By signing it on the side as well as the bottom, it would be clear who the artist was, even if it was displayed where you couldn’t inspect the bottom, such as a cabinet.

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Covered jar detail

Covered jar detail

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RTPJ_IMG_6630 copy

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 John Bennett, Covered jar, 1881, underneath lid detail Collection of Robert Tuggle and Paul Jeromack


John Bennett, Covered jar, 1881, underneath lid detail
Collection of Robert Tuggle and Paul Jeromack

In contrast to this to this large covered jar is another piece displayed that is a small lidded bottle.

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John Bennett, lidded bottle

John Bennett, lidded bottle

Collection of Robert Tuggle and Paul Jeromack

The covered jar in the exhibition looks like the black beauty sold at Rago Arts Auction Center in 2005. They’re not twins but are definitely siblings. Both jars were created in 1881. The Barnes-Cunningham covered jar has red roses whereas the Tuggle-Jeromack piece has red berries. Both are stunning and superior examples of John Bennett.

I love John Bennett’s covered jars. The ones I’ve seen at auction as well as the Tuggle-Jeromack vase all display a surprise under the lid. The Barnes-Cunningham black covered jar has flowers underneath. Their other covered jar (purchased at same September 2005 auction at Rago Arts Auction Center) is painted underneath in a jeweled blue.

In comparison to the covered jar in the exhibition, below is the covered jar from the Barnes-Cunningham collection.

John Bennett, Covered jar, 1881

John Bennett, Covered jar, 1881

Collection of Bruce Barnes and Joseph Cunningham

John Bennett, Covered jar, 1881, detail

John Bennett, Covered jar, 1881, underneath lid detail

Collection of Bruce Barnes and Joseph Cunningham

John Bennett, Large covered jar, 1881

110JBennett_4John Bennett, Covered jar, 1881, underneath lid detail.
Collection of Bruce Barnes and Joseph Cunningham

In 2005, Bruce Barnes founded American Decorative Art 1900 Foundation, a private foundation that works independently and in collaboration with museums across the United States to foster the appreciation and understanding of American decorative art from the period around 1900. Since October 2012, he has been the director of George Eastman House.

How appropriate it is that the Gilded New York exhibition was made possible by

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My grandmother, Marguerite Bennett Kelley (John Bennett’s grand daughter) used to tell me that John Bennett had 2 tables of pottery at Tiffany & Co. Like this exhibit, Tiffany & Co. epitomizes Gilded New York.

www.tiffanyandcofoundation.org

“Gilded New York” runs through November 2014 at the Museum of the City of New York.
Visit and support the museum.

1220 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY 10029 | 212.534.1672
Open Daily from 10 am to 6 pm

www.mcny.org

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