VCESDA Lecture: “Creativity in an Entrepreneurial Society: The British Galleries Project at the Met”

Featured Speaker: Ellenor Alcorn, the Department Chair and Senior Eloise W. Martin Curator of European Decorative Arts, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago.

The Metropolitan Museum’s galleries devoted to British decorative arts and sculpture from 1500-1900 are currently under renovation. The project called for a reassessment of the holdings, extensive acquisitions and a new narrative that would be meaningful to a modern audience. Britain’s artisans had relatively modest support from official court circles, but the creative economy thrived the rough-and-tumble environment of Britain's lightly-regulated trades.

Makers were inventive in pursuing new technologies, new economies of scale and new ways of retailing. This entrepreneurial ingenuity allowed them to develop goods for a growing middle-class market, democratizing luxury on a large scale, while at the same time cultivating aristocratic clients.

 

 

Image: Tapestry Room from Croome Court, Worcestershire, 1763–1771; after a design by Robert Adam, 1728–1792, British. Tapestries and furniture covers manufactured by Manufacture Nationale des Gobelins, established 1662, French. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel H. Kress Foundation, 1958. (58.75.1–22)