Saturday, August 31, 2013

12. ... a visit to The Cloisters

The Cloisters museum and gardens is located in Fort Tryon Park in the northern tip of Manhattan and is the branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe.

The site looks across the Hudson River to the Palisades ( row of cliffs ) of New Jersey. 

Set in a green parkland and surrounded by gardens and forests
" ... Much of the sculpture at The Cloisters was acquired by George Grey Barnard (1863–1938), a prominent American sculptor, and an avid collector and dealer of medieval art. Barnard opened his original Cloisters to the public in 1914.

Through the generosity of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874–1960), the Met acquired Barnard's Cloisters and most of its contents in 1925.
Rockefeller donated to New York City, and financed the conversion of, some 56 acres of land just north of Barnard's museum, which became Fort Tryon Park—approximately 4 acres of which was destined as the site for the new museum.

Following J. Pierpont Morgan's purchase of 12 miles of the New Jersey Palisades in 1901 to preserve the cliffs and shoreline from excessive quarrying, Rockefeller in 1933 donated some 700 additional acres of the Palisades' plateau to preserve the view across the River from The Cloisters. In addition to providing the grounds and building to house the Barnard collection, Rockefeller contributed works of art from his own collection and established an endowment for operations and future acquisitions ..." - quote from Met website.

The "castle fortress" was assembled from architectural elements, both domestic and religious, dating from the twelfth through the fifteenth century.

The building and its cloistered gardens are treasures in themselves and are really part of the collection housed within.

The Cloisters was first opened to the public in 1938.
The Cloisters' collection comprises approximately two thousand works of art from medieval Europe, including exquisite illuminated manuscripts, stained glass, metalwork, enamels, ivories, and tapestries.
Virgin and Child - painted limestone - France - 1350 
Triptych with the Passion of Christ - mother of pearl + wood + leather - South Germany - 1475 
House Altar Piece - oil + gold on wood -  Germany 1490
Altar Piece - Annunciation - work of Robert Campin - oil on oak - Netherlands - 1475 
Adoration of the Magi - Germany - 1507 
Scenes from the life of St. Augustine - oil + gilding on oak panel - South Flanders - 1490 
Enthroned Virgin and Child - paint + gilding on Lindenwood - Prague - 1345 
 Virgin and Child on base - alabaster - France - 1350
Altar Piece with Scenes from the Life of St. Andrew - tempera + gold on wood - Catalan - 1430
Unicorn Tapestries - wool, silk and silver wrapped thread  - South Netherlands - 1495
"... The seven individual hangings known as "The Unicorn Tapestries," are among the most beautiful and complex works of art from the late Middle Ages that survive. Luxuriously woven in fine wool and silk with silver and gilded threads, the tapestries vividly depict scenes associated with a hunt for the elusive, magical unicorn ..." 
One of the two gardens within the walls - this one featuring medicinal and culinary herbs commonly used  during medieval times. 
Virgin and Child - oil + gilding on Maple - Spain - 1280
My visit to The Cloisters took place on a very overcast rainy day - this added I must say to the Medieval atmosphere of this incredible museum.

Tomorrow - in complete contrast to today's posting - I am going to project you 700 years forwards to another incredible place on this planet of contrasts - Time Square New York City ... 

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