Thursday, April 11, 2019

Printmaking Class Talk and Buck Tomb

We recently spoke to Tulane Professor Pippin Frisbie-Calder's printmaking class. We were asked to show the students our cemetery holdings, so brought out recently conserved watercolor presentation drawings for tombs in Metairie Cemetery, plaster scale tomb models, bronze reliefs, art glass samples, photographs, and other items from our Albert Weiblen Marble and Granite Company records. Professor Frisbie-Calder wanted to expose the students to the unique and beautiful materials we preserve, give them ideas and inspiration for their class projects, and to introduce them to the rich archival holdings of Tulane's Special Collections Division. We also gave the class a tour of SEAA's stacks, and one item of particular interest was the large plaster scale model for the Buck Family tomb in Metairie Cemetery, Emile Weil and Charles Lawhon, architects for Albert Weiblen. Built for Charles Francis Buck (1841-1918), who immigrated to New Orleans in 1852 from Durrheim, Germany. Buck became a lawyer, and was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1895, representing the 2nd District. He was also active in the Scottish Rite Freemasons. The model for his tomb included Art Nouveau sphinxes flanking the entrance, which were supplanted by carved stone pillars topped with baskets holding spheres with Masonic symbols. There are other Masonic symbols carved in the stone of the tomb. 



Thursday, March 21, 2019

TIDES and James Gallier, Jr.

We welcomed Laura Blokker, Assistant Director of Tulane School of Architecture's Preservation Studies program, and her TIDES  class (Tulane Interdisciplinary Experience Seminar). The class will be making a field trip to the French Quarter this weekend to visit the former home of mid-19th century architect James Gallier, Jr. (1827-1868). To give the students a taste of Gallier's work, we brought out original drawings done during his association with John Turpin, including pencil drawings for his own house at 1132 Royal Street, completed in 1860, and now operates as the Gallier House museum by the Woman's Exchange. We also showed beautiful watercolor drawings and a rare 1854 photo by J.D. Edwards for the James Robb residence at Washington and Camp Streets. The drawings were made for an alternate plan developed by Philadelphia architect, R. Morris Smith, but it is known that Robb commissioned Gallier, Turpin and Company to design the house in 1852, so it's a little unclear where Smith's plans, dated 1853, fit in. Robb sold the house to John Burnside after losing much of his fortune in the 1857 stock market crash. In 1891 Newcomb College purchased the property and moved there from its short-lived location off of Lee Circle. Newcomb moved from this location to its new Uptown campus, next to Tulane University, in 1917. The former Newcomb campus was sold to the Baptist Theological Seminary, and in the 1950s, the site was sold and developed into several residential sites.

We also included watercolor presentation renderings for the residence for Florence Luling, a German immigrant and cotton merchant. Completed in 1866, Luling lived there a brief time with his family, and eventually sold the property about 1870 to the Louisiana Jockey Club. In the early-20th century, the accessory wings of the house, which contained kitchens, stables, a billiards parlor, and a bowling alley, were demolished, and the property was developed as a bungalow neighborhood by architect Leon Weiss. The house still stands as an apartment building on Leda Court. A copy print of an 1867 photograph by New Orleans photographer Theodore Lilienthal, shows the house not long after completion, and an 1870s view when it was in its early days as the Jockey Club.

The students were in awe of the perspective drawing, made by Adrienne Persac for Gallier, Turpin and Company, for the French Opera, which was located at Bourbon and Toulouse Streets. Commissioned by opera company director, Charles Boudousquie in 1859, the building was completed in about six months. It burned in December 1919, and the site was used as a parking lot until the 1960s, when it was developed into a hotel by Arkansas governor Winthrop Rockefeller, and now operates as a Four Points by Sheraton. 

We peppered the table of drawings and photos with plaster, wood, and stone architectural fragments from early to mid-19th century New Orleans buildings, which gave our reading room the look of Miss Havisham's wedding cake.

Monday, February 18, 2019

New Carnival Exhibit in Special Collections

Mark your calendars for Thursday February 28, 2pm-4pm, in the 2nd Floor Special Collections Gallery, Jones Hall, 6801 Freret Street, New Orleans, LA 70118, for the opening reception of Special Collections' new exhibit "Proteus 1892, Teunisson 1902, and Louis Armstrong 1949: Selections from the Carnival Holdings of Tulane University's Special Collections Division." Free and open to all, king cake and coffee will be provided. We hope to see you there, and happy Mardi Gras!

One highlight of this exhibit is the complete set of original float designs for the 1892 Proteus parade. Designed by Carlotta Bonnecaze around the theme “A Dream of the Vegetable Kingdom,” the designs reveal an almost hallucinatory level of creativity and delight, from frightened English peas to mighty warrior acorns. Other highlights are photographs taken by noted New Orleans photographer John Norris Teunisson documenting Mardi Gras along Canal Street and in the French Quarter in 1902; photographs documenting the 70th anniversary of Louis Armstrong’s reign as King Zulu in 1949; Carnival music recordings by Fats Domino, Irma Thomas, and Professor Longhair; and photographs of Tulane students yelling “Throw me something, Mista!” at passing floats. Together, the items on display reveal the depth and range of Carnival in New Orleans.

Special Collections has a special mission to preserve the culture of Carnival in New Orleans and that mission is supported by all of the division’s five departments. From rare jazz recordings to the largest collection in the world of original pre-WWII Carnival float and costume designs, this exhibit brings together holdings from the Hogan Jazz Archive, the Louisiana Research Collection, the Rare Books unit, the Southeastern Architectural Archive, and the University Archives to demonstrate how different collecting goals can complement each other and expand our understanding in creative ways. The whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

Above, Float design for Green Peas from the Proteus 1892 parade, "A Dream of a Vegetable Kingdom." At top, Costume design for rider, "green pea man," for above float. Both designed by Carlotta Bonnecaze. Watercolor on paper. Carnival Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Valentine's Day!

For Valentine's Day, we thought we would share an addition to the SEAA reading room. This mid-19th century cabinet in a Dutch Renaissance style, made of carved chestnut and fruit-wood, it is 57" wide by 70" high. We loaned it to Newcomb Art Museum for their "Empire" exhibition in 2018, and when it was returned in early February, we thought we would have it placed in our reading room, instead of the storage room it had been kept in. It was a gift of Albert Lieutaud, and was apparently used in the family's dining room in their New Orleans home.

There are biblical themes in the carvings, visions of hell, and wonderful buxom maidens throughout (note the maid holding her heart). This piece makes for some interesting conversations during our class tours, and gives a bit of je ne sais quoi to our Ikea furnishings...

Happy Valentine's Day! 


Printmaking Class Talk and Buck Tomb

We recently spoke to Tulane Professor Pippin Frisbie-Calder's printmaking class. We were asked to show the students ou...