Discovering Eliza

It was a truly exciting moment for me when I discovered that the DMA held a batik produced by “THE” Eliza van Zuylen. Owning one of van Zuylen’s exquisite hand-drawn cloths was a privilege that only very wealthy women in 19th-century colonial Indonesia enjoyed. With the average wage of a government employee being twenty guilders a month, and a van Zuylen sarong costing around thirteen guilders, these batiks were comparable to a Chanel bag or Louboutin shoes today. Adorned with European-style flower bouquets, hence buketan-style batik, the cloths were wrapped around the waist and combined with fashionable lace-trimmed blouses called kebayas.

Three Indo-European women wearing kebaya blouses with batik sarongs, Batavia (Jakarta), around 1880. Heringa, R./ Veldhuisen, H.C: Fabric of Enchantment. Batik from the North Coast of Java. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Los Angeles, 1996. pg. 48

Three Indo-European women wearing kebaya blouses with batik sarongs, Batavia (Jakarta), around 1880, from Heringa, R./Veldhuisen, H.C., Fabric of Enchantment: Batik from the North Coast of Java (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1996), p. 48.

Mainly produced by women in their home and for their private use, Javanese batik underwent a process of commercialization in the late 19th century. In addition to Peranakan Chinese, several Indo-European women on the north coast of the island established batik workshops, often to supplement their husband’s income. Mostly middle class, these women, who were of European and Asian, Chinese, or Arab origin, were situated in between the local Javanese population and the Dutch colonial society. Their intermediary position allowed them to create batik for several societal groups, including the Indo-European, Peranakan Chinese, and upper-class Javanese.

Eliza van Zuylen. Heringa, R./ Veldhuisen, H.C: Fabric of Enchantment. Batik from the North Coast of Java. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Los Angeles, 1996. pg. 76

Eliza van Zuylen, from Heringa, R./Veldhuisen, H.C., Fabric of Enchantment: Batik from the North Coast of Java (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1996), p. 76.

Eliza van Zuylen was one of these women; she was born in 1863 in Batavia (Jakarta) as the daughter of a Dutch soldier and an Indo-European woman. After her husband, Alphons van Zuylen, was appointed as government inspector in Pekalongan, she moved to this north coast city, which, since the 1850s, was an important batik production center. After helping in her sister Christina’s batik workshop, van Zuylen opened her own business in 1890. Starting off with just three Javanese batik makers, her workshop was very prosperous and expanded quickly, by 1918 becoming the largest Indo-European batik business in the whole of Java. Her workshop ended up being the only Indo-European batik business to survive the economic depression of the 1930s.

Peranakan Chinese batik entrepreneur Tee Boen Kee and his workshop in Batavia (Jakarta), around 1930. Heringa, R./ Veldhuisen, H.C: Fabric of Enchantment. Batik from the North Coast of Java. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Los Angeles, 1996. pg. 41

Peranakan Chinese batik entrepreneur Tee Boen Kee and his workshop in Batavia (Jakarta), around 1930, from Heringa, R./ Veldhuisen, H.C., Fabric of Enchantment: Batik from the North Coast of Java (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1996), p. 41.

The batik designs, inspired by Dutch horticultural books, imported European flowers, and European fairytales, were created by Eliza van Zuylen herself and then drawn on the cloth with hot wax by her batik makers. Provided the wax drawing met van Zuylen’s expectations, she added her signature to the cloth and allowed it to be dyed. Together with a stamp from her workshop, this signature guaranteed the authenticity of the batik. Not only was the habit of signing batiks, which had been introduced by Indo-European batik entrepreneurs such as van Zuylen, meant to help protect patterns, but it also functioned as an advertisement.

Woman's Sarong, 1910, Java, Pekalongan, Indonesia, batik on commercial cotton, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Bywaters in memory of Paul and Viola van Katwijk

Woman’s sarong, 1910, Java, Pekalongan, Indonesia, batik on commercial cotton, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Bywaters in memory of Paul and Viola van Katwijk

The signature and stamp on the DMA batik by Eliza van Zuylen. Woman's Sarong (details), 1910, Java, Pekalongan, Indonesia, batik on commercial cotton, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Bywaters in memory of Paul and Viola van Katwijk

The signature and stamp on the DMA batik by Eliza van Zuylen

A gift from former Museum director Jerry Bywaters, this beautiful sarong entered the DMA’s collection in 1982. The signature “E v Zuylen” and the stamp stating “Batikkerij Mevr. E. van Zuylen, Pekalongan” prove that this batik was made in van Zuylen’s workshop. The beige and blue color combination, in this case probably achieved with indigo, is referred to as kelengan and was popular among both Indo-European and Peranakan Chinese women on the north coast. The body, or badan, of the cloth is decorated with three flowering twigs along with birds and butterflies. This motif is repeated on the head, or kepala, but on a contrasting dark background. The pattern fields and the edges of the cloth are decorated with floral lace borders. Such a batik would have been suitable for a young Indo-European bride on her wedding night, with the beige symbolizing her purity and the lovebirds referring to marriage.

Elisabeth Seyerl is the McDermott Graduate Curatorial Intern for African and Asian Art at the DMA.

ARTifacts: Welcome to the Big Top

If you put up an exhibition called The Arts of the Circus, as the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts did in October 1962, it is a no-brainer that the preview party will be its own three-ring circus.

DMCA Director Douglas MacAgy as Ringmaster for "The Arts of the Circus" preview party. Photo credit: Paul Rogers Harris

DMCA Director Douglas MacAgy as Ringmaster for the Arts of the Circus preview party.
Photo credit: Paul Rogers Harris

The party featured clowns, balloons, animal crackers and pink lemonade, a sideshow, fire-eaters, and a baby elephant.

Fire-eater at the preview party for the DMCA's "The Arts of the Circus" exhibition. Photo credit: Paul Rogers Harris

Fire-eater at the preview party for the DMCA’s The Arts of the Circus exhibition. Photo credit: Paul Rogers Harris

Dallas artists Roy Fridge, Nancy Levinson, David McManaway, Herb Rogalla, Peggy Wilson, and Roger Winter created special sideshow banners to complete the circus atmosphere.

Sideshow banners created for "The Arts of the Circus."

Sideshow banners by local artists created for The Arts of the Circus

The exhibition proper included both circus objects and memorabilia, and artworks with a circus-related subject; it was on view at the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts October 9-November 11, 1962.

Hillary Bober is the Archivist at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Austen Abounds

It all started last year when a colleague sent me a link to a portrait we have in our collection of Jane Austen, done by Austen’s sister Cassandra. This colleague knew I was an Austen fan and wanted to see if I was aware that we had this in our collection. I had no idea!

After Cassandra Austen, Jane Austen, n.d., engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts, The Alfred and Juanita Bromberg Collection, bequest of Juanita K. Bromberg

After Cassandra Austen, Jane Austen, n.d., engraving, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts, The Alfred and Juanita Bromberg Collection, bequest of Juanita K. Bromberg

I shared this awesome news with other Austen fans on staff, which led us to think about how great it would be do a Jane Austen-themed Late Night. Around that time, we also heard that the Dallas Theater Center would be doing a spring production of Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Voilà, an Austen Late Night was born.

DTC FY15 Sense 300w 150t 1

We brainstormed a lot of ideas, researched speakers who had talked at local and national meetings of The Jane Austen Society of North America, and met with staff from the Dallas Theater Center to talk about connections to their production.

After months of planning, we are excited to see the event take shape, and we invite you to join us for our Jane Austen Late Night on Friday, March 20, from 6:00 p.m. to midnight. You can hear music from the Romantic era, learn about the fashion world of Jane Austen, watch a Victorian fencing demonstration, listen to a dramatic reading by Dallas Theater Center actors, take quizzes to test your knowledge of all things Austen, watch films, including the 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice staring Laurence Olivier, and learn how Kate Rorick helped modernize Austen for the digital age.

Secret Diary LB Cover

For those of you who like to bring the world of Austen to life, we invite you to come dressed as your favorite Jane Austen character or in a costume inspired by England’s Regency era for a chance to win great Austen-themed prizes, including a pair of tickets to the Dallas Theater Center’s production of Sense and Sensibility. Baronda Bradley, a specialist in Regency fashion, will judge the contest, starting at 8:30 p.m.

sense-and-sensibility-original (1)

Our March Late Night is also our annual Spring Block Party in the Arts District. There will be a lot to do that evening with the Nasher Sculpture Center and Crow Collection of Asian Art also staying open until midnight.

And, for anyone needing an Austen appetizer, there are still tickets available to see Jo Baker, author of Longbourn, at tomorrow night’s DMA Arts & Letters Live event.

I hope to see all my fellow Austenites on Friday!

Stacey Lizotte is Head of Adult Programming and Multimedia Services at the DMA.

Emeralds of the Collection

This St. Patrick’s Day we aren’t crossing the pond to celebrate with the Irish as the DMA is home to a number of works created by artists who have called the Emerald Isle home. Wishing everyone a happy St. Patrick’s Day filled with the luck of the Irish, and some of their artistic talent too.

Kimberly Daniell is the Manager of Communications and Public Affairs at the DMA.

It’s Getting Hot in Here

The Dallas Observer has declared that the DMA is on fire. Check out their article online and see what the excitement is all about with a visit to the DMA this weekend, and be among the first to see Michaël Borremans: As sweet as it gets when it opens Sunday.

“The Wooden Skirt by Michaël Borremans. Source Dallas Observer

Classical Coiffeurs

Janet Stephens with her classic hair models

Janet Stephens with her classic hair models

The snow last Thursday didn’t keep us from hosting hairstylist and amateur archaeologist Janet Stephens as part of our Boshell Family Lecture Series on World Art and Archaeology. Stephens began researching ancient hairstyles after being inspired by several Greek and Roman busts at the Walters Art Museum in her native Baltimore.

Stephens recreates these elaborate looks on stage using only what would have been available – double sided combs, bone needles, and wool thread – just like the ancients. Prep work on the models, who braved the winter weather, began only a few hours before we opened the doors to the public. Stephens set a few preliminary styling steps in place, like multiple braids, in order to maximize time on stage.

She brought three classic styles to life on the Horchow stage Thursday evening for The Art of Ancient Hairdressing complete with period inspired costumes for our DMA volunteers.

 

If you missed this lecture, don’t worry, you can still get your fashion fix this spring at the DMA with these programs.

Liz Menz is the Manager of Adult Programming

A Colorful Spring Break

Spring Break 1

Whether you’re feeling blue, seeing red, or chasing rainbows, this year’s Spring Break week at the DMA will have something for every hue! We’re kicking things off on Saturday, March 7, with our friends at the Crow Collection of Asian Art  and the Nasher Sculpture Center and throwing a day-long party filled with art making, music and dance performances, yoga, and lots of art!

Need a little more color in your world? Daily family fun at the DMA will continue March 10-13. Take a spin on the color wheel and enjoy story time in the galleries, family tours, art making in the studio, family competitions, and more all week long.

Spring Break 2

We invited a few of our favorite families to come take a sneak peek at what we have planned for the week and give us their colorful commentary.

Spring Break 3

The Paintbrush family had a mauvelous time searching for color in the galleries during a family tour. The Museum has four floors of art, so you are sure to find your favorite color in the paintings, sculpture, decorative art, and objects on display.

Spring Break 4

The Crayon brood was tickled pink during story time in the galleries when one of their favorite stories was read aloud. After the story, everyone used the art around them as inspiration to sketch their own colorful stories.

Spring Break 5

At first the Marker clan was a little worried about being Museum greenhorns, but they quickly felt at home in the Center for Creative Connections, where they enjoyed interactive art explorations, a children’s play area, and a welcoming community space. Once they found the Art Studio, their true colors came shining through, and everyone was eager to leave their mark!

Spring Break 6

To finish off their red letter day, the Paintbrush family used one of the free Arturo Family Gallery Guides to explore the Museum on their own. (Baby Brush thought that the cat-themed guide was positively purr-fect.)

Spring Break 7

Everyone agrees: “Spring Break at the DMA passes with flying colors!” We hope you’ll join us too!

Leah Hanson is the Manager of Early Learning Programs at the DMA.


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