Thursday, January 25, 2018

Dr. William B. Jordan (1940-2018)

William B. Jordan

William B. Jordan

William B. Jordan

William B. Jordan

William B. Jordan

William B. Jordan

Another one of my first-rate art mentors at SMU has passed away. I had no idea that Dr. Jordan had passed when I posted my earlier piece about his gift to the Prado. He was always very nice to me and the other studio majors of my era.

"William B. Jordan, one of the most significant museum professionals in North Texas' history, died Monday in Dallas after a short illness, according to the Dallas Museum of Art. He was 77.  

His legacy began when, as a newly minted Ph.D. from the Institute of Fine Arts in New York -- and a long-haired native of San Antonio -- he arrived in Dallas to help Algur Meadows form a new collection of Spanish paintings for Southern Methodist University. 

His combination of charm, knowledge, modesty, and guts endeared him to his new employer, and the fabled collection of the Meadows Museum was not just begun, but given a level of quality and a range that became the envy of Old Master curators worldwide. 

From that start, there were few museums in North Texas that he didn't transform. He was curator at the Dallas Museum of Art and the Kimbell Art Museum and, eventually, a trustee of the Nasher Sculpture Center and the DMA. 

His taste was unerring, his eye secure and his gambler's instinct unwavering. A simple list of the acquisitions made with his leadership is unrivaled among American curators of his generation. 

Perhaps his crowning achievement was the discovery and subsequent personal gift to the Prado Museum in Madrid of the Portrait of Philip III by the greatest Spanish painter of the Golden Age, Diego Velázquez. Jordan donated the work (estimated at $6 million) to the Prado on Dec. 17, 2016, and was consequently made a trustee of the most significant museum of Spanish art in the world.

The Dallas Museum of Art acknowledge Jordan's death in an email to trustees Monday night from director Agustín Arteaga, museum president Catherine Marcus Rose and chairman Melissa Foster Fetter: 'We hope all of you will remember him as the great scholar and gentleman that he was; the passionate, brilliant curator who left his imprint upon so many distinguished institutions, in Dallas and abroad; and the cherished friend who placed art at the very center of his life.'"

Bill Jordan and his unpublished painting of Phillip III, attributed to Diego Velazquez.

Dr. William B. Jordan has had a lengthy career devoted to museums. He obtained his doctorate from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, in 1967. That same year he was appointed the first director of the Meadows Museum of the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He spent fourteen years there, working closely with the late Algur H. Meadows then with the foundation that Meadows left on his death for the creation of what is now one of the most important collections of Spanish painting outside Europe.

Between 1981-1990 Dr. Jordan was deputy director of the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, where he built up an important collection that represents all periods and artistic schools, in addition to creating an influential programme of exhibitions and research. 

In addition to curating exhibitions on El Greco and Ribera, Dr. Jordan is one of the leading experts on Spanish still-life painting and has curated a number of exhibitions on this subject in museums, including the Museo del Prado, the National Gallery in London, the Royal Palace in Madrid, the Kimbell Art Museum and the Meadows Museum in Dallas. 

During the course of his career he has handled the acquisition of four works by Diego Velázquez. Now retired, he continues to be active in research and is also a collector and a member of several art museum boards in the United States.

Portrait of Philip III by Velázquez

The painting was acquired by Dr. Jordan on the London art market, where it was catalogued as a "Portrait of a Gentleman." Following its restoration, Dr. Jordan studied the painting, leading him to consider the idea that it is a work by Velázquez, specifically a preparatory painting for the face of Philip III in "The Expulsion of the Moriscos."

Among the reasons that have led Dr. Jordan to defend this attribution are:

Philip III appears to be aged around 40 in the painting, his age in 1609 when the moriscos were expelled from Spain.

Stylistically, the work necessarily dates from later than 1609. It may have been produced between 1623, when Velázquez arrived at court and introduced a new style of royal portrait that corresponds to that of this work, and 1631, when he returned from Italy and adopted a notably different portrait style.

The fact that Philip III is in near-profile and looking up indicates that this is not a portrait (in which the sitter normally looks straight ahead) but an image to be included in a narrative scene.

The fact that the work’s characteristics are not comparable to the styles of the other portraitists working at the court in the 1620s, such as Van der Hamen, Maíno, Diricksen, etc.

A study of written descriptions of "The Expulsion of the Moriscos" suggest that the portrait of Philip III in that scene had a similar expression to this one and was looking in the same direction.

A study of those descriptions led Dr. Jordan to consider the idea that "The Expulsion of the Moriscos" was conceived as a pendant to Titian’s painting of "Philip II Offering the Infante don Fernando to Victory" (Museo del Prado), which hung in the same room (the Salón Nuevo in the Alcázar) for which Velázquez’s work was painted. This idea led him to compare the portrait of Philip II in Titian’s work with that of Philip III in the present painting -- a comparison that revealed numerous points of comparison with regard to the size and pose of the portraits.

William B. Jordan

No comments:

Post a Comment