Past exhibition

Exhibition: Ornament

Artists throughout history have played with patterns and fantastic forms in all media, imitating, adapting, and translating them from one context to another, from drawings and prints to frames, ceramics, furniture, architecture, and other specialized forms. In this installation, more than 40 prints and drawings from the Yale University Art Gallery’s collection displaying three centuries of European ornament are presented alongside three musical instruments on loan from the Yale School of Music. Together, these works offer a brief look at the migration of motifs over great distances and sometimes long stretches of time—revealing how ideas explored on paper might end up pasted onto the lids of harpsichords, painted onto soundboards, and displayed in the banded marquetry of pianos.

A keyboard instrument resembling a piano. Text and ornamentation are visible on the inside of its raised lid and on the surfaces above the keyboard itself. The instrument has elaborately carved legs.

Andreas Ruckers, Harpsichord, Antwerp, 1640. Yale School of Music, Morris Steinert Collection of Musical Instruments. Photo: Christopher Gardner

Views of the Exhibition

Exhibition made possible by the Wolfe Family Exhibition and Publication Fund. Organized by Freyda Spira, the Robert L. Solley Curator of Prints and Drawings, and Laurence Kanter, Chief Curator and the Lionel Goldfrank III Curator of European Art.