Last week we began installation of our exhibit “Following Our Path” in the Carney Gallery, and we’re all very excited to see it all finally coming together. We knew going into the installation process that we might have to make some (or many) last minute changes, additions, or even deletions to the exhibit. It just happens.
Well, when something like that happens, it can end up having some very cool results. I had been cleaning up a small bust of Mary and baby Jesus and I noticed that the artist signature on the piece didn’t match what we had on the label. So I noted the change, and did a Google search to see if I could find out the artist’s first name, as it was not included in the signature. Instead of a first name, I found an interesting connection to a famous place in England.
The artist, Raffaelle Monti (I did finally find his first name) was a member of the Crystal Palace Art Union, which was a collaboration of European artists who worked making porcelain copies of classical and contemporary marble sculptures. The Union was housed in London’s Crystal Palace, originally built in 1851 for the Great Exhibition, which showcased industry and inventions from all over the world, as well as English history. The Crystal Palace Art Union exhibited and sold pieces from the Sheffield Court, which was originally meant to house important pieces of Sheffield silver. The Union would operate well into the 1860s.
The Crystal Palace
Raffaelle Monti exhibited copies of many of his own pieces at the Union, including a copy of one of his most famous works, “The Veiled Vestal.” Altered and renamed “The Veiled Bride” for the Union, the piece was made for the 6th Duke of Devonshire, and currently resides in Chatsworth House in England. The statue was featured in the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, starring Kiera Knightley.