Looking into the Wishing Well. By Matthew Gengler, Access Services and… | by Cleveland Museum of Art | CMA Thinker | Oct, 2022


By Matthew Gengler, Entry Providers and Reference Librarian

In a pivotal scene from The Kid from Cleveland, actors George Brent and a youthful Russ Tamblyn stand over the Cleveland Museum of Art’s wishing perfectly. Tamblyn, participating in the child, is invited to make a want Johnny. The motion picture, established in 1949, is a loved ones melodrama that follows a younger boy with a tricky property existence who is helped by his most loved baseball crew. Although the film may well not be value viewing for the plot, the mid-century footage of the museum’s primary galleries is a address. The scene with the wishing effectively is even highlighted on the poster for the motion picture. Then museum director William Milliken, a devoted baseball fan, would have enthusiastically accepted filming in the galleries.

Effectively Head, 1400s. Italy, most likely Verona. Pink limestone (referred to as “Verona marble”). The Cleveland Museum of Art, Buy from the J. H. Wade Fund, 1943.69

The actual star of the scene, the museum’s beloved pink limestone wishing very well — at the moment put in in the Susan M. Kaesgen Schooling Gallery and Foyer — has a alternatively attention-grabbing heritage. Officially known as a Very well Head, the wishing well initial arrived at the museum in 1929, obtaining been sent by the supplier on instruction (and promise of payment) of the museum’s European consultant, Harold Woodbury Parsons. At the time, Parsons liked independence in gathering for the museum, and with enough reason. Over his occupation doing work as agent of the Cleveland Museum of Artwork, as perfectly as the then Nelson Museum in Kansas Town, Parsons built important acquisitions that fashioned the CMA’s collection of European art. Amongst the treasures he obtained for the museum is The Holy Household with the Toddler Saint John and Saint Margaret by Filippino Lippi, a masterpiece of Italian painting.

However, this time Parsons experienced overstepped his authority, a reality produced public by Milliken in his autobiography, Born Below the Sign of Libra, in which he criticizes Parsons for being “more rash than vigilant.” Possibly Parsons could be forgiven for his error, taking into consideration the leeway supplied him by the museum. Elsewhere in the exact quantity, Milliken refers to him as “an indefatigable intermediary” and praises how much income he saves the museum by his deft acquisitions. Nonetheless, in this minute, he misjudged his client’s pursuits and the wishing properly arrived, albeit unwelcome.

This didn’t prevent its exhibition, nevertheless. The earliest images of the wishing effectively from 1931 show it mounted in the interior yard court of the museum. With its caged songbirds and exotic vegetation, the setting furnished a place of silent repose for the exhausted museum visitor to pause and mirror. The wishing effectively helped to entire the illusion until finally the museum approached an important milestone.

Silver Jubilee wishing properly in the museum’s rotunda, 1941

In anticipation of the museum’s 20-fifth anniversary celebration in 1941, the director decided that the effectively should really be applied for a silver coin collection to profit museum acquisitions, contacting it the Silver Jubilee Treasure Pool. The wishing effectively was installed in the rotunda, wherever the marble statue of Terpsichore Lyran (the muse of lyric poetry) by Antonio Canova now stands (at the time, the Canova experienced not entered the assortment, and resided at Exbury Dwelling in Hampshire, Uk, in the assortment of Lionel de Rothschild).

In his unpublished history of the assortment, Milliken describes museum benefactor Elisabeth Severance Prentiss, a statuesque muse in her individual correct, at the function as a “grand dame, with her attractiveness, heightened by her amazing night robe and her stunning jewels, tossing silver pounds from throughout the Rotunda.” The treasure pool was a good accomplishment with donations topping $4,000 in the jubilee 12 months.

The initial is effective obtained for the collection with donations from the very well have been May possibly Show entries together with Harvest by Katherine Greuner Lange and Backward Glance, a unusual watercolor work by John Paul Miller. This began a long tradition of making use of the Silver Jubilee Treasure Fund, renamed the Wishing Very well Fund in 1961, to obtain objects by nearby artists. From 1944 to 1993, the museum purchased almost 200 objects with the fund, primarily from the yearly May well Display. In numerous approaches, donations to the Wishing Nicely have been donations to the artistic legacy of Cleveland.

Creating a wish, 1943

Immediately after virtually 14 several years of service to the institution, the nicely head that Mr. Parsons shipped without having acceptance entered the assortment, in 1943. This item proceeds to keep the fascination of website visitors who peer down into the depths, toss a coin, and make a want. Museum site visitors who have contributed their cash to the wishing perfectly can justifiably position to the artwork in the galleries bearing the Silver Jubilee or Wishing Properly fund attribution and say that they experienced a part in making the acquisition attainable.

Building a wish, 1990s

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