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The 2013 Fall Study Trip to the Upper Rhine

Decorative Arts Trust Members of the September 2013 Upper Rhine Study Trip stand in front of Château d’Haroué, home of Princesse de Beauvau-Craon who gave us a wonderful tour of her home and invited us for champagne with her house guests Hubert de Givenchy and Philippe Venet.

Along the Upper Rhine is an area known as Alsace, bordered on one side by the Rhine River and the other by the Vosges Mountains in France. Historically, it is a region that was claimed by many—first the Romans, then it was Teutonic, later for 600 years it was under the rule of the Holy Roman Empire, then it was part of the League of ten free Imperial cities. After the Thirty Years War, France claimed Alsace, then Germany again, and, since 1918, France again. It is understandable that today Alsatians, whose language and culture is a mix of French and German, think of themselves as rather independent.

Our Study Trip, too, was a mix of fascinating towns, collections, and buildings from Strasbourg, France, through Baden-Baden, Germany, to Basel, Switzerland. The pictures show a few of the amazing places we visited, but at some we were not able to photograph. For instance, the Bibliothèque Humaniste, founded in 1452 in Selestat, houses some of the most interesting and beautiful manuscripts and books donated in the 15th century by learned people in this early university town, and are still in their place there today. We saw the famous Mathias Grunewald altarpiece, 1512–16, in Colmar, partly conserved and now being moved by the government under controversy over its safety and conservation techniques. The kind hospitality of La Princesse de Beauvau-Craon, amidst her valiant work of preserving the family château, was especially memorable. The Musée de l’Ecole de Nancy, founded by the glassmaker Emile Galle, a forerunner of the Art Nouveau movement in France, displayed glass by Galle and Daum as well as furniture, ceramics and textiles by other notable designers of the period. The Zuber factory was a highlight, as we watched craftsmen use the 200-year-old wooden blocks, made of plane and pear wood, that are now National Treasures not to be copied, loaned or repaired. Another favorite was the newly installed Auerbach Cabinet of Curiosities in Basel’s Historical Museum and their beautiful 15th and 16th-century tapestries. Also, in Basel, we enjoyed the hospitality and expertise of ceramic specialists George and Margaret Segal. Much thanks goes to Helen Scott Reed, whose dream this trip was, for giving us such an amazing mix of sites to see and learn about.

Trust members have a good look at Art Nouveau homes in Nancy.

The Musée Alsacien in Strasbourg displayed Rhine area works from 1750–1860. So many were reminiscent of Pennsylvania German work.

Sculptural detail on church in Nancy.

Trust Director, Penny Hunt, with designers Philippe Vernet and Hubert de Givenchy after champagne at Château d’Haroué.

Helen Scott Reed, Study Trip Abroad Leader Extraordinaire!, stands in front of Le Corbusier’s sculptural Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut completed in 1954 in the hills above Ronchamp.

The great gilded ironwork by Jean Lamour at a corner of Place Stanislas in Nancy.

Past President of the Trust, John Hunt, enjoys a moment on the deck of our hotel surrounded by the historic old city of Strasbourg.

Wild boar’s head on private house in Colmar.

David Ling, wine expert at Hugel winery in the village of Riquewihr prepares Trust members for a winetasting before lunch at La Grappe d’Or.

La Princesse de Beauvau-Craon chats with Trust Treasurer Chuck Akre from Hume, Virginia, before she invites Trust members into her beautiful family home, Château d’Haroué, c. 1720.

The elegant Place Stanislas in Nancy. The town was laid out by Stanislas Leszczynski, deposed king of Poland, who was made Duke of Lorraine in 1736. The arcaded mansions were designed by Emmanuel Here and the ironwork with gold leaf is by Jean Lamour. Our hotel, the Grand Hotel de la Reine, was in one of the mansions.

Trust members were honored to be invited to visit the rarely open, Manufacture Zuber, famous for its panoramic scenic wallpaper since 1797.

Trust members explored the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany. They are standing in front of Vitra Haus, designed by Herzog & de Meuron and housing the modern Vitra home collection of furniture.