‘Masterpieces’ from Ponce, Puerto Rico in Memphis

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on January 1, 2010

From the Brooks Museum of Art website:

Masterpieces from Museo de Arte de Ponce
Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, 3 October 2009 – 10 January 2010

Organized by Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico

Joseph-Marie Vien,"Greek Lady at the Bath," 1767

Comprising 60 world-class European paintings from the 14th through 19th centuries, Masterpieces from Museo de Arte de Ponce offers a remarkable opportunity to view iconic works by major Italian, British, French, Dutch, Spanish, and German artists. The exhibition includes paintings by famed Pre-Raphaelite visionaries Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, as well as pictures by the renowned Baroque master Peter Paul Rubens, the darkly romantic Francisco Goya, and the great belle-époque painter, James Tissot. .  .  .

The works included in Masterpieces from Museo de Arte de Ponce largely reflect the vision and generosity of Luis A. Ferré (1904–2003). An industrialist, philanthropist, classically trained pianist, and former governor of Puerto Rico, Ferré founded the museum after his first trip to Europe in 1950. Working with a limited budget and relying upon the expertise of famous art historians, he sought out paintings of high quality and exceptional beauty, rather than pictures defined by the prevailing tastes and fashions of the time. For instance, instead of buying popular (and expensive) Impressionist and Modern works, Ferré collected Victorian paintings, which were considered old-fashioned at the time. As a result, the museum he founded possesses an extraordinary collection of Pre-Raphaelite canvases, works that are today unanimously hailed as artistic treasures.

Pompeo Batoni, "Antiochus and Stratonice," 1746

At the same time, Ferré astutely purchased works by major Old Masters that had been largely forgotten by the 1950s. These acquisitions enriched the Ponce collection with a wealth of monumental Baroque canvases from France, Spain, and Italy. In selecting paintings for Ponce, Ferré sought out works that would communicate a sense of wonderment to scholars, artists, and especially the public. Indeed, to him the museum he founded was more important than all his other accomplishments and philanthropic efforts.

The exhibition marks the first comprehensive presentation of the collection in the United States.

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Eighteenth-century paintings in the exhibition include:

  • Pompeo Batoni, Antiochus and Stratonice, 1746
  • Johan Georg Platzer, Continence of Scipio and Alexander the Great and Queen Thalestris of the Amazons, mid-eighteenth century
  • Jean-François de Troy, Susanna the Elders, 1748 and Lot and His Daughters, 1748
  • Joseph-Marie Vien, Greek Lady at the Bath, 1767 (commissioned by Étienne-François, duc de Choiseul)
  • Angelica Kauffman, Judgment of Paris, 1781
  • Benjamin West, Resurrection, 1782
  • Goya, Portrait of Martin Zapater, 1790

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