Exhibition | The Fortunes of the Italian Primitives, ca. 1800

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on June 8, 2014

From the exhibition website:

La Fortuna dei Primitivi: Tesori d’Arte dalle Collezioni Italiane fra Sette e Ottocento
The Fortunes of the Primitives: Art Treasures from Italian Collections

between the Late Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence, 24 June — 8 December 2014


Libro d’Ore di Lorenzo de’ Medici, Annunciazione (Firenze, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Ms. Ashb. 1874, c. 13v)

This exhibition is the first ever dedicated to the topic as a whole. It proposes to offer a critical-bibliographic picture of this very important cultural phenomenon concerning the history of taste and collecting in Italy between the late XVIII century and early XIX century. Among other things, this phenomenon exerted a considerable and direct influence on the formation of the major public art collections in the most important European countries.

The exhibition begins with the fundamental contribution of Giovanni Previtali (La fortuna dei primitivi. Dal Vasari ai Neoclassici, Turin, 1964), published exactly fifty years ago. With a scientific committee made up of art historians, historians of collecting and art critics, the exhibition intends to delve into this theme that to date has been relatively neglected. Significant progress has been made since the pioneering studies of Venturi, Previtali, Haskell and Pomian. The time is therefore ripe to reflect on this phenomenon and, especially, on the people who collected works by the primitives, to some extent systematically (and therefore not occasionally), and on those who strove to lay hands on these panel paintings with precious gold grounds (merchants, agents, procurers and restorers). Singling out Florence as the privileged site for an exhibition like this one is practically a foregone conclusion, given the wealth the Tuscan-Florentine area has had historically in the production of artworks in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Almost all the collections of primitives indeed boasted works from this geographic area.

The exhibition will review the principal personalities who were in the forefront of this recovery, exponents of the church (from simple abbots to powerful cardinals), as well as noblemen and scholars who could not resist the attraction of these fragile and precious artistic representations. The rooms will therefore exhibit works of art (paintings, sculptures, objects of sumptuary art and illuminated codices) that were once in the collections of Francesco Raimondo Adami, Stefano Borgia, Angelo Maria Bandini, Alexis-François Artaud de Montor, Joseph Fesch, Teodoro Correr, Girolamo Ascanio Molin, Alfonso Tacoli Canacci, Sebastiano Zucchetti, Anton Francesco Gori, Agostino Mariotti, Matteo Luigi Canonici, Giuseppe Ciaccheri, Tommaso degli Obizzi, Gabriello Riccardi, Giovan Francesco De Rossi and Guglielmo Libri, to cite only the best-known names.

An animated dialogue will accompany visitors along a sort of ideal stroll through the Italy of collectors from the late XVIII century to the early XIX century. Visitors will be encouraged to make quick visual comparisons aimed at grasping the taste, the eye and the aesthetic sensitivity of the various collectors whose collections will be compared for the first time. Alongside paintings that at that time constituted the principal interest of collectors, there are other, equally important sections tied to illuminations and sculpture. The intention is to show the circularity of interests of collectors who with a pioneering approach sought to preserve these historical-scholarly representations, every day threatened by the risk of destruction or abandon.

The very numerous visitors of the Galleria dell’Accademia will thus be able to appreciate a selection of works of art of high and, in many cases, of the highest level, based on a serious scientific project, which will offer yet another confirmation of the heights of quality Italian art attained from the XIII to the XV century. The artists whose work will be on display in this exhibition include, among others, the Master of Magdalene, Arnolfo di Cambio, Bernardo Daddi, Taddeo Gaddi, Nardo di Cione, Lippo Memmi, Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Pietro da Rimini, Beato Angelico, Filippo Lippi, Andrea Mantegna, Cosmè Tura, Piermatteo d’Amelia and Giovanni Bellini. The exhibition catalogue is expected to constitute the till-now inexistent text of reference dedicated to this specific theme taken as a whole.

The catalogue will be available from ArtBooks.com:

Angelo Tartuferi and Gianluca Tormen, eds., La Fortuna dei Primitivi: Tesori d’Arte dalle Collezioni Italiane fra Sette e Ottocento (Firenze: Giunti, 2014), $78.

Exhibition | Art and Politics: The Electress Palatine

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on June 8, 2014


From the Museo delle Cappelle Medicee:

Art and Politics: The Electress Palatine and the Final Season of Medici Patronage in San Lorenzo
Museum of the Medici Chapels (Cappelle Medicee) Florence, 8 April — 2 November 2014

Curated by Monica Bietti

There are many reasons for paying due tribute to the Electress Palatine, Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici (1667–1743), the last descendent of the Grand-ducal branch of the Medici dynasty. Indeed the last years of her life—following the death of her brother the last Medici Grand Duke Gian Gastone—were intimately bound up with the present and future life of her State, for the safeguarding of which she drafted the “Family Pact,” the fundamental document that guaranteed the protection and conservation of the heritage of the Medici within their city and their State.

The idea for the exhibition stemmed from a 2012 project organised in collaboration between the REM museums of Mannheim—which wished to honour the memory of the Electress who lived and reigned in Germany following her marriage to the Elector Palatine Johann Wilhelm von Pfalz Neuburg, from 1691 to 1716—the Museum of the Medici Chapels, the Faculty of Medical Surgery of the University of Florence and the Superintendencies for the Archaeological Heritage of Tuscany, for the Architectural, Landscape, Historic, Artistic and Ethno-Anthropological Heritage   of the Province of Florence and the Opificio delle Pietre Dure. This project led, between the 8th and 22nd October of 2012, to the control of the state of conservation of the mortal remains of the Electress and the rehabilitation of the tomb as well as the restoration of part of the important collection of grave goods. The Museum of the Medici Chapels decided to illustrate to the public the results of this research and restoration by organising this exhibition, centred in particular on the last years of life of the Electress.

Among the outcomes of the control of the tomb and the remains of the last descendent of the Medici, the show displays to the public for the first time two gold medals, two coins and the dedicatory plaque. In addition, the exhibition is also intended to cast light on what Anna Maria Luisa did for art and politics in Florence from 1737, when her brother Gian Gastone died up to the year of her own death in 1743. It presents novelties and authentic rarities emerging from the new studies and researches that followed in the wake of the monographic show devoted to the Electress in 2006, curated by Stefano Casciu (The Wise Princess: The Legacy of Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, Electress Palatine).


Bartolomäus van Douven, Allegoria degli Elettori Palatini come protettori delle Arti, 1722 (Firenze, Galleria degli Uffizi)

The show is divided into four sections designed to introduce the heterogeneous public of the Museum of the Medici Chapels to the personality of the Princess. The first, Childhood and the Adolescent Years at Poggio Imperiale, briefly illustrates her education and the years of her early youth that she spent at the Medici Villa of Poggio Imperiale with her brothers Ferdinando and Gian Gastone, her uncle Francesco Maria and her grandmother Vittoria della Rovere.

The second section, Youth and Marriage, opens with the fine portrait of Anna Maria Luisa as Flora by Antonio Franchi and deals with the period of her marriage to the Elector Palatine of the Rhine, Johann Wilhelm, celebrated in 1691, and her long sojourn in Germany where the couple were intensely engaged in artistic patronage, well-represented by the works commissioned from Bartolomeo Van Douven, whose famous Allegory of the Electors Palatine as Patrons of the Arts can be admired at the exhibition.

The third section, The Return to Florence and the Commitment to the Family Church, constitutes the core of the exhibition, illustrating the years immediately following the return to Florence of the Electress after the death of her husband in 1716. The events of these years significantly affected the complex of San Lorenzo, which was enhanced by important commissions made by Anna Maria Luisa, presented here in the light of new “political” documents. Following the “Family Pact” of 1737, the Princess indeed launched the final season of Medici patronage in the great complex of San Lorenzo: “Anna Maria set in motion a wide-ranging series of  commission initiatives which were focused on San Lorenzo, comprising the construction of the bell-tower, the painting of the cupola of the basilica, the project for the decoration of the ceiling of the Chapel of the Princes (never carried through): it was clearly an attempt on her part to conclude the extensive cycle of operations begun by her distant ancestor Giovanni di Bicci three centuries earlier, in the service of the famous basilica and the public magnificence of the family” (Cristina Acidini).

The show ends with the fifth section, Death, which took place on 18 February 1743, where period engravings and publications illustrate the ceremonies connected with the event. Also displayed in this section are the three-dimensional cast of the head of the Electress, the medals and the other objects found in her tomb.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

From Sillabe:

Monica Bietti, Arte e Politica: L’Elettrice Palatina e l’ultima stagione della committenza medicea a San Lorenzo (Livorno, Sillabe, 2014), 280 pages, ISBN: 978-8883477324, €30.

arte-e-politicaLa campagna di restauro e indagine che ha avuto per oggetto il monumentale complesso delle Cappelle dei Principi presso la basilica di San Lorenzo a Firenze ha dato esiti a dir poco straordinari, non ultima la riesumazione e la delicatissima ricognizione sulle spoglie mortali della principessa Anna Maria Luisa, evento eccezionale di altissimo profilo scientifico, documentato dal National Geographic, e in questo 2014 il Museo vuole renderne partecipe il pubblico.

Già nel 2006 Firenze ha reso omaggio all’ultima dei Medici con un’altra importante mostra La principessa saggia. L’eredità di Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici Elettrice Palatina, edito da Sillabe; in questo nuovo evento saranno affrontati temi che approfondiscono la vita di Anna Maria Luisa, moglie dell’Elettore Palatino Johann Wilhelm von Pfalz-Neuburg, e la sua politica dopo il rientro a Firenze, in seguito della morte del fratello Giangastone.

La mostra delle 77 opere di vario genere, alcune delle quali mai esposte al pubblico, offriranno una panoramica aggiornata e approfondita della vita della principessa, le sue committenze artistiche, le sue scelte politiche e di famiglia.

Yorktown Museum Acquires Portrait of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo

Posted in exhibitions, museums by Editor on June 8, 2014

Another portrait of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo by William Hoare. . . From the press release (6 June 2014). . .

William Hoare, Portrait of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo, ca. 1733 (Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation)

William Hoare, Portrait of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo, ca. 1733
(Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation)

The Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, a Virginia state agency that operates Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center history museums, has acquired a previously unknown oil portrait of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo, a freeborn, educated African who was kidnapped in Africa and sold as a slave in Maryland during the colonial era. Before taking its place as a centerpiece of the future American Revolution Museum at Yorktown (opening late 2016), the rare portrait (ca. 1733) goes on view at the Yorktown Victory Center this summer from June 14 through August 3.

Ayuba Suleiman Diallo was catapulted into fame in the 1730s when the remarkable story of his enslavement and redemption in the North American British colonies was published. From almost the moment he touched ground in London in April 1733, he won the respect of the leading lights of advanced learning in England and ultimately entered the annals of history as a figure embraced by the global abolitionist movement.

Ayuba Suleiman Diallo (Job ben Solomon) by William Hoare oil on canvas, 1733 30 in. x 25 in. (762 mm x 635 mm) Lent by Qatar Museums Authority/Orientalist Museum, Doha, OM 762, Qatar Museums Authority: Doha: Qatar, 2010 Primary Collection NPG L245

William Hoare, Portrait of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo (Job ben Solomon), 1733 (NPG L245, Lent by Qatar Museums Authority/Orientalist Museum, Doha, 2010)

Showing Diallo in a white robe and turban, wearing around his neck a bright red leather pouch probably containing texts from the Qur’an, the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation portrait is one of two versions painted by William Hoare of Bath, a leading English portrait painter of the 18th century. They are the earliest known portraits done from life of an African individual who was held as a slave in the 13 British colonies that would become the United States of America. The other is currently on view in the National Portrait Gallery of London, on long-term loan following its purchase by the Qatar Museums Authority in 2009.

In a private collection since the 19th century, the Foundation’s portrait came to light following the publicity surrounding an appeal to the British public to keep the Qatar portrait in England. The Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Inc., purchased the oil-on-canvas painting with funds raised privately, including a lead gift from Foundation trustee Fred D. Thompson, Jr., of Thompson Hospitality, the country’s largest minority-owned food service company. “This portrait is a powerful symbol of the diversity of colonial America’s population, which included people from many different African cultures,” says Thompson. “Diallo—his image and story—is an ideal teaching opportunity for the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown galleries.”

“For approximately three years now, the Foundation has been in confidential negotiations to acquire this important portrait,” says Thomas E. Davidson, Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation senior curator. “Diallo’s visage speaks for the hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans and African Americans who remain largely unknown, yet who constituted a major part of late-colonial America’s population.”

“As we plan for the new museum,” Davidson continued, “we hope to convey the way in which the American Revolution represented the beginning of the end for slavery in the United States. While the Revolution did not end slavery by itself, it created an intellectual, moral and political climate in which the practice could not and did not continue forever.”

While there are similarities, neither Hoare portrait is a copy of the other. The painting of Diallo that will be exhibited at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown is 14 by 12 inches, with the subject’s upper body turned toward his right, against a landscape background, within a painted oval. In the other portrait, Diallo is turned toward his left against a solid background. (more…)

%d bloggers like this: