Enfilade

Exhibition | In the Light of Naples: The Art of Francesco de Mura

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by InternRW on July 18, 2016

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Francesco de Mura, The Visitation, ca. 1750, oil on canvas, 37 × 46 1/2 inches
(Winter Park: Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Rollins College)

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Opening in September at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum:

In the Light of Naples: The Art of Francesco de Mura
Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida, 17 September — 18 December 2016
Chazen Museum, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 20 January — 2 April 2017
The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, 21 April — 2 July 2017

Curated by Arthur Blumenthal

In the Light of Naples: The Art of Francesco de Mura will be the first-ever exhibition of the art of Francesco de Mura (1696–1782), arguably the greatest painter of the Golden Age of Naples. The Cornell Museum owns a major painting by De Mura, The Visitation, which is the impetus for this show.

Francesco de Mura, the indisputable leader in his day of the Neapolitan School and the favorite of the reigning Bourbon King Charles VII, was the chief painter of decorative cycles to emerge from the studio of Francesco Solimena (1657–1747), the celebrated Baroque artist. De Mura’s refined and elegant compositions, with their exquisite, light, and airy colors, heralded the rococo in Naples, and his later classicistic style led to Neo-Classicism. De Mura’s ceiling frescoes rivaled those of his celebrated Venetian contemporary, Giambattista Tiepolo (1696–1770). Yet, today, he lacks his proper place in the history of art. This show seeks to answer why this is so: If he was so celebrated and admired in his lifetime, why is De Mura so little known today?

The exhibition—which, in 2017, will travel to the Chazen Museum at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Loeb Art Center at Vassar College—will feature more than 40 works by De Mura from such collections as Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Minneapolis Art Institute, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, and other public and private collections. In addition, there will be loans from Naples, Paris, and London.

Included will be the Cornell Museum’s recently acquired Solimena painting, as well as the Cornell’s newly identified oil by a follower of Solimena. Dr. Arthur Blumenthal, Director Emeritus of the Cornell, is the Guest Curator of the show, which will have a scholarly catalogue with essays by such art historians as Nicola Spinosa, former Superintendent of the National Museums in Naples and foremost expert on De Mura. Through De Mura’s original creations in the exhibition, the Cornell will finally be giving this richly deserving Neapolitan artist—the last Baroque artist—his due.

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Catalogue available in September from Artbooks.com:

Arthur Blumenthal, ed., In the Light of Naples: The Art of Francesco de Mura, (London: Giles, 2016), 208 pages, ISBN: 978-1907804854, $50.

In the Light of Naples bookFrancesco de Mura (1696–1782), one of the greatest painters of the Golden Age of Naples, at last gains the attention he deserves in this first-ever scholarly publication. De Mura’s refined and elegant compositions, with their exquisite light and color, heralded the Rococo in Naples, while his later classicistic style led to the simplicity and sculptural quality of Neoclassicism. In the Light of Naples: The Art of Francesco de Mura reveals the power of his work through more than 200 colour illustrations, including details from his great frescoes, as well as images of many of his key paintings—published here for the first time. The indisputable leader in his day of the Neapolitan School and the favorite of the reigning Bourbon King Charles VII (1735–59), Francesco de Mura was the chief painter of decorative cycles to emerge from the studio of Francesco Solimena (1657–1747), the great Baroque artist. Outstanding works in Naples include the enormous oil painting of The Adoration of the Magi (ca.1728) for the church of Santa Maria Donnaromita, and the stunning frescoes of The Adoration of the Magi (1732) in the apsidal dome of the church of the Nunziatella and, on the ceiling of the nave of the same church, The Assumption of the Virgin (1751). Nearly a third of De Mura’s works were destroyed in the American and British bombing of Naples during World War II, including, most tragically, his series of frescoes at the abbey of Monte Cassino.

Arthur Blumenthal is Director Emeritus of Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College.

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Note (added 21 December 2016) — Malcolm Bull reviews the exhibition for The Burlington Magazine 158 (December 2016), pp. 1006–07:

In the mid-eighteenth century, Francesco de Mura (1696–1782) was universally acknowledged to be the leading artist in Naples . . . But his fortune since then has been less favourable . . . Most of De Mura’s work remains in situ, making it hard to mount a representative exhibition. In these circumstances it is not surprising that this, the first-ever exhibition of the artist’s work, In the Light of Naples: The Art of Francesco de Mura at Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Rollins College, Winter Park, FL (to 18th December), where this reviewer saw the show, required a decade of planning by its curator, Arthur Blumenthal. The result is, however, a triumph. . . Although this is a small exhibition, there is enough to convince even the most skeptical viewer that De Mura is an artist of the first rank (1006).

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