Exhibition | High Society

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on March 16, 2018

Press release (1 December 2017) from the Rijksmuseum:

High Society: Four Centuries of Glamour
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 8 March — 3 June 2018

Sir Joshua Reynolds, Jane Fleming, later Countess of Harrington, ca. 1778–79 (San Marino, The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens).

The Dutch national museum, the Rijksmuseum, is presenting High Society with over thirty-five life-size portraits of powerful princes, eccentric aristocrats, and fabulously wealthy citizens by the great masters of art history, including Cranach, Veronese, Velázquez, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Sargent, Munch, and Manet. The centrepiece are Rembrandt’s spectacular wedding portraits, Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit, which will be shown for the first time following their restoration.

Never before has there been an exhibition dedicated to this most glamorous type of portrait: life-size, standing, and full length. Loans have come from museums and private collections from all over the world including Paris, London, Florence, Vienna, and Los Angeles. High Society also gives a glimpse into the informal life of the well-to-do. More than eighty prints and drawings from the Rijksmuseum’s own collection show what went on behind closed doors: parties, drinks, gambling, and amorous encounters.

International Masterpieces
The works vary from the early sixteenth to the start of the twentieth century. Masterpieces include the impressive portraits of Henry the Pious, Duke of Saxony and Catharina, Countess of Mecklenburg by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1514), the married couple Iseppo da Porto and Livia da Porto Thiene with Their Children by Veronese (1555), Don Pedro de Barberana y Aparregui by Velázquez (ca. 1631–33), Portrait Jane Fleming by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1778/79), The Artist by Edouard Manet (1875), and of course Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit by Rembrandt (1634).

Four Centuries of Fashion
Most of the people portrayed are very lavishly dressed, giving the exhibition an overview of four centuries of fashion: from the tightly cut trousers and doublet from 1514 to the haute couture of the late nineteenth century. Some of the subjects portrayed, however, are wearing fancy garments in an antique style. Another is wearing a kilt, yet another is not wearing trousers and one is almost completely naked. Remarkably, those portrayed often have dogs with them. One man is accompanied by a lion. One couple have their children with them. The backgrounds can be richly decorated interiors, often with columns and/or curtains, or a summer or winter landscape. One man is standing in front of an imaginary landscape with palm trees, while another is adopting a flamboyant pose in front of the Colosseum in Rome.

Whereas the life-size portraits show the well-to-do in their Sunday best, three rooms in the exhibition are devoted to activities that take place for the most part behind closed doors: parties, drinks, gambling, amorous encounters, and brothel visits. Based on the vices of Gluttony, Greed, and Lust, more than eighty prints and drawings from the collection of the Rijksmuseum have been assembled, many showing humorous and satirical scenes, often with a strong moralizing message in the inscriptions.

Photo: Rijksmuseum/David van Dam.

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The catalogue by Jonathan Bikker (Curator of Research at the Rijksmuseum) will be available at the Rijksmuseum Shop from March 2018. An edition of the journal Kunstschrift entitled Ten Voeten Uit (Full Length) will also be published to accompany the exhibition.

Jonathan Bikker, High Society (Rotterdam: NAI Publishers, 2018), 136 pages, ISBN: 978-9462084261, 25€.

Cleveland Acquires Maratti Portrait

Posted in museums by Editor on March 16, 2018

Press release (14 March 2018) from The Cleveland Museum of Art:

Carlo Maratti, Portrait of Francesca Gommi Maratti, ca. 1701, oil on canvas, 98.5 × 74.5 cm (Cleveland Museum of Art).

Recent acquisitions by the Cleveland Museum of Art include a magnificent portrait in oil on canvas by Carlo Maratti, the leading painter in Rome at the end of the 17th century; two key works by American photographer Edward Weston that indicate his transition from pictorialism to modernism; and two large-scale contemporary African sculptures by South African artist Kendell Geers and Cameroonian artist Hervé Youmbi.

Carlo Maratti (1625–1715) is often regarded as the last major exponent of a classical tradition that began with Raphael nearly two centuries earlier. Maratti was the leading painter in Rome in the mid to late seventeenth century. Favored by wealthy patrons, Maratti’s primary achievement lay in his ability to synthesize the light and movement characteristic of the Roman Baroque with classical ideals of beauty.

This portrait was painted shortly after Maratti’s marriage to Francesca Gommi in late 1700 as an homage from the artist to his new wife. Gommi had been Maratti’s mistress and artist’s model since at least the 1670s. She is depicted enveloped in lavender-blue drapery, and her hair is elaborately dressed with ribbons and jewels. In her left hand she holds up a drawing to which she gestures with her right. Introducing an allegorical element into a portrait by means of a painting-within-a-painting was a device that Maratti had employed in portraits as early as the 1650s and was probably inspired by portraits of the High Renaissance. The drawing represents Venus in the workshop of Vulcan, forging the love-darts of her adolescent son Cupid.

Although drawings by Maratti are found in major collections throughout Europe and North America, there are relatively few paintings by the artist in public collections outside Italy. Portrait of Francesca Gommi Maratti, a late work by the artist, is particularly appealing for the identity of its sitter and the charming iconography inspired by the artist’s deep love for his subject. The Cleveland Museum of Art has strong holdings in Italian paintings of the 17th century with religious and historical themes. This work is the first Italian Baroque painted portrait to join the collection. Portrait of Francesca Gommi Maratti will go on view in the museum’s Julia and Larry Pollock Focus Gallery beginning March 17, 2018, as part of the museum’s exhibition Recent Acquisitions 2014–2017. . .

The full press release is available here.

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Maratti’s Portrait of Francesca Gommi Maratti, was part of Nicholas Hall’s exhibition Paintings by Carlo Maratti organized to coincide with TEFAF New York in October of 2017. Previously, in July 2016, it was included in Robilant Voena’s installation for Masterpiece London, and before that, in January 2014, it was shown in New York as part of Sotheby’s selling exhibition Painting Passion: The Baroque in Italy, curated by Scott Schaefer.

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