Carlo Dolci’s Saint Agatha Returns to Osterley

Posted in exhibitions, museums by Editor on September 3, 2019

From the press release (15 August 2019) . . .

Carlo Dolci, Saint Agatha, oil on canvas, ca. 1665–70 (Osterley, National Trust 2900293).

The return of Saint Agatha to Osterley has provided the opportunity to stage a special winter exhibition for visitors, beginning in November, which will explore the rise to fame and fortune of the Child family who acquired the painting and showcase the art and design that they commissioned and collected from around the globe.

The Child family were goldsmiths and bankers who patronised the fine and decorative arts. The wealth they acquired was used to create the luxurious Robert Adam interiors still seen at Osterley today, and which were filled with Old Master paintings, lacquer furniture, Indian fabrics, and East Asian ceramics. The painting of Saint Agatha, purchased by art lover Sir Robert Child (1674–1721) at the beginning of the 18th century, became one of the works in a great picture collection at Osterley and was recorded in a 1782 inventory. However, it was later sold along with other family heirlooms in the 1930s.

Saint Agatha is a dramatic depiction of Agatha of Sicily, a Christian martyr, who suffered dreadful torture at the hands of the Romans. It is an example of the work of the Baroque master Carlo Dolci (1616–1687), a leading figure of 17th-century Florentine art, whose passionate depictions of holy figures aimed to inspire reverence and empathy for the divine. It captures the miraculous moment when Saint Peter the Apostle appeared to Saint Agatha in a vision and healed her wounds.

John Chu, National Trust Assistant Curator of Pictures and Sculpture explains: “Although an extraordinary number of original furnishings remain at Osterley, its once-famous picture collection has been almost completely dispersed or destroyed. We are lucky to have a number of paintings on loan from the Jersey family, but it is fantastic when a rare opportunity arises to purchase one for the property, especially one as moving and profound as this. The homecoming of Saint Agatha provides the chance to look more closely at the importance of pictures to the story of the house. She will be the highlight of our exhibition exploring the Child family’s meteoric rise and what these precious objects meant to them at a remarkable moment in British history. Saint Agatha will be displayed alongside other European and Asian works of art and design, including furniture and ceramics, bought by the family. We also want to give our visitors a sense of the special meaning that each object held for the people and cultures that created them. Dolci’s Saint Agatha, for instance, held powerful spiritual resonances for its Roman Catholic maker and his first Florentine patrons, but it was seen in a much more secular light when it entered the collection at Osterley and was displayed alongside family portraits. We are very grateful to Art Fund and our other generous donors and supporters for enabling us to acquire Saint Agatha and hope the exhibition will inspire all those who enjoy discovering examples of the highest quality art and design.”

Saint Agatha was purchased for £248,750 at the Christie’s Old Masters Evening Sale [Lot 39] in London on 5 July 2018 thanks to a grant of £85,000 from Art Fund, support from private donors, Trust members, and visitors to Osterley Park, along with support from a fund set up by the late Simon Sainsbury to support acquisitions for the historic houses of the National Trust.

Since the acquisition, the painting has undergone two phases of conservation treatment.

Eleanor McGrath, Head of Grants at Art Fund, said: “It is wonderful to see this striking work return to its home at Osterley Park and House where it will be the highlight of the exhibition, helping visitors imagine the wider historic collections and life of the Child family.”

Treasures of Osterley: Rise of a Banking Family runs from 4 November 2019 until 23 February 2020.

CAA Professional Committees

Posted in opportunities by Editor on September 3, 2019

A note from Julia Sienkewicz; Assistant Professor of Art History, Roanoke College; Vice President for Committees, Board of Directors, CAA

Two New Committees of the College Art Association
Applications due by 1 October 2019

Even as the new school year begins, please consider putting together an application to join one of CAA’s two new professional committees: the Committee on Research and Scholarship and the Services to Historians of Visual Arts Committee. These committees, which were approved by the Board of Directors in May, were formed largely in response to conversations and concerns within the art historical community. We hope the committees will be able to advance substantial good work for our professions. The call for applications can be found here. Because these committees are new, we have assigned a slightly extended deadline of October 1 for these applications. Committee charges are included below.

Should you have questions about the application process, please email Vanessa Jalet (vjalet@collegeart.org). For other inquiries concerning the two new committees, please reach out to me. Of course, I also encourage you to review the other standing Professional Committees. All are accepting applications (until 18 September). Announcing these new committees is an exciting moment for me in my work with CAA’s professional committees. I look forward to working with some of you to get these important new teams up and running!

Julia Sienkewicz

Committee on Research and Scholarship

The Committee on Research and Scholarship is charged with gathering information, assessing trends, and proposing organizational advocacy for CAA on matters concerning the advancement of research and scholarship in visual arts and design, encompassing all facets of research regarding history, education, and practice. Recognizing that professionals must navigate a rapidly-transforming field of options for conducting research and disseminating the results thereof, the committee is responsible for assisting the organization in engaging with current issues and serving its membership in this important facet of their professional life.

Services to Historians of Visual Arts Committee

The Services to Historians of Visual Arts Committee identifies and addresses concerns facing historians of art, architecture, design, material culture, and visual culture. It creates and implements programs and events at the conference and beyond. It offers a forum for the discussion of issues of mutual interest across the discipline’s many diverse fields and methodologies. In a climate of great threat to the survival of history of art and history of visual arts programs, this committee provides a locus for advocacy issues particular to historians in these areas of interest. The committee lends support and mentorship for both seasoned and emerging professionals. It is also charged with maintaining dialog with other professional organizations and affiliated societies focused on the history of art, architecture, design, material culture, and visual culture.

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