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Cagnacci’s Repentant Magdalene: An Italian Baroque Masterpiece from the Norton Simon Museum
October 25, 2016, through January 22, 2017
Guido Cagnacci (1601–1663) is among the most eccentric painters who worked in seventeenth-century Italy. His works, mostly religious in subject, are known for their unashamed, often unsettling, eroticism. Even though his pictorial style was influenced by some of the greatest Italian baroque painters—the Carracci, Guercino, and Guido Reni—his figurative language always remained individual and highly recognizable. The unconventionality of his work led to his being almost entirely forgotten during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. After exhibitions in Rimini and Bologna in 1952 and 1959, respectively, Cagnacci was rediscovered by Italian art historians and writers, but he still remains little known outside of Italy. Cagnacci’s ambitious Repentant Magdalene, a large canvas acquired in 1982 by the Norton Simon Art Foundation in Pasadena, California, is considered a masterpiece of seventeenth-century Italian art. For the first time since its acquisition almost thirty-five years ago, the painting will be loaned, traveling this fall from the Norton Simon Museum to New York’s Frick Collection. Accompanying the presentation will be the publication The Art of Guido Cagnacci by Xavier F. Salomon, The Frick Collection’s Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator, who organized the exhibition. The book will offer the first full account in English of the painter’s life and work. Principal funding for the exhibition is generously provided by the Robert H. Smith Family Foundation. Major support of the exhibition and of the accompanying book has been provided by Fabrizio Moretti, with additional exhibition support from Mr. and Mrs. Michael J. Horvitz, Ayesha Bulchandani, and Mark Fisch and Rachel Davidson.
Pierre Gouthière: Virtuoso Gilder at the French Court
November 16, 2016, through February 19, 2017
Pierre Gouthière (1732–1813) was one of the greatest French artists of the eighteenth century. A master chaser-gilder, he created opulent objets d’art that were coveted by the wealthiest and most important figures of pre-revolutionary France, including Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Louis XV’s mistress Madame Du Barry, and the Duke of Aumont. Like a sculptor, he made his own models and had them cast in metal. Using dozens of specialized tools, he then created patterns and textures on the surface of the metal objects before gilding them. So exceptional was his talent that his work commanded amounts equal to, and sometimes greater than, those asked by the era’s most famous painters and sculptors. Furthermore, such was the popularity and prestige of this work that over the last two centuries, many French eighteenth-century gilt bronzes have been erroneously attributed to him. This fall, New York’s Frick Collection presents the first exhibition devoted to Gouthière, a project that brings together twenty-one of his finest masterpieces, drawn from public and private collections across Europe and the United States. Many of these remarkable objects—from firedogs, wall lights, and doorknobs to elaborate mounts for rare Chinese porcelain and precious hardstone vases—have never before been shown publicly in New York, and their assembly in an exhibition will provide the basis for a fresh understanding of his oeuvre. With new art historical and technical research by leading experts in the field, the exhibition and accompanying catalogue shed fresh light on the life, production, workshop, and clientele of this incomparable artist. Presentation of these works at the Frick is organized around the major patrons who commissioned them, bringing to life a sense of the sublime world for which they were created. The exhibition is also accompanied by an educational video that illustrates the process Gouthière used as a chaser-gilder through the recreation of one of his iconic objects. The exhibition will travel to Paris, where a version will be shown at the Musée des Arts décoratifs from March 15 through June 25, 2017.
Pierre Gouthière: Virtuoso Gilder at the French Court is organized by Charlotte Vignon, Curator of Decorative Arts, The Frick Collection. This exhibition is supported by the Michel David-Weill Foundation; the Selz Foundation; and two anonymous donors, one in memory of Melvin R. Seiden; with additional contributions from Alfredo Reyes of Röbbig Munich and Edward Lee Cave.
Turner’s Modern and Ancient Ports: Passages through Time
February 23, 2017, through May 14, 2017
Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), Britain’s greatest land- and seascape artist during the nineteenth century, depicted ports throughout his career, both in monumental oil paintings and in watercolors. An insatiable traveler and an artist with a deep fascination with light, topography, local traditions, and classical antiquity, Turner brought an innovative approach to the depiction of both modern and ancient ports. In the spring of 2017, The Frick Collection will present Turner’s Modern and Ancient Ports: Passages through Time, a major exhibition that brings together some thirty-five works from the 1810s through the late 1830s. The works—in oil, watercolor, and graphite—capture contemporary cities in England, France, and Germany, as well as imagined scenes set in the ancient world. It will unite for the first time the museum’s two paintings of Dieppe and Cologne with a closely related, yet unfinished, work from Tate Britain that depicts the modern harbor of Brest. Turner’s Modern and Ancient Ports: Passages through Time is organized by Susan Grace Galassi, Senior Curator at The Frick Collection; leading Turner scholar, Ian Warrell; and Joanna Sheers Seidenstein, the Frick’s Anne L. Poulet Curatorial Fellow. It will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, published in association with Yale University Press. The exhibition is made possible by The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation and Gilbert and Ildiko Butler. Additional support is provided by Helen-Mae and Seymour R. Askin, Margot and Jerry Bogert, George and Michael Eberstadt in memory of Vera and Walter Eberstadt, Francis Finlay, and The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation. The catalogue is underwritten by a gift from an anonymous gift in memory of Charles Ryskamp.
The Pursuit of Immortality: Masterpieces from the Scher Collection of Portrait Medals
May 9, 2017, through September 10, 2017
The Frick Collection recently announced the largest acquisition in its history—a promised gift of approximately 450 portrait medals from the incomparable collection of Stephen K. and Janie Woo Scher. Representing the development of the art of the portrait medal from its inception in fifteenth-century Italy to the nineteenth century, the Scher collection is arguably the world’s most comprehensive and significant collection of portrait medals. Comments Director Ian Wardropper, “Henry Clay Frick had an abiding interest in portraiture as expressed in the paintings, sculpture, enamels, and works on paper he acquired. The Scher medals will coalesce beautifully with these holdings, being understood in our galleries within the broader contexts of European art and culture. At the same time, the intimate scale of the institution will offer a superb platform for the medals to be appreciated as an independent art form, one long overdue for fresh attention and public appreciation.”
To celebrate the promised gift, The Frick Collection will mount an exhibition this spring entitled The Pursuit of Immortality: The Scher Collection of Portrait Medals. The exhibition will explore the flourishing of the medallic arts in major European centers of artistic production and will feature superlative examples by masters of the art such as Pisanello (Italy), Dupré (France), and Reinhart (Germany). Taking a new and fresh approach to the study of medals, which have often been viewed in the past as specialist objects closer to the field of numismatics, this exhibition will examine medals within the larger context of art, honoring them as a triumph of sculptural production on a small scale. Visitors to the show will encounter a number of renowned sculptors who were also masters of the medal.
The Pursuit of Immortality: The Scher Collection of Portrait Medalsis organized by Aimee Ng, Associate Curator at the Frick, and Stephen K. Scher, an esteemed art historian as well as a collector. Accompanying the exhibition is a richly illustrated exhibition catalogue including an essay by Aimee Ng. (In the spring of 2018, a catalogue of the entire Scher Collection will be published, featuring essays by leading medals scholars and illustrated entries about each of the almost one thousand medals that comprise the collection.) The exhibition is made possible by the Robert H. Smith Family Foundation and by a grant from the Centennial Foundation in honor of Matthew McLennan.
Divine Encounter: Rembrandt’s Abraham and the Angels
May 30, 2017, through August 20, 2017
In the summer of 2017, The Frick Collection will present Rembrandt’s Abraham Entertaining the Angels, a captivating work dating from 1646, on loan to the Frick from a private collection. This luminous oil painting on panel has been exhibited only a handful of times in its history and was last on public view ten years ago. This exceptional loan has inspired a tightly focused exhibition in which the painting will appear alongside about a dozen depictions by Rembrandt of the Old Testament figure Abraham—a spectacular selection of prints and drawings from American and international collections. Divine Encounter: Rembrandt’s Abraham and the Angels will offer a rare opportunity to examine the artist’s continuing engagement with the Abraham narrative and thus with the central themes of his work as a history painter: divine intervention, revelation, and prophecy.
Spanning the late 1630s to the late 1650s, the works in the exhibition trace a shift in Rembrandt’s approach to biblical subject matter. In them, the artist took a progressively deeper interest in the psychological content of the Abraham story, specifically the emotional experience of a father confronting the most magnificent of blessings and the most heartbreaking of losses. At the same time, Rembrandt also began to move away from the physicality and instantaneity of his earlier narrative work in favor of imagery characterized instead by an overwhelming sense of stillness and calm. These are the defining qualities of his Abraham Entertaining the Angels, in which the momentous nature of the event depicted is conveyed solely through light and a single, gently raised hand. The exhibition is organized by Joanna Sheers Seidenstein, Anne L. Poulet Curatorial Fellow, and will be accompanied by a scholarly publication and a variety of educational programs. Major funding for the exhibition is made possible by the David Berg Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Additional support is generously provided by the Netherland-America Foundation.
Zurbarán Masterpieces on Loan from Auckland Castle
January 31, 2018, through April 22, 2018
In conjunction with The Meadows Museum, Dallas, and the Auckland Castle Trust, County Durham, England, The Frick Collection is organizing an exhibition of Jacob and His Twelve Sons, an ambitious series of thirteen life-size paintings that depict the Old Testament figures. On loan from Auckland Castle, the seventeenth-century works by the Spanish Golden Age master Francisco de Zurbarán (1598–1664) have never traveled outside Europe. They will be on view first in Dallas from September 17, 2017, through January 7, 2018, after which they will be shown in New York at The Frick Collection from January 31 through April 22, 2018. In preparation for this unprecedented U.S. tour, these important Spanish paintings will undergo an in-depth technical analysis at the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth. The project includes art historical and technical research, and a publication. This international collaboration will offer the most extensive study related to Zurbarán’s series. For its New York showing in 2018, the exhibition is organized by The Frick Collection’s Senior Curator, Susan Grace Galassi.
The iconography of Zurbarán’s remarkable series—which was painted between 1640 and 1644—is derived from Genesis, Chapter 49. On his deathbed, Jacob called together his twelve sons, who would become the founders of the twelve tribes of Israel, which, essentially, represents the beginning of the Jewish faith. He bestowed on each a blessing, which foretold their destinies and those of their tribes. Jacob’s prophesies provide the basis for the manner in which the figures are represented in Zurbarán’s series. The story also has significance to Christians and Muslims.
The monumental series is believed to have originally been destined for the New World, where, in the seventeenth century, it was commonly believed that indigenous inhabitants of the Americas were descended from the dispersal of the so-called “lost tribes of Israel.” The works were purchased at auction in 1756 by Richard Trevor, Bishop of Durham, from the collection of a Jewish merchant named Benjamin Mendez. Trevor redesigned Auckland Castle’s Long Dining Room to house the series which constitutes one of the most significant public groupings of Zurbarán’s work outside Spain. The upcoming restoration of Auckland Castle involves the temporary de-installation of the series from the room where it has hung for more than 250 years, presenting this extraordinary study and exhibition opportunity.
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