Going for Baroque: Americans Collect Italian Paintings of the 17th and 18th Centuries

Detial of a Gentileschi painting "The Lute Player": a woman is sitting an playing the lute, in fron of her sits sheets of music and a violin.

September 20–21, 2013

Although American collectors of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries rarely vied for masterpieces of the Italian Baroque, by the early twentieth century a taste for this art had taken a firm hold of many individuals and institutions. Today, American collections boast some of the finest Italian Baroque paintings in the world. This two-day symposium will bring together eminent museum curators, scholars, and dealers to explore how Italian Baroque paintings came into American public and private collections. The activities of collectors such as John Ringling, Walter Chrysler Jr., and Robert and Bertina Suida Manning will be examined, along with the contributions of academics, museum professionals, and dealers, each of whom helped to develop an appreciation for Baroque painting among American collectors and curators. The symposium will conclude with a panel whose participants include a private collector, auction house experts, and curators. Edgar Peters Bowron, The Audrey Jones Beck Curator of European Art at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, will frame the issues in his keynote address and also moderate the panel discussion.—The symposium is made possible through the generous support of the Robert H.  Smith Family Foundation.

Orazio Gentileschi (1563 – 1639), The Lute Player, c. 1612/1620. Oil on canvas, 143.5 x 129 cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington; Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund, 1962.8.1. Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington.