Saturday, September 30, 2017

Roy Lichtenstein in Focus


Tate Liverpool
22 September 2017 to 17 June 2018



This autumn Tate Liverpool will be showing works by the renowned American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein (1923–1997). The display includes major paintings such as In the Car 1963 and provides a rare opportunity to see a substantial group of Lichtenstein’s work in the North of England. It includes some 20 paintings, reliefs and works on paper by the artist known for his paintings based on comic strips, advertising imagery, and adaptations of works by other artists.

Lichtenstein was a pioneer of the pop art movement that exploded in the early 1960s. In his often monumentally-sized paintings, he makes use of a printing technique that mimics the Ben-Day dots seen in comic books and commercial newsprint. This became synonymous with the influence of popular mass culture on the look and subject matter of avant-garde art at the time.

Fascinated by the arresting and emotionally charged imagery found in romance and war comics, Lichtenstein sought to recreate in paint the immediacy and impact of these simplified printed images. This display examines how the artist’s work draws on art history while also responding to cultural and political changes from the 1960s onwards.

Lichtenstein experimented with different media throughout his career. Most commonly he used synthetic materials with glossy or mirrored surfaces, the contrasting and reflective effect of this can be seen in works such as  

http://www.roylichtenstein.com/images/paintings/wall-explosion-2.jpg

Wall Explosion II 1965

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and Reflections on Girl 1990.

Lichtenstein’s only foray in to film will be displayed for just the second time in Europe. The triple screen film installation Three Landscapes c. 1970–1971 is a mesmerising hybrid of film, painting, billboard, comic strip and kinetic spectacle.



  • Roy Lichtenstein, In The Car 1963 © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein/DACS 2017. Photo: Antonia Reeve


Bringing together painting, sculpture and video from throughout Lichtenstein’s career, this exhibition constitutes a key body of work, drawn from ARTIST ROOMS - a collection of international modern and contemporary art, established through the d’Offay Donation in 2008, and jointly owned by Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland - alongside major loans from both institutions and the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation. ARTIST ROOMS: Roy Lichtenstein in Focus is curated by Darren Pih, Exhibitions and Displays Curator, with Lauren Barnes, Assistant Curator, Tate Liverpool.

More images:

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), Reflections on Crash, 1990, Lithograph, screenprint, relief, and metalized PVC collage with embossing on mold-made Somerset pape, 150.2 x 190.5 cm, Artist Rooms National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Lent by The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation Collection 2015 © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein/DACS 2015
  • Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), Reflections on Crash, 1990, Lithograph, screenprint, relief, and metalized PVC collage with embossing on mold-made Somerset pape, 150.2 x 190.5 cm, Artist Rooms National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Lent by The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation Collection 2015 © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein/DACS 2015
 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/images/work/AL/AL00383_9.jpg
  • Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), Reflections: Art, 1988 Oil and Magna on canvas, 112.4 x 193.7 cm (44 1/4 x 76 1/4 in.), Artist Rooms National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Lent by The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation Collection 2015 © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein/DACS 2015 
Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), Modern Art I, 1996, Screenprint on Lanaquarelle watercolor paper, 130.2 x 96.2 cm, Artist Rooms National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Lent by The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation Collection 2015 © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein/DACS 2015.
  • Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), Modern Art I, 1996, Screenprint on Lanaquarelle watercolor paper, 130.2 x 96.2 cm, Artist Rooms National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Lent by The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation Collection 2015 © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein/DACS 2015. 
Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), Composition III, 1996, Screenprint on Lanaquarelle watercolor paper, 129.4 x 90.2 cm, Artist Rooms National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Lent by The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation Collection 2015 © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein/DACS 2015
  • Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), Composition III, 1996, Screenprint on Lanaquarelle watercolor paper, 129.4 x 90.2 cm, Artist Rooms National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Lent by The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation Collection 2015 © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein/DACS 2015 
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  • Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), Roommates, 1994, 20 colour relief print, 162.9 x 129.9 cm, Artist Rooms, National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Lent by The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation Collection 2015 © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein/DACS 2015

Drawn to Greatness: Master Drawings from the Thaw Collection.

The Morgan Library & Museum
September 29 through January 7, 2018


Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890), Letter to Paul Gauguin, 17 October 1888, with a sketch of Bedroom at Arles, pen and brown ink on graph paper, Thaw Collection, The Morgan Library & Museum, MA 6447.  Given in honor of Charles E.  Pierce, Jr., 2007.  Photography by Graham S.  Haber, 2016.
  • Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890), Letter to Paul Gauguin, 17 October 1888, with a sketch of Bedroom at Arles, pen and brown ink on graph paper, Thaw Collection, The Morgan Library & Museum, MA 6447. Given in honor of Charles E. Pierce, Jr., 2007. Photography by Graham S. Haber, 2016.

The Thaw Collection is considered among the foremost private collections of drawings assembled over the last half century. It was first promised to the Morgan in 1975 by Eugene V. Thaw, now a Life Trustee, and the museum received the full collection of 424 works in early 2017. In honor of this extraordinary gift—one of the most important in the history of the museum—the Morgan presents Drawn to Greatness: Master Drawings from the Thaw Collection.

On view from September 29 through January 7, 2018, the exhibition includes more than 150 masterworks from the Renaissance to the twentieth century. A partial list of artists represented includes Mantegna, Rubens, Rembrandt, Canaletto, Watteau, Piranesi, Fragonard, Goya, Turner, Ingres, Daumier, Degas, Cézanne, Redon, Gauguin, van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso, and Pollock.

“It is difficult to summarize in a few words what the acquisition of the Thaw Collection means to the Morgan but ‘transformative’ may be the best single way to describe it,” said Director Colin B. Bailey. “The great range of artists, schools, and regions represented is remarkable. Moreover, the quality of the individual drawings reflects Gene Thaw’s exceptional critical eye—and his keen intellectual curiosity. Over the years Gene’s passionate commitment to the Morgan has never wavered and we can think of no better way to honor him and his late wife, Clare, than to present this exhibition of some of the greatest works from their collection.”

The exhibition is organized in a series of sections that illustrate key moments in the history of draftsmanship while also highlighting the work of artists whom the Thaws collected in depth, among them Rembrandt, Goya, Redon, and Degas.

One of the leading art dealers of his day, Eugene Thaw, who was born in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood, initially was drawn to contemporary artists before focusing on major masters of the first decades of the twentieth century. He soon expanded his range to include earlier work, with a particular penchant for nineteenth-century French artists. Not long after his marriage to Clare Eddy in 1954, he was encouraged by his wife to keep some of the drawings for which he was particularly enthusiastic, and their private collection began to take shape.

Thaw acquired these great objects from a variety of sources: from art dealers and their galleries, through fellow collectors, at bookshops, and, perhaps most spectacularly, at auction. A major early purchase, in 1980, was the rare sheet by the Renaissance master Andrea Mantegna that set a record price for a drawing by the artist. Later, Thaw had the opportunity to acquire one of the last significant landscape drawings by Rembrandt still in private hands.

The Thaws first became involved with the Morgan in the 1960s. The relationship deepened during the tenures of Morgan directors Charles Ryskamp (1969–86) and Charles E. Pierce, Jr. (1987–2007). In 1975, on the occasion of the collection’s first exhibition at the Morgan, the Thaws announced that they were making a promised gift of their drawings.

Over the years Thaw has contributed other important works to the Morgan including a superb group of landscape oil sketches which the museum shares with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He also gave a collection of early Medieval ornamental objects currently installed in the McKim building’s North Room, and a cache of nineteen illustrated letters by Vincent van Gogh to his protégé, Émile Bernard.

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  • Francisco de Goya (1746-1828), Leave It All to Providence, 1816-20, black ink and gray wash. Thaw Collection, The Morgan Library & Museum.
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  • Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669), Three Studies for a Descent from the Cross, ca. 1654. Pen and brown ink. Thaw Collection, The Morgan Library & Museum.

Leonardo to Matisse: Master Drawings from the Robert Lehman Collection,

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
October 4, 2017----- January 7, 2018











Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (French, 1780-1867). Study for "Raphael and the Fornarina" (detail), ca. 1814. Graphite on white wove paper, 10 x 7 3/4 in. (25.4 x 19.7 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.646)



Leonardo to Matisse: Master Drawings from the Robert Lehman Collection, on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art beginning October 4, presents 60 masterpieces of European drawing spanning the Renaissance to the Modern age. It is the first presentation to highlight the full range of Robert Lehman's vast and distinguished drawings collection------ numbering over 700 sheets------ and to explore his significant activity as a 20th-century collector. The exhibition will trace the development of European drawing across five centuries through works by such celebrated masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Dürer, Rembrandt, Tiepolo, Ingres, Seurat, and Matisse.


The exhibition is made possible by the Robert Lehman Foundation.

Drawn from the Museum's acclaimed Robert Lehman Collection, the exhibition will present a dynamic array of styles, techniques, and  genres—from compositional studies for mythological and biblical narratives to panoramic landscapes and arresting studies of the human form. The selection will also illustrate the different facets of the artists' creative processes—from Leonardo's keen anatomical observation in his Study of a Bear Walking, to Dürer's awakening artistic self-consciousness in his Self-Portrait study, to Rembrandt's re-interpretation of Leonardo's painted masterpiece, The Last Supper.

The selection of drawings on view in Leonardo to Matisse will reflect significant developments in the medium between the 15th and 20th centuries, as styles, techniques, and genres evolved, evoking illuminating comparisons across regions and eras. The portraits, figure studies,
landscapes, mythological and biblical narratives included in the exhibition will represent diverse sacred and secular subjects in media ranging from metalpoint, pen and ink, and chalk to graphite, pastel, and charcoal. 

The role of drawing as the foundation of all the visual arts will be illustrated by numerous preparatory studies for painting, sculpture, textiles, engraving, and stained glass, including rare 15th century Netherlandish designs for a carved capital and tapestry. Elucidating the varying stages of the design process, the works on view will include rapid preliminary sketches, detailed studies of motifs, expansive compositional designs, and finished drawings intended for patrons.

The Robert Lehman Collection
Robert Lehman bought his first drawings in the 1920s, adding works on paper to his father's distinguished painting collection. He began with rare sheets by Italian masters and continued to acquire drawings for the next half century, principally in the field of Italian art, but more expansively through examples from England, France, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United States. 
By his death in 1969, the drawings collection numbered more than 700 sheets. While a few examples found their way into other public institutions in his lifetime, the remaining sheets form part of the Robert Lehman Collection at the Metropolitan Museum. Together with the holdings in the Department of Drawings and Prints, it has granted the Museum an outstanding collection of works on paper.   

The Robert Lehman Collection is one of the most distinguished privately assembled art collections in the United States. Robert Lehman's bequest to The Met, a collection of extraordinary quality and breadth acquired over the course of 60 years, is a remarkable example of 20th-century American collecting. Spanning 700 years of western European art, from the 14th to the 20th century, the 2,600 works include paintings, drawings, manuscript illumination, sculpture, glass, textiles, antique frames, maiolica, enamels, and precious jeweled objects.
Leonardo to Matisse is organized by Dita Amory, Curator in Charge, and Alison Nogueira, Associate Curator, both of the Robert Lehman Collection at The Met.
"Conversation: Collecting Drawing," an Education program to accompany the exhibition on October 29, will consider the legacy of Robert Lehman.
The exhibition is featured on the Museum's website, as well as on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter via #MetMasterDrawings.



Leonardo da Vinci. Italian, Vinci 1452-1519 Amboise. A Bear Walking, ca. 1482-85. silverpoint on light buff prepared paper; 4 1/16 x 5 1/4 in. (10.3 x 13.3 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.369)


Albrecht Dürer. German, Nuremberg 1471-1528 Nuremberg.  

Self-portrait, Study of a Hand and a Pillow (recto); Six Studies of Pillows (verso)

Self-portrait, Study of a Hand and a Pillow (recto); 

 Self-portrait, Study of a Hand and a Pillow (recto); Six Studies of Pillows (verso)
Six Studies of Pillows (verso), 

 1493Pen and brown ink; 10 15/16 x 7 15/16 in. (27.8 x 20.2 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.86)

 

Vincent van Gogh. Dutch, Zundert 1853-1890 Auvers-sur-Oise. Road in Etten,1881. Chalk, pencil, pastel, watercolor. Underdrawing in pen and brown ink. 15 1/2 x 22 3/4 in. (39.4 x 57.8 cm). The Metropolitan  Museum of Art, Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.774)

Degas: 'A Passion for Perfection'



Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge 
3 October 2017 – 14 January 2018 

Denver Art Museum 
February 11, 2018 – May 20, 2018

In the centenary year of the artist’s death, the Fitzwilliam Museum will stage a major exhibit ion of its wide -ranging holdings of works by Edgar Degas (1834 -1917), the most extensive and representative in the UK. The Museum’s collections will be complemented by an outstanding group of over fifty loans from private and public collections throughout Europe and the United States, several of which will be on public display for the first time. These include a group of paintings and drawings once belonging to the economist John Maynard Keynes, bought directly in 1918 and 1919 from Degas's posthumous studio sales in Paris, against a backdrop of German bombardment during World War I. 

Degas, Dancers in the wings, c.1900-1905


  •  Edgar Degas , Dancers in the wings , c .1900– 1905 © The Fitzwilliam Museum , Cambridge 






  • Edgar Degas, Dance Examination , 1880, Denver Art Museum 

The remarkable breadth of works on display will include paintings, sculpture, drawings, pastels, etchings, monotypes, counterproofs and letters – some business -like, some heart - rending – written by Degas to friends and associates. Prominent in the exhibition will be Degas’s work in three dimensions: posthumous bronze casts of dancers, horses and nudes, but also exceptionally rare lifetime sculptures in plaster and wax. 

Dancer (Arabesque Over the Right Leg, Left Arm in Front), sculpture made by Edgar Degas


  • Edgar Degas, Arabesque over the Right Leg, Left Arm in Front, First Study , c.1882 –95 © The Fitzwilliam Museum , Cambridge 

The exhibition will show that Degas’s relentless experimentation with technical procedures was a defining characteristic of his art. Abhorring complacency, Degas habitually revisited and reworked compositions and even individual poses, as if to mine the infinite possibilities of a given subject. 

‘It is essential to do the same subject over again, ten times, one hundred times,’ Degas believed,  ‘nothing should be left to chance’. Was he driven by ‘a passion for perfection’, as one acquaintance claimed? Or can his resistance to closure be considered to be a marker of his modernity? Degas repeatedly acknowledged his debt to his artistic predecessors, insisting that ‘No art was ever less spontaneous than mine’. 



  • Edgar Degas-Woman Scratching her Back-Denver Art Museum: The Edward & Tullah Hanley Memorial Gift for the People of Denver and the area, 1973.161. 

  • Edgar Degas, Dancers, about 1900. Pastel and charcoal on tracing paper, mounted on wove paper, mounted on board; 37 5/8 x 26 ¾ in.

The exhibition will open with a selection of works that highlight Degas’s reverence for classical antiquity and the Old Masters, as well as for painters and sculptors of his own century. A range of works by some of the artists Degas most admired, from 15th -century Florentine draughtsmen to Eugène Delacroix, Camille Corot and his artistic idol, Jean -Auguste - Dominique Ingres, will feature in the display, along with a number of beautiful and highly sensitive copies made by Degas from antique and  Renaissance paintings and sculpture. 

The exhibition will focus on the most prominent and recurring themes throughout Degas’ 60-year career. These include his interest in learning from the art of the past and from that of his contemporaries, a lifelong fascination with the nude, a passion for horses, and his strong interest in opera and dance. 

Well-known masterpieces will be on view, and the exhibition also will dive deeper into Degas’ obsession with repetition of subjects throughout his entire artistic journey. Visitors will see his transformation from a portraitist and painter of historical subjects to one interested in the contemporary life of late-nineteenth-century Paris. By experimenting constantly throughout his career he developed techniques that allowed him to capture modern subject matter through sharp and precise lighting, such as café concerts, street scenes with new electric lighting, sporting events, and theatrical settings. He considered his work in all media a constant continuum.

The DAM is the sole American venue for the exhibition. Degas: A Passion for Perfection is presented and organized in association with the Fitzwilliam Museum at the University of Cambridge, England, whose Degas holdings represent the most extensive in the United Kingdom across the various media in which Degas worked. The exhibition is organized by Jane Munro, Keeper of Paintings, Drawings and Prints at the Fitzwilliam Museum, and curated locally by Timothy J. Standring, Gates Family Foundation Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the DAM.

As a counterbalance and fitting homage in the centennial year, the exhibition will conclude with a fascinating overview of 20 th- and 21st -century artists such as Walter Sickert, Picasso, Frank Auerbach, Francis Bacon, R.B. Kitaj, Lucian Freud, Howard Hodgkin and Ryan Gander, wh o drew on Degas as he did from past artists, studying and learning from his example while ‘doing something different’. 

Catalogue



 
Essays by leading Degas scholars and conservation scientists explore his practice and recurring themes of the human figure and landscape. The book opens with a study of Degas’s debt to the Old Masters, and it concludes with a consideration of his artistic legacy and his influence on leading artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, including Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach, Ryan Gander, David Hockney, Howard Hodgkin, R. B. Kitaj, Pablo Picasso, and Walter Sickert.


A small contemporaneous exhibition:

Degas, Caricature and Modernity
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge 


  •  Honoré-Victorin Daumier (1808-1879), I’m not going down there anymore!, from the series The Bathers, 1839. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Edgar Degas’s (1834-1917) sense of humour is being explored through an exhibition looking at three caricaturists and satirists whose work he collected in large numbers: Honoré Daumier (1808-79), Paul Gavarni (1804-66) and Charles Keene (1823-91).

The exhibition Degas, Caricature and Modernity provides a new perspective on Degas as a great artist. It shows how Degas sought inspiration in what was seen as the lowliest art forms, and his ‘rollicking and somewhat bear-like sense of fun’ as described by his friend Walter Sickert (1860-1942). It is part of a season of events at the Fitzwilliam celebrating the art and times of Degas that marks the centenary of the artist’s death, each supporting the major loan exhibition Degas: a passion for perfection.

Jane Munro, Keeper of Paintings, Drawings and Prints at the Fitzwilliam Museum commented: “There is a modernity to these caricatures, a real sense of the Paris Degas knew, the Paris of his day. He was a keen observer of people, including the peculiarity of modern city life. Friends and acquaintances relished his banter, anecdotes and piercing mimicry, even if they were sometimes subjected to the lashing of what Degas himself called his ‘wicked tongue’. In this centennial year of the artist’s death we wanted to inject a note of animation and to show a facet of his character that is perhaps less widely appreciated: his humour and keen appreciation of the absurdity of human existence.”

Satirical prints were highly popular in Europe at the end of the 19th century and were printed in great numbers. Those selected for the exhibition are by artists whose work Degas was known to enjoy and collect. Their everyday subjects captured a vivid impression of life at the time, referred to by the writer Charles Baudelaire as ‘the epic and heroic quality of modern life’, which tallied with Degas and his contemporaries in their interest in modernity.

The three artists featured all drew inspiration from observing and poking fun at the characters and customs of modern life as they knew it: Daumier lampooning the government, the professions and the French bourgeoisie; Gavarni creating comic characters from the people he saw in the city of Paris; and Punch contributor Keene creating social satire of lower and middle class life in England.

This exhibition is showing in conjunction with major loan exhibition Degas: a passion for perfection (3 October 2017 - 14 January 2018)

Friday, September 29, 2017

Veronese in Murano: Two Venetian Renaissance Masterpieces Restored




The Frick Collection
October 24, 2017, through March 11, 2018 

This fall, The Frick Collection will present a focused exhibition on two important Renaissance paintings by the celebrated artist Paolo Veronese (1528– 1588), St. Jerome in the Wilderness and St. Agatha Visited in Prison by St. Peter. While the paintings are known to scholars, their remote location in a church in Murano, an island in the lagoon of Venice known today for its glassmaking studios and shops, has made them difficult to study. 

St. Jerome in the Wilderness has been exhibited outside the church only once—in 1939, in the Paolo Veronese exhibition at Ca’ Giustinian, in Venice— while St. Agatha Visited in Prison by St. Peter has not left the church since being installed in the early nineteenth century. 

These two rarely seen canvases now leave Italy for the first time since their creation, over 450 years ago. And thanks to Venetian Heritage and the sponsorship of BVLGARI, they have been fully restored and returned to their original glory. Veronese in Murano: Two Venetian Renaissance Masterpieces Restored, on view October 24, 2017, through March 11, 2018, will provide a unique opportunity for an international audience to discover these two masterpieces in the Frick’s unique setting. The exhibition is organized by the Frick’s Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator Xavier F. Salomon, an eminent Veronese scholar (who wrote 

 Paintings from Murano by Paolo Veronese: Restored by Venetian Heritage With The Support of Bulgari


the accompanying catalogue), and Venetian Heritage.





Paolo Veronese (1528–1588)

St. Jerome in the Wilderness,

1566–67

Oil on canvas
91 × 57 1⁄4 inches
San Pietro Martire, Murano
Photo: Ufficio Beni Culturali del Patriarcato di Venezia


Paolo Veronese (1528–1588)
St. Jerome in the Wilderness (detail)
1566–67
Oil on canvas
91 × 57
1⁄4 inches
San Pietro Martire, Murano
Photo: Ufficio Beni Culturali del Patriarcato di Venezia



Paolo Veronese (1528–1588)
St. Jerome in the Wilderness (detail)
1566–67
Oil on canvas
91 × 57 1⁄4 inches
San Pietro Martire, Murano
Photo: Ufficio Beni Culturali del Patriarcato di Venezia


Paolo Veronese (1528–1588)

St. Jerome in the Wilderness (detail)

1566–67
Oil on canvas
91 × 57 1⁄4 inches
San Pietro Martire, Murano
Photo: Ufficio Beni Culturali del Patriarcato di Venezia
 

The first of these two works depicts St. Jerome , who lived between the fourth and fifth century in Dalmatia and is known primarily for having translated the Hebrew and Greek versions of the Bible into Latin. Jerome spent substantial time in the desert, probably in Syria, where he led an ascetic life. In a letter to his friend Eustochium, Jerome describes his trials:
“living in the wilderness, in the vast solitude that provides a horrid, sun- scorched abode to monks . . . Tears all day, groans all day —and if, resist it as I might, sleep overwhelmed me, my fleshless bones, hardly holding together, scraped against the bare ground. I say nothing about food or drink... All the company I had was scorpions and wild beasts . . . So it was that I wept continually an d starved the rebellious flesh for weeks at a time. Often I joined day to night and did not stop beating my breast until the Lord restored my peace of mind . . . Angry and stern with myself I plunged alone, deeper and deeper, into the wasteland; and, as th e Lord is my witness, from time to time and after many tears I seemed to be in the midst of throngs of angels.” 

While living as a monk in Bethlehem, Jerome was visited by what was to become one of his most frequent iconographic symbols. As he and the other monks were reading the Scriptures, a lion limped into the monastery . The men fled in terror, but Jerome realized that the animal was injured. He asked his fellow monks to help him remove the thorn that tormented the animal’s paw, then dress ed the wound. Once healed, the lion “lost all his wildness, and lived among [them] like a house pet.”
Veronese portrays Jerome in the desert, with trees framing the composition. On the right, wooden beams held together by ropes and covered by a roof of leaves indicate a rudimentary hut, a shelter from the elements. Underneath this structure is a still life of objects traditionally associated with Jerome: a crucifix, an hourgla ss, a skull, and two open books. The hourglass and skull refer to the transience of life, while the volumes allude to Jerome’s translation of the Bible. The saint is an isolated figure in this landscape , alone in his gruel ling devotion. His muscular body is tense, covered only by a red cloth secured by a cord. Toothless and haggard, his face is transfixed as he focuses his tear -filled eyes on the crucifix, while beating his chest with a rock. The bruised ribs are visible, and drops of blood testify to his self -punishment. A divine wind rustles the saint’s graying beard, an extraordinary passage of bravura painting. The faithful lion on the left is the only witness to his frenzied state. 

While St. Jerome in the Wilderness was a common subject for Italian Renaissance paintings and was a theme often treated by Venetian artists , the second Murano canvas depicts a less typical narrative:





Paolo Veronese (1528–1588)

St. Agatha Visited in Prison by St. Peter, 1566–67

Oil on canvas,

65 1⁄2 × 81 1⁄2 inches

San Pietro Martire, Murano

Photo: Ufficio Beni Culturali del Patriarcato di Venezia








Paolo Veronese (1528–1588)
St. Agatha Visited in Prison by St. Peter (detail), 1566–67
Oil on canvas,
65 1⁄2 × 81 1⁄2 inches
San Pietro Martire, Murano
Photo: Ufficio Beni Culturali del Patriarcato di Venezia


Agatha was a third-century martyr from Sicily who lived in Catania at the time of the Christian persecution under the Roman emperor Decius. Of noble origin, she had pledged her chastity to God and therefore would not yield to the advances of Quintianus, a Roman consul, who was enticed by her beauty . Quntianus first tried to bend Agatha to his will by forcing her to live for a month in the brothel of a woman named Aphrodisia. Firm in her resolve, Agatha left the house untouched. 

Quintianus then commanded Agatha to worship pagan idols; when she refused, he sent her to jail where she was tortured and Quintianus ordered her breasts to be cut off. Left in prison without food or water and with no medical aid, she suffered greatly. One night she was visited by an old man who revealed himself to be St. Peter, telling her he had been sent by God to comfort and heal her. When the jailers were alerted by Peter’s supernatural light, the saint vanished, and Agatha knelt in prayer, finding that her wounds were gone. 

Quintianus, however, did not desist. He had her placed naked over burning coals, but she was saved by a heaven sent earthquake. Finally, having been sent back to jail, she prayed to God to end her torture, and she peacefully died in prison. 

Veronese sets the scene in Agatha’s dark prison cell , which he describes in detail. A high, barred window and a door to the right are the only portals to the outside world. Below the window is a bed, a simple wooden frame covered by a thin mattress; underneath it is a chamber pot. 




A candle at left illuminates a wood shelf on which Veronese has created a modest yet exquisite, still life: a glass pitcher with red wine, a bowl, and a loaf of bread. 

Agatha has been interrupted during her prayers in the semi darkness. She is clothed in a green dress and clutches a pink drapery around her. A heavy chain below the bench makes clear that Agatha is a prisoner in this room. With her left hand, she draws a white blood- stained cloth to her wounded breasts. 

She steadies herself against the bench, surprised by the two visitors that have burst into her cell. 








Paolo Veronese (1528–1588)

St. Agatha Visited in Prison by St. Peter (detail), 1566–67

Oil on canvas,

65 1⁄2 × 81 1⁄2 inches

San Pietro Martire, Murano
Photo: Ufficio Beni Culturali del Patriarcato di Venezia

A glorious blond angel dressed in light blue holds a long taper, bringing light into the shadowy room. He precedes St. Peter, who stands by the open door, monumentally dominating the right part of the picture. The saint is dressed in blue and burnt orange. 





Paolo Veronese (1528–1588)
St. Agatha Visited in Prison by St. Peter (detail), 1566–67
Oil on canvas,
65 1⁄2 × 81 1⁄2 inches
San Pietro Martire, Murano
Photo: Ufficio Beni Culturali del Patriarcato di Venezia


In his left hand he holds the keys to heaven (one gold, one silver), his standard attribute. 


With his right hand he gestures upward, referring at once to his celestial mission and to Agatha’s imminent healing, and possibly to her death and heavenly reward . 

H ISTORY OF THE WORKS 

The two paintings were not originally intended for San Pietro Martire, but for a small chapel built near the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli , on another part of the island. In 1566, a priest named Francesco degli Arbori, the chaplain of the Augustinian nuns of Santa Maria degli Angeli, was given a plot of land in the nuns’ cemetery, adjoining the church, to construct a chapel dedicated to S t. Jerome, and it was for this chapel that Veronese’s two canvases were commissioned. Contemporary descriptions indicate that t he chapel was simply decorated , with the two canvases being the main images in its interior : the St. Jerome hung over the altar with the St. Agatha facing it , on the counterfaçade, over the main door. At the time, Veronese was one of the most successful and highest paid painters in Venice, creating magnificent images for the European aristocracy. (About 1565, he had painted 





The Choice between Virtue and Vice 





and Wisdom and Strength for an unknown patron. 

Both canvases now hang in the West Gallery of The Frick Collection .) 

How a priest on a small island got to know such a prominent painter and came to commission such costly paintings remains a mystery. Little is known about Degli Arbori’s life, but the research conducted in preparation for this exhibition has uncovered two important documents relating to him: his deed of gift of the chapel to the nuns of Santa Maria degli Angeli, in 1566, and the priest’s will, written soon before his death, in 1579. 

In 1667, after hanging for a century in the chapel for which they had been created, Veronese’s canvases were removed. On August 1 of that year, the nuns of Santa Maria degli Angeli, having determined that the paintings were “notably suffering damage from the injuries of time, inside the said chapel” had them relocated to the main church of Santa Maria deg li Angeli. The nuns were also worried about possible theft. 

From the second half of the seventeenth century to the early nineteenth century, the works were frequently described by Veronese’s biographers and guidebook authors, who consistently gave their location as Santa Maria degli Angeli. With the fall of the Venetian Republic and the Napoleonic invasion of Italy in the early nineteenth century, most religious institution s were suppressed, and, in the late spring and summer of 1810, the majority of monasteries and convents in Venice were closed. Such was the fate of the nun’s monastery at Santa Maria degli Angeli, which was officially suppressed in July of that year. 

By 1815, the St. Jerome in the Wilderness and the St. Agatha Visited in Prison by St. Peter had been moved to a neighboring Dominican church, San Pietro Martire, where they have remained. The chapel for which they were originally painted was left empty, abandoned, and eventually demolished, in 1830. The chapel’s stone door, recently identified during research for this exhibition, is the sole architectural element of the structure known to survive. It is visible in the right wall of Santa Maria degli Angeli, presumably embedded there since the mid -nineteenth century. 

Few examples of free- standing chapels created for single patrons are known to have existed in Venice. The chapel built for Francesco degli Arbori must have been an exceptional structure , and its destruction has meant the loss to subsequent generations of a fascinating site for Veronese’s work . 

The island of Murano, however, has retained its enchanting character, and the humble monastic cemetery of Santa Maria degli Angeli still remains in its forsaken northwestern corner of the island . After his death, Francesco degli Arbori was buried in the cemetery, and his body presumably still lies there in the small plot of land adjacent to the church. 

Although the details of Degli Arbori’s prestigious commission remain shrouded in the fog of the past, Veronese’s compositions can be appreciated for their outstanding originality and skillful execution. The recent restoration of both canvases, as well as the technical analysis that accompanied their treatment, will enable future scholars to better understand these paintings and, perhaps, the nature of their commission.