Sunday, April 17, 2016

Elisabeth Louise Vigee-LeBrun - a Female Academician

Vigée Le Brun, Self-Portrait, 1790
(Gallerie degli Uffizi)
Art history is full of great male artists while we hear very little of the successful women who managed the almost impossible feat of carving out careers where no opportunities existed. Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun was one such artist who was not only the favorite portraitist of Marie Antoinette, the queen of France, but also to many notable aristocrats, artists, musicians and poets throughout 18th - 19th century Europe.  There is currently an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Vigée Le Brun: Woman Artist in Revolutionary France, which displays 80 works from around the world of the artist who had a successful career in one of the most turbulent periods of European history.

Self_Portrait in Traveling Costume, 1789-90
(Private Collection)
This exhibition should be visited on site or online not only to view beautiful works of art from the Rococo period but also as an inspirational tale of one woman's journey of survival and success under some of the most unfavorable circumstances. The Met has a great exhibition page (link) that has all the works on display as well as the audioguide that is available in the museum. Of course nothing can compare to experiencing these works in person, but if you can not make it to the museum, this is a really great alternative. Instead of giving an overview of the exhibit, I want to take this opportunity to focus on the obstacles Vigee Le Brun had to overcome in order to become the celebrated artist of her time.

Vigee-LeBrunn, Peace Bringing Back Abundance,  1780,  exhibited at Salon of 1783
(Musee du Louvre)
This was the reception piece Vigee-LeBrun submitted into the Academie to be admitted as a member.  The French Royal Academy did not accept female artists as members on the premises of their supposed inferiority to the male artists but between its foundation in the 17th century and the revolution, a few women were allowed within its hallowed halls.  Out of the total of 450 members  there were between 12 to 15 who were female, and those would only would be accepted four at a time.  Elisabeth Louise Vigee-LeBrun along with Adelaide Labille-Guiard were accepted into the Academie in 1783 only after the deaths of two female artists.

Etienne Vigée, 1773, painted at 18 prior to joining the Academie de Saint-Luc
(Saint Louis Art Museum)
Prior to their acceptance into the academy both Elisabeth Louise Vigee-LeBrun along with Adelaide Labille-Guiardthey were members of the Academie de Saint-Luc which was the ancient artist's guild.  One of the original reasons for establishing the Academie de peinture et de sculpture was to distinguish real artists from the artisans and provide them with the necessary teachings besides drawing and painting to allow them to become the artistic geniuses they were.  Also the Academie was state sponsored and artist got paid by the government so they could create without being beholden to trade. Members of the Academy of Saint-Luc were frowned upon because of their involvement with the trade. The Allegory of Poetry was one of the works from Vigée Le Brun's first exhibition at the Academie de Saint-Luc.

Allegory of Poetry, 1774
(Henry and Catherine Robet)

Although Vigee-LeBrun aspired to be a history painter, the most prestigious of the genres, she could only be accepted as genre painter, two steps lower than male academicians.  Since women could not work from live models and were not educated in anatomy, they could not become history painters which would preclude them from having all the privileges the male artists gained like studio space and an allowance.  Although it was impossible for her to be a history painter, Vigee-LeBrun still produced a work of art that could actually very well have been accepted as such.

Study for Abundance, 1780
(Private Collection)
In Peace Bringing Back Abundance, Vigee-LeBrun represents two allegorical figures using traditional symbols, Peace on the right garbed in darker colors is wearing a crown of laurels on her dark hair, and carrying an olive branch, while Abundance is blond wearing white and gold and bearing a cornucopia full of fruits, flowers in her hair and holding ears of wheat, her fertility is pronounced with her exposed breast.  France had been a supporter of the American War of Revolution and this painting underscores that involvement.

Vigee-LeBrun showed incredible artistry in this piece but she was admitted into the Academie with reluctance plus pressure from the crown, because of her husband's profession of being an art dealer.   It seems the Academie did all they can to try to dissuade female artists from joining their ranks but one or two exceptional artists still managed to get by.

- This is an edited version, with additional content, of a prior post that was written in October 2011.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Hürrem: the Woman who Stole the Heart of Süleyman the Magnificent

Rosa, Consort of Suleiman, Emperor of the Turks, ca. 1600-70, French School
(The Royal Collection
Today is Valentines Day, a day we tend to associate with love and lovers. From Marc Antony and Cleopatra to Romeo and Juliet, to Wallis Simpson and the Prince of Wales, there have been some great couples throughout history with stories that are the very definition of romance. There is another great love story about a great romance that took place in 16th century Istanbul that is not so well known in mainstream Western society - that of the Ottoman Sultan, Suleyman the Magnificent, and his favorite concubine, Roxelana. Their story is striking not only for the unprecedented context but also for its extraordinary contribution to Ottoman arts. Named Hürrem (meaning cheerful, smiling, blooming) upon her arrival in the Sultan's palace, Roxelana, the daughter of a Ruthenian Catholic priest, is thought to have been enslaved during a Tatar raid in western Ukraine.

 Portrait of Hurrem Sultan titled Rossa Solymanni Vxor, c. 18th century
(Topkapi Palace Museum) 
The harem of the Ottoman Sultan, filled with the most beautiful women across the land, has always been a source of exotic fantasies. Although it did house the women the Sultan took as concubines, the harem was much more than just a house for hundreds of beautiful women, trained and groomed to perfection, lounging about in hammams and on Turkish carpets awaiting for their turn to assure one man's pleasure. The harem was the Sultan's household, which also encompased the households of his mother, his favorites and concubines. The girls that came to the palace were bought at slave markets, given to the Sultan as gifts by high ranking officials or sold by their own families. Although these practices seem barbaric and impossible to understand for us, the Sultan's harem was a place for a young girl to receive a thorough education in housekeeping, gardening and languages and live in comfort and luxury. Some of the odalisques were even married off to Sultan's favorites or high ranking government officials, whereby she would be the head of her own household. There was a very strict hierarchy that everyone in the harem adhered to. Except for very rare cases, the girls deemed beautiful and/or smart enough by the Valide Sultan (the queen mother) would get further training in the arts, literature, music, dancing and of course the erotic arts.  Contrary to the Western tradition of forming alliances thorough marriage, the Ottoman Sultans made sure to use slaves for sexual reproduction assuring there would not be any other family to gain prominence or aspire for power in the empire. The Ottoman empire was a true meritocracy from the harem to its governing body. What was extraordinary about Hurrem's relationship with Suleyman was that he married her... against a 200 year tradition that inhibited Ottoman Sultans from offically marrying their concubines, even if they had borne a male heir.


Titian, La Sultana Rossa, c. 1550
The existing portraits of Hürrem, are mostly figments of the artists'  imagination since no one other than the Sultan and the eunuchs were allowed to see harem women. However she was noted for not being especially pretty. The 16th century accounts of Hürrem all attest to her intelligence and talent for strategizing. The old palace where Hürrem first resided in was in Beyazit, 2 kilometers away from Topkapi. After becoming a favorite, she managed to move into the Topkapi palace, gaining easier access to Suleyman and stay with him to the end of her life instead of moving out to the city her son would be sent, to acquire experience and rule till his father's demise. She used her influence to send off the heir apparent, Mustafa with his mother, Mahidevran, to Manisa in 1533. The first favorite who bore the Sultan a son would be the second most powerful woman in the harem, after the Valide Sultan. With Mustafa and Mahidevran out of the way, Hürrem began to rule the Harem in 1534 after her mother-in-law passed away.

Haseki Hurrem Sultan (La Rossa), c. 1540-1550
Woodcut published by Matteo Pagani
(©Trustees of the British Museum
Suleyman the Magnificent, c. 1540-50
Woodcut published by Matteo Pagani
©Trustees of the British Museum


















I had written in a previous post about a series of Ottoman Sultans portraits, based on a series made by Nakkas Nigari, that existed in a Venetian collection in the 16th century. These woodcuts published by Matteo Pagani may have similar origins but their influence in later representation of the Sultan and the Sultana can be seen from the 18th century Portrait of Hurrem Sultan in the Topkapi Palace collection.  

Suleyman is noted as a 'creative conquerer' who could wield a pen as well as a sword.1 The age of Süleyman which lasted for 46 years from 1520 - 1566 is known as the Ottoman Golden Age where the arts flourished under his patronage and some of the greatest Ottoman artists lived. The great architect Sinan, the poet, thinker and writer, Fuzuli, the polymath artist, mathematician, painter and cartographer, Matrakci Nasuh, and the innovative illuminator Karamemi all lived and worked for the Ottoman Sultan at this time. The Sultan who is referred to as Suleyman the Lawgiver due to having reorganized all the archaic laws of the empire, was also a poet who wrote under the pseudonym of Muhibbi.

Illuminated pages from the Muhibbi Divani, illuminated by Karamemi  (Istanbul University Central Library, Rare Manuscripts Department)






















Süleyman spent almost a third of this 46 year rule away on campaign. His ardor for Hürrem seems to have been constant which is proven by the love poems he sent to her when he was away. Muhibbi Divani was a book of Suleyman's poems which were written in Talik inscription by the calligrapher Mehmed el-Serif and illuminated with a different design on each page by Karamemi. The entire book is available digitally online to page through on a Istanbul University webpage (link). One of the poems that he wrote to his sweetheart, Hürrem is as follows:
Thorne of my lovely niche, my wealth, my love, my moonlight
My most sincere friend, my confidant, my very existence, my Sultan
The most beautiful among the beautiful...
My springtime, my merry faced love, my daytime, my sweetheart, laughing leaf...
My plants, my sweet, my rose, the one only who does not distress me in this world...
My Istanbul, my Caraman, the earth of my Anatolia
My Badakhshanmy Baghdad, my Khorasan
My woman of the beautiful hair, my love of the slanted brow, my love of eyes full of mischief...
I'll sing your praises always
I, lover of the tormented heart, Muhibbi of the eyes full of tears, I am happy. 
 Despite being the beloved and dear wife of one of the most successful Sultans of the Ottoman Empire, Hürrem has always been remembered as the scheming, evil female who turned the tide of history by instigating the execution of Suleyman's first-born Mustafa, his closest aid and grand vizier Pargali Ibrahim Pasha and placing her son-in-law Rustem Pasha and her other supporters in high places within the government. It is a well-known fact that she had great influence and advised Suleyman in matters of the state. Although she was not revered as she should be, she was the inspiration for many European artists including Haydn who titled the second movement in his Symphony no. 63 Roxelane. Being an intelligent, powerful woman, Hürrem also knew the power of royal patronage in promoting a positive public image, which is why she commissioned from the architect Sinan religious complexes, waterways, hamams and soup kitchens throughout the empire including Istanbul and Jerusalem.  Unfortunately, none of her good works were enough to cleanse Hürrem's reputation who is to this day still remembered as a nefarious temptress, but Süleyman's poems reveal how special she was to one of the most powerful emperors in history.





1 Halman, Talat Sait. Süleyman the Magnificent Poet: The Sultan's Selected Poems, Beyoglu, Istanbul, Türkiye: Dost, 1987

Sunday, January 24, 2016

#MadameCezanne was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Madame Cézanne Sewing, ca. 1877
(Nationalmuseum, Stockholm) 
We are in the middle of a record breaking blizzard on the East Coast, and while we are enveloped in the tranquility of mountains of snow,  I thought it a perfect opportunity to tackle my own mountain... of photographs taken at numerous museum visits and exhibitions. Since it was Cézanne's birthday this week - he was born on January 19, 1839 - and there was an incredible exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last year, I decided to post some of my favorites from the exhibit with some notes from the gallery labels that I found interesting. Madame Cézannean exhibition of 25 of the 29 portraits the artist painted of his wife and partner Hortense Fiquet, included oils, watercolors and graphite studies, as well as pages from sketch books. Filled with intimate sketches, I loved seeing Cézanne's sketch books and getting an unguarded glimpse into how he observed his world.

Madame Cézanne Leaning on a Table, ca. 1873-74
(Private Collection)
Whether he was painting apples and oranges or his beloved Mont Sainte-Victoire,  Paul Cézanne is renowned for his obsessive exploration of the many ways of observing and interacting with a particular object or landscape he found interesting. Although I was familiar with Cézanne's portraits, I had never considered portraits of Madame Cézanne along the same lines as his bowls of fruit of Mont Sainte-Victoire, subjects he returned to time and again. After viewing the exhibition and listening to the presentations given at the colloquium for the exhibit, Hortense's position in the artist's life and artistic oeuvre became more clear. Taking in her stoic countenance and plain visage, Hortense Piquet was always disparaged by critics and art historians as being a most unpleasant female that was responsible for holding the artist back. This led me to ponder the meanings we assign to works of art and what it says about our culture as opposed to the artist's intent. Especially with an artist like Cézanne, who constructed his canvases very deliberately brush stroke by brush stroke, it seems so misleading to think of Hortense's portraits as mere likenesses revealing her inner persona. As the Met website states "the portraits attest to the constancy of a relationship that was critical to the artist's practice and development."

Portrait of Madame Cézanne, ca. 1886-87
(Philadelphia Museum of Art)
Cézanne's carefully constructed canvases are an infinite source of fascination for me, as I roam their surfaces, following his contours as they outline forms, becoming more pronounced, dissolving into the background or just stopping in midair. The many layers of color used to build up his paintings create an oscillating effect constantly shifting and generating movement. I find Cézanne's paintings intriguing not only for the full experience of space they convey, including different points of view, angles as well as shifts in light and shade but also for what he tried to achieve. According to the late Philipe Conisbe, who used to be the senior curator of European Art at the National Gallery in Washington:
Maybe his greatest goal was to try to put into permanent artistic form, his feeling of engagement with the world. His sense of being in the world... his existential experience as a man and an artist.
So, here is a selection from Madame Cézanne, an extraordinary exhibition for an extraordinary subject ...

Madame Cézanne in a Red Armchair, ca. 1877
(Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)
When poet Rainer Maria Rilke discovered this portrait at the 1907 Salon d'Automne, he was overcome with emotion. Writing to his wife, he described the intensity of the color relationships even in his sleep, "color coming into its own in response to another, asserting itself, recollecting itself... in this hither and back of mutual and manifold influence, the interior of the picture vibrates, rises and falls back into itself, and does not have a single unmoving part."
Portrait of Madame Cézanne, ca. 1890-92
(Philadelphia Museum of Art)

Portrait of Madame Cézanne, ca. 1877
(Private Collection)
Cézanne emphasizes the interiority of his model; she is positioned close to the picture plane, with head titled forward and eyes lowered. It may be the most abstract of all the portraits. The hair, with its wide central part, is highly simplified and the stripes on the dress emphatically refuse to model the torso. These vertical lines echo across the canvas. 
Portrait of Madame Cézanne in a Striped Dress, ca. 1883-85
(Yokohama Museum of Art) 
This portrait, one of the few portraits of Hortense shown in Cézanne's famed 1895 exhibition at Ambroise Vollard's gallery in Paris was also came to the Armory Show in New York in 1913. 
Portrait of Madame Cézanne, ca. 1885-87
(Philadelphia Museum of Art)
There has been much speculation about the curtain-like abstraction of flowers and leaves at the top of this painting. Technical investigation reveals that Cézanne reused this canvas and that these forms were appropriated from an earlier composition, a floral still life that was in turn based on the contours of an abandoned figure. 


Portrait of Madame Cézanne in the Conservatory, 1891
(Metropolitan Museum of Art) 
The varying degrees of finish in this portrait allow us to track its evolution from the Conté crayon or graphite underdrawing to the application of colored washes and body color, which are accumulated to balanced perfection in the head. 

Madame Cézanne in Blue, 1888-90
(Museum of Fine Arts, Houston)
Each portrait of Hortense has its own color scheme. Cézanne established a subdued version of his palette in the underpaint, and then went on to articulate brighter hues across the canvas Color correspondences, sometimes quite subtle, eventually tie the structure together. Working with a narrow palatte in this example, the artist laid passages of ochre in the sideboard and wallpaper, and gray-blue in the dress and paneled door. He then syncopated these colors throughout the canvas in small calculated touches. 

Portrait of Madame Cézanne ca. 1885
(Private Collection, on loan to Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)
Cézanne's brushwork and paint density thins in the 1880s. This shift is nowhere more apparent than in this ravishing bust-length portrait of Hortense, which itself is very similar in structure and curlicues choreograph the pattern while individual strokes of paint fill in the anatomy. Soft pinks and flesh tones describe a tender face, gazing head on, as if in dialogue with the artist. 
Portrait of Madame Cézanne, ca. 1885-87  (Musée d'Orsay, Paris)
The application of paint in this work has more in common with watercolor technique than with oil. For most of the portraits in oil, beyond the underpaint, Cézanne mixed his colors with white, which added opacity. Here, by contrast, the artist built up color very thinly with glazes and semiglazes.  
 
Portrait photography by Albert Eugene Gallatin
of Henri Matisse with this painting, in his Nice
apartment, 1932
Portrait of Madame Cézanne, ca. 1885-88
(Musée d'Orsay, Paris)














Sketch of a Portrait of Madame Cézanne, ca. 1883
(Richard and Mary L. Gray and the Gray Collections Trust)



Woman Nursing Her Child, 1872
Young Woman with Loosened Hair, ca. 1873-74











 These two tender images of the young Hortense are the earliest traceable painted portraits of her. As a rare snapshot of family life, the portrait on the right is a poignant artifact of a lifelong partnership, here in its nascency.

PAUL CÉZANNE: DRAWINGS AND WATERCOLORS FROM THE METROPOLITAN COLLECTION


Still Life with a Watermelon and Pomegranates, ca. 1900-1906
Bathers
Bathers, ca. 1890-92
Bathers by a Bridge, 1900-1906
In the Oise Valley, ca. 1870-80

Portrait of the Artist


Page Studies, Including Madame Cézanne Sewing, 1877-80
Cézanne employed his sketchbooks for visual notations of all kinds, often using the same sheet over several years. Here, the near horizontal Hortense, bearing a somewhat dismayed expression, shares the leaf with a study of Victor Chocquet, a drawing of a table end, and a sketch of a woman sewing, laid out in framing lines. It is very possible that Cézanne used Conté crayon rather than graphite to achieve the jet-black definition of form. 

Portrait of Madame Cézanne, ca. 1890
This unfinished sketch offers clues to Cézanne's methodology as a watercolorist. He outlined his composition in pencil and then laid in form using blue watercolor both for the figure and background.
Sketch of Madame Cézanne
(Private Collections)






















Over the course of is lifetime, Cézanne returned repeatedly to his earlier sketchboooks, filling in empty spaces with more drawings. This practice is evident from the different pencil tones on the pages and the often odd assemblage of images. This charming study of Hortense (right), with her head tilted, is evocative of many of the artist's oils. There is a tenderness to her expression and to the later inscription above her, probably in the hand of young Paul.

Madame Cézanne in a Red Dress, 1888-90
(Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Portrait of Madame Cézanne in a Yellow Chair, 1888-90
(The Art Institute of Chicago)
Madame Cézanne in a Yellow Dress, 1888-90
(Fondation Beyeler, Basel)
Madame Cézanne in a Red Dress, ca. 1888-90
(Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand)


Sources

Madame Cézanne Exhibit, Metropolitan Museum of Art (link)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Art and Magnificence - A Perfect Way to Start the New Year... Andrea del Sarto in New York.




As we enter a new year and are in the throes of collectively trying to make a fresh start, I felt a need to reevaluate the impetus for the existence of this blog. I want to tell you about a great Renaissance artist, Andrea del Sarto, currently on display in two of New York's most prestigious museums, but first you should know who I am and why I am doing this.  Making art more accessible, less intimidating to a wider audience is my life's mission. In fact, I am nothing but a lover of art and history... my passion leads me to some great museums and interesting places and I want to share what I see and experience through my own lens with the readers of this blog... hoping to entice them into joining me in my quest for meaning and beauty in life through viewing great art.

And, here is what is on view in New York at the Andrea del Sarto: The Renaissance Workshop in Action exhibit at the Frick Collection and Andrea del Sarto's Borgherini Holy Family at the Metropolitan Museum of Art...

The Study for the Head of Julius Caesar, ca. 1520
(Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Although he was one of the renowned artists of the Renaissance along with Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael, Andrea del Sarto's name is not as widely recognized by the general public, not even making the cut as the fourth of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Since most of his prolific work is concentrated in his native city, Florence, it is not so easy to truly grasp the depth of Del Sarto's life's work from the few paintings that are in American museums. If you are lucky enough to be in or near New York, you can see the first major monographic exhibition of Del Sarto's art in the United States on view until January 10th.

Study of the Head of a Young Woman, ca. 1523
(Gallerie degli Uffizi)
Studies of the Head of an Infant, ca. 1522
(Gallerie degli Uffizi) 


















The Metropolitan Museum of Art's small exhibit comparing two late works by the artist coincides with the main show of 45 drawings and three paintings in Andrea del Sarto: The Renaissance Workshop in Action  at the Frick Collection. Although the three paintings are displayed in the Oval Room at the Frick, the drawings that are the real gems of the exhibit are displayed in the two galleries downstairs. I have always found viewing an artist's drawings as very intimate, akin to being privy to the inner sanctum of an artist's mind. The Frick show does not disappoint, del Sarto's creative process and the Renaissance workshop really become existent with the drawings on display. The artist's attention to every little detail from hands, and limbs to the fall of the drapery was worked and reworked from live models who seem to be studio assistants or relatives. There are several Heads of Young Women that are thought to be the artist's wife, Lucrezia, which are so delicately modeled that one can almost feel his admiration and love.


Studies of Arms, Legs, Hands and Drapery, ca. 1522
(Galleria degli Uffizi)

Head of a Young Woman, ca. 1517
(Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris)


















Although the exquisite beauty of del Sarto's paintings are without dispute, it is the tender honesty of these drawings that I found so moving. While the paintings feel like they have been created by a magical touch, these show the hardworking hand of the artist, discovering the reality of his subjects only to transform it into what he sees in his mind's eye. Also included in the exhibit are composition studies that show how the artist relentlessly worked out the positioning of the figures. I almost wish someone would make a GIF of the candid look at sketches trying different positions one on top of another. For those of us already curious about art history, these exhibits are a treasure but I wish such an exhibit could reach a younger, wider audience who usually find this type of art outside of their area of interest. Including a modern tech tool to interpret what we willingly go to see and admire might be able to reach a different type of viewer.


The three paintings displayed in the Oval Room of the Frick, The Medici Holy Family, Portrait of a Young Man and St John the Baptist, all had the otherworldly quality that I often associate with Renaissance art. They were perfection itself executed in smooth harmony, inviting the viewer to worship at the altar of human achievement. As spellbinding as these oils are, the preparatory drawings displayed side by side created the sense of being more tangible. Hoping to inform and entice, I tweeted my experience on my third trip to see the Frick exhibit. It is impossible to convey the experience of standing before any of these works by mere words or photographs, so you really should see them in person if you have the chance. For those who cannot make it before the exhibit closes, the Frick collection has all the works online on their website.




The exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum not only compares the 'Mechanics of Creativity" behind del Sarto's two late works, The Borgherini Holy Family and Charity, but also includes items to give a broader sense of the time and political atmosphere they were created in. The Met makes a connection between The Borgherini Holy Family created for Giovanni Borgherini, a supporter of the brief Republican government, 1527-30, against the Medici family and Charity that Sarto painted for the French king Francis I, whose assistance the Florentines sought. Sarto's Borgherini Holy Family is interpreted as:
The artist conveyed his patron's ideals through the central motif of the Christ Child accepting the globe, or orb, surmounted by a cross from Saint John the Baptist, the patron saint of the city. This gesture symbolically represents their true leadership of the city and implicitly rejects any other. 

The Borgherini Holy Family, 1528-29
(Metropolitan Museum of Art)
By using infrared reflectography, conservators confirmed that a smaller version of The Holy Family  was  partially painted underneath Charity. This exhibit is a perfect continuation of understanding the artist's working process. If the Frick exhibit visualizes the preliminary stages of composition and singular details of a work, the exhibit at the Met displays the inception as well as the changes that can take place during the painting process. They also included a few pieces that belong to the tumultuous history of the city in the exhibit adding another dimension to the relevance of these paintings beyond their artistic value. Along with a late private devotional Madonna and Child from the museum's collection included were a Book of Revelations and the bronze metal of Girolamo Savonarola, the Dominican friar who was personally involved in the Republican government of 1494 after the expulsion of the Medici, a late 15th century woven silk polychrome velvet with a variation on a Medici emblem and this lapis lazuli cameo of Cosimo de' Medici, the Duke of Florence and Grand Duke of Tuscany.

Grand Ducal Workshop, Cosimo de' Medici (1519-1574),
Duke of Florence and Grand Duke of Tuscany,
ca. 1567-69
(The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Except for Charity, on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, the Metropolitan Museum's exhibit curated from pieces from their own collection, comes together succinctly to complement the Andrea del Sarto: The Renaissance Workshop in Action  at the Frick Collection. It is possible to access the works on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's website . I strongly urge all to download and closely inspect the exquisite Borgherini Holy Family.

Both the shows end on January 10th and this would be the perfect way to start the new year... with art and magnificence!


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