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June 28th, 2004
Museum Celebrates Italian Art In Two Exhibitions, Three Books, In Fall 2004

In the fall of 2004, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will present two timely exhibitions and publish three significant books that focus on the extraordinary range of Italian paintings and drawings in the Museum, placing its holdings within the larger context of the history of Italian art. The two exhibitions and their related catalogues coincide with the much-anticipated publication of Italian Paintings, 1250--1450, in the John G. Johnson Collection and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a major volume dedicated to the important holdings of early Italian Renaissance painting in the Museum. This trio of projects inspired by Italian masterpieces offers a rich opportunity to experience a broad sweep of artistic achievement from the 13th century to the present in nuanced contexts provided by the teams of curators, outside scholars, and conservators assembled by the Museum.

"Anyone who is enchanted by the lure of Italy and its extraordinary artistic legacy in painting and drawing will find this to be an especially auspicious time to visit the Museum," said Anne d’Harnoncourt, Director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. "When Amilcare Pizzi, the renowned publisher in Milan of the Great Italian Drawings series invited us to offer a selection from our collection for publication we were deeply honored. We therefore decided to celebrate with an exhibition of our remarkable Italian drawings, organized by our Curator of drawings, Ann Percy. In a separate undertaking, the two-year-long conservation and technical analysis of the Museum’s splendid portrait by Pontormo of Duke Alessandro de’ Medici, by our paintings conservation department, has led to another important exhibition, organized by Carl Brandon Strehlke, Adjunct Curator of the John G. Johnson Collection. Focusing on the two great 16th-century Medici portraits in the Museum which are joined by major loans from the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and other exceptional collections, this jewel of an exhibition traces the role of portraiture and the elevation of drawing in Renaissance Florence. At the same time, the Museum will publish Dr. Strehlke’s long-awaited catalogue of Italian painting from the late medieval and early Renaissance period in the Museum. It is the first thorough study of many of these paintings since Bernard Berenson catalogued them in 1913. His book provides a splendid capstone for our celebration of Italian art in the coming year."

Italian Master Drawings: 1540 to the Present
On view in the Berman and Stieglitz Galleries from October 30, 2004, through February 20, 2005, this exhibition surveys about 150 of the Museum’s Italian drawings from around period of 1540 to the present. Many of the drawings on view come from two complementary collections: the Anthony Morris Clark Bequest, received in 1978, of primarily 18th-century Roman drawings, and the much larger and more diverse holdings of European old master drawings that were acquired from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia in 1984, through the generosity of the late Muriel and Philip Berman. The major regional schools are represented—Milan, Bologna, Florence, Venice, Genoa, Rome, and Naples—and the works date from the 16th through the mid- 19th century, with special strengths in the 17th and 18th centuries. In addition, the Museum has been able to purchase or has received by gift or bequest many fine early modern and contemporary works, so that the selection for the exhibition and book includes outstanding drawings by artists such as Francesco de’ Rossi (Salviati), Girolamo da Carpi, Guercino, Pietro Testa, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, Giambattista and Giandomenico Tiepolo, Pompeo Batoni, Giuseppe Cades, Giovanni Boldini, Vincenzo Gemito, Amedeo Modigliani, Francesco Clemente, Carlo Maria Mariani, and Giuseppe Penone.

The exhibition is accompanied by a major publication, Italian Master Drawings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (November 2004). It is written by curator of drawings Ann Percy and by Mimi Cazort, retired curator of prints and drawings at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. The book contains discussions of each drawing, biographies of the artists, and an essay that describes the history and nature of Philadelphia’s collection ((300 pages; 80 color, 60 black-and-white reproductions.) The English edition is published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in association with Pennsylvania State University Press. The Italian edition is published by Arti Grafiche Amilcare Pizzi s.p.a., which for more than 30 years has produced the highly lauded Grandi disegni italiani series. The inclusion of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection follows volumes dedicated to many other illustrious collections, including those of the Fogg Art Museum, the Lehman Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Albertina, the Palazzo Rosso, the Hermitage, the Pushkin Museum, the Teylers Museum in Haarlem, and the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin.

Italian Master Drawings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is available in the Museum Store or by calling (800) 329-4856 or online at www.philamuseum.org.

The exhibition and publication are supported by a generous grant from the J. J. Medveckis Foundation. The book is also supported by an endowment for scholarly publications established at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2002 by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and matched by generous donors.

Pontormo, Bronzino, and the Medici: The Transformation of the Renaissance Portrait in Florence
On view in the European Paintings Galleries from November 20, 2004, through February 13, 2005, this exhibition addresses the public and private nature of portraiture and the elevation of drawing in 16th century Florentine art through a careful selection of paintings and drawings from both American and European collections as well as coins, medals, and prints. Pontormo, Bronzino, and the Medici: The Transformation of the Renaissance Portrait in Florence presents some 45 works and will include 16 drawings lent by the drawing and print department of the Uffizi in Florence, which holds the world’s greatest cache of drawings by Pontormo and Bronzino.

Central to the exhibition’s focus are two portraits from the Museum’s collection by the great 16th-century Florentine masters Pontormo and Bronzino, depicting the Dukes Alessandro and Cosimo I de’ Medici. These two paintings have inspired an explanation of the ways in which the Renaissance portrait was transformed by these two Florentine masters in the decade that spanned the fall of the Florentine Republic in 1529, the brief reign of Alessandro, and the beginning of the reign of his cousin Cosimo I, who became duke in 1537 after the assassination of his cousin Alessandro. Bronzino’s striking portrait of Cosimo I shows the duke in the guise of Orpheus, and is often thought to be an allegorical commentary on his future marriage to Eleonora da Toledo. In his masterful painting of Alessandro of 1534-35, Pontormo depicts the duke in the unusual task of making a metalpoint drawing, demonstrating not only the importance of drawing as a cultivated activity for privileged Florentines, but also the status it was given in the hierarchy of the arts. The portrait celebrates the duke’s own abilities as a draftsman and drawing itself as a humanist activity and the basis of all art. The work by Pontormo has undergone a delicate restoration and technical study, the results of which are celebrated in this exhibition.

Pontormo, Bronzino, and the Medici: The Transformation of the Renaissance Portrait in Florence was made possible by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanitites and by a grant from the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative, a program funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by The University of the Arts. It was also generously supported by a grant from The Samuel H. Kress Foundation; by the Robert Montgomery Scott Endowment and the Kathleen C. and John J. F. Sherrerd Endowment for Exhibitions; and by gifts from Theodore and Barbara Aronson in honor of Doris S. Berger, from Martha J. McGeary Snider, from Felicia and Jeffrey Weiss, and from Doris S. Berger in honor of Carl Strehlke. Conservation assistance was provided by Save Venice, Inc.

The accompanying publication was supported by a generous grant from The Robert H. Lehman Foundation, and by an endowment for scholarly publications established at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2002 by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and matched by generous donors.

This fully illustrated catalogue, edited by exhibition organizer Carl Brandon Strehlke, includes an introduction by Strehlke as well as an entry by him on each object in the exhibition, all of which will be illustrated. Elizabeth Cropper, dean of the Center for the Study of the Visual Arts (CASVA) at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., has contributed an essay entitled, "Pontormo and Bronzino in Philadelphia: A Double Portrait," while a team of the Museum’s conservators, headed by Senior Conservator of Paintings Mark Tucker, discuss "Technique and Pontormo’s Portrait of Alessandro de’ Medici," which considers the findings of the recent conservation investigations of the painting. An appendix of people, places, and historical events; a genealogy of the Medici family; and a bibliography complete the volume.

Pontormo, Bronzino, and the Medici: The Transformation of the Renaissance Portrait in Florence is published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in association with The Pennsylvania State University Press (Publication date: November 2004). It contains 188 pages as well as 70 color, and 70 black-and-white reproductions. It is available in the Museum Store or by calling (800) 329-4856 or online at www.philamuseum.org.

Italian Paintings, 1250--1450, in the John G. Johnson Collection and the Philadelphia Museum of Art
(Publication date: November 2004)
Italian Paintings, 1250--1450, in the John G. Johnson Collection and the Philadelphia Museum of Art by Carl Brandon Strehlke includes 117 paintings by 71 artists who were active from the 1260s until the 1460s. The majority of these early Italian paintings are from the Johnson Collection, which was formed by a prominent Philadelphia lawyer in the early 20th century with the advice of noted international scholars. First catalogued by Bernard Berenson in a 1913 publication, the Johnson Collection has been a focus of research ever since but only summary catalogues have been published until now. The current project marks the first complete examination of the paintings since 1913 and also includes all early Italian paintings owned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which are shown in juxtaposition with the Johnson Collection in the 1994 reinstallation of the Museum’s European galleries.

The book contains a foreword by Anne d’Harnoncourt, the Director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Joseph J. Rishel, the Gisela and Dennis Alter Senior Curator of European Painting Before 1900, the John G. Johnson Collection and the Rodin Museum. Dr. Strehlke has taken an innovative approach that combines his extensive research in Italian archives with significant art historical reconsiderations resulting from his close collaboration with Mark S. Tucker, the Museum’s Senior Conservator of Paintings, on the technical examination of the paintings.

Each section devoted to a particular artist begins with an extensively documented biography that provides a contextual background for the discussions of the paintings that follow. Each painting entry includes a full physical description, technical examination, conservation history, provenance, art historical commentary, reference to companion works, and complete bibliography. The text is supported throughout by illustrations of technical aspects of the paintings and related works of art. The catalogue also includes an essay by Dr. Strehlke discussing the history of the collections, focusing on John G. Johnson and his advisers as well as the installation and conservation of the paintings. An illustrated appendix of over 110 punch marks decorating the gold halos and backgrounds of the paintings, the first to be included in a collection catalogue, will serve as a useful tool for future study of early Italian art, as will the bibliography of some 2,500 entries and the glossary of technical and art historical terms.

Italian Paintings, 1250--1450, in the John G. Johnson Collection and the Philadelphia Museum of Art is published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Association with The Pennsylvania State University Press (Publication date: November 2004). It contains 600 pages, 130 color and 680 black-and-white illustrations. The book is available in the Museum Store or by calling (800) 329-4856 or online at www.philamuseum.org.

In the Modern and Contemporary Galleries
From November 16, 2004 through February 2005, in conjunction with Pontormo, Bronzino, and the Medici: The Transformation of the Renaissance Portrait in Florence, the Museum will present The Greeting, 1995, by Bill Viola (b. 1951), one of the foremost video artists of his generation. The artist’s inspiration for this absorbing video/sound installation is Pontormo’s painting, The Visitation (1528-29), which is located in the parish church of Carmignano, north of Florence, and portrays the Virgin Mary telling Elizabeth that she is expecting a child. Viola adapts Pontormo’s subject into a contemporary urban setting, with several women acting out the scene. In The Greeting, a 45-second encounter is slowed to 10 minutes, intensifying the movements, gestures, and emotions of the figures into a subtle but powerful choreography.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is Philadelphia's art museum. We are a landmark building. A world-renowned collection. A place that welcomes everyone. We bring the arts to life, inspiring visitors—through scholarly study and creative play—to discover the spirit of imagination that lies in everyone. We connect people with the arts in rich and varied ways, making the experience of the Museum surprising, lively, and always memorable. We are committed to inviting visitors to see the world—and themselves—anew through the beauty and expressive power of the arts.

For additional information, contact the Communications Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art phone at 215-684-7860, by fax at 215-235-0050, or by e-mail at pressroom@philamuseum.org. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call (215) 763-8100.

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