Monday, November 13, 2017

Bartolome Esteban Murillo, self portrait, ca 1670
The Frick Museum's significant role as the custodian of ancient art is also one of New York's most quiet and revered places to discover the Old Masters and retreat for quiet contemplation in its inner fountain courtyard.  With its rare paintings by the Old Masters The Frick reminds us to remember the great painters who set the ancient course of art history. 
      Paying tribute one of Italy's renowned artist's  achievements, this year marks the 400th anniversary of the birth of one of the most celebrated painters of the Spanish Golden Age, Bartolome Esteban Murillo (1617-1682). The exhibition runs through February 4, 2018 after which it moves to London's
National Gallery from February 28 through May 21, 2018.
     Murillo, the self portrait, pictured at the left, ca. 1670, attests to the artist's profession. The elegantly rendered Latin inscription below the portrait translates, "Bartolome Murillo painted himself to fulfill the wishes and prayers of his children." This is a second self-portrait, similar to an earlier one, but the trompe l'oeil stone frame around Murillo's image is more elaborate, decorated with scrolls and idealized foliage.  Flanking the frame, the artist's had engagingly holds the frame and there on the ledgeare the signature attributes of an artist including painter's brushes and palette.  
     
Murillo's Two Women in a Window ca. 1655-60 
Murillo's career was a successful one, and he painted canvases for the most important patrons and churches in Seville, and also created allegorical and genre scenes.  Image Right: Murillo's Two Women remains one of the best known and most mysterious of Murillo's paintings. The affect of these two figures emerging from the window is exceptionally realistic. The women have been identified as servants or prostitutes. A Spanish proverb from the period warns that "a woman at the window a grape of the street." It is interesting to note that the nature of the painting's commission and its message remains, unknown. However, his portraits of 
urchins in the street of Seville are particularly well known, and together with Immaculates and other religious images, they remain his signature works. The Museum Shop offers a richly illustrated publication.
     Concurrently on exhibit are two Venetian Renaissance Masterpieces by the celebrated artist
Pablo Veronese (1528-1588), St. Jerome in the Wilderness and St. Agatha Visited by St. Peter. 
The two rarely seen canvases left 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. On view through March 28, 2018, this provides a unique opportunity to discover two masterpieces in the Frick's unique setting. 
       
Veronese St. Agatha Visited in Prison by St. Peter (1566-57)
St. Agatha was a third-century martyr from Sicily who lived in Catania at the time of the Christian persecution under 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. When she refused to worship pagan idols, he sent her to prison where she was tortured and Quintianus ordered her breasts be cut off. In St. Agatha, Veronese sets the scene in Agatha's agony, her wounded breasts a testament to her devotion. In the dark prison cell. she steadies herself against the bench, surprised by two visitors that burst into her cell. A glorious blond angel dressed in light blue holds a long taper, he precedes St. Peter, who stands by the open door. In his left hand he holds the keys to heaven and with his right hand he gestures upward, referring at once to his celestial mission and to Agatha's imminent healing, and possibly death and heavenly reward. The two paintings, Agatha and St. Jerome in the Wilderness (1566-67) are Murano photo credited to: Ufficio Beni Culurali del Patriarcato di Venezia, Accompanying the exhibition is a richly illustrated publication, available in the Museum shop.

      Ta ta Darlings!!!  The dual exhibition is a breathtaking experience, worth your while to spend an hour or two reveling in their remarkable restoration. Then too, before heading out to the cacophony of New York City, take a some time to sit for awhile in the quiet fountain courtyard. Fan mail is always welcome www.pollytalknyc@gmail.com.  Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and click in the left-hand column to the Blog that resonates with your interest on visionary men, women determined to succeed, the fashion historian and poetry.