Many of the worlds most iconic paintings were originally conceived in pairs or sets and have been separated over the hundreds of years since their creation. The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
s collection contains many of these worksinstantly recognizable, yet conceptually incomplete without their matches. Reunited Masterworks: From Adam & Eve to George & Martha, on view from February 14, 2010May 30, 2010, will remedy this situation by presenting some of the best-known paintings from the Wadsworths permanent collection along with their long-lost mates. Exceptional individually, some of these paintings are being brought together for the first time in centuries to enable visitors to appreciate them the way the artist intendedas contrasting or complimentary pairs. In total, five collection paintings will be rejoined with their matesincluding loans from major collections in the US, Canada, and Europe.
Opening appropriately on Valentines Day, the exhibition will include several sets of real and mythological couplesthe earliest of which, in terms of both date and subject, is a set of panel paintings depicting Adam and Eve from 1613 by the Dutch artist Hendrick Goltzius. Goltzius Adam, acquired by the Wadsworth in 2004, will be reunited with its pendant partner Eve from the Musee des Beaux-Arts in Strasbourgthe first time these paintings have been seen together in centuries. Visitors will also get a chance to see another of historys most famous couplesGeorge and Martha Washingtondepicted in pastel by the English-born artist James Sharples.
It will be a revelation to finally have these paintings displayed togethersome for the first time in centuries allowing us to fully understand and appreciate the artists intentions, said Dr. Eric Zafran, the Wadsworths Curator of European Art. This exhibition offers a truly exciting opportunity for those who have long appreciated these works individually, as the opportunity to see them presented side by side is extremely rare.
Several of the other reunited pendants in the show represent mythological and allegorical themes, which, according to Dr. Zafran, are complex and deeply meaningful compositions that only make sense when joined with their mates. A highlight of the exhibition will be the rejoining of the Wadsworths most famous Renaissance painting, The Finding of Vulcan by the 15th-century Florentine master Piero di Cosimo, with its mate, Vulcan and Aeolous, from the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. This will be the first time these works have been on view together in decades. Also noteworthy will be the joining of the Wadsworths iconic Allegory of Vanity by Spanish master Juan de Valdés Leal with the pendant Allegory of Salvation, from the York Art Gallery in York, England.
Reunited Masterworks: From Adam & Eve to George & Martha is the second exhibition in the Wadsworths Masterpiece Series, which will take place over the next two years and consist of small, focused exhibitions that will bring some of the worlds greatest art to Hartford and highlight the depth of the museums permanent collection. Running concurrently with Reunited Masterworks, the Wadsworth Atheneum will also be presenting a special installation of an El Greco painting on loan from the Museo del Prado in Madrid. It will be paired with a studio work of the same composition from the Wadsworths own collection.