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Ringling organizes America's first comprehensive Veronese exhibition in two decades
Paolo Veronese, Allegory of Painting, 1560s, oil on canvas, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edgar Whitcomb, 36.30, Detroit Institute of Arts. © Detroit Institute of Arts.

SARASOTA, FL.- This December, the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art presents a major exhibition of the work of Paolo Veronese (1528–1588), a master of Venetian Renaissance painting. The first comprehensive exhibition of Veronese’s work in North America in over two decades, Paolo Veronese: A Master and His Workshop in Renaissance Venice brings together more than 50 of the artist’s finest paintings and drawings from North American museums and private collections. Presenting imposing altarpieces and smaller religious paintings for private devotion or collectors, striking portraits, depictions of sensual narratives drawn from the classical tradition, and majestic allegories glorifying the Venetian state, the exhibition introduces the range of Veronese’s art, in which the opulence and splendor of Renaissance Venice comes to life. Veronese was also a highly accomplished draughtsman, and this exhibition provides audiences a rare glimpse into his work on paper, from gestural sketches to highly-finished chiaroscuro sheets. The Ringling is the sole venue for Paolo Veronese, which is on view from December 7, 2012 through April 14, 2013 in the Museum’s Ulla R. and Arthur F. Searing Wing.

One of the exhibition’s highlights is the Ringling’s own work, Rest on the Flight into Egypt (ca. 1572), one of only two complete Veronese altarpieces in North America and the first Old Master painting acquired in 1925 by the Museum’s founder, John Ringling. The exhibition also features two other works from the Ringling’s collection: Portrait of Francesco Franceschini (1551), the artist’s first known surviving, full-standing portrait, painted when Veronese was just 23 years old, and a painting John Ringling bought as a Veronese, A Family Group (ca. 1565), now understood to be the work of his talented pupil Giovanni Antonio Fasolo.

“One of the most impressive paintings by Veronese in America is the Ringling’s Rest on the Flight into Egypt, which happens to be the first Old Master painting acquired by John Ringling for this museum,” said Steven High, executive director of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. “In recent years, the Ringling Museum has made a concerted effort to organize important exhibitions based on prominent works in our European collection, and Paolo Veronese is the latest in this series. This exhibition hopes to introduce new audiences to the broad spectrum of Veronese as a painter and draughtsman, while making a major contribution to the study of the artist.”

Conceived and organized by Dr. Virginia Brilliant, the Ringling Museum’s Curator of European Art, in cooperation with Frederick Ilchman, Curator of Paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the exhibition highlights Veronese’s artistic process and his rich and varied artistic production. Veronese often depicted the same subjects time and again throughout his career, and the exhibition examines the artist’s evolving perspectives on the Rest on the Flight into Egypt, the Baptism of Christ, and the Death of Christ through the side-by-side comparison of works in a variety of formats, sizes, and media. For example, the Ringling’s Rest on the Flight into Egypt has been placed in conversation with the National Gallery of Canada’s painting and the Harvard Art Museums’ highly finished drawing of the same subject, as well as the Cleveland Museum of Art’s preliminary sheet of sketches in which the artist’s ideas for all of the finished works originated.

“Veronese is broadly represented in American collections, in contrast with contemporary Venetian painters like Tintoretto and Titian, and thus the exhibition ably surveys his career and oeuvre,” said Virginia Brilliant, the exhibition’s lead curator. “Yet Veronese is often dismissed as a merely decorative painter, more elegant and ‘happier’ than Titian or Tintoretto. This exhibition hopes to shift this perception, and to shed light on Veronese as a masterful, deeply empathetic storyteller and narrative painter whose works were often invested with rich layers of meaning.”

Paolo Veronese features prominent works drawn from private collections as well as museums such as the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Harvard Art Museums, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Canada, and the J. Paul Getty Museum, among others. As Veronese was known for his rich representations of Renaissance Venice’s luxurious fashions and fabrics, the exhibition includes rare 16th-century textiles from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, such as a red damask made of silk and gilt metal thread brocade and a reticella lace towel, which is being displayed alongside paintings portraying similar fabrics.

This exhibition also marks the first reunion in the U.S. of four works that were once part of the same decorative ensemble—Allegory of Painting (1560s) from the Detroit Institute of Arts, and three panels from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: Jupiter and a Nude (1560s), Actaeon and Diana with Nymphs (1560s), and Atalanta and Meleager (1560s)—oil on canvas paintings that are believed to have been installed together as a frieze along the walls of a palace or country villa. Curators also are testing a new hypothesis that two paintings depicting scenes drawn from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Diana and Actaeon (ca. 1560–65) from the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Apollo and Daphne (ca. 1560–65) from the San Diego Museum of Art, may have been from the same decorative ensemble. The paintings, which share a similar provenance, dimensions, and scale of figures, are displayed side-by-side so viewers can compare their use of light, landscape, and color. The exhibition also features Thomas Struth’s Galleria dell'Accademia 1, Venice 1992 (1992) from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, inviting visitors to reflect on Veronese’s impact on contemporary audiences.

Recent exhibitions of European art at the Ringling have included: The Triumph of Marriage: Painted Cassoni of the Renaissance (2008); Venice in the Age of Canaletto (2009 –10), Gothic Art in the Gilded Age: Medieval and Renaissance Treasures in the Gavet-Vanderbilt-Ringling Collection (2009–10), and Peter Paul Rubens: Impressions of a Master (2012).

John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art | Paolo Veronese | Renaissance |

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