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Splendor in the Bass: The Portraits on View at The Bass Museum
German School Last quarter of the sixteenth century, Duke Heinrich von Sachsen Lauenburg (1550-1585), Archbishop of Bremen Oil on panel 42” x 35”. Photo: Courtesy of the Bass Museum of Art.

MIAMI.- This installation highlights portraiture of the original John and Johanna Bass founding donation to the museum and features traditional paintings from the past five centuries to the present day. Works include seventeenth century Italian, Flemish and Dutch examples by painters such as Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), Michiel van Musscher (1645-1705), as well as seventeenth and eighteenth century French court portraiture by Jean-Baptiste van Loo (1684-1745) and Hyacinthe Rigaud (1649-1743).

British portraits in the Grand Manner are represented by Benjamin West (1738-1820) who is considered one of the leading exponents of Neo-Classicism, and who was the first American painter to achieve international fame. West’s astonishing accomplishments include being the court painter to the British monarch King George III, a founder and president of the Royal Academy of the Arts. He painted his most influential painting, The Death of General Wolf in 1770, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1771 and became one of the most frequently reproduced images of the period. West was the teacher and mentor to three generations of American artists studying in London, including John Singleton Copley (1738-1815), Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827), Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828), John Trumbull (1756-1843), and Washington Allston (1779-1843). In addition, West was a close friend of Benjamin Franklin, whose portrait he painted. Franklin was also the godfather of West’s second son.

The painting by West that is featured in Splendor in the Bass is entitled Anne, Countess of Northhampton, with Her Daughter Elizabeth. This work was executed in 1762 and features the eldest daughter of the 4th Duke of Beaufort with her daughter posed as Madonna and Child.

The works of this exhibition are consulted by scholars the world over and represent a true strength of the Bass collection. Many works have been exhibited in multiple international exhibitions and are the subject of ongoing grant-funded research and publication efforts. .

These sumptuous paintings are presented in the museum’s lower galleries with Robert Wilson’s innovative and cutting-edge twenty-first century video portraits. The juxtaposition of works provides ample opportunity for compelling comparisons of the history of portraiture in the Western world.

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