Lost in the Shuffle Two new exhibitions at the Walters Art Museum give Carlo Crivelli and Madame Pompadour their proper due.

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"Madonna and Child," photo courtesy of the Walters Art Museum.
“Madonna and Child,” photo courtesy of the Walters Art Museum.

Among painters of the Italian Renaissance, Carlo Crivelli has always been cast as something of a supporting actor behind leading men such as Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello. The Walters Art Museum aims to change Crivelli’s marquee status with its new exhibition, “A Renaissance Original: Carlo Crivelli.”

Crivelli brought to his work, principally religious portrayals, a sympathetic closeness between/among his subjects, as with his “The Dead Christ Supported by Two Angels” (from the National Gallery in London) and “Madonna and Child” (from the Walters own collection. This dramatic style pervades nearly all of his paintings. Not forgetting his use of gold, lots of gold. “Crivelli liked a lot of bling,” says exhibition curator Joaneath Spicer. The exhibition also features Crivelli works from the collections of various American and European art institutions.

 

In the same manner, the Walters seeks to shed new light on Jeanne-Antoinette Pompadour, mistress of France’s King Louis XV and patron of the arts. Its new “Madame de Pompadour, Patron and Printmaker,” reveals Pompadour, seldom favored by history, as a tasteful collector and skilled artist.

Along with stunning pieces from her collection—hand-painted porcelain vases, lushly designed tapestries, opulently designed book editions, exquisitely carved gems—you will find seven etchings Pompadour created. These original works were thought to be lost until their recent rediscovery in the Walters archives. Turns out museum founder Henry Walters acquired a complete set of approximately 50 Pompadour etchings back in 1895.

“A Renaissance Original: Carlo Crivelli” runs through May 22 and “Madame de Pompadour, Patron and Printmaker” runs through May 29 at the Walters Art Museum.

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