Keith Christiansen is the John Pope-Hennessy Chairman of the Department of European Paintings.
Posted: Thursday, September 11, 2014
Those of us who work in museums are as curious as any visitor to know about all the objects that fill a given painting. In the case of Charles Le Brun's Jabach portrait, a painting of a well-to-do family in a luxurious Parisian residence, there's a lot to catch your eye; we see a number of things the family must have owned and treasured.
Posted: Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Well, if you live in New York and work at the Metropolitan Museum, there's really only one acceptable answer to that question! But what happens when two versions of a picture exist, as is the case with the Metropolitan's new painting by Charles Le Brun of the German banker Everhard Jabach (1618–1695)? I worried about this as we entered into negotiations for the purchase of the picture.
Posted: Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Ever wonder what it would have been like to live in Paris in the golden age of the French monarchy and to have the money to do it in style?
Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013
As part of the installation of the New European Paintings Galleries last month, all of the wall labels were rewritten to reflect recent research. Each time I walked into the Rembrandt gallery (Gallery 637) during the installation, I wondered if I was seeing an art project or merely temporary storage for our new label holders.
Posted: Monday, June 10, 2013
Before you can put a Gothic altarpiece together, you first have to know how to take it apart. This is Giovanni di Paolo's polyptych from a church in Cortona, Italy, painted in 1454, en route to its permanent installation in Gallery 626 within the New European Paintings Galleries.
Posted: Monday, June 3, 2013
Posted: Tuesday, May 28, 2013
The last work installed for the New European Paintings Galleries the afternoon before the opening was the famous birth salver created in 1449 for Lorenzo de' Medici (known to later generations simply as Lorenzo the Magnificent). It's in Gallery 604. To make the final meticulous retouching of the mount, the installer, Warren Bennett, had to insert his head into the case, beneath the birth tray. I was struck by the very Neapolitan baroque quality of the image of his head—as though detached, John-the-Baptist fashion, by the "blade" of the salver! I couldn't help but snap a picture. Just look at the spot of light on the cranium: pure Mattia Preti!
Posted: Tuesday, January 18, 2011
In 1949 the Metropolitan Museum was bequeathed a masterpiece of Italian Renaissance painting. Painted around 1485 by the Florentine master Filippino Lippi, it shows the Madonna and Child seated in a domestic interior, with a view through a window onto a landscape with a river.
Posted: Monday, August 16, 2010
Two years ago I had the good fortune of being in Florence when, at the Accademia, which every tourist visits for its collection of sculpture by Michelangelo, there was a marvelous exhibition devoted to the great fourteenth-century painter Giovanni da Milano (Italian, Lombard, active 1346–69). I spent hours in the exhibition and it was there that I first saw Christ and Saint Peter; the Resurrection; Christ and Mary Magdalen.
Posted: Monday, March 29, 2010
Each time I stand before this painting I am impressed by the clever way the artist—the most famous female painter of the seventeenth century—has infused a well-known biblical story with her understanding of a gendered society in which women employed beauty and cleverness to gain the upper hand.