Posted: Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Michael Gallagher has been taking readers of this blog series step by step through his conservation work on the remarkable Jabach portrait. So I thought this might be the moment—in the few weeks remaining until its installation in the galleries—to reflect on how we came to acquire this extraordinary picture.
Posted: Thursday, March 12, 2015
"Almost invariably," writes Stendahl in the Italian Chronicles, "foreigners coming to Rome ask to be taken, at the outset of their tour of inspection, to the Barberini gallery; they are attracted, the women especially, by the portraits of Beatrice Cenci and her stepmother." Beatrice, of course, not only had possessed beauty, but she had a story, having been publicly executed for the murder of her cruel, molesting father.
What was thought to be her portrait (above) was painted by the "Divine Guido Reni" (1575–1642). Reni was a great artist, but the picture Stendahl admired was not, in fact, by him and certainly cannot hold a candle to the portrait of an unknown beauty recently given to the Metropolitan Museum and now hanging—following its cleaning and reframing—in gallery 623.
Posted: Friday, November 7, 2014
Did you know that until 1992, Drawings and Prints were two separate departments within the Museum? Behind the scenes, there are many physical reminders of this earlier era, including separate storerooms, separate study rooms, and staff offices spread over two floors. However, both in the public galleries as well as conceptually, these two areas of the collection are now wholly integrated, allowing for a richer understanding of how works on paper were made and used.
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 27, 2014
The cleaning of the Jabach portrait is going well, and we in Paintings Conservation are all transfixed by the exceptional quality of the painting. One area I was particularly looking forward to seeing without the yellowed varnish was the beautiful figure of Jabach's daughter Anna Maria. She really anchors the right-hand side of the composition, and her self-aware, direct gaze pulls us into the Jabach family's rarefied world. Below are some photographs that I took during the cleaning.
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: Wednesday, July 30, 2014
I had first seen the Jabach family portrait in a warehouse in London over a year ago and loved it, but I'll admit that when it finally arrived in our paintings conservation studio at the Museum this past June, I was a bit overwhelmed—it's enormous! Fortunately, the work's current condition needs to be fully documented before conservation can begin. This not only helps a conservator understand the painting and its issues but also provides some breathing space and thinking time.
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: Friday, April 11, 2014
Louis François Cassas's View of Messina Harbor is a fascinating recent addition to the continuously expanding collection of eighteenth-century drawings in the Department of Drawings and Prints. The pen and wash drawing offers an idyllic view of the main harbor in Messina, Sicily, before the earthquakes that devastated the Calabrian coast in February and March of 1783. This large-format drawing is currently on view in Gallery 690 until April 28 as part of a rotation of drawings and prints from the permanent collection.
Posted: Tuesday, February 11, 2014
The Department of Drawings and Prints houses more than 1.2 million prints, dating from the Middle Ages through the present, and the collection is continually expanding. One recent and interesting addition is a rare print by the fifteenth-century German engraver and goldsmith Israhel van Meckenem depicting six religious scenes in roundels.