Last weekend while in New Orleans I paid a visit to the New Orleans Museum of Art. I was especially excited to see their collection of Italian works from the Kress Foundation, which can be viewed online here, though there were a few key pieces which weren’t on display. In addition to these works, the museum had a number of Italian paintings from their own collection, a number of which really impressed me.
Anyway, here are my thoughts on select paintings on display throughout the NOMA:
Sebastiano Ricci and Marco Ricci - Imaginary Scene with Ruins and Figures - Italian Renaissance
I’ve admired Sebastiano Ricci’s landscapes for awhile now, and I sincerely believe his work to have strongly influenced American landscape painter Thomas Cole, but I had no idea Ricci also executed works in the capriccio style, of which this is an excellent example. It’s hard to fathom how this one artists excelled in so many different genres of painting. Fantastic. I especially enjoyed the human figures thrown in for scale.
Alessandro Magnasco - Landscape with Travelers - Italian Renaissance
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of Magnasco. In this work his signature brushwork is more apparent in the landscape rather than the human figures, but it’s still a very recognizably him. As an interesting parallel, this particular piece brings to mind some of the more dramatic work by English painter John Constable.
Luca Giordano - Baptism of Christ - Italian Renaissance
Here I found myself drawn to the background details rather than the religious subjects in the foreground. Throughout this canvas there are two absolutely beautiful landscapes which stand alone as incredible works. For the record, my favorite Giordano is still his Saint Sebastian Cured by Saint Irene at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Antonio Zanchi - Hercules Resisting the Blandishments of Fame - Italian Renaissance
I’m torn on this piece. It contains a strong Baroque influence due to its dramatically lit figure of Hercules though at the same time it exhibits a relatively pleasant sunset in the background. This is an unusual juxtaposition which for me is more distracting than harmonious.
Attributed to Domenico Beccafumi - Venus and Cupid with Vulcan - Italian Renaissance
I’ve admired Beccafumi for awhile and this was my first chance seeing one of his works in person. He was a Sienese Mannerist with a highly identifiable palette of colors and compositional style. The entire left upper half of the canvas is almost surreal in it’s depiction of the Vulcan episode along with the dark, eerie landscape located directly above.
Francesco d'Ubertino, Bacchiacca - Portrait of a Young Lute Player - Italian Renaissance
At first I wasn’t particularly drawn to this piece, and to be honest I found the depiction of the lute player to be somewhat lacking, especially the disoriented rendering of the face. That said, after taking a closer look at the background elements, namely the allegorical episodes on love, I found myself completely drawn into this work. As a whole this painting takes on a very bizarre, almost mystic quality.
Luca Cambiaso - Vanity of the Earthly Love - Italian Renaissance
The Art Institute of Chicago has one of Cambiaso’s pieces on display, Venus and Cupid, which I’ve looked at from time to time, but this work at the NOMA is incredible. The subject matter itself is fairy straight forward in terms of symbolism, but this piece really excels on account of the tonal range within the shadows. I love this artist’s penchant for dramatic lighting, though his style itself does not resemble the Baroque approach, and in fact Cambiaso preceded the movement by nearly 50 years.
Giovanni Bellini and Vincenzo Catena - Madonna and Child with Saint John and Saint Peter - Italian Renaissance
My favorite elements of this work are the soft renderings showcased within the folds of cloth as well as the details in the oriental draperies, which I assume were Bellini’s contribution. Those attributes alone make this an incredible painting.
Otto Marseus van Schrieck - Serpents and Insects - Dutch Golden Age
This is a very unusual still life in that almost the entire canvas is black except for the elements mentioned in the title. I am to assume that under better lighting conditions more background details would be apparent, though it is possible that the painting itself may have darkened with age. As my first introduction to this artist’s work, I find myself drawn to his style in which he immerses his subject matter in deep shadows.
Jan Lievens - Portrait of an Old Man - Dutch Golden Age
Until now I was completely unfamiliar with Lievens, an excellent Dutch portrait painter whose works are overshadowed by that of his colleague Rembrandt, but having seen this work I notice some definite similarity between the two artists that go beyond what one might expect of this particular genre. Within the next couple weeks I will make an effort to check out more works by Lievens.
Denis Van Alsloot and Hendrick De Clerck - St. John the Baptist Preaching - Flemish
I absolutely love the two landscapes represented by Alsloot in this work, and the depiction of the St. John episode by Clerck are also very well executed. Oddly enough, this piece brought to mind the work of a 16th century German painter Albrecht Altdorfer.
Thomas Willeborts Bosschaert - Venus Mourning the Death of Adonis - Dutch Golden Age
One look at this painting immediately reminds me of Harry Jones Thaddeus’s The Wounded Poucher, located in the National Gallery of Ireland--a very interesting parallel. This is a very nice work though the inclusion of animals is a bit odd.
Maerten van Heemskerk - Apollo and the Muses - Dutch Golden Age
This is an excellent work by a Dutch painter who took inspiration from the Mannerist style, and his figures show the unmistakable influence of Michelangelo. The poses and expressions of the subjects are very expressionate and often humorous. The Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, PA has a very similar work by this artist, titled Concert of Apollo and the Muses on Mt. Helicon.
Marinus van Reymerswaele - The Lawyer's Office - Dutch
Ah yes, who doesn’t love a highly detailed 16th century Antwerp scene devoted to moneychangers and lawyers? There are so many fascinating elements to this painting and the lighting and oils are absolutely beautiful.
Simon Vouet - Erato, the Muse of Love Poetry - 17th Century French
I love the musical instruments toward the lower right corner of the canvas, but aside from this minor detail I’m somewhat indifferent to this work.
Charles Joseph Natoire - Toilet of Psyche - 18th Century French
Elisabeth Louise Vigee Le Brun - Portrait of Marie Antoinette - 18th Century French
Antonie Francois Callat - Portrait of Louis XIV, King of France - 18th Century French
Francois Boucher - The Surprise - 18th Century French
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the French Rococo style that was popular during the late 18th century, but I find myself more interested in these works from a technical standpoint rather than on account of the subject matter itself, especially the portraits of Bourbon nobility, which are all about showcasing exotic tapestries and excessive tastes in fashion. The Charles Joseph Natoire and Francois Boucher pieces were nice, though I still feel an emotional distance toward these particular works.
Claude Joseph Vernet - The Morning, Port Scene - 18th Century French
I recognized this piece as a Vernet from across the gallery, same as his painting at the Chazen in Madison. I love the luminescent quality of these particular works but I’d like to see more active seascapes from this artist.
Jean-Léon Gérôme - Turkish Bashi Bazouk Mercenaries Playing Chess in a Market Place - 19th Century French
Jean-Léon Gérôme - The Snake Charmer - 19th Century French
As I’ve mentioned countless times before, I love 19th century French and American orientalist works, particularly genre scenes such as these. And yes, as an admirer of said movement, I love the works of Gérôme. Sadly, I have yet to see one of his large scale paintings, and yes, I’m still pissed that his Éminence Grise was not on display last fall when we visited the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
James Tissot - Going to Business - 19th Century French
James Tissot - Terrace of the Trafalgar Tavern, Greenwich - 19th Century French
These quaint street scenes by Tissot aroused my interest on account of their compositions and workmanship, but upon further research of this artist I was impressed to discover his extensive gallery of biblical art. Wonderful images.
Baron Antoine-Jean Gros - Napoleon Bonaparte at the Pest House at Jaffa - 18th Century French
This looks like a quick oil sketch for what would later become Gros’s famous Lourve piece of the same name, though notably absent are the mosque elements in the background.
Gustave Doré - The Matterhorn - 19th Century French
This was a fantastic surprise! I love Doré’s engravings and illustrations but I had yet to see one of his oil paintings. The composition and attention detail in this work are unmistakably that of Doré, and it would seem fitting that the subject be a landscape. Very cool!
Jehan Georges Vibert - The Cardinals' Friendly Chat - 19th Century French
Wow, my first introduction to Jehan Georges Vibert and I am extremely impressed. I love the stodgy 19th century French academic style which unfortunately took a backseat to Impressionism. A quick Google search on this artist brings up many, many beautiful works. I’ll have to obtain more resources on this painter.
Gaston La Touche - The Masquerade Ball at the Paris Grand Opera - French Impressionists
As mentioned above, I’m not the biggest fan of Impressionism, but I really took a shine to this piece, a colorful interior scene with patrons crowded on a wonderfully rendered staircase leading down to a luminescent main hall. The architectural perspective of the scene is what I found most appealing, followed by the wonderful array of colors.
Max Ernst - Everyone Here Speaks Latin - 20th Century
I really liked this painting though I’m not exactly sure what it’s trying to say. It definitely brings to mind some Bruegel the Elder works but who knows if Ernst was actually trying to reference them.
William Henry Buck - Swamp Scene - American
Charles Giroux - Louisiana Road Scene - American
Unidentified Maker - Louisiana Swamp - American
Richard Clague - Fisherman's Camp - American
Richard Clague - Back of Algiers - American
Richard Clague - Batture Shanty - American
William Aiken Walker - Cotton Gin - American
Alexander J. Drysdale - Early Morning in a Louisiana Marsh - American
Knute Heldner - Swamp Scene - American
A majority of the American works on display at the NOMA are by southern artists who were active around the region. This was actually a welcome nice of pace and this visit exposed me to a lot of artist whose work I’d never seen before, and certain pieces even had a charming folk art quality. I especially enjoyed the landscapes of Richard Clague and William Henry Buck, though I’d have to say William Aiken Walker’s Cotton Gin was my favorite. The more I think about these works the more I wish I could’ve visited the Ogden Museum of Southern Art while we were in New Orleans.
Well, there’s always next time!
Oh yeah, and the museum’s Asher Brown Durand piece was not on view, or at least I did not see it. This is odd considering how prominent said painting is advertised in their collection.
There were other works which sparked my interests as well, most of which I mentioned in a previous post.