On View September 19–December 16, 2018
Exhibition Features Recent Restoration of The Capture of Christ, Newly Attributed to Paolo Veneziano
(Berkeley, CA) August 23, 2018—A selection of recently restored works from the Old Masters collection of the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) goes on view in Berkeley this fall, showcasing among other highlights a painting that has been newly attributed to the fourteenth-century Venetian master Paolo Veneziano. Old Masters in a New Light: Rediscovering the European Collection offers a fresh look at BAMPFA’s extensive holdings of European art, following a multiyear initiative of conservation and scholarship that has brought new vitality to this important area of the collection. As part of this initiative, BAMPFA has acquired several important works by European Old Masters, including notable additions in the area of eighteenth-century painting that go on view this fall.
While the University of California, Berkeley has been collecting European art since 1872, it is only recently that a concerted effort has been made to document, restore, and illuminate through scholarship this area of BAMPFA’s encyclopedic collection. Old Masters in a New Light represents the first major exhibition to showcase the results of this initiative, which has engaged the participation of nationally distinguished art historians and conservation specialists to accurately date each work, improve attributions, and conserve and restore works to the best possible condition.
During this process, new research by the Yale art historian Christopher Platts has determined that a painting in BAMPFA’s collection—The Capture of Christ (c. 1345), previously attributed to an unknown artist—is in fact the work of Paolo Veneziano, the preeminent painter of fourteenth-century Venice. The work depicts the moment when Judas betrays Christ with a kiss to the cheek, identifying him to the helmeted soldiers sent by the high priest to arrest him. It has been newly restored from the version pictured above and goes on view in the exhibition for the first time since its attribution. Also on view for the first time are seven Old Masters works donated to BAMPFA by the collector and scholar Alan Templeton, including major paintings by Giuseppe Varotti, Hyacinthe Rigaud, Gaetano Gandolfi, Garofalo, and Christopher Hewetson.
In total, the exhibition includes more than fifty paintings, sculptures, and works on paper, which span five centuries of BAMPFA’s European holdings. The works have been selected with special emphasis on the collection’s distinctive strengths, notably Baroque-era art and eighteenth-century Italian painting. The selection highlights contributions by multiple artists who are underrepresented in US museums, including Juan de Borgoña, Giovanni Savoldo, Sermoneta, Cavalier d’Arpino, Giovanni Battista Caracciolo, Jacob de Wet, Gaetano, and Augustin Bernard d’Agesci, among others.
“This exhibition offers an opportunity to showcase the breadth and depth of BAMPFA’s historical European collections, including many recently restored and newly acquired works that help us tell a much more robust story of artistic influences across Europe over multiple centuries,” said BAMPFA Director and Chief Curator Lawrence Rinder. “Although our modern and contemporary collections may be better known, I think visitors will be excited by the exceptional quality and variety of what is, after all, the oldest public collection of European art on the West Coast.”
In conjunction with Old Masters in a New Light, BAMPFA hosts a gallery talk with collector and scholar Alan Templeton and Columbia University Mellon Fellow Grace Harpster on Wednesday, October 3 at 12 p.m. Other public programs include a lecture on Saturday, September 29 at 1:30 p.m. by Catherine Lusheck, associate professor of art history/arts management at the University of San Francisco, on the topic of artistic style and connoisseurship. Guided tours of the exhibition are offered on select Wednesdays, Sundays, and Thursdays; visit bampfa.org for details. All programs are free with museum admission.
Special thanks to Alan Templeton, whose generous and thoughtful donations have supported extensive research and conservation efforts, as well as the acquisition of nearly a dozen important works of art, all of which are featured in this exhibition. Research and texts on the works in the exhibition have been supported by UC Berkeley students Matthew Cutler, Grace Harpster, Deborah Reisenbach, Karine Douplitzky, and Yessica Porras under the direction of Professor Todd Olson, UC Berkeley History of Art Department.