National Gallery acquires rare Renaissance masterpiece by Salviati
Ottawa - August 15, 2005
The National Gallery of Canada has added a jewel to its permanent collection with the acquisition of an exquisite 16th-century painting by Francesco Salviati. Virgin and Child with an Angel, painted circa 1535-1540, is a beautiful and rare example of Roman Mannerism, a style that evolved during the Italian Renaissance.
The oil on panel painting features an aristocratic-looking Virgin Mary holding a sleeping Christ Child. While the mood of the mother can be described as benignly contented, the sleeping child and the presence of an attendant angel who contemplates a transparent veil together evoke the future Passion of Christ.
Francesco Salviati, a leading Mannerist painter of the mid-16th century, was born in 1510 in Florence and began his artistic career as an apprentice in the atelier of the master Andrea del Sarto. He moved to Rome in 1531, and died there in 1563.
Salviati became one of Rome’s leading second-generation Mannerists with his fluidly elegant style, characterized by sinuous outlines, spontaneous brushwork, and rich ornamental detail. While his work is reminiscent of both Raphael and Michelangelo, it is endowed with a new elegance, artificiality and complexity. Salviati was known for his imaginatively posed figures, and his distinctive style earned him fame in Italy and in France during his lifetime.
“This is an important acquisition for Canada, because there are very few Salviati paintings in North America,” says Pierre Théberge, Director of the National Gallery. “In addition to being a beautiful painting, Virgin and Child with an Angel greatly strengthens our collection of art from the extremely rare period of Roman Mannerism, at a time when Michelangelo was active in the papal city.”
The work was acquired through the National Gallery of Canada’s annual acquisition budget and with the financial participation of the National Gallery of Canada Foundation and its Volunteers’ Circle in the amount of $400,000. A quarter of this amount, or $100,000, comes from a gift donated earlier this summer by the Volunteers’ Circle to mark the Gallery’s 125th anniversary. The National Gallery of Canada Foundation, for its part, contributed $300,000 to the acquisition from the revenue generated by the Renaissance Ball, the Foundation’s first-ever fundraising event, which was held last May 28.
Virgin and Child with an Angel, which is very well preserved and, at 112.3 x 83 cm, quite large, rounds out the Gallery’s collection of four drawings and a print by Salviati. The artist’s works are found in the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence, the British Museum in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Louvre in Paris, the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, and many other collections.
Virgin and Child with an Angel is currently on display as part of the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and the Renaissance in Florence, at the National Gallery until 5 September. After the exhibition closes, the painting will hang in the European Galleries on the museum’s upper level.
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