12502 - 20170709 - The Davis Museum presents first U.S. retrospective of the works of Carlo Dolci - Wellesley, MASS - 10.02.2017-09.07.2017

Carlo Dolci, St. Matthew Writing His Gospel, 1640s. Oil on canvas, 52 5/8 × 44 3/4 in. (133.7 × 113.7 cm). Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum, inv. no. 69.PA.29. Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program.
The Davis Museum at Wellesley College will present The Medici’s Painter: Carlo Dolci and 17th-Century Florence, the first-ever exhibition in America devoted to the luminous and meticulously rendered paintings and drawings of 17th-century Italian artist Carlo Dolci (1616–1687), and the Davis Museum’s most ambitious Old Master project to date. Dolci was arguably the most important artist in Florence during the 17th-century and the exhibition brings together for the first time in the U.S. the artist's sophisticated devotional work, pictures and drawings of the highest pictorial, technical, and spiritual qualities. On view in the Camilla Chandler and Dorothy Buffum Chandler Gallery and the Marjorie and Gerald Bronfman Gallery, The Medici’s Painter will open on February 10, and run through July 9, 2017.

The exhibition includes more than 50 paintings and drawings, on loan from the most important public and private collections in the U.S. and abroad, and from otherwise inaccessible private collections. Works will travel from the Uffizi Gallery and Pitta Palace in Florence, the Louvre Museum in Paris, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, among others. The exhibition will travel for presentation at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in August 2017.

The Medici’s Painter is organized by Dr. Eve Straussman-Pflanzer, Head of European Art Department & Elizabeth and Allan Shelden Curator of European Paintings at the Detroit Institute of Arts, with Dr. Francesca Baldassari. Straussman-Pflanzer was previously the Assistant Director of Curatorial Affairs and Senior Curator of Collections at the Davis Museum.

“The exhibition will consider Dolci’s art in depth as well as consider art as a critical diplomatic, political, and cultural tool from the early modern period to the present,” said Straussman-Pflanzer. “It provides the first opportunity in the United States to study the life and oeuvre of the most important artist in 17th-century Florence.”

Best known for his half-length and single-figure devotional pictures, Dolci was also a gifted painter of altarpieces and portraits as well as a highly accomplished draughtsman. He created his first works of art in the mid-1620s, after entering the studio of the Florentine painter Jacopo Vignali (1592–1664) in 1625. Among his first patrons were members of the Medici family and foreign nobility, who immediately recognized his reverence for detail, brilliant palette, and seemingly enameled surfaces.

New Scholarship
This exhibition moves beyond the notion of Dolci as a sentimental painter or an exclusively devotional one, and returns to an appreciation of the aesthetic merits, naturalistic underpinnings, and cultural context of the artist’s work.

Exhibiting Dolci’s oeuvre chronologically with attention to autograph works by the artist, the exhibition will exceed longstanding prejudices by presenting the artist’s exquisite surfaces and breathtaking palette alongside preparatory drawings. Such juxtaposition will reveal the sheer technical virtuosity of the artist as well as the naturalistic vein that forms the foundation of his entire legacy.

An exhibition catalogue, published by the Davis Museum at Wellesley College and distributed by Yale University Press, will accompany the exhibition. The catalogue will be edited by Julia P. Henshaw with contributions by early modern scholars Francesca Baldassari, Edward Goldberg, Scott Nethersole, Lisa Goldenberg Stoppato, and Eve Straussman-Pflanzer.