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Never-before-seen-in-public Florentine Baroque art exhibition at the Crocker Art Museum

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Two never-before-seen-in-public Florentine Baroque paintings will be on exhibit at the Crocker Art Museum Saturday through Feb. 12: "Saint Sebastian" by Onorio Marinari and "Penitent Magdalene" by Cesare Dandini – as part of "Florence and the Baroque: Paintings from the Haukohl Family Collection" exhibit.

The exhibit features Italian paintings and a sculpture from the 16th through the 18th centuries by artists such as Cesare Dandini, Jacopo da Empoli and Francesco Furini.

"This is the first exhibition that is all of Italian painting that we’ve had in many decades," Curator William Breazeale said. "There is one from the Crest collection in 1933, there have been a few in between, but it’s been a long time for the Crocker."

He said that having this collection is a wonderful opportunity in bringing a new world to the Sacramento public since the museum’s permanent collection is focused on other areas, such as Central Europe, Germany and Austria.

The Baroque style developed because there was a period in the 16th century when artists were looking at other artists’ work more than they were looking at nature, and because of that, there was a new look at the human body, at clarity of storytelling, and there was a new look at emotion, Breazeale said.

"They deal both with the realistic depiction of the human body, but also emotion, as in, you’ll have a statue with flowing drapery that sort of (adds) drama into it," Breazeale said, describing Baroque art.

He said through Baroque’s clear storytelling style of art, somebody can look at it without bringing out the Bible and recognize, for example, the image of the Madonna and Child or Saint Sebastian.

"We have a few Baroque paintings but not from Florence," Breazeale said of the museum’s permanent collection.

The Baroque in Florence, while still in-keeping with the Baroque style, has its heritage from artists such as Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Raphael to Bartolomeo, said Breazeale.

The dimly lit exhibit room features 16 paintings and one sculpture of Florentine Baroque art from the Haukohl family collection loan to the museum by Sir Mark Hers Haukohl, a collector and patron of the arts who lives in Houston, Texas. It is the largest private collection of Florentine Baroque painting in the U.S., and the ones on display are selections from that, said Breazeale.

Cesare Dandini, Allegory of Musical Fame, n.d. Oil on canvas, 39 x 30 in. Haukohl Family Collection.

The "Allegory of Musical Fame" by Cesare Dandini shows a winged woman, bearing a star above her head, holding a trumpet on one hand with a loosely entwined banner with the inscription "per ora virum" and on her other hand a viola.

"Per ora virum" translates to "through the mouths of men, " according to Breazeale. He explained that this can have a double meaning because it can both refer to singing, but can also deal with fame, because it is a herald’s trumpet, or it can mean both.

He said that the exhibition is very unique because Cesare Dandini is the first of a dynasty of painters in Florence, and that the exhibition has represented four members of that family.

"It’s something that very seldom happens even in exhibitions in Europe," he added.

Crocker Art Museum Curator William Breazeale

"I like Baroque art in general. It’s exciting, it’s active, a lot of action going on in the pictures," said Brian Bates, an American River College humanities professor.

He said that in his modern humanities class he teaches Baroque art, and his students would benefit in seeing the exhibit to get a better understanding of the art.

The exhibition is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Thursdays from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Lectures and presentations related to the exhibit will be available from Saturday through Jan. 26. at the museum. Pricing and schedules for these programs are available at the Crocker Art Museum website.


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