William & Mary

Muscarelle presents Haukohl collection of paintings, sculptures

The Muscarelle Museum of Art at William & Mary will open a new exhibition, Twilight of a Golden Age: Florentine Painting after the Renaissance, on Saturday.

The exhibition features more than 20 important paintings and sculptures of the 17th and 18th centuries from the renowned Haukohl Family Collection. Twilight of a Golden Age follows on the heels of two major Renaissance exhibitions at the Muscarelle. Michelangelo: Sacred and Profane and Leonardo da Vinci: The Idea of Beauty, both of which set records for attendance.

“The opportunity to exhibit these extraordinary works allows us to continue the story of our groundbreaking Renaissance shows,” said Aaron De Groft, director and CEO of the Muscarelle Museum of Art.

“Most of the artists active in Florence after Michelangelo’s death in 1564 are little known outside of Italy,” De Groft continued. “The Haukohl Family has the most important collection of Florentine Baroque paintings and objects in the United States.”

Giovan Domenico Ferretti (1692-1768), Harlequin and his Lady, n.d., Oil on canvas, The Haukohl Family CollectionMore than 35 years in the making, the Haukohl collection has lent generously to important museums and exhibitions both in America and abroad. The core of this collection is its unique holdings of paintings by three generations of the Dandini family, beginning with Cesare Dandini (1596-1657), a leading master of the early 17th Century. Dandini founded a dynasty of painters of classical themes personified by female figures, whose beauty was calculated to appeal to private collectors. Dandini’s younger brother, Vincenzo (1609-1675), is represented in the exhibition by impressive representations of St. Mark and the goddess Juno.

The leader of the younger generations of the dynasty, which extended into the 18th century, was Pietro Dandini (1646-1712) whose large canvas, Esther Fainting Before King Ahasuerus, is a splendidly colorful presence in the show. Collaboration with his father Pietro, Ottaviano Dandini (1681-1740), enhanced the clarity of his style which is demonstrated wonderfully in Saint Phillip Neri and the Miracle on the Voyage to Naples.

A special section of the exhibition, “Artists, Writers, and Academies,” is dedicated to the lively culture of Florence under the rule of the Medici grand dukes, when more than ten artistic, literary and scientific societies were founded. This gallery will be dominated by four painted stucco over-life-size portraits by Antonio Montauti (1683-1746), representing Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Galileo and Marsilio Ficino.

The centerpiece will be a treasure of Florentine 18th century painting, a harlequin jester scene by Giovanni Domenico Ferretti (1692-1768), the most gifted Florentine artist of his century. This scene from the comic theatre of that time is presented in an antique period frame decorated with figures of cupids holding symbols of music, the theatre and other arts.

Under the many years curatorship of Sir Mark Fehrs Haukohl, the Haukohl family has the largest private collection of Florentine Baroque art in the United States. Resident in Houston, Texas, Sir Mark Fehrs Haukohl was born into a family of art collectors, who have always been patrons of the arts. All the paintings and sculptures in Twilight of a Golden Age: Florentine Painting after the Renaissance have been lent through the generosity of the Haukohl family.

The Museum is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon until 4 p.m. The museum is closed on Monday. Regularly scheduled docent tours take place on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.

Tickets during this exhibition are $10 per person. Admission is free for Muscarelle Museum members, William & Mary students, faculty and staff, as well as children under 12. Find hours and location at http://muscarelle.org/.