Welcome, Cambiaso

A 450-year-old work of art by Genoese artist Luca Cambiaso that was recently acquired by the Blanton Museum of Art has been hung in its second-floor galleries

Welcome, Cambiaso

A 450-year-old work of art from Italy has just taken up residence at its new home in Austin. Virgin and Child With the Young St. John the Baptist, a 36-inch-by-32-inch oil painting by Luca Cambiaso, arrived from Europe on Monday, April 5, and was hung in the second-floor galleries of the Blanton Museum of Art on Wednesday. The Blanton was able to purchase this 16th-century work, estimated to be worth at least $500,000, through a special donation by the Effie and Wofford Cain Foundation. In other words, it's a major acquisition – and for the museum that already possesses 240 masterworks of Renaissance and baroque art in the Suida-Manning Collection, that's saying something.

On hand to oversee the setting of this latest gem in the museum's collection crown were Blanton Director Jessie Otto Hite and Jonathan Bober, curator of prints, drawings, and European paintings, who enlightened those present for the unveiling with an effusive description of the work's strengths and historical significance. Noting that Cambiaso was only 22 or 23 years old at the time he painted this particular Virgin and Child – an image he explored many times on canvas – Bober pointed out the elements that revealed an ambitious young artist pushing himself and the creative envelope of his day.

Indeed, it has the look of a young man's work, especially compared to the painting it now hangs beside, another work by the Genoese artist but painted 20 years later. A softening of form and light and an overpowering sense of intimacy in the later work contrast sharply with the bold edges, brightness, and compositional vigor in the Virgin and Child. Looking at the pair together offers even the casual viewer fascinating insights into the development of an artist over time, how style, technique, and subject evolve as the human being matures. It also helps explain why museums acquire multiple works by the same artist; they give us not only enriching artistic experiences but opportunities to study and understand the creative process and the creators themselves.

"This is the kind of acquisition a serious museum must make," Bober insists, and standing in the gallery with this one, it's hard to disagree. The new acquisition brings the number of Cambiasos owned by the Blanton to seven.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Blanton Museum
What Can a Century Tell Us?
What Can a Century Tell Us?
Looking at two art exhibitions that both survey 100 years of imagery, the more things change ...

Robert Faires, July 13, 2007

More by Robert Faires
What to See When You Aren't Catching Moontower Comedy's Big Shows
What to See When You Aren't Catching Moontower Comedy's Big Shows

April 19, 2019

Seeing the Fusebox Festival Without Reservations
Seeing the Fusebox Festival Without Reservations
Tickets to some shows have been snapped up, but there's still plenty of electric Fusebox action available

April 12, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Blanton Museum, Suida-Manning Collection, Blanton Museum of Art, Luca Cambiaso, Virgin and Child with the Young St. John the Baptist, Effie and Wofford Cain Foundation, Jonathan Bober, Jessie Otto Hite

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle