Archive for Monday, February 18, 2013

Popular painting on loan for landmark exhibit at National Gallery of Art

February 18, 2013


"La Pia de&squot; Tolomei," by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)

"La Pia de' Tolomei," by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)

Visitors to the Spencer Museum of Art may notice one of its leading ladies is missing. She’ll return, though, after an important East Coast mission.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s “La Pia de' Tolomei” — one of the Spencer’s most famous and popular paintings — is on loan to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., which is featuring it in a landmark exhibit. The National Gallery is billing “Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Art and Design, 1848-1900,” which opened Sunday, as the first major survey of the art of the Pre-Raphaelites to be shown in the United States.

"The Pre-Raphaelites rejected the rigid rules for painting that prevailed at the dawn of the Victorian era to launch Britain's first avant-garde movement," National Gallery director Earl A. Powell III said in a news release. "We are thrilled to present this rare exhibition to our audiences and grateful to lenders, both public and private.”

“La Pia” was the last major canvas completed by Rossetti, who lived from 1828 to 1882, according to information from the Spencer. The dramatic portrait, measuring roughly 3.5 by 4 feet, depicts a pensive, seated woman with rippling auburn hair and a billowing robe.

Her story is a sad one.

The woman — a character from Dante Alighieri’s poem “The Divine Comedy, Purgatory” — married a magistrate who kept her, supposedly out of jealousy, in a castle on the malaria-infested swamps of Maremma, according to the Spencer’s description of the painting. “La Pia,” meaning the pious one, is shown fingering her wedding ring in sadness and regret, with old letters from her husband, a rosary and a devotional book in the foreground.

The Spencer’s description adds that the painting’s heavy-hearted theme was especially poignant for Rossetti, who was in love with the model — Jane Burden Morris — even though she was married to his fellow artist and good friend, William Morris.

“La Pia” will return to the Spencer after May 19, when the National Gallery exhibit closes.


George_Braziller 5 years, 4 months ago

I never have cared for "La Pia," There's something disturbing about the size, length, and angle, of the neck. When I worked there I called it "The Painting of the Woman with the Broken Neck."

verity 5 years, 4 months ago

George, I loved that painting and now you've ruined it for me. Never noticed the neck before. ;-(

jack22 5 years, 4 months ago

This is one of my favorite paintings. I was just thinking about her the other day as it's been awhile since I've paid her a visit. It's nice to hear she'll be out on display where more people will have an opportunity to see and appreciate her. We're very lucky to have this painting here in Lawrence.

Spencer Museum 5 years, 4 months ago

Good memory! Mr. and Mrs. Shopper by Duane Hanson (the artist who created the famed Museum Guard sculpture at the Nelson-Atkins in Kansas City) was on loan to the Spencer Museum from the late 70s through the early 80s. We’re glad you enjoyed it while it was here on loan to us.

Spencer Museum 5 years, 4 months ago

One added note: the actual title of the work mentioned in the comment above is Shoppers, or Couple Shopping. Thanks again for remembering!

MarcoPogo 5 years, 4 months ago

Any idea where the couple resides these days?

Spencer Museum 5 years, 4 months ago

We love your commitment to reconnecting with Shoppers, but because the object is part of a private collection, we cannot be sure of its whereabouts. If you track it down, please let us know!

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