The Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art is showing off its recent acquisitions, including a painting by Benvenuto Tisi. The unannounced exhibition features works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Pablo Picasso and Mary Cassatt. The museum is not keeping regular hours during the summer, so please call (805) 565-6162 to make sure it is open.
The work by Tisi, also known as Il Garofalo, is a promised gift to Westmont by Michael Huffington in honor of Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree, valued at about a half-million dollars.
Tisi was an Italian Mannerist painter of the School of Ferrara. He studied in Rome with Giulio Romano (1499-1546) and Raphael (1483-1520) and was a contemporary of Titian (1485-1576). Known for his paintings of religious subjects and mythological themes, Tisi worked through the 1550s. His career ended with the onset of blindness before his death in 1559.
Westmont is exhibiting the work “La Nativité” from the mid-16th century. Nativity scenes depicting Christ’s birth have long been an important subject of Christian art, and the first recorded depiction dates back to the second century.
“Garofalo’s painting is typical of an iconography that first appeared in Europe during the late 14th century,” says Judy L. Larson, Askew professor of art history and director of the museum. “In this style of representation, the Virgin Mary is not depicted as recovering from childbirth; rather, she kneels before the Christ Child in adoration, who is not placed in a manager, but reclines contentedly on a pile of straw. The inclusion of angels is another iconographic development originating in the Renaissance.”
The museum, which celebrates its fifth anniversary this year, opens a new season Aug. 28-Sept. 11 with its annual show “5×5: Celebrating Five Years.” More than 500 five-inch-square works of art will be available for viewing and purchase through an online auction with proceeds benefiting the museum.