AUSTIN, Texas—The Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin has been given “Virgin and Child with the Young St. John the Baptist” (circa 1550), a very early painting by Luca Cambiaso, founder of the school of Genoa.
Made possible by a gift from the Effie and Wofford Cain Foundation, the painting was acquired from the Paris-based Galerie Canesso and is now on view at TEFAF Maastricht—the European Fine Art Fair—in The Netherlands. Blanton’s Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings, and European Paintings, Jonathan Bober, called the painting the “most significant single acquisition the Blanton has ever made.”
Virgin and Child with the Young St. John the Baptist
Oil on panel
Gift of the Effie and Wofford Cain Foundation
Image © Blanton Museum of Art
Distinguished by its creation very early in Cambiaso’s career, the painting captures the moment when the artist’s style coalesced following a probable trip to Rome and encounter with the work of Michelangelo’s followers. One of the most significant and few extant early works by the artist, “Virgin and Child with the Young St. John the Baptist” reveals a youthful Cambiaso at work, still palpably provincial but terribly ambitious and self-consciously refined.
“Virgin and Child with the Young St. John the Baptist” joins six paintings by Cambiaso and about 50 drawings by Cambiaso, his followers and copyists that came to the museum with the Suida-Manning Collection. Preceding the earliest Suida-Manning painting by some 15 years, and the first work executed on panel, the new acquisition will allow the Blanton to represent the artist’s full development, creating extraordinary opportunities for research and teaching. The museum’s holdings of Cambiaso and later Genoese artists were already the richest in existence outside of Genoa.
This new acquisition enhances the Blanton’s standing as it develops a new museum complex scheduled for completion in late 2005. The new facility will provide greatly expanded galleries and teaching spaces for the Blanton’s rapidly growing permanent collection.
“This gift illustrates the strength with which the Blanton fulfills each of its dual roles,” said Jessie Otto Hite, director of the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art. “Offering insight into a critical moment in the development of an Old Master artist, this painting will create new opportunities for students and scholars to explore Cambiaso’s work in the United States. A beautiful painting in its own right, ‘Virgin and Child with the Young St. John the Baptist’ is an example of the caliber of art that the Blanton brings to Austin and Central Texas for the enjoyment of our visitors.”
The gift of “Virgin and Child with the Young St. John the Baptist” reinforces the Blanton’s international stature as a leading museum for the collection, exhibition and study of Old Master paintings, drawings and prints. The painting also enhances strengths that were established through two major gifts to the Blanton in the past few years: the Suida-Manning Collection of later Renaissance and Baroque paintings and drawings, and the Leo Steinberg Collection of prints. One of the world’s foremost private collections of earlier European art, the Suida-Manning Collection came to the museum as a partial gift in 1998. Its 240 paintings and nearly 400 drawings are principally Italian and span the 14th through the 18th centuries. The works include excellent examples of the most famous masters, from Raphael and Correggio to Rubens and Tiepolo, many more masterpieces by less familiar personalities such as Cambiaso, Vouet, Daniele Crespi and Ricci, and concentrations, like that of the Genoese school, that are unique.
In 2002, noted art historian and critic Leo Steinberg gave his collection of more than 3,200 prints to the Blanton. This encyclopedic collection was the finest of its kind in private hands in the United States and its gift to the Blanton has provided new opportunities for scholars and visitors to explore artists and periods across media. The collection had been known principally to scholars and admired for its quality, range and depth, as well as for its many rare and unique works. Among prints included are masterpieces by Marcantonio Raimondi, the German “Little Masters,” Giorgio Ghisi, Cornelis Cort, Hendrick Goltzius, Claude Lorrain, and Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, as well as modern masters from William Blake and Samuel Palmer to Pablo Picasso and Jasper Johns.