A Little Italy

Posted online: February 2015


Sandro Botticelli (and Possibly Assistant), The Annunciation, ca. 1490–95. Oil, tempera, and gold leaf on walnut panel, 19 1/2 x 24 7/16 in. (49.5 x 61.9 cm). Glasgow Museums; Bequeathed by Archibald McLellan, 1856 (174). © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection. Courtesy American Federation of Arts.

Looking to ease the blow of the end of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival? Enjoy another culturally rich and equally engaging endeavor at The Santa Barbara Museum of Art. A new exhibition, “Botticelli, Titian, and Beyond: Masterpieces of Italian Painting from Glasgow Museums,” open February 8 until May 3 explores the evolution and reign of Italian art during a 500-year period—from the late 14th to the 19th centuries—through Glasgow Museums’ Italian holdings. The exhibition (originally named “Of Heaven and Earth: 500 Years of Italian Painting from Glasgow Museums”) is now on the fifth stop of its North American tour. Among the more than 40 works included are paintings by masters of the Italian Renaissance and Baroque periods such as Giovanni Bellini, Sandro Botticelli, Domenichino, Salvator Rosa, Luca Signorelli, and Titian. While a half-millineum of Italian art may sound indulgent, the paintings—originating from all the principal artistic centers of Italy—are displayed chronologically and broken into five representative groupings.


Giovanni Bellini, Virgin and Child, ca. 1480–85. Tempera and oil on panel, 24 1/2 x 18 1/4 in. (62.3 x 46.2 cm). Glasgow Museums; Bequeathed by Mrs. John Graham-Gilbert, 1877 (575). © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection. Courtesy American Federation of Arts.

A single collector is responsible for the acquisition of a large portion of Glasgow’s Italian collection, which—with its rich historical, religious, and mythological subjects—has both an academic and moral resonance. This showcase also offers the perfect context for the SBMA to display several works from its permanent collection—a Lorenzo Monaco that often resides with the J. Paul Getty Collection, an early and recently restored Salvator Rosa, and St. Catherine of Alexandria Carried to Her Tomb by Angels by Giovanni Baglione in the familiar style of his student, Caravaggio.

One of the larger pieces is an early work of Titian entitled Christ and the Adulteress, and for the first time in this exhibition reunites with a fragment cropped from the original piece titled Head of a Man. Not to be missed are Carlo Dolci’s devious Salome with the Head of St. John the Baptist, Cavalier d’Arpino’s exquisite glimpse of Mannerism in Archangel Michael and the Rebel Angels, and from the later works a still life from 1875 by Antonio Mancini. The vast majority of the works included have never been shown in the United States before, and the SBMA is the exclusive West Coast venue.


Santa Barbara Museum of Art 1130 State Street, Santa Barbara, 805-963-4364, sbmuseart.org.


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