Saturday, November 17, 2007

Batoni at the MFAH

posted by Free Press Houston @ 10:50 AM


Visually exciting if not also heart stoppingly beautiful are 65 paintings by Pompeo Batoni (1708 ­ 1787): Prince of Painters in Eighteenth-Century Rome, over half of which have never been displayed in America. This exhibit is on display at the MFAH until late January. Many of the paintings feature Salvator Rosa style frames. Several of the items are portraits including one of David Garrick considered the foremost Shakespeare actor of his day. His wry countenance shows the at once clever and perhaps condescending glare of an actor. Another highlight is The Choice of Hercules, which posits the man of strength between two women, one virtue and one vice. Closer inspection reveals the dog at the gate of Hell barking in the background while a baby cherub holds a thick wooden club at Hercules¹ feet. The painting Virgin and Child is as close to religious holiday fetish imagery as anything you¹re likely to see between now and Christmas.

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