Final Installation at Frick Madison Reunites Two Masterpieces
by Giorgione and Giovanni Bellini After Centuries Apart
November 9, 2023, through February 4, 2024
Giorgione (Italian, ca. 1477–1510), The Three Philosophers, ca. 1508–9. Oil on canvas, 49 7/16 x 57 9/16 in. (125.5 x 146.2 cm). Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Photo: KHM-Museumsverband
New York (October 2, 2023)—This fall and winter, visitors to Frick Madison, the temporary home of The Frick Collection, will have an unprecedented opportunity to view two Renaissance masterpieces reunited for the first time in more than four hundred years.
Giorgione’s Three Philosophers, on rare loan from Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum, will be shown in dialogue with the Frick’s beloved St. Francis in the Desert by Giovanni Bellini. The works were owned by the same Venetian collector, Taddeo Contarini (ca. 1466–1540), and were displayed for many decades in his palazzo before their separation centuries ago.
Comments Ian Wardropper, Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Director of the Frick, “It would be difficult to think of a more fitting conclusion for our temporary residency at Frick Madison than this once-in-a-lifetime installation. These two complex Renaissance paintings have prompted an enormous amount of commentary over the years, and we are delighted to present the pair together as an exciting farewell to this fascinating chapter in our institution’s history.”
Bellini and Giorgione in the House of Taddeo Contarini will examine the joint history of the two paintings. It has been proposed by scholars that Giorgione conceived The Three Philosophers, most likely commissioned by Contarini himself, as a companion to Bellini’s St. Francis in the Desert, and they seem to have been at Contarini’s palazzo for most of the sixteenth century before being separated. At Frick Madison, the pair will be displayed—alone—in the iconic room within the Marcel Breuer–designed building where St. Francis has hung in isolated splendor, as if in a secular chapel.
This special presentation is organized by Xavier F. Salomon, Deputy Director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator, who is authoring an accompanying book about the paintings and their original owner and his collection. Salomon states, “To this day, Taddeo Contarini is best known for his ownership of two masterpieces of Venetian Renaissance painting. Despite the attention that has been lavished on the paintings from his collection, Contarini remains an elusive figure, one we can understand only through some glimmers of information about him. The reunion of these two paintings brings an important part of Contarini’s collection back to life.”
Bellini and Giorgione in the House of Taddeo Contarini is generously funded by David and Julie Tobey, Ambassador and Mrs. W. L. Lyons Brown, Kathleen Feldstein, Michael and Jane Horvitz, the Robert Lehman Foundation, the Estate of Seymour R. Askin Jr., the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Gini and Randall Barbato, Jerald D. Fessenden, Mary and Howard S. Frank, Fernand Lamesch and Mary Pisacane, the Malcolm Hewitt Wiener Foundation, Gabelli Funds, Hubert and Mireille Goldschmidt, Casey Kohlberg, Patricia Dugan Perlmuth, Michael L. Santini, Constantine P. Sidamon-Eristoff, the Consulate General of Italy in New York, Mercy Cohen, and an anonymous donor.
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