New Scholarship Illuminates Northern Renaissance Paintings from Bob Jones University

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


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A Divine Light: Northern Renaissance Paintings
from the Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery
Offers New Insight On Overlooked Collection

Conservation of Key Works Reveals Beautiful Colors

NASHVILLE, TENN. –(July 20, 2011)– A selection of magnificent Northern Renaissance paintings from an often overlooked collection will be on exhibition in the Frist Center for the Visual Arts’ Upper-Level Galleries from September 9, 2011 through February 5, 2012.  A Divine Light: Northern Renaissance Paintings from the Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery (M&G) in Greenville, S.C. features 28 paintings from 15th- and 16th-century Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Spain. The exhibition is conceived as an intimate encounter with the devotional art of the Renaissance and explores the way in which 15th- and 16th-century Northern European painters expressed the central mysteries of the Christian faith through setting, pose, gesture and the objects of everyday life.
These paintings, which are part of a collection better known for its grand Baroque pictures, have been little studied since their acquisition in the mid-20th century. Since that time, considerable advances have been made in analytical methods and connoisseurship of Northern Renaissance paintings and additional archival research has been undertaken.  This exhibition presents the examples in the Bob Jones Collection in light of this recent research.

Prior to the exhibition, the Frist Center sponsored the conservation of four key works, including, most importantly a beguiling Flemish picture known as the Madonna of the Fireplace, which was attributed to the Master of Flèmalle when it was part of the Cook Collection in England during the 19th century. Its conservation and publication in color in the catalogue will allow specialists to become newly acquainted with this work and to reconsider its attribution, iconography and historical significance. The cleaning and restoration of all four paintings was conducted in the New York laboratory of noted paintings conservator David Bull.

“Very few people seem to be aware that Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery has this treasure trove of rare and beautiful Northern Renaissance paintings,” said Frist Center Associate Curator Trinita Kennedy, organizer of the exhibition.  “Our goal is to make these works better known to a wider audience and invite appreciation and study in light of the recent research in the field.  Visitors to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the National Gallery in London and many of the world’s major museums will see similarities in the works we are presenting here in Nashville.  We hope people will take this opportunity to see how the works from the Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery relate to works in those more familiar collections.”
Dr. Bob Jones, Jr., founder of the museum, collected only religious art and had a strong preference for images of the Virgin and Child, the Holy Family, the Passion and the Holy Face of Christ. This exhibition provides an excellent opportunity to focus attention on developments in alter pieces and devotional paintings during the 15th and 16th centuries. 
The exhibition will be accompanied by a 180-page, color catalogue containing more than 130 full-color illustrations and two essays based on original, new research. The first essay, “The Intimacy of Northern Renaissance Painting,” was written by Trinita Kennedy.  The essay includes an extended discussion of the relationship between the Madonna of the Fireplace, one of the highlights of the exhibition, and better known Northern Renaissance paintings of the Virgin and Child in a domestic interior, such as The Mérode Triptych in the Cloisters Collection in New York and The Virgin of the Firescreen at London’s National Gallery.

The second essay is written by John Nolan, longtime curator at M&G, and is on the subject of Dr. Jones as a collector of Northern Renaissance paintings.  Delving into the archives of both M&G and the art dealers from whom Dr. Jones purchased the paintings, Nolan traces the history of the formation of this part of the collection.  M&G was among the first college or university art museums in America to acquire Northern Renaissance paintings.  To this day, the Bob Jones Collection remains one of the largest of its kind in the country, surpassing in size even the notable collections of Harvard, Yale and Princeton.

An iPod audio tour of the exhibition, written by Frist Center Curator of Interpretation Anne Taylor, will be available. The audio tour will also be available for listening and download free of charge from the Frist Center’s website at http://www.fristcenter.org.

BOB JONES UNIVERSITY MUSEUM & GALLERY
The Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery is recognized as having one of America’s finest collections of Old Master paintings and is well known for its thorough presentation of the development of Western culture through these works.

Located in Greenville, S.C., and housed on the campus of Bob Jones University, the Museum & Gallery displays Italian, Spanish, French, English, Flemish, Dutch and German sacred art from the 14th through the 19th century.  Works by major artists such as Rubens, van Dyck, Reni and Tintoretto are exhibited with period furniture, sculpture, tapestries and porcelains to give visitors a panoramic view of artistic developments.

Today, 50 years after its inauguration, the collection comprises more than 400 paintings by the Old Masters, nearly 200 pieces of Gothic to 19th-century furniture, approximately 100 works of sculpture, 60 textiles, nearly 50 drawings and prints, more than 1,000 Biblical artifacts and 130 miscellaneous items ranging from stained glass windows to a Byzantine baptistery font.

EXHIBITION CREDITS

The exhibition was organized by the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery.

Exhibition Sponsors

The Frist Center gratefully acknowledges the exhibition sponsors:
The exhibition and its accompanying catalogue were made possible in part by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York, with additional support from the Metro Nashville Arts Commission and the Tennessee Arts Commission.
Belmont University and Ocean Way Recording Studios donated recording time and professional expertise in the production of the audio tour for the exhibition.

PROGRAMS

Friday, September 23 ARTini: A Divine Light: Northern Renaissance Paintings 7:00 p.m. from the Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery
Meet at exhibition entrance
Free with purchase of gallery admission

Are you curious about art? Do you want to learn more about the content and concepts behind an artist’s work? If you answered yes to either of those questions, then the ARTini program is for you! ARTinis are designed for everyone—from the novice to the connoisseur—and include informal and insightful conversations that offer a deeper understanding of one or two works of art in an exhibition.

Join Keri Jhaveri, museum educator at the Frist Center, as she leads an informal conversation about some of the works included in A Divine Light. Complete your visit with a stop in the café or gift shop.  Special ARTinis will be available in the Frist Center Café before and after the program.

Tuesday, September 27 ARTini: A Divine Light: Northern Renaissance Paintings 12:00 p.m. from the Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery
Meet at exhibition entrance
Free with purchase of gallery admission

Are you curious about art? Do you want to learn more about the content and concepts behind an artist’s work? If you answered yes to either of those questions, then the ARTini program is for you! ARTinis are designed for everyone—from the novice to the connoisseur—and include informal and insightful conversations that offer a deeper understanding of one or two works of art in an exhibition.

Join Keri Jhaveri, museum educator at the Frist Center, as she leads an informal conversation about some of the works included in A Divine Light.

Begin or complete your visit with a stop in the gift shop or a café.

Thursday, October 27 Curator’s Tour: A Divine Light: Northern Renaissance
12:00 pm Paintings from the Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery
Free with purchase of gallery admission
Meet at exhibition entrance

Join Trinita Kennedy, associate curator at the Frist Center, for a tour of this exhibition that focuses on the Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery’s Northern Renaissance pictures, which have sat in relative obscurity since they were acquired in the mid-twentieth century.  This exhibition explores the ways in which 15th- and 16th-century artists in France, Germany, the Lowlands and Spain expressed the central mysteries of the Christian faith through setting, pose, gesture and the objects of everyday life. 

About the Frist Center

Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, located at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tenn., is an art exhibition center dedicated to presenting the finest visual art from local, regional, U.S. and international sources in a program of changing exhibitions. The Frist Center’s Martin ArtQuest Gallery (open until 5:30 p.m. each day) features interactive stations relating to Frist Center exhibitions. Gallery admission to the Frist Center is free for visitors 18 and younger and to Frist Center members. Frist Center admission is $10.00 for adults and $7.00 for seniors, military and college students with ID.  College students are admitted free Thursday and Friday evenings (with the exception of Frist Fridays), 5–9 p.m.  Discounts are offered for groups of 10 or more with advance reservation by calling (615) 744-3247.The Frist Center is open seven days a week: Mondays through Wednesdays, and Saturdays, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m.–9 p.m. and Sundays, 1–5:30 p.m., with the Frist Center Café opening at noon. Additional information is available by calling (615) 244-3340 or by visiting our website at http://www.fristcenter.org.

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