February Director’s Message
Among the greatest of the acquisitions of 2018 is an impeccably well-preserved panel by Luis de Morales. So much a portrait of humanity pushed to the physical limit by torture, the Ecce Homo (Man of Sorrows) combines a High Renaissance sense of palpable flesh with a theatricality–strong light illuminating the figure and his attributes on an otherwise pitch black setting–all at nearly life size. Some of you may have taken note when it was featured in Apollo Magazine (December 2018 Awards issue) as one of the top museum acquisitions of the year. This beautifully preserved panel, painted in the borderlands of Western Spain in 1560–the setting of Cervantes’ Don Quixote–joins an exceptionally strong collection of paintings by Spanish artists ranging from Zurbaràn’s Saint Serapion (1628) to Dalí’s Apparition of a Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach (1938). I encourage you to take a look for yourself at the painting as it hangs in the first floor gallery of the Morgan Memorial during your next visit.
Just as we are a place to celebrate old Masters, so too are we committed to the art of our time, through the MATRIX program and otherwise. The next MATRIX project bridges both: Emily Mae Smith, our first artist in years devoted exclusively to painting, responds to a collection icon that has been a favorite of hers for most of her adult life, the Wadsworth’s William Holman Hunt, The Lady of Shalott (c. 1888-1905). In direct conversation with the Pre-Raphaelite masterpiece, Smith offers a contemporary reimagining of the narrative that refers to the broomstick figure from Disney’s Fantasia (1940). MATRIX 181 opens Thursday, February 7 as part of this month’s Art After Dark.
An embrace of recent developments in abstraction, Sean Scully: Landline opens on February 23. We’ve worked hard to create an environment where you can experience titanic painting and sculpture alongside lush pastels and intimate works on paper. Presentation of the artist’s own words plus video and learning spaces affords a great opportunity to experience and learn about abstraction. I invite our members to attend the preview on February 21 and everyone to partake in the exciting programs around this and other shows this month.
Thank you for making the time for the Wadsworth, and for connecting with us and each other in our museum.
Thomas J. Loughman
Director and CEO
Image: Luis de Morales (Spanish, 1510/11-1586), Ecce Homo, c. 1565. Oil on panel. The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund, and The Douglas Tracy Smith and Dorothy Potter Smith Fund.