Dallas Museum of Art acquires Baroque masterpiece by Luca Giordano

The Dallas Museum of Art has announced its purchase of The Triumph of Galatea by leading Italian Baroque painter Luca Giordano (1634–1705) through the Marguerite and Robert Hoffman Fund for European Art Before 1700. The acquisition of this beautiful and moving painting by one of the preeminent artists of the Baroque period allows the Museum to build upon a growing strength in Italian paintings within its historic European collection.

Painted around 1675, the massive eight-by-ten-foot oil painting is a quintessential example of the later, more ornate Baroque style. The painting helps the DMA present a more complete picture of this period, bridging the gap between the darker tenebrism of Caravaggio and his followers—represented in the Museum’s holdings by Guilio Cesare Procaccini’s Ecce Uomo, Pietro Paolini’s Bacchic Concert, and A Bravo Figure by Caravaggio’s closest follower, Bartolomeo Manfredi, another recent Hoffman Fund acquisition—and the sensuous, decorative Rococo aesthetic that succeeded it. The Triumph of Galatea is now on view in the DMA’s first-floor Concourse.

“A disciple of both the Caravaggisti and the vibrant art and architecture of the Baroque, Giordano truly embodies the period with his stunning Triumph of Galatea, which offers breathtaking drama in its treatment of light, scale, and subject matter,” Nicole R. Myers, Interim Chief Curator and Barbara Thomas Lemmon Senior Curator of European Art, said. “The installation of this work on our first-floor Concourse will welcome visitors to the Museum with a deeply emotional, yet ultimately cathartic celebration of love’s triumph over death, just as the artist intended.”

Luca Giordano spent his early life in 17th-century Naples under the tutelage of Jusepe de Ribera, a follower of Caravaggio. During travels to Rome as a young man, he worked with artist and architect Pietro da Cartona, from whom he picked up a lighter Baroque sensibility. 

The Triumph of Galatea synthesizes these two styles in its telling of the myth of the sea nymph Galatea, who rejects the attention of the cyclops Polyphemus for the mortal shepherd Acis. After Polyphemus fatally wounds Acis in jealousy, a grieving Galatea pleads to the gods, who transform Acis into a river. This bittersweet story depicts the ultimate victory of love despite death, a universally recognizable sentiment that is powerfully magnified by the physical scope of the work. While Giordano found consistent inspiration in the myth of Galatea and Acis, this is the only work of his in which the myth is represented in full as a continuous narrative. 

Acquired from Colnaghi at TEFAF MaastrichtThe Triumph of Galatea is the first Luca Giordano painting to enter the Museum’s collection. Currently, his work is held in the collections of major institutions around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, The National Gallery, London, and the Museo del Prado in Madrid, among others.

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