Landmark Pier Francesco Foschi at Georgia Art Museum

By: Hillary Brown – Pontormo, del Sarto, Foschi. One of these names is much less of a household name when it comes to 16th-century Italian art, but the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia aims to change that this January. “Wealth and Beauty: Pier Francesco Foschi and Painting in Renaissance Florence,” organized by Nelda Damiano, the museum’s Pierre Daura Curator of European Art, is the first exhibition dedicated to Pier Francesco Foschi (1502 – 1567), a highly prolific and fashionable Florentine painter whose career spanned nearly five decades.

Despite his success at the time, Pier Francesco Foschi fell into nearly complete obscurity after his death. “Wealth and Beauty,” on view January 28 to April 24, 2022, offers a timely and critical reevaluation of this versatile and innovative Renaissance master. 

Visitors will have the opportunity to discover the significant contribution of a long-forgotten but important artist who helped to shape the cultural landscape of Florentine art. Born in Florence to a family of painters, Foschi trained with Andrea del Sarto, one of the most influential artists of the Renaissance. He received commissions from numerous prominent families of Florence, including the Medici, Pucci and Torrigiani. His assignments included small devotional images and large church altarpieces and frescoes, but he is best known today for his portraits. In his own lifetime he became one of the most sought-after portraitists in his city, celebrated for his ability to convey the gravitas of his subjects and represent the objects that connoted their social and economic status.

“Wealth and Beauty” represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for audiences in Georgia. It will include exceptional works of art from world-renowned museums including the Gallerie degli Uffizi (Florence), the Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze (Florence), the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza (Madrid), the Ashmolean Museum (University of Oxford) and the Royal Collection Trust (London), some of which have never been presented in the United States.

The exhibition will also shed light on overlooked pictures in American museums, such as Foschi’s “Portrait of Bartolomeo Compagni,” at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens in Jacksonville, Florida; Foschi’s “Portrait of Bartolomeo Gualterotti,” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; Puligo’s “Portrait of a Woman,” at the David Owsley Museum of Art in Muncie, Indiana; and Bronzino’s “Portrait of a Woman” at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The Samuel H. Kress Collection at the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, D.C., is lending two paintings, one by del Sarto and one by Pontormo.  

“We are extremely honored to present an exhibition of this scope at the Georgia Museum of Art,” Damiano said. “This project has benefited from the tremendous support and generosity of museums, art dealers, private collectors, sponsors and scholars in North America and in Europe. We are excited to share with our visitors beautiful works of art from the Renaissance and bring to light an overlooked and fascinating artist like Foschi.”

Foschi has never been the subject of a dedicated monograph, and no scholars have assessed his relevance in the context of Florentine art in a comprehensive way. This exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by the museum and including essays and entries by leading international experts. A version of the exhibition will open at the Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze following its presentation in Georgia.

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