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The collection of European art at the Gallery comprises paintings, sculpture, textiles, and decorative arts from the 9th through the 19th century, including one of the world’s finest groups of early Italian Renaissance paintings, as well as notable works by such Northern masters as Hans Holbein, Frans Hals, and Peter Paul Rubens.
About European Art
Encompassing close to 2,000 objects, the Yale University Art Gallery’s collection of European art comprises paintings, sculpture, textiles, and a small but distinguished group of decorative arts, spanning the 9th through the 19th centuries. The painting collection is panoramic in range, with particular strength in Italian art of the early Renaissance. Featuring one of the largest and finest groups of 13th- and 14th-century Tuscan paintings in the world, it also contains a significant number of 15th-century Sienese paintings and such acknowledged masterworks as Gentile da Fabriano’s Virgin and Child (ca. 1424–25), Antonio Pollaiuolo’s Hercules and Deianira (ca. 1475–80), and Pontormo’s Madonna del Libro (ca. 1545–46).
The early Italian holdings are complemented by Northern Renaissance art, including Hieronymus Bosch’s Allegory of Intemperance (ca. 1495–1500) and Hans Holbein’s Hanseatic Merchant (1538), along with 17th-century Dutch landscapes and portraiture, highlighted by Frans Hals’s De Heer Bodolphe and Mevrouw Bodolphe and a select group of paintings and oil sketches by Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck. Nineteenth-century works include important paintings by Eugène Delacroix and Jean-Léon Gérôme, strong groups of paintings by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Édouard Vuillard, and Paul Cézanne, as well as Édouard Manet’s Young Woman Reclining in Spanish Costume (1862–63) and Vincent van Gogh’s seminal Night Café (1888).
Note from the Curator
This painting by Jacob van Ruisdael, the foremost landscape painter in the Netherlands in the 17th century, is exemplary of the artist’s renowned Harlempjies (views of Haarlem), considered the high point of Dutch panoramas—a combination of topographical innovation and dazzling mastery of paint. A cloud-filled sky occupies most of the canvas and dominates the countryside, which is partly lit by filtered sunlight. Haarlem, outlined on the horizon, is recognizable by the profile of Saint Bavokerk, the city’s landmark, while the seemingly endless projection into space celebrates the vast openness of Dutch lands. The painting is captivating for its serene beauty and stillness as much as for its extraordinary palette of light blue, white, and green.
This is one of 30 masterpieces of 17th-century Dutch art generously placed on loan to the Yale University Art Gallery by Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo and currently installed in the European art galleries. Included among the paintings on view are important works by Frans Hals, Gerrit Dou, Pieter Saenredam, Jan Steen, Willem Claesz. Heda, and others. Through an array of compelling portraits, sophisticated genre scenes and still lives, and arresting seascapes and landscapes, this superb group of works brilliantly showcases the Dutch masters’ distinctive interest in naturalistic representation and their formidable pictorial skills.
Chief Curator and the Lionel Goldfrank III Curator of European Art
Recent collection research has recovered from storage a rare and richly decorated automaton clock, made around 1610 in Augsburg, Germany. Probably drawing inspiration from contemporary prints, the clock portrays the Roman goddess of the hunt, Diana, on a chariot pulled by two leopards. Precious clocks like this were collaborative enterprises among goldsmiths, sculptors, clockmakers, engravers, and even cabinetmakers. They were important status symbols in European courts, representative of the most cutting-edge technology of their time, and they were often used as diplomatic gifts. This clock—which has been recently restored and is now on view in the European art galleries—is also a table carriage, a lavish form of tabletop entertainment during banquets. This short video unveils the highly sophisticated inner mechanism of the clock, delicate parts that are otherwise hidden from view and are remarkably still intact. The video also captures the mesmerizing movements and sounds the clock makes when wound, revealing the creative and technical mastery behind this ingenious work of art.
Meet the Curators
Laurence Kanter is Chief Curator and the Lionel Goldfrank III Curator of European Art at the Gallery, and he was formerly Curator-in-Charge of the Robert Lehman Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. He received his Ph.D. from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University in 1989. He is the author of the catalogue of Italian paintings in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1994), and coauthor of Luca Signorelli (2001) and of numerous exhibition catalogues, including Painting in Renaissance Siena, 1420–1500 (1988), Italian Renaissance Frames (1990), Painting and Illumination in Early Renaissance Florence, 1300–1450 (1994), Botticelli’s Witness (1997), The Treasury of Saint Francis of Assisi (1999), Fra Angelico (2005), and most recently Italian Paintings from the Richard L. Feigen Collection (2010). He has published widely on specialized problems in 14th-, 15th-, and 16th-century Italian painting and has organized major exhibitions on subjects ranging from Italian maiolica (1989) to monographic shows of the 19th-century English Pre-Raphaelite artist Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1998) and the 20th-century Italian master Giorgio Morandi (2008).Download CV
Paola D’Agostino, the Nina and Lee Griggs Assistant Curator of European Art, is an expert on Renaissance and Baroque sculpture. She studied at the Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, where she received her Ph.D., and at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, where she received her M.A. She collaborated on the exhibition Earth and Fire: Italian Terracotta Sculpture from Donatello to Canova (2001) at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and she recently co-organized the exhibition Bernini: Sculpting in Clay at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth. She has published articles on Baroque sculptors and the artistic relationship between Spanish and Italian art in the seventeenth century. Her book Cosimo Fanzago scultore was published in 2011. She is coauthor of the forthcoming catalogue of Italian bronze sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.Download CV
Dean, Clay. A Selection of Early Italian Paintings from the Yale University Art Gallery. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2003.
A Description of the Gallery of Fine Arts and the Collections: School of the Fine Arts, Yale University. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1931.
Forster-Hahn, Françoise. French and School of Paris Paintings in the Yale University Art Gallery: A Catalogue Raisonné. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968.
Italian Primitives: The Case History of A Collection and Its Conservation, exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1972.
Kanter, Laurence B., and Carl Brandon Strehlke. Rediscovering Fra Angelico: A Fragmentary History, exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2002.
Kenney, Elise K., ed. Handbook of the Collections: Yale University Art Gallery. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992.
Moore, Lamont. Rediscovered Italian Paintings, exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1952.
Neilson, Katharine B. Selected Paintings and Sculpture from the Yale University Art Gallery. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1972.
Offner, Richard. Italian Primitives at Yale University: Comments and Revisions. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1927.
Seymour, Charles, Jr. Early Italian Paintings in the Yale University Art Gallery. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1970.
Sirén, Osvald. A Descriptive Catalogue of the Pictures in the Jarves Collection Belonging to Yale University. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1916.
Sturgis, Russell, Jr. Manual of the Jarves Collection of Early Italian Pictures. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1868.