Arts & Humanities Campus News

Discovering Pier Francesco Foschi at the Georgia Museum of Art

Exhibition offers a timely and critical reevaluation of this versatile and innovative Renaissance master

Pier Francesco Foschi (1502–1567), “Portrait of a Lady,” ca. 1550. Oil on panel, 101 × 79 centimeters (39.8 × 31 inches). Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, 145 (1935.16). (Submitted photo)

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 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, he fell into nearly complete obscurity after his death. “Wealth and Beauty,” on view Jan. 27 to April 24, 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. 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,” Damiano said.

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 catalog 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.

“Wealth and Beauty” is generously sponsored by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Goizueta Foundation and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, as well as the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art and the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation.

Events related to the exhibition include:

  • A gallery talk by Damiano on Feb. 9 at 2 p.m.
  • A Student Night organized by the Georgia Museum of Art Student Association on Feb. 10 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
  • A Toddler Tuesday for ages 18 months to 3 years on Feb. 22 at 10 a.m. (email to register)
  • A talk on Foschi and fashion on March 23 at 2 p.m.
  • The museum’s annual Holbrook Lecture, delivered by Elizabeth Currie (a lecturer and author based in London, specializing in the history of fashion and textiles) on the topic “Everyday People: Dress and Art in the Italian Baroque” on March 24 at 5:30 p.m.
  • A performance of music from Foschi’s era (time and date TBD)
  • A film on the Medici family in April
  • And a Renaissance-fair-themed Family Day, also in April.

All events are free and open to the public.