Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Janson-La Palme Art Lecture Examines Relationship between 'Bellini and His Patrons'

Chestertown, MD — The Washington College Department of Art and Art History presents the annual Janson-La Palme Distinguished Lecture in European Art History, "Giovanni Bellini and His Patrons," a presentation by Professor Peter Humfrey, Head of the School of Art History at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, in the Casey Academic Center Forum on Wednesday, March 4, at 4:30 p.m. The event is free, and the public is invited to attend.

The Italian Renaissance painter Giovanni Bellini is considered to have revolutionized Venetian painting, advancing it in a more sensuous and colorful direction. Through his use of clear, slow-drying oil paints, Bellini created deep, rich tints and detailed shadings. His sumptuous coloring and fluent, atmospheric landscapes had a profound effect on the Venetian school of painting.

Dr. Humfrey, a leading authority on both the artist and the era, is the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Giovanni Bellini (Cambridge University Press, 2004) and a host of acclaimed works on Titian and many other Venetian painters. In his upcoming Washington College lecture, the British scholar will address an intriguing aspect of Bellini: how he interacted with his patrons, and the level of artistic autonomy he sought to maintain while at the same time satisfying his underwriters.

In an often-quoted letter of 1506, the eminent man of letters Pietro Bembo wrote that "Bellini does not like to be given many written details" from his patrons regarding his subject matter, and that he "preferred to wander at will in his pictures." So was Bembo referring only to the smaller, private works? Or did the painter secure for himself a greater freedom of operation as his career progressed and his fame increased? Dr. Humfrey's lecture will explore these and similar questions as it surveys the relationship between Giovanni Bellini and a selection of his known patrons.

Dr. Humfrey has a B.A. from Trinity College, Dublin, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of London's Courtauld Institute of Art. He has been a Senior Visiting Fellow at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., a Rush H. Kress Fellow at the Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In recent years he has presented invited lectures at the National Gallery of Art, Oxford University, Cambridge University, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art in Paris, and numerous other notable institutions.

The Janson-La Palme Annual Distinguished Lecture in European Art History was established by Washington College Professor Emeritus Robert J. H. Janson-La Palme and his wife, Bayly, to bring internationally known scholars on European art to campus for public lectures and presentations.

Previous lecturers in the series include Nicholas Penny (presently Director, National Gallery of London), Jonathan Brown (Institute of Fine Arts, NYU), the late Robert Rosenblum (Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, and Guggenheim Museum), Paul Barolsky (University of Virginia) and Thomas Crow (New York University).

For more information on upcoming lectures and events at Washington College, visit

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