The Davis Museum Celebrates the Opening of Five Spring Exhibitions

The Davis Museum Celebrates the Opening of Five Spring Exhibitions
February 9, 2017

Please note that due to inclement weather, the Davis Museum's spring opening celebration has been postponed from its originally scheduled date this evening to Friday, February 10.

On Friday, February 10, the Davis Museum at Wellesley College will celebrate the opening of five new exhibitions, including The Medici’s Painter: Carlo Dolci and 17th-Century Florence, the first survey of the artist’s life and work to be shown in the United States. The exhibition includes more than 50 pictures by Dolci, the most important Florentine painter of his day, brought together through loans from the world’s major museums along with rarely seen works from private collections.

Though best known for his half-length and single-figure devotional pictures, Dolci was also a gifted painter of altarpieces and portraits and a highly accomplished draughtsman. His patrons included members of the Medici family and foreign nobility, who appreciated his reverence for detail, brilliant palette, and seemingly enameled surfaces.

The Medici’s Painter: Carlo Dolci and 17th-Century Florence is the Davis Museum’s most ambitious Old Master project to date. Lisa Fischman, Ruth Gordon Shapiro ’37 Director of the Davis, said both the exhibition and its accompanying publication “exemplify our commitments and core values as an academic museum: to education, access, innovation, inclusiveness, and excellence. In this way, we contribute new scholarship and new perspectives to the field, modeling dynamic and academically rigorous practices for museums, curators, scholars, students, and patrons, and introducing new audiences of all kinds to the work of an artist once much revered and somewhat lost to time.”

The Medici’s Painter was curated by Eve Straussman-Pflanzer, head of European art department and Elizabeth and Allan Shelden Curator of European Paintings at the Detroit Institute of Arts, with consulting curator Francesca Baldassari, author of the Carlo Dolci catalogue raisonné. Straussman-Pflanzer, previously the assistant director of curatorial affairs and senior curator of collections at the Davis, said the exhibition “moves beyond the notion of Dolci as a sentimental painter or an exclusively devotional one, and returns to an appreciation of the aesthetic merits, naturalistic underpinnings, and cultural context of the artist’s work.” Straussman-Pflanzer continued: “The juxtaposition of exquisite surfaces and breathtaking palette alongside preparatory drawings reveals the sheer technical virtuosity and sensitive talent of the artist.”

Members of the Wellesley community and the general public are invited to join the opening celebration on February 10 from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm, with opening remarks at 7:00 pm. The event will highlight The Medici’s Painter along with four other exhibitions opening at the Davis that evening: Reframing the Past: Piranesi’s Vedute di Roma; On Distant Shores: Landscapes by Constable and Kensett; The Fine Print: Selections from the Collection Bequest of Ann Kirk Warren ’50; and Daphne Wright: Prayer Project

Wright’s Prayer Project, an installation of seven video portraits by the Irish-born artist, is in counterpoint to Dolci’s work and provides a contemporary look at prayer and meditation. While Dolci’s pictures expressed and encouraged religious piety, Wright’s create space for the quiet consideration of devotional diversity, inviting empathy and shared awareness.

The subjects of her portraits are Bryan Appleyard, vice president and chairman of the Buddhist Society in London; Rabbi Francis Berry of the Bristol and West Progressive Jewish Congregation; Sister Frances Dominica, filmed at the All Saints Convent, Oxfordshire; Vanessa Gilliland, member of the nondenominational Vineyard movement; Jay Lakhani, education director for the Hindu Council UK; R. David Muir, from the Evangelical Alliance; and Prafula Shah, a leading community representative of the Jain faith.

“Daphne Wright’s Prayer Project is particularly timely and apt,” said Fischman, “given our important commitment to art that provokes thought regarding social issues. It is a great honor for the Davis to present Wright’s work.”

To learn more about the Davis Museum’s spring exhibitions or to purchase tickets for entry to The Medici’s Painter, please visit