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Adventures in Connoisseurship

This past summer Brenna Larson traveled to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) and the Bass Museum in Miami Beach, both of which house paintings made for Ligurian and, perhaps, Corsican audiences. These are rare items in North America and will be featured in her dissertation.

At the PMA, she worked with senior paintings conservator, Terry Lignelli, to examine Nicolò Corso’s St. Jerome, a single panel which was originally at the center of a now disassembled triptych from the church of San Gerolamo de Quarto, located just outside Genoa. The flesh tones were in particularly good condition, which facilitated comparison with work of Vincenzo Foppa, examples of which hung in an adjacent gallery. Brenna also viewed the curatorial and conservation files for the Corso panel, both of which were enlightening.

In Miami, Brenna viewed a Madonna and Child polyptych attributed to Giovanni Barbagelata. The painting is not currently on view so she was granted access to the work in an off-site storage facility.  Her examination of the piece included its three upper-tier panels, which have been very difficult to examine in the other polyptych altarpieces she is working on. At close range she could appreciate various details of manufacture, including techniques of gold ornamentation and the method by which the makers had applied a pomegranate textile motif to garments. She is eager to further investigate the work’s origins in Europe, as a Kress Institutional Fellow based in Florence starting in fall 2019.