Between the Lines

Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery receives Kress Foundation award

St. Sebastian
Master known as the Pseudo Granacci, Central Italian (1475?1525), St. Sebastian, Tempera with oil on panel, ca. 1510, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery, Nashville, TN,, Gift of The Samuel H. Kress Foundation
1979.0655P (detail)

The Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery has been selected among spring 2020 applicants to receive support from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation for an exhibition of medieval and Renaissance artworks.  The Artist’s Workshop in Medieval and Renaissance Europe will be exhibited at the gallery Nov. 4, 2021–Jan. 23, 2022.

This exhibition will draw from Vanderbilt’s collection of approximately 35 works from the late medieval and early Renaissance period in Europe, with 12 Renaissance paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection as the cornerstone of the show. The Kress Foundation’s competitive grants are awarded to institutions whose scholarly projects promote the preservation, instruction and research of European art from antiquity to the 19th -century, with a focus on accessibility and inclusivity for diverse audiences.

The Kress grant will allow the gallery to create a substantial catalog for the exhibition—the first university publication to feature, and generate further scholarship on, the full collection of Samuel H. Kress paintings and medieval objects that Vanderbilt holds in its teaching collection. The catalog will be produced in collaboration with Vanderbilt’s History of Art faculty Sheri Shaneyfelt, principal senior lecturer, and Elizabeth Moodey, associate professor of history of art.

“We are thrilled that the Samuel H. Kress Foundation has awarded this generous award to the Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery that will showcase our important regional collection of primarily Italian pictures given to Peabody College by the foundation in 1961,” said Shaneyfelt. “The timing of this award is especially meaningful as we are all feeling very acutely the irreplaceable value of the arts and culture in our lives.”

The grant will also fund the purchase of several wall-mounted cases and free-standing vitrines to securely display select artworks on view. In addition to being a vital part of this exhibition’s infrastructure, the display cases will allow for many medieval and Renaissance works to be more safely mounted for study and exhibition in the future.

“The teaching collection has always been a great resource for our department, but the grant will allow us to bring these works to a wider audience as well,” Moodey said.

The Artist’s Workshop will be presented to coincide with the Frist Art Museum’s exhibition Medieval Bologna: Art for a University City (October 29, 2021–February 6, 2022), as well as the 2021 Andrew Ladis Memorial Trecento Conference. This biannual conference—co-hosted next year by the Frist Museum, the Vanderbilt Department of History of Art and Architecture and the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery—will bring internationally-recognized historians of fourteenth-century Italian art to Nashville. The Artist’s Workshop at Vanderbilt will complement the Frist exhibition by lending a special focus on the artist’s atelier and collaborative artistic process in 14th– through 16th-century Europe. Scholarly interpretation through a full-color catalog, as well as interactive digital displays, will shed light on the organization and structure of shops, the techniques used in creating painted panels and illuminated pages and the role of artists in society.

In addition to the Samuel H. Kress Collection paintings on view, other rare objects from Vanderbilt’s collections to be featured include: an enameled corpus (collection of written texts) from a 13th-century Limoges workshop, a 15th-century marble relief sculpture from Italy, a 15th-century book of hours, and a stained glass panel of St. Barbara from 16th-century Flanders.