Last January the Metropolitan Museum set records at Sotheby’s two days in a row when it bought a drawing by Perino del Vaga (1501-1547) for more than $700,000 and a painting by the same artist for more than $2 million.
Two million dollars, by the way, is the amount of the Met’s expected shortfall for fiscal year 2011 -- a shortfall, the museum’s chief spokesperson told reporter Lee Rosenbaum in June, that in part led to the Met’s increasing its recommended admission from $20 to $25.
Both works are finally going on display beginning September 27 in a small show devoted to Perino that will include drawings from the Morgan Library and private New York collections in addition to the Met’s own stash.
Perino, hardly a household name, was a student of Raphael’s in Rome. There are only a handful of panel paintings attributed to him.
The Met’s painting, “The Holy Family with St. John the Baptist,” is a “newly discovered” work and has been described as atypical of the artist.
Apparently, though, the museum had a lot of company in accepting either the attribution or the painting’s intrinsic worth. Five buyers, one of which was reportedly the Louvre, bid it up from its $300,000 to $400,000 estimate.
The drawing is a study for a tapestry, the specialty of Met director Thomas Campbell.
It’ll be a homecoming of sorts for the guest curator, Linda Wolk-Simon, who was formerly a curator at the Met and is now head of prints and drawings at the Morgan.
Frankly, when I saw the painting at Sotheby’s auction preview I wasn’t too impressed -- it looked like a dingy old thing. Maybe we should be relieved that after cleaning and restoring it the Met did not announce it had discovered yet another Velazquez.
Photos: Top, pulled off the internet; bottom, from Sotheby's catalogue.
Text copyright 2011 Laura Gilbert