Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas
detail: Christ Carrying the Cross by Giorgio Vasari II

Giorgio Vasari & Court Culture in Late Renaissance Italy

September 15 - January 27, 2013 | Gallery 318

Often billed as the first art historian, Giorgio Vasari (1511–74) is best known as the author of the Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, a compilation of artists’ biographies that was among the first of its kind. The lion’s share of scholarship on Vasari’s life and work is devoted to the Lives, but he was also a successful painter and architect, and his workshop included many of the leading artists active in late 16th-century Italy. Coming one year after the 500th anniversary of Vasari’s birth, this exhibition celebrates the Spencer Museum’s small, but important, Vasari panel depicting Christ Carrying the Cross. The painting belonged to Vasari’s close friend and collaborator Vincenzo Borghini (1515–80), a learned Benedictine monk, philologist, and one of the great Florentine intellects of the period. Indeed, the exhibition reunites Vasari’s Christ Carrying the Cross with its pendant from Borghini’s collection, a painting attributed to Ventura di Vincenzio Ulivieri (called Livo) that depicts St. Paul’s conversion from Judaism to Christianity. Although they were sold several times, remarkably, the two paintings remained together from 1580, when they were recorded in an inventory of Borghini’s possessions, until they were separated in the early 1950s.

Giorgio Vasari & Court Culture in Late Renaissance Italy investigates the place Vasari’s Christ Carrying the Cross occupies within Vasari’s career and 16th-century Florentine and Roman court culture. Additionally, it documents the picture’s technique, condition, and recent restoration. The exhibition also brings together most of the graphic images that inspired the panel and it explores Vasari’s relationship with Michelangelo. Capitalizing on the Spencer Museum’s rich collection of late medieval and early modern religious art and the Spencer Research Library’s extensive holdings of rare, early modern Italian books, this exhibition situates the Christ Carrying the Cross within its visual, devotional, historical, and literary contexts. In doing so, it elucidates the significance of a local treasure for the first time since it entered the University of Kansas’ art collection in 1953.

Giorgio Vasari & Court Culture in Late Renaissance Italy is made possible by the generous support of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne. It was curated by Sally J. Cornelison, Associate Professor of Italian Renaissance Art in KU’s Kress Foundation Department of Art History, with the assistance of Susan Earle, Spencer Museum of Art Curator of European & American Art.

The interdisciplinary scholarly publications related to the exhibition are available in the Register of the Spencer Museum of Art 8, no. 3 (2010-11).


Public Programs

9.27.12
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Lecture: A Little Picture with a Lot of Baggage: Vasari's Christ Carrying the Cross
6:30 – 7:30 PM / Spencer Museum of Art, 309 Auditorium
Join us for this fascinating talk by Professor of Art History Sally Cornelison, with additional remarks from Spencer Museum of Art Director Saralyn Reece Hardy. The discussion will be followed immediately by our Fall Opening, a great way to conclude the evening.
10.11.12
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Gallery Talk: Vasari on View
10:00 – 11:00 AM / Spencer Museum of Art, Gallery 318
This popular series of informal gallery discussions is designed for senior citizens but open to everyone. This program will be presented by Sally J. Cornelison, guest curator of Giorgio Vasari & Court Culture in Late Renaissance Italy and KU associate professor of art history, This popular series of informal gallery discussions is designed for senior citizens but open to everyone.
10.12.12
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Gallery Talk: Vasari's Christ Carrying the Cross: Technique, Condition, and Conservation
1:00 – 2:00 PM / Spencer Museum of Art, Gallery 318
Sally J. Cornelison, KU Associate Professor of Italian Renaissance Art, and Scott Heffley, Senior Conservator of paintings at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, will team up to discuss the recent cleaning of Giorgio Vasari's "Christ Carrying the Cross."

Sponsored By: Kress Foundation Department of Art History, Spencer Museum of Art

10.20.12
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Workshop: European Renaissance Educator
10:00 AM – 12:30 PM / Spencer Museum of Art, 309 Auditorium, Gallery 318
The Spencer Museum of Art, European Studies Program and Kenneth Spencer Research Library present a European Renaissance Educator Workshop. Spend time with colleagues exploring the European Renaissance. View the exhibition Giorgio Vasari and Court Culture in Late Renaissance Italy. Discover new ideas for the classroom, and make connections to Kansas curricular standards. Free teacher materials and continental breakfast provided. For more information or to register, please contact Amanda Martin-Hamon at the Spencer Museum of Art: (785) 864-0170 or akmartin@ku.edu

Sponsored By: Spencer Museum of Art, European Studies, Kenneth Spencer Research Library

10.22.12
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Lecture: Out from Under the Tuscan Sun: Vasari, Salviati and Michelangelo in Venice
5:15 – 6:30 PM / Spencer Museum of Art, 211 classroom
Presented by Dr. Sharon Gregory, professor of art history at St. Francis Xavier University, and specialist on Vasari and prints. Supported by the Franklin D. Murphy Lecture Fund.

Sponsored By: Kress Foundation Department of Art History, Spencer Museum of Art, and the Department of French & Italian

10.24.12
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Gallery Talk: Renaissance Dance: Discussion and Workshop
5:30 – 7:00 PM / Spencer Museum of Art, Gallery 318, Central Court 317
Dance historian and choreographer Joan Stone leads a multimedia gallery talk about the history of dance during the Renaissance, drawing connections to the art and architecture of Giorgio Vasari and his time period. Following the discussion, participants will have the rare opportunity to learn a few Renaissance dance steps and to practice them in the museum's Central Court.
11.1.12
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Lecture: Finding Leonardo or Losing Vasari? The Search for The Battle of Anghiari in Florence's Palazzo Vecchio
7:00 – 8:30 PM / Spencer Museum of Art, 309 Auditorium
Presented by Dr. Sally J.Cornelison, associate professor of art history, this is the twenty-fifth annual James E. Seaver Lecture. The Seaver lecture series was founded in 1988 as a tribute to James E. Seaver, professor emeritus of history, who directed the KU Western Civilization Program for 27 years.

Sponsored By: Humanities and Western Civilization Program

11.6.12
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Gallery Talk: Professor Crystal Hall on Vasari and the Art of Books
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM / Spencer Museum of Art, Gallery 318
A discussion led by Assistant Professor of French & Italian Crystal Hall explores what the publication of books during the high Renaissance reveals about the work being done by visual artists during the same time period.
11.8.12
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Lecture: William E. Wallace, Barbara Murphy Bryant Distinguished Professor of Art History, Washington University, “Problems in Michelangelo’s Sculpture…Many”
5:15 – 7:45 PM / Spencer Museum of Art, Gallery 317 Central Court

Sponsored By: Samuel H. Kress Foundation, Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne, Spencer Museum of Art,

11.9.12
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Symposium: Italian Renaissance Sculpture Conference
9:00 AM – 4:45 PM / Spencer Museum of Art, 211 classroom

Sponsored By: Samuel H. Kress Foundation, Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne, Spencer Museum of Art,