J. Paul Getty Museum Exhibits Italian Painting Rescued from Abruzzo Earthquake

LOS ANGELES – David Bomford, acting director of the J. Paul Getty Museum, announced the installation of The Madonna and Child with Scenes from the Life of Christ and the Virgin (The Beffi Triptych) in the Getty Museum’s permanent collection galleries over the summer months. The painting is the first work of art to be transported out of Abruzzo, Italy, in the aftermath of the violent earthquake that struck the region on April 6, 2009. Open through September 5, 2010.

Master of the Beffi Triptych, The Madonna and Child with Scenes from the Life of Christ and the Virgin, early 15th century. Tempera on panel, 165 x 185 x 4 cm. Museo Nazionale d’Abruzzo, L’Aquila, Italy. Soprintendenza dell’Abruzzo e la Direzione Regionale dell’Abruzzo, L’Aquila, Italy

One of the most important works from the National Museum of Abruzzo in the city of L’Aquila, the Triptych is on loan to the Getty from the Italian government and will be on view through September 5th in the Museum’s North Pavilion (Gallery N201), alongside other paintings from Italy that were created around the same time period (early to mid-fifteenth century).

Painted by an unknown artist, The Beffi Triptych is representative of the late Gothic period in Abruzzo and embodies all the qualities of figurative painting from the region during the fifteenth century.

Named for the nearby town of Beffi, where it once adorned the Church of Santa Maria del Ponte, the Triptych depicts scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary, who appears in the central panel, enthroned with the Christ child beneath an elegantly brocaded canopy. It has been suggested that the painter may have been a follower of the Sienese artist Taddeo di Bartolo, as works by the Master of The Beffi Triptych, like those of di Bartolo, are distinctive for their lively narrative detail, highly expressive figures, and brilliant colors. In addition to panel paintings, this anonymous painter also illuminated manuscripts and created frescoes. Experts identify him as the painter who frescoed the vault and walls of the presbytery of the church of San Silvestro in L’Aquila at the beginning of the 15th century.

The Beffi Triptych, unlike many other works of art in the National Museum of Abruzzo, has now been repaired after suffering only minimal damage in the earthquake.

In announcing the loan, Bomford said, “We are grateful to the Italian Ministry of Culture for lending us this important object that we are showcasing alongside our own extraordinary collection of European paintings. In doing so, we are pleased to play a part in helping create awareness for the devastation in the Abruzzo region and the need to preserve the region’s cultural treasures.”

“The Beffi Triptych serves as Italy’s cultural ambassador, explains Italian Minister of Culture Sandro Bondi. “We are loaning the altarpiece to the Getty Museum so we can share this treasure with people outside of Italy and as a testament to our commitment to restore fully the cultural heritage of this region.”

The Beffi Triptych has been lent by the Soprintendenza per i Beni Storici Artistici ed Etnoantropologici dell’Abruzzo and Direzione Regionale per i Beni Culturali e Paesaggistici dell’Abruzzo. Its tour in the United States has been organized and made possible by the Direzione Generale per la Valorizzazione del Patrimonio Culturale del Ministero per i Beni e le Attivitá Culturali.

According to Minister Bondi: “The commitment of the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali in this project is to make the recovery of Abruzzo’s cultural heritage possible. We are working to implement the government’s pledge to return to Aquila, the capital of the Abruzzo region, its important cultural wealth of which the greater part – more than 50% – was damaged or completely destroyed during the April 2009 earthquake. My office is committed to finding financial support for the restoration and conservation of these important treasures.”

Mario Resca, director for the management and promotion of Italian Cultural heritage adds: “The Beffi Triptych was a very fortunate ‘survivor’ of the devastation. The National Museum of Aquila is currently in the progress of being rebuilt and when the Museum opens again, the Triptych will once again take its place amongst its permanent collection.”

Providing additional assistance to The Beffi Triptych’s tour and installation at the Getty are the Embassy of Italy in Washington, D.C., the Italian Consulate General and the Italian Cultural Institute in Los Angeles.

H.E. Giulio Terzi, Italian Ambassador to the United States, noted that “The exhibition of the Triptych in the United States is highly symbolic: a testimony of Italy’s commitment to restore fully the cultural heritage of the Abruzzo region and a testimony of our gratitude to the United States for being among the first to offer assistance after the earthquake. The exhibition is part of the new cultural policy of the Italian government which will pursue a broader cooperation with American museums.”

Nicola Faganello, Consul General of Italy in Los Angeles adds, “We are delighted that the Getty has agreed to put the Triptych on view as part of its international tour. This is a wonderful opportunity for Angelenos, for the Italian community in Los Angeles, and for the many tourists who will visit the Getty Museum to see a masterwork of the ancient cultural heritage of Abruzzo.”


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