Crocker Art Museum Opens Florence and the Baroque. Paintings from the Haukohl Family Collection

Florence and the Baroque: Paintings from the Haukohl Family Collection” will bring masterworks of Italian painting and sculpture from the 16th through 18th centuries to Northern California. On view at the Crocker Art Museum from November 5, 2011 through February 12, 2012, this exhibition is drawn from the largest private American collection of Florentine Baroque painting and features works by key artists such as Cesare Dandini, Jacopo da Empoli, and Francesco Furini. The exhibition includes two paintings that have never before been on view to the public—“Saint Sebastian” by Onorio Marinari and “Penitent Magdalene” by Cesare Dandini.

Under the patronage of the Medici princes, late 16th-century Florence was a hotbed of artistic innovation. A new clarity in color, style, and subject began to replace the elegant virtuosity of earlier painting. The paintings’ compositions feature richly evocative renderings of period portraits as well as classical religious-based Old Testament and mythological themes.

A tiny 16th-century portrait attributed to Jacopo da Empoli epitomizes the new naturalism and clarity. By the mid-17th century, clear storytelling and emotion is seen in scenes from saints’ lives, as in Felice Ficherelli’s “Saint Sebastian Tended by Irene.” Later in the century, artists who conveyed heightened emotion used looser brushwork as in the turbulent “Annunciation” by Alessandro Gherardini. In the 18th century the range of subjects broadened to include characters like the exuberant “Harlequin and his Lady” seen here.

The exhibition offers the unusual opportunity to examine an entire family of artists, the Dandini, who were prominent in Florence for over a century: Cesare and his brother Vincenzo, their nephew Pietro, and Pietro’s son Ottaviano are seen here in mythologies, religious scenes, and allegories. The exhibition also provides insight into the history of frame making. Giovanni Battista Vanni’s “Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness” is a jewel of craftsmanship as well as painting. Frames of this quality are rarely seen outside of the Pitti Palace or the Uffizi Museum of Florence.

The Haukohl Family Collection exhibition was made possible by Sir Mark Fehrs Haukohl, a collector and patron of the arts who lives in Houston, Texas. A co-founder of the Medici Archive Project, a non-profit foundation located in Florence, Italy, with the purpose of cataloguing over three hundred years of documents relating to the princely Medici family, Sir Mark collects not only Florentine Baroque art but also contemporary European photography by women. The photography collection, The European Woman of the 21st Century, is the largest of its kind in the world.

“We are grateful to the Haukohl family for their generosity in bringing Italian painting to the forefront in Sacramento,” said William Breazeale, the Crocker’s curator for European art. “The exhibition represents a unique opportunity to explore the Baroque, and the art of Florence.” Sir Mark added “We are delighted to complement the exhibition in Sacramento with diverse educational programs and lectures about Florence, the Medici, and Saint Sebastian.”

The Crocker Art Museum was one of the first art museums in the U.S. and is now one of the leading art institutions in California. Established in 1885, the Museum features one of the country’s finest collections of Californian art, exceptional holdings of master drawings, a comprehensive collection of international ceramics, as well as European, Asian, African, and Oceanic art. The Crocker is located at 216 O Street in Downtown Sacramento. Museum hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Tuesday–Wednesday; 10 a.m.–9 p.m., Thursday; 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Friday–Sunday. Every Third Sunday of the month is “Pay What You Wish Sunday” sponsored by Bank of America. For more information, call (916) 808-7000 or visit

Image: Giovanni Domenico Ferretti, Harlequin and his Lady, n.d. Oil on canvas, 23 5/16 x 19 1/2 in. Haukohl Family Collection.

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