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Divine Illusions: Statue Paintings from Colonial South America

Author: Gina Costa

Divine Illusions: Statue Paintings from Colonial South America

January 18 – May 16, 2020

NOTRE DAME, IN.  The Snite Museum of Art is pleased to announce the landmark exhibition Divine Illusions: Statue Paintings from Colonial South America, on view beginning January 18, 2020.  In eighteenth-century Spanish America, sculpted images of the Virgin Mary were frequent subjects of paintings. Some of these "statue paintings" depicted sculptures famed for miraculous intercession in medieval Spain. Others captured the likenesses of statues originating in the Americas and similarly celebrated for their divine intervention. Like the statues they portrayed, the paintings, too, were understood to be imbued with sacredness and were objects of devotion in their own right.


Drawn from the extraordinary holdings of the internationally renowned Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation, this exhibition focuses on statue paintings of the Virgin from the Viceroyalty of Peru, a part of the Spanish Empire encompassing much of Andean South America. It centers particularly on works produced in Cuzco (Peru) and artistic centers in the vicinity of Lake Titicaca and explores the European and American dimensions of the phenomenon, iconographic variations in the genre, and what these works of art reveal about sacred imagery and its operation in Spanish colonial South America. The identities of the painters and patrons of these works remain largely unknown, but certainly some of them were native Andeans.

The paintings in the exhibition cohere not only in their subject matter and place of production, but also in the painters' meticulous treatment of the lavish dresses, mantles, jewels, and crowns that adorned the sculpted images. These details enhance their illusionistic effects, simulating the presence of the dressed statue itself. By making divine images from distant places present in colonial Peru and positioning them--through painting--in the company of sacred sculptures from the Americas, works in this genre traced a transatlantic spiritual geography conceived in eighteenth-century Spanish America and extending from the Andes to the Pyrenees and beyond.


“The Museum is greatly honored to host this important exhibition and for our relationship with the Thoma Foundation,” states Museum Director Joseph Antenucci Becherer. “Such important loans and new scholarship are vital to our expanding awareness through the visual arts.”

In addition to the paintings on display, this exhibition will be supplemented with carefully selected archival and didactic materials from the Marian Library of Rare Books at the University of Dayton, and the Hesburgh Library Rare Books and Special Collections at Notre Dame. This landmark exhibition is curated by Michael Schreffler, PhD, of the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Art, Art History and Design. 



Divine Illusions Unidentified artist, Our. Lady of the Rosary of Pomata, 1669, Oil on canvas, Courtesy of the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation, photo by Jamie Stukenberg.

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The Snite Museum of Art announces the publication of The Donald and Marilyn Keough Collection of Irish Art.

Author: Gina Costa

The Snite Museum of Art announces the publication of The Donald and Marilyn Keough Collection of Irish Art. 


NOTRE DAME, IN.  Celebrating the landmark gift of Irish Art, the Snite Museum of Art is honored to announce the publication of The Donald and Marilyn Keough Collection of Irish Art.  Edited by Cheryl K. Snay, Ph.D., Snite Museum of Art Curator of European Art, this full-color, 47-page catalogue explores the Donald and Marilyn Keough Family gift of paintings to the University of Notre Dame.

The Keough Collection of Irish art comprises nineteen works by Modern and Contemporary artists, including Jack B. Yeats, Roderic O'Conor, Paul Henry, Mary Swanzy, Markey Robinson, and James O'Halloran, among others. “This wonderful volume celebrates both the importance of the collection and the generous spirit of the entire Keough family,” said Joseph Antenucci Becherer, Director of the Snite Museum of Art. “We are deeply honored to commemorate this gift to the Museum in such a lasting way.”

The Keough family began building their collection in the 1990s with the hope  that the collection would some day find a place at the University of Notre Dame. The gift serves as the foundation for a new, ongoing collaboration between the Irish studies program that bears their name and the Snite Museum.

This catalogue features important contributions by Snay as well as essays and entries by scholars Patrick Griffin, Director, Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Art; Frances Jacobus-Parker; Morna O’Neill, Professor of Art History at Wake Forest University; and Maria Rossi. Professor O’Neill includes a thoughtful essay “Defining Irish Art: Between Tradition and Modernity. “  Eleven entries about selected works of art provide insight into what is “Irish Art”. This important volume is a lasting and insightful commemoration of the Keough’s magnificent gift. The catalogue is made possible by a generous donation from the Keough Family Foundation through Snite Advisory Council member Eileen Keough Millard.

The catalogues can be purchased through the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore by contacting Kevin Gibley ( or 574-631-4522).

Irish Art Small Image

Keough Collection Book Pr Final

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The Snite Museum of Art is pleased to announce an extraordinary long-term loan from the Cummins Family Collection of the painting St. Paul the Hermit by Jusepe de Ribera (b. 1588- d. 1656).

Author: Gina Costa



NOTRE DAME, IN. -- The Snite Museum of Art is pleased to announce an extraordinary long-term loan from the Cummins Family Collection of the painting St. Paul the Hermit by Jusepe de Ribera (b. 1588- d. 1656).

On the occasion of announcing the loan, Dr. Joseph Antenucci Becherer, Director of the Museum, said, The significance of this long-term loan to the Museum cannot be overstated.”

Recognized as one of the greatest Baroque masters,  Ribera was born in Jativa, near Valencia, in Spain. He left Spain for Italy as a young man and was active there for most of his career. Known as "lo Spagnoletto" (The Little Spanish One), Ribera lived and worked in Parma, Rome, and Naples. He is recorded as living in Rome by 1612, and is viewed as one of the artists drawn to, and influenced by, Caravaggio and his followers. His extreme version of Caravaggio’s naturalism can be seen in his use of strongly contrasting light and shadows, his brooding figures depicted with raw realism.

Art historian Tomaso Montanari has described the softer and lighter style that emerged following Ribera’s activity in Parma around 1614—a style showing indebtedness to the work of Annibale Carracci and Guido Reni. It is this period around 1615, just before Ribera' s move to Naples, that Montanari dates St. Paul the Hermit. Montanari characterizes the painting as indicative of the artist's style in precisely those years after a sojourn to Emilia-Romagna and before the artist’s departure for Naples where his style became more strictly codified.


According to legend, St. Paul the First Hermit was born in Egypt. During the persecution of Decius (A.D. 250) he left for the desert where he remained a hermit for ninety years. After the saint had lived in solitude for twenty-one years, a raven began to bring him a half loaf of bread each day. The loaf and three dates, nourishment from the desert palm tree, are prominently displayed in the foreground of the painting. The saint grasps an upturned skull with his sunburned hands as he looks up and to the right, his gray beard and the tired skin of his torso indicative of his advanced age. These motifs—the haggard depiction of an elderly bearded ascetic, the remarkably natural portrayal of the skull, and the isolation and devotion of the subject—were to become hallmarks of Ribera's work. Here they are contrasted with a distant, almost romantic landscape of a dark blue sky looming over a rocky promontory.


“Ribera’s half-length portrait of a saint is a stunning example of Counter-Reformation devotional art popular in the seventeenth century, and it richly complements the University’s collection of Italian religious narratives,” said Cheryl Snay, Curator of European Art at the Snite Museum of Art. “Moreover, the artist’s emphatic naturalism and dramatic tension make it as compelling now as it was four centuries ago.”


MEDIA CONTACT: If you would like high-resolution images or in-depth information, please contact Gina Costa, Marketing and Public Relations Manager, (574) 631-4720,


About The Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame

Considered one of the finest university art museums in America, the Snite Museum's permanent collection contains over 25,000 works that represent many cultures and periods of world art history. Exceptional holdings include the Jack and Alfrieda Feddersen Collection of Rembrandt Etchings, the Noah L. and Muriel S. Butkin Collection of 19th-Century French Art, the John D. Reilly Collection of Old Master and 19th-Century Drawings, the Janos Scholz Collection of 19th-Century European Photographs, the Mr. and Mrs. Russell G. Ashbaugh Jr., Collection of Meštrović Sculpture and Drawings, the George Rickey Sculpture Archive, and the Virginia A. Marten Collection of 18th-Century Decorative Arts. Other collection strengths include Olmec and Mesoamerican art, 20th-century art, and Native American art.


Sculpture is displayed in the Mary Loretto and Terrence J. Dillon Courtyard and in The Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park.


Snite Museum of Art                         

The University of Notre Dame

100 Moose Krause Circle

Notre Dame, IN 46556

Phone: (574) 631-5466

Fax: (574) 631-8501




Tuesday–Friday, 10: a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Thursday evening until 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, noon–5:00 p.m.


Closed Sunday, Monday, and major holidays. Admission is free


Caption for image of painting:

Jusepe de Ribera (called “lo Spagnoletto”), Spanish, 1591-1652

St. Paul the Hermit, ca. 1614-1615

Oil on canvas

34 ¾ x 29 inches (87.5 x 73.5 cm)

Image courtesy of the Cummins Family Collection

St. Paul the Hermit by Jusepe Ribera


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New 18th and 19th century acquisitions

Author: Gina Costa


Small Laocoon

 Notre Dame, IN The Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame announces the acquisition of several important works which enrich the Museum’s eighteenth- and nineteenth-century permanent collections. “Our holdings in this period are among the many strengths of the permanent collection of the Museum,” said Joseph Antenucci Becherer, Director of the Snite Museum of Art. “Such carefully selected acquisitions will make a further and lasting contribution, individually and collectively.”

Chief among them is the life-size marble sculpture Laocoön and His Sons that depicts a scene from the Roman poet Virgil's Aeneid (29-19 BCE) in which Laocoön, the Trojan priest of Apollo, and his two sons are killed.


Dated to between 1650 and 1780, the Snite Museum’s version is modeled after the ancient sculpture on view at the Vatican Museums in Italy. The slightly smaller replica was most likely made for a wealthy collector's private home, signaling the owner's superior taste and classical education. 


University of Notre Dame benefactors Michael and Susie McLoughlin donated the sculpture after having lent it to the Snite Museum in 2016. “The Laocoön group is the centerpiece of our eighteenth-century gallery where it draws historical, philosophical, and stylistic connections among many of the other paintings and decorative arts on display there,” said Cheryl Snay, Curator of European Art at the Museum. “Visitors are riveted by the scale, technique, story, and the ideas about virtue, violence, and heroism that the sculpture embodies,” she continued.


The Museum is also pleased to announce a major addition to its celebrated collection of 19th-century photography. Portrait of Ella Monier-Williams was created by the artist and writer the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, widely known as Lewis Carroll. “Dodgson was perhaps the most prolific amateur English portrait photographer of his day," observes David Acton, Curator of Photography. "Best remembered, however, as Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He grew up in a large family, which nurtured a penchant for storytelling, and an enduring sympathy for children. Both traits contributed to his skill behind the camera.” In the summer of 1866 he made this portrait of Ella Monier-Williams, an albumen print which suggests the sitter’s awakening love of literature.



Notable among other acquisitions to the Museum’s renowned collection of prints and drawings, Edmond de Goncourt by the artist Félix Bracquemond , is a remarkable example of the etcher’s art, incorporating different techniques, invention, and skillsets. Bracquemond’s subject is Edmond de Goncourt, a prominent writer and trendsetter in the second half of the nineteenth century.


Finally, new to the Museum’s important collection of decorative arts is an exquisite, black-ground coffee pot from the late eighteenth century. Dated to around 1795, it is from a service demonstrating a departure from the more common neoclassical style with reserves depicting regional costumes of the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily. The coffee pot is from the Real Fabbrica Ferdinandea, a porcelain manufactory in Naples, best known for its table settings decorated with neoclassical motifs.


“Félix Bracquemond’s 1882 print, Portrait of Edmond de Goncourt—and the black-ground coffee pot, the first of its kind in the Virginia A. Marten Collection—each represents a technical tour-de-force in their respective areas,” states Cheryl Snay, Curator of European Art at the Museum. “Both works add considerably to our understanding of the tastes, intellectual interests, and entrepreneurial motivations that inspired artists and their clients during the nineteenth century.”


These four important acquisitions will enrich the Museum’s eighteenth- and nineteenth-century permanent collections, among the many strengths of the permanent collection of the Museum. They will play a major role in the new Raclin Murphy Museum of Art scheduled to open late in 2022.



MEDIA CONTACT: If you would like high-resolution images or in-depth information, please contact Gina Costa, Marketing and Public Relations Program  Manager, (574) 631-4720,


The Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame 

Considered one of the finest university art museums in America, the Snite Museum's permanent collection contains over 25,000 works that represent many cultures and periods. Notable are the Museum's holdings in Mesoamerican and Olmec art, African art, European art from 1400 to 1900, Decorative Arts, Prints, Drawings, Photography, the George Rickey Sculpture Archive, and Ivan Meštrović Collection. Sculpture is displayed in the Mary Loretto and Terrence J. Dillon Courtyard, and in The Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park.



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“Looking at the Stars”: Irish Art at the University of Notre Dame

Author: Gina Costa

Irish Show

“Looking at the Stars”: Irish Art at the University of Notre Dame

August 17 – December 14, 2019

Snite Museum of Art



Notre Dame, IN- The Snite Museum of Art presents “Looking at the Stars”: Irish Art at the University of Notre Dame on view beginning August 17. With the recent gift of modern paintings by artists such as Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957), Rodreric O’Conor (1860-1940), and Mary Swanzy (1882-1978), among others, from the Donald and Marilyn Keough Family, the University of Notre Dame has laid a solid foundation on which to build a rich collection of Irish art that will inspire audiences the world over. This is the premier examination of many works from the Keough gift as well as several other significant collections of Irish Art.   Taken together, the collections combine to create a landmark exhibition at the Snite Museum of Art.


The exhibition will also include selected gifts to the Museum of photographs by Alen MacWeeney.  Born in Dublin in 1939, the photographer established a worldwide reputation when he chronicled the native itinerants of Ireland known as the Travellers. The artist’s genre studies in the chapels and pubs of Dublin, and his country landscapes, possess a mood of poetic evocation. Also included in the exhibition are MacWeeney’s photographs of O’Neill House in Southwestern County Kerry.  Approximately fifty-five photographs, ranging in date from 1965 to 2015, will be shown.


Additionally, important collections from the Museum, including a celebrated group of James Barry (1741–1806) prints, and substantial holdings in the Hesburgh Library’s Special Collections, will be featured. These gems and others currently held by the university are cause for celebration and pride with the addition of the Keough and the MacWeeney gifts.


Finally, the Museum is honored to announce the loan of several Modern and Contemporary masterpieces from the renowned collections of Pat and John O’Brien of Chicago.  Such works continue a deeply appreciated relationship with the O’Briens who have made their collections available to the Notre Dame Community and the world.


The history of Irish visual art may be less familiar to visitors than the performing or literary arts, but it is no less compelling. The Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies at Notre Dame is renowned for promoting new lines of inquiry and research; it is a partner with the Snite Museum in this important exhibition endeavor. As partners, the Museum and Institute offer audiences the intractable wit, tenacity, and infinite invention of the Irish spirit through this exhibition. As such, Oscar Wilde’s words in Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892), may apply to Irish artists within the broader art community: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”    


 "In celebrating the visual arts in Irish culture, the Museum is proud to honor our donors, lenders, and partners in a meaningful and meaning-filled way."  Joseph A. Becherer, Director, the Snite Museum of Art.


“The gift of paintings that is at the centerpiece of this important exhibition is all the more meaningful because it comes from the Keough family, one of the most generous benefactors to the University and to our Institute for Irish Studies.  The paintings are more than an aesthetic contribution to Notre Dame. They are part of an exhibit that helps to build a bridge between Ireland and America—an endeavor that is at the very heart of our Institute.”  Patrick Griffin, Madden-Hennebry Professor of History and Director, Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies


Public Reception: Friday, September 6, 5-7 p.m. This reception is free and open to all.  Details about speakers and events TBALooking At The Stars Pr


Image credit: Mary Swanzy (1882–1978), Young Claudius, 1942, oil on canvas, 20 x 24 inches. Gift of the Donald and Marilyn Keough Foundation, 2019.001.002



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Snite Museum of Art announces gift of photographs from the Brett Weston Archive

Author: Gina Costa



Weston Pr


THE SNITE MUSEUM OF ART, University of Notre Dame, announces the gift of photographs from the Brett Weston Archive.



NOTRE DAME, Ind., May 1, 2019 –The Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame announces the gift of 50 photographs by Brett Weston (American, 1911-1993). This generous donation comes from the Oklahoma City philanthropist Christian Keesee, who founded the Brett Weston Archive after acquiring works from the artist’s estate in 1996. Aside from organizing the photographer’s work, and publishing a catalogue raisonne, the Brett Weston Archive makes this gift to the University to broaden appreciation of Weston, to preserve his work, and to contribute to study of the history of photography.


The Museum and University are honored to receive this important gift,” shares Museum Director Joseph Antenucci Becherer, “It furthers greatly one of the important university collections of photography.”


Brett Weston was the second of four sons of the photographer Edward Weston and Flora Chandler. He left school at age thirteen, move to Mexico with his father, who was already a distinguished photographer.  He observed his father’s dedication to craft when the elder Weston shifted from a Pictorialist style to a sharp, incisive manner that emphasized bold forms and delicate textures.  He displayed a natural talent in his first photographs. “He is doing better at fourteen than I did at thirty,” the father wrote in his journal.  “To have someone close to me, working so excellently, with an assured future, is a happiness hardly expected.” Edward Weston chose a group of his son’s photographs for the landmark Film und Foto exhibition at Stuttgart in 1929, and the seventeen-year-old had his images published in European magazines.  


In the early 1930s, when father and son were partners in studios in San Francisco and Carmel, both made some of their most remarkable photographs at Point Lobos, views of the windswept Pacific coastline, and natural objects collected along the beach.


In May 1930, Brett Weston set out on his own, opening a portrait studio in Glendale, California.  Two years later a solo exhibition of his photographs was mounted in San Francisco at the M. H. De Young Memorial Museum. During the Depression, he was a photographer for the Works Progress Administration, and a supervisor of the photographic section in the Federal Arts Project.  He moved to Santa Barbara, during World War II, to work as a photographer for the Douglas, and North American Aircraft corporations.  Drafted into the Army in 1941, he later photographed in New York, surveying the city from the rooftops, and exploring the New York Botanical Garden.  He was posted to El Paso, Texas in 1945, he explored the White Sands National Monument in a series of photographs that were continued during his Post-Service Guggenheim Fellowship. After the war, he returned to California to assist his father through the struggle with Parkinson’s disease in the final decade of his life.  In 1958, Weston traveled for the first time to Europe, where he made studies of space, form and texture rather than picturesque tourist views.



“Brett Weston was a darkroom virtuoso,” said David Acton, Snite Museum Curator of Photographs. “His deep understanding of the capabilities of film photography produced prints seldom equalled in digital media. So his great prints often provides a revelation to students.”



All of the works in this gift were made by Brett Weston himself, from his own original negatives which range in date from about 1940 to 1985. Many of the photographs in this gift are vintage prints, produced around time of the negative. Others were made later, and meant for exhibition or sale, but they remained in the artist’s possession at the time of his death. Building upon his father’s achievements, Weston made many studies of plant forms, and the reflective or coarse surfaces of water, soil or rock.


Weston observed abstraction in nature with his camera, and accentuated its beauty with the processes of photographic film. These were ideal subjects for the demonstration of the tonal capabilities of the gelatin silver print process. In this era of cellphone camera and digital photography, students are surprised and delighted by the beauty of traditional gelatin silver photographic prints.

Image: Rock Wall, 1975. Vintage gelatin silver print

Brett Weston 2019



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Revisions:Contemporary Native Art

Author: Gina Costa

Revisions: Contemporary Native Art features over twenty regionally and nationally celebrated artist. The exhibition highlights strategies of revision, reuse, and appropriation in Native art from the 1990s to today in media ranging from painting to sculpture to video. On view through May 18, 2019, the exhibition gathers national loans and works from the museum’s collection, and includes a major installation by artist Wendy Red Star (Apsáalooke/Crow). 

Revisions Contmporary Native Art


The participating artists—who hail from diverse tribes in the United States and Canada—share an interest in the circulation and reconfiguration of forms over time, across space, and between cultures. Some reflect on the appropriation of Native culture by settler society while others repurpose found objects, images, and texts from tribal history, family archives, and popular media. The resulting artworks address issues of inheritance, colonization, authenticity, and the politics of representation.


Works by artists from the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, including beadwork by David Martin, a commissioned black ash basket by Christine Rapp-Morseau, and a collage by Jason Wesaw, demonstrate the tribe’s cultural richness and diversity. Rapp-Morseau’s basket is a new commission for the Snite Museum and marks the first contemporary object by a Pokagon Band artist to enter the collection.


Artists represented in the Snite Museum’s permanent collection include Rick Bartow (Mad River Band Wiyot), Edgar Heap of Birds (Cheyenne and Arapaho), Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (Salish and Kootenai), Kay Walkingstick (Cherokee), and Melanie Yazzie (Diné/Navajo).




0c6a0059 Copy

Image credit: Wendy Red Star, Peelatchiwaaxpáash/Medicine Crow (Raven), 2014. Pigment print on paper, from digitally reproduced and artist manipulated photograph by C.M. (Charles Milton) Bell, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution. ©️ Wendy Red Star; photo: courtesy of the artist.


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