Press Room » Archives » 2020

University of Notre Dame receives Lilly Endowment grant to fund Snite Museum of Art initiative on religion, spirituality and faith

Author: Gina Costa

Screen Shot 2020 12 18 At 11

The University of Notre Dame has received a five-year, $2.4 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its Religion and Cultural Institutions Initiative to implement Inspiring Wonder: An Initiative on Religion, Spirituality, and Faith in the Visual Arts.


Designed to invite diverse audiences into meaningful conversation, Inspiring Wonder will significantly advance the Snite Museum’s efforts to deepen its constituencies’ understanding of religion, spirituality and faith in a deliberate and mission-driven way.


Notre Dame is one of 18 organizations from across the United States receiving grants through the Lilly Endowment initiative. The group includes fine arts museums, historical societies and history museums, museums dedicated to serving children and families and museums dedicated to particular locations and cultures.


“On behalf of the entire museum, I express our deepest gratitude to Lilly Endowment and their Religion and Cultural Institutions Initiative,” said Joseph Becherer, director of the Snite Museum. “Such generosity is a profound investment in the future of the museum and countless lives that will be touched through education and programming. More than just faith in the future good work of this museum and University, this grant is a commitment to regional and national audiences through a deepened appreciation of and enlightenment through art that we can uniquely provide.”


The primary project component is the Museum Education Fellowship in Religion and Spirituality in the Visual Arts. The endowed, two-year fellowship will allow for the creation of innovative programming around religion and spirituality, and will help train the next generation of museum professionals and bring their fresh perspectives about museum education into the Inspiring Wonder initiative. This grant-funded work at the Snite Museum includes the development of two major thematic exhibitions, course development, research mini-grants, academic symposia and strategic acquisitions during the grant period.


Lilly Endowment awarded grants totaling more than $43 million through the initiative. These grants will enable the organizations to develop exhibitions and education programs that fairly and accurately portray the role of religion in the U.S. and around the world. The initiative is designed to foster public understanding about religion and lift up the contributions that people of all faiths and diverse religious communities make to our greater civic well-being.


“Museums and cultural institutions are trusted organizations and play an important role in teaching the American public about the world around them,” said Christopher Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “These organizations will use the grants to help visitors understand and appreciate the significant impact religion has had and continues to have on society in the United States and around the globe. Our hope is that these efforts will promote greater knowledge about and respect for people of diverse religious traditions.”


Lilly Endowment launched the Religion and Cultural Institutions Initiative in 2019 and awarded planning grants to organizations to help them explore how programming in religion could further their institutional missions. These grants will assist organizations in implementing projects that draw on their extensive collections and enhance and complement their current activities.


“The Snite was founded on the principle that art is essential to understanding human experiences and beliefs. To that end, it is committed to providing its patrons with opportunities to engage in informed dialogue with scholars, artists and each other — or simply to spend time in silent communion with art,” Becherer said. “These efforts soon will be enhanced by the construction of the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art at Notre Dame, which is designed to be more community-facing and will have an active chapel at its heart. This is therefore an opportune moment for the museum to take a bold step forward in deepening its mission as a leader in engagement and education around art and religion, both on campus and in the broader region.”Snite Museum Lilly Grant


Anonymous 18th century Mexican (Mexican, 1701-1800), Nuestra Senõra de Guadalupe, February 15, 1729, Oil on canvas. Gift of Mr. Ignacio Aranguren, ND '52, his wife Pirri, and their sons Luis ND '84, Ignacio ND '85, and Santiago ND '92. 2002.01

Unknown Irish artist, Crucifix, 1776, Yew wood. Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame. Gift of Rev. James S. Savage, 1966.031

Paul Henry Wood (American, 1872-1892), Absolution Under Fire, 1891, Oil on canvas. Gift of the artist, Collection of the Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, 1976.057

Read More

The Snite Museum of Art adds a compelling Dutch, 17th-century still life to its European collection.

Author: Gina Costa

Screen Shot 2020 11 05 At 10

The Snite Museum of Art adds a compelling Dutch, 17th-century still life to its European collection.

Notre Dame, IN: The Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame has added an important Dutch still life by a follower of Osias Beert I to its collection of seventeenth-century European art. 

"It is a great pleasure to welcome this fine painting into the permanent collection as it fills an important cultural and art historical opportunity we have long researched," said Director Joseph Antenucci Becherer. "In addition to playing a prominent role among our collection of European paintings, it makes dynamic connections to our renowned decorative arts holdings," he noted.

The Snite Museum's painting reprises a portion of a work jointly executed by Osias Beert I and Frans Francken I entitled Still Life with the Rich Man and Poor Lazarus, which depicts a parable about greed and charity. Themes and variations of this kind were typical of artistic practice at the time. Almonds, Oysters, Sweets, Chestnuts and Wine on a Wooden Table is particularly interesting for the decorative art objects and foodstuffs that it features, as well as for the artist's removal of figures that would have identified it as a work with a religious subject. Instead, the artist focuses not on the morality lesson found in the Beert and Francken painting, but on luxury. Gone from the upper right corner of this work is the scene of a rich man dining with a group of elegantly dressed men as a starving Lazarus, in rags, begs on the ground beneath them that was in the model.

By the second quarter of the 1600s, such explicit moral lessons fell out of favor, and still lifes incorporating lavish spreads alone were intended to signal the parable. The Snite's painting is an excellent example of the genre, beautiful on its own but also charged with rich symbolism.

In the lower-left, a pewter serving dish is filled with peeled and candied almonds and candied cinnamon sticks, called kapittelstokjes, after the bookmark used by Dutch ministers to keep their place in Bibles. In the center foreground, a comfit in the shape of a cross reminds viewers of salvation. Oysters, considered a delicacy, are plated to the right, and, at the upper left, two glasses in the Venetian fashion are filled with wine. A centrally placed silver dish, decorated with seahorses in an allusion to sea trade, holds almond paste tartlets and biscotti. In the background on the right, a pewter plate contains chestnuts, in season in the autumn and used in stews or sautéed in butter and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. The large white bun filled with cream at center right was another luxury item relative to the standard fair of whole wheat or rye buns. With its Venetian glass, seahorse motifs, and foodstuffs baked with the liberal use of sugar—a commodity imported from plantations in the Caribbean and Brazil—the painting offers a visual narrative of international commerce and the slave trade needed to sustain it.


"This still life painting with its dazzling array of treats is a welcome addition to our collection of seventeenth-century paintings. It was supposed to remind viewers about the sin of gluttony, the need for charity to those who have less, and the transience of life,” said Cheryl Snay, Curator of European and American Art before 1900. “Instead, it became an essay on conspicuous consumption. With its display of sugar-coated spices and almonds, it affords us an opportunity to discuss its appeal to the morality of its original audience in addition to the sugar trade that fueled slavery," Snay continued.

Follower of Osias Beert I (Flemish, ca. 1580–1624)

Almonds, Oysters, Sweets, Chestnuts and Wine on a Wooden Table, ca. 1605–30

Oil on panel

18 1/8 x 25 ¾ inches (46.1 x 68.5 cm)

W. L. Travis Fund

2020.008Dutch Still Life

Read More

Sèvres Enamel Masterpiece Joins Distinguished Decorative Arts Collection at the Snite Museum

Author: Gina Costa

Sevres Ewer

The Snite Museum added to its distinctive decorative arts holdings thanks to the generosity and foresight of the Virginia A. Marten family, whose longstanding support contributes to the University of Notre Dame’s teaching mission.


"The decorative arts have long played an important role in the Museum’s collecting and education programs; it is, therefore, a delight to welcome this exquisite Sèvres Limoges-style ewer into the permanent collection," said Snite Museum Director Joseph Antenucci Becherer. "The monumentality of this object and its exceptional condition exceed many expectations for the decorative arts, guaranteeing that it will soon become a Museum favorite," he added.


This most recent gift strengthens the holdings of decorative arts dating from the middle of the nineteenth century, a period when trends developed in response to the social and political upheaval prevalent at the time. At the forefront of those trends was a backlash against an increasingly industrialized society that led to a nostalgia for Medieval and Renaissance workshop productions and themes.


“This Sèvres Limoges-style ewer, long recognized as a masterpiece, reflects the intense interest in stylistic revivals at mid-century,” said Cheryl Snay, Curator of European and American Art before 1900. “The elegant grisaille cartouches depicting Venus and Flora, set against a dark blue ground highlighted with gold, hearken back to the glory days of the French Renaissance ushered in by Francis I.”


The Snite’s ewer complements several other works in the Museum’s collection, namely Edouard Pingret’s Troubadour painting of Diane de Poitier Receiving a Message from Francis I (1846), and the chalice designed by Charles-Eugène Trioullier (ca. 1850), also made in a Renaissance Revival style. Additionally, Eduard Steinbruck’s Adoration of the Magi (1838) was painted in a style meant to evoke the smooth, clear, sharp, enamel-like finish of Northern Renaissance artists.


Established in 1756, Sèvres is known for its porcelain wares. In the 1840s, the manufactory began experimenting with enamel, a technique that had flourished in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries but had since declined. The director of Sèvres, Alexandre Brogniart, invited the Parisian enameller Jacob Meyer-Heine to the manufactory to experiment with “new” forms and techniques. The results were successful, and Meyer-Heine was hired by Sèvres to produce Renaissance Revival, Limoges-style enamel wares. Because the Snite’s ewer with its distinctive grisaille decoration was among the first to come off the production line, it was featured in exhibitions and was well documented in the press.

Sèvres Enamel Ewer, 1849
Enamel on copper with gilt-metal mount
24.4 x 10 inches,

Virginia A. Marten Endowment forDecorative Arts Fund


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

Read More

The Snite Museum of Art Announces Important Acquisitions to its Mesoamerican Collection

Author: Gina Costa

Screen Shot 2020 10 07 At 8

The Snite Museum of Art announces  five gifts to the Museum’s distinguished Mesoamerican collection.


Mr. William. J. Gallagher Jr. ND’1950, was one of the original lenders of Pre-Columbian objects to the Snite Museum of Art when it opened its doors in the fall of 1980. These early loans from the Gallagher Family were foundational objects to the development of the Pre-Columbian and Mesoamerican collection during the Museum’s first years. All five gifts, four on long-term loan, will increase the number of works in their respective cultural groups in the collection.


William J. Gallagher Jr. passed away in the fall of 2017. His widow, Maureen Smith Gallagher, remarked that


Notre Dame was always central to my husband’s life, and he ended up becoming friends with Doug Bradley, the late curator of Mesoamerican art at the Snite Museum of Art. As a result of this friendship, Bill developed an interest in Mesoamerican culture and the Snite Museum of Art. I wish to honor my husband by donating these artifacts to the Snite Museum so that others can, likewise, gain an interest in and an understanding of not only Mesoamerican culture but also an appreciation of the fine collections at the Snite.


“We are honored by the longstanding support and thoughtfulness of the Gallagher family. Their contributions to our Mesoamerican collection and their desire to honor the Museum and its staff are deeply appreciated.” — Joseph Antenucci Becherer, Director, Snite Museum of Art


The donated objects are a Monte Alban IIIb Zapotec Goddess Effigy Urn, a Tres Zapotes IV Verzcruz Ritual Performer Tripod Figure, a Colima Tripod Olla, a Veracruz Tlazolteotl Priest Figure, and a Colima vessel in the shape of a pair of ducks.Mesoamerican Gift From Gallagher Family

Read More

The Snite Museum of Art announces important acquisition of Cabinet Card portrait of Oscar Wilde

Author: Gina Costa

Oscar Wilde Portrait

The Snite Museum of Art announces important acquisition of Cabinet Card portrait of Oscar Wilde

Notre Dame, IN: The Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame has added to its impressive collection of over 10,000 photographs with the addition of a cabinet card portrait of the writer Oscar Wilde taken by Napoleon Sarony.

David Acton, Curator of Photographs at the Snite Museum, states ”In the latter half of the nineteenth century, Napoleon Sarony was regarded as the leading photographic portraitist in New York. From his studio in Union Square, he also produced fashionable celebrity photographs, mostly in the small, collectible carte-de-visite format. Sarony photographed virtually every star of the New York stage during the 1860s through the 1890s, his work helping to create and perpetuate his subjects’ fame.”

In 1882, at age twenty-six, Oscar Wilde arrived in New York. He had just published his first volume of poetry and had recently enjoyed acclaim in London social circles for his epicene character and sharp wit. To promote his career in the US, Wilde signed with agent Richard D’Oyly Carte, who was also the producer of the Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera Patience; or Bunthorne’s Bride. Wilde embarked on a lecture tour in association with the opera, a work that tells the story of the rivalry between two poets—Bunthorne and Grovesnor—for the attention of female admirers. The opera satirizes the English aesthetic movement in literature and art, and the pretension of all stylish fads. Appearing on stage dressed in knee-breeches and pumps, Wilde both celebrated and poked gentle fun at aesthetic movement poetry and Pre-Raphaelite art with his trademark witty self-deprecation.

Before the tour, Wilde visited Sarony’s studio to pose for a series of publicity photographs, of which the Snite Museum’s photograph became one of the most famous. They were sold at tour stops, at Sarony’s, and other fashionable photography studios, and exported to Britain. After a successful New York engagement, Wilde toured the American continent, presenting 141 lectures over eleven months. Although his style and subject invited ridicule, his effortless ability to humiliate attackers with sharp wit delighted audiences.

“The Museum’s collection of nineteenth-century photography ranks as among the finest in the United States, and this acquisition will make an important contribution, individually and collectively,” stated Joseph Antenucci Becherer, PhD, Director of the Snite Museum of Art. “As we work towards an important volume and exhibition on this aspect of our collection, this particular image will surely resonate visually and historically with scholars and museum-going audiences alike.” Oscar Wilde Recent Acquisition

Image information:

Napoleon Sarony (American, born in Canada, 1821–1896)

Oscar Wilde, 1882

Albumen print from wet collodion negative, mounted as boudoir print

30.5 x 18.4 cm (12 x 7 ¼ in.) Sheet,33.0 x 19.0 cm (13 x 7 ½ in.) Mount

Milly and Fritz Kaeser Endowment for Photography, 2020.012

Read More

Snite Museum of Art reopens to Students, Staff, and Faculty August 10, 2020

Author: Gina Costa

The Snite Museum of Art  will open August 10 to University of Notre Dame students, faculty, and staff.

Public access to the Museum will not be possible at this time but should that change and opportunities to welcome the public avail themselves, that will be communicated immediately.

Please note: all visitors to the Museum will be required to wear a mask and social distance.

Engage with us online for deep dives into the collection, educational resources, and videos with Museum Director, Joseph Becherer

The Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park is open all day and year-around.  Come enjoy the sculptures and plantings in this important extension of the Museum. Learn more:

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, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Thursday evening until 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, 12 noon–5:00 p.m.


Closed Sunday, Monday, and major holidays.

Admission is free

Museum Re Opening Hours


Read More

Message from the Director of the Snite Museum of Art

Author: Snite Museum of Art

To Our Museum Community and Beyond:

Images. We live in a world filled with images. Small and large, handheld and wall-mounted, still and moving, images fill our daily life. In recent days, horrifying images of senseless violence and death have added clarity to the injustices rampant in the world we share. From the devastating death of George Floyd recorded on film and shared, the global community was presented with undeniable visual evidence of racism and inequality, yet again.…

Read More

Snite Museum of Art Acquires a Major Work by Sculptor Louise Nevelson

Author: Gina Costa

Nevelson Copy

Revpr Nevelson


Notre Dame, IN: The Snite Museum of Art announces the acquisition of Sky Sentinels, a 1976 work by the iconic sculptor Louise Nevelson. In heralding the gift, Joseph Antenucci Becherer, Director and Curator of Sculpture at the Snite Museum, said, “It is an honor and pleasure to welcome this exceptional work to the museum through the insightful patronage of Charles S. Hayes, who remains a beacon for the appreciation of art, and sculpture in particular. Nevelson is among the bold figures in the history of sculpture and this landmark work in her oeuvre offers vivid testimony of her achievement. Further, she was a pioneering figure for women in the visual arts and her presence in the collection allows us to both celebrate her and her legacy.”

One of the most remarkable artists of the 20th century, Louise Nevelson (1899–1988) studied as a dancer, actress, ceramist, and painter before embarking on a career as a sculptor. Born in what is present-day Ukraine, she emigrated with her family from Czarist Russia to Rockland, Maine, where they were among the few Jewish families in town. Independent and athletic, Louise briefly married and moved to New York where she was drawn to the art world. In the 1930s, she moved to Munich to study with Hans Hofmann; while there, she was introduced to collage and assemblage and exposed to the European avant-garde.

Returning to New York in 1932, she began to assemble large compositions of found objects, primarily of wood, which she painted a uniform black. By the late 1950s, she had established a definitive abstract style and her works were eagerly acquired. Although never formally a part of any movement, Nevelson is associated with the phenomenon of “New American Sculpture,” whose adherents pioneered the use of industrial materials in an abstract vocabulary.

In the 1970s, Nevelson began working out of doors where she utilized sheets of steel, aluminum, and plexiglass in her sculpture, all often painted in her signature black. The year 1976 was a critical one for the artist: her work was selected for a major retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, solidifying her stature as one of the most important artists of the age. With Barbara Hepworth, Louise Bourgeois, and Beverly Pepper, Nevelson is regarded as one of the pioneering female figures who greatly expanded the dimensions of 20th-century sculpture.   

Read More

The Snite Museum of Art acquires major work by sculptor Clement Meadmore (American, born Australia 1929-2005)

Author: Gina Costa


There is little doubt that Modern and Contemporary sculpture play a significant role in the collection, and by extension, the persona of the Snite Museum of Art. The collections of both Ivan Meštrović and George Rickey have played definitive roles.   Against this backdrop, the Museum is pleased to announce the gift of a major sculpture by Clement Meadmore – one of the most compelling and eagerly sought public sculptors of the second half of the 20th century.


Born in Melbourne, Australia, and educated at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Meadmore began making welded sculptures in the 1950s. He moved to New York City in 1963 to more closely experience the vanguard of Contemporary art.  Deeply moved by both Minimalism and its forerunning antithesis, Abstract Expressionism, he forged a career as one of the most distinguished abstract sculptors of his generation.

Meadmore is most widely celebrated for his bold statements based on a vocabulary of geometry with a strong emphasis on crisp linear contours and broad planes. Whether working in aluminum, steel, or bronze, he most frequently finished his sculptures with a black patina. For all of the aforementioned, he can be seen in the ambiance of Minimalism. However, his introduction of movement and frequent use of curved forms celebrate his affection for the visual energy of Abstract Expressionism.

Upbeat, 1984, coveys the buoyancy of the upright composition of Meadmore’s iconic style. The work and title also convey the sculptor’s life-long interest in music, particularly jazz.  Upbeat is a gift of the Clement Meadmore Foundation.  It will be placed in the Museum courtyard to be a point of dialogue with other major outdoor sculptures in the collection.


“The Museum is deeply grateful for this exceptional gift which has been eagerly placed and is already engaging audiences at the heart of our sculpture courtyard,” shares Director, Dr. Joseph Antenucci Becherer. “Meadmore’s iconic style is masterfully available in this work and is at once both lyrical and minimalist.”

Meadmore0008 Copy


Clement Meadmore (American, born Australia. 1929-2005)

Upbeat, 1984

Painted aluminum, Artist’s Proof

9’10” x 6’3” x 6’6”

Gift of the Clement Meadmore Foundation

Meadmore Acquisition Final

Read More

Chao Shao-an: Moments between Worlds

Author: Gina Costa

Chao Shao-an: Moments between Worlds

February 4 - June 20, 2020

NOTRE DAME, IN.  Chao Shao-an (趙少昂, 1905-1998) lived a momentous life vividly expressed through brush and ink over a nearly eighty-year career as an artist.  This intimate exhibition of seventeen works are drawn from the collection of Chao Shao-an’s family and feature detailed yet poetic images of the natural world for which the artist developed an international reputation.  These album leaf paintings highlight Chao Shao-an’s remarkable ability to capture the essence of subtle moments in nature through vibrant brushwork and coloration.

The artist came of age in the southern Chinese province of Guangzhou in the early years following the collapse of China’s last imperial dynasty. During this period of rapid change, Chao began his first apprenticeship in ink painting under one of the three masters of the Lingnan School of painting -- famous for creatively blending international painting methods and materials onto a foundation of traditional Chinese technique. Chao Shao-an took over responsibility for the Lingnan School and began his career as an award-winning artist that brought recognition to the Lingnan style across the globe.

Through the unrest of the Japanese occupation of China during World War II and the subsequent civil war, Chao developed a style that emphasized the traditional category of bird-and-flower painting and the close study of nature. From the 1930s-1960s, Chao Shao-an traveled around the world for solo and group exhibitions across Asia, Europe, and the United States. During that time, he settled permanently in Hong Kong in 1948 and established the Lingnan Art Studio in his residence. There, he mentored generations of students in the Lingnan method and ensured its place as one of the most influential styles of twentieth century Chinese ink painting.

“In a remarkable continuation of Chao’s international legacy, two generations of his descendants have attended the University of Notre Dame and have made this distinguished exhibition a possibility” offers Director Joseph Antenucci Becherer. The exhibition is curated by Fletcher Coleman from the Department of Art, Art History and Design and made possible through the partnership of the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies.


Image credit: Chao Shao-an, Chinese, 1905 - 1998

Pomegrante: Seeds of an Open Pomegranate

Ink and pigment on paper

Courtesy of the Artist’s family.

Chao Shao An

Read More