New York Museum Brings Italy to Americans

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Americans yearning to travel to Italy can visit online through Travels with a Curator. This series of videos by the Frick Collection takes viewers through tours of places connected to their collection. 

Narrated by Xavier F. Salomon, Deputy Director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator, (pictured above) each video introduces an artwork, then presents photographs of a city or location related to it. He discusses the history of the place and presents other works by the same artist located there.


In an early episode, Salomon, a native of Rome, presents the Castel Sant’Angelo. He discusses its connection to the famous opera Tosca and its history as the mausoleum of Hadrian and emperors who followed him. He also explains how it became a fortress protecting the Vatican and the Pope. This history is illustrated by photos of one of its lavish rooms, aerial views of its strategic location near the Papal Palace, and the statue of the Archangel Michael commemorating his protection of the city. 

The connection to the Frick is a portrait by El Greco, painted in 1575, of Vincenzo Anastagi, the Sergeant Major of the Castel. 


In this recent video, Salomon features three portraits by painter Anthony Van Dyck who worked in the city from 1621-27. He explains how artists like Van Dyck would have come to Genoa because of its economic power and the opportunities it offered. Salomon’s discussion is illustrated by photos of the port, colorful street scenes and former palaces of the aristocracy that are now museums. He ends with an image of the Lanterna, connecting it to the waves of Italian emigration to America.  


Another video takes viewers to Siena and the Santa Maria della Scala, a hospital built in the 11th century. Salomon presents the work of painter and sculptor Lorenzo di Pietro, also known as Vecchietta. The Frick has a carved panel by Vecchietta, the only signed and dated example of his work in America.

The tour features a beautiful aerial view of the city and photographs of the Piazza del Campo, the cathedral and the hospital. The hospital is home to a series of frescoes by Vecchietta done in the 1400s.

Other tours visit Venice, Maser, Prato, and San Severino Marche. Beyond Italy, destinations include Bruges, Dresden, Poland, France, London and a few American cities. Each episode is approximately 15 minutes. The series has concluded but will remain available at the Frick Collection website and on YouTube.

Genoa photo by Mattia Righetti on Unsplash

Castel Sant’Angelo photo by Hyungman Jeon on Unsplash

Siena photo by Paolo Bendandi on Unsplash

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