Mark Rothko Pavilion/Connections Campaign

The Museum is pleased to present a new section of the website featuring the Connections Campaign expansion project. Learn more about the proposed changes to the campus, including the stunning central Rothko Pavilion, see architectural renderings, and learn more about Mark Rothko’s connection to Portland. As the fundraising phase turns to groundbreaking, stay tuned for updates and information.

Visit the website. 





The post Mark Rothko Pavilion/Connections Campaign appeared first on Portland Art Museum.

Portland Art Museum

Museum partners with Potluck in the Park for a Free Christmas Dinner

For the third year in row, the Museum is partnering with Potluck in the Park for a free Christmas day dinner. The event also includes gifts, phone calls, photos with Santa, and live jazz music.

Portland Art Museum Executive Director and Chief Curator Brian Ferriso, who volunteers with his family at the event, said, “we are honored to partner with Potluck in the Park to host a Free Christmas Dinner again this year. When Potluck in the Park leadership approached the Museum three years ago to host the annual event, due to the closing of the YWCA, we knew it was something we wanted to do. The Portland Art Museum aspires to be a resource for all and we are honored that our celebrated facilities and collections can be used to serve those most in need.   It is truly a unique opportunity for the Museum and Potluck in the Park to not only nourish bodies, but also souls.”

Read more from the organizers of the event below.

Potluck in the Park is hosting its Free Christmas Dinner for the 23nd year.  Portland’s largest Christmas Dinner will be served on Christmas Day at the Portland Art Museum.  The dinner is open to anyone in need or anyone without friends or family to spend the holiday with.  Over 400 volunteers will help feed and gift more than 1000 guests.  The doors will be open for three hours from 1:00 to 4:00pm to make sure everyone is fed.

Guests will dine on a traditional holiday meal in the Art Museum’s Fred and Suzanne Fields Ballroom.  Dinner will be accompanied by live jazz from Tom Grant and Patrick Lamb and friends.  Guests can receive a photo of themselves with Santa and make free phone calls to loved ones.

Guests will also receive socks filled with goodies by Cathedral Elementary School students and warm wear collected by Fred Meyer employees and others.  Kennels for guests’ pets will be available during the meal and pet food will be distributed courtesy of the Pongo Fund.

Major contributors to the event include: The Hilton Hotel, DoubleTree Hotel, Peter Corvallis Productions, West Coast Event Productions, Classic Pianos, DeAngelo’s Catering & Events, Brattain International, Fred Meyer Employees and the more than 200 student elves of Cathedral School who joyfully stuffed more than 1000 pairs of socks.

ABOUT Potluck in the Park

Potluck in the Park is an all-volunteer non-profit organization in its 26th year of providing nutritious meals to anyone in need EVERY Sunday, rain or shine, at O’Bryant Square in Downtown Portland.  They have served meals for 1323 consecutive Sundays since 1991.

Potluck in the Park’s mission is to nourish and enrich the lives of individuals by providing a free hot meal  and a safe community gathering place every Sunday. Potluck volunteers believe in treating everyone with dignity, respect, friendliness and kindness. It goes a long way in helping build self-esteem and a sense of self-worth in many of their guests.

The group began serving Christmas Dinner at the YWCA the first year after they started that Christmas fell on a Sunday in 1994.  It became a Christmas Day tradition soon after.

In 2012 Potluck in the Park volunteers were awarded the Oregon Governor’s Volunteer Regional Award for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement.

The post Museum partners with Potluck in the Park for a Free Christmas Dinner appeared first on Portland Art Museum.

Portland Art Museum

Grace Kook-Anderson Appointed Curator of Northwest Art

Brian Ferriso, the Marilyn H. and Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr. Director of the Portland Art Museum, today announced the appointment of Grace Kook-Anderson as the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Northwest Art.

Kook-Anderson was most recently the Curator of Contemporary Art at the Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach, California, and has spent the last year as an independent curator and freelance writer in Portland. Previously she was curator and exhibition organizer on a number of projects, including Amateurs (CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco), and The Land Mark Show (Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico), among others, and served as assistant to the chief curator at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. She holds undergraduate degrees in art history and art practice from University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in curatorial practice from California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

Kook-Anderson assumes her role on January 9, 2017, and will be responsible for the care, research, exhibition, and growth of the Northwest art collection, including the organization of the biennial Contemporary Northwest Art Awards. She fills the position left vacant by Bonnie Laing-Malcolmson, who retired earlier this year. The collection, housed primarily in the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Northwest Art, brings the Museum’s regional collection to the forefront, tracing the history of Northwest art from the late 19th century to today.

The two–floor Center is home to works from the collection, as well as historic and contemporary exhibitions that celebrate the Northwest’s history and culture. Arlene Schnitzer is a passionate advocate of Northwest art, as was her late husband, Harold. This enthusiasm is reflected in their endowment of the Curator of Northwest Art, donations supporting the acquisition of art, and gifts of art to the Museum. Arlene Schnitzer, who was once an art student in the galleries that bear her name, was instrumental in elevating the national and international profile of Northwest artists.

This vast collection of Northwest art distinguishes the Portland Art Museum from other cultural institutions in the region. The collection is rich in a variety of works by past and present artists living and working in Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Wyoming. Together, these historical and contemporary objects depict a visual narrative of the Northwest while providing insight to significant works by artists such as Northwest School members Carl Morris, Morris Graves, and Mark Tobey, legendary Oregon artist C.S. Price, and the acclaimed Jacob Lawrence, who is best known for depicting important moments in African-American history. Thanks to a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, the entire Northwest art collection is now available online.

“I am thrilled by the appointment of Grace Kook-Anderson as the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Northwest Art,” said Brian Ferriso, the Portland Art Museum’s director and chief curator. “Grace’s highly regarded tenure as the Curator of Contemporary Art at the Laguna Art Museum, coupled with her recent work in Portland as an arts writer and critic, make her an ideal candidate to lead our important mission of evaluating and celebrating our region’s historical and burgeoning visual arts scene.”

During her six years at the Laguna Art Museum, Kook-Anderson organized nearly 30 exhibitions, including the creation and curation of the ex.pose contemporary art program, a space dedicated to a single artist that has strong parallels to the Portland Art Museum’s APEX gallery, which she will manage. She expanded the exhibition calendar from one year to three years, served as interim education curator, developed public programs, engaged in fundraising, authored and contributed to multiple publications, and acquired many important pieces for the collection. She also presented Best Kept Secret: UCI and the Development of Contemporary Art in Southern California, 1964-1971 as part of the Getty’s 2011/12 Pacific Standard Time Initiative: Art in LA 1945-1980.

Since moving to Portland, Kook-Anderson has immersed herself in the local arts community, working as a curator, writer, and instructor at Portland State University, participating in portfolio reviews, and serving as a committee member for Converge 45.

“Having closely followed the Portland Art Museum for the last several years, I am very excited to be part of the talented staff of the museum,” Kook-Anderson said. “I look forward to collaborating with fellow curatorial and educational staff, deepening my knowledge of the collection, expanding the scholarship of historical Northwest art up to the present time, and actively engaging with regional artists in the context of a broader art scene.”


The post Grace Kook-Anderson Appointed Curator of Northwest Art appeared first on Portland Art Museum.

Portland Art Museum

Have Conversations Here

Portland Art Museum Education Team

Portland Art Museum Education Team

The team here at the Portland Art Museum invites our entire community to see this museum as a place for dialogue, reflection, and coming together. During your visit, we encourage you to open yourselves to the creative energies of art, connect with your own personal experiences, and even consider how artists can challenge our own viewpoints and perspectives. Art has the power to spark our curiosity, celebrate our creativity, bring us together, and help us share our own stories and voices. We encourage you to use the galleries throughout the Museum as spaces for dialogue, while always remaining respectful of all visitors.  Explore together, look closely, and find a place within the Museum to sit and talk about what you see and experience.

To support these types of conversations, our Education staff recently created a Conversation Guide.  This 2-page guide includes a few suggestions to spark thinking and conversation during your visit to the Museum as well as before and after your visit.  Feel free to print this guide, and share it with others.  The guide also include additional resources to learn more about dialogue and teaching.


Dialogue is a powerful mode of conversation that genuinely seeks mutual understanding. It can occur between friends, co-workers, family members, and even among strangers. And it can certainly occur between people who do not share the same experiences, perspectives, or ideas.  Learning to listen carefully and disagree respectfully are essential skills in today’s world.


Talking about difficult topics with kids can be challenging. Children are curious and constantly ask questions about the world around them. In one breath, they might ask about a range of topics — from the weather to something they heard on the news. Whether at home, in the car, or here at the museum, it can be difficult to know how respond when difficult questions come up.

To help support these types of conversations here at the museum for all ages, the Conversation Guide offers a few flexible suggestions. These strategies might help your family talk together about some of the socially- or politically-relevant issues occurring in our world, or about some of the artworks you might encounter during your visit to the Museum.

“Talking in museums is one of the things that makes them matter.”  – Adam Gopnik, writer

The post Have Conversations Here appeared first on Portland Art Museum.

Portland Art Museum

Vik Muniz: First acquisitions by new Contemporary Collectors Circle

This fall, visitors to the Museum are enjoying three newly acquired works from the Rouen Cathedral series by Brazilian artist Vik Muniz, inspired by Impressionist master Claude Monet’s well-known paintings.

The three artworks were purchased for the Museum by its newly founded Contemporary Collectors Circle (CCC), whose goal is to transform the Museum and the city through the acquisition of major works of contemporary art. The concept for the CCC was born out of the personal experiences of Matt Felton, a Museum Trustee with a passion for modern and contemporary art.

“Being relevant means boasting a great collection of contemporary art—a broad and extensive inventory of internationally recognized and conceived art works,” says Felton. “The creation of  the Contemporary Collectors Circle is an enriching experience for all of us involved, inspiring appreciation and collection of contemporary art on a personal level, as well as the advancement of the Museum’s collection.”

The group believes this initiative will not only benefit the Museum immediately, but will also have the long-term effect of positioning the institution and Portland as a national and international destination for 21st-century art.

The group members, who dedicate donations annually, travel to the world’s leading art fairs, galleries and private collections considering pieces for acquisition. Trips during this inaugural year included Art Basel Miami Beach, Frieze New York, and the Seattle Art Fair. It was at Frieze where the first purchase was made—an impressive set of three photographs by Muniz, who is widely celebrated as one of the most innovative and creative artists of our time. Originally trained as a sculptor, he is now renowned for creating what he calls “photographic delusions.”

The three works reimagine a famous Claude Monet painting of Rouen Cathedral. On the surface it appears as if Muniz has recreated Monet’s impressionistic brush strokes. Yet on closer look, we see the multitude of images of other works of art cut from magazines, catalogs, and art books that compose the animated surface—an art history primer contained in a reference to an iconic work of 19th-century European painting.

“The selection of these wonderful works by Vik Muniz demonstrates the aims of the group—to acquire art works that are engaging with a show-stopping impact,” said Sara Krajewski, The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. The Muniz photographs are now on view in the Luwayne E. “Buzzy” Sammons Gallery.

For more information about joining the Contemporary Collectors Circle, please call Elizabeth Thomas at 503-276-4206.

The post Vik Muniz: First acquisitions by new Contemporary Collectors Circle appeared first on Portland Art Museum.

Portland Art Museum

Museum Expands with the Rothko Pavilion

A New Building – the Rothko Pavilion – will Unify the Museum’s Campus and Create a New Community Commons Free and Open to the Public, as Well as New Exhibition Spaces and a Rooftop Deck and Sculpture Garden

Rothko Pavilion illustration

View of the east entrance plaza. Courtesy of Vinci Hamp Architects.

The Portland Art Museum today announced both an expansion that will unify its campus by connecting the Museum’s freestanding buildings, and a 20-year partnership with the children of Mark Rothko, Christopher Rothko, and Kate Rothko Prizel. The partnership includes the loan to the Museum of major paintings by Mark Rothko from their private collection; paintings will be loaned individually in rotation over the course of the next two decades.

The expansion will feature a new glass-walled building, to be named the Rothko Pavilion, in recognition of the artist’s legacy in Portland—his home as a youth after immigrating from Latvia—and the Museum, where he took art classes as a teenager and where he received his first solo exhibition. The naming was made possible thanks to the $ 8 million lead gift from a donor who wished to remain anonymous so the pavilion could be named in Mark Rothko’s honor.

The expansion project will seamlessly link the Museum to the surrounding Cultural District with a new central entrance flanked by greenery and sculpture that opens onto the South Park Blocks. The project will make the Museum more publicly accessible, while knitting the campus together with the surrounding neighborhood and reducing the Museum’s carbon footprint. Groundbreaking is scheduled to take place in 2018, with an expected completion date for the project in late 2020 or early 2021. The Museum is launching the public phase of a $ 75-million capital and endowment campaign to fund the project. To date, $ 21.75 million (43 percent) of the $ 50-million capital goal has been raised, and $ 5.4 million has been raised towards the $ 25-million endowment goal.

“The partnership with the Rothko family is a homecoming of sorts, enabling us to share with the public major works from the family’s private collection, offer new insight into Rothko’s practice, and honor his legacy in the Pacific Northwest and the international arts community,” said Brian Ferriso, The Marilyn H. and Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr. Director and Chief Curator. “We are deeply appreciative of Christopher and Kate’s extraordinary generosity in sharing these works with the people of Portland, the state of Oregon, and visitors to our city. Our plans for the Rothko Pavilion bring together the elements of the Portland Art Museum’s mission: to present exceptional works of art, develop exhibitions that take new perspectives on human creativity, and increase public accessibility and inclusion.”

“Our family is thrilled to enter into this partnership with the Museum,” said Christopher Rothko. “Portland played a formative role in my father’s youth, and we are eager to share these works with the public and give Rothko a more active role in the vibrant cultural life of this city.  Our hope is that visitors will take the time to pause and engage with each of these paintings, and to participate in the process of ‘slow looking’ that the Museum has championed.”

Designed by Chicago-based Vinci Hamp Architects, the three-story Rothko Pavilion will add roughly 30,000 square feet of space to the Museum and will be anchored by a glass-walled stair tower that will connect the Pavilion to the Museum’s Main Building. In addition to the Community Commons, the Pavilion will feature 9,840 square feet of new gallery space, including space for contemporary and media art, as well as a new Education and Design Lab, and new space for the Museum’s library. The project will also create a third-floor sculpture garden that will provide visitors the chance to step outside and enjoy the Museum’s natural surroundings; the rooftop deck will also serve as a space for public programming and events. The paintings loaned by Christopher and Kate Rothko Prizel will be installed in light-controlled galleries adjacent to the new Rothko Pavilion.

“As we look forward to the next 125 years, we look to strengthen our connection between the Museum and the public it serves,” said Janet Geary, Chairman of the Portland Art Museum Board of Trustees. “Our campaign will connect building to building, the Museum to the community, people to art and to each other.”

Architect Vinci Hamp’s previous work includes projects for the Art Institute of Chicago, the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum and the Neue Galerie in New York, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Oriental Institute, Smart Museum of Art, and The Arts Club in Chicago, among others. Also known for their historic preservation work, Vinci Hamp has completed award-winning projects that include the Illinois State Capitol, Chicago Tribune Tower, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home and Studio.

The Portland Art Museum has mounted exhibitions by a diverse roster of artists since the time of its founding. In 1913, the Museum brought works from the famous New York Armory Show to Portland, helping to introduce West Coast audiences to Modernism. In 1933 the Museum organized the first solo exhibition of works by the 29-year-old artist Marcus Rothkowitz, later to be known as Mark Rothko.

Ferriso joined the Portland Art Museum in 2006, and in 2016 was appointed President of the Association of Art Museum Directors. During his tenure at the Museum, Ferriso has helped to build a $ 4-million endowment dedicated for initiatives to increase public accessibility, enabling one-third of all visitors to receive free or reduced admission and supporting the Museum’s program of free school tours and free admissions for those 17 and under. He has also doubled the Museum’s curatorial staff, with four curatorial positions fully endowed at $ 2 million each, and greatly expanded the Museum’s development of original exhibitions. Under his leadership, the Museum has presented notable exhibitions including a major Mark Rothko retrospective in 2012, as well as Wild Beauty: Photographs of the Columbia Gorge, 1867–1957 (2008), featuring works by Carleton E. Watkins, Lily White, and Sarah Ladd, among others; Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video (2013), a solo exhibition by the Portland native; Contemporary Native Photographers and the Edward Curtis Legacy: Zig Jackson, Wendy Red Star, Will Wilson (2016); The Enclave: Richard Mosse (201415) featuring work by the Irish contemporary conceptual photographer; The Question of Hope: Robert Adams in Western Oregon (201314); and Josh Kline: Freedom, which is currently on view. Ferriso has also focused on transparency and accountability to the Museum’s community, including a commitment to the tradition of annual Board Meetings open to the full Museum membership and attended by hundreds of members of the public.


The post Museum Expands with the Rothko Pavilion appeared first on Portland Art Museum.

Portland Art Museum

Five Buddhas Exhibition Garners International Press

Five Buddhas: A Korean Icon’s Journey through Time, the Korean temple painting that will be repatriated after its exhibition at the Museum this fall, has earned attention from international and online media including the Korean YonHap News Agency, Korea TimesReformatorisch Dagblad (The Netherlands), Hyperallergic, and Exploregram. Read the full announcement below.

Five Buddhas: A Korean Icon’s Journey through Time
Portland Art Museum announces exhibition and repatriation of Korean Buddhist painting

September 3–December 4, 2016

The Portland Art Museum is pleased to announce an exhibition, symposium, and repatriation of a sacred Korean icon. Five Buddhas: A Korean Icon’s Journey through Time tells the story of a stolen painting—its discovery, restoration, travel to Oregon, and return to the Korean people.

Oregonian Robert Mattielli lived in Seoul for three decades, during which time he often visited the cluster of antique shops in Mary’s Alley (Anguk-dong). He purchased a tattered and folded Five Buddhas painting in the early 1970s, a time when many temples were refurbishing their worship halls, and Buddhist paintings often appeared on the market. The painting was conserved by a well-known Korean restorer and framed as it is seen today. When Mattielli and his wife, Sandra, moved back to Oregon in 1985, the Five Buddhas traveled with them.

In 2014, the Mattiellis approached the Museum about donating the Five Buddhas—just in time for the painting to be examined by a team of visiting scholars from the Korean National Research Institute for Cultural Heritage (NRICH). Several months later, NRICH reported their discovery that the Five Buddhas painting, dating to 1725, was originally part of a suite of paintings that adorned a small chapel at Songgwangsa, a famous Son (Japanese, Zen) monastery located in the mountains in the southwestern part of Korea. The painting disappeared sometime in the early 1970s. When informed of news, the Mattiellis immediately offered to repatriate the painting to Korea.

Recognizing the unique opportunity to display the painting and educate visitors about issues surrounding ownership and repatriation of stolen and sacred works of art, the Museum offered to present Five Buddhas as a special exhibition and to present a corresponding symposium that will take place on December 3, 2016. Dr. Robert Buswell, who is widely recognized as the premier scholar of Korean Buddhism of his generation, will speak on “Songgwangsa and its Significance in the Korean Buddhist Tradition.” Professor Buswell spent five years meditating at Songgwangsa before beginning his academic career, and his first book examined Zen practice at the monastery. Today he holds the Irving and Jean Stone Endowed Chair in Humanities at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he is also distinguished professor of Buddhist Studies and director of the Center for Buddhist Studies. Professor Maya Stiller of the University of Kansas will focus on the ritual context of the Five Buddhas in her talk on “Repentance for the Living and the Dead: The Avataṃsaka Compound at Songgwangsa.”

“The Portland Art Museum is honored to help facilitate the return of this important work of art to Korea,” remarked Brian Ferriso, Portland Art Museum Executive Director.  “We are grateful for the guidance and support we have received from the Korean Cultural Heritage Administration for helping us mount an important exhibition about Five Buddhas.  Special recognition must also be given to Sandra and Robert Mattielli for their ongoing generosity. Their gifts to the Museum will continue to benefit our community for generations as they help us present the beautiful art of Korea.”

The Museum is grateful for the Korean Cultural Heritage Association for sponsoring this project, and to the Mildred Schnitzer Memorial Lecture Fund for co-sponsoring the symposium.

Commitment to Repatriation

The Portland Art Museum is a proactive partner in repatriation claims and research.  Having recently completely cataloged and reported the contents of the Native American art collection, the Museum returned 18 Crow medicine bundles under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act in 2015. It is an honor for the institution to facilitate the return of the Five Buddhas to Songgwangsa.

The post Five Buddhas Exhibition Garners International Press appeared first on Portland Art Museum.

Portland Art Museum

Museum Chief Advancement Officer Given Fundraising Award

The Portland Art Museum is proud to announce that Chief Advancement Officer, J.S. May, was nominated and selected for the “Allan Price Award for Distinguished Service to the Fundraising Profession” by the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Oregon and SW Washington.

A seasoned fundraising and communications professional, J.S. has worked for a wide range of nonprofit organizations, including Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation at Oregon Health and Science University and Oregon Public Broadcasting. He has also served on the boards of the Portland Schools Foundation, the Creative Advocacy Coalition, and Cycle Oregon. Hired at the Museum in 2007 as director of development, at the beginning of the economic downturn, J.S. jumped into the vital work of fostering the sources of funding that would allow the Museum to fulfill and even expand its mission in the community while strengthening the institution’s financial stability.

He will be honored at the 30th Annual Philanthropy Awards Luncheon on November 7. The Allan Price Award was established in 2012 to recognize fundraising professionals who demonstrate exceptional skill and enthusiasm for their work, who pursue big ideas and successfully engage others in achieving them, and who inspire new levels of giving among donors, ultimately making Oregon and southwest Washington better through their efforts.

J.S. was nominated by Portland Art Museum Trustees Pat Green, Kathleen Lewis and Angela Snow.

The post Museum Chief Advancement Officer Given Fundraising Award appeared first on Portland Art Museum.

Portland Art Museum

Labor Day Weekend at the Museum

Native Fashion Now—Last chance to catch the splendid summer exhibition celebrating more than 70 indigenous designers from across the United States and Canada.

Case Work: Studies in Form, Space & Construction by Brad Cloepfil/Allied Works ArchitectureTake one more look at this intricate installation exploring the sculptures and drawings of the celebrated Portland architect and his firm.

The annual Employee Art Show (September 1–4) is an opportunity for Museum employees to showcase their artistic talents. For the first time, works will be on view, and available for purchase at the Rental Sales Gallery.

Celebrate the art of Coast Salish Weaving with the opening of Restoring the Breath—Sacred Relationship in the Center for Contemporary Native Art, and join us for weaving demonstrations on Saturday, September 3 from noon – 3:00 p.m.

Participate in the traveling Truth Booth project on Saturday, September 3 from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

The post Labor Day Weekend at the Museum appeared first on Portland Art Museum.

Portland Art Museum

Celebrate Pride with a rare glimpse into gender bending in 18th century Naples

This Sunday, June 19, Curator of European Art Dawson Carr, Ph.D., discusses the creation and cultural context of Giuseppe Bonito’s The Femminiello, an extraordinary 18th-century depiction of cross-dressing in Naples. Purchase advance tickets online, and learn more about the painting below.

Owing to social prejudice, images of gender nonconformity are extremely rare before the twentieth century. Giuseppe Bonito’s The Femminiello (1740–60), a recently discovered painting from 18th-century Naples that is now on view in our European galleries, is a testament to that city’s exceptional, long-term acceptance of local cross dressers known as femminielli.

The term, which might be translated “little female-men,” is not derogatory, but rather an expression of endearment. These beloved members of Neapolitan society come from the poorest neighborhoods of the city and are often the youngest of many children. Coddled by their mothers, they are brought up cross dressing from an early age, yet do not try to conceal their birth sex completely. Rather than being stigmatized, they are deemed special and are appreciated as almost a third sex. Most significantly, femminielli are widely thought to bring good luck. Neapolitans take them gambling and bring newborn babies for them to hold to this day.

The painting seems to represent preparations for an evening of gambling because the young man has taken off a necklace of red coral from the Bay of Naples—also thought to bring good luck—for the femminiello to wear. Social status is reflected in the femminiello’s ruddy skin, missing teeth, and goiter, then a common condition among the poor. Historians have suggested that this type of genre painting reflects theatrical performance. Certainly, Neapolitan images often feature a grinning figure looking out to engage the viewer as an actor would do. We are invited to consider the artist’s playful inversion of traditional views of gender, which contrasts the pretty face of the young male with the femminiello’s more masculine mug.

In spite of Neapolitan acceptance, this is the only known image of a femminiello before photographs made at the end of the 19th century. We are grateful to Fred Ross and the Ross Family Fund of Equity Foundation for supporting the purchase and restoration of this rare example of gender bending in the early modern period.

Reprinted from an article in the Museum’s Portal member magazine written by Dawson Carr, Ph.D., The Janet and Richard Geary Curator of European Art.

Related Lecture
Dawson Carr will discuss the painting and its cultural context in a lecture on Sunday, June 19, at 2 p.m..

Purchase tickets

The post Celebrate Pride with a rare glimpse into gender bending in 18th century Naples appeared first on Portland Art Museum.

Portland Art Museum