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Keith Christiansen

Keith Christiansen is the John Pope-Hennessy Chairman of the Department of European Paintings.

Now at the Met

New Arrivals in the European Paintings Galleries

Keith Christiansen, John Pope-Hennessy Chairman, Department of European Paintings

Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2015

When was the last time you walked through the Metropolitan's European Paintings galleries? If it was more than a year ago, you've missed some major additions and changes.

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The Jabach Portrait: Reflections on an Extraordinary Acquisition

Keith Christiansen, John Pope-Hennessy Chairman, Department of European Paintings

Posted: Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Michael Gallagher has been taking readers of this blog series step by step through his conservation work on the remarkable Jabach portrait. So I thought this might be the moment—in the few weeks remaining until its installation in the galleries—to reflect on how we came to acquire this extraordinary picture.

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Painting Beauty: A Recent Acquisition

Keith Christiansen, John Pope-Hennessy Chairman, Department of European Paintings

Posted: Thursday, March 12, 2015

"Almost invariably," writes Stendahl in the Italian Chronicles, "foreigners coming to Rome ask to be taken, at the outset of their tour of inspection, to the Barberini gallery; they are attracted, the women especially, by the portraits of Beatrice Cenci and her stepmother." Beatrice, of course, not only had possessed beauty, but she had a story, having been publicly executed for the murder of her cruel, molesting father.

What was thought to be her portrait (above) was painted by the "Divine Guido Reni" (1575–1642). Reni was a great artist, but the picture Stendahl admired was not, in fact, by him and certainly cannot hold a candle to the portrait of an unknown beauty recently given to the Metropolitan Museum and now hanging—following its cleaning and reframing—in gallery 623.

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Surface, Depth, and Description in Le Brun's Portrait of Everhard Jabach and His Family

Keith Christiansen, John Pope-Hennessy Chairman, Department of European Paintings

Posted: Wednesday, February 4, 2015

We sometimes imagine that no one before the twentieth century thought of a painting in terms of line and color and the play between surface and depth—that before the advent of Cubism, painting was a matter of mere description. Wrong.

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The Jabach Portrait: An Update on the Frame

Keith Christiansen, John Pope-Hennessy Chairman, Department of European Paintings

Posted: Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Jabach portrait is now back on its stretcher, and Michael Gallagher is about to move on from the complex structural work that has occupied him these past few months to the final retouching and varnishing. In other words, we are in the home stretch.

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Reflections: Charles Le Brun's Mirrored Presence in the Jabach Portrait

Keith Christiansen, John Pope-Hennessy Chairman, Department of European Paintings

Posted: Wednesday, December 3, 2014

While Michael Gallagher has been busy dealing with the structural issues of Charles Le Brun's great family portrait, I have felt privileged to be an attentive observer. But I have also been thinking about one of the many features that makes this painting so fascinating—the fact that Le Brun included his own reflection in a black-framed mirror propped on a table.

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The Latest on the Jabach Portrait: What, No Frame?

Keith Christiansen, John Pope-Hennessy Chairman, Department of European Paintings

Posted: Thursday, November 6, 2014

That's right; our newly acquired Jabach portrait arrived at the Museum with no frame. When I inquired about the omission, I was told that the frame it had had in London was not worth sending over. Besides, that frame no longer fit the picture, since it had been made when the top of the canvas was folded over. (See "The Jabach Conservation Continued: Next Steps" for more on the fold in the canvas.)

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What's That? A Closer Look at Objects in the Jabach Portrait

Keith Christiansen, John Pope-Hennessy Chairman, Department of European Paintings

Posted: Thursday, September 11, 2014

​Those of us who work in museums are as curious as any visitor to know about all the objects that fill a given painting. In the case of Charles Le Brun's Jabach portrait, a painting of a well-to-do family in a luxurious Parisian residence, there's a lot to catch your eye; we see a number of things the family must have owned and treasured.

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Le Brun's Jabach: Who's Got the Best?

Keith Christiansen, John Pope-Hennessy Chairman, Department of European Paintings

Posted: Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Well, if you live in New York and work at the Metropolitan Museum, there's really only one acceptable answer to that question! But what happens when two versions of a picture exist, as is the case with the Metropolitan's new painting by Charles Le Brun of the German banker Everhard Jabach (1618–1695)? I worried about this as we entered into negotiations for the purchase of the picture.

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Making a Scene in Paris in the Age of Louis XIV

Keith Christiansen, John Pope-Hennessy Chairman, Department of European Paintings

Posted: Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ever wonder what it would have been like to live in Paris in the golden age of the French monarchy and to have the money to do it in style?

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Now at the Met offers in-depth articles and multimedia features about the Museum's current exhibitions, events, research, announcements, behind-the-scenes activities, and more.