(New York, September 8, 2009)—Keith Christiansen, the Jayne Wrightsman Curator of European Paintings at The Metropolitan Museum of Art since 1989 and a member of the Museum's curatorial staff since 1977, has been elected John Pope-Hennessy Chairman of European Paintings, it was announced today by the Metropolitan Museum's Director, Thomas P. Campbell. He will replace Everett Fahy, who retired in June, effective immediately. The election took place at the September 8 meeting of the Board of Trustees.
As the John Pope-Hennessy Chairman, he will oversee the Metropolitan Museum's world-renowned collection of Old Master European paintings and will supervise the staff and activities of the Department of European Paintings, including acquisitions, research, publications, and exhibitions.
Mr. Campbell stated: "From the collections to our exhibition program, the Met has long been recognized as one of the preeminent centers for the study and appreciation of European paintings. And so I'm especially delighted to promote – drawing from our own ranks – someone who has earned an international reputation for his work on European painting, especially Italian painting of the Renaissance and baroque periods. He has organized numerous exhibitions in the
Metropolitan, published widely, and has helped to expand the collection in significant ways. After working with him as a fellow curator, I know full well the brilliance of his mind and the energy and passion of his convictions. I now look forward to working with Keith in his new capacity."
Keith Christiansen commented: "I came to the Metropolitan Museum fresh from graduate school and have been privileged to work under two remarkable scholars, Sir John Pope-Hennessy and Everett Fahy. It is an honor to be appointed their successor. Fortunately, my colleagues in the department are outstanding scholars, with whom I have worked for many years. I know I can count on them for support and collaboration as we seek ways to further enhance the collection and maintain its vibrancy for future generations."
In his years at the Metropolitan, Mr. Christiansen has coordinated a long roster of renowned exhibitions, including: The Age of Caravaggio (1985), The Age of Correggio and the Carracci (1986-87), Caravaggio's Cardsharps Rediscovered (1987), Andrea Mantegna's Descent into Limbo (1988), Painting in Renaissance Siena: 1420-1500 (1988-89), A Caravaggio Rediscovered: The Lute Player (1990), Andrea Mantegna (1992), Jusepe de Ribera (1992), Giambattista Tiepolo (1996-97), From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1998-99), Donato Creti: Melancholy and Perfection (1998), Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi (2001-2002), El Greco (2003-2004), From Filippo Lippi to Piero della Francesca: Fra Carnevale and the Making of a Renaissance Master (2005), Raphael at the Metropolitan: The Colonna Altarpiece (2006), Poussin and Nature (2008), and Michelangelo's First Painting (2009).
He has been behind the acquisition of numerous paintings that have greatly
enhanced the collection. Among these are important works by Duccio, Pietro Lorenzetti, Romanino, the Carracci, Caravaggio, Domenichino, Valentin de Boulogne, Corrado Giaquinto, Philippe de Champagne, and Pierre Subleyras.
He is also a prolific writer who has authored numerous books, exhibition catalogues, articles, essays, and reviews.
Since receiving his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1977, Mr. Christiansen has risen through the curatorial ranks at the Metropolitan Museum, first as Assistant Curator (1977-80), then as Associate Curator (1980-87), Curator (1987-89), and Jayne Wrightsman Curator (1989 – present). He also served as Adjunct Associate Professor of Art History and Archeology at Columbia University for eight semesters between 1985 and 1997; and has been Adjunct Professor at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, in Fall 1991 and Fall 1998, and since 2001.
He has received many grants and awards, including a Fulbright Grant (1975-76), the 1983 Mitchell Prize for the best first book in art history (on Gentile da Fabriano), the Arthur Kingsley Porter Prize in 1986 for "Caravaggio and 'l'esempio davanti del nature,'" the Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Award for distinguished catalogue in the history of art in 1988 (Painting in Renaissance Siena: 1420-1500), Premio Salimbeni per la Storia e la Critica d'Arte award for From Filippo Lippi to Piero della Francesca: Fra Carnevale and the Making of a Renaissance Master (2005), Foundation for Italian Art and Culture annual award for "excellence in Italian culture" (2005), and the Transatlantic Award 2007 for contributions to relations between Italy and the USA in art and culture, given by the American Chamber of Commerce in Italy.
He is a member of the Accademia Clementina, Bologna (Accademico d'Onore) and
of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (since 2006).
He was a board member of the Center for the Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (1995-98) and is currently on the Grants Board for I Tatti, Harvard Center for Renaissance Studies in Florence (2002 to the present).
The collection of European paintings at the Metropolitan Museum encompasses works dating from the 13th to the early 19th century – from Duccio and Giotto to Goya and Jacques-Louis David. Its 1700 works of art include masterpieces by some of the most famous painters of the western tradition as well as an outstanding group of miniatures and pastels. The collection of Dutch painting – highlighted in a recent exhibition – is among the finest in the world. During the past 30 years, a significant effort has been made toward the creation of a comparably important collection of Italian baroque painting, an area that had been sadly neglected. Catalogues on the British and German paintings are forthcoming. The entire collection is online and can be consulted on the Museum's website (www.metmuseum.org).
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September 8, 2009