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Lucas Cranach the Elder, Portrait of Sibylle de Clève, Elector of Saxe, 1531. Oil on panel. Collection from the Fondation Bemberg. © Fondation Bemberg and RMN.

The San Diego Museum of Art plans to open to two summer exhibitions, Cranach to Canaletto: Masterpieces from the Bemberg Foundation and Everything You See Could Be A Lie: Photorealistic Drawings by Ana de Alvear. From Old Master paintings to contemporary, hyper-realistic drawings, works from these exhibitions are rarely seen in the U.S. and will be on view at the San Diego Museum beginning June 18, 2021, through Sept. 27, 2021.

(Concurrently, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, will be showing modern French paintings from the Bemberg Foundation from June 27 to Sept. 19, 2021, in Monet to Matisse: Impressionism to Modernism.)

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Paolo Caliori (aka Veronese), Portrait of a Young Man, ca. 1560. Oil on canvas. Collection from the Fondation Bemberg. © Fondation Bemberg and RMN.

Cranach to Canaletto: Masterpieces from the Bemberg Foundation

Organized by the Bemberg Foundation, based at the historic Hôtel d’Assézat in Toulouse, France, the exhibition features over 80 works produced between 1500 and 1800. This exhibition marks the first time these works have been shown publicly in the U.S. and features some of the biggest names in European painting.

Artists represented include renowned Venetian painters: Jacopo Robusti (Tintoretto), Tiziano Vecellio (Titian), Paolo Veronese, Giovanni Antonio Canal (Canaletto), Giandomenico Tiepolo and Alessandro Longhi; French artists: Jean Clouet, Jean-Marc Nattier, François Boucher and Elisabeth-Louise Vigée-Lebrun; and Flemish and Dutch painters: Pieter Brueghel The Younger, Jan Van Goyen and Anthony Van Dyck. Four Lucas Cranach the Elder paintings will also be on display, a testament to Bemberg’s appreciation of this seminal figure of the German Renaissance.

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Antonio Canal (aka Canaletto), View of Mestre, ca. 1740. Oil on canvas. Collection from the Fondation Bemberg. © Fondation Bemberg and RMN.

Grouped thematically in four sections, Cranach to Canaletto: Masterpieces from the Bemberg Foundation explores themes of portraiture, landscape, mythology and domestic environments with layers of storytelling within each painting. Along the way, issues of perceived beauty, romance, realism and faith are considered. The exhibition space was also created specifically to highlight the collection, including gallery archways inspired by the Hôtel d’Assézat architecture, long sightlines and a dramatic, intimate final section. 

The exhibition is composed entirely of works from The Bemberg Foundation and is co-curated by Philippe Cros, Director of the Bemberg Foundation, and Michael Brown, Ph.D., Curator of European Art at The San Diego Museum of Art.  

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Lucas Cranach the Elder, Hercules at the Court of Omphale, 1531. Oil on panel. Collection from the Fondation Bemberg. © Fondation Bemberg and RMN

Georges Bemberg was an Argentina-born French collector, world traveler and Harvard-trained scholar, who amassed an extraordinary collection of Western art from the end of the Middle Ages to the 20th century. Bemberg’s private collection was preserved through the Foundation, which is currently closed for renovations. 

“It is an exceptional and unique opportunity to collaborate with the Bemberg Foundation and bring these magnificent masterpieces from France to the U.S. for the first time in our Cranach to Canaletto: Masterpieces from the Bemberg Foundation exhibition,” said Roxana Velásquez, Maruja Baldwin Executive Director at The San Diego Museum of Art. “This collection is very complementary to our own permanent collection and a true delight for the senses.” 

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Pieter de Hooch, Couple Playing Music, ca. 1673–1675. Oil on panel. Collection from the Fondation Bemberg. © Fondation Bemberg and RMN.

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Pietro Longhi, The Charlatan, 1757. Oil on canvas. Collection from the Fondation Bemberg. © Fondation Bemberg and RMN. 

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Gérard David, Virgin with the Child, 15th century. Oil on panel. Collection from the Fondation Bemberg. © Fondation Bemberg and RMN.

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Lucas Cranach the Elder, Portrait of a Young Girl, 16th century. Oil on panel. Collection from the Fondation Bemberg. © Fondation Bemberg and RMN.

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François Clouet, Portrait of Charles IX, King of France, 16th century. Oil on panel. Collection from the Fondation Bemberg. © Fondation Bemberg and RMN.