December 22, 2015

Some Old Favorites & New Discoveries at the Met

Antonello da Messina’s Ecco Homo and Portrait of a Man 
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
During my recent visit to see the Neapolitan Baroque Crèche installation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I took the opportunity to admire a couple of my favorite works from its vast collection, specifically Antonello da Messina’s Ecco Homo and Portrait of a Man
Blessed Leonard of Assisi by Niccolò Colantonio
To my pleasant surprise, a short distance from Messina’s paintings, there was a small panel depicting the Blessed Leonard of Assisi (ca. 1450) by Renaissance master Niccolò Colantonio, one of the earliest exponents of the Netherlandish (Dutch and Flemish) style of painting in Naples and an important influence on Antonello da Messina. Oil on wood, the work formed part of a pilaster framing an altarpiece commissioned by King Alfonso of Aragon for the chapel in the church of San Lorenzo Maggiore, Naples.
Saint Dominic, workshop of Giotto di Bondone in Naples
In the Medieval Europe gallery, I came across a couple of other precious objects from southern Italy I have not seen before. Inside a glass display case was a painting of Saint Dominic de Guzman, which may have come from an altarpiece in the Palatine Chapel of King Robert (the Wise) of Anjou and Queen Sancha of Majorca at the Castel Nuovo in Naples. Tempera and gold on a panel, the work was painted about 1329-32 in the workshop of Giotto di Bondone in Naples.
Royal seal of Charles I of Anjou, King of Sicily
Below the painting is a priceless collection of royal seals, including the golden seal of Charles I of Anjou (1227-85), King of Sicily. On the obverse we see King Charles in majesty, seated on his throne wielding a fleur-de-lys scepter and an orb with a cross (globus crucifer). The inscription around the edge reads KAROLVS • DEI • GRACIA • SICILIE • REX.
I'm lucky to have institutions in my city where I can view magnificent works of art, especially from my ancestral homeland. There is always something new to see. Thanks to these wonderful surprises, Christmas came early for me again at the Met.