Recent links of note:
“Met acquires much-coveted Renaissance roundel for $23m”
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has just acquired a bronze Renaissance roundel attributed to Gian Marco Cavalli and dated to around 1500. Cavalli was a goldsmith, sculptor, print engraver, and medalist who collaborated with the painter Andrea Mantegna. Both worked for the House of Gonzaga, a princely family in Mantua. According to the museum’s press release, the relief is “an allegory celebrating harmony” that depicts “Venus, goddess of love, subduing belligerent Mars, god of war, and all others under her power.” Experts believe the great Mantuan patron Isabella D’Este, who often had herself depicted as Venus, might have commissioned it. The piece was discovered in 2003 among the items once owned by Georgy Treby III, an eighteenth-century politician who likely bought it on his Grand Tour of Italy. The roundel is the museum’s most expensive acquisition ($23 million) since Max Hollein became director in 2018 and its second most expensive ever. Read this report in Apollo to learn more about the artwork’s dramatic auction history.
“The Honor Deficit”
James Hankins, First Things
The Harvard history professor and New Criterion contributor James Hankins has penned an essay in First Things on what he calls the “honor deficit” in early Renaissance merchant republics, an affliction compromising their ability “to command the respect of other governments and of their own peoples.” Hankins compares these merchant republics to modern universities, which he says show signs of turning against meritocracy. Hankins worries that by dropping standardized tests and inflating grades, top universities will lose “the ability to confer honor” and “will be reduced to brand names with large endowments.”
“Show’s over: the case against a cultural boycott of Russia”
Elisabeth Braw, Engelsberg Ideas
In the last two weeks, North American and European arts institutions have shown overwhelming support for Ukraine and its artists. Classical music, opera, and ballet shows now regularly open with the country’s national anthem, while pressure is mounting on individual artists to denounce the conflict publicly. Several of Russia’s top dancers, such as the Mariinsky Ballet principals Diana Vishneva and Vladimir Shklyarov and the Royal Ballet star Natalia Osipova, have called for peace on social media, while cultural leaders like the Bolshoi Theater director Vladimir Urin have signed letters opposing the invasion. Others have resigned in protest, such as Laurent Hilaire, the French artistic director of the Stanislavsky Ballet. Many arts institutions in Europe and North America are severing ties with Russian companies and performers altogether. In an essay for Engelsberg Ideas, Elisabeth Braw discusses whether it is right to boycott artists living under authoritarian regimes, whose actions the performers do not necessarily endorse.
“Violent grandeur, evil charm & other qualities,” by Jay Nordlinger. On Puccini’s Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera.