St. Dorothea of Cappadocia, c. 1690
Oil on canvas
Purchase, Friends of Taylor Hall Art Gallery Fund
Dimensions: Framed: 48 x 37 1/8 x 2 1/2 in. (121.92 x 94.3 x 6.35 cm)
Unframed: 40 3/4 x 29 3/4 in. (103.51 x 75.57 cm)
Signatures, Inscriptions and Markings v
Lord Acton [d. 1902] [letter from Byk to Agnes Ringe (Claflin), Mar. 21, 1938]. (Seligmann, Rey and Co.). VC Art Gallery purchase, 1937, with funds from Friends of Taylor Hall.
Published References v
VC Art Gallery Catalogue (Poughkeepsie: Vassar College Art Gallery1939), p. 30, repr., pl. 16 (as St. Theresa of Lima);
Exhibition of Italian Baroque Painting of the 17th and 18th Centuries (Poughkeepsie: 1940), Cat. no. 13 (as St. Theresa of Lima;
Luca Giordano in America (Memphis: Brooks Memorial Art Gallery, 1964), p. 34, repr. (as St. Theresa of Lima);
VC Art Gallery Selections from the Permanent Collection (Poughkeepsie: 1967), p. 14-15, repr., frontispiece;
VC Art Gallery: Paintings 1300-1900 (Poughkeepsie: 1983), p. 162, repr.
Exhibition History v
Poughkeepsie, NY, FLLAC, Vassar College, "An Exhibition in Memory of Agnes Rindge Claflin 1900-1977," April 30 - June 4, 1978;
Poughkeepsie, NY, Vassar College Art Gallery, “Exhibition of Italian Baroque Paintings of the 17th and 18th Centuries,” December 1940. Cat. no. 13;
Memphis, TN, Brooks Memorial Art Gallery, “Luca Giordano in America,” 1964. Cat. no. 19;
Poughkeepsie, NY, VC Art Gallery, "An Exhibition in Memory of Agnes Rindge Claflin 1900-1977," April 30 - June 4, 1978, no. 10;
Extended Loan: Northampton, MA, Smith College Museum of Art, June 20, 1991-May 6, 1993;
New York, NY, IBM Gallery of Science and Art, “Highlights from the Vassar College Collection,” July 12-Sept. 11, 1993.
Giordano’s Saint Dorothy, probably painted in the 1690s, was acquired by Vassar in 1937 (for the price of $250), thus representing an early acquisition of an Italian Baroque painting by an American art museum. Baroque paint- ing was unpopular among public institutions during the first third of the twentieth century, American collectors preferring the more traditional accepted taste found in Italian Renaissance works. This orientation would change drastically in the 1930s thanks to omnivorous American collectors such as John Ringling and Walter Chrysler, and influential art museum tastemakers such as A. Everett Austin at the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hart- ford, Connecticut. The director of the Vassar Art Gallery in the 1930s was Professor Agnes Rindge, a friend of Austin’s and a member of a social circle that included many who championed modern art, and who also appreciated Baroque painting for its energy and its flouting of Renaissance painting’s conventions. This work by Giordano, whose nickname was Fa Presto (literally ‘make haste’), has the dynamism that is a hallmark of this Neapolitan painter and includes the rich colors that derived from his appreciation, late in his career, of the work of Venetian artists such as Paolo Veronese. It is signed clearly on the stone ledge by the artist and is likely a work that ori- ginates from the years just preceding his departure from Florence to Madrid in 1692. A possible pendant for this painting with the same dimensions, depicting a half-length image of Saint Catherine, has recently been dis- covered in a Neapolitan private collection.