In 2000 the Saint Louis Art Museum purchased Cavaliere d’Arpino’s Perseus Rescuing Andromeda, an exceptional painting on lapis lazuli. The acquisition of the small, stunning work of art spurred extensive research that culminates in Paintings on Stone: Science and the Sacred 1530–1800, the first systematic examination of the pan-European practice of this unusual and little-studied artistic tradition.
By 1530 Italian artists had begun to paint portraits and sacred images on stone. At first artists used slate and marble. By the last decades of the sixteenth century, the repertoire expanded, eventually including alabaster, lapis lazuli, onyx, jasper, agate, and amethyst. In addition to demonstrating the beauty of these works, Paintings on Stone explains why artists began using stone supports and the role that stone played in the meaning of these endeavors.
Bringing together more than 70 examples by 58 artists, Paintings on Stone represents major centers of stone painting and features 34 different stones, nearly the full range that were used.
The exhibition is curated by Judith W. Mann, senior curator of European art to 1800, with Andrea Miller, research assistant for European art to 1800.
A richly illustrated, color catalogue edited and authored by Judith W. Mann, Curator of European art to 1800 at the Saint Louis Art Museum, along with an international team of scholars is available for purchase in the museum shop.