The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) opened a permanent exhibition with works on loan from the Saunders collection. Elegance and Wonder: Masterpieces of European Art from the Jordan and Thomas A. Saunders III Collection includes paintings by seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European artists such as Peter Paul Rubens, Canaletto, Francesco Guardi, Frans Hals, Hubert Robert, Pierre-Jacques Volaire, Jan Brueghel (and son), Jan van Kessel and Gerrit Dou. The vast display of over 80 works of art also features exquisite decorative art objects from the period.
According to the museum, the new installation invites viewers to experience the works of art in the manner they would have been displayed in an eighteenth-century palace. To that effect, most rooms are adorned with murals developed from historical designs for interior decors and adapted from original eighteenth-century architectural drawings carefully selected from the collections of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. A limited number of works from the VMFA collection have been selected to dialogue with and highlight the paintings and decorative art objects from the Saunders collection.
Jordan and Thomas A. Saunders III assembled their collection of European art between the late 1990s and the early 2000s. What began as an avid interest in Flemish and Dutch painting soon encompassed beautifully intricate Asian-inspired decorative artworks as well as stunning paintings and sculptures by several prominent Italian and French artists who worked in the styles of rococo and neoclassicism.
The new display opened on 6 May and is curated by Dr. Sylvain Cordier, the VMFA’s Paul Mellon Curator and Head of the Department of European Art.