Last night, Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
(MFA), was honored with a special recognition from the President of the Republic of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano. A medal was presented by the Italian Ambassador to the USA, His Excellency Giovanni Castellaneta, at a ceremony at the MFA. The award is the Commendatore al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (Commander of the Order to the Merit of the Italian Republic), one of the highest honors presented by the President of the Italian Republic. It was accorded to Rogers on the occasion of the opening of the MFA exhibition, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice, which is the first major exploration of the competition that developed among the three greatest painters of 16th-century Venice as seen through thematic juxtapositions of their works. The exhibition, which includes 13 masterpieces lent by Italy, is presented under the High Patronage of the President of the Italian Republic.
In the past several years, Malcolm Rogers has played a crucial role in fostering, in the most significant and effective way, the cultural cooperation between the MFA and Italy, said Ambassador Castellaneta, and the high presidential award I present tonight expresses Italys deep gratitude, in the framework of such a magnificent celebration of Italian art.
The Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana was established in 1951, a few years after the end of World War II and the birth of a democratic Italy. The prestigious award is conferred by the President of the Italian Republic on Italian and foreign citizens who have shown great merit and distinguished themselves through lasting contributions to Italian society in the fields of literature, the economy, public service, and social, philanthropic, and humanitarian activities. Among the awards prior recipients are diplomats, academicians, senior Italian politicians, high ranking officials, and religious leaders.
The MFA and Italy
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has had a long relationship with Italy. The MFAs first European sculpturewhich also was the first work of contemporary art to enter the Museums collectionwas Giulio Monteverdes Young Christopher Columbus (1871). It was purchased in Rome in 1871 directly from the sculptor by Augustus Porter Chamberlain, a donor to the MFA, who bought the sculpture to celebrate the incorporation of the MFA in 1870. The following year, it was given to the MFAs collection prior to the Museum opening its doors (in Copley Square) in 1876. Next month (April 2009), the sculpture will be installed in a new location in the interior of the MFAs recently renovated Huntington Avenue Entrance. Also in April, the Museum will inaugurate its new Italian Renaissance Gallery, which will showcase approximately 100 works from the 15th and 16th centuries, ranging from Paolo Veroneses painting Actaeon Watching Diana and Her Nymphs Bathing (1560s), to Donatellos marble relief, Madonna of the Clouds (about 142535), the only sculpture in America that is generally accepted as by the great Renaissance sculptor.
The Museums rich collection of art from Italy spans the centuries, from the Roman empire to the present, and in media ranging from paintings, decorative arts, and drawings, to musical instruments, illustrated books, and textiles. Other highlights from the collection include a beautifully carved Etruscan sarcophagus dating from 300280 BC; a triptych from the late Medieval period by Duccio di Buoninsegna and workshop (131118); Canalettos panoramic view of Venice in Bacino di San Marco, Venice (172638); a luxurious Chopine (platform shoe) favored by Venetian courtesans in the 16th17th centuries; and master draftsman Giovanni Domenico Tiepolos drawing The Milliners Shop (1791), which captures Venices upwardly mobile middle class. The MFA has also presented numerous exhibitions featuring Italian artists, such as Italian Etchers of the Renaissance & Baroque (1989), Leonardo da Vinci: The Anatomy of Man (1992), and Piranesi and Architectural Fantasy (2001), as well as The Lure of Italy: American Artists and the Italian Experience, 17601914 (1992), which highlighted the central role that Italy played in the development of American art.
In 2006, the MFA became the first museum to transfer 13 antiquities to Italy, signing an agreement with the Italian Ministry that provided for the creation of a relationship in which the Italian government would loan significant works from Italy to the Museums displays and special exhibitions, such as Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese. It also established a process by which the MFA and Italy would exchange information with respect to the Museums future acquisitions of Italian antiquities, and collaborate in the areas of scholarship, conservation, archaeological investigation, and exhibition planning. As a result of this cultural partnership between the Museum and Italy, the Italian Government lent to the MFA (in late 2006) the colossal marble statue, Eirene (Goddess of Peace), which dates back to the first half of the first century AD and is on view in the MFAs Roman Court Gallery.
The MFA has a history of lending masterpieces to Italy. During the past few years alone, works have traveled to Florence, Naples, Fabriano, Brescia, Modena, Salerno, Mantua, and Rome. Paul Cézannes painting Madame Cézanne in a Red Armchair (about 1877) hung in the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, Vincent van Goghs painting Lullaby: Madame Augustine Roulin Rocking a Cradle (1889) was sent to the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples, and Pellegrino DiGiovannis 14th-century tempera Saint Michael (about 14281437) went to the Spedale di Santa Marie del Buon Gesù in Fabriano. In addition, exhibitions drawn from the MFAs collection have been lent to the Museo di Santa Giulia in Brescia. The MFA will be sending exhibitions of works by Rembrandt, Gauguin, and Picasso to the Rocca Malatestiana in Rimini, and works by Courbet, Monet, and Renoir to the Villa Manin in Friuli in the year ahead. Loans made to Italy further the MFAs missionto play a strong international role by sharing the treasures of its collection with visitors around the world.
Rogers became Ann and Graham Gund Director of the MFA in September 1994, and since then has broadened the ways in which the Museum engages with the public, including expanding its encyclopedic collection, developing a diverse exhibition schedule, implementing one of the first publicly accessible collections databases on mfa.org, and enhancing arts education programs. Approximately one million people visit the MFA each year and are exposed to infinite possibilities for education and inspiration. Rogers also has embarked on a visionary Building Project, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Foster + Partners (London), to renovate and expand the MFA. Plans include a new American Wing, the soaring glass Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Family Courtyard, new space devoted to contemporary art in the Linde Family Wing, and new galleries, educational spaces, and conservation labs. These major components of the Building Project are expected to open to the public in late 2010.
Prior to his arrival at the MFA, Rogers served as Deputy Director (from 1983) and Deputy Keeper (from 1985) at the National Portrait Gallery, London. He is an authority on 16th-, 17th-, and early 18th-century portraits, and has written on Van Dycks English period. In 2003, Rogers was awarded the honor of Commander, Order of the British Empire (CBE), by HM The Queen in recognition of his services to the arts in both the UK and the United States. In 2007, he was honored with the title Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters), by the Republic of France, which recognized Rogers significant contribution to furthering the arts and letters in France and throughout the world.
Rogers was educated at Oxford University, where he received both a BA (1st class Honors) in English Language and Literature and a D.Phil.