The museum’s permanent collection of European art contains a group of nineteenth-century landscapes by artists associated with the French Barbizon School, including Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Victor Dupre, and Charles-Francoise Daubigny. In addition, examples of Christian icon painting from Eastern Europe and a 17th century Sienese Corpus are represented. European works on paper include prints by Giovanni Piranesi, William Hogarth, Georges Rouault, and Francisco Goya. A selection of objects from this collection is on permanent view in the museum’s Mark and Janeth Sponenburgh Gallery.
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Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (French, 1796–1875)
Corot, one of the great French painters of the nineteenth century, is generally identified with the Barbizon group. In fact, he was an independent figure with wide-ranging interests in painting. A Balmy Afternoon does have affinities with the work of the Barbizon School and is typical of the manner that brought Corot popularity for decades during his lifetime and after. “Fluffy trees, some grasses and shrubs flecked here and there with bits of light, a sweet body of quiet water, a mild sky, and a few small, graceful figures are combined and recombined in these pictures," in the words of art historian John Canaday.
Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes (1746 - 1828)
Luca Giordano (1634 - 1705)
During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, ivory was a very popular medium for high-quality statuettes of the Virgin Mary and other saints. As in ancient times, this expensive, imported material was often used only for the face, hands, and feet of the figure, while the hair and clothing were made of less valuable materials.On this ivory head of a female saint, for example, the holes drilled around the figure's face were made to hold the ten mahogany pegs that supported a wig made from another medium. Similar holes that pierce her earlobes suggest that she once wore earrings.
Georges Rouault (1871-1958)
This type of hinged pectoral cross, called an enkolpion, functioned as a container for a small relic, such as a fragment of the True Cross. Although many enkolpia of gold, silver, and precious stones were made during the Medieval period for kings and bishops, this type of cast-bronze reliquary cross would have been more typical among ordinary Christians.The cross here, which features an image of the Crucifixion on the front and the haloed Virgin Mary with her arms raised in prayer (orans) on the reverse, is connected especially with the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which became a meeting place for Christian pilgrims. Reliquary crosses like this one, also thought to function as protective amulets, were made in Palestine and acquired by pilgrims who took them away to distant shores.
Saint Menas was an Early Christian martyr from Egypt who was beheaded at Alexandria. His body was transported by camel to a place in the western desert where later, in the fourth century, Karm Abu Mena, or the house of Saint Menas, was built, an important destination for pilgrims.The pilgrims who visited the site left with unglazed flasks sealed with wax and filled with holy oil from the sanctuary or water from the miraculous spring. Thousands of these flasks have been found throughout the Mediterranean world. On this flask, Saint Menas is characteristically represented between two camels with his arms outstretched in an attitude of prayer (orans).
Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827)
The bust of St. Nicholas appears above giving a blessing sign while holding the Gospel Book in his convered left hand. As usual, he appears with white beard and a near bald forehead. As a bishop his garments include a blue omophorion decorated with red crosses. Many legends grew up about this 4th century bishop. he became the protector of the weak, the poor, the captive, the prisoner, the slave, young marriageable maidens and schoolboys. in 19th century America he became transformed into Santa Claus.St. George is shown typically on a white prancing horse spearing a curiously feeble dragon. he wears a cape and a crown (reference to hislater martyrdom). St. George was one of the most popular saints in the Western and Eastern Christian Church. In Russia he became the patron sint of Moscow.
Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778)
This sculpture represents the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus, a popular composition in European art from the High Gothic period until the Reformation. Mary is shown in the pronounced S-shaped pose that is characteristic of the Gothic style. Her abundant drapery, decorated with low-relief floral patterns and still showing traces of paint is also typical of that style.Heather Stampfli, a Willamette University art history major who studied this piece in 1998, discovered that it is a replica of the famous Trapani Virgin, probably sculpted by the Italian Nino Pisano (active circa 1343-68). That statue is now located in the Santissima Annunziata in Trapani, Sicily. While the Trapani Virgin was on its way to Sicily in the fourteenth century, the ship carrying it sank. After the statue was recovered from the sea by fishermen, it was thought to have miraculous powers. Many pilgrimages were made to the statue during the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries. It is likely that this alabaster replica was sold to a pilgrim in the sixteenth century.