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Art Illuminating the Spirit

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Steve Christensen
Communications Manager
312.915.6164
schris6@luc.edu

Collection of European Treasures Returns

Martin D'Arcy Collection Now a Permanent Fixture at LUMA 

 

CHICAGO, November 6, 2007 — The Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) announces the opening of European Treasures from the Martin D'Arcy Collection, which makes its long-awaited return on December 2. Formerly displayed on Loyola's Lake Shore Campus, the Martin D'Arcy Collection of Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque art will now serve as the permanent collection at LUMA, Loyola's two-year-old museum located on the Magnificent Mile at 820 N. Michigan Avenue. 

The collection, a hidden gem among Chicago's vast art collections, was started in 1969 by Donald Rowe, S.J., a Loyola faculty member. Beginning with just a single work of art, the collection grew to contain some 306 pieces, including paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, manuscripts, and textiles from the early 12th to the early 19th centuries. A special secret among Chicago's art lovers, the D'Arcy Collection was also known for the annual springtime celebration, Flowers in Art, and the biennial art and culture seminars that accompanied the exhibition. 

Now, this critically renowned collection is reclaiming a place among the Chicago arts with its opening at LUMA. "The Martin D'Arcy Collection is unique among art collections in the city and the Midwest," says its curator, Jonathan Canning. "No other local collection specifically focuses on the arts and primarily the three-dimensional arts—of the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Baroque periods. In fact, the D'Arcy's finest pieces have been frequently loaned to other museums, but now with new and expanded space devoted to the collection at LUMA, we will begin to organize exhibitions in which we will borrow from other important collections." 

What You'll Find
The D'Arcy Collection is particularly strong in religious imagery and in objects used for the performance of the Mass and private devotions. Among its Medieval treasures are two French Gothic ivories, an enamel reliquary chasse, and an ivory casket, reputed to have once contained relics of St. Teresa of Avila. The D'Arcy also contains a rare example of a painted Renaissance birth tray, presented to a Florentine noblewoman following the birth of a child. 

Other featured items include: an unusual traveling altar painted with a background scene based upon the work of the famous Northern Renaissance artist Rogier van der Weyden; two octagonal painted marble panels by Jacopo Basssano; and pieces from well-known artists Tintoretto and Guercino. Lastly, and possibly the D'Arcy's most important piece, is Christ Among the Doctors by the 17th-century Dutch artist Matthias Stomer. 

The D'Arcy also contains two pieces associated with Queen Christina of Sweden, the 17th-century monarch who gave up her throne to convert to Catholicism. One item, a stunning treasure chest by the German goldsmith Wenzel Jamnitzer, is said to have held some of the queen's jewels and other precious pieces. The second item, a devotional sculpture of the flagellation of Christ (c. 1650), with figures cast in silver by Alessandro Algardi, is also thought to have belonged to the queen. 

Who is Martin D'Arcy, S.J.?
Loyola's collection is named after the British Jesuit, humanist, and scholar, who was known for his many celebrity conversions to Roman Catholicism. Following World War II, Father D'Arcy was a frequent visitor to America, and he regularly visited Chicago and lectured to students at Loyola until his death in 1976. During one of his trips in the late sixties, he befriended Donald Rowe, S.J. 

A trained art historian, Father Rowe founded and managed the D'Arcy Collection for 25 years, acquiring 85 percent of the D'Arcy's 306 pieces. Upon retiring from the D'Arcy, Father Rowe went on to build a second collection of Chicago architectural elements at St. Ignatius College Prep, where he served as president.

In creating the collection, Father Rowe wanted to give Loyola students access to impressive works of art to instill an interest and familiarity with art that would last their whole lives. In the original gallery space, off the main reading room of Loyola's Cudahy Library, generations of students read and studied in the company of the D'Arcy's masterpieces, giving them the opportunity to gain a familiarity with art and helping them overcome the elitism of art that often discourages the young from taking an interest in it. 

A Focus on Student Experience
The Martin D'Arcy Collection will be integrated into Loyola University Chicago's undergraduate core curriculum, which requires students to study across a number of disciplines, including history and the fine arts. Students are also able to participate in internships assisting the curator with a wide variety of duties, such as collection research and documentation. Loyola students will also help develop a visitor's handbook for the collection and aid museum staff in research for a comprehensive scholarly catalogue. 

Discussing the collection's return, Pamela Ambrose, director of cultural affairs and director of LUMA, says, "The collection has been in storage for almost two years now, during which time it was re-cataloged. A number of objects have been restored and new interpretative material has been written. In bringing back the D'Arcy, we've taken the time to present it properly, almost as if it were a new collection. Looking ahead, we're focused on creating a better understanding of the imagery and use of objects, working to engage young people, and communicating how the collection relates to our mission of examining the spiritual in art." 

Opening-Night Reception
To celebrate the re-opening of the D'Arcy Collection, LUMA will host an opening-night gala on Saturday, December 1. Tickets for the event can be purchased by contacting the museum at 312-915-7630. The gala is made possible by a $55,000 donation from the Richard Driehaus Lead Charitable Trust. LUMA has also received a $30,000 donation from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelly Foundation and a $10,000 gift from the Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust, both to be used toward the reinstallation of the exhibition.

About Loyola University Chicago
Committed to preparing people to lead extraordinary lives, Loyola University Chicago was founded in 1870 and is the nation's largest Jesuit, Catholic university. Loyola has a total enrollment of more than 15,500 students, which includes nearly 10,000 undergraduates hailing from all 50 states and 82 foreign countries. The University has four campuses: three in the greater Chicago area and one in Rome, Italy. Loyola also serves as the U.S. host university to the Beijing Center for Chinese Studies in Beijing, China. Loyola's nine schools and colleges include arts and sciences, business administration, education, graduate studies, law, medicine, nursing, continuing and professional studies, and social work. Loyola offers 71 undergraduate majors, 71 undergraduate minors, 85 master's degrees, and 31 doctoral degrees. Recognizing Loyola's excellence in education, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Loyola consistently among the "top national universities," and named the University a "best value" in its 2008 rankings. For more information, please visit our Web site at LUC.edu

European Treasures from the Martin D'Arcy Collection is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

About LUMA
Opened in 2005, the Loyola University Museum of Art is dedicated to exploring, promoting, and understanding art and artistic expression that illuminates the enduring spiritual questions of all cultures and societies. As a museum with an interest in education and educational programming, LUMA reflects the University’s Jesuit mission and is dedicated to helping people of all creeds explore the roots of their faith and spiritual quests. Located at Loyola University Chicago’s Water Tower Campus, the museum occupies the first three floors of the University’s historic Lewis Towers on Chicago’s famous Michigan Avenue. For more information, visit the museum’s website at LUC.edu/luma.

Art illuminating the spirit!

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