Venus disarming Cupid

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Art historian hopes to bring Renaissance drawings exhibition to North Texas museum

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North Texas may soon be visited by an impressive group of Old Masters.

Art history Professor Mary Vaccaro recently received a grant from the Texas Fund for Curatorial Research to conduct on-site research of drawings from 14th– to 16th-century Italian artists like Parmigianino, whose portrayal of Venus disarming Cupid, above, is in a museum in Rennes, France. Dr. Vaccaro begins her month-long fellowship in France in July.

Her research will focus on collections housed with members of the French Regional and American Museum Exchange. She hopes the works she uncovers eventually will fill a local museum exhibit.

There are no public collections of Old Master drawings in North Texas, only private collections,” she says. “My trip is about going to see if there are enough drawings to build a show.”

Painters, sculptors, and architects such as Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo all made preliminary drawings before beginning their projects. These pieces provide a rare glimpse into the creative processes of some of the Renaissance’s most famous artists.

You can have a much more intimate relationship with a drawing than a painting,” Vaccaro says. “Each artist has a kind of handwriting for his or her work. You can hold the drawing in your hands and get so close to the artists. You get a sense of direct contact with an artist who was working 500 years ago.”

Beth Wright, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, calls Vaccaro one of the world’s top scholars in Italian Renaissance art.

This fellowship demonstrates not only Dr. Vaccaro’s international standing,” Dr. Wright says, “but also the contribution she is making to educational excellence in her training of students who are being prepared to take their place in leading universities and museums.”

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