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Documentary tells story of 17th-century painting’s journey from Meadow Brook Hall to DIA

Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Documentary tells story of 17th-century painting’s journey from Meadow Brook Hall to DIA
Watch the full documentary at oakland.edu/amasterpiecerevealed.

Oakland University releases “A Masterpiece Revealed,” a video that tells the fascinating story of how an important 17th-century painting was rediscovered at Meadow Brook Hall by a Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) curator, and the partnership with OU, Meadow Brook Hall and the DIA that sprung from the discovery.

The Infant Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness, a significant painting by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, was brought to the DIA’s conservation lab for examination and cleaning, and a group of OU students were invited to observe the process.
The Infant Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness, a significant painting by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, was brought to the DIA’s conservation lab for examination and cleaning, and a group of OU students were invited to observe the process. As a result of the partnership, Meadow Brook Hall has lent the painting to the DIA for five years and it now hangs in a gallery among works by other 17th-century artists. This is the first time The Infant Saint John has been on display in a major United States art museum.

“A Masterpiece Revealed” was shot, edited and produced by Jason Willis and a team from Oakland University’s Communications and Marketing department to document the painting’s year-long restoration journey for posterity. It is divided into five intertwining sections and runs 28 minutes. Watch the documentary at oakland.edu/amasterpiecerevealed.

“The Murillo project was a labor of love for everyone involved in the video,” said Willis, an interactive media specialist for OU. “So many people played significant roles in helping bring it to life. We hope viewers will enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it.”

In the 1600s, the painting belonged to Italian merchant Giovanni Bielato, who donated it to the Capuchin Convent of Genoa. During the 1800s, it was sold to the family of the Duke of Westminster and in 1926 entered the collection of Alfred G. and Matilda Wilson. They kept it in their home, Meadow Brook Hall, now a historic house museum and National Historic Landmark, for nearly 90 years.

In 2013, the painting caught the eye of Salvador Salort-Pons, DIA executive director of Collection Strategies and Information and curator of European Paintings. He was visiting Meadow Brook Hall and identified it as an outstanding example by the Spanish Golden Age master.

Geoffrey Upward, executive director of Meadow Brook Hall summarized it this way: “The collaboration has been especially significant — and truly unique — for the three parties’ educational missions. The project has allowed students and faculty at Oakland University to observe firsthand the complexity and impact of conservation work. In turn, the DIA can better educate its audiences about how a critical work of art helps us learn about our past and how vital the institute is to that pursuit. And, of course, the project has brought significant attention to the quality of the Meadow Brook collection and the story of its founders.  This video captures it all.”

About Oakland University
Oakland University is a doctoral, research-intensive university located on 1,443 acres of scenic land in the cities of Rochester and Auburn Hills in Oakland County, Michigan. The University has 139 bachelor's degree programs and 125 graduate degree and certificate programs. Oakland is a nationally recognized public university with more than 20,000 students. Academic programs are available in the College of Arts and Sciences, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, School of Business Administration, School of Education and Human Services, School of Engineering and Computer Science, School of Health Sciences and School of Nursing.

About Meadow Brook Hall
A National historic Landmark, Meadow Brook Hall is the historic home built by one of the automotive aristocracy’s most remarkable women, Matilda Dodge Wilson, widow of auto pioneer John Dodge, and her second husband, Alfred Wilson. Constructed between 1926 and 1929, Meadow Brook Hall represents one of the finest examples of Tudor-revival architecture in America, and is especially renowned for its superb craftsmanship, architectural detailing and grand scale of 88,000 square-feet. It was the center of a country estate that included 1,500 acres, numerous farm buildings, recreational facilities, several residences and formal gardens.

Meadow Brook Hall strives to preserve and interpret its architecture, landscape, and fine and decorative art so that visitors may be entertained, educated and inspired by history.

About the Detroit Institute of Arts 

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), one of the premier art museums in the United States, is home to more than 60,000 works that comprise a multicultural survey of human creativity from ancient times through the 21st century. From the first Van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum (Self-Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera's world-renowned Detroit Industry murals (1932–33), the DIA’s collection is known for its quality, range, and depth. The DIA’s mission is to create opportunities for all visitors to find personal meaning in art.

Programs are made possible with support from residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

Read more about the project on the DIA's website at www.dia.org/art/conservation-Murillo.aspx.



Watch the full documentary at oakland.edu/amasterpiecerevealed.