…the gates of the Froggwell Cultural Institute will swing open once again and art loving folks from near and far will stream into the garden to see just what those crazy artists have gotten up to this year!
This painting by Raphael (Rafaello Santi: 1483-1520) is a wedding portrait of Botticelli’s daughter, Elisabetta di Certaldo, also known as The Madonna of Certaldo Alto. You may well ask why Botticelli himself did not paint his daughter’s portrait, but if any of you have ever had a daughter’s wedding to plan for, you would know that he had no time what-so-ever to paint a portrait as well! (You know how it goes, ox’s to kill, fatted calfs to fatten….) Despite the friendly competition between the painters, it is believed that Botticelli approved of the portrait.
This is believed to be the central panel of a triptych, the side panels having been lost during the second world war, when Nazi looters stole the painting from a church in central Tuscany. The painting was extremely damaged due to being stored in a damp cave outside Siena. Fortunately, the expert restoration team of The Froggwell Cultural Institute, was able to restore it to its former glory mere days before the commencement of this exhibition.
Meanwhile, in another century….
The newly discovered Gustav Klimt painting “Dani and the Tree of Life” was found at Greenbank Farm, stashed away in a small ceiling space above the Organic Farm School’s storage shed and is miraculously thought to be in near mint condition.
The painting depicts Danielle Vanezia a young Viennese botanist who was a student friend of Berta Zuckerkandl, a writer and art critic for the Wiener Allgemeine Zeitung who held frequent salons attended by writers, artists and scientists including Klimt. It is believed that Klimt met the model at one of the salons around 1903 and immediately asked her to model for him. The painting was executed in 1904 and shown to great critical acclaim but then disappeared.
That same year Danielle Vanezia immigrated to the United States. By starting gardens and modeling for artists she eventually worked her way across the country from Ellis Island to some island up in the Pacific Northwest where she had heard of a colony with Free Land. She then ended up in the town of Grin Back working at a large farm established in 1904, which she had liked because it was the year Klimt had painted her, and she would model for artists in the “Brackish Foot” art colony near the town of Lan Glee. After a brief attempt of having a family in Idaho not much was heard again of Danielle.
Incredibly the Klimt masterpiece was found by Dani Morrisey, great grand daughter of Danielle Vanezia, who is the assistant farm school manager at Greenbank Farm and who shows an uncanny likeness to the great grandmother she was named after. Dani said she had always known there was a higher purpose to her inexplicable urge to find a farm on and island and grow things. When she pulled out of storage what she thought was a folded up card table and turned it over she knew life had come full circle and a part of her family history had been recovered.
Stay tuned for more images from the show coming daily, this week only! and if you are on or near Whidbey Island, we hope you will come by the show!