VMFA Blog

A blog by staff and others about the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

How the Authenticity Question Surrounding Achilles Among the Daughters of Lycomedes, a Painting by Nicolas Poussin, was Resolved

By Carol Sawyer, Margaret H. & William E. Massey Sr. Conservator of Paintings The Painting Conservation Department performs treatments, examinations and research related to the VMFA painting collection. In the course of doing this work questions regarding the authenticity of a work of art sometimes arise. Technical analysis and in-depth examination of the materials and…

Napoleon: Fact or Fiction

Photo: David Stover © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Gallery views of Napoleon: Power and Splendor, June 9, 2018 – September 3, 2018 Napoleon Bonaparte, one of modern history’s most interesting and controversial figures, was replete with contradictions, leaving behind a legacy of notable and lasting achievements as well as millions of casualties and widespread…

Full Circle: VMFA Curator Valerie Cassel Oliver on Howardena Pindell

Howardena Pindell has consistently broken new ground during her five-decades-long artistic career. In 1967, she was the first female African American to graduate from Yale University’s MFA program then began working as the first female black curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Her diverse body of art—from abstract canvases to photography…

Manet’s Painting, On the Beach, Boulogne-sur-Mer

By Bruce Suffield While studying Édouard Manet’s painting, On the Beach, Boulogne-sur-Mer (Accession # 85.498), in the painting conservation studio, it was noted that the artist had used numerous and different brush strokes around one of the compositional elements.  He had most likely changed the area around the edges of the bathing machine or bathing…

Napoleon: A VMFA Original Song

Inspired by Broadway’s Hamilton: An American Musical, VMFA created an original song and video about the exhibition Napoleon: Power and Splendor, now in its final weeks. France’s Napoleon Bonaparte was no Alexander Hamilton, but the two men had much in common. Both men emigrated from small islands in search of opportunity. Both joined the military…

Napoleon and Propaganda

In today’s digital age, every owner of a social media account serves as their own minister of propaganda. With each shared photo, observation, and announcement, we control our image and shape the way others perceive us. But even back in Napoleon’s day, paintings, clothing, decorative arts, and political cartoons served as propaganda tools. Napoleon: Power…

A Feast Fit for an Emperor

At VMFA’s Amuse Restaurant, in celebration of the current exhibition Napoleon: Power and Splendor, Chef de Cuisine Greg Haley’s thoughtful and refined Napoleon-inspired menu ranges from the casual Le Burger to a sumptuous Lobster Thermidor. This week, on the heels of Bastille Day and France’s World Cup victory, Chef Haley added a more down-to-earth, traditional…

Napoleon at Creme de la Creme

Joie de Vivre in RVA: Live like You’re French for a Day

Though you may not have the opportunity to visit Paris, all it takes is a little imagination and some careful planning to craft a French-inspired staycation that will transport you from the River City to the City of Lights. Here’s your itinerary for a trés French day in RVA. Can Can Brasserie Photos © Can…

Terry Melville standing at the entrance of the Napoleon exhibition

Image is Everything: Terry Melville Talks About Personal Branding

The concept of self-branding was revolutionary during the 19th century when Napoleon Bonaparte and his household worked diligently to craft his image as a war hero and later, as emperor of France. But today, one needs only to turn on the television or scroll though social media to see how self-branding has permeated our culture.…

Zulu Necklace

Beneath the Surface of African Art: Zulu Beaded Ensembles, An Orientation

By Kathryn Brugioni Gabrielli, Assistant Conservator As an objects conservator and an emerging professional, I have had limited experience thinking beyond the theoretical when it comes to the care, preservation, and treatment of textiles. As such, I was especially excited at the prospect of my first project during my fellowship at the VMFA. After my…