Jean-Luc Baroni is a third generation art dealer with a gift for detective work.
A native of Florence now living in London, Baroni relishes the idea of discovering and re-discovering Old Masters’ works of art.
“It may have lost its name and its provenance – everything – but then I discover its importance,” he says. “It’s like: ‘Wow! It’s fantastic to be proven right – I actually found it!”
In the case of a painting from 1685 called The Allegory of Virtue by Jacapo Ligozzi, Baroni dug into the archives of Francesco de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. As it turns out, the duke had constructed the Casino di San Marco in Florence for scientific experiments – and commissioned the 11-foot-high painting for that villa.
“I found the description,” he says. “And several prints had been made.”
The painting depicts the figure of Virtue standing defenseless, beseeching a winged putto above her for help.
“It’s about Virtue being pulled up by the putto, supported by representations of love, to protect her from the two figures below, of ignorance and prejudice,” he says.
It will be among 55 paintings and drawings by Old Masters and later artists, soon to be on display and for sale at the Carlton Hobbs Gallery at 60 East 93rd Street, in New York.
Also included are works by Edgar Degas, Fra Bartolommeo, Guido Reni, Johann Heinrich Fuseli, and Lucien Freud.
The show and sale is not only for those with deep pockets. Students and those who appreciate classical works are welcome as well.
“I make time for them, because if they’re interested in the Old Masters, it helps them understand contemporary work,” he says. “How things have evolved but stay the same – that kind of understanding is important – plus the sheer beauty of the old masters.”
The exhibition will run during Master Drawings Week, from January 25 to February 1.