Pietro da Cortona, (Italian, 1596–1699), Hagar and the Angels (detail), c. 1643, Oil on canvas, 45 x 58 13/16 in., Courtesy of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Bequest of John Ringling SN132
September 8–December 12, 2018

Dangerous Women

Selections from the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

The books of the Bible are full of fascinating female characters-good and bad wives, courageous heroines, and deceptive, and sometimes even deadly, femmes fatales. While some women saved their people, were paragons of wifely virtue, or repented their sins to pursue lives of virtue and sacrifice, others were purveyors of sin, harlots or deadly temptresses and seductresses. These women—from Judith and Esther to Salome and Mary Magdalene and from Bathsheba to Potiphar's Wife, to name but a few— shaped biblical history. Women of the Bible were often depicted by Renaissance and Baroque artists simply as an excuse for presenting sensuous female nudes. Other times, however, they were portrayed for the drama or moral messages conveyed by their stories.

Dangerous Women and its accompanying catalogue present more than twenty works from the rich holdings of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art which explore different artists' responses to the women of the Bible. Paintings by artists such as Pietro da Cortona, Fede Galizia, Pordenone, Giovanni Andrea Sirani, and Francesco del Cairo will be accompanied by Old Master prints and drawings, including Jan Saenredam's series entitled Famous Women of the New Testament, and the exhibition will conclude with a modern coda: Robert Henri's sumptuous, sensuous Salome, a reminder of the tenacity of the appeal of dangerous biblical women.

Dangerous Women is a partnership among the Ringling Museum of Art (Florida State University), the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum (Florida International University) and the Cornell Museum (Rollins College). The exhibition, while organized by the Ringling, appears only at the Frost and the Cornell Museum. It is accompanied by a catalogue published by Scala Arts Publishers.

Museum members can learn about the seductive women of the Bible and the secrets of Renaissance and Baroque painting, as revealed in Dangerous Women, during Ena Heller, Ph.D., Bruce A. Beal Director's 4-week series, Dangerously Seductive Painted Stories 

Also inspired by Francesco Cairo’s painting Judith with the Head of Holofernes featured in Dangerous Women, The Bach Festival Society of Winter Park at Rollins College will present Vivadi’s Juditha Triumphans at Tiedtke Concert Hall on January 24, 2019. 

Francesco Cairo, (Italian, Milanese,1607 - 1665), Judith with the Head of Holofernes, ca. 1633 - 37, Oil on canvas, 119.1 x 94.3 cm., Courtesy of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art SN 798
Robert Henri, (American, 1865–1929), Salome, 1909, Oil on Canvas, 77 1/2 x 37 in., Courtesy of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art SN937

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