Exhibit of ancient tapestries in New York co-curated by UO prof

Barberini tapestries on display

On Dec. 18, 2001, a fire at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City damaged six of the 12 tapestries hanging in the church, a set commissioned by Cardinal Francesco Barberini in 1643. Now, almost 16 years later, they have been restored and are ready to be displayed.

The exhibition is co-curated by UO professor James G. Harper, who also wrote the text for a full-color book about the hangings. He and his partner, Marlene Eidelheit, decided that instead of returning the tapestries to the rafters, they should be placed in a group, hanging on the wall at eye-level.

“It’s kind of a triumphant return,” Harper said. “This is displaying them, not just returning them to where they were, but doing something different that’s historically accurate and more visually exciting. The purpose here is to make you look at it, see it with fresh eyes.”

To read more, see “A ‘Triumphant Return’ for 17th-Century Tapestries” in the New York Times.

Harper, a history of art professor, researches the intersections of art and politics and has written about everything from biographical imagery as a form of propaganda to “art strategies” at the papal court.