BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
Knights in shining armor dueling with lances, rapiers, and swords provided spectacular entertainment between dinner courses at the March 20th opening of the Deering Family Galleries of Medieval and Renaissance Art, Arms, and Armor at the Art Institute spearheaded by the Old Masters Society.
Chaired by Laura de Frise; Arms and Armor Associate Curator Jonathan Tavares (in full Renaissance Costume); Martha Wolf, Eleanor Wood Prince Curator of European Painting before 1750; and Rebecca Long, Patrick G. and Shirley Ryan Associate Curator, took guests through the galleries they had designed.
Many lingered at the meticulously preserved Ayala Altarpiece, commissioned in 1396 by the future Chancellor of Castile, and at the Art Institute’s beloved portrait of St. George and the Dragon by Bernat Martorell.
Donors Linda and Vin Buonanno greeted guests in a spectacular gallery dominated by two armored figures on horseback, one dressed for battle and one for sport, with a spectacular headdress topped with multi-colored ostrich feathers. Dancing Lipizzan horses at the Buonanno’s Tempel Farms served as models.
Tavares opened drawers filled with luxury firearms in the final gallery. He reported that his starched linen ruff wasn’t as comfortable as a necktie, but he definitely looked dashing.
OMS program chair Lynda Canel welcomed guests, seated at long tables in the Medieval style in Griffin Court, and introduced Gregory Mele from Forteza Fitness and Martial Arts in Wheaton, who served as dueling sportscaster.
Demonstrating the difference between Medieval and Renaissance techniques, two women and two men fought bravely as the click and clack of swordsplay filled the air. No one was hurt, despite the fact that the protective visors don’t allow anyone to see below the the chest of their opponent.
Laura de Frise, now in her fourth brilliant year as OMS President, commented after the event:
“It felt wonderful having so many loyal OMS friends there and so special that we could make the curators feel proud—after all, this was their night.
“The jousting was a wonderful addition. The whole evening was a great team effort, from our new program chair Lynda Canel, who brought such creativity and spent so much time planning, to the celebration of our curators who brought the galleries to life, and to Elyse Strand, our OMS coordinator who handled endless details. And special thanks to Jonathan who found our entertainment!”
Photo credit: Robert Kusel