Art Properties has loaned a painting to the exhibition The First Jewish Americans: Freedom and Culture in the New World, which is now open at The New-York Historical Society. This exhibition focuses on the historical and cultural lives of Jewish immigrants, forced from their ancestral lands in Europe, South America, and the Caribbean, to newfound freedom in colonial New Amsterdam through early 19th-century New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston.
The painting on loan from the Columbia University art collection is this early 19th-century, three-quarter-length seated portrait of Lorenzo Da Ponte (1749-1838). Born in a Jewish ghetto near Venice, Da Ponte later converted to Catholicism and eventually emigrated to the United States where, at the age of 76, he became the first professor of Italian at Columbia College. Da Ponte is best known around the world as the librettist for three operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte. (You can read more about Da Ponte’s colorful life here.)
The painting of Da Ponte and its historical frame were in need of conservation in order to be shown at the exhibition. We are very grateful to Mr. Leonard L. Milberg for providing full financial support to have this work completed. Our thanks also to conservator Stephen Kornhauser and Eli Wilner & Co. for all their hard work restoring Da Ponte’s grandeur for this exhibition.