As Vatican cardinals deliberate on whom to name as Pope Benedict XVI’s successor, it may be interesting to visit a little-known collection of paintings by the 19th Century French artist Jehan Georges Vibert at St. John Vianney College Seminary, a few miles west of Coral Gables.
A Fine Point
According to a Wikipedia article on Vibert, “The popularity of his works spread, notably in America, and fetched high prices including commissions from John Jacob Astor IV and William Vanderbilt. A large collection of works by Vibert was amassed by the heiress May Louise Maytag on behalf of then bishop of Miami Coleman Carroll, who greatly fancied them. This large cache was then donated to the Florida seminary St. John Vianney College in Miami. At this location the extremely impressive collection has had a somewhat checkered conservation history, as well as exhibition history due to the discomfiture of later bishops with the seeming anti-clericalism of the paintings (lighthearted debaucheries, etc.).”
I just spoke with the librarian at St. John Vianney, who told me that the seminary has approximately 13 works by Vibert, including large oil paintings and smaller watercolors, in its collection. Most of the works are on display in the library, which is open to the public on weekdays. Visitors should call ahead to make sure they will be able to view the paintings on a given day, according to the librarian.
It may be a while before plumes of white smoke billow from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel and the cardinals name a new pope. In the meantime, I’ll be making a trip to St. John Vianney to check out its Vibert collection, which may or may not include some of these cheeky gems.
The Preening Peacock
The Church In Danger
The Fortune Teller
The Marvelous Sauce
Hat tip to Miami-based artist JeanPaul Mallozzi for putting Vibert and the Miami collection on my radar.