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Filling vacancies in two of the Getty Museum's most important jobs, museum director Timothy Potts has picked Jeffrey Spier, an American scholar with whom he's had a long professional connection, as its new senior curator of antiquities — the top post at the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades — and an Italian museum director, Davide Gasparotto, as senior curator of paintings based at the Getty Center in Brentwood.

Gasparotto has been director of the Galleria Estense museum in Modena, Italy, for the last two years, and spent 12 years as a curator and art historian at the National Gallery of Parma.

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City will present Diego Velázquez’s (1599-1660) Portrait of Duke Francesco l d’Este, one of the most important portraits by the Spanish painter, through July 16, 2013. The painting is on loan from Italy’s prestigious Galleria Estense in Modena and has never traveled to the United States before. The exhibition, Velázquez’s Portrait of Duke Francesco l d’Este: A Masterpiece from the Galleria Estense, Modena, will coincide with the opening of the Met’s renovated New European Painting Gallery, 1250-1800.

Velázquez, the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV, painted d’Este, the Duke of Modena and Reggio Emilia, while he was visiting Madrid in 1638 to meet with King Philip and ask for his support. The commanding portrait of the 17th century ruler is a key work of baroque portraiture as well as a prime example of Velázquez’s artistic contribution to Spanish diplomacy.

The Galleria Estense acquired the portrait of d’Este in 1843 where it joined works by Tintoretto (1518-1594), El Greco (1541-1614), and Paolo Veronese (1528-1588). The museum also boasts a strong collection of decorative works, musical instruments, archaeological material, and sculptures. The Galleria was damaged in 2012 when a series of earthquakes struck the region of Emilia-Romagna. Restoration of the building has begun but will require years of repair. In the meantime, while many of the museum’s works are being held at the Ducal Palace in Sassuolo, Velázquez’s portrait will make a highly anticipated appearance to New York.

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