The triptych, The Mother of Divine Wisdom, St Joseph and St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, was commissioned by the university and created in Italy by Chiara Perinetti Casoni, an eminent artist based in Siena who crafts perfect recreations (not reproductions) of 14th-and 15th-century Sienese art using ancient materials and techniques, including centuries-old wooden panels, powdered lapis lazuli for blue, and real gold.
The medieval Sienese art style flourished between the 13th and 15th centuries and is celebrated for its decorative style and rich colours depicting elegant figures within a religious context.
The triptych is unique in Australia and is not a copy of any existing work.
It has three distinctive panels: the centre panel depicting Mary Seat of Wisdom (Patron of Catholic universities worldwide), flanked on either side by St Joseph (Patron of the Sisters of St Joseph) and St Mary of the Cross MacKillop.
The work will be permanently displayed in the Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Chapel at ACU’s North Sydney Campus.
ACU Vice-Chancellor and President, Greg Craven, said the commissioning of the unique artwork was in keeping with the traditional artistic endeavours of the Catholic Church as a patron of the arts, and with ACU’s undertaking as a university to promote art and culture.
“This extraordinary acquisition will make an important addition to the ACU art collection while contributing to the significant role the Catholic Church has played in supporting the arts,” Professor Craven said.
“The Church sponsored the work of many of the great Renaissance artists such as Michelangelo, Raphael and Bernini, who went on to create some of their masterpieces within the walls of the Vatican.
“Fostering culture through supporting the arts is central to the mission of ACU.
“As a university, we are committed to enriching the cultural life of the community.”
Casoni said the triptych has been created in the style of an early 15th-century painting by Taddeo di Bartolo, an Italian painter of the Sienese School during the early Renaissance.
She took inspiration from Bartolo’s triptych, The Virgin with the Child, Angels and Saints accompanied by Saint Catherine della Notte, located in the Chapel of Holy Mary of Scala in Siena.
“It was natural to be inspired by the work of Bartolo, it is very congenial to me and his works represent the highest school between the Gothic and the Renaissance,” Casoni said.
“My mission has been to create a wonderful and surprising work like the furnishing of a flame that shines fluctuating.
“I imagined that this work placed in the Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Chapel could arouse a spontaneous desire to pray.
“I had the vision of the Mother of Divine Wisdom with the Son who brings this Divine gift from Heaven to the earth.
“So, I was looking for an atmosphere of solemnity.”
The university will confer an honorary degree of Master of Arts on Casoni during her visit to Australia in recognition of her unique skills in continuing a tradition of art that has endured for centuries.