Fendi Brings Caravaggio to the Getty Center

Anna Coliva, Silvia Venturini Fendi, Pietro Beccari - Publicity - H 2017
Jonathan Leibson/BFA.com/Courtesy of Fendi

The Italian fashion house has helped bring three Caravaggio masterpieces to Los Angeles.

Looking for a little chiaroscuro to light up your Thanksgiving weekend? There are three new Caravaggio masterpieces on view at the Getty Center starting Tuesday, thanks in part to fashion house Fendi.

In its latest act of arts patronage, Fendi helped support the loan of three paintings from the world-famous collection at the Galleria Borghese in Rome and celebrated the arrival of the masterpieces in Los Angeles with an advance gallery viewing and dinner on Sunday night.

Friends of the fashion house came dressed in their Fendi best, including couture collector Susan Casden, stylist and Au Fudge co-owner Estee Stanley, social media star Erica Pelosini and her shoe designer husband Louis Leeman and filmmakers Ena and Ines Talakic (Hall of Mirrors). Guests gathered over cocktails to gaze at the paintings, which highlight three distinct points in the 16th century artist’s brief but intense career, then retired to the Getty restaurant for a seated dinner.

Helping to take the Caravaggios on tour is just the latest of Fendi’s arts activities. In 2015, the brand helped save the Trevi Fountain in Rome with a $2.5 million restoration; last month, it opened a new “Fendi Studios” exhibition in Rome highlighting its role in more than 70 films from Luchino Visconti’s Conversation Piece (1974) to Wes Anderson’s 2002 pic The Royal Tenenbaums (Margot Tenenbaum’s fur coat is still a best-seller for the brand); and it's also underwriting a new Caravaggio research institute at the Galleria Borghese, the first of its kind, which will be a resource for scholars around the world.

All three of the paintings on view are incredible, but the group favorite seemed to be “David With the Head of Goliath,” because of the added intrigue that it may actually be a double self-portrait depicting Caravaggio as a young man holding his own head, shortly after he himself committed murder in a brawl. “He was a very dark man and complex person,” noted Silvia Venturini Fendi, the creative director for accessories and men’s lines, of her favorite work.

But just how do Italian masters help sell Fendi handbags and dresses? 

“Our duty as a luxury brand … we need to be close to everything that’s beautiful — art, sculpture and monuments,” said Fendi CEO Pietro Beccari. “Today, customers don’t push the door of our stores just because they want to buy products. Yes, ultimately, but they like to hear a beautiful story and share a set of aesthetic values.”

"Caravaggio: Masterpieces From the Galleria Borghese" is on view through Feb. 18.