Directed by François Girard (1998; rated R; 130 minutes)
This remarkable film traces the intricate history of an antique violin, painted red by one owner, from its creation in seventeenth-century Italy to a modern-day auction house. Over the years, the instrument makes its way through several different countries where it has a great impact on those who own it. Samuel L. Jackson stars in this academy-award winning film.
This film is part of the series Art, Alchemy, and the Paston Treasure.
The Paston Treasure—one of the most enigmatic works of art in the Western canon—was painted circa 1663 by an unidentified artist to record a selection of treasures from the Paston family’s cabinet of curiosities. Consideration of this complicated painting reveals a world of art, science, travel, and collecting during an age that witnessed an increase in global trade and colonial expansion. The films in this series complement and play upon the exhibition’s investigation of the development of the Paston collection across time, as well as the groundbreaking technical study of the painting’s unusual physical attributes, some of which were likely the result of the patron’s alchemical interest in the nature of painters’ pigments. Themes of social ambition, the pursuit of treasure, the obsession with alchemy, and the preoccupation with eternal legacy are all brought to the fore with elements of humor, intrigue, and magic.