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Welcome, Alexander J. Noelle

Assistant curator of European paintings and sculpture, 1500–1800
June 5, 2023

Alexander J. Noelle joined the CMA this past fall as assistant curator of European paintings and sculpture, 1500–1800. Noelle brings rich experience to the role, combining his specialized knowledge with a desire to facilitate new interpretations for visitors to the museum.

Holding both a PhD and an MA from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, Noelle completed his doctoral work with a dissertation on the little-studied portraiture and patronage of Giuliano de’ Medici, younger brother of Lorenzo the Magnificent. He earned a BA in the history of art and Italian from Vassar College.

Primarily, Noelle’s focus of study has been Italian 15th- and 16th-century paintings and sculpture, but his early experiences include work in the education departments of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College. Noelle has been a research associate in various postings at the Courtauld Gallery, studying Italian paintings and works on paper circa 1400–1800. He was also the publications and interpretive manager of exhibitions for the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University and was most recently the Anne L. Poulet Curatorial Fellow at the Frick Collection in 2017–2020, where he cocurated the first major exhibition on the Florentine sculptor Bertoldo di Giovanni. While he currently specializes in Italian artwork circa 1500–1800, Noelle has always pursued broad avenues of inquiry while reconsidering canonical context.

Bronze statue of two men
Apollo Flaying Marsyas c. 1691–1700. Giovanni Battista Foggini (Italian, 1652–1725). Bronze; h. 59.8 cm. Leonard C. Hanna Jr. Fund, 2023.2

Noelle was drawn to the CMA for its dynamic exhibitions and for the incredible strength of the collection, specifically in paintings and sculpture. The resources for research and collaboration available, such as the Ingalls Library and Museum Archives and the world-class conservation department, were particularly attractive. Moreover, “the fact that museum admission is free is very important and very powerful,” Noelle shared. “I am thrilled to be at an institution committed to offering new narratives on centuries-old objects ‘for the benefit of all the people,’ per the CMA mission statement.”

Noelle conducts research and interprets objects through a complex approach. “We cannot usually ‘solve’ the questions posed by an artwork with a simple answer, thereby shutting down discussion,” he said. “What the CMA is skilled at doing, and what dovetails with my own methods, is the incitement of dynamic conversations from multiple perspectives. In my department, we aspire to inspire viewers to make their own discoveries and interpretations.”

As the collection is the cornerstone of all we do at the CMA, Noelle endeavors to develop displays in the galleries that showcase the importance and potential of our current masterpieces. In addition, he hopes to identify museum-quality acquisitions that spark new conversations, both with the existing collection and with the public.