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Spring in the Alps, 1897 By Giovanni Segantini
beginning February 12, 2019

The J. Paul Getty Museum announced the acquisition of Spring in the Alps, 1897, by Giovanni Segantini (Italian, 1858-1899). Originally painted for Jacob Stern, a San Francisco collector and director of Levi Strauss & Co, the painting has a long connection to California. It was on continuous loan to Legion of Honor in San Francisco from 1928 until it was sold by Stern’s descendants in 1999.

“Giovanni Segantini was at the peak of his career when he created this luminous panoramic scene,” said Timothy Potts, director of the Getty Museum. “Featuring his characteristic thick brushstrokes and brilliant color palette—which includes flecks of gold leaf—the painting is among the most extraordinary and captivating landscapes produced in Europe at the end of the 19th century. It will resonate powerfully alongside our great Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works from France and paintings by northern European artists of the era. Significantly, with this acquisition, Spring in the Alps finds a permanent public home in California, its original destination, and we hope museum-goers from San Francisco, where it was on view for more than 70 years, will visit the painting at the Getty when they are in Los Angeles.”

At more than four by seven feet, Spring in the Alps is a monumental, sweeping depiction of an alpine landscape near the village of Soglio in Switzerland, with its recognizable church tower visible on the right side of the picture. The view is of an expansive plateau and valley ringed by glaciers and majestic snow-capped mountains. In the middle of the composition a farm woman dressed in a blue and red peasant costume characteristic of eastern Switzerland leads two large horses past a watering trough. They are coming from a freshly plowed field where a sower scatters seeds and a black and white dog stands guard. The scene is sunny and colorful, emphasizing a glorious vista with a brilliant blue sky and ribbons of clouds.

Segantini painted the sizeable canvas in the open air, with additional work completed in the studio. He took liberties with the topography to suit his composition, adjusting the relative scale of the mountains, the perspective of the valley, and the position of the town. He created the vibrant color scheme and brilliant effects of light following the principles of Divisionism, the practice of juxtaposing pure local colors in the belief that the hues mix optically in the eye of the viewer, creating especially luminous effects. This pseudo-scientific movement in painting was first launched in France in the 1880s by George Seurat and Paul Signac, where it was dubbed “Neo-Impressionism.” The movement was subsequently adopted by Italian painters, with Segantini becoming a principal exponent. In contrast to Seurat’s pointillist brushstrokes, Segantini employed long, thin strokes of contrasting color. The rich impasto and the tactile, almost woven, quality of the painted surface, marvelously capture the crisp transparency of the atmosphere, the harshness of the rocks, the thickness of the grass, and the roughness of the skin of the animals.

Spring in the Alps is a joyous hymn to the cycle of life and the reawakening of nature in spring after a long, hard winter,” said Davide Gasparotto, senior curator of paintings at the Getty. “It is an extraordinarily accomplished work where symbolism and naturalism are inextricably intertwined. Segantini himself counted it among his absolute masterpieces. Panoramic in scale and astonishingly luminous, Spring in the Alps is one of the greatest paintings of the Italian Ottocento in America, an iconic work that expands our ability to tell the story of 19th-century European painting.”

Spring in the Alps was commissioned by the American painter Toby E. Rosenthal (1848-1917), who resided in Munich, for San Francisco businessman and collector Jacob Stern (1851-1927), whose father, David Stern, co-founded Levi Strauss & Co. Segantini exhibited the picture at the 7th Munich Secession in 1897 and then took the painting back to his studio in Switzerland where he made further adjustments. In early 1899 the picture was sent to San Francisco to be the centerpiece of Stern’s collection. It was so well known even then, that the painting’s rescue from the 1906 earthquake and fire was reported in the national press. Upon Stern’s death in 1927, and in accordance with his wishes, Spring in the Alps was loaned by his heirs to the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. There it stayed on public view for more than 70 years. In 1999 the estate of Stern’s heir sold the picture at auction in New York.

Born in Arco (Trento) in 1858, Giovanni Segantini counts among the most important Italian artists of his generation. He was internationally famous for his dreamy Alpine landscapes, which combine elements of Jean-François Millet’s reverent naturalism with Georges Seurat’s dappled Divisionist technique and the allegorical subjectivity of the work of contemporary Symbolists, from Gustav Klimt to Paul Gauguin. Segantini's work represents the transition from traditional nineteenth-century art to the changing styles and interests of the twentieth century.

Orphaned as a boy, Segantini was apprenticed to a photographer in Milan, where in 1873 he began attending night classes at the Brera’s Academy of Fine Arts. In the early 1880s, on the advice of the painter-dealer Vittore Grubicy de Dragon, he experimented with plein-air painting during an extended visit to the Brianza region. Marketed by Grubicy, with whom Segantini signed an exclusive contract in 1883, the resulting landscapes attracted international attention and quickly made their author’s fortune. Segantini settled in the picturesque Swiss valley of the Engadine, where he painted views of the surrounding mountains for the rest of his career, often carting his enormous canvases out into the elements to work directly from nature. Despite his somewhat remote location, Segantini kept abreast of the contemporary art scene, maintaining a lively correspondence with Gustav Klimt, Max Liebermann, and others, while his work was exhibited in London, Amsterdam, Paris, and Munich.

In 1897, Segantini was commissioned by a group of local hotels to build a huge panorama of the Engadin valley to be shown in a specially built round hall at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris. Before it was completed, however, the project had to be scaled down for financial reasons. Segantini redesigned the concept into a large triptych known as Life, Nature, and Death (Museo Segantini, St. Moritz), which is now his most famous work. Eager to finish the third part of his large triptych, Nature, Segantini returned in 1899 to the mountains near Schafberg. The pace of his work, coupled with the high altitude, affected his health, and in mid-September he became ill with acute peritonitis. Two weeks later he died at the age of 41. Two years later the largest Segantini retrospective to date took place in Vienna. In 1908, the Museo Segantini was established in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

Spring in the Alps joins another important work by Segantini in the Getty Museum’s collection, Study for “La Vita” (1897), a large pastel that parallels the painting’s composition and is dedicated to his friend Toby Rosenthal, who facilitated the commission of Spring in the Alps from Jacob Stern. In excellent condition, Spring in the Alps comes to the Getty in the elaborate frame that the artist originally designed for it. It will be put on exhibition in the Museum’s West Pavilion on February 12th, alongside other works of art from 19th century Europe.

PONTORMO: MIRACULOUS ENCOUNTERS
February 5, 2019 – April 28, 2019

Rare exhibition featuring drawings and paintings by Italian master Jacopo da Pontormo

The Visitation – one of his most famous altarpieces – travels to Los Angeles for the first time at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, Los Angeles

An international traveling exhibition will bring works by the great 16th-century Florentine painter Pontormo (Italian, 1494-1557) to Los Angeles for the first time. Pontormo: Miraculous Encounters, on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum from February 5, 2019 through April 28, 2019, features the artist’s recently restored altarpiece the Visitation (about 1528-1529).

“It is a privilege to bring the Visitation, one of Pontormo’s supreme masterpieces and one of the most enigmatically beautiful paintings of 16th-century Italy, to Los Angeles. This is the first time this painting has traveled to the United States. It is one of those exceptional paintings that, once seen, will never be forgotten, and I have no doubt it will be a revelation to our visitors both for its striking beauty and for its moving depiction of a key episode in recognition of Christ’s coming,” said Timothy Potts, director of the Getty Museum.

Organized by the Getty Museum in conjunction with the Gallerie degli Uffizi in Florence and the Morgan Library & Museum in New York, the exhibition presents works of exceptional importance by Pontormo, looking at his innovative oeuvre as a painter both of devotional subjects and of portraits.

Over six feet tall, the Visitation depicts Mary’s meeting with her cousin, Saint Elizabeth, when both were expecting their sons, Jesus Christ and John the Baptist. First recorded in 1677 by the historian Giovanni Cinelli, the painting remained virtually unknown until its re-discovery in 1904 in the small parish church of Carmignano, a hill town west of Florence. The intricate arrangement of the draperies and range of arresting colors in intense, saturated hues—fully revealed by its recent conservation—produce an effect of abstraction that was greatly admired by 20th-century artists and connoisseurs.

The recent restoration of the panel brought to light important information about the artist’s technique that illuminates the artist’s creative process. The Visitation is shown alongside the only known preparatory drawing for it, on loan from the Uffizi, as well as two painted portraits and their related drawings.

“By presenting the Visitation and two portraits produced in the same years alongside their preparatory drawings, this exhibition gives us a rare opportunity to reconsider Pontormo’s artistic evolution at a crucial stage in his career,” explained Davide Gasparotto, senior curator of paintings at the Getty Museum. “It is especially moving to think of a great master like Pontormo working at the height of his skill during such a tumultuous period, when his city was under siege. His elegant and accomplished work from this era is imbued with a compelling vulnerability and sentiment.”

The paintings and drawings presented in the exhibition were made by Pontormo between 1528 and 1530, during an ongoing crisis in Florence. Though Republican forces had driven out the powerful Medici family in 1527, the triumph was short-lived. Dramatic military clashes culminated in a devastating siege that returned the Medici to power, establishing their autocratic regime as dukes of Florence. Pontormo was not active in the city’s defense during the siege, but just before these events he had managed to purchase his home, a lifelong aspiration: he stayed in the city to protect his investment, seeking employment from the citizens who remained. These patrons commissioned portraits to record their appearance for posterity, wearing the latest fashions that demonstrate military readiness and active support of the Republic. They also commissioned devotional works, as they prayed for deliverance from military strife and starvation.

Pontormo’s Portrait of a Halberdier, 1529-1530, a well-known painting in the Getty’s collection, depicts a young man standing before a fortress wall dressed as a soldier, holding a halberd (a combination spear and battle ax). The formidable dress and pose of the subject is betrayed by his youthful face and slim build. The subject of this sophisticated and elegant portrait was convincingly recognized as a young nobleman named Francesco Guardi (who would have been 14-15 years old) though it has also been speculated that it may depict Cosimo de’ Medici, the future Grand Duke.

Another highlight of the exhibition is the rarely seen Portrait of a Young Man in a Red Cap, another captivating portrait from the same year. The painting, perhaps depicting another young man engaged in the defense of the city, Carlo Neroni, was known to scholars through documents and engravings but thought lost until it was re-discovered in 2008. This exhibition offers the public a first opportunity to see this remarkable work — which belongs to a private collection — following its recent restoration.

The exhibition is curated by Getty Museum Senior Curator of Paintings, Davide Gasparotto and Bruce Edelstein, coordinator of graduate programs and advanced research at NYU Florence.

The accompanying publication, Miraculous Encounters: Pontormo from Drawing to Painting, is published by Getty Publications and edited by Gasparotto and Edelstein.

Pontormo: Miraculous Encounters is generously supported by Janine and J. Tomilson Hill; additional support has been provided by the Foundation for Italian Art and Culture (FIAC). The exhibition has been organized to raise support for the conservation of the Parish Church and the former Franciscan convent of San Michele Arcangelo in Carmignano.

Marks of Collaboration: Drawings in Context
February 5 - April 14, 2019

Free | No ticket required

Centered on the Museum's recently acquired design for a painted glass window by Christoph Murer, this installation explores the ways in which sixteenth-century Swiss designers and glass painters communicated with each other through drawings. With a selection of five works, the display investigates how visual and textual information provided by designers, guided the execution of paintings on glass. Through close study, visitors can uncover the designer's cues and grasp how these two sorts of artists worked together so successfully.

Interior with an Easel, Bredgade 25, painted in 1912 by Vilhelm Hammershøi (Danish, 1864-1916)
December 18, 2018 - TBD

The J. Paul Getty Museum has acquired Interior with an Easel, Bredgade 25, painted in 1912 by Vilhelm Hammershøi (Danish, 1864-1916). The painting will go on view at the Getty Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday, December 18, 2018.

“Interior with an Easel, Bredgade 25 is a characteristically luminous and enigmatic image that encapsulates Hammershøi’s particular visual poetry,” said Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “Hammershøi’s carefully orchestrated compositions are defined by their sparse atmospheric mood, using a few familiar pieces of furniture and the fall of light through a window to create some of the most beautiful, contemplative interiors in the history of painting. This work is especially important for its play on the art of painting itself: it is a painting about paintings—one seen from the back on the easel, the other hanging on the wall. All that is missing, as so often in Hammershøi’s work, is the human protagonist—in this case the artist himself. There could be no more appropriate subject for the Getty Museum, or any museum, and we are delighted to be able to add this extraordinary work by one of the most important Scandinavian artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries to our collection. Hammershøi clearly saw himself in the tradition of old master painters (he is often touted as ‘the modern Vermeer’), and I am sure visitors will see many resonances with our paintings by other great northern European artists, such as Caspar David Friedrich, Fernand Khnopff, and Edvard Munch.”

Hammershøi began depicting interiors in the late 1890s, and these austere and meditative paintings came to define his artistic reputation, already well established by the time he made Interior with an Easel, Bredgade 25. With single-minded focus, these interiors represent the apartments in Copenhagen that Hammershøi shared with his wife Ida and that served as his de facto studio (Bredgade 25 was the address of his final apartment). Sometimes his work features his wife quietly absorbed in some domestic task, but frequently there is no human presence—the primary subject being the play of light in the sparsely furnished architectural space. Here the only props, besides the artist’s easel, are a framed painting hung high on the wall, to protect it from direct sunlight, and a small table in the far room, framed perfectly by the half-open doorway.

Well-known and highly regarded in his own lifetime, Hammershøi’s career was cut short by his death from cancer at the age of 51. His work fell into relative obscurity and for much of the 20th century he was scarcely known outside of Denmark. Over the last few decades, however, there has been a resurgence of interest in Hammershøi’s work internationally, as numerous exhibitions in Europe, Asia, and the United States have attested. His compositions’ rigorous geometry, sober palette, and lack of sentimental anecdote appeal greatly to modern sensibilities, while the domestic settings, refined painterly handling, and sophisticated light effects call to mind the European old master tradition, and particularly Dutch seventeenth-century painting. Tellingly, both Whistler’s and Vermeer’s names have been invoked in connection with Hammershøi’s art.

“Interior with an Easel, Bredgade 25 is a work of great power and stark beauty, mesmerizing in its sense of stillness and silence. All the elements of a great Hammershøi are here: the masterful rendering of the cool Nordic light, the exquisitely nuanced tonal harmonies, the geometric rigor of the planar composition, the shimmering weave of small, textured brushstrokes – all working to transfigure the mundane into something haunting and poetic,” said Davide Gasparotto, senior curator of paintings at the Getty Museum. “Hammershøi is one of Denmark’s most fascinating painters and the renewed interest and scholarship that his work is now receiving is well overdue.”

Interior with an Easel, Bredgade 25 is 31 x 27 5/18 inches and in excellent, practically untouched condition. Never exhibited in public before its emergence on the market in 2018, it will go on display in the Getty Museum’s West Pavilion galleries on December 18, 2018.

ARTFUL WORDS: CALLIGRAPHY IN ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPTS
December 18, 2018–April 7, 2019

The written word was a major art form in the premodern world. Calligraphers filled the pages of manuscripts with scrolling vines and delicate pen flourishes, and illuminators depicted captivating narratives with large letterforms. These decorative embellishments reveal the monetary, cultural, and spiritual value placed on handmade books at the time. Offering an exploration of decorated letters, Artful Words: Calligraphy in Illuminated Manuscripts, provides insight to the artistic trends that shaped calligraphic practice from England to Central Europe and beyond for nearly one thousand years.

Three types of decorated letters were employed in the handwritten book arts of the Middle Ages: ornamented letters, formed by abstract foliate motifs; inhabited letters, in which strokes of the letter are made up of animal, human, or hybrid forms; and historiated initials, in which the letter includes figures or other content related to the text.

The alphabetic adornments in this exhibition appear in manuscripts that range from a Bible and a Qur’an to books of prayer, law, and history. The calligraphers who made them combined script and ornament to embellish pages, while illuminators developed original and complex strategies for fitting miniature stories into individual letters. Several of the manuscripts feature signatures by the scribes, calligraphers, or artists.

“We consume words in a variety of ways—in handwritten, printed, and digital media—decoding messages that are communicated not just by the combination of phrases but also by their design and styling,” said Bryan C. Keene, associate curator of manuscripts. “Among the highlights in the exhibition is a grouping of manuscripts penned by the famous scribe David Aubert for Duchess Margaret of York, as well as a Qur’an paired with an Italian ceramic vase with imitation Arabic script.”

Artful Words: Calligraphy in Illuminated Manuscripts will be on view December 18, 2018, through April 7, 2019 at the J. Paul Getty Museum. The exhibition is curated by Keene and Katherine Sedovic, former graduate intern in the Manuscripts Department. Related programming will include gallery talks, lectures, and more. Additional information can be found at getty.edu/360.

SPECTACULAR MYSTERIES: RENAISSANCE DRAWINGS REVEALED
December 11, 2018 – April 28, 2019

During the Italian Renaissance—the period from about 1475 to 1600 that is often seen as the foundation of later European art—drawing became increasingly vital to the artistic process just as it grew dramatically more sophisticated in technique and conception. Today, Italian Renaissance drawings are considered some of the most spectacular products of the western tradition. Yet, they often remain shrouded in mystery, their purpose, subjects, and even their makers unknown.

Featuring drawings from the Getty Museum’s collection and rarely seen works from private collections, Spectacular Mysteries: Renaissance Drawings Revealed, on view December 11, 2018—April 28, 2019, at the J. Paul Getty Museum, highlights the detective work involved in investigating the mysteries behind master drawings.

“The Getty’s collection of Italian drawings counts among the greatest in this country, and this exhibition will surprise many visitors with how much we still have to learn about these rare works of art,” explains Getty Museum Director Timothy Potts. “This display, which includes some of our best Italian drawings, provides many insights into the methods curators use to investigate the purpose and meaning of these superlative works of art, and some of the revelations they have disclosed.”

The practice of drawing flourished in Italy during the Renaissance, due to a surge in patronage for paintings, sculpture, and architecture, which went hand in hand with the rise of artists’ studios and a rigorous production process for these works. Many of the drawings produced at the time tell stories of their creation and the purposes they served, yet sometimes even the most seemingly simple question—who drew it?—is a mystery. Given the ease and informality with which a sketch can be made, its purpose and other information about it must be discovered from the only surviving evidence: the drawing itself.

Clues about the artist can be uncovered by comparing a drawing with the stylistic characteristics of other sheets. In 1995, for example, a Sotheby’s expert looked at Study of a Mourning Woman (about 1500-05), and immediately recognized the distinctive penwork and handling of the drapery of Michelangelo. Subsequent study confirmed this attribution. The Getty acquired the drawing in 2017.

Inscriptions can sometimes also be a useful clue to the artist, but should be treated with caution since they often reflect the over-optimistic attribution of a past owner. One work in the exhibition – Exodus (about 1540) – features many inscriptions. It took some time and much research to decipher which inscriptions belonged to past owners and which was that of the artist. Eventually, the drawing was attributed to Maturino da Firenze.

Mysteries about the sitter, subject, and purpose can sometimes be revealed by linking a drawing to a painting, sculpture, or print. The purpose of Two Male Standing Figures (about 1556) was unknown until 2001 when the work was auctioned and identified as the work of Girolamo Muziano. At that time, it was determined to be a study for figures in an altarpiece the artist painted for the cathedral in Orvieto.

“As I try to learn more and more about these captivating works, I sometimes feel like a detective,” says Julian Brooks, senior curator of drawings and curator of the exhibition. “In the end, this exhibition is the story of what we know, what we don’t know, what we might know, and what we can’t know about these extraordinary works of art and their world.”

Spectacular Mysteries: Renaissance Drawings Revealed will be on view December 11, 2017 –April 28. 2019, at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center. The exhibition is curated by Julian Brooks, senior curator in the Department of Drawings.

MONUMENTality
December 4, 2018 through April 21, 2019

The exhibition explores the role of monuments and monumental art, featuring works from antiquity to present day

As the role and meaning of monuments in contemporary culture takes on new urgency, the Getty Research Institute (GRI) is presenting an exhibition that connects these contemporary concerns to the past. MONUMENTality, on view at the Getty Center from December 4, 2018 through April 21, 2019, invites viewers to consider how the meanings of monuments can change over time and why some monuments endure while others fall.

“In organizing both this extraordinary exhibition and the current scholar year theme, the Getty Research Institute has focused on an especially timely subject – monuments and monumentality. Here, art history has very contemporary implications as many people, especially in the U.S., are passionately debating and re-examining the roles that monuments play in our communities and cities,” said Andrew Perchuk, acting director of the Getty Research Institute. “The GRI’s special collections are a rich source of archival material that makes it possible to take a broad view of both the varied life of monuments and the concept of the monumental from the classical to the contemporary.”

The exhibition investigates various paradigms of monumentality generated through systems of belief and structures of power, presenting historical rare books, political ephemera, photographs and contemporary art about or inspired by monuments from antiquity to present day.

Artists in the exhibition include Dennis Adams, Annalisa Alloatti, Lane Barden, Mirella Bentivoglio, Joyce Cutler-Shaw, Tacita Dean, Theaster Gates, Leandro Katz, Michael Light, Benedetta Cappa Marinetti, Edward Ranney, Ed Ruscha, Ursula Schulz-Dornburg, Lebbeus Woods, and more.

Objects in the exhibition date back to the 16th century, depicting early modern as well as classical monuments. For example, the renowned 18th-century printmaker Giovanni Battista Piranesi created grandiose reconstructions of Ancient Rome and a detailed scrolling engraving of Trajan’s column, erected in 113 CE. Rare 19th-century photographs document rebelling citizens during the 1871 Paris commune surrounding the toppled statue of Napoleon Bonaparte in the Place Vendôme, illustrating how the erection and destruction of monuments has been a recurring theme from antiquity to the present.

Among the oldest monuments explored in the exhibition are the Nazca lines, hundreds of ancient geoglyphs drawn into the southern desert of Peru by the Nazca people between 200 BCE and 500 CE. Recorded by photographers in the 20th century these enigmatic monuments are subject to plentiful theories about their meaning and purpose. In the exhibition, they are represented through photographs by Edward Ranney (American, b. 1942) who visited the sites repeatedly throughout the last half of the 20th century.

Juxtaposed with the Nazca images are photographs of earthworks created in the 1960s and 1970s by American artists who drew inspiration from these ancient monuments.

“Just as size and scale have been important in human efforts to mark cosmic and geological time, they are used by artists to invoke the monument and locate meaning. The phenomenology of the monument, the power structures behind monuments, and the meanings of monument, even when lost, are compelling subjects for contemporary artists,” said Frances Terpak exhibition co-curator and curator of photography at the Getty Research Institute. “Monuments are often made by artists but artists also take on the monument as a subject for exploring, deconstructing, and challenging.”

One of the newest objects in the exhibition is a deconstructed monument by Theaster Gates who is currently the artist in residence at the Getty Research Institute. For this exhibition Gates has toppled his own monumental piece Dancing Minstrel, 2016/18. Originally exhibited in 2016 as a larger-than-life bobble head depiction of the racist trope of the black minstrel, the installation at the Getty features the oversized parts of the figure scattered across the floor, a dramatic dismantling of a racist stereotype.

9The exhibition also considers monumentality in relation to cities, both real and imagined. Design proposals and plans for the never-built Palace of the Soviets submitted during and after a major international competition in 1931-1933 placed alongside a utopian plan to connect East and West Berlin at the height of the Cold War reveal how power is envisioned through the construction of the city and its monuments. The connection between monuments and the built environment is further explored through printed material, photographs, and ephemera. The impulse to document Los Angeles, for example, has spawned projects of enormous scope – such as Ed Ruscha’s extensive photo-documentations of Los Angeles Every Building on the Sunset Strip, 1966 and Hollywood Blvd, 1973 and 2002 and Lane Barden’s Linear City, a monumental tool for envisioning the city at the start of the 21st century by mapping its main arteries: water, rail, and automotive.

“Monuments, though often meant to stand for eternity, can physically change over time – from erosion, looting, war, or iconoclasm – or they can stay intact but change in their meaning, losing context or relevance, or becoming integrated with daily life in new ways. And monuments can form organically, through the ways that people interact with the built environment,” said Maristella Casciato, exhibition co-curator and curator of architecture at the Getty Research Institute. “MONUMENTality investigates the ways that monuments are necessarily dynamic, ultimately reflecting, through their endurance or failure, the world around them.”

MONUMENTality is curated by Frances Terpak, Maristella Casciato, and Katherine Rochester.

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