Wednesday 1 May 2013

"The Springtime of the Renaissance" - a great exhibition currently showing in Florence

The Strozzi Palace is currently hosting a wonderful art exhibition under the title "The Springtime of the Renaissance" (La Primavera del Rinascimento. La scultura e le arti a Firenze 1400-1460. Palazzo Strozzi.). Everyone with an interest in the history of art, especially Renaissance art, should seize the opportunity to spend half a day (or a whole day) at this exhibition here in Florence or, from September, at the Louvre in Paris, if they possibly can. Every year there is a very good exhibition at the Palazzo Strozzi, but this year (2013), the Bargello and the Louvre have put together a truly fabulous show of early Florentine masterpieces displayed alongside equally beautiful Classical and late Gothic works of the kind from which the Florentines drew inspiration.

La Primavera del Rinascimento. La scultura e le arti a Firenze 1400-1460
The modern, the renaissance and the classical - a study in character.

The creators of this exhibition suggest that it was from sculpture more than painting that the Renaissance sprang, and they see the initial glimmer in the form of the two bronze relief panels submitted in 1401 by Brunelleschi and Ghiberti for the competition to create a set of new bronze doors of the Florentine baptistery. Sculpting scenes based on an identical biblical story, both artists combined Gothic elegance of costume and scenery with human figures inspired by classical sculpture. From this point on, the exhibition is dominated by the sculpture and spirit of Donatello, who did his apprenticeship in the workshops of Brunelleschi and Ghiberti. Donatello strongly influenced his contemporaries, both sculptors and painters, among whom we may count Michelozzo, Masaccio, Filippo Lippi, Paolo Uccello and Andrea del Castagno, stylistically and through his introduction of perspective in his low relief works.
Donatello at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence
Single point perspective, classical depiction of the human form and draperies
- Donatello's St George and the Dragon in very shallow relief.

The spatial organisation of the exhibition is excellent, not least with the placement of a huge, 4th century BC, bronze horse's head, the Medici Protome, visible through an arch from the first room of the show. Later, when we enter this room, Donatello's Carafa Protome, is revealed, and we can easily see why it was long thought to be a classical work.
Donatello's Carafa Protome
Donatello or ancient Greek? Visit this exhibition to find out which!

At the appropriate points in the exhibition, Classical sculpture including portrait busts and sarcophagus friezes, are juxtaposed with early Renaissance works in which the artists were evidently struggling to relearn the artistic skills of the Greeks and Romans, especially in depicting the human form. At other points, the juxtapositions of contemporary paintings and sculptures emphasize how painters set out to make their paintings more sculptural

The Springtime of the Renaissance
Painters set out to make their paintings more sculptural.

During my visit at the end of April, viewers were sparse and I often had entire rooms to myself. You can also view the exhibits close up, with a magnifying glass if you wish (and have one with you). In most of their native museums, this is surely not possible. Try to attend this show early or at least in Florence. It will definitely be packed out when it moves to Paris

More about La Primavera del Rinascimento.

Recommended vacation accommodation in Chianti towns, villages and countryside.

Author: Anna Maria Baldini

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