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Baccio Bandinelli, Self-Portrait, about 1545, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.

BOSTON, MASS.– The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum opened a new exhibition titled Donatello, Michelangelo, Cellini: Sculptors’ Drawings from Renaissance Italy, on view from October 23, 2014, through January 19, 2015, in the Museum’s Hostetter Gallery. This international loan exhibition brings together 39 drawings and a number of related sculptures by renowned Renaissance masters, including Michelangelo, Donatello, Cellini, Bandinelli, Giambologna, and Della Robbia, many exhibited for the first time in the United States.

This exhibition—inspired by the self-portrait of Florentine artist Baccio Bandinelli and in the Gardner Museum’s collection—is the first one to do an in-depth study of the multi-faceted relationship between drawing and sculpture in Renaissance Italy. Collected throughout the centuries, drawings by Renaissance masters have been widely praised and admired. They are celebrated for their beauty and elegance, technical mastery and ingenuity, and yet the relationship between drawings and the working practices of the sculptor’s studio have been vastly understudied—until now.

In his portrait, Bandinelli, one of the most famous sculptors of his day, is not memorialized with one of his grand public monuments, but rather with a preparatory drawing of it. This emphasizes the decisive shift that occurred during the Renaissance, as drawings became valuable works of art in and of themselves, and highlights the shifting social status of artists as intellectuals instead of mere craftsmen.

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is delighted to present this ground-breaking exhibition that gives visitors a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see this assembled collection of important and beautiful drawings and sculptures spanning the 200 years between Donatello and Bernini,” notes Anne Hawley, the Norma Jean Calderwood Director. “The fact that a hallmark work in the Gardner’s permanent collection has galvanized such important new scholarship in the field aligns perfectly with the Museum’s mission.”

Michael Cole, Professor of Italian Renaissance and Baroque Art at Columbia University, and Oliver Tostmann, Susan Morse Hilles Curator of European Art at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, the co-curators for the exhibition, have led an international team of scholars who have contributed to the accompanying catalogue.

The goal of this exhibition,” says Cole “is to look comparatively at the graphic practices of Italian Renaissance sculptors.” In so doing, the exhibition and catalogue tell a story of professional transformation. The earliest Renaissance artists who made drawings were trained as goldsmiths, while many of the later artists who made drawings did so as they moved into the field of architecture.

In addition to several works in the Gardner’s permanent collection—including the Self-Portrait by Baccio Bandinelli and a drawing of the Pietà by Michelangelo—other highlights of the exhibition include noteworthy loans that have never before been shown in America, including Cellini’s Perseus and Andromeda from the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence, Italy; and Peter de Witte’s Portrait of Giambologna in his Studio from a private collection. In addition to these, other drawings are on loan from the British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre, and the Uffizi.

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At left: Benvenuto Cellini, Satyr (detail), 1543-45, Bronze, 56.8 x 8.9 x 8.1 cm, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program. At right: Benvenuto Cellini (detail), Satyr, 1543-45, Pen and brown ink and brown wash on paper, 416 x 203 mm, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, Woodner Collection, Patron’s Permanent Fund Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington.

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Benvenuto Cellini, Satyr, 1543-45, Bronze, 56.8 x 8.9 x 8.1 cm, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

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Benvenuto Cellini, Satyr, 1543-45, Pen and brown ink and brown wash on paper, 416 x 203 mm, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, Woodner Collection, Patron’s Permanent Fund Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington.

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Donatello, Donatello, David, about 1450, Pen and brown ink on paper, 288 x 204 mm, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rennes, © RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY.

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Baccio Bandinelli, Hercules from a side view, Red chalk on paper, 403 x 196 mm, Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi, Florence Scala / Ministero per i Beni e le Attività culturali / Art Resource, NY

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Michelangelo, Pietà, about 1538-1544, black chalk on paper, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.

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Attributed to Peter Candid (Peter de Witte), Portrait of Giambologna in his studio, about 1585-88, Oil on canvas, 89 x 66 cm, Private Collection, on loan to the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh.