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"Italian Masterpieces From Raphael To Tiepolo"
2002-04-24 until 2002-08-04
Montreal Museum of Fine Art
Montreal, QC, CA

A remarkable exhibition of masterworks of Italian painting by a number of the most celebrated names associated with Italy’s artistic heritage. The exhibition, which encompasses all the major schools of Italian art from the fifteenth through the eighteenth centuries, includes forty-three works by such artists as Lorenzo Monaco, Sassetta, Filippino Lippi, Bernardino Luini, Raphael, Titian, Sebastiano del Piombo, Lorenzo Lotto, Il Pordenone, Tintoretto, Veronese, Bernardo Strozzi, Annibale Carracci, Bernardo Cavallino, Johann Liss, Sebastiano Ricci, Bernardo Bellotto and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. The exhibition is being mounted uniquely and specifically for Montreal by the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts.

The works range in scale from intimate devotional paintings and portraits to state commissions, monumental altarpieces and mythological paintings. Italian Masterpieces from Raphael to Tiepolo will offer the public an unprecedented opportunity to enjoy the highlights of one of the greatest collections of Italian Old Masters in Europeæa collection that has received limited exposure in North America.

Among the most important of the exhibition works is the world-renowned Esterházy Madonna by Raphael, named after the celebrated Hungarian aristocratic collectors who once possessed it. This exquisite and intimate presentation of the Virgin with the Infant Christ and the Infant St. John the Baptist is set in a landscape. The rarely lent work, a transcendent treasure of the Budapest collection, was executed and left not quite finished by the master in 1508, when he left Florence for Rome. The painting is in superb condition. Passages of visible underpainting reveal how Raphael worked up the composition, combining the finest levels of High Renaissance painting with visible traces of drawing. The exhibition features another intimate and tender study, Madonna and Child Venerated by Saint Anthony of Padua and a Friar, executed by one of the most talented Florentine painters of the late fifteenth century, Filippino Lippi. Titian was the greatest painter of the Venetian Renaissance and, with Raphael, one of the two most important Italian portraitists of the age. His portrait Doge Marcantonio Trevisano stands as a model of his aggressive use of the brush to evoke the august power and authority of the subject. It is complemented by other elegant, sensual portraits by such renowned Venetian artists as Sebastiano del Piombo and Veronese. The portrait of a man by sixteenth-century Brescian painter Il Romanino presents, by contrast, a more assertively naturalistic depiction of its handsome subject. The earliest painting is a large Crucifix, cut to the shape of the Cross and the figure of the suspended Christ, executed by one of the most moving and lyrical Florentine painters of the fifteenth century, Lorenzo Monaco. The exhibition culminates with a rapturous orchestration of colouristic effects in Virgin with Six Saints by the last great genius of the Venetian school of painting, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.

Works of dramatic power and moving exploration of human sensibilities include Sassetta’s introspective St. Thomas Aquinas at Prayer, Il Sodoma’s tragic Death of Lucretia, the Cavaliere d’Arpinos erotic Diana and Actaeon, Tintorettos Hercules Expelling the Faun from Omphale’s Bed, Antonio Bellucci’s Danae, Annibale Carracci’s tender Christ and the Samaritan Woman, Johann Liss’s powerful Judith with the Head of Holofernes, Bernardo Cavallino’s monumental Meeting at the Golden Gate, Jacopo Bassano’s poignant Road to Calvary, Alessandro Allori’s Body of Christ with Two Angels, Bernard Strozzi’s large-scale, masterful The Tribute Money, and Giuseppe Maria Crespi’s Archangel Michael Defeating the Rebel Angels, with its magnificent theatre.

Italian Masterpieces from Raphael to Tiepolo: the Collection of the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts is curated by Hilliard T. Goldfarb, Associate Chief Curator, Curator of Old Masters, and Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.


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