The Renaissance of Art from Donatello to Perugino / Exhibition at the Museo del Corso

Museo del Corso / Rome

The Renaissance of Art from Donatello to Perugino
Exhibition > 7th September 2008

The Museo del Corso is holding the first major exhibition dedicated to Rome in the fifteenth century. Produced and organised jointly by the Fondazione Roma and Arthemisia, this exhibition is a guide to discovering a little known aspect of the Eternal City, which is chiefly famous for the splendour of Imperial and Baroque Rome. In actual fact it was owing to the fifteenth century, when the Pope returned to Peter’s throne in the Vatican after the Avignonese period (1305-1377), that Rome retrieved the leading role in the artistic, political and religious scenario from the XVI to the XX century.

Museo del Corso
The Renaissance of Art from Donatello to Perugino
Exhibition poster

To testify this renaissance a collection of 170 works of arts including plastic models, vestments, altar cloths and holy vessels, civilian furnishings, ceramics, sculptures, drawings, paintings and Papal medals have been brought from the most important museums in Italy and abroad, such as the Vatican Museums, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the British Museum in London, the Stiftung Museum Kunst Plast in Düsseldorf and the Skulpturensammlung und Museum für Byzantinische Kunst in Berlin.

The exhibition investigates town planning and the social, religious and artistic aspects of Rome in the Fifteenth century when, attracted by the rich Papal commissioning and arising innovative cultural environment, the most important artists poured into the city throughout the entire Italian Renaissance period starting from Donatello, Brunelleschi and Leon Battista Alberti whose theoretical works were inspired by ancient Rome. Amongst the artists displayed are Gentile da Fabbriano, Mantegna, Perugino, Piero della Francesca, Pinturicchio, Filippo Lippi, and even Michelangelo who actually started his extraordinary career in Rome during the fifteenth century.

The exhibition is divided into five sections:

1. The City

The history of very few cities coincides with the history of the world. Rome is one of these and certainly the only city that during its 3000 years of life has almost always played a leading role.
The XV century corresponds to the rebirth of the city after the decline during the XIV century. This section documents the recovery of the road network, walls, aqueducts and the construction of new facility buildings (e.g. the Santo Spirito Hospital), the magnificence of noble residences such as the Niccolò V Palace and the great Roman basilicas.

Johann Wilhelm Baur (attribuito) (Strasburgo, 1607 – Vienna, 1642)
Piazza Navona intorno al 1630
Olio su tela, 101,2 x 135,3 cm
Roma, Museo di Roma, Gabinetto Comunale delle Stampe

2. Civilian and religious life.

During the fifteenth century Rome was a lively though sometimes violent city.
This section recaptures the aspects of daily life, almost as if to enter the homes, streets and noble residences of the Romans in order to discover their private lives that was led amid times of peace, joy and goliardery and times of war, pain and sadness.
Lastly in order to fully understand society at that time the religious or devotional aspects that marked time all year round cannot be neglected.

Benozzo di Lese detto Gozzoli (Firenze, 1420 – Pistoia, 1497)
Due nudi in un paesaggio con due cani, 1448-1450
Disegno a penna, acquerello marroncino e rossiccio, biacca su carta gialla, controfondato, 175 x 230 mm
Firenze, Galleria degli Uffizi, Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe

3. Rome, a treasure chest of ancient history

The idea that Rome was an open air museum was implicitly endorsed by the presence of those artists who, inspired by antiquity, created the Renaissance in Florence. Donatello came to Rome in 1402 followed shortly after by Brunelleschi; the former came to study classical sculpture and the latter the building techniques in ancient Rome that would subsequently be applied to build the great dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence.
It was not without reason that the theorisation of the Renaissance was born on the banks of the river Tiber where Leon Battista Alberti went to meditate. Through his treatises such as the De re aedificatoria – On the Art of Building (1443-1452) that was fundamental for architecture and De Statua – On sculpture (1450) for sculpture, Leon Battista Alberti furnished his contemporaries with the tools for defining and developing the new artistic movement.
With fifteenth century drawings, archaeological findings and copies of monuments, this section documents the love that artists in this century had for ancient Rome.

4. The Popes’ Rome

Contemporary historiography now agrees that the exceptional development of Rome during the Renaissance, starting from the XV century, would have not been feasible without the patronage of Popes.
The works exhibited document the role of the twelve popes that during the fifteenth century succeeded each other on the throne of Peter. The first Pope who managed to direct the city towards a new flourish of art was Martin V (1417-1431), whilst the height of art in this century was certainly reached by Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484) who bequeathed that absolute masterpiece of the Sistine Chapel to succeeding generations.

5. The Great Artists

Andrea Mantenga (Isola di Carturo, 1431-1506)
Madonna con il Bambino detta Madonna delle cave
Tempera su tavola, 32 x 29,6 cm
Firenze, Galleria degli Uffizi

Piero della Francesca (Sansepolcro, 1412-1492)
Madonna benedicente con il Bambino e due angeli (Madonna di Senigallia)
Olio su tavola di noce, 61 x 53,5 cm
Urbino, Galleria Nazionale delle Marche

Pietro Vannucci detto il Perugino (attribuito) (Città della Pieve, 1450 circa – Fontignano, 1523)
San Sebastiano
Olio su tavola, 110 x 62 cm
Roma, Galleria Borghese

The deeds of the various Popes proved to be indispensable for the rebirth of arts in Rome and this is the reason why we are able to show, in the present day, sheer masterpieces such as the Madonna delle Cave by Mantenga – now kept in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence – that was painted by the artist when he came to Rome in order to fresco the apartments built by Innocent VIII in the Belvedere villa in the Vatican.
However, Mantenga was not the only great painter to have revealed his genius to the city of Rome. The great pictorial tradition of the Renaissance even dates back to Pisanello, Gentile da Fabbriano and Masaccio that worked during the reign of Pope Martin V. Other great artists in Rome were Piero della Francesca, Filippo Lippi, Melozzo da Forlì, Pinturicchio and Filippino Lippi all of whom are shown in this exhibition.
Two absolutely new elements complete the visit to the Museo del Corso: a large multimedia map of fifteenth century Rome and a tridimensional reconstruction of the Carafa Chapel of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. The former allows visitors to observe the particulars of monuments and buildings in Rome during that period whereas the latter – realized by ENEA (National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and the Environment) – by applying colour optical radar technology (usually used for investigations in space) gives a such a clear and close view of Lippi’s frescoes that even the smallest details may be perceived.

This Exhibition shows for the first time since it was found, since it had been missing for over twenty years, Piermatteo d’Amelia’s masterpiece “Madonna con Bambino” that has moreover been carefully restored

    Text © Museo del Corso
    Images © All rights reserved


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~ by Stampfli & Turci on August 16, 2008.

One Response to “The Renaissance of Art from Donatello to Perugino / Exhibition at the Museo del Corso”

  1. […] The Renaissance of Art from Donatello to Perugino / Exhibition at the Museo del Corso […]

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