Lorenzo Monaco: from Giotto's tradition to Renaissance
From 09 May 2006 To 24 September 2006
Florence, Accademia Gallery
This is the first exhibition dedicated to this leading protagonist of late gothic painting in Italy, one well known and esteemed by specialists, but still awaiting proper consecration among the vast public of today. The exhibition will be held on the same dates as the large exhibition held in the Marches and dedicated to Gentile da Fabriano, another major protagonist of late gothic painting or of the “Pseudo-Renaissance”, as the great critic Federico Zeri loved to define it.
The Florence show will document the entire span of activity of this extraordinary monk and artist which, for its human and artistic story, directly anticipates that of the other great friar and painter, Beato Angelico, one of the founding fathers of the Florentine Renaissance. This role, however, can also be rightly attributed to the Camaldolese monk who principally concerned himself with “piloting” late fourteenth-century painting with a Giottesque derivation to the ideals of nascent Humanism in its version closer to Christianity.
Born in 1370 circa, the painter worked with full awareness in one of the most vital and creative periods in Italian art history, constantly comparing himself and the main protagonists of the Florentine art scene: from Agnolo Gaddi and Spinello Aretino to Lorenzo Ghiberti and Gherardo Starnina, also considerably influencing artists of the calibre of Masolino da Panicale and the young Beato Angelico. The exhibition will also present several masterpieces by the two latter artists as points of departure to underline the main stages in the artistic development of the Camaldolese artist. Moreover, the exhibition will bring forth, especially for the benefit of the general public, the quality of the workmanship that characterises the paintings on wood by Lorenzo Monaco: the prodigious refinement of drawing, the proverbial elegance of his characters, his extraordinarily brilliant and luminous colours.
Equally astonishing are the many codices and illuminations from museums in Italy and abroad which also document the fervent activity in miniating of which Lorenzo Monaco is considered one of the greatest exponents of all times. One of the main objectives of the exhibition – which will avail of numerous works on loan from the world’s most prestigious museum institutions – is that or integrally recomposing, for the first time after five centuries, several altarpiece complexes that were dispersed especially in the course of the XIX century, and originally situated on the altars of important religious buildings in the city, such as Santa Maria del Carmine, San Gaggio, the monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli, Santa Croce, and so on.
From the scientific viewpoint, the rich exhibition catalogue will represent a foothold in studies on this fundamental artist of Italian late gothic culture, and will definitely enlarge on his contribution to the artistic developments in one of the most fascinating periods of Italian art..