An extract from the Christie’s Education online course, The Great Masters of European Art 1350–1850. Florence in the 1400s, a city of wealthy guilds and merchants, in particular the Medici family, who commissioned astonishing works of art to show off their success and cultivation.
Here we are introduced to one of the great artists the Medicis favoured: Sandro Botticelli, and his most famous works: ‘Primavera’ and ‘The Birth of Venus’.
Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi (c. 1445 – May 17, 1510), known as Sandro Botticelli, was an Italian painter of the Early Renaissance. He belonged to the Florentine School under the patronage of Lorenzo de’ Medici, a movement that Giorgio Vasari would characterize less than a hundred years later in his Vita of Botticelli as a “golden age”. Botticelli’s posthumous reputation suffered until the late 19th century; since then, his work has been seen to represent the linear grace of Early Renaissance painting.
Titian (active 1506–1576) produced a masterful group of paintings for Philip II of Spain, celebrating the loves of gods, goddesses, and mortals. Depicting scenes from Ovid’s narrative poem Metamorphoses, Titian named them “poesie” and considered the works as visual equivalents of poetry.
This volume presents a detailed study of the complete series—Danaë, Venus and Adonis, Perseus and Andromeda, Diana and Actaeon, Diana and Callisto, and The Rape of Europa, as well as The Death of Actaeon—lavishly illustrated with details of these emotionally charged paintings. The book explores Titian’s creative process and technique, in addition to his use of literary and visual sources and his correspondence with Philip II.
The artistic legacy of the series for later European painting is also examined in the works of artists such as Rubens, Velázquez, and Rembrandt. Offering the most comprehensive overview of these remarkable works, Titian: Love, Desire, Death is an indispensable resource for scholars and admirers of Renaissance painting.
To work out the details of all the figures in pen and ink would have been extremely labor-intensive, and sharpening quills and mixing inks would’ve added an additional distraction. Drawing in chalk necessitated great skill, but it also allowed Michelangelo a flexibility. He could create subtle tonal variations by applying more or less pressure onto the chalk or by wetting it. The red chalk also provided an immediate mid-tone on the paper and could be easily blended when modeling and shading forms. Being a naturally occurring material that was available to artists in sticks that could be sharpened as desired, it was also convenient and portable.
During his lifetime, Michelangelo likely produced tens of thousands of drawings. But being protective of his ideas, and to give an impression of effortless genius, he destroyed many of them. Today only about 600 drawings by the Renaissance artist survive. A Getty exhibition highlighted 28 of them, giving viewers a window into Michelangelo’s artistic process. “He used drawings to record his observations, to explore certain ideas, to further develop these ideas, to reconsider them entirely,” said Assistant Curator Edina Adam.
The exhibition included a relatively high number of drawings in red chalk, which prompted the question: Why did Michelangelo use this particular drawing material?
An historical text introduces each property, giving an overview of its origins. The villas have been specially photographed for this book by Dario Fusaro, with views of both the palace interiors and their grounds, as well as the gardens, glimpses of the halls, details of the furnishings, and a focus on the frescoes, where still preserved. Explanatory text offers insights on the most interesting frescoes, such as those of Veronese at Villa Barbaro. For the first time, Fusaro also employs a drone with the purpose of capturing the architectural structure and elements of each Italian Renaissance garden, from above and as a whole.
A stunning collection of photographs celebrating the excellence of the Italian Renaissance period through palaces and gardens built between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
The book illustrates nine locations of extraordinary artistic and architectural interest, conceived by prominent Italian families and dynasties as urban villas or country houses centered around the pursuit of entertainment and leisure. These lavishly decorated and frescoed palaces are adorned with handcrafted furniture and works of art and surrounded by gardens that retain their original layout to this day–a very rare feature.
One of the most successful artists of the Italian Renaissance, Titian was the master of the sixteenth-century Venetian school and admired by his royal patrons and fellow artists alike. Several of his contemporaries, including the authors and art theorists Giorgio Vasari, Francesco Priscianese, Pietro Aretino, and Ludovico Dolce, wrote accounts of Titian’s life and work.
In this episode, Getty assistant curator of paintings Laura Llewellyn discusses what these “lives” teach us about Titian and the artistic debates and rivalries of his time. All of these biographies are gathered together in Lives of Titian, recently published by the Getty as part of our Lives of the Artists series.
How is a drapery put in place? For what reasons does this motive persist until today? How to explain its power of fascination? These are the questions that this exhibition intends to pose, in order to enter the “factory” of the drapery and to get closer to the artistic gesture. By showing the stages of making a drapery, the visitor will discover the singular practices of artists from the Renaissance to the second half of the 20th century.
November 30, 2019 – March 8, 2020, Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon
Albrecht Dürer, Drapery Study, 1508, Brush and Indian Ink, heightened white on dark green paper
The Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon retains an exceptional drawing by Albrecht Dürer studying a piece of drapery. This meticulous study reveals how the flexibility of a fabric lends itself to an infinity of folds, underlined by shadows and lights.
This exhibition traces the first sixty years of the etched print (circa 1490 to circa 1560), from its emergence in the workshop of the German printmaker and armor decorator Daniel Hopfer to the years when a range of artists from Germany, Flanders, Italy, and France began experimenting with etching. Approximately 125 etchings, produced by both renowned and lesser-known artists, are displayed alongside a number of drawings, printing plates, illustrated books, and armor.
The history of printmaking has been punctuated by moments of great invention that have completely changed the course of the medium. The beginning of etching in Europe in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries—when the technique moved out of the workshop of armor decorators and into those of printmakers and painters—represents one of those pivotal moments. Etching, essentially drawing on the surface of a metal plate, had an ease that opened the door for all kinds of artists to make prints. The pioneers of the medium included some of the greatest painters of the Renaissance, such as Albrecht Dürer, Parmigianino, and Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
This fall, The Frick Collection will present the first-ever exhibition on the Florentine sculptor Bertoldo di Giovanni (ca. 1440–1491), a renowned student of Donatello, a teacher of Michelangelo, and a great favorite of Lorenzo “il Magnifico” de’ Medici, his principal patron. More than twenty statues, reliefs, medals, and statuettes — constituting nearly his entire extant oeuvre — will be on view exclusively at the Frick, which houses the only sculptural figure by Bertoldo outside of Europe. The exhibition will highlight the ingenuity of the artist’s designs across media, including bronze, wood, and terracotta, and provide the first chance to fully explore longstanding questions of attribution, function, groupings, and intended display. Bertoldo di Giovanni: The Renaissance of Sculpture in Medici Florence will bring into focus the sculptor’s unique position at the heart of the artistic and political landscape in fifteenth-century Italy.