From 25 August to 20 November 2011
Beautiful women and wealthy merchants carry us away to Florence and Venice. Schemers, courtiers, and military commanders tell their stories. Great museums will be sending masterworks from Donatello to Leonardo da Vinci to the Bode-Museum.
Portraits capture the appearance and personality of a human being. The beginnings of the portrait as an autonomous genre lie in the fifteenth century. In Italy's art centers, diverse forms of portraiture evolved quickly. In addition to paintings, there were busts, medals, and drawings. Artists such as Sandro Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci captured the great personalities of the era, but also unknown beauties, in incomparable masterpieces.
The large exhibition is bringing together at the Bode-Museum more than 150 major works of Italian portraiture by more than 40 masters of the early Renaissance.
More than 50 great museums, including the Uffizi in Florence, the Louvre in Paris, and the National Gallery in London, are contributing valuable loans. This is an opportunity for a unique eye-to-eye encounter with world-famous works of art that offers, thanks to the extraordinary breadth of the exhibits, a comprehensive survey of the diverse manifestations of the art of Italian portraiture in the fifteenth century. In addition to the evolution from early portraits in profile to expressive depictions of character, various media and techniques of portraiture can be experienced: delicately executed paintings are found alongside the first imposing portrait busts in marble; the immediacy of delicate drawings testifies to studies from life; bronze portrait medals in miniature formats were once passed from hand to hand.
A walk through the three large sections of the exhibition illustrates the unique features of each of the centers of Italian art. The trading metropolis of Florence initially produced depictions of ideal female beauty and portraits of the ruling Medici family. The portraits of the courts of Italian princes and condottieri reflect the contemporary world of humanist ideas as well as refined taste. In Venice, the republic by the sea, the portrait emerged only late but then did so with an astonishing intensity.
The historical spaces of the Bode-Museum on Berlin's Museum Island (a UNESCO World Heritage Site).
The exhibition is being held under the auspices of the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Italy.
Hansjörg Hartung, Berlin