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THE FLEMISH ORIGINS OF ITALIAN RENAISSANCE PAINTING EXPLORED IN A LUMINOUS INTERNATIONAL LOAN EXHIBITION

August 08, 2013

Presented exclusively at The Huntington Sept. 28, 2013—Jan. 13, 2014, “Face to Face: Flanders, Florence, and Renaissance Painting” brings together 35 masterworks to demonstrate that Flemish painting made a vital contribution to that of Renaissance Florence.

 

THE FLEMISH ORIGINS OF ITALIAN RENAISSANCE PAINTING EXPLORED IN A LUMINOUS INTERNATIONAL LOAN EXHIBITION

Rogier van der Weyden (ca. 1400–1464). Left: The Virgin and Child, ca. 1460, oil on panel transferred to canvas transferred to masonite, 19 1/2 × 12 1/2 in. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens Rogier van der Weyden (ca. 1400–1464) Right: Portrait of Philippe de Croÿ, ca. 1460, oil on panel, 20 × 12 1/2 in. The Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp. Photo © Lukas Art/Koninkijk Musuem voor Schone Kunsten.

 

Press preview: Friday, Sept. 27, 10 a.m.—noon

 


About the Book     •     Related Exhibition     •     Related Programs     •     Images  


 

Aug. 8, 2013 (updated from Sept. 14, 2012)

 

SAN MARINO, Calif.—An exhibition of 29 paintings by Renaissance luminaries such as Domenico Ghirlandaio, Hans Memling, Pietro Perugino, and Rogier van der Weyden, complemented by six rarely exhibited illuminated manuscripts, has been organized by The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens and is on view in the MaryLou and George Boone Gallery from Sept. 28, 2013, through Jan. 13, 2014. Accompanied by a book of the same title, “Face to Face: Flanders, Florence, and Renaissance Painting” explores the relatively little-known fact that Flemish painting helped make possible the innovative, sophisticated, and beautiful works of the Italian Renaissance.

 

While many exhibitions have shed light on the beauty of 15th-century Flemish painting, and even more have celebrated the glory of Italian Renaissance painting, “Face to Face” (inspired by the 2008 exhibition “Firenze e gli Antichi Paesi Bassi 1430–1530,” presented at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence) is the first in the United States to examine the theme, showing the results of artistic contact between the creative centers in Flanders (specifically those located in present-day Belgium) and Florence.

 

“The Huntington houses several masterpieces of Renaissance painting,” said Kevin Salatino, Hannah and Russel Kully Director of the Art Collections at The Huntington, “and they deserve to be displayed in a larger context like this—helping to shed light on the cultural, economic, and artistic links between these two profoundly important artistic centers in the second half of the 15th century. We’re very excited to be able to organize this exhibition for American audiences.”

 

“Face to Face” marks the first time viewers in the Los Angeles area will be able to see The Huntington’s acclaimed Virgin and Child (ca. 1460) by Flemish painter Rogier van der Weyden (ca. 1400–1464) displayed alongside its companion diptych panel. Portrait of Philippe de Croÿ, on loan from the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp, was originally the right half of the two-panel painting hinged to open and close like a book—a common format at the time that enabled the works to stand open on a table or altar.

 

With paintings from the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence, the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., among others, the exhibition juxtaposes Flemish and Italian works in thematic groupings, addressing the form of the diptych, the depiction of the face of Christ, the evolution of portraiture, the elements of landscape painting, and the virtuosic rendering of materials and objects.

 

“Face to Face” is co-curated by Catherine Hess, chief curator of European art at The Huntington, and Paula Nuttall, author of From Flanders to Florence: The Impact of Netherlandish Painting, 1400–1500 (2004, Yale University Press) and Face to Face: Flanders, Florence, and Renaissance Painting, published by The Huntington on the occasion of this exhibition. Her recent book includes a new essay on the topic and reproduces all of the works included in the display. 

The Connection Between Flanders and Florence    
Flanders was a wealthy region encompassing parts of present-day Belgium, France, and the Netherlands, and it was ruled by the dukes of Burgundy, whose magnificent court attracted leading artists. These factors led to the flourishing of art and culture in this region. It was in Flanders, argues Nuttall, that in the first decades of the 15th century “a new pictorial language based on the observation of reality” was developed, notably by Jan van Eyck (ca. 1380/90–1441) and Van der Weyden.

 

Florence also had a prosperous mercantile economy and was an important cultural and artistic center in the 15th century. And since the late Middle Ages, a colony of Florentine merchants and bankers had settled in Flanders to facilitate banking and trade.

 

Through these commercial connections, Flemish painting became known in Florence, where it was admired for its emotional intensity and awe-inspiring realism. By the end of the 15th century, influential art patrons, including the Medici family, displayed works by Flemish artists in Florentine churches and homes.

 

The lessons learned from Flemish painting enriched and transformed the art made in Florence. Even Michelangelo commented on the realism of Flemish painting by noting that the painting of Flanders “will cause [the devout] to shed many tears,” and “in Flanders they paint with a view to deceiving the eye.”

 

A particularly striking example of the impact of Flemish work on a Florentine artist is Hans Memling’s (ca. 1430–1494) Man of Sorrows Blessing, an intensely moving Flemish devotional painting that promoted private prayer and the contemplation of Christ’s humanity rather than his divinity. The painting was owned by a Florentine and must have arrived in Florence soon after it was painted, generating a host of copies. Outstanding among these is the copy by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449–1494) that is so faithful to its model that it was long thought to be by Memling himself. Both works are on view in “Face to Face” for visitors to compare.

The Glory of Renaissance Painting
Masterworks gathered together for “Face to Face” include Memling’s Portrait of a Man with a Coin of the Emperor Nero from the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten in Antwerp and his Saint Veronica from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., as well as Gerard David’s (ca. 1455-1523) Virgin with the Milk Soup from the Palazzo Bianco in Genoa, Pietro Perugino’s (ca. 1446/1450–1523) Portrait of Francesco delle Opere from the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence, and Filippino Lippi’s (ca. 1457–1504) Portrait of a Musician from the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin.

 

A celebrated cornerstone of Western art, Portrait of a Man with a Coin of the Emperor Nero displays elements typical of Memling’s portraits that were popular with Italians in Flanders, including the fanciful landscape in the background and an especially refined execution. The painting may depict an Italian patron, an idea supported by the Roman coin in his hand.

 

Saint Veronica is a sensitive rendering of the saint kneeling within an expansive landscape and holding a veil imprinted with the image of Christ’s face. This Flemish panel originally formed half of a diptych—with Memling’s Saint John the Baptist, now in Munich—that was owned by Bernardo Bembo, the Venetian ambassador to Burgundy and subsequently the Venetian ambassador to Florence.

 

An image of intimate domesticity, Virgin with the Milk Soup is a masterful rendering of objects of daily life—including the child’s transparent linen shirt, a basket and prayer book under the window, and the elements of a meal on the table in the foreground—a characteristic of Flemish painting prized by Florentine painters and patrons.

 

Portrait of a Musician is a remarkable Italian portrait that shows a young man, a bow tucked in his elbow, tuning a lira da braccio (a Renaissance stringed instrument), with other instruments and books on the shelf behind him. The domestic setting, the window with a vista, and virtuosic details in this Italian picture were undoubtedly inspired by Flemish models.

 

“We are thrilled to present these dazzling paintings from such a fascinating chapter of European art,” said Hess. “Very few members of the general public realize the great impact Netherlandish artists had on artists in Florence during the Renaissance. I believe the public will be not only captivated by the topic but also stunned by the beauty of the works on display, many of them masterpieces that have never been seen before on the West Coast.”
    
This exhibition is made possible by Daniel Greenberg, Susan Steinhauser, and the Greenberg Foundation.

Additional support is provided by an anonymous donor in honor of Robert F. and Lois S. Erburu and in memory of Melvin R. Seiden, and also by Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Christine C. Benter, and the Ahmanson Foundation Exhibition and Education Endowment.  

This exhibition is also supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities and by the Government of Flanders through Flanders House New York.


Face to Face: Flanders, Florence, and Renaissance Painting Written by: Paula Nuttall (Introduction by Catherine Hess)About the Book
Face to Face: Flanders, Florence, and Renaissance Painting
Written by: Paula Nuttall (Introduction by Catherine Hess)
Available worldwide
Format: Cloth, 96 pages, 8 × 10 inches, 80 color illustrations
ISBN: 978-0-87328-258-1
$29.95
Release: Sept. 2013
Huntington Library Press

 

This lavishly illustrated catalogue accompanies an exhibition of the same name at The Huntington (Sept. 28, 2013 to Jan. 13, 2014). Co-curator and scholar Paula Nuttall explores the transmission of ideas, techniques, and modes of artistic rendering that first developed in the Burgundian court and became hugely influential in southern Europe—notably on painting in Florence, usually considered the artistic epicenter of Renaissance Europe. Nuttall treats the thematic groupings of the exhibition, exploring the diptych as an art form, the portrayal of the face of Christ, the development of portraiture, and the virtuosic renderings of materials and textures.

 


Related Exhibition
Crossing the Alps: Artistic Exchange and the Printed Image in Renaissance Europe
Sept. 28, 2013–Jan. 13, 2014  |  Huntington Art Gallery, Works on Paper Room
On view concurrently with “Face to Face,” this focused exhibition displays 15 works by Flemish, Dutch, German, and Italian artists from The Huntington’s collections. Artists include Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528), Marcantonio Raimondi (ca. 1480–ca. 1534), and Lucas van Leyden (1494–1533), who made and disseminated prints after or were inspired by works of art produced in other countries. Reproducible, inexpensive, and portable, printed images became agents of artistic exchange in the West in the late 15th century, when the development of new and efficient printing techniques began to provide artists with a larger array of images than ever before. In addition to individual prints, the exhibition features illustrated printed books from The Huntington’s Library holdings. Like prints, these books were easy to transport, which helped transfer knowledge and new ideas to an international audience.


Related Programs
“Flanders, Florence, and Renaissance Painting”
Fri., Nov. 15, 7 p.m.  |  Ahmanson Room, Botanical Center  |  Free; no reservations required
Exhibition co-curator Paula Nuttall offers a new angle on Renaissance art as she explores the impact of Flemish painting in Florence.

The Huntington also will present a suite of educational events surrounding the exhibition, including a tempera-painting workshop, curator tour, and children’s activities. More information available at huntington.org.

 

[EDITOR’S NOTE: High-resolution digital images available on request for publicity use.]

 

Contacts:  Thea M. Page, 626-405-2260, tpage@huntington.org
                    Lisa Blackburn, 626-405-2140, lblackburn@huntington.org

 

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About The Huntington
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution serving scholars and the general public. More information about The Huntington can be found online at huntington.org.

Visitor Information
The Huntington is located at 1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino, Calif., 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles. It is open to the public Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from noon to 4:30 p.m.; and Saturday, Sunday, and Monday holidays from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Summer hours (Memorial Day through Labor Day) are 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed Tuesdays and major holidays. Admission on weekdays: $20 adults, $15 seniors (65+), $12 students (ages 12–18 or with full-time student I.D.), $8 youth (ages 5–11), free for children under 5. Group rate, $11 per person for groups of 15 or more. Members are admitted free. Admission on weekends: $23 adults, $18 seniors, $13 students, $8 youth, free for children under 5. Group rate, $14 per person for groups of 15 or more. Members are admitted free. Admission is free to all visitors with advance tickets on the first Thursday of each month. Information: 626-405-2100 or huntington.org.

 


Images

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Hans Memling (ca. 1430 –1494), Portrait of a Man with a Coin of the Emperor Nero, ca. 1471-74, oil on panel, 12 1/4 × 9 in. The Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp. Photo © Lukas Art/Koninkijk Musuem voor Schone Kunsten.   face_virginmilksoup
Hans Memling (ca. 1430 –1494), Portrait of a Man with
a Coin of the Emperor Nero, ca. 1471-74, oil on panel,
12 1/4 × 9 in. The Koninklijk Museum voor Schone
Kunsten, Antwerp. Photo © Lukas Art/Koninkijk Musuem
voor Schone Kunsten.
  Gerard David (ca. 1455-1523), Virgin with the Milk Soup, ca. 1510-15, oil on panel, 13 3/8 × 11 1/4 in. Musei di Strada Nuova, Palazzo Bianco, Genoa. Photo © Musei di Strada Nuova, Genoa.

Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494), Portrait of a Man, ca. 1490, tempera on panel, 20 3/8 × 15 5/8 in. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.   face_portraitwoman
Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494), Portrait of a Man, ca. 1490, tempera on panel, 20 3/8 × 15 5/8 in. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.   Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494), Portrait of a Woman, ca. 1490, tempera on panel, 20 3/8 × 15 5/8 in. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Hans Memling (ca. 1430 –1494), The Man of Sorrows Blessing, ca. 1480-90, oil on panel, 22 × 13 7/8 in. Musei di Strada Nuova, Palazzo Bianco, Genoa. Photo © Musei di Strada Nuova, Genoa.   Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494), The Man of Sorrows Blessing, ca. 1490, tempera on panel, 21 3/8 × 13 1/4 in. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection. Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Hans Memling (ca. 1430 –1494), The Man of Sorrows Blessing, ca. 1480-90, oil on panel, 22 × 13 7/8 in. Musei di Strada Nuova, Palazzo Bianco, Genoa. Photo © Musei di Strada Nuova, Genoa.   Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494), The Man of Sorrows Blessing, ca. 1490, tempera on panel, 21 3/8 × 13 1/4 in. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection. Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Hans Memling (ca. 1430–1494), St. Veronica, ca. 1471–74, oil on panel, framed: 15 3/8 × 12 1/2 in. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Samuel H. Kress Collection. Photo courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington.   Hans Memling (ca. 1430–1494), Christ Blessing, 1481, oil on panel, 13 1/8 × 9 7/8 in. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Bequest of William A. Coolidge. Photo © 2013 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Hans Memling (ca. 1430–1494), St. Veronica, ca. 1471–74, oil on panel, framed: 15 3/8 × 12 1/2 in. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Samuel H. Kress Collection. Photo courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington.   Hans Memling (ca. 1430–1494), Christ Blessing, 1481, oil on panel, 13 1/8 × 9 7/8 in. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Bequest of William A. Coolidge. Photo © 2013 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Filippino Lippi (ca. 1457–1504), St. Jerome in his Study, ca. 1495, oil on panel, 10 1/4 × 14 1/4 in. El Paso Museum of Art, Gift of Kress Foundation. Photo © El Paso Museum of Art.   Cosimo Rosselli (1439–1507), The Visitation, ca. 1490-1500, oil on panel, 21 × 14 1/2 in. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. Photo © Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Conn.
Filippino Lippi (ca. 1457–1504), St. Jerome in his Study, ca. 1495, oil on panel, 10 1/4 × 14 1/4 in. El Paso Museum of Art, Gift of Kress Foundation. Photo © El Paso Museum of Art.   Cosimo Rosselli (1439–1507), The Visitation, ca. 1490-1500, oil on panel, 21 × 14 1/2 in. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. Photo © Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Conn.

Attributed to Domenico Veneziano (ca. 1410–1461), Portrait of Michele Olivieri, ca. 1440–55, tempera on panel, 17 3/4 × 12 3/4 in. The Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Va., Gift of Walter P. Chrysler Jr. Photo © Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Va.   Master of the St. Ursula Legend, Portrait of Lodovico Portinari, ca. 1475, oil on panel, 17 1/8 × 12 5/8 in. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection. Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Attributed to Domenico Veneziano (ca. 1410–1461), Portrait of Michele Olivieri, ca. 1440–55, tempera on panel, 17 3/4 × 12 3/4 in. The Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Va., Gift of Walter P. Chrysler Jr. Photo © Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Va.   Master of the St. Ursula Legend, Portrait of Lodovico Portinari, ca. 1475, oil on panel, 17 1/8 × 12 5/8 in. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection. Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Hans Memling (ca. 1430–1494), Portrait of Benedetto Portinari, 1487, oil on panel, 17 3/8 × 14 1/2 in. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. Photo © Scala/Ministero per i Beni e le Attività culturali/Art Resource, NY.   Petrus Christus (1410–1472), Portrait of a Man, ca. 1465, oil on panel, 18 3/4 × 13 7/8 in. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. Allan C. Balch Collection. Photo © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA. Licensed by Art Resource, New York.
Hans Memling (ca. 1430–1494), Portrait of Benedetto Portinari, 1487, oil on panel, 17 3/8 × 14 1/2 in. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. Photo © Scala/Ministero per i Beni e le Attività culturali/Art Resource, NY.   Petrus Christus (1410–1472), Portrait of a Man, ca. 1465, oil on panel, 18 3/4 × 13 7/8 in. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. Allan C. Balch Collection. Photo © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA. Licensed by Art Resource, New York.

About The Huntington

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution established in 1919 by Henry E. and Arabella Huntington. Henry Huntington, a key figure in the...

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