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Friday, August 15, 2014



Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi) (1571–1610) and his Followers





  • Trained in Milano and active in Rome (1592–1606), Naples (1606–7; 1609–10), Malta (1607–8), and Sicily (1608–9), Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571–1610) was one of the most revolutionary figures of European art.

    His practice of painting directly from posed models violated the idealizing premise of Renaissance theory and promoted a new relationship between painting and viewer by breaking down the conventions that maintained painting as a plausible fiction rather than an extension of everyday experience.

    The combination of figures in contemporary dress inhabiting a religious scene was not new, but the impression the picture made of an event from the distant past unfolding before the viewer's own eyes was unmatched.


    Cited Works of Art or Images (6)

    • Caravaggio: The Cardsharps (I Bari)
    • Caravaggio: Death of the Virgin
    • Caravaggio: The Calling of Saint Matthew
    • Caravaggio: The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew
    • Valentin de Boulogne: Fortune-Teller with Drinkers
    • Bartolomeo Manfredi: Bacchus and the Drinker
    In early work such as The Cardsharps (ca. 1594; Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth), Caravaggio appropriated a scene of street life—a gullible, well-dressed youth being taken in by professional cheats—and, by abstracting it against a plain background and focusing on the expressions and actions of the various figures, gave it an artistic as well as moral interest. The analogy is with contemporary popular theater. This much-copied picture was purchased by Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte, who gave Caravaggio quarters in his palace and promoted the artist, securing for him his first ecclesiastical commission—the crucial step to fame.

    Caravaggio's two canvases, the Calling of Saint Matthew and the Martyrdom of Saint Matthew (San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome), were unveiled in 1600, and established his reputation. The combination of figures in contemporary dress inhabiting a religious scene was not new, but the impression the picture made of an event from the distant past unfolding before the viewer's own eyes was unmatched. Caravaggio pushed the figures up against the picture plane and used light to enhance the dramatic impact and give the figures a quality of immediacy. These devices were much imitated. As a contemporary critic noted, "a characteristic of this school [of painting] is to use a focused light source from high up, without reflections, as though in a room with a [single] window and the walls painted black. In this fashion the lit and shadowed areas are very light and very dark and give enormous three-dimensionality to the painting, but in an unnatural fashion neither done or even conceived before by such artists as Raphael, Titian, Correggio, or others." What was at issue was not a descriptive naturalism, but a provocative insistence on the physical reality of the scene portrayed.

    This new approach to painting was sometimes at odds with the function of the altarpieces as the focus of devotional practice. Should a depiction of the death of the Virgin emphasize the theological importance of the event and show the Madonna as the ageless mother of Christ, as worshippers had come to expect, or should it emphasize the physical reality of death—as Caravaggio's painting seemed to do (Death of the Virgin, Musée du Louvre, Paris)? Should Christ's burial be depicted as a tragic drama or as a sacred event? Much of Caravaggio's work, such as his spellbinding Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, reveals the artist dealing with these crucial issues. In his last paintings, such as The Denial of Saint Peter (1997.167), he revealed the psychological rather than merely physical dimension of the narrative.

    Caravaggio's key Italian propagator was Bartolomeo Manfredi, whose gambling and drinking scenes (Bacchus and the Drinker, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome), and gypsy fortune tellers were widely imitated. Caravaggio's art was particularly popular among foreign painters in Rome—the Dutchmen Hendrick ter Brugghen (56.228) and Gerrit van Honthorst, the French painters Valentin de Boulogne (Fortune Teller with Drinkers, Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio, and The Luteplayer, [2008.459]) and Nicholas Tournier, and the Spaniards Juan Bautista Maino and Jusepe de Ribera (copies of his work may have been known by Velázquez [14.40.631]) and Zurbarán. Through them, Caravaggism became an international movement and one of the keystones of Baroque painting.

    Keith Christiansen
    Department of European Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art





    Illustration: Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi) (Italian, Milan or Caravaggio 1571–1610 Porto Ercole). The Musicians, ca. 1595. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1952
    Caravaggio and the Baroque to Tiepolo and eighteenth-century VENEZIA.

    Among the highlights are:

    -- Guercino's powerfully dramatic Blinding of Samson.
    -- the largest group of works by Caravaggio outside Rome
    -- Canaletto's and Guardi's views of Venice and her lagoons and
    -- Panini's dazzling canvases of ancient and modern Rome.
    Plus, the greatest collection of works by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo outside VENEZIA.



    The Chianti Tour (Galleries 602–609 and 625–627)

    Illustration: Tiziano and Workshop (Italian, Pieve di Cadore ca. 1485–1576 Venice). Venus and the Lute Player, 1565. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Munsey Fund, 1936

    A trip across central and north Italy, with Gothic and Renaissance art from Giotto in FIRENZE to Tiziano in VENEZIA.

    Among the highlights are:

    -- Giotto's meticulously staged Adoration of the Magi
    -- Duccio's affective Madonna and Child
    --- Botticelli's Last Communion of Saint Jerome.

    Two galleries devoted to the secular arts in Florence and the relation of painting to sculpture.

    Mantegna's Adoration of the Shepherds
    -- Veronese's great canvas of Mars and Venus and
    -- Lorenzo Lotto's saucy Cupid peeing on his mother.

    Plus the only altarpiece by Raphael in America.

    THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 169: Art of the Later Roman Empire: 3rd Century A. D.


    The works on view in the John A. and Carole O. Moran Gallery demonstrate changes in social and artistic trends that emerged during the later imperial period. One of these was the adoption of burial (internment) in place of cremation, prompting the creation of an empire-wide industry making large and imposing marble sarcophagi. Oriental cults spread across the Roman world and exerted a growing influence on people's lives in this period of political and economic uncertainty.
    Also on view is a display of gold, silver, and bronze coins that were minted primarily to supply money for state expenditure and to facilitate the collection of taxes.

    THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 168: Art of Imperial Rome: 2nd Century A. D.


    Gallery 168 displays fine examples of material culture from the second century A.D., when the Roman empire was at the height of its power and prosperity and when people in Rome, throughout Italy, and in many of the provinces enjoyed a standard of living and a way of life that were unequaled both in antiquity and in more recent times.
    Objects associated with activities that either ensured or benefited from imperial protection (the Roman army, the state religion, the games, and the baths) are also on view.

    THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 167: The Black Room: Late First Century B. C.


    This reconstruction of a room from the villa of Agrippa Postumus at Boscotrecase incorporates surviving panels from the original walls. They must have been painted by artists working for the imperial household during renovations after 11 B.C.
    Compared to the paintings found at Boscoreale (see Gallery 165), these panels reflect a new and different style, known as Third Style, with a taste for insubstantial, delicate forms set against a flat, monochrome surface and including Egyptianizing motifs and medallions with portraits of members of the imperial family.

    THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 166: Art of Augustan Rome: Late First Century B.C. -- First Century A. D.


    Art of Augustan Rome: Late First Century B.C.–First Century A.D.

    The Sylvia Josephs Berger and Joyce Berger Cowin Gallery contains many exquisite examples of Roman imperial art. The reign of the first emperor Augustus (r. 27 B.C.A.D. 14) saw the development of a new form of state art, the imperial portrait, created in both lifesize statuary and small-scale works such as gems and coins. Imperial patronage of the arts is evident in monumental architecture and sculpture as well as in other media such as wall paintings, silverware, and glass.
    Much of the inspiration for the Augustan style came from the Greek East, as did many of the architects, sculptors, and artists themselves.



    This is an accurate reconstruction of a bedroom from the Roman villa at Boscoreale (ca. 50–40 B.C.) that was buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius on August 24, A.D. 79. The walls are decorated with highly ornate and colorful frescoes of the so-called Second Style, comprising urban landscapes with towering architectural vistas on the side walls and rocky outdoor scenes populated by various songbirds on the rear wall.
    Known as the villa of P. Fannius Synistor, the building was excavated in 1900.

    THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 162: Ancient Roman Sculpture Court


    The Leon Levy and Shelby White Court evokes the grandeur that was Rome and provides a suitable setting for the sculptures that were created under Roman patronage, inspired by models from both Classical Greece and the Hellenistic kingdoms.
    The arts of South Italy and Ptolemaic Egypt provide the opulent background for the development of Roman taste and luxury. Funerary monuments and grave gifts give a poignant insight into personal lives that draw a different picture of Rome as a place of monumental architecture, sumptuously decorated with marble and decked out with an array of statuary. The statues, in bronze and marble, represented gods, personifications, historical figures, and real people. Roman copies and adaptations of earlier lost Greek works survived to stimulate the classical revival that arose throughout Europe in the eighteenth century.

    THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 627: North Italian Gothic Painting.


    The centers of North Italian painting were Milan, Venice, Bologna, and Ferrara. Venice aside, the art of each of these schools was an art of the courts, with a premium placed on rich surface treatment, naturalistic details, and elegance. The defining mediums were goldsmith's work and illuminated manuscripts, from which paintings often borrowed their aesthetic. A self-conscious style modeled on the prevailing intricacy of literary description was highly valued. Only gradually over the course of the fifteenth century did the Renaissance sensibility forged in Florence, with its emphasis on the imitation of classical art, gain the upper hand.



    Together with Giotto in Florence, Duccio in Siena was one of the founders of European painting. But his art was concerned less with constructing a rigorously rational space and solid, three-dimensional figures than with exploring a realm of tender emotion and refined color. He was Matisse to Giotto's Picasso. His pupil Simone Martini—whose work combines naturalistic observation with exquisitely elaborated details—followed the papal court to Avignon, where he died in 1344, and thereby extended Duccio's influence throughout Europe. In Sienese art, there is a persistent tension between the rational and irrational; the hyperbeautiful and the grotesque; tenderness and violence. Not surprisingly, the appreciation for Sienese painting is closely allied with the advent of modernism: Giovanni di Paolo has been seen as a precursor of the twentieth-century Surrealists.

    METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 623: The Carracci and Seventeenth-Century Easel Painting.


    Annibale Carracci's move from Bologna, where he and his cousin Ludovico had founded a painting academy, to Rome in the 1590s had a momentous impact on Italian art. In Rome, Annibale became fascinated with ancient sculpture and absorbed the work of Raphael and Michelangelo. He undertook large-scale fresco projects but also made easel paintings, mostly of religious subjects. Out of his well-organized workshop came some of the period's most significant painters, including Domenichino and Francesco Albani. Displayed in this gallery, in addition to oil paintings on canvas, are small-scale works, often on copper, produced for important Italian patrons by Carracci, his followers, and others.



    Giovanni Battista Tiepolo's fame and consummate skill brought him to work outside Italy, for ecclesiastic and royal patrons in Germany and Spain. On view in this gallery are dazzlingly vertiginous oil sketches for some of his most celebrated projects, including the fresco decoration of the immense ceiling of the staircase in the Residenz, Würzburg, and ceilings in the newly built Palacio Real in Madrid. His son Giovanni Domenico preferred less exalted subjects, such as the enchanting Dance in the Country of about 1755.
    The Harry Payne Bingham Galleries

    METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 621: CARAVAGGIO and Southern Italy -- Paintings


    Born near Bergamo, in northern Italy, Caravaggio trained in Milan and moved to Rome around 1592. Once there, he reinterpreted north Italian models to achieve a new and unique approach to naturalism, producing paintings mostly for aristocratic patrons. His dramatic lighting and expressive intensity had a profound impact on his followers and on European art in general. Between 1606 and 1610 he worked in Naples, Malta, and Sicily, where his style was extremely influential on succeeding generations of artists. Southern painters such as Massimo Stanzione, Artemisia Gentileschi, and Mattia Preti responded in distinctly individual ways to Caravaggio's bold lessons.

    METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 620: ROMA and NAPOLI in the Eighteenth Century.


    In Rome, artists catered to Englishmen and others making the Grand Tour with spectacular portraits (the most beautiful examples are by Pompeo Batoni), mythologies, and view paintings. Visitors could also return with their memories of ancient and modern Rome captured in canvases such as the pair in this gallery by Giovanni Paolo Panini. It was an era of archaeological discoveries and of renewed interest in the ancient world. Pierre Hubert Subleyras, Corrado Giaquinto, and Francesco Trevisani decorated the city's churches with altarpieces and its palaces with religious paintings. In Naples, by contrast, Gaspare Traversi depicted genre scenes with comic undercurrents.
    The Harry Payne Bingham Galleries



    In the eighteenth century, Venice was principally a place of entertainment, with flourishing opera houses, theaters, and publishers. Tourists from Europe visited the city and returned home with works by prominent Venetian artists. Painting reached a peak of virtuosity and was a major export commodity. While Canaletto and Guardi celebrated the fabled beauty of this most magical of cities, Pietro Longhi cast an ironic eye on the amusements and vices of those living behind its noble palace facades. Other artists, such as Sebastiano Ricci and Jacopo Amigoni, concentrated on religious and mythological subjects.
    Harry Payne Bingham Galleries
    The Lore Heinemann Gallery

    METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 609: Central Italian Painting of the High Renaissance


    Over the course of the sixteenth century, Rome replaced Florence as the center of painting, its cultural patrimony inspiring both Michelangelo and Raphael. The classical harmony and grandeur achieved by those two artists influenced all their contemporaries and remained a model of emulation through the nineteenth century. Their counterpart in Florence was Andrea del Sarto, the "painter without errors" (Vasari). Two defining events were the Sack of Rome by German troops in 1527—a trauma that reverberated throughout Europe—and the definitive establishment in Florence of a princely state under Medici rule in 1537, with Bronzino as its star portraitist. The end of the century saw an attempt to recapture the glory of what had come to be seen as a golden age. Study of the great masters and of nature was the path to greatness.

    METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 608: North Italian Sixteenth-Century Painting


    In the sixteenth century, the northern cities of Milan, Brescia, Parma, Bologna, and Ferrara made crucial contributions to the history of European art, despite their turbulent political histories. Brescia had been absorbed into the Venetian state in 1426; Bologna lost its independence in 1506, becoming part of the Papal States; in 1525 Milan definitively lost its independence to the Habsburgs; and in 1545 the pope transformed Parma into an independent duchy ruled by the Farnese family. Ferrara remained independent under the Este dukes until 1598, when it, too, passed to the papacy. The two greatest painters were Parmigianino, an exponent of Mannerism, and Correggio, whose exploration of the world of ecstatic emotion laid the basis for the style we know as Baroque. Moretto da Brescia's insistence on the close study of posed models and nature became a reference point for Caravaggio, who was trained in Milan. Moretto's compatriot and sometime collaborator Girolamo Romanino embraced a raw expressivity much influenced by the engravings of Albrecht Dürer, and Giovanni Battista Moroni was the defining portraitist of the Counter-Reformation.

    METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 607 -- Sixteenth-Century Painting -- VENEZIA


    Venice may have been in decline as an economic power, but Titian, Veronese, and Jacopo Tintoretto made the sixteenth century a golden age of Venetian painting. Titian's broadly brushed, sensual nudes broke entirely new ground. He became the preferred painter at the courts of Europe and influenced artists down to Rubens, Velázquez, and Delacroix. Veronese's opulent compositions combined striking naturalistic effects with grandeur and brilliant color (the rich palette of Venetian painting owed much to the city's commercial ties with the Middle East, the source of many pigments). Tintoretto infused unprecedented drama into his paintings, wielding his brush like a pen. Jacopo Bassano explored a modern-seeming intensity of expression by embracing an unfinished (non finito) style in his Baptism of Christ and other late works. At the same time, there was room for such idiosyncratic geniuses as Lorenzo Lotto—always unpredictable and sui generis.

    METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 606: VENEZIA and North Italy in the Fifteenth Century.


    As in Florence, so in Venice and elsewhere in northern Italy painters asserted their claim to be considered the equal of poets. The minutely descriptive style of Andrea Mantegna's Adoration of the Shepherds, painted in Padua, posed a real challenge to poets in its variety and affective power, while the sacred figures in the Venetian Giovanni Bellini's devotional paintings radiate a compelling humanity. Also in Venice, Vittore Carpaccio employed his detailed style to create richly programmed images suitable as aids for meditation.

    METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 604: Domestic Art in Fifteenth-Century FIRENZE.


    Wealthy Florentine merchants and bankers and members of prominent families commissioned portraits for posterity. Marriage was often commemorated with a pair of large storage chests (cassoni) with painted fronts illustrating emblematic stories from Greek and Roman mythology or the Old Testament. Marriage chambers might be decorated with painted panels set into wainscoting or above the backrest of a daybed or bench, and large, ceremonial trays celebrated the birth of an heir (the Museum owns that of Lorenzo de' Medici). Sets of ceramic tableware were acquired and conspicuously displayed. In this gallery, secular art takes its place alongside religious painting as a mainstay of the artist's world.



    Florentine fifteenth-century painters such as Filippo Lippi, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Botticelli asserted their claim to be judged the equal of poets—no longer mere craftsmen.

    Whether commissioned to paint the Madonna (Filippino Lippi, Luca Signorelli, Fra Bartolomeo), evoke the history of primitive man (Piero di Cosimo), or adorn a church (Fra Carnevale) or private residence (Botticelli's Last Communion of Saint Jerome), each employed a cultivated and highly personal style that demonstrated both his particular creative genius and his ability to describe the world around him.



    The mercantile republic of Florence transformed European culture in the fourteenth century with the poetry of Dante Alighieri and Petrarca and with the Decameron of Boccaccio.

    Giotto dominated the period with his solidly constructed figures and mastery of pictorial space.

    Giotto translated the art of painting and made it modern.

    The transformation can be appreciated in this gallery by comparing Berlinghiero's Byzantine-styled Madonna and Child of the 1230s with Giotto's Epiphany of a century later.

    Tender Madonnas, rugged saints, and dramatic narrative paintings possess a new humanity relative to their counterparts in medieval art.

    The gold backgrounds, carried over from the previous era, would have come alive when seen by candlelight. Lorenzo Monaco took his cue from northern European courtly art in depicting four Old Testament prophets seated on benches with a grave yet graceful intensity.

    METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 601: Baroque Painting in Italy.


    At the end of the sixteenth century, artists such as Scipione Pulzone responded to the religious shift of the Counter-Reformation with profoundly pious works.

    Over the next fifty years, altarpieces developed into the lavish canvases of Guido Reni and Guercino.

    Cardinals and princes competed to decorate their churches and palaces with vibrantly painted, often theatrically staged pictures that treated subjects from the Bible, on the one hand, and ancient history or mythology, on the other. Altarpieces and gallery pictures shared a monumental format and grandiosity of composition. Antiquity, especially classical sculpture, was an important influence on artists such as Andrea Sacchi. In this period and after, Italy continued to assert its central position in European art.



    Three enormous canvases by Tiepolo greet visitors to the Metropolitan Museum's galleries of European paintings at the top of the Grand Staircase.

    These theatrical compositions celebrating victories of ancient Roman generals enthralled guests in the palace of the Dolfin family in Venice in the later 1720s.

    Blessed with a fecund imagination and matchless technical virtuosity, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo brought to a close the great age of Venetian painting that had begun in the Renaissance with Giovanni Bellini, Giorgione, and Titian.

    The Metropolitan owns the most important collection of Tiepolo's work outside VENEZIA, including the canvas for the ceiling of the Ca' Barbaro in Venice and frescoes from the Palazzo Valle-Marchesini-Sala in Vicenza.

    METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 959: Fifteenth-Century Central and Northern Italian Paintings -- The Lehman Collection.


    Gallery 959 houses fifteenth-century central and northern Italian paintings.

    In a display case, among the three fifteenth-century Italian paintings of the Annunciation, is a small panel painted by Botticelli, probably commissioned as a private devotional image.

    METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 956: Fifteenth-Century Sienese Paintings -- The Lehman Collection


    Gallery 956 houses an exceptional collection of Renaissance paintings from Siena that, along with the holdings of the Department of European Paintings, constitutes one of the finest of its kind outside the Tuscan city.

    Among the fifteenth-century Sienese masters, Sano di Pietro and Giovanni di Paolo are particularly well represented.

    In addition to images of the Virgin, there are engaging narrative scenes depicting lives of the saints, set in richly articulated interior spaces and extraordinary landscapes.

    Frequently, these small narrative panels were part of an altarpiece's predella, the lowermost horizontal component.

    METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 952: Fourteenth- and Fifteenth-Century Italian Paintings


    The gallery contains the Lehman Collection's rich holdings of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italian panel paintings.

    The majority of these paintings originate from Florence and Siena, providing the opportunity to compare two distinct schools of painting in these thriving artistic and economic centers in Tuscany.

    While Florentine art possesses a sculptural, monumental, and solemn quality (exemplified by Bernardo Daddi's Assumption of the Virgin), Sienese art has a more decorative, elegant, and lyrical character (seen in Bartolo di Fredi's Adoration of the Magi).

    Several of the paintings displayed here were once part of large altarpieces with multiple panels and wings, known as polyptychs.

    Two panels in this gallery originate from the same altarpiece: the Virgin and Child and Saint Ansanus by Simone Martini, a preeminent Sienese artist.

    A third panel from this altarpiece is on view alongside other fourteenth-century Italian paintings in Gallery 602.

    Thursday, August 14, 2014

    METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 550: Italian Baroque Sculpture and Decorative Arts, 1600-1750.


    Brimming with energy and opulence, the works of art in this gallery belong to the Baroque, a style that originated in early seventeenth- century Rome.

    The furniture and liturgical accessories reflect the sumptuousness of the Baroque style, as well as the virtuosity of Italian craftsmen.

    The popes were leading patrons of Baroque art, using it to proclaim the supremacy of the Catholic Church as part of their mission to curtail the spread of Protestantism.

    Baroque sculptors appealed to their audience's emotions by giving their figures dynamic poses and using theatrical touches such as billowing draperies and swirling clouds to heighten the expressiveness of their compositions.

    METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 536: Italian Renaissance Bronze Sculpture, 1450–1600


    The intimate sculptures shown here were meant to be held and examined closely, delighting the senses of sight and touch.

    They are a product of the learned and innovative atmosphere that prevailed in Italy during the cultural reawakening known as the Renaissance.

    Sculptors drew inspiration from ancient Greek and Roman art, as well as from the natural world, concentrating on the idealization of its highest expression—the human body.

    Italian Renaissance artists refined the technique of bronze casting using the lost-wax method, which involves making a mold from a wax sculpture, then filling its cavity with molten metal.

    Once cooled, the surface of the sculpture was worked with tools until the desired finish was achieved. Gilding and lacquers could then be applied to the surface to create patinas ranging from luminous reddish gold to rich brown and opaque black.

    Gradually, bronze founders learned how to create several casts from the same model.

    Bronze had been prized as the noblest material during antiquity, and, accordingly, these sculptures were highly valued by discerning Renaissance collectors who displayed them on tabletops and mantelpieces.

    METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 508: Italian Decorative Arts, 1700–1800


    During the eighteenth century, the imposing, formal character and dramatic decoration of Italian Baroque furniture gave way to lighter, more compact forms, enlivened with undulating shapes of the playful Rococo style sweeping Europe.

    This gallery shows how this stylistic shift affected the decorative arts of Italy—still a collection of city-states at the time, with each having its own government and artistic traditions.

    Toward the close of the century, the glory of antiquity was celebrated anew through the Neoclassical style, with clean lines and reinterpretations of ancient Greek and Roman motifs that offered a look back to Italy's exalted past.

    The Met's rich holdings of eighteenth-century Italian porcelain are also displayed here.

    As competition to produce this prestigious and technically challenging material intensified across Europe, new regional manufactories were established throughout Italy.

    Among them was the Capodimonte Manufactory in Napoli (founded 1743), which became especially well known for its expressive figures, sparingly decorated with color and gilding to represent street vendors, theatrical characters, and amorous couples.

    METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 507 -- Bedroom from the Sagredo Palace in Venice, ca. 1718


    Movement, theatricality, and a harmonious marriage of different materials—defining features of the early eighteenth-century Italian Baroque style—characterize the decoration of this room.

    Twenty-nine winged angels, or putti, modeled in stucco (a mixture of plaster and glue or resin) seem poised to detach themselves from the walls and glide through the air, creating a joyful atmosphere.

    The richly ornamented ceilings include the painting "Dawn" by Gaspare Diziani, and a dome surrounded by a stucco imitation of a canopy with cascading folds.

    Silk fabric and wood panels carved with designs inspired by architecture and nature cover the walls.

    The bed, not original to the room, exhibits a later, more curvaceous style.

    Located on the piano nobile (second floor), such a grand bedroom suite might have served as an official reception room rather than sleeping quarters.

    Less ornate bedchambers were situated in the more private upper floors of palaces.

    METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 506: Bedroom from the Sagredo Palace in Venice, ca. 1718


    The coat of arms of the Sagredo family hangs in this gallery, above the entrance to the bedroom from the Sagredo palace that once overlooked the Grand Canal in Venice (Gallery 507).

    Below, gondola prows flank the doorway.

    This gallery also contains a selection of eighteenth-century Italian decorative arts, including religious sculpture in glazed porcelain from Napoli and Firenze, as well as an embroidered chasuble (vestment).

    METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 503: Italian Sculpture and Decorative Arts, 1500-1600.


    Gallery 503 - Italian Sculpture and Decorative Arts, 1500–1600

    Many of the Italian Renaissance works of art in this gallery are in pristine condition, which suggests they were objects for display rather than practical use.

    They share a decorative vocabulary born of the Italian desire to emulate and supersede their ancient Roman forebears.

    An ornamental language with fantastic figures — one bird or beast transforming into another — twisting vegetation, and strict geometry was discovered in the 1480s within the buried palace of the Roman emperor Nerone.

    These motifs ignited the imaginations of Renaissance artists working in different materials.

    Among Italy's specialties was maiolica — tin-glazed earthenware with elaborate narratives, often mythological, painted in brilliant colours.

    Even more precious were the porcelains, imitating Chinese blue-and-white vessels, commissioned by the powerful Medici family of Florence.

    Stonecutting and inlay were other areas of expertise.

    The imposing table in this room was made in Rome for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (1520–1589) using material excavated from ancient sites.

    Italy's rich and varied artistic output was stimulated by the demands of discerning patrons who wished to have their taste and affluence reflected in the objects surrounding them.

    METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 501: The Studiolo from the Ducal Palace at Gubbio, 1478-82.


    The Studiolo from the Ducal Palace at Gubbio.

    The walls of this studiolo, or study room, are decorated with images made using wood inlay, or intarsia.

    This demanding and expensive technique involves cutting grained woods of different colors into thin pieces, or veneers, shaped according to the desired design and laid into a matrix.

    Optical illusions abound, such as the cabinet doors that appear to be ajar and the shadows seemingly cast by the legs of the benches.

    The decorative program of the studiolo reflects the personality of its powerful patron, Federico da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino (1422–1482), whose interests included mathematics, music, and literature.

    His emblems, such as the ermine (a small animal symbolizing purity) and the ostrich with a spearhead in its beak (representing victory in the face of adversity), are incorporated in the decoration.

    Studioli became an increasingly important feature of Italian Renaissance palaces, providing their owners with an intimate retreat where they could engage in learned pursuits, keep their precious collections, and entertain important visitors.

    METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: GALLERIA 50 -- Italian Sculpture and Decorative Arts, 1430-1500.


    Gallery 500 - Italian Sculpture and Decorative Arts, 1430–1500

    Part of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts