Atlantis Online
May 07, 2021, 02:57:15 pm
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: Ancient Crash, Epic Wave

  Home Help Arcade Gallery Links Staff List Calendar Login Register  

'Art and Love in Renaissance Italy' at the Met

Pages: [1]   Go Down
Author Topic: 'Art and Love in Renaissance Italy' at the Met  (Read 79 times)
Superhero Member
Posts: 41646

« on: November 22, 2008, 09:07:03 am »

The oil on canvas
"Portrait of a Widow at Her Devotions"
ca. 1590-1600

                                      'Art and Love in Renaissance Italy' at the Met

by Dan Bischoff
The Star-Ledger
November 20, 2008

The homeliness of the Italian Renaissance is one of its greatest charms -- the labor lavished on town festivals and regional saints and scores of traditions whose origins cannot be logically explained in modern times. Like the idea that the Virgin Mary's childhood home in Nazareth was transported by angels first to Croatia, then to Recanati, Italy, and finally to Loreto, where in 1469 a large basilica was built around it (as if to make sure it couldn't pull up stakes and fly somewhere else).

If you can enjoy the inherent wish-fulfillment quality of that idea, you will have no problem getting into
the spirit of "Art and Love in Renaissance Italy," which just opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

"Art and Love" is not, really, a fine art exhibition, though the last of its three sections is devoted to paintings meant for bedchambers, including nuptial portraits and sensual nudes by Botticelli, Titian, and the Met's own "Venus and Cupid" by Lorenzo Lotto. It's in the decorative and printed arts that this exhibit surprises, coming alive with a gossipy, almost Boccaccio-like love of the commonplace.

The first part of the show deals with betrothal, marriage, and childbirth, featuring painted maiolica pottery, birthing trays, glassware, gifts from bride to groom and vice-versa (including one of the earliest surviving diamond wedding rings), and the painted inside tops of bridal chests, called cassoni, with their nudes and narratives of chivalrous loves. The second part is called "Profane Love," and features the famed 16 sexual positions engraved by Giulio Romano and Marcantonio Raimondi in 1524 (almost immediately suppressed and all but destroyed, yet enormously influential even into the 19th century), shown here in fragments and reconstructed. Here also are all the ingenious puns on sexual activity that the Renaissance imagination could smuggle into its densely luxurious designs (cucumbers penetrating swags of drapery; a man's portrait assembled entirely of penises.)

We are besieged by 15th century winks'n'nods from the very beginning, with examples of "love argument" pottery. That is, maiolica painted with scenes like the 1522 plate from the Gubbio workshop of Giorgio Andreoli that shows a young man tied to a tree, his chest cut open by a well-dressed woman holding a knife who stands over a legend reading, "Your infamy hurts me more than death." The "infamy" is figured to be that of the woman, and like all of its genre this design is meant to illustrate the torments of true love, which are healed by marriage -- though eating off such a plate at your wedding would make most of us wonder if the past was prologue.

The spirit of works like these is like that of the garrulous old nurse in "Romeo and Juliet," but do not think that means the artistry is pedestrian. Anything but. Birthing trays, for example, were common gifts for new mothers, meant to be piled with goodies and painted with commendable parables on fertility, and many folks treasured them all their lives. The birthing tray for Lorenzo the Magnificent, the Medici patron of Michelangelo, was on the theme of "Fame," and he kept it in his bedroom his whole life; it was painted by Lo Scheggia, and it's in this show, a perfect marvel.

Trivial women's uses they may have had, but the very best artists could give themselves over to such production, as we see with a childbirth bowl painted by Pontormo (done for the Tornaquinci family). "Art and Love" makes a historical argument that few themes are really more important, in the end -- and it's true.

Dan Bischoff may be reached at
« Last Edit: November 22, 2008, 09:19:37 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Pages: [1]   Go Up
Jump to:  

Powered by EzPortal
Bookmark this site! | Upgrade This Forum
SMF For Free - Create your own Forum
Powered by SMF | SMF © 2016, Simple Machines
Privacy Policy