This exhibition sets out to illustrate the birth of the Renaissance in Florence by focusing in particular on masterpieces of sculpture, the first of the major arts to embody the new style.
Following the rediscovery of Classical art with Nicola Pisano, Arnolfo di Cambio and their successors in the 13th and 14th centuries, and the assimilation of the expressive richness of Gothic, Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi each produced a panel depicting the Sacrifice of Isaac. These, together with a model for the dome of the cathedral, marked the birth of the Renaissance.
The great Humanists, – men like Coluccio Salutati, Leonardo Bruni and Poggio Bracciolini – in their written works, used the Florentine Republic’s political achievements, its economic power and its social harmony to spread the myth of the city as the heir to Republican Rome and as a model for other Italian city states.
The monumental public sculpture of Donatello, Ghiberti and Nanni di Banco for the cathedral and for Orsanmichele not only illustrates this cultural “revolution” but was also to have a profound influence on painting. Other Classical themes (ranging from the equestrian monument to the Humanist tomb, the playful theme of mischievous little “spirits” and the portrait bust) were assimilated and transformed in the new language of sculpture, reflecting both the spiritual and intellectual climate prevalent in the city and the creative fervour it engendered.
The curators: Beatrice Paolozzi Strozzi, Marc Bormand