The original Madonna of the Harpies (1517) currently resides in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. It was painted by Andrea del Sarto (1486 – 1530) during the High Renaissance. This likely 19th century reproduction, artist unknown, resides in the hallway of a local church. Like similar paintings I’ve found in churches as I photograph their stained glass windows, the history of their paintings, tucked oftentimes in out of the way places, has faded over time. The how and the why of their existence is hard to discern without deeper research. And then in the end, as I have been reminded, one must keep in mind that during the late 19th century as wealthy Americans made grand tours of Italy there was a great demand for reproductions of Renaissance art (assuming one couldn’t buy the art outright).
Andrea del Sarto self-portrait
Andrea del Sarto was a contemporary of Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo and Raphael. This painting is considered to be one of his finest works. Much has been written about this painting. I especially enjoyed reading David Franklin’s description of the artist’s creative process on page 136 of his book Painting in Renaissance Florence, 1500-1550. I don’t know that I shall ever make it to Florence but it was a treat to learn of this powerful work of art by walking down a hallway.
Madonna of the Harpies by Andrea del Sarto (1517)
Sources & Additional Reading
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Posted in Inspiration, tagged art, art exhibits, beauty, colors, Della Robbia, Florence, Inspiration, Photography, Renaissance, sculpture on November 7, 2016|
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Della Robbia: Sculpting with Color in Renaissance Florence is a current exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. It is a beautifully curated show featuring glazed terracotta that, as one visitor stated, if you did not know the sculptures were made over 500 years ago, you would think that they were made just yesterday.
The colors are still that vivid thanks to a unique glazing recipe developed by Luca della Robbia (1399/1400–1482). The sculptures produced by his family, based in Florence, Italy, are dramatic in design and expression and rather luminous.
detail from The Visitation, 1455, on loan from the church of San Giovanni Fuorcivitas in Pistoia, Italy
Della Robbia’s signature colors of white and cerulean blue radiate with a brilliance that would become the family hallmark. There is a deep richness to the others colors as well.
For the exhibit the MFA pulled together nearly 50 objects from U.S. collections and from Italy. On view in the museum’s Lois B. and Michael K. Torf Gallery, the freestanding sculptures and other decorative pieces are organized around three themes – hope, love, and faith. Exhibit curator Marietta CAmbareri describes these as the virtues of the Renaissance, guiding peoples’ lives at the time.
The exhibit, a visual treat, runs through December 4th. More details available here: http://www.mfa.org/exhibitions/della-robbia
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