An exhibition of approximately 22 fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italian panel paintings will open at The Brooklyn Museum June 14. The exhibition, entitled Quattrocento: Early Italian Panel Paintings, is the latest in the Curator’s Choice series in the Lobby Gallery on the first floor. It will remain on view through February 1992.
Entitled Quattrocento, Italian for the 1400s or the fifteenth century, the exhibition will in fact begin with a few important works from the Trecento, or the 1300s. The masterwork of this earlier period is a portable altarpiece by Maso Di Banco, a Florentine artist who was one of Giotto’s most brilliant pupils.
Apart from frescoed walls, the most significant painting format in the Quattrocento was the altarpiece, from the simple shuttered triptych to the grand many-paneled polyptychs commissioned by or for the Church. The paintings as we know them today in museum collections often consist of altarpiece fragments--central panels like Pietro di Giovanni d’Ambrogio’s Virgin and Child, side panels like the St. James by the Venetian painter Carlo Crivelli, or predella (base) panels like the little Adoration of the Magi by the Milanese painter Bernardo Butinone.
The Early Renaissance is often identified with Florence, the city of the great innovators of perspective and three-dimensional form. But Florence was only one of a number of separate city-states, regions centered around important towns that developed their own characteristic styles. Common to them all was a fusion of late Medieval spirituality and the new fascination with the physical world. In this group of paintings from the schools of Siena, Bologna, Venice, Florence, and other regions, we see the static icon begin to give way to the sacred narrative located in three-dimensional space.
The exhibition has been organized by Sarah Faunce, Curator of European Painting and Sculpture.