J. Paul Getty Museum opens Florence at the Dawn of the Renaissance. Painting and Illumination, 1300–1350

J. Paul Getty Museum presents Florence at the Dawn of the Renaissance. Painting and Illumination, 1300–1350, an exhibition on view November 13, 2012–February 10, 2013.

Bernardo Daddi (Italian (Florentine), about 1280 – 1348) and Taddeo Gaddi (Italian, about 1300 – 1366), The Virgin Mary with Saints Thomas Aquinas and Paul, about 1330. Tempera and gold leaf on panel. Dimensions: Framed (with original engaged frame): 121.6 x 113 cm (47 7/8 x 44 1/2 in.) Accession No. 93.PB.16. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

In the first half of the fourteenth century, Florence was uniquely positioned as a flourishing center of artistic production, especially in the area of painting and manuscript illumination. Florence at the Dawn of the Renaissance: Painting and Illumination, 1300– 1350, a major international loan exhibition on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum from November 13, 2012 through February 10, 2013, will present the most prominent Florentine artists of this era, and will feature the largest grouping of paintings by the Florentine master Giotto di Bondone ever exhibited in North America.

The exhibition will focus on those artists who worked as both panel painters and manuscript illuminators, examining these two media side by side and offering a fresh look at the distinctive artistic community that gave rise to the Italian Renaissance.

Organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum with the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), this major international loan exhibition will feature more than 90 works of art, including paintings, illuminated manuscripts, and stained glass and will present new findings about artists’ techniques and workshop practices based on conservation research and scientific analysis. Artists featured in the exhibition include Giotto di Bondone (about 1267–1337), Taddeo Gaddi (about 1300–1366), Pacino di Bonaguida (active about 1303– about 1347), Bernardo Daddi (active about 1312–1348), the Master of the Dominican Effigies (active about 1325–1355), and the Master of the Codex of Saint George (active about 1315– about 1335), among others. In Los Angeles, the exhibition will include seven works by Giotto, the largest grouping of his paintings ever exhibited in North America.

Pacino di Bonaguida (Italian (Florentine), active about 1303–about 1347). The Crucifixion, about 1315–1340. Tempera and gold leaf on panel. Fondazione di Studi di Storia dell’Arte Roberto Longhi di FirenzeFrom 1300–1350, Florence was the focus of an extraordinary cultural flourishing that witnessed rapid civic and church growth, the production of new literary and humanist texts, and the rise of the merchant class. It was also home to the iconic literary figure Dante Alighieri (1265–1321). This dynamic climate generated great demand for artistic production, both in the elaborate decoration of sacred and secular buildings, and in the many luxury copies of manuscripts needed to feed the devotional and intellectual demands of the people of Florence.

Florence was also home to Giotto, who is regarded as one of history’s greatest painters, and even during his lifetime was celebrated by Dante and other cultural figures. He was sought after for commissions by wealthy patrons such as the Peruzzi family, important bankers in Florence. On view in the exhibition, the Peruzzi Altarpiece, about 1309–1315, was commissioned for their private chapel in the church of Santa Croce. Here Giotto depicts five monumental figures, including Saints Francis, John the Evangelist, and John the Baptist with a new level of attention to natural detail, from realistic facial features to an awareness of the body beneath heavy garments to a profound dignity in posture and gaze.

Painters and illuminators such as Bernardo Daddi and Pacino di Bonaguida were inspired by Giotto’s new approaches—especially his depiction of the human form and narrative techniques—but quickly developed their own distinctive styles. Florentine artists provided an enormous output of objects at this time, ranging from devotional triptychs to books used for church ceremonies. These artists often collaborated on commissions or practiced their craft in a workshop setting.

In addition to a large selection of paintings by Giotto, Florence at the Dawn of the Renaissance will present the most important illuminated manuscript commission from the first half of the fourteenth century, the Laudario of Sant’Agnese. Illuminated by Pacino di Bonaguida and the Master of the Dominican Effigies, this beautifully executed and ambitiously designed illuminated manuscript was dismantled and dispersed sometime in the nineteenth century. The two dozen leaves that survive exhibit a great variety of imagery celebrating Christian feasts. This exhibition reunites nearly all of the surviving leaves for the first time.

Also featured in the exhibition are three illuminated copies of the Divine Comedy, Dante’s beloved literary masterpiece tracing the author’s journey from the depths of hell to the heights of heaven. Soon after Dante’s death, Pacino and the Master of the Dominican Effigies illuminated this text, visualizing the captivating events that the author described and feeding the demand for illustrated copies of what was quickly becoming a best-seller among Florentine citizens. The groundbreaking visual iconography developed to represent Dante’s narrative set the stage for the later artists who illuminated this popular text well into the fifteenth century.

More information at www.getty.edu.