Italian Old Masters from Bergamo, Bologna & Florence – Three Current Exhibitions in New York
Within a handful of blocks on New York’s Upper East Side there’s several centuries of Italian art to be explored and enjoyed.
On East 80th, Moretti are showing an assortment of Seicento Florentine paintings and one sculpture, a mixed bag for this viewer, though Simone Pignoni’s Rinaldo Restraining Armida is well worth the trip; but hurry the exhibition closes Friday, May 25. Other highlights include Ottavio Vaninni’s Susannah at her Bath with Handmaidens and Carlo Dolci’s The Guardian Angel.
A block away at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a roomful of pictures on loan from the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo. The Accademia was founded in 1780 by Count Giacomo Carrara and houses an exceptional collection of works, so it must have been very difficult to narrow down the selection to fifteen paintings. One strong suit of the Accademia’s collection is a series of portraits by Giovanni Battista Moroni, represented in the Met exhibition by the striking Portrait of a Twenty-Nine-Year-Old Man from 1567. Also arresting is Giovanni Cariani’s portrait of Giovanni Benedetto Caravaggi from 1517-1520. Strongly Venetian in style, the painting captures the sitter in a serenely contemplative moment. The talented and idiosyncratic Lorenzo Lotto, who created several altar paintings in Bergamo, is represented by four works, including three predella panels from his first major work in the city. Below is The Stoning of Saint Stephen, a startling contrast of violence and casual relaxation. Figures at right pummel the Saint with stones, while two guards (left) lounge like models taking a break from a photo shoot. Bergognone (Ambrogio di Stefano da Fossano), is represented by two very different and very intriguing paintings – a Madonna and Child (that could easily have inspired many a 19th century pre-Raphaelite), and a splendid predella panel depicting Saint Ambrose refusing to allow Emperor Theodosius entrance to a church unless he repents for earlier acts of violence. The static composition, a row of eight figures is animated by subtle glances and gestures, and richly detailed attire.
Finally, Paris’ Galerie Canesso has installed a group of 16th and 17th century Bolognese paintings at Didier Aaron‘s second floor galleries on East 67th Street. Among the more unusual is the Giovanni Andrea Donducci, called Il Mastelletta, painting ‘Fete Champetre’ by a Riverbank, that looks like a Dosso Dossi whose paint has begun to run. The more heroically scaled works include Aureliano Milani’s The Combat of Aeneas and Turnus and Simone Peterzano’s Angelica and Medoro. The notable new discovery is Guido Reni’s Saint Jerome, while the strangest work is Bernardino Campi’s campy Venus, Eros and Anteros.