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Exhibition brings rare 14th-century masterpieces to Canada's Art Gallery of Ontario for first time
Master of the Misericordia (Italian, about 1360-70), Saint Eloy in His Goldsmith's Workshop. Tempera and gold leaf on panel, 59 x 62.5 x 9.5 cm. Museo del Prado.
TORONTO.- Presenting rare Florentine masterpieces that have never before been shown in Canada, Revealing the Early Renaissance: Stories and Secrets in Florentine Art opened at the Art Gallery of Ontario this weekend.

Revealing the Early Renaissance: Stories and Secrets in Florentine Art is a large-scale exhibition that brings together an unrivalled collection of more than 90 paintings, manuscripts, sculptures and stained glass from the 14th century, many of which have never travelled before.

“I am proud the Ontario government continues its support for the AGO by assisting them in bringing exciting exhibitions like this one to the people of Ontario,” said Michael Chan, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. “Exhibitions like Revealing the Early Renaissance remind us of a historical period that has influenced the world we live in today, and it also enhances Ontario’s reputation as a world-class tourism and culture destination.”

“The exhibition space is set up to tell an intriguing story as you walk through it,” said Sasha Suda, the AGO’s assistant curator of European art. “Bringing these works together offers an unprecedented opportunity to learn about the practices of artists at this crucial time in history, and uncover new information that has lain dormant for centuries.”

The exhibition comprises more than 90 key pieces from the first half of the 14th century, including Giotto’s five-panel Peruzzi Altarpiece, two painted and hand-written copies of Dante’s Divine Comedy, and Bernardo Daddi’s Virgin Mary with Saints Thomas Aquinas and Paul. The works, which have been secured by a team of staff members from the AGO and the Getty, will transport audiences back in time to Florence in the Early Renaissance.

Subdivided into various themes, Revealing the Early Renaissance: Stories and Secrets in Florentine Art explores how the city’s burgeoning economy of the time fostered a unique demand for artworks both religious and civic, as well as the collaborative nature of artistic production, a closer look at the workshops of artists, the stories behind the works and their subjects and insight into conservation research. Visitors can interact with the exhibition at numerous hands-on stations, offering the opportunity to explore inside the Renaissance artist’s studio, discover the pigments and tools used, hear music from a book whose pages have been reunited for the first time in over a century, view footage of Florence and see aspects of the works through the microscopes of conservators.

Curated by Christine Sciacca, assistant curator of manuscripts at the J. Paul Getty Museum, together with coordinating curator Sasha Suda, assistant curator of European art at the AGO, Revealing the Early Renaissance: Stories and Secrets in Florentine Art will bring to life recent discoveries about artistic techniques and studio practice in Florence between 1300 and 1350.

"The exhibition features artists who were masters in both panel painting and manuscript illumination in the vibrant cultural climate of 14th-century Florence," explained Sciacca. "With new findings about artistic techniques and artists' workshops based on conservation research and scientific analysis, we are able to present a rich, nuanced picture of the beauty and creativity of artistic production in Florence."

According to Suda, “this exhibition will make it clear that the diverse artistic practices of Giotto and his contemporaries paved the way for generations of Italian Renaissance masters to come.”

The exhibition is the first of its kind in Canada, as many of the treasured works have never travelled before and likely will not again for generations to come. Notable works include:

• Giotto di Bondone, Pentecost, Tempera and gold leaf on panel, 43 cm x 31.7 cm (The National Gallery, London)

• Bernardo Daddi, The Virgin Mary with Saints Thomas Aquinas and Paul, Tempera and gold leaf on panel, 120.7 cm x 55.9 cm (Getty)

• Pacino di Bonaguida, Polyptych: The Crucifixion, Saint Nicholas, Saint Bartholomew, Saint Florentius, and Saint Luke, 182 cm x 249 cm (Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence)

• Pacino di Bonaguida, Carmina regia: The Appeal of Prato to Robert of Anjou, 47.7 cm x 34.2 cm (The British Library, London)

• Master of the Dominican Effigies, Specchio Umano, 38.5 cm x 27.2 cm (Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence)





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