Glory of Venice: Renaissance Paintings 1470–1520 features 50 paintings and a significant group of early printed books and individual pages that illustrate a crucial period in the history of Venetian art and culture, widely regarded as one of the most exciting chapters in the history of Western art. The core of the exhibition is a group of masterworks from the world-renowned collection of the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice: major altarpieces, private devotional paintings, secular works, and portraits by such masters as Giovanni Bellini, Vittore Carpaccio, Cima da Conegliano, Giorgione, and Titian. This rare selection includes some works that have never before traveled across the Atlantic; it is supplemented with significant Venetian paintings from U.S. collections, including six from the NCMA.David Steel, the NCMA’s curator of European art and co-curator of the exhibition, says: “This is the first exhibition solely devoted to Italian art ever presented at the Museum, and it’s a stunner. For the first time in its history, the Accademia museum in Venice, which owns the foremost collection of Venetian art in the world, has agreed to lend a substantial group of its treasures to America, and we are delighted to be one of two venues for this important exhibition.”
In addition to the vibrant and richly colored paintings, the NCMA is displaying a selection of early Venetian printed books lent from the outstanding rare book collections at the University of North Carolina and Duke University, as well as one of the most spectacular woodcuts ever made, Jacopo de’ Barbari’s bird’s-eye View of Venice. Exhibition co-curator Lyle Humphrey explains: “While the Bellini workshop was spawning Venice’s artistic revolution, introducing new techniques, materials, and formats for painting, other craftsmen and entrepreneurs in the city were adopting and perfecting the technology of printing with movable type and printed images. Around 1500 Venice became a center of innovation in Europe—the Silicon Valley of its time—and a conduit for the circulation of the ideas, scholarship, and imagery from classical antiquity that helped foster the Renaissance.”
This multimedia ensemble, the first Italian-focused major exhibition at the NCMA, is the first U.S. exhibition to examine one of the most remarkable chapters in the history of art, Venice at the dawn of modernity. The paintings and other works in the exhibition document an exciting and dynamic moment in the art and culture of Venice, a magical city that has fascinated visitors and artists for centuries.