The objects in this exhibition provide us with an excellent opportunity to study the effects of the Gothic NORTH and the Byzantine EAST on the formation of Italian Renaissance art. Although a renewed interest in the heritage of ancient Rome was the primary catalyst for the fourteenth-century Renaissance in Italy, the courtly northern Gothic tradition and the abstract spirituality of the eastern Byzantine style were also fundamental components in the visual language developed by early Renaissance artists. The collection of Romanesque capitals demonstrates the international nature of Europe and European art as early as the eleventh century, setting the stage for the fluidity and diversity of cultural influence during the early Renaissance. This abstract Romanesque style was eventually replaced by a more elegant, refined vocabulary known as Gothic. The Gothic style was developed in France in the twelfth century and rapidly became the standard fashion for noble courts across Europe. The works of art in the first room of this exhibition examine the Italian reaction to this aristocratic style. The last room in the exhibition explores the importance of Byzantine art in Italy. A series of early Italian paintings illustrate not only the adoption of iconic Eastern traditions, but the combination of this imported style with the decorative sensibilities of the Gothic. This fusion of northern Gothic and eastern Byzantine styles would serve as an important source for the future development of Italian Renaissance art into the sixteenth century.
This exhibition is curated by Ross Bresler, Fine Arts Department.