Met buys Italian Renaissance contemporary after two decades of hunting

Nearly 20 years ago, a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art attempted to find an Italian Renaissance circled ring dating from around 1500. That attempt failed when the museum outbids for one year. auction in 2003.

The curator, James David Draper, was very disappointed. He described this work, a bronze relief attributed to Gian Marco Cavalli, as “the most powerful Renaissance relief to appear on the market in many ages”.

When Draper, who served as the Met’s emeritus curator of European sculpture, died in 2019, he left behind what Andrea Bayer, the museum’s deputy director of collections and management, called “” an important legacy” is marked for acquisitions in his former Europe division. sculpture and decorative arts.

And now the Met has done what it couldn’t in 2003, using money from Draper and others to buy the circle for $23 million from a UK showroom.

Museum officials see the purchase as not only fulfilling the dream of a distinguished former colleague, but also adding an important piece to its collection and signaling that it is once again actively engaged. into the repurchase market.

In a statement, the Met’s director, Max Hollein, called the circle “an absolute masterpiece, striking in its historical significance, artistic virtuosity and unique composition,” adding: This is a truly transformative acquisition for the Met’s Italian Renaissance sculpture collection. ”

Like most cultural institutions, the Met suffered financially during the pandemic. Faced with a potential shortfall of $150 million, it has already started cutting and laying off and started discussing the sale some artwork to help pay for collection care. The rate of acquisition slows down.

But Cavalli is the Met’s biggest purchase since Hollein was appointed director in 2018 and the second-largest ever for the museum, after what was reported to be the Bought 45 million dollars in 2004 in the 8 x 11 inch painting “Madonna and Child” by Duccio di Buoninsegna.

The circle of Cavalli, an Italian goldsmith, sculptor, engraver and former officer of the Gonzaga court in Mantua, decorated with gilding and inlaid silver and representing mythological figures Roman.

It depicts golden-winged Venus, the goddess of love, gazing at Mars, the god of war, while her husband Vulcan wields a tool to craft a helmet. A Latin inscription, according to the museum’s translation, reads: “Venus Mars and Joyful Love. Vulcan, you labor! ”

The work, which measures 17 inches in diameter, is described by museum officials as the largest and one of the most technically sophisticated examples known of a bronze circle from the early Renaissance. Experts believe it may have been made for Isabella d’Este, the Marchioness of Mantua, considered by many to be the most important patroness of the Italian Renaissance.

Cavalli, born circa 1454, collaborated for more than 30 years with Andrea Mantegna, the principal painter of the Gonzaga court, and with Antico, the main sculptor of the Gonzaga family, museum officials added that attribution work for Cavalli “remains challenging” until the discovery of the circle in a country house in England in 2003.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/23/arts/design/met-italian-renaissance-bronze-cavalli.html Met buys Italian Renaissance contemporary after two decades of hunting

Fry Electronics Team

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