Around Fra Bartolommeo
15 October 2016 - 15 January 2017, Print Room
The major autumn exhibition Fra Bartolommeo: The Divine Renaissance opens on Saturday, 15 October. It will be accompanied by an extensive additional programme: the Print Room is showing drawings by contemporaries like Raphael and Michelangelo, placing Fra Bartolommeo in his artistic context.
Few artists could draw and paint as masterfully as Fra Bartolommeo (1473-1517), a monk and the head of a painters’ workshop in the famous San Marco monastery in Florence. Even his preliminary studies are phenomenal. They are the key to his paintings, regarded as part of the High Renaissance, the monumental final stage of the Renaissance based on classical art
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen pays homage to Fra Bartolommeo on the eve of the five hundredth anniversary of his death. The museum is showing eleven of his paintings and their preparatory drawings. One hundred and twenty of them are in its own collection, coming from the famous albums of the Florentine collector Gabburri. Twenty-one additional drawings have been loaned by international museums. They show how Fra Bartolommeo painstakingly tried out the poses of the figures he would paint and studied the folds of their clothes, drawn in black and red chalk or pen and ink.
In Around Fra Bartolommeo the Print Room places the Renaissance artist in his artistic context. In Fra Bartolommeo’s paintings everything revolved around monumentality, beauty and harmony. Leonardo da Vinci was an important exemplar. Michelangelo and Raphael were his Florentine contemporaries, and he is seen as the artistic descendant of that other Dominican friar, Fra Angelico (1395-1455), who seventy years earlier ran a successful painters’ workshop in the monastery of San Marco.
Around Fra Bartolommeo features forty drawings and a number of prints from the museum’s outstanding collection of early Italian drawings and prints. Alongside drawings by Raphael, Michelangelo and Fra Angelico there are two portraits Fra Bartolommeo drew of Michelangelo, whom, like Raphael, he knew personally. The exhibition includes an unusual album of drawings by pupils of Benozzo Gozzoli (1420-1497), famous for his fresco series The Journey of the Magi in the Palazzo Medici.
Fra Bartolommeo gained inspiration in Florence and beyond. During a short trip to Venice in 1508 he was struck by the beauty of the altarpieces by Giovanni Bellini, the grand master of the Venetian Renaissance, from whom he borrowed the sacra conversazione (the enthroned Virgin and Christ Child surrounded by saints) and his handling of light and colour. Around Fra Bartolommeo also showcases work by Andrea Mantegna, Vittore Carpaccio, Giovanni and Gentile Bellini, emphasizing the Venetian influences that characterize Fra Bartolommeo’s oeuvre from 1508 onwards.
The Print Room is one of the finest in the world. It contains around 17,000 drawings and 65,000 prints including famous drawings by Dutch, German, French, Spanish and Italian artists including Leonardo da Vinci, Dürer, Michelangelo, Bruegel, Rubens, Rembrandt, Boucher, Goya, Degas and Cézanne. The Print Room also has prints and drawings by modern and contemporary artists like Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, Picasso, Yayoi Kusama and Paul Noble.
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