The looming monumental statues by Nanni di Banco, Donatello, and Ghiberti in the exterior niches of the church of Orsanmichele in Florence are the first fully realized Renaissance works of art. Created within a decade of one another starting in 1409, the sculptures embody a degree of realism and individuality not seen in Western art since antiquity. At the same time, they incorporate much of the spiritual expressiveness of the Middle Ages. With these works, the new and revolutionary Renaissance style was born, which, at Orsanmichele, culminated with the sculpture of Verrocchio.
The exhibition at the National Gallery of Art celebrates the completion of the conservation of the statues, performed under the supervision of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence. Freed from centuries-old accumulations of grime, they now reveal much of their original surfaces, remnants of their resplendent gilding, and long-concealed details of their facture. On their return to Florence the statues will be exhibited in the Museum of Orsanmichele.
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