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Led by Tullio Lombardo (c. 1455–1532), the great Venetian sculptors of the High Renaissance created new ideals of beauty, shaped by a poetic and nostalgic approach to classical antiquity. Their expression shares much with Mantegna, Bellini, Giorgione, and Titian, the northern Italian masters of Renaissance painting. In about 1500 painters in Venice went beyond traditional commissions for altarpieces and household devotional images to develop new art forms—imaginative evocations of ancient mythology, poetry, history, or philosophy made for a growing audience of private collectors. While their achievements are well known, the parallel experiments of Venetian sculptors are far less familiar, especially in America. Tullio, a brilliant carver inspired both by these painters and by ancient art, devised his own innovations in marble. Blending elements of the antique and the Renaissance, the sacred and the secular, his works raise provocative questions about his haunting subjects.
This exhibition, the first in America dedicated to Tullio, features his sensuous and dramatic double-portraits in high relief: A Couple (c. 1490/1495) from the Galleria Giorgio Franchetti alla Ca' d'Oro in Venice and the "Bacchus and Ariadne" (c. 1505) from the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Ten other carefully selected works exemplify the creative approach and influence of Tullio and his closest followers, including his brother Antonio Lombardo, Simone Bianco, Antonio Minello, and Giammaria Mosca.
Organization: Organized by the National Gallery of Art.
Sponsor: The exhibition is sponsored by The Exhibition Circle of the National Gallery of Art.
Additional support is provided by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.
The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.