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Fifteenth-Century Florentine and Tuscan Sculpture in the National Gallery of Art

David Gariff, senior lecturer, National Gallery of Art Italian sculpture of the 15th century in Florence and Tuscany, departed from the elegant, decorative style of the earlier Gothic period to reflect a greater admiration for, and understanding of, the strength and structure of the human body. In this respect, Renaissance sculptors emulated the ideals of the ancient Greeks and Romans when depicting contemporary or Christian subjects. Sculptors like Donatello, Desiderio da Settignano, Mino da Fiesole, Bernardo and Antonio Rossellino, Luca and Andrea della Robbia, Jacopo della Quercia, and Verrocchio, revived a classical interest in the human body depicted in full-length figures demonstrating naturalism and ease of movement. Relief sculptures explored new effects of light and atmosphere. Displaying a variety of materials including marble, bronze, wood, terracotta, and ceramic; and a range of processes from carving to modeling to casting, 15th-century Florentine sculpture served a variety of secular and religious purposes. It also became a model for the many talented Italian sculptors to follow, most notably the young Michelangelo. In this lecture presented on October 22, 2019, at the National Gallery of Art, senior lecturer David Gariff explores the rich holdings of 15th-century Florentine and Tuscan sculpture in the Gallery’s permanent collection.