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Piero di Cosimo: The Poetry of Painting in Renaissance Florence
February 1 – May 3, 2015
West Building, Main Floor, Northeast Galleries

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

Overview: Piero di Cosimo (1462 – 1522) was a creative spirit of uncommon imagination. Although he worked in the shadow of his great Florentine contemporary Leonardo da Vinci, Piero was esteemed in his day for his fantastic inventions. His paintings rivaled the verses of the ancient poets whose tales he transformed into a wonderfully strange visual language all his own. The artist conjured up fanciful myths and allegories, the meanings of which can be mysterious. But fantasy was not his only realm. Piero’s affinity for vanished pagan worlds did not dull his Christian beliefs, reflected in the religious works he created with equal fervor. He provided tranquil, intimate images for private worship as well as large altarpieces with complex compositions to grace the public chapels belonging to some of the leading families of Florence. Piero also painted sensitive portraits and dwelled in the details of nature, animating his paintings with inviting landscapes — part observed, part imagined. No other painter of such quixotic inclination can be found in the entire renaissance.

Piero di Cosimo: The Poetry of Painting in Renaissance Florence brings together forty-four paintings representing all facets of the artist’s career, including altar- pieces that still belong to the churches for which they were created. It also reunites several of his poetic mythological scenes, often painted in pairs or in a series to adorn Florentine palaces, but long since scattered from their original homes. With works lent by museums, churches, and private collectors in Europe and the Americas, this is the first major exhibition devoted to Piero di Cosimo.

Organization: The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and the Galleria degli Uffizi, Superintendency of Cultural Heritage for the City and the Museums of Florence.

Sponsor: The exhibition is supported by Sally Engelhard Pingree and The Charles Engelhard Foundation. Additional funding is provided by The Exhibition Circle of the National Gallery of Art.

Attendance: 170,792

Catalog: Piero di Cosimo: The Poetry of Painting in Renaissance Florence. By Gretchen A. Hirschauer et al. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 2015.

Other Venues: Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, June 22–September 27, 2015

Image: Piero di Cosimo, The Visitation with Saints Nicholas and Anthony Abbot, c. 1489/1490, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Samuel H. Kress Collection