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Release Date: May 16, 2000

Spectacular Models and Other Works Document Masterpieces of Baroque Architecture in Europe at the National Gallery of Art, May 21–October 9, 2000

Washington, DC—The Triumph of the Baroque: Architecture in Europe 1600-1750, a major exhibition covering two centuries of European architectural history and exploring the triumphs of the most famous architects of the baroque era, will dominate two floors of the West Building at the National Gallery of Art, 21 May through 9 October 2000. Following the National Gallery's highly successful Italian Renaissance Architecture of 1994-1995, this awe-inspiring exhibition presents twenty-seven original architectural models and forty related paintings, drawings, prints, and medals.

The National Gallery of Art will be the exhibition's only U.S. venue. Already seen at the Palazzina di Caccia, Stupinigi, Turin, and The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, The Triumph of the Baroque will travel to the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Marseille (17 November 2000 through 4 March 200l). The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington; Palazzo Grassi, Venice; the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; and the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Marseille.

"Appreciation for the achievements of baroque architecture, disdained for years as excessively exuberant, has grown over the last two centuries," said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. The Triumph of the Baroque examines the architecture of an era, which witnessed a remarkable unification of the arts of painting, sculpture, decoration, architecture, landscape and urban planning."


EduCap Inc. is the proud sponsor of the exhibition.

"EduCap Inc. is honored to support such an exciting and prestigious exhibition," said Catherine B. Reynolds, chairman and CEO. "Baroque architecture includes some of the world's most celebrated and admired works, and we believe the unparalleled scale and content of this exhibition will inspire, educate and bring enjoyment to all who view it."

"The sponsorship of EduCap Inc. has made it possible for the Gallery to present this ambitious exhibition to a wide audience," said Powell. "Special thanks also goes to Juliet and Lee Folger and The Folger Fund for their additional support and to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation for its early support for research and educational programs."

Organization of the Exhibition

Emerging in the early seventeenth century, the baroque inspired European architecture for the next one hundred and fifty years. The movement, drama, and grandeur of the baroque is dramatically illustrated by the architectural models, which played significant roles in the practice of architecture during this period.

The exhibition begins in the central galleries on the ground floor of the West Building with the baroque in Rome. It will continue along the spine of the building, then upstairs to the West Garden Court and along the West Sculpture Hall, featuring in order, churches, public buildings, military architecture, and residential architecture, and culminating with the extraordinary models for the Great Kremlin Palace, Moscow; the Royal Palace, Caserta, Italy; and the Smol'ny Convent in St. Petersburg. Models, paintings, drawings, prints, and medals will present significant examples of baroque architecture in Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, England, and Russia.

Among the most appealing works are several of Rome's celebrated baroque fountains, famed for their ambitious designs and rushing waters. Gian Lorenzo Bernini's project for the Four Rivers Fountain (c. 1650) in the Piazza Navona is represented by an original architectural model in wood and terracotta as well as a painting of the completed monument. Four water deities symbolize the Danube, Ganges, Nile, and Rio della Plata, while water cascades from their rocky perches. Another painting of Pope Innocent X visiting the fountain and a silver medal struck to commemorate its completion underscore the importance of Bernini's spectacular masterpiece. Of particular interest to many will be Nicola Salvi's 1733 wood and plaster model for the imposing Trevi Fountain in Rome and Giovanni Paolo Pannini's oil sketch, Fountain of Trevi, Rome (1750-1755).

Models, paintings, drawings, prints, and a commemorative medal document the complex process by which Jacob van Campen designed Amsterdam's enormous Town Hall, hailed as the "Eighth Wonder of the World" when completed around 1665. Examples of English baroque architecture include Sir Christopher Wren's models for the Royal Navy Hospital in Greenwich, with its reserved classicism, and James Gibbs' 1721 wooden model for St.-Martin-in-the-Fields, London, whose design greatly influenced churches built in the United States.

Varying ways in which the baroque style was adapted in Russia are reflected in several structures. One of the most dazzling works in the exhibition, reflecting the flamboyant style of Russian baroque master Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, is his model for the Smol'ny Convent in St. Petersburg, replete with innumerable colorful and gilt-laden details on a luxuriant, grandiose complex. A series of models and drawings illuminates plans developed by Vasily Ivanovich Bazhenov in the late 1760s, under the aegis of Catherine the Great, to encircle the massive, relatively plain Kremlin in Moscow. The ambitious proposal was never realized. Italian architect Antonio Rinaldi's model for St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg is interesting for its mixture of elements of the Italian baroque, and Russian Orthodox traditions.

Highlights among paintings in the exhibition that help place buildings in the context of their time and place are two canvases by the great Italian topographical artist Canaletto depicting the Arch of Septimius Severus and the Church of Santi Luca e Martina in Rome (c. 1742) and the Royal Navy Hospital in Greenwich (c. 1750-1752), and the two spectacular galleries of painted views of ancient and baroque Rome (1757) by Giovanni Paolo Pannini.

Curators and Catalogue

The exhibition is coordinated by Henry A. Millon, dean of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery, with the collaboration of Guy Cogeval, director of The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; Paolo Viti, director of cultural affairs at Palazzo Grassi; and Marie-Paule Vial, director of the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Marseille.

A lavishly illustrated, 621-page catalogue, with fifteen scholarly essays, edited by Millon, is available in softcover in the Gallery Shops. To order by phone, call (301) 322-5900 or (800) 697-9350.

General Information

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Department of Communications
National Gallery of Art
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Landover, MD 20785
phone: (202) 842-6353
e-mail: [email protected]
Anabeth Guthrie
Chief of Communications
(202) 842-6804
[email protected]

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