Renaissance in Toronto


The Peruzzi Altarpiece by Giotto

The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is opening an exhibition on “Revealing the Early Renaissance” in two days.  It covers the fourteenth century in Florence, Italy.  Italy 043

I went to Toronto  today for a sneak preview.  In a word, it is gorgeous.  Every piece is beautiful.  Gold is everywhere, shining and glittering.

3299257626_f890c1c2e2St. Catherine of Alexandria by Bernardo Daddi

St. Catherine holds her palm leaf to show she is a saint.  The renaissance used many images to tell stories within paintings.  It was a pictorial language that was easily understood at the time.  So few people were able to read during the early Renaissance, so imagery was included to instruct and avoid confusion or misunderstandings.

24505701_d_600hA page from The Laudario of Sant’Agnese

This manuscript was divided into single pages about two hundred years ago, and was held by 16 different collections.  The Exhibition managed to contact the collectors, and put together all but 4 of the remaining pages!  Kudos to the exhibition.  They are all hung in one room with Gregorian chants playing in the background.  I needed my reading glasses for the manuscripts.  No, I can’t read Latin, but I needed the magnification for the detail on the pages.  So beautiful.  It was hard to leave.

z_panel1Crucifixion by Master of the St. George Codex

There were several pieces by the Master of the St. George Codex including two panels.  The others were illuminated manuscripts.  Obviously, the story of Christ is depicted many times over in the exhibition.  There was very little secular art during this time; art and religion were one.  There was one painting in the exhibition; however, that included a image of the donor, the person who paid for the piece.  The donor was a teeny tiny person at the bottom left of the panel.  They had little importance, and were painted accordingly.  The Renaissance was the beginning of self-awareness, increased wealth of the middle class, development of literature, and many other things.  Over time, the donors are painted bigger and bigger until they are the same size as the Madonna.  Within a hundred years, the donors are having their portraits painted.  The fourteenth century is the beginning of a huge change in Europe, and that is what you can see in the exhibition.

Giotto-pentecostPentecost by Giotto – Showing an early use of perspective

I think the exhibition is well worth a visit, and I plan to go back again.  Unless you are planning a trip to Italy in the next couple of years, I don’t think many Canadians will have the chance to see such an outstanding collection of Renaissance art.  The exhibition is open until June 16, 2013.

I did not take any of the photos of art that you see, as there is no photography allowed inside the gallery.  The one of Florence is mine and the rest I have filched off the internet, but I believe copyright belongs with the various collectors and art galleries that own the panels and manuscripts.  Thanks.

About chebandbecky

I was born in Birmingham, England and emigrated to Canada in 1988. Becky is my daughter who was injured in a car accident. We are working towards her independence.
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