This exhibition explores women asportrayed in the figurative arts in a range of different interpretations in Western culture with its major debt to mythology, the Bible and the Gospels.
The exhibition unfolds in four different venues, crossing centuries of history with iconographic depictions of Eve, the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalen, St. Catherine, Bathsheba, Delilah, Leda, Medea and Penelope in an exploration of the figurative arts embracing history, mythology, allegory, symbolism and spirituality.
The Museo della Battaglia e di Anghiari is showcasing part of the vast Bagnobianchi Collection for the very first time, with graphic works stretching from German art with the Creation of Eve by Michael Wohlgemuth (Nuremberg, 1434 – 1519) in what is one of the most emblematic expressions of the Northern European tradition, juxtaposed with a splendid drawing of Adam and Eve by Albrecht Dürer (Nuremberg, 1471 – 1528) and with the same artist’simposing Sea Monster. The 18 works on display wind up with the celebrated Hasta la muerte by Francisco de Goya (Fuendetodos, 1746 – Bordeaux, 1828), Olympia by Edouard Manet (Paris, 1832–83) and Penelope by Max Klinger (Leipzig, 1857 – Großjena, 1920), not to mention a rare piece depicting Leda and the Swan in a Landscape after a lost work by Michelangelo Buonarroti. The exploration of the museum’s collections continues with a small panel depicting The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine of Alexandria, thought to be a copy of the famous work by Correggio. Here the panel offers us almost a foretaste of the 17th style embodied in the Penitent Magdalen, which was thought for a very long time to be a work in the manner of Cristofano Allori but which has now finally been attributed in a brilliant study to Francesco Morosini. The Penitent Magdalen, recently restored with funding from SAVAS through the Fondazione Lions and the Lions Club Valtiberina section, is an absolute discovery following the removal of the layers of varnish that had dulled the painted surface and partly concealed the artist’s signature.
The exhibition in the Museo di Palazzo Taglieschi focuses on three particularly significant depictions of the Virgin Mary: Giovanni dal Ponte’s hieratic Madonna which has recently returned to Anghiari, Jacopo della Quercia’s iconic Madonna and Child, and an extremely moving and engaging Virgin caressing the Christ Child with her hands and her gaze, attributed to Benedetto Buglioni. Visitors travel from the Early Renaissance of Giovanni dal Ponte and Jacopo della Quercia, two artist swho, though coeval, were far removed from one another in theirtastes and in their training – two alternative approaches reflecting the art of Florence and Siena respectively – to the magnificent glazed terracottas of the Della Robbia workshop.
The church of Sant’Agostino and the Palazzo Pretorio, for their part, offer visitors a journey amid mythology and spirituality which come together in the sculptures of Ilario Fioravanti (Cesena, 1922 – Savignano sul Rubicone, 2012), marking the artist’s first centenary with works revealing a deeply-rooted bond with the spirituality and the figurative tradition of the Renaissance.