"The Italian Primitives"
Exhibition of recently restored works by Giotto, Lorenzo Monaco, Botticelli and many others in the Jacquemart-André Museum.
from 25th October 2000 to 25th March 2001.
The Italian collection of Nélie Jacqemart and Edouard André, two famous art lovers and connoisseurs in Paris, is second only to that of the Louvre Museum or the Ufizzi Gallery in Florence. In addition to the prestigious collection that has been available to the public to date, this special exhibition brings together 30 lesser-known, yet equally important masterpieces of Italian art, from the end of the 13th until the 16th century, that have been recently restored.
Their "Italian Museum" is now a complete and essential path to study and understand the evolution of different schools in Italy and the dominant role played by the Florentine school that opened the path and led to the Renaissance. Prominent figures such as Giotto, Lorenzo Monaco, Signorelli, Bramantino, Bernardino de Conti and Salviati are proposed along with other recently rediscovered painters, some of them from provincial schools, such as Zanobi Strozzi a disciple of Fra Angelico, or Francesco Vecellio who was Titian's brother.
These so-called primitive works were the stepping-stones that paved the way from early Byzantine paintings through Cimabue, Giotto, Lorenzo Monaco, Fra Angelico to advance further with Masaccio, DomenicoVeneziano, Piero della Francesca, Andrea Mantegna, Paolo Uccello, Filippo Lippi, Boticcelli, and Bellini to arrive at the high Renaissance of Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo and Titian. So, to study their role is of utmost importance to understanding the roots of the Renaissance and it's powerful imprint on Western civilization.
What strikes you as soon as you enter the part reserved to the "Italian Primitives", as this special exhibition is named, is the overwhelming beauty of the colors that have been retrieved thanks to the admirable restoration of these masterpieces that were, for some of them, in a state that could not have permitted an exhibition to the public.
There has also been progress made with the identification of some works such as Neri di Bicci's altarpiece from the San Leonardo church in Arcetri, as well as with the reconstitution of some polyptychs from disparate fragments, a remarkable example being the Miracle of Saint Nicholas by Giovanni da Rimini.
Remarkable also is how, as early as 1882, these enlightened connoisseurs that were Nélie Jacqemart and Edouard André recognized the truth in Vasari's assertion that the Renaissance should be traced back to the Trecento rather than Quattrocento, giving Giotto di Bondone (1266-1337) and the Florentine school the merit of the new paradigm.
Read further on Giotto and the Florentine School as well as the other schools of art and artists of pre-Rennaissance Italy: