Following the great success, in 2000, of the exhibition devoted to the collections of Italian Primitives gathered by Nélie Jacquemart, the Jacquemart-André Museum is opening its doors to another collection, which is both different from and complementary to the first, dedicated to the masterpieces of the Italian masters of the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries.
This collection of masterpieces by the Italian Primitives was acquired early in the 19th century by the German baron Bernard von Lindenau (1779-1854). An eminent politician, art enthusiast and philanthropist, Bernard von Lindenau opened a vast, classical-style house in his native town of Altenburg, south of Dresden, in 1848 in order to exhibit his collections of works of art and to encourage wider access to culture “for the education of the young and the pleasure of the old”.
With German reunification and the end of the Communist regime, western researchers were once again able to access this unique, forgotten collection. The exceptional value of this collection was then reinforced by the organisation of two big exhibitions in Italy.
Some fifty of these works, all painted by the greatest masters of the pre-Renaissance and early Italian Renaissance have been brought together for this exhibition.
Through the collection, the exhibition highlights the succession of major aesthetic trends which deeply transformed Italian art between the second half of the 13th century and the end of the 15th century. The Greek style and Byzantine influence on the one hand and the appearance of the modern style after Giotto and the spread of the international Gothic style on the other, gradually gave way to the Renaissance style.
The works that have come from Altenburg include some that were originally from polyptychs, which have long been dismantled and dispersed. The exhibition provides the occasion to put most of them back together again, thanks to loans from French, German, English and Italian galleries. In particular, these collections will include a series of works by Fra Angelico about the life of Saint Francis.
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