Moroni: The Riches of Renaissance Portraiture at The Frick
I have a degree in art history with a concentration in 18th-century European paintings. I did study the Renaissance and even had to take my senior seminar on “Caravaggio and the Caravaggesque Artists” (I’m still made I didn’t get Gauguin like they did the previous year) but wouldn’t say it’s in my wheelhouse. I’m regretting that after seeing Moroni: The Riches of Renaissance Portraiture at The Frick Collection today. It’s a small but mighty show of stunningly elegant realistic portraits from 16th-century Italy shown “with a selection of complementary objects — jewelry, textiles, armor, and other luxury items — that evoke the material world of the artist and his sitters and reveal his inventiveness in translating it into paint.”
“Moroni: The Riches of Renaissance Portraiture is the first major exhibition in the United States to focus on the portraiture of Giovanni Battista Moroni (1520/24–1579/80). A painter of portraits and religious subjects, Moroni is celebrated as an essential figure in the northern Italian tradition of naturalistic painting that includes Leonardo da Vinci, the Carracci, and Caravaggio. This exhibition, shown exclusively at The Frick Collection, brings to light the innovation of the artist, whose role in a larger history of European portraiture has yet to be fully explored. His famous Tailor (National Gallery, London), for example, anticipates by decades the “narrative” portraits of Rembrandt, and his Pace Rivola Spini (Accademia Carrara, Bergamo), arguably the first independent full-length portrait of a standing woman produced in Italy, prefigures the many women that Van Dyck would paint in this format in the following century.”
The subjects of Moroni’s portraits are mostly upperclass Italians, except for The Tailor, and their ensembles of sumptuous silks, exquisite lace and fur, and expensive jewelry are a sight to behold. You almost feel like they might step out of frames and and pick up one of the accompanying objects placed around the room. If they did, they’d feel right at home at The Frick. Definitely put this wonderful show on your to do list this weekend.
Moroni: The Riches of Renaissance Portraiture runs through 2 June 2019.
Photos from the exhibition are mixed with photos I took today.