Sotheby's to Offer Rare Botticelli Drawing this Summer

Sotheby's to Offer Rare Botticelli Drawing this Summer

Sotheby's secures an impressive group of works for their July Old Master Paintings sale in London; one that was put together by Barbara Piasecka Johnson (1937-2013) wife of the late John Seward Johnson, co-founder of the Johnson & Johnson firm. 

Milan's Secret Museum

Come and discover one of hidden gems in Milan: Poldi Pezzoli Museum. This extraordinary 'secret' museum is a few meters away from the famous Teatro alla Scala and full of Renaissance paintings and other treasures, all displayed in a beautiful domestic setting. The museum was the former home of the Milanese nobleman Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli, who died in 1879 and donated his home and collection for public use and benefit. Similar to the Frick Collection in New York, the Isabella Stewart Gardner in Boston, or the Musee Jacquemart-Andre in Paris. Here you will see masterpieces by Botticelli, Mantegna, Pollaiolo and sculptures, arms and armour, jewels, porcelains, lace, glass, furniture --- list goes on!
Amongst the highlights are the stunning "Madonna of the Book" by Florentine master Botticelli, "Imago Pietatis" by Giovanni Bellini, Piero della Francesca's monumental "St. Nicholas of Tolentino" and finally the symbol of the museum; "Portrait of a Woman" by Piero del Pollaiolo. The museum also holds interesting exhibitions with contemporary art works.

A recent show was "Symbols and geometry in Piero della Francesca: A reading of Chiara Dynys" which gave focus to Francesca's "St. Nicholas of Tolentino." This Renaissance work represents the saint in hieratic position that raises the index upwards in the direction of the stars and the sky which inspired the contemporary artist Chiara Dynys to create a dialogue between ancient and modern alchemy, particularly because Francesca was a mathematician as well as a painter. So next time in Milan, remember to make a stop at this little gem.

Sculptures behind the Renaissance

When you think of the great Renaissance works, one tends to focus on oil paintings and the painters. But without the sculptors who paved the way, we would have no Botticelli, Leonardo or Raphael. Renaissance really began in a few decades at the beginning of the 15th century in Florence, and a superb exhibition "The Springtime of the Renaissance" at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence maps out this artistic revolution and brings together a treasure-studded retrospective of sculpture through Western art's most important era. Speaking of the exhibition, curator Beatrice Paolozzi Strozzi says "the exhibition aims to show that the origin of this revolution, which lasted two centuries, was sculpture."

Works by masters including Donatello and Masaccio, Brunelleschi and Paolo Uccello have been loaned for the unprecedented show, with works coming from collections including the Louvre in Paris, the Bargello Museum in Florence, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Bode-Museum in Berlin, the Metropolitan in New York and the National Gallery in Washington.

Donatello, "Madonna Pazzi" circa 1420 marble, 74.5 x 73 x 6.5 cm Bode-Museum, Berlin

Amongst the loans is the Cortona sarcophagus, carved with Amazon warriors and plunging centaurs, that Brunelleschi is said to have walked all the way from Florence to see. The Bode-Museum lent a magnificent work by Donatello known as the "Madonna Pazzi" -- a marble statue used to create molds that were then used to cast copies in bronze. Speaking of this work, Beatrice Paolozzi Strozzi says:

"These moulds in terracotta or stucco were not that costly so that any store or convent could afford the statues in Florence and elsewhere. This allowed the aesthetic revolution to spread, including outside of Italy."

Copies of the molds were made especially for the exhibition and put on display where visitors are encouraged to touch them.

Congratulations are due to the three institutions behind this show: the Louvre and the Bargello Museum, both of which have amazing permanent holdings, and Palazzo Strozzi. The exhibition ends in Florence on 18th of August, and will travel to the Louvre in September, on view until 6th of January 2014. So plenty of chance to see it.