Giovanni Battista Moroni, Isotta Brembati, ca. 1555–56. Oil on canvas, 63 x 45 1/4 in.
Moroni: The Riches of Renaissance Portraiture will be 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, to be 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 Frick will present about twenty of the artist’s most arresting portraits together 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. Assembled from international private and public collections such as the National Gallery (London), the Accademia Carrara (Bergamo), and the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna), the paintings and objects will bring to life a Renaissance society at the crossroads of the Venetian Republic and Spanish-ruled Milan.
Building on recent exhibitions in London (2014) and Bergamo (2004), and on a small but significant Moroni exhibition in Fort Worth (2000), Moroni: The Riches of Renaissance Portraiture is the most extensive scholarly assessment of Moroni’s portraits held outside of Italy to date. The fully illustrated catalogue will be the most substantial text on the artist’s portraits in English. The exhibition is organized by the Frick’s Associate Curator Aimee Ng with Simone Facchinetti (Curator, Museo Adriano Bernareggi, Bergamo) and Arturo Galansino (Director, Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, Florence) and will be accompanied by rich educational programming.
(Photo courtesy of Fondazione Museo di Palazzo Moroni, Bergamo - Lucretia Moroni Collection.)