Exempla. The rebirth of antiquity in Italian art. From Frederick II to Andrea Pisano
Rimini, Castel Sismondo, 20 April – 7 September 2008
With the Patronage of the President of the Italian Republic
Sponsored by: Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Ministry for the Cultural Heritage and Activities, Ministry of Education, Italian National Commission for UNESCO, Emilia Romagna Region, Province of Rimini, City of Rimini, Accademia dei Lincei
This exhibition, titled “Exempla. The Rebirth of Antiquity in Italian art. From Frederick II to Andrea Pisano”, examines certain aspects of the remarkable revival of the classical models in medieval art, starting from the epicenter of the culture of Castel del Monte. It was here that Nicola Pisano spent his formative years and the exhibition follows certain of the stages of the return to antiquity by Nicola and those who grew up beside him, such as Arnolfo di Cambio and Giovanni Pisano.
Though the thirteenth-century revival of antiquity was not the first in the Middle Ages, it proved to be one of the most intense by the scope of its inspiration and a new kind of feeling, which is found not only in the major representatives of Italian Gothic but also among many anonymous artists who rotated around the figure of Frederick II.
The first part of the exhibition is wholly devoted to the art which developed under Frederick II, with some examples of Norman work. For the most part these are sculptures, with new conjectural attributions, together with codices and cameos. Visitors will be able to compare Frederician works directly with the classical models which inspired them. The comparisons also illuminate Arnolfo di Cambio: the figure of the “Woman with an Amphora” in the Galleria Nazionale of Perugia will be flanked by a Roman relief representing a “Nymph” viewed from behind, from the Vatican Museums. If it was not the direct predecessor of Arnolfo’s figure, the “Nymph” is at least very eloquent testimony to its derivation from ancient models.
Where it has not been possible to represent certain parallels by materially moving the original works, recourse has been had to casts or photographs.
The exhibition closes with one of the panels by Andrea Pisano for the campanile of Santa Maria del Fiore, emblematically representing a sculptor, Phidias, busy modeling a classical sculpture. It is displayed by kind concession of the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Florence.
The point now reached in the collection of exhibits enables the Meeting for Friendship to report that the work carried out to date, both in obtaining loans from public museums and private collections, and the continuous focusing on cultural issues relevant to the show’s title, has achieved unexpected results.
We wish to recall that this exhibition, produced in collaboration with the Vatican Museums, will be dedicated to the memory of Federico Zeri on the tenth anniversary of his death. Zeri was a guest of the Meeting of Rimini four times and his lectures remain in the memory of all. The contents of the exhibition fully correspond to the faceted complexity of Zeri’s interests, which spanned classical antiquity, the art of the thirteenth century and much more.