nless you’ve had the good fortune of a summer holiday in Italy, you likely haven’t spent much time lately with artwork by Renaissance and Baroque masters.
That all changes with Offering of the Angels: Paintings and Tapestries from the Uffizi Gallery, an exhibition that opened today at the Chazen Museum of Art and runs through November 25.
The show features forty-five paintings and tapestries from the renowned Florence museum. The works highlight the theme of the Eucharist, starting with the creation of Adam and moving through Christ’s resurrection.
Many of the works are large in scale, and make for an impressive showing in the museum’s main-floor Pleasant T. Rowland Galleries.
The exhibition opens with Jacopo da Empoli’s The Creation of Adam, an oil on canvas from 1632. Clad in rich red and blue robes, God holds the arm of a naked Adam, who is seated with his back to the viewer but his hand extended toward his creator.
Near Venetian master Tintoretto’s The Sacrifice of Isaac of 1550–1555 is The Sin of Adam and Eve, a moody work from the early seventeenth century. In this painting, Eve’s milky white skin contrasts starkly to the dark trees behind her. She sits on Adam’s lap and holds an apple, which has already been bitten into once.
A section showcasing a range of Madonna and Son works includes early Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli’s stunning The Madonna and Child (Madonna of the Loggia), an oil on panel circa 1466–1467. In it, the young mother wears a delicate veil over her head and holds on to her baby, who reaches a hand to her shoulder. While the baby touches his face to hers, she gazes down with a sadness in her expression. The graceful sense of line and sense of tenderness take a religious theme and ground it in a very human moment of a mother’s love for her child.
The exhibition continues with sections dedicated to the Last Supper, the Passion and the Cross. Bonifacio de’ Pitati’s The Last Supper, circa 1550, offers the familiar scene of Christ and his twelve apostles assembled at a long table. But unlike Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic rendition, this painting sees the men seated at both sides of the table. They gesture as if in the middle of several conversations, and each man looks in a different direction.
In a final room, a collection of paintings recalls the Resurrection and Eucharist; included are two large tapestries recall Christ’s resurrection and deposition from the cross.
Offering of the Angels provides a rare chance to see paintings by masters of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, and the depth with which the show explores main events of the Bible is both powerful and beautiful.
Offering of the Angels runs August 24–November 25 at the Chazen Museum of Art. Audio guides highlighting twenty-eight points of interest are available for rental, and the museum is hosting a series of events in conjunction with the exhibition. Find more information at chazen.wisc.edu.
Photos—of The Madonna and Child (Madonna of the Loggia) by Sandro Botticelli and The Ascent to Calvary by Luca Giordano—courtesy of the Chazen Museum of Art.