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Grande Decorazione: Italian Monumental Painting in Prints – Works from three centuries

It was in monumental painting that Italian art reached its apogee. Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling and ‘Last Judgement’, the frescoes of Raphael, Pietro da Cortona and Tiepolo are among the most memorable creations of the human imagination. One of the earliest exponents of Italian monumental art was Andrea Mantegna, among whose major works is the ‘Triumph of Caesar’, made up of ten, large-scale panels which were originally mounted on one wall. Around 1500, Mantegna, ever the innovator, also produced a version of this work as a copper engraving. From then on, wall and ceiling paintings of all sorts were reproduced as prints. Out of an old art form a new one was born, one whose aim was to translate large and complex works into a format which was easy to comprehend and to handle. The printed sheets could be admired anywhere and they conveyed the concept of the artworks they represented in a way which was easier to grasp than the originals themselves. The exhibition presents around 120 works which are astonishing for their size and for their extraordinarily striking appeal as fully developed works of art.

Relevant research areas: Western Europe, Renaissance, Baroque, Engraving

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