Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Spain and the Hispanic World


A new exhibit in London at the Victoria and Albert Museum. From Catholic World Report:

The Victoria and Albert Museum is more inclined to offbeat blockbusters such as “A Brief History of Underwear” (2017) and “Fashioning Masculinities” (2022). Tackling Renaissance sculpture is unusual despite the enthusiasm shown by the founders, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Victoria never went to Rome but was a frequent visitor to Florence. Life-copies of the city’s two most famous statues of David — by Donatello and Michelangelo — were made during her reign. Although Donatello’s sculpture was one of the very few he created that might not have met Victorian standards of modesty, the royal couple was more open-minded than most at the time.

The 19th-century copy of Donatello’s bronze David (circa 1440) is on view at the London show, having been moved from the other side of the museum. The last time the original left Florence was in 1930, accompanied by Benito Mussolini on a publicity mission to the Royal Academy. The Victoria and Albert Museum has instead secured Donatello’s fully clothed version of David (1408), in marble. It is the first work that greets visitors to the show. Created when Donatello was only 22 years old, its carefully composed naturalism sets the scene for the sculptures he made later in his long life.

Taking center stage, after the marble David, is a life-size bronze crucifix by Donatello himself, lent by a church, not a museum. This is part of what makes the exhibition so remarkable. Many of the works would look more appropriate back in their original sacred setting. Most have long since been acquired by museums. Carved forms are something that Catholics are still accustomed to seeing at Mass, unlike Renaissance paintings that once served a pious purpose but for generations have been lining the walls of public galleries. In the case of the Donatello crucifix, it’s displayed between two sculptures in a composition that suggests a reworking of the Calvary spectacle. Taking the place of Dismas and the Impenitent Thief are bronze statues of a bishop and St. George. (Read more.)


No comments: