This fall, The Frick Collection will present the first exhibition devoted to the Renaissance sculptor Bertoldo di Giovanni (ca. 1440–1491). The exhibit opens on September 18 and will continue through January 12, 2020. By uniting nearly his entire extant collection of works, comprising more than twenty statuettes, reliefs, medals, a life-sized statue and a monumental frieze the show demonstrates the artist’s creative process and ingenious design. Never before shown outside of Italy, the exhibition captures his engaging lyrical style and especially and illustrates the essential role that he played in the development of Italian Renaissance sculpture.
The exhibition shines a long-overdue light on the ingenuity and prominence of the Florentine artist, who is remembered for three important features. He was the pupil and assistant of Donatello and was later the teacher and mentor of Michelangelo, thus forming a link between the greatest Italian sculptors of the 15th and 16th centuries. He was the also the ‘guide and chief’ (Vasari) of the informal art academy that Lorenzo the Magnificent maintained in the Medici garden near San Marco. He also developed a new type of sculpture – the small-scale bronze, intended for the private collectors and patrons.
Bertoldo was responsible for completing two pulpits in San Lorenzo left unfinished by Donatello at his death. One of most noteworthy works is a bronze relief of a battle scene (c.1480, Bargello, Florence), which inspired one of Michelangelo’s first works, the Battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs (c.1491, Casa Buonarroti, Florence).
Bertoldo was one of the earliest sculptors of the Renaissance to create statuettes in bronze, an art form that became ubiquitous in prestigious collections during the 15th century and thereafter. The Frick is the only institution outside of Europe that owns a statuette by Bertoldo and has long desired the opportunity to study and present the artist’s work in great depth. Suffice it to say that the museum is thrilled to have assembled the monographic display, on view only in New York that will finally bring into focus Bertoldo’s unique position at the heart of the artistic and political landscape of 15th-century Florence. The catalog that accompanies the exhibit “Bertoldo di Giovanni: The Renaissance of Sculpture in Medici Florence” is the most substantial publication ever produced on the artist. The Frick Collection is located at 1 East 70th Street, New York, NY.