Met Buys Italian Renaissance Bronze After Two Decades on the Hunt


About 20 years ago, the curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art led the effort to acquire the Roundel of the Italian Renaissance, which dates back to about 1500 years. This attempt failed when the museum was overpriced at the 2003 auction.

Curator James David Draper was disappointed. He described this work, a bronze relief by Gian Marco Cavalli, as “the most thrilling Renaissance bronze on the market over time.”

When Draper, an honorary curator of European sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, died in 2019, he left behind what Andrea Bayer, deputy director of the museum’s collection and management, called an “important bequest.” rice field. Sculpture and decorative arts.

And now, with money from Draper and others, Met has achieved what wasn’t possible in 2003 by buying a roundle from a British gallery for $ 23 million.

Museum officials see the purchase as an indication that it not only fulfills the dream of a prominent ex-colleague, but also adds significant work to the collection and re-engages in the acquisition market. increase.

In a statement, Mets director Max Hollein called Roundle “an absolute masterpiece that stands out for its historical importance, artistic feats and unique composition,” adding: .. .. “

Like most cultural institutions, Met suffered financially during the pandemic. Faced with a potential shortage of $ 150 million, it started layoffs and discussions about selling some artwork to help take care of the collection. .. The pace of acquisition has slowed.

However, Cavalli is Met’s biggest purchase since Hollein was appointed director in 2018, and in 2004 “a” child “by Madonna and Duccio di Buoninsegna.

The round dolls of Cavalli, an Italian goldsmith, sculptor, sculptor and medalist who worked at the Gonzaga court in Mantua, are decorated with gold and silver inlays and depict Roman mythological figures.

Venus with its golden wings, the goddess of love, is depicted staring at Mars, the god of war. Meanwhile, her husband Balkan has the tools to make a helmet. According to the museum’s translation, the Latin inscription says: “Venus’s Mars and love rejoice. Balkan, you work!”

This 17-inch diameter piece was described by museum officials as one of the largest and most technically sophisticated known examples of the early Renaissance Bronze Roundel. Experts believe that it may have been made for Isabella d’Este, the Marquiones of Mantua, who is regarded by many as the most important female guardian of the Italian Renaissance.

Born around 1454, Cavalli worked with Andrea Mantegna, the main painter of the Gonzaga court, and Antico, the main sculptor of the Gonzaga family, for over 30 years, and the attribution of his work to Cavalli is “still challenging”. Said a museum official. Until the discovery of the roundle in a country house in England in 2003.


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