Saturday, February 11, 2012

Antico: The Golden Age of Renaissance Bronzes

Where: National Gallery of Art, East Building

When: through April 8, 2012

This exhibit is illustrative of the reason I go to see the special shows at the Smithsonian and the National Gallery.  They are often on a subject about which I know nothing, and I learn an enormous amount, in a short period of time and for free.  Truly, DC is a great place to live (despite what you might hear on TV or from various politicians) and I thank my lucky stars I'm able to take advantage of the many cultural events it offers.

During the late 1400s and early 1500s, many excavations of ancient sites took place and this fostered a great interest in classical sculpture.  As there were not enough original pieces to go around, those wishing to have these types of works in their homes turned to sculptors, preeminent among them Antico, to make reproductions.  This is the first exhibit of his works in the United States and features over 3/4 of his existing pieces.  Antico, so called because he was considered to have such a great understanding of Greek and Roman art, not only reproduced antiquities, he also invented the pieces of classical sculpture that were missing - noses, arms, sometimes even entire heads.
In one of the display cases, there is an original of Hercules (at least it is believed to be original) and two copies by Antico.  It's wonderful to be able to see his work, alongside that which he was trying to imitate.

In addition to bronze, Antico also used gold and silver to enhance his works.  Frequently, the eyes of a piece would be silvered.  Frankly, I found that a bit creepy!

Verdict:  Go see this show - it's not terribly large, so it's easily managed in a lunch hour, and it's very interesting, even for the novice in this type of art.

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