An exhibition showcasing works by late Renaissance artist Francesco Vanni opened at the Yale University Art Gallery last Friday.
“Francesco Vanni: Art in Late Renaissance Siena” was inspired by the gallery’s 2003 acquisition of one of Vanni’s most famous compositions: “The Madonna della Pappa,” which depicts a moment of rest during the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt. By showcasing works from different stages of Vanni’s career, the exhibit traces his evolution as an artist. The exhibit also displays some of Vanni’s works at various stages of their development, which allows viewers to form a holistic impression of Vanni’s artistic opus, said exhibit curator Suzanne Boorsch.
“We took special care to include next to all of the labels for preparatory drawings,“ Boorsch said. “We believe that if a viewer is able to see how the figures in the preparatory drawing eventually fit into the final work, then the experience of looking at, and the understanding of, the drawing is greatly enhanced.”
Boorsh said that Vanni’s art employs symbols relevant to the Counter-Reformation age in Europe.
“Counter-Reformation art emphasized the mystical and the visionary; strong interest in iconography and in “correct” depictions of holy events; an almost “archaeological” interest in establishing the history and foundations of the Church,” Boorsch said, adding that Vanni’s art was instrumental in exploring the iconography of saints such as Catherine of Siena.
All exhibition atendees interviewed said they appreciated the curator’s decision to display Vanni’s progress as an artist by displaying works from his early years as well as from his career’s more advanced stages. They also said they enjoyed observing Vanni’s collaborative projects with other Renaissance artists, some of which were featured in the exhibit.
Art Gallery visitor Allison Mahoney said she thought the best part of the exhibit was “witnessing the process Vanni [went] through in creating each piece.”
“You can see the amount of work that went into each study and the different interpretations he examined before coming to his final conclusion,” she said.
In collaboration with the Whitney Humanities Center, the Gallery will screen films that explore themes relevant to Vanni’s art and the Renaissance period in general, such as Roberto Rossellini’s “Flowers of St. Francis,” Carol Reed’s “Agony and the Ecstasy” and Derek Jarman’s “Caravaggio.”
“I love the fact that the museum is making this exhibit into a full experience,” said Matt Mattia ’17, who attended the exhibit.
“Francesco Vanni: Art in Late Renaissance Siena” will close on Jan. 5, 2014.