Previous Press

Antonello da Messina

Lynne Lawner, US Italia "Antonello’s First Voyage to America": 2006
“For the first time in America, the exceptional paintings of Sicilian artist Antonello da Messina (ca. 1430-1479), will be displayed in a small but preciously concentrated show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York until March 6, 2006.

At a gala dinner sponsored by the Foundation for Italian Art and Culture, together with Bulgari, the Region of Sicily, and the ACP Group, at the Metropolitan Museum in honor of the opening of the exhibition on December 13, 2005, Keith Christiansen, the Jayne Wrightsman Curator of European Paintings at the museum, was given one of their two newly-established Excellency Awards. The Italian Board of advisors chose the American winner, and the American Board the Italian winner, in this case Professor Antonio Paolucci, Special Superintendent at the Polo Museale Fiorentino, one of the top administrators of Italy's artistic heritage. As diners enjoyed typical Sicilian dishes, visions of that ravishing, millennia-old island, its natural and man-created monuments flitted across a large screen. ”

Grace Glueck, New York Times, Art Review "How Do You Like Your Portraits? Roguish, Refined or Sublime?": January 6, 2006
"Although not as well known or documented as some of his Northern Italian contemporaries, like Fra Angelico and Piero della Francesca, the Sicilian artist Antonello da Messina (about 1430-1479) is regarded as the greatest painter to emerge from Southern Italy in the 15th century. A small, focused show, "Antonello da Messina: Sicily's Renaissance Master," at the Metropolitan Museum, organized by Keith Christiansen, a curator of European paintings, and Andrea Bayer, an associate curator. The show contains only seven works by Antonello and four by other relevant artists, including the Flemish painter Petrus Christus, but it's a powerhouse. It was occasioned by the loan of three of Antonello's most vibrant works from Sicilian museums, facilitated by the Cultural Commission of the Sicilian Region and the Foundation for Italian Art and Culture in New York. They have been supplemented by paintings and drawings from the Met's own collection and a privately owned, little-known oil on panel. The show's centerpiece, however, is not a secular but a religious painting, "The Virgin Annunciate" (about 1475-76), regarded as Antonello's signature work. It is a widely recognized masterpiece, with an air of mystery that often evokes comparison to the "Mona Lisa," whose genius lies in the way in which a traditional icon has been imbued with the life force of a flesh-and-blood human being."

Mario Naves, New York Observer "Sophisticated Sicilian Was In Step With Masters of Northern Europe": January 16, 2006
"the kind of exhibitions that promise uncommon scholarly and aesthetic pleasures—if not ready accessibility or huge profits—can still be mounted.

Take, for example, Antonello da Messina: Sicily’s Renaissance Master, a tiny, rather specialized exhibition devoted to (as the introductory wall label has it) “arguably the first truly European painter."

Yale University Press Reviews, Antonello da Messina: Sicily's Renaissance Master includes an informative essay by Giaocchino Barbera and entries on seven works that will be seen for the first time in the United States as part of a focus exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, including Antonello’s masterpiece, the Virgin of the Annunciation from Palermo, whose haunting beauty has been compared to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa

JAMES GARDNER, New York Post, ANTONELLO DA MESSINA December 15, 2005
If Antonello da Messina's "Virgin Annunciate" were in the Louvre rather than a regional museum in Sicily, he'd surely be one of the best-known artists of the Renaissance, that great watershed of human culture. As it is, few artists of his stature and influence are so little known to the general public. Certainly, it's not for lack of beauty or refinement, as revealed by the eight paintings and one drawing included in this highly focused exhibition, enhanced with works by Antonello's contemporaries. [ ] Despite this exhibition's small size, it is an event of considerable cultural importance. Mounted in part to display two works that have only recently been attributed to the master, it is one of the rare occasions when some of his best art can be seen outside of Sicily.

Stan Parchin, A 2005 Preview of Special ExhibitionsRenaissance Masters Hold Court on the East Coast This Fall
One of the three extraordinary paintings that will be on display at The Met will be Antonello's Virgin of the Annunciation, whose alluring beauty and penetrating gaze perhaps anticipate the enigmatic nature of Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519).

GEORGETTE GOUVEIA,Manhattan Museums prepare for the holidays THE JOURNAL NEWS,November 27, 2005
Just in time for the season, the Met is opening a small exhibit on the little-known Renaissance Sicilian master Antonello da Messina (circa 1430-79). The centerpiece of this show (Dec. 13-March 5) is "The Virgin Annunciate," his enigmatic portrait of a serene, blue-veiled Mary, her right hand raised in greeting. Or is it a gesture of blessing and farewell?
She is Antonello's "Mona Lisa."


Tyler Green, Los Angelos Times "Time turned back for masterpieces. Freed from the grime of centuries, sculptures from Renaissance Florence travel to the National Gallery of Art": November 7, 2005
"In celebration of the just-finished restoration, the National Gallery of Art is exhibiting "Monumental Sculpture from Renaissance Florence: Ghiberti, Nanni di Banco, and Verrocchio at Orsanmichele." Three of the 14 sculptures — each among the earliest examples of Renaissance statuary— are on view through Feb. 26 at the National Gallery's West Building. According to officials at Orsanmichele, this is the last time any of the works will travel outside of Florence."

Artsmonthly: November 2005

“It is the first time that major works by Ghiberti and Nanni di Banco have traveled to the United States. The works on view, Ghiberti's St. Matthew (1419-1421), Nanni di Banco's Quattro Santi Coronati (Four Martyred Saints) (c.1409-1416), and Verrocchio's Christ and St. Thomas (1466-1483), were originally created for the exterior of Orsanmichele in Florence, and they represent the highest achievement of 15th-century Florentine sculpture. Since 1984 the statues have been undergoing much-needed restoration, and the building has been closed to the public. Once the statues return to Florence, Orsanmichele will again be open, making it highly improbable that its works should ever be allowed to travel again. ”

Sculpture Magazine: October 2005
“An icon of Rennaissance sculpture, Orsanmichele is home to groundbreaking works by Donatello, Ghiberti, Nanni di Banco, and Verrocchio. While there is no substitute to seeing these figures in situ (now an unlikely prospect) the opportunity to examine these textbook classics up close is not to be missed.”

Where Magazine: October 2005
“For the first time, three of the finest examples of Italian Renaissance sculpture travel from Florence to the United States.”

Blake Gopnik, Washington Post "Sacred Sculpture’s Hallowed Niche": October 2, 2005
“Washington’s new convention center is looking a little drab, so here’s an idea: Let’s ask all our biggest industries to pay our greatest artists to put work on its façade. Okay, so it’s not my idea. I stole it from the citizens of Renaissance Florence. After they rebuilt the combined church and grain depot called Orsanmichele, they assigned each of the niches on its façade to a different guild, with the idea that they’d eventually be filled with great works of art. Three of the best of them, newly restored, are at the National Gallery of Art on loan from those in charge of art in Florence.”

Margaret Horton Edsall, The Capital "Away We Go: The National Gallery of Art": September 26, 2005
“We are delighted to collaborate with our Florentine colleagues on what we believe to be one of the most important exhibitions of Italian Renaissance sculpture in recent memory” stated NGA Director Earl A. Powell III.”

Theodore Murphy, Culture, Washington Times "There’s No Place Like Home": September 17, 2005
“The exhibit allows close-up views of the larger-than-life figures that weren’t possible when they occupied the Orsanmichele tabernacles. It puts us at eye level with the big feet and hands of bronze saints, weathered to bright green, and their lustrous metal surfaces, cleaned of centuries of grime. Seeing these marvelous details reinforces the reasons why their 15th-century sculptors are considered so inventive in portraying the human figure.”

Joanna Shaw-Eagle, Washington Times "Top Picks": September 15, 2005
“The National Gallery of Art offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view masterful sculptures from the 15th century Italian High Renaissance”

Theodore Murphy, Futures & Options, Wall Street Journal "Monumental Sculpture from Renaissance Florence: Ghiberti, Nanni di Banco and Verrochhio at Orsanmichele": September 9, 2005
“This is a rare chance to see three masterworks by major Renaissance sculptors in this country, while the church that displays them, Orsanmichele in Florence, is closed for restoration.”

Italian Cultural Institute Newsletter: September 2005
“It is the first time that major works of by Ghiberti and Nanni di Banco have traveled to the United States. Once the statues return to Florence, Orsanmichele will again be open, making it highly improbable that its works should ever be allowed to travel again.”

Carol Vogel, Inside Art, New York Times "Renaissance Sculptures Are Washington Bound": June 3, 2005
“Christ and St. Thomas” and two other sculptures from the Orsanmichele, neither of which have ever left Florence, are traveling to the National Gallery of Art in Washington.”

Arlecchino Servitore di Due Padroni

Manuela Hoelterhoff, Bloomberg News "Scent of Italy, Shining Soleri In Goldoni's `Arlecchino' Farce": July 29, 2005
“Arlecchino is a mostly pleasurable experience, producing steady audience laughter. It can be seen in Colorado Springs tonight and tomorrow at the Colorado Festival of World Theatre; in the fall, it will play in Los Angeles; Berkeley, California; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Minneapolis and Chicago. Wherever you catch it, 'Arlecchino' will provide a welcome whiff of sunny Italy, and of the even sunnier mind of Goldoni, as deftly channeled by Strehler.”

Michael Feingold, The Village Voice, Theater "Strehler Unmasks Goldoni's Realism to Find the Masks of Comedy Underneath Arlecchino, Servant of Two Masters": July 26, 2005
Over half a century later, it's easy to perceive but hard to explain what made Giorgio Strehler's production of Goldoni's Servant of Two Masters one of the most celebrated European stage events of its time. The post-World War II Italy in which Strehler's Piccolo Teatro di Milano emerged as a major artistic force had enough reality to contend with in the misery of its bombed-out streets, and there was a widespread feeling that the realism pioneeexhibit in the theater by Goldoni had run its course. Accordingly, Strehler created a version that would have seemed both a joyous gratification and an outrage to Goldoni: While the play is staged wholly inside the stylized conventions of commedia, choreographed down to the smallest syllable, we see at the sides of the pocket-size stage the actors getting ready to enter, plus the musicians and the "prompter" (who gets caught up in the action when it spills over). The realism outside the frame is like a hard shell containing the frothy, nutty nonsense inside.”

Charles Isherwood, New York Times, Theater Review "Before Homer Simpson There Was Commedia dell’ Arte": July 22, 2005
“The small explosions of giggles that burst like firecrackers during a recent performance of this comedy by Carlo Goldoni, at Alice Tully Hall through tomorrow, attest to the durable nature of this much referenced but little seen theatrical style.”

Helen Shaw, The New York Sun "The Third Master, The 2005 Lincoln Center Festival": July 22, 2005
“The Piccolo Teatro has stood squarely at the forefront of European theater for almost half a century, and a piece by its founder, Giorgio Strehler, has now come back to our shores. Stunningly designed, neither irritatingly subservient to tradition nor apologetic for its nostalgic air, "Arlecchino" will be some of the greatest Italian theater we'll get to see this year.”

"Arlecchino Triumphans, Vilaine Fille": July 22, 2005
“If you are within striking distance of New York, do whatever you have to do—beg, borrow, steal, or resort to more dire measures—to see Giorgio Strehler's Piccolo Teatro di Milano production of Carlo Goldoni's Arlecchino: Servitore di due padroni at Lincoln Center.”

Michael Sommers, The Star Ledger "From Italy With Laughs 'Arlecchino' brings 1750 commedia dell'arte to N.Y.": July 22, 2005
“The show that Soleri sparks is a broad yet precise rendering of the play, performed with classic commedia technique and high spirits by a company that looks comfortable in its beautiful period clothes.”

Marion Lignana Rosenberg, Newsday, Opera Review "A Riotous Delight Of Commedia dell’ Arte": July 22, 2005
”Strehler's "Arlecchino," which evolved over five decades, exalts theater's craft and conventions. Theater, with music, is the most time-bound form of art, but by some gift of grace this miraculous "Arlecchino" lives on, eternal and renewed.”

David Finke, TheaterMania, Reviews "Arlecchino, Servant Of Two Masters": Jul 21, 2005
”Giorgio Strehler died in 1997, 50 years after founding the Piccolo Teatro di Milano and presenting as one of the young company's first productions a revival of Carlo Goldoni's 1745 commedia dell'arte classic Arlecchino, Servant of Two Masters. His version, which he restaged nine times with the intention of continually refining it, was a hit then and is still consideexhibit the masterwork of Italy's greatest 20th-century director.”

Howard Kissel, Daily News, Theater "Shticking Up For Good-old Fashioned Farce": July 21, 2005
"Arlecchino" is a farce based on stereotyped characters that originated in Italy in the 16th century and that influenced European theater profoundly. The costumes in Strehler's production are witty versions of these centuries-old traditions. Strehler's actors employ the venerable tricks (what Italians would call lazzi and New Yorkers might call shtick) that are part of the performing tradition.“

Robin Tabachnik, Playbill Arts "Lincoln Center Festival Unveils Its 2005 Season": April 1, 2005
“...given the current political world climate, it becomes even more right and necessary that countries communicate in their common language--that of the performing arts--and that certain countries have a particularly audible voice.”

La Fornarina

Carol Vogel, New York Times (Leisure Weekend) "Inside Art": September 10, 2004
... Famed Raphael Will Cross the ... Raphael's ''Fornarina,'' that sensual portrait of the baker's daughter who is said to have been the artist's lover, is heading to the United States for the first time. ... A three-quarter-length Renaissance nude executed around 1520, it is thought to depict Margherita Luti,...

James Gardner,  New York Post "Don't Miss One Of World's Most Important Paintings" : December 3, 2004, pg. 46
The Frick leaves the viewer to decide whether the sitter was really the mistress of Raphael or, as some suggest, the wife of his patron Agostino Chigi. Far more certain is that for the next months, this may well be the most important painting in the Western Hemisphere.

Howard Kissel, New York Daily News (SPORTS FINAL Edition) "That Gaze, That Gauze": December 10, 2004. pg. 77
There are so few paintings by the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael (1483-1520) in the United States that the most common image people are likely to have is of a painter of generally ethereal Madonnas. Nothing could be further from this image than the deeply sensual [Raphael] that will be at the Frick Collection until Jan. 30. His "Fornarina" generally resides at the National Gallery of Art at the Palazzo Barberini in Rome.

Mario Naves, The New York Observer, "Raphael's Renaissance Beauty: The Mysterious, Erotic La Fornarina": January 10, 2005
One of the wonderful things about La Fornarina (circa 1520), a painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael (1483-1520) currently on display at the Frick Collection, is listening to the remarks it elicits from viewers. The fact that it's the sole subject of a painting exhibition-and it's not a big painting at that, measuring round about two by three feet-means that it's hard not to listen to (or participate in) conversations when you're looking at the piece.

Bruce Esplund, The New York Sun (Arts Letters): Thursday December 2, 2004
It is rare that New Yorkers get to spend time with a great Raphael, and if the mob of standing-room-only, shoulder-bumping museum members who showed up at the unveiling on Tuesday night is any indication of the fervor this masterpiece will generate, you can be sure that this "Fifth-Avenue Mona Lisa" will cause friction at the Frick.

David Minthorn, Antiques and the Arts Weekly, "Raphael's Erotic Mystery Unveiled At The Frick Collection": December 17, 2004
Historian have debated the portrait's identity for five centuries, and now an Italian expert claims to have the answer, which is revealed in a brochure accompanying the first US showing of "La Fornarina.

Robert J. Hughes, The Wall Street Journal (Futures and Options): Friday January 14, 2005
The Woman's skin tones suggest marble, but her expression and gesture hint at carnality - she may have been the painter's mistress.

John Zeaman, The Record (Hackensack, NJ) "A Raphael Work Nears 5 Centuries Of Flirting": Sunday December 5, 2004
Spurred on by these rumors, scholars have looked at the painting every which way, and the unveiling of the painting at the Frick this week was the occasion for a panel discussion, with experts from both sides of the Atlantic weighing in on the picture's various clues and puzzles.

Peter Plagens, Newsweek, "Woman of Mystery": December 13, 2004
Were Raphael and 'La Fornarina' a Renaissance item? She's not Talking.