Religion, Ritual and Performance in the Renaissance brings together more than 80 works, sacred and secular, spanning the late thirteenth to early seventeenth centuries, from both Northern and Southern Europe. The objects—which include paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts—are from the collections of the AMAM and Yale University Art Gallery.
The exhibition was made possible by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, as part of a collection-sharing initiative. It presents works used in private devotion, public worship, religious processions, and other rites and rituals, such as marriages, alongside those of a more secular nature, including portraits and chests, which nevertheless perform functions related to self-fashioning and display. Among the many exceptional works in the exhibition are two portable altarpieces that would have been used in private devotion: one, a painted triptych (the earliest on view, from ca. 1280-90), is discreet and intimate, while the other, a lapis lazuli- and coral-encrusted work complete with its case (one of the latest works, from 1608), is a masterpiece of craftsmanship. The exhibition allows the AMAM to supplement its rich Renaissance collection with superb paintings from Yale by Taddeo and Agnolo Gaddi, Sano di Pietro, Ridolfo Ghirlandaio, Lucas van Leyden, and Jacopo Tintoretto, among many others, as well as sculptures from France, Germany, and Italy.
An exciting aspect of the exhibition is the opportunity it presents to see works by Apollonio di Giovanni, Neri di Bicci, Mariotto di Nardo, and Barthel Bruyn the Elder from both the AMAM and YUAG collections. Also reunited are six enigmatic paintings from a series of twelve by Maerten van Heemskerck. A very large early fifteenth-century Florentine altarpiece is seen in its full glory, emphasizing the fragmentary nature of so many other Renaissance paintings whose original surrounding works have been lost. The exhibition will be used extensively in teaching, research, and public programs during the 2012-13 academic year.