New works on display in the Museum’s Renaissance Gallery

A selection of books, two religious garments and a bas-relief can be viewed by the public from December onwards in the display cases of the Museum’s Renaissance Gallery.
«Statuts des Conseillers d' État de Venise, contenant les devoirs et obligations de leur charge (en italien)» (detail). Text by Marino Grimani (1532-1605), Venetian doge [chief magistrate], offered to Giovanni Sanudo, State Counsellor. Venice, 1598. Manuscript on vellum, gold leaf. Calouste Gulbenkian Museum

The display cases of the Museum’s Renaissance Gallery now hold a new group of objects from the 16th and 17th centuries. Six works from the book collection amassed by Calouste Gulbenkian reflect the highly skilled book production taking place at the time.

As the printing press became more established in Europe, bookbinding workshops also became progressively more sophisticated. The strong eastern influence that was seen in books produced in the Republic of Venice was fundamental in the development of the book art of this period. Originating in Italy, as well as in France and Germany, these books constitute a diverse selection, ranging from Books of Hours to the poetry of Petrarch.

 

Francesco Petrarca, «[Opera] Librorum Francisci Petrarche Impressorum Annotatio». Venetiis [Veneza]: Andree Torresani de Asula per Simonem de Luere, 1501. Impresso sobre papel; Encadernação em marroquim, c. 1550. Museu Calouste Gulbenkian
Francesco Petrarca, «[Opera] Librorum Francisci Petrarche Impressorum Annotatio». Venetiis [Veneza]: Andree Torresani de Asula per Simonem de Luere, 1501. Impresso sobre papel; Encadernação em marroquim, c. 1550. Museu Calouste Gulbenkian

 

The Republic of Venice, along with Florence and Genoa, was also one of the centres where Italian production of precious fabrics achieved unprecedented levels during this period. Due to their complex manufacturing processes, these fabrics became exclusive to a social and religious elite. This is the context in which the two chasubles now on display in the Museum were made. This liturgical accessory was worn only by priests for celebrating the mass and for this reason, it became a luxury item aimed at a niche within the clerical hierarchy. Velvet, a symbol of wealth and power, was one of the preferred fabrics used in its production.

 

Chasuble. Italy, Genoa, late 16th century. Silk velvet and silver thread. Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
Chasuble. Italy, Genoa, late 16th century. Silk velvet and silver thread. Calouste Gulbenkian Museum

 

On display, we also find a bas-relief depicting the angel Gabriel at the moment of the Annunciation. The dynamic nature of the figure already heralds the sense of movement that would later become fully established in the Baroque.

 

«Saint Gabriel, the Angel of the Annunciation». Italy (?), 16th - 17th century. Elm wood. Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
Updated on 23 december 2021