The Frick Collection
Andrea Riccio: Renaissance Master of Bronze
Special Exhibition

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Andrea Riccio

Introduction to the Exhibition


Exhibition Checklist

Andrea Riccio: Renaissance Master of Bronze
October 15, 2008 through January 18, 2009

Introduction to the Exhibition

Andrea Briosco Riccio (1470-1532), Lamp, 15th century, 16.83 cm high. The Frick Collection, New York, photo: Michael Bodycomb
Andrea Riccio,The Triumph of Humanist Virtue, c. 1516–21, Bronze, Musée du Louvre, Paris  

Andrea Riccio (1470–1532) was celebrated in Padua as the greatest sculptor of his generation whose bronzes rivaled the grandeur of ancient art. Today no other Renaissance sculptor of such stature remains so obscure. This first monographic exhibition dedicated to Riccio brings the extraordinary achievement of his art to light. It represents almost every genre in which he worked, including bronze narrative reliefs, figurative statuettes, and functional objects, as well as life-size terracotta statues.

Riccio’s sculptures express human emotions, intellectual concepts, and religious truths in a highly inventive classical idiom. His bronzes are small-scale monuments: their creative designs, fluent execution, and complex imagery encompass the most profound themes. Many of Riccio’s bronzes were centerpieces of Renaissance studies where they inspired scholar-collectors engaged with the life of the mind.

Riccio was a superb casting technician who dedicated himself to the practice of modeling. He fashioned his life-size works solely in clay, and he designed his bronzes in malleable wax with enormous freedom. In Riccio’s hands, modeling became a creative pursuit that was as intellectual and noble as his scholar-patrons’ crafting of poetry and prose. Riccio’s magisterial sculptures proclaim him a poet and rhetorician in bronze.

Riccio’s independent bronzes are undocumented. Their attribution and dating depend on the analysis of style and on recent technical study. Today it is believed Riccio made relatively few independent bronzes during his thirty-year career. This largest-ever gathering of Riccio’s sculpture should encourage the reassessment of some attributions and stimulate a more coherent understanding of his artistic chronology. Riccio’s distinctive approach to creating multiple bronze versions of his statuettes is also explored, and every important group of multiples currently assigned to the master is presented here for comparison.

The exhibition presents the magnificent character and beauty of Riccio’s art. Each work is a testament to the creative enterprise of one of the greatest Renaissance masters of bronze.