|Andrea Riccio: Renaissance Master of Bronze
October 15, 2008 through January 18, 2009
Introduction to the Exhibition
|Andrea Riccio,The Triumph of Humanist Virtue,
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.