Moroni: The Riches of Renaissance Portraiture was the first major exhibition in the United States to focus on the portraiture of Giovanni Battista Moroni (1520/24–1579/80). A painter of portraits and religious subjects, Moroni is celebrated as an essential figure in the northern Italian tradition of naturalistic painting that includes Leonardo da Vinci, the Carracci, and Caravaggio. This exhibition, shown exclusively at The Frick Collection, brought to light the innovation of the artist, whose role in a larger history of European portraiture has yet to be fully explored. His famous Tailor (National Gallery, London), for example, anticipates by decades the “narrative” portraits of Rembrandt, and his Pace Rivola Spini (Accademia Carrara, Bergamo), arguably the first independent full-length portrait of a standing woman produced in Italy, prefigures the many women that Van Dyck would paint in this format in the following century.
The Frick presented about twenty of the artist’s most arresting portraits together with a selection of complementary objects — jewelry, textiles, armor, and other luxury items — that evoked the material world of the artist and his sitters and revealed his inventiveness in translating it into paint. Assembled from international private and public collections such as the National Gallery (London), the Accademia Carrara (Bergamo), and the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna), the paintings and objects brought to life a Renaissance society at the crossroads of the Venetian Republic and Spanish-ruled Milan.
Building on recent exhibitions in London (2014) and Bergamo (2004), and on a small but significant Moroni exhibition in Fort Worth (2000), Moroni: The Riches of Renaissance Portraiture was the most extensive scholarly assessment of Moroni’s portraits held outside of Italy to date. The fully illustrated catalogue is the most substantial text on the artist’s portraits in English. The exhibition was organized by the Frick’s Associate Curator Aimee Ng with Simone Facchinetti (Researcher, Università del Salento, Lecce) and Arturo Galansino (Director General, Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, Florence) and was accompanied by rich educational programming.
Principal support for the exhibition was provided by an anonymous gift in memory of Melvin R. Seiden, the Robert H. Smith Family Foundation, Aso O. Tavitian, The Christian Humann Foundation, and Gabelli Funds.
Additional support has also been provided by Seymour R. Askin†; Margot and Jerry Bogert; the Robert Lehman Foundation; The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation; Barbara G. Fleischman; and Carlo Orsi, Trinity Fine Art.