From 11 March to 21 June 2009

The Italian Primitives. The Altenburg collection

Considered to be one of the largest collections of Italian Primitives outside Italy, the exceptional works collected during the 19th century by Bernard von Lindenau are to be shown for the first time in Paris, from 11 March to 21 June 2009, at the Jacquemart-André Museum. 

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Following the great success, in 2000, of the exhibition devoted to the collections of Italian Primitives gathered by Nélie Jacquemart, the Jacquemart-André Museum is opening its doors to another collection, which is both different from and complementary to the first, dedicated to the masterpieces of the Italian masters of the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries.


The Altenburg Museum Collection

This collection of masterpieces by the Italian Primitives was acquired early in the 19th century by the German baron Bernard von Lindenau (1779-1854). An eminent politician, art enthusiast and philanthropist, Bernard von Lindenau opened a vast, classical-style house in his native town of Altenburg, south of Dresden, in 1848 in order to exhibit his collections of works of art and to encourage wider access to culture “for the education of the young and the pleasure of the old”.
With German reunification and the end of the Communist regime, western researchers were once again able to access this unique, forgotten collection. The exceptional value of this collection was then reinforced by the organisation of two big exhibitions in Italy. 

A hitherto unseen exhibition of the greatest masters

Some fifty of these works, all painted by the greatest masters of the pre-Renaissance and early Italian Renaissance have been brought together for this exhibition which promises to be a revelation for the visiting public.
An enthralling anthology of prestigious artists, from Guido da Siena to Liberale di Verona will enable us to see two major schools side by side: the Sienese School, which counts Lippo Memmi, Pietro Lorenzetti and Sano di Pietro amongst its ranks, and the Florentine School, represented, amongst others, by Fra Angelico, Lorenzo Monaco and Filippo Lippi.

The occasion for an aesthetic rediscovery

Through the collection, the exhibition highlights the succession of major aesthetic trends which deeply transformed Italian art between the second half of the 13th century and the end of the 15th century. The Greek style and Byzantine influence on the one hand and the appearance of the modern style after Giotto and the spread of the international Gothic style on the other, gradually gave way to the Renaissance style.

The exceptional reconstitution of dismantled polyptychs

The works that have come from Altenburg include some that were originally from polyptychs, which have long been dismantled and dispersed. The exhibition will provide the occasion to put most of them back together again, thanks to loans from French, German, English and Italian galleries. In particular, these collections will include a series of works by Fra Angelico about the life of Saint Francis.

A dazzling selection

The works chosen, shown to their best advantage by an original scenography by Hubert Le Gall, highlight the wealth and great diversity of more than three centuries of pictorial creation. You will be able to admire the remarkable refinement of Lippo Memmi’s Virgin and Child Enthroned, the sparkling colours of the Ascension of the Virgin by Sano di Pietro and the sweetness of the Virgin and Child by Liberale di Verona.
Come and marvel at the highly symbolic palette of colours of the masters of Siena or Florence, playing on the effects of monochromes or contrasts between almond greens, tender roses or “burnt Siena”, bronzes, dark blues or bright reds.

The radiance of the golds, the subtlety of the colours, the elegance of the lines, the expressive power of the scenes and the spiritual power of their message combine to give these works a poetry full of grace and depth. The Jacquemart-André Museum invites you to be charmed and bedazzled by these great masters of Italian painting of the 13th to 15th centuries.