press release

Opening at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection on 28 February 2004, The Era of Michelangelo. Masterpieces from the Albertina presents 70 of the most important sixteenth century Italian drawings and prints in the collections of the Albertina, Vienna. Michelangelo revolutionized the artist’s conception of the human figure, in Florence (the Battle of Cascina cartoon) and in Rome (the Sistine Chapel ceiling). This revolution is the major theme of the exhibition, beginning with a youthful study by Michelangelo after a fresco by Masaccio. His long life, 1475-1564, sets the time frame for the selection of 66 drawings and 4 prints which survey the artistic development of Michelangelo and of his Italian contemporaries, with examples of the High Renaissance and Mannerism in Florence and Rome, as well as Milan, Perugia, Parma, Naples, Cremona, Genoa, Bologna and Mantua.

First Fra Bartolomeo and then Raphael were quick to apprehend this change, abandoning the static and graceful manner of the early Renaissance in favor of a heroic figure style orchestrated in complex and dynamic figure compositions. Raphael came to be the main beneficiary of Papal patronage, both Julius II and Leo X, from his arrival in Rome in 1508 until his early death in 1520. This exhibition tells the story of how this High Renaissance style spread through Italy, above all thanks to the pupils of Raphael (Giulio Romano, Perino del Vaga, Polidoro da Caravaggio) and, by developing its expressive, graceful and artificial elements, how it transformed into Italian Mannerism (Parmigianino, Bandinelli, Beccafumi, Francesco Salviati, Vasari). This courtly and decorative style was imported to France by Francis I and Henry II, who hired Rosso Fiorentino, Primaticcio and Niccolò dell’Abbate to work in the Château de Fontainebleau. This is the time and place when the art of drawing—whether as preparatory studies for paintings or as finished works—rose to its highest level of achievement in the history art.

Michelangelo’s drawings include studies for the Battle of Cascina cartoon and for the Sistine Chapel ceiling as well as for a Pietà. Seventeen drawings by Raphael include the famous Madonna of the Pomegranate, the Cumaean Sybil for his frescoes in Santa Maria della Pace, Rome, studies for his frescoes in the Vatican Stanze, for the tapestry cartoons (Victoria & Albert Museum, London), for the Logge of Leo X, and for his last great work The Transfiguration. Another celebrated drawing is a caricature study by Leonardo da Vinci. The drawings are complemented by one engraving by Marcantonio Raimondi (a masterpiece in collaboration with Raphael), two chiaroscuro woodcuts by Ugo da Carpi, and an etching of The Entombment by Parmigianino. The exhibition concludes with a highly finished figure drawing of Aeneas and a Boy by Daniele da Volterra, Michelangelo’s protégé in his old age, which is based on drawings by Michelangelo himself.

Dr. Klaus Albrecht Schröder, director of the Albertina, conceived the exhibition and selected the works, with curator Dr. Achim Gnann, author of the catalogue. Dr Gnann is the distinguished author of publications on Raphael, Polidoro da Caravaggio, Perino del Vaga, Parmigianino, and Michiel Coxcie among others, and has worked on numerous exhibitions of masterdrawings from the Albertina collection and Italian artists of the sixteenth century, both in Germany and abroad. The catalogue is published by Electa (English, Italian and German editions, euro 35).

The Albertina Vienna is considered the most comprehensive collection of old master drawings ever assembled privately. Duke Albert of Saxon-Teschen (1738-1822) and his wife, a daughter of the Empress Maria Theresa, devoted their lives to the collection. The Albertina collection was enlarged under Albert’s successors and is preserved in the archducal palace of the 18th century. It now consists of ca. 65,000 drawings and one million prints.

The exhibition will be on view 10-6 pm daily (closed March 16) through 16 May 2004. It will travel subsequently to the Albertina, Vienna (15 July–10 October), and to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (November 2004 – March 2005). Further information:


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THE ERA OF MICHELANGELO - Masterpieces from the Albertina

Werke von Michelangelo Buonarroti, Leonardo da Vinci, Fra Bartolomeo, Andrea del Sarto, Baccio Bandinelli, Raffael , Giulio Romano, Perino del Vaga, Polidoro da Caravaggio, Correggio , Parmigianino , Bernardino Luini, Domenico Beccafumi, Francesco Salviati, Giorgio Vasari, Daniele da Volterra ...

28.2.04 - 16.5.04 Peggy Guggenheim Collection - Venedig
15.7.04 - 10.10.04 Albertina, Wien
16.11.04 - 13.02.05 Guggenheim - Bilbao