Issue Number: 118
Christopher Baker relishes a rare chance to see Piero della Francesca’s art in New York
Piero della Francesca, 'Saint John the Evangelist', 1454-69. The Frick Collection, New York. The Frick Collection specialises in exquisite rarities. Many of the works of Piero della Francesca (c.1411/13-1492), one of the most revered Italian painters of the early Renaissance, are fragile altarpieces or frescoes and unable to travel. By drawing together seven of his pictures to create the first exhibition on the artist in America, the Frick is therefore living up to its reputation.
Measured and serene, with figures inspired by classical sculpture and enriched with jewellike colours, Piero’s paintings are profound explorations of sacred themes. Their clarity of form and compositional, structural precisionchimed with the taste of modern collectors and critics. For Kenneth Clark ‘Piero’s application of geometry… was in harmony with the spirit which was later to find expression in Cubism…’
The Frick’s own panel depicting Saint John the Evangelist will be reunited for the first time with the artist’s Saint Augustine: it comes from the same altarpiece and is being flown in from Lisbon. Joining them from the Clark Institute is the Virgin and Child Enthroned with Four Angels (1470s), which brilliantly conveys the artist’s mastery of monumental figures, precise articulation of space and delight in decorative detail. Book your ticket to New York now.