Once again, Italian art amazes Washington. The upcoming opening of the first US retrospective on Andrea del Verrocchio, “Verrocchio: Sculptor and Painter of Renaissance Florence” (September 15, 2019 – January 12, 2020) at the National Gallery of Art, one of the most prestigious museums in the United States, kick-starts a new season of Italian culture in the nation’s capital. In the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death, the National Gallery of Art dedicates a large-scale exhibition to this eclectic genius of the Renaissance embracing Verrocchio’s vast artistic repertoire and, at the same time, focusing on the influence he wielded on artists of his time – to include Leonardo – and beyond. In order to celebrate the special bond with Leonardo in this important anniversary, the National Gallery of Art has temporarily placed the renowned portrait of Ginevra de Benci, the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas, at the heart of the exhibition.
The event, one of Washington’s cultural highlights, is organized in collaboration with the Museo Nazionale del Bargello and the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation, with the support of Friends of Florence, an American organization that has contributed to the restoration of many works of art in the city of Florence, including the artist’s “Putto with a Dolphin”.
Fifty-one Verrocchio masterpieces, some on US soil for the first time, will enable the American public and many foreign visitors to gain new insight on different aspects of Andrea del Verrocchio’s work, from the materials he used, to techniques and artistic choices. A larger version of the exhibit was on display this spring in the artist’s native Florence, at the Museo Nazionale del Bargello and Palazzo Strozzi Foundation, and was a flagship event for Leonardo celebrations in Italy.
Verrocchio’s artistic career was the subject of a symposium held today at the Embassy of Italy, in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute, and attended by Andrew Butterfield, curator of the exhibition at the NGA, Paola D’Agostino, Director of the Bargello Museums, Arturo Galansino, Director of the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation, Philip Hughes of the Friends of Florence Association, as well as curators and conservators of the National Gallery of Art and other prestigious institutions.
The conference helped shed new light on the genius of Verrocchio, a multifaceted and innovative artist “whose originality, versatility and creativity” – recalled Ambassador Varricchio at the opening of the proceedings – “has left an indelible mark on the history of Italian art”. The Ambassador, along with Gallery Director Kaywin Feldman, also took part in the press conference introducing the exhibition at the National Gallery of Art. At that time, he recalled “the success of the cultural collaboration between Italy and the United States, nourished daily by the work of cultural institutions on both sides of the Atlantic, and by the love for Italian art and history in the United States”.
The Embassy of Italy, in collaboration with the HRH Foundation, contributed to creating a documentary on the exhibit, narrated by Glenn Close.
Ambassador Varricchio hosted a gala dinner at Villa Firenze to celebrate the success of the exhibition with the Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs, Marie Royce, NGA leaders and directors, Florentine cultural institutions and the American Association of Friends of Florence.