Italian Art Exhibitions in 2019

The new year will see a wonderful array of exhibitions of Italian art going on display, with several unmissable shows coming up! Here’s a selection of some of the best to see:

First and foremost, 2019 marks the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci with a host of exhibitions and events organised across museums and galleries internationally to celebrate the multifarious and fascinating work of the master.

Leonardo da Vinci, Annunciation, around 1472, Uffizi.

Celebrations kicked off late last year at the Uffizi with Water as Microscope of Nature: Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester (until 20 January), while the paintings the Baptism of ChristAnnunciation and The Adoration of the Magi can be viewed in their new climate-controlled room.

The Louvre will be hosting a blockbuster show of Leonardo’s work this Autumn. In addition to the museum’s own exceptional holdings, including the Mona Lisa, The Virgin of the Rocks and La Belle Ferronnière, the exhibition will bring together as many of Leonardo’s extant paintings as possible, alongside drawings and sculpture, interpreted with latest findings from documentary and conservation research.

Galleries across the UK have collaborated on an unprecedented nationwide event Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing (from February 2019). 144 of the master’s most important drawings, selected from the outstanding group housed in the Royal Collection, will go on display at twelve venues across the UK. This nationwide tour will culminate in May at the Queen’s Gallery London and November in Edinburgh at The Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper for Francis I, a masterpiece in Silk and Silver (6 June-8 September 2019) will display an exceptional loan from the Vatican Museums at Leonardo’s last home where he died on 2 May 1519. Woven for Louise of Savoy and her son, the future Francis I before 1514, this is the first time since the sixteenth century that the monumental nine-metre long tapestry has been loaned. An extensive programme of events are being held across the Loire Valley, for which a dedicated website can be found here.

The major venues of Milan will be partaking in ‘Milano e Leonardo’, a city-wide programme of events held across the Castello Sforzesco, Palazzo Reale, Il Polo Museale Regionale della Lombardia, Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia, Fondazione Stelline and Biblioteca Ambrosiana. Highlights include the re-opening of the Sala delle Asse within the Castello Sforzesco, where visitors can admire Leonardo’s decorative fresco scheme for the hall, commissioned by Ludovico il Moro in 1498. The sala will host Leonardo e la Sala delle Asse tra natura, arte e scienza (16 May-18 August 2019), an examination of the iconographic and stylistic inspirations for Leonardo’s decoration of the hall, explored through drawings by the master and other Renaissance artists. At the Fondazione Stelline, L’Ultima Cena dopo Leonardo (April-June 2019) will explore the wide-ranging influence of Leonardo on contemporary artists.

In a joint venture between Florence’s Bargello and Palazzo Strozzi, the work of Leonardo’s master Andrea del Verrocchio as a painter, sculptor, goldsmith and draughtsman will be brought together for Verrocchio: Master of Leonardo (9 March 2019-14 July 2019).

While Leonardo steals the limelight this year, important retrospectives of other Italian Renaissance artists includes Tintoretto: Artist of Renaissance Venice (10 March-7 July 2019) at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, organised together with the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia with the collaboration of the Gallerie dell’Accademia. Celebrating the 500th anniversary of the birth of Jacopo Tintoretto, this is the first retrospective of the artist in North America, travelling from the Palazzo Ducale, Venice, where it showed last year. 

The Hermitage’s Piero della Francesca: Monarch of Painting is on until 20 March and is the largest exhibition of the artist’s works with 11 pieces on display. 

The major exponent of the Friulian Renaissance art, Giovanni Antonio de’ Sacchis, known as Il Pordenone, will be the subject of a major exhibition event to celebrate the 500th anniversary of his birth. Orchestrated as a cultural itinerary of the artist’s works throughout the Friulian region, the exhibition’s principal venue at the Galleria Pizzinato in the artist’s birthplace of Pordenone, will situate the artist’s work alongside contemporaries including Titian, Giorgione and Lorenzo Lotto.

At the Petit Palais, Paris, Luca Giordano (1634-1705): le Triomphe du Baroque Napolitain (October 2019-January 2020) presents a major retrospective devoted to the greatest master of seventeenth-century Neapolitan painting, featuring exceptional loans from the Capodimonte museum and other European venues.

The Royal Academy of Arts, London explores The Renaissance Nude (3 March-2 June 2019), charting the emergence of the nude figure as a crucial theme in European art.

Moving to the nineteenth century, the Drents Museum in Assen, Netherlands, will display Sprezzatura – Fifty Years of Italian Painting (1860-1910) (2 June- 3 November 2019) showcasing works from over forty late-nineteenth-century Italian painters such as Federico Zandomeneghi and Giovanni Segantini.

Fausto Melotti: Counterpoint (16 January 2019-7 April 2019) at the Estorick Collection, London, is the first UK retrospective of Fausto Melotti (1901-1986), a member of the Abstraction-Création movement known for his elegant, geometrical sculptures based on the principals of music and mathematics.

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