Opening Saturday

Currier Museum unlocking secrets of the Renaissance

October 10. 2018 1:15PM

Giovan Angelo Montorsoli created this teracotta piece, “John the Baptist,” in the 1530s. (Currier Museum of Art)

MANCHESTER — A recently discovered masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture is the centerpiece of an exhibition opening Saturday at the Currier Museum of Art, 150 Ash St.

“Myth and Faith in Renaissance Florence” examines the symbolic roles played by John the Baptist, Florence’s patron saint, in the civic and spiritual lives of its citizens.

At the heart of the showing is a piece created by Giovan Montorsoli, one of Michelangelo’s most gifted students.

Until recently, the sculpture was unknown and unpublished. Several other objects are presented to the public for the first time in this exhibition, while other objects have been given attributions based on new research.

“The culture of Renaissance Florence — now 500 years old — continues to astound us. Works of striking beauty reveal a political intrigue and a complex society,” said Alan Chong, director of the Currier.

The art of ancient Rome shaped the development of art and culture during the Renaissance — a theme explored through restorations of ancient sculpture.

“The museum’s sculpture of John the Baptist is highly unusual because he is presented as a muscular, striding warrior,” said Kurt Sundstrom, curator at the Currier Museum. “Much of our perception of the Renaissance has been dominated by the great works of Michelangelo. Our sculpture reflects Michelangelo’s influence, but also allows us to study another important artist connected to the political events of his time.”

“Myth and Faith in Renassaince Florence” will remain on view through Jan. 21, 2019.

To mark the exhibition, there are two special events planned for this weekend. On Saturday, an academic symposium led by art scholars from around the world will focus on the social, political, and spiritual context in Renaissance Florence and the transformation of Italian sculpture in the 16th century.

Then on Sunday, the early music group Il Furioso from Italy will present a concert of Florentine songs and virtuoso instrumental works.

The program will offer a glimpse of Florence from the mid-1500s to the early 17th century through music drawn from the songbooks of courtly singers and the Medici, and the poetry of Machiavelli.

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