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Part of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts
Date: ca. 1575–87Accession Number: 17.190.2045
Simone Mosca (Italian, Settignano 1492–1553 Orvieto)
Date: 1527–34Accession Number: 1971.158.1
Desgined by Jacopo [Giacomo] Barozzi da Vignola (Italian, Vignola 1507–1573 Rome)
Date: ca. 1569Accession Number: 58.57a–d
Galleria dei Lavori, Florence
Date: ca. 1606–23Accession Number: 1988.19
Attributed to Antonio Gentili (Antonio da Faenza) (Italian, Faenza ca. 1519–1610 Faenza (?))
Date: late 16th centuryAccession Number: 47.52.3
Painted by Fra Xanto Avelli da Rovigo (ca. 1486–1582)
Date: 1532Accession Number: 32.100.378
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Many of the Renaissance works of art in this gallery are in pristine condition, which suggests they were objects for display rather than practical use. They share a decorative vocabulary born of the Italian desire to emulate and supersede their ancient Roman forebears. An ornamental language with fantastic figures—one bird or beast transforming into another—twisting vegetation, and strict geometry was discovered in the 1480s within the buried palace of the Roman emperor Nero. These motifs ignited the imaginations of Renaissance artists working in different materials.
Among Italy's specialties was maiolica—tin-glazed earthenware with elaborate narratives, often mythological, painted in brilliant colors. Even more precious were the porcelains, imitating Chinese blue-and-white vessels, commissioned by the powerful Medici family of Florence. Stonecutting and inlay were other areas of expertise; the imposing table in this room was made in Rome for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (1520–1589) using material excavated from ancient sites. Italy's rich and varied artistic output was stimulated by the demands of discerning patrons who wished to have their taste and affluence reflected in the objects surrounding them.
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