Met Director Thomas P. Campbell planned this itinerary for you to explore some of the masterpieces in the Museum's encyclopedic collection of world art. You'll see great works of art and great spaces as this two-part tour takes you through the centuries and introduces you to cultures throughout the world—and throughout the Museum.
The Director's Tour is also available in: French (français), German (Deutsch), Italian (italiano), Japanese (日本語), Korean (한국어), Mandarin (中文[简体]), Portuguese (português), Russian (русский),and Spanish (español).
Listen to a sample of the Director's tour:
Throughout history, artists have delighted in imitating nature and fooling the eye. That impulse ran particularly strong in Renaissance Italy in the fourteen and fifteen hundreds. This tiny, exquisite room is a spectacular example. At first glance, it looks like a fully outfitted interior, with benches set against the lower walls and cabinets above. The cabinets even cast shadows. But this is all an illusion. If you look closely at the walls, you'll see that the entire decoration is made of intarsia, an elaborate type of wood inlay. The illusionism is taken to a virtuoso level here, with thousands of pieces of various kinds of wood fitted together to form an extraordinary result.
This is Federico da Montefeltro's private retreat, or studiolo, from his palace in Gubbio, Italy. Federico was a great military leader, and there are references to military glory here. In the back corner, on the right, there's a helmet crowned with an eagle, similar to helmets on display in the Arms and Armor galleries we just visited. But most of the decoration alludes to peaceful pursuits: the latticed cupboards contain musical instruments, measuring devices, books, scientific equipment, and a bird in a cage. This is the sanctum where Federico could display and indulge his love of learning. A chronicler of the fifteenth century described him as "ever careful to learn some new thing every day," and he was well versed in the literature and history of ancient Greece and Rome. A defining feature of this period, the Renaissance, was the striving to match the achievements of classical antiquity. In the visual arts, the convincing representation of real-life objects and people is part of this heritage.
Our next stop is a stained-glass window from the Middle Ages. To reach it, exit the studiolo, turn left, and look for it on the wall to your right.
Above: Studiolo from the Ducal Palace in Gubbio, ca. 1478–82. Italian (Gubbio). Designed by Francesco di Giorgio Martini (Italian, Siena 1439–1501 Siena) and executed under the supervision of Francesco di Giorgio Martini (Italian, Siena 1439–1501 Siena). Executed in the workshop of Giuliano da Maiano (Italian, Maiano 1432–1490 Naples) and Benedetto da Maiano (Italian, Maiano 1442–1497 Florence). Walnut, beech, rosewood, oak and fruitwoods in walnut base. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1939 (39.153)