Hamburger Kunsthalle

From Leonardo to Piranesi. Italian Drawings from 1450 to 1800

24 Oct 2008 - 18 Jan 2009

© Giovanni Antonio Canal, gen. Canaletto
Blick in das nördliche Querschiff und auf die Sängeremporen von S. Marco in Venedig
Photo: Christoph Irrgang

24 October 2008 to 18 January 2009

The Department of Prints, Drawings and Photography at the Hamburger Kunsthalle holds one of the major collections of Italian freehand drawings in Europe. From Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo to Sandro Botticelli, Guercino, Canaletto and Giovanni Battista Piranesi, many of the greatest Italian artists are represented in the collection with outstanding drawings.
For conservation reasons, however, it is only rarely possible to display these fragile sheets. The exhibition From Leonardo to Piranesi is therefore the first chance in a long time to (re-)discover more than 100 drawings from the museum’s total holdings of approximately 1,000 sheets.
In this exhibition, viewers are given the opportunity to ‘look over the artist’s shoulder’, as it were: the drawings provide fascinating insight into the creative process, many aspects of which are usually hidden from public view. From the first fleeting ‘prima idea’ to the more detailed preparatory study through to the carefully finished presentation drawing, the various functions of freehand drawings can be explored with the aid of excellent illustrative examples.
In addition, this thematically complex exhibition presents an overview of the history of Italian drawing and identifies the key phases in its development. While the Renaissance is a central focus, the selection also includes superb works from the 17th and 18th centuries. All of the drawings on show bear ample testimony to the Italian artists’ sense of beauty, which makes visiting the exhibition a truly enjoyable aesthetic experience.
The exhibition is the culmination of several years of in-depth scholarly research, made possible by the generous support of the Ebelin and Gerd Bucerius ZEIT-Stiftung. To mark this occasion, a three-volume inventory catalogue of the entire collection will be published along with a fully annotated and illustrated exhibition catalogue.
The exhibition is being held under the patronage of Horst Köhler, President of the Federal Republic of Germany, and Giorgio Napolitano, President of the Italian Republic.

Tags: P. Horst