The Factory of the Renaissance
Creative processes, market and production in Vicenza

Basilica palladiana, Vicenza
11 December 2021 - 18 April 2022

Something unique, indeed in some ways incredible, took place in the mid-16th century in Vicenza. Among the most dynamic areas in Europe for the production and trading of silk, the city, thanks to its increasing wealth, took a gamble on the transformation of its image from a “provincial location”, through avant-garde art and architecture, into a true capital of culture. Cultured and cosmopolitan clients, Vicenza’s nobility believed in the visions of a group of talented, ambitious young artists, who would become famous all over the world. What bound them together was their passion for new art nourished by that of Antiquity, born in the Rome of Michelangelo and Raphael, the art that Vasari was to define as the “modern manner”. It was very clear to the young artists that the resounding strength of this new language would enable them to challenge and undermine the venerated and celebrated masters and their traditional models, which were dominant in Venice at the time.

It was the genius of the architecture of Andrea Palladio, of the painters Paolo Veronese and Jacopo Bassano and the great sculptor Alessandro Vittoria.

It is from these premises that this unique exhibition takes its cue, which, by interweaving absolute masterpieces of painting, sculpture and architecture, combined with books, fabrics, precious objects and tapestries, will transport visitors back in time, inside the amazing “factory” of the Renaissance, telling of thirty years of the exceptional artistic life of Vicenza, from 1550 to the inauguration of the Olympic Theatre in 1585.

The works on display, many of which presented for the first time in Europe or in Italy, come from the major museums of the world, such as the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore,in the United States and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna; but also from the Uffizi Galleries in Florence, the Galleria Borghese in Rome and the Vatican Museums, to mention just a few.

Along the exhibition route, visitors will “literally” enter the workshops of the artists and see close at hand their mechanisms for producing beauty; they will discover how the masterpieces came about through a direct interaction with the clients, the original models, the artists’ drawings, sketches and working methods.

Thanks to a team of specialists in economic history, it will also be possible to find out the prices of the works on display and to compare them with objects from people’s everyday lives. In this way we will discover that a pair of ‘gentleman’s’ gloves or a tapestry had a much higher value than one of the masterpieces of painting worldwide, Two Hunting Dogs by Jacopo Bassano, which is arriving from the Louvre in Paris.