Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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Renaissance Italy: A Time of Pure Expression

The exhibit Art and Love in Renaissance Italy made me feel as though I was walking into an art gallery in Florence itself. Recently the MET has been showing this exhibit which gives the viewer insight into the old customs and traditions in Italy a few hundred years ago. I found it to be quite enlightening as it taught me things about my ancient heritage that I did not know. I have found a new appreciation for renaissance art as well as for the people of this time period.           

            This exhibition covered many different facets of romance and beauty in the Renaissance. These included: courtship, marriage, childbirth, and erotica. One particular aspect that was very interesting was in the section based upon marriage. For a woman to be married to a man, the woman’s family had to give a sizable gift or a dowry. There were many examples of these on display such as intricately decorated plates and even some small musical instruments. As the wall information mentions there was a certain double standard because the man was allowed to just rent jewelry for the brides and then return it, while the bride had to spring for really expensive un-returnable gifts.

There was also a section regarding childbirth. This section was very interesting as it had on display several real cribs that were used back then. There was also a room devoted to erotica. There were several portraits of nude women that were painted by various artists. There was for example a portrait of a woman who was widely believed to be the mistress of Raphael himself. There were also pictures that were dubbed belle donne or “beautiful women.” These women were considered very attractive at the time but their true identities were never discovered.

            This exhibition was very interesting and taught me many new things about the Renaissance time period. I feel that these works of art are timeless and this is my favorite artistic period. I feel that the artists of the Renaissance are the quintessential artists of history. I learned much about love at this time and how it is different from today. The concepts were essentially the same but it was expressed through masterful works of art and creations of sheer beauty.