Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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Category — MET Museum Exhibit

Art and Love in Renaissance Italy : There is no other way to put it!


Oscar Wilde once wrote, “All art is useless, except that it is intensely admired”. If so, then what is the use of painting? Sculpting vases, panels or jewelry? What makes them so special that The Museum of Metropolitan Art would exert so much of their resources into obtaining almost over 150 pieces for an exhibit?

The answer lies quite simply in the title of the exhibit. “Love and Romance in Renaissance Italy. All these objects were created as everlasting symbols of status, piety and love. As I trembled in the slightly chilly marble hall where most of the exhibit was housed I could not help but embrace how aptly titled it was.

  The painting of a beautiful woman probably commissioned by a doting husband stared across a blue and white ceramic vase. Celestial cherubs and gods like Venus, commissioned by those who tried in every way to be closer to God were recurring motifs. It is difficult not to generalize or to be overly sentimental in analyzing Renaissance art because the artists themselves deliberately exaggerated the subjects. Immense oil paintings of partially nude women of impressive proportions gazed the viewer out of countenance. This was considered beauty! Past tense is used because standards of what stands for love or beauty has drastically changed in a society that is so insecure.

            Historically, the High Italian Renaissance was a period where the pursuit of perfection was channeled through the skill of artists and their craft. Looking at their preindustrial era surroundings they saw potential for beauty and divinity reminiscent of the grandeur that was Rome. One such man was Fra Fillipo Lippi. He was a painter and monk. I recognized his style instantly as I my eyes skipped across the room. He specialized in profile paintings of Italian nobility and mostly couples as seen in the painting “Portrait of a Woman and a Man at a Casement”. In his pursuit of idealization he focuses on the details of an elaborate headpiece and dress rather than the woman that wore it. Her exaggeratedly high forehead, lack of eyebrows, and wan pallor though disconcerting the viewer was considered beauty. On her right arm he wrote the word “Leal” in Italian. Understandably to further emphasize her perfection as a loyal wife. Lorenzo Lotto also undertook to paint in this time and his portayal of “Venus and Cupid” is awe inspiring. Venus as the godess of beauty reposed and completely at ease with cupid at her feet gives and indescribable sense of serenity and peace. This was art and love in renaissance Italy.

This romantic idealization went beyond the human form. In the artist’s eyes and in my minds eye it transcended into human nature itself.

December 29, 2008   Comments Off on Art and Love in Renaissance Italy : There is no other way to put it!

Art and Love in the Italian Renaissance

In the world we live today, we often ignore what is surrounding us, even if it’s free of charge. I had the opportunity to visit the exhibition Art and Love in the Italian Renaissance, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Though the Renaissance occurred hundreds of years ago, the values of marriage and family were preserved through the paintings and jewelries at the exhibition. Though I had limited knowledge of the culture during that time period, the exhibition guided me to learn the culture not from words but with my own eyes. [Read more →]

December 20, 2008   Comments Off on Art and Love in the Italian Renaissance

MET: Renaissance

Works of art such as this one by Giulio Romano, don’t make me think of that time after the dark ages, don’t make me think of knights or blossoming science.  It makes me think about beauty.  It makes me think about how beauty has changed with the passing years, how it’s different for each person, each continent each era. Especially with the female image. [Read more →]

December 17, 2008   3 Comments


Historians argue as to what were the reasons for the world’s separation into seven continents.  Some historians, however, spend more time arguing why it became necessary for the worlds to meet once again.  Regardless of why it happened, different cultures around the world developed on their own, only to collide with others.  The result was that the people saw confusion, rulers saw gold, and artists saw a new medium of expression. [Read more →]

December 16, 2008   Comments Off on GOING BEYOND BABYLON

Beyond Babylon and Time

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is now featuring “Beyond Babylon”, a special exhibit that explores the artistic and cultural traditions of the Near East during the second millennium B.C. With approximately 350 objects on display, “Beyond Babylon” explored the art created in the circle of network among affluent kings and merchants. What attracted my attention the most besides the shiny gold artifacts were small objects that belonged to royalty and alluded to divine presences/gods. Evidently, there was a story behind each object. [Read more →]

December 16, 2008   Comments Off on Beyond Babylon and Time

The MET: Art and Love in Renaissance Italy

I had never been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art before and when I heard there was an Italian-based exhibit, I couldn’t wait to get there.  I didn’t see this journey to the MET as a mandatory assignment for a grade; I saw it as a way to learn about the art of my own culture.  As soon as I entered the exhibit I felt right at home.  I was surrounded by countless paintings of Bible scenes and Italian settings that reminded me of my early childhood.  As a child, my family and I would journey to Church every Sunday and learn about such scenes as the priest delivered his sermon.  All throughout my time at the Art and Love in Renaissance Italy Exhibit, memories and emotions surged through my body as I walked past each gigantic oil painting.
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December 16, 2008   1 Comment

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.     [Read more →]

December 16, 2008   Comments Off on Renaissance Italy: A Time of Pure Expression

Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium B.C.

Glass Ingots from Uluburun Shipwreck

Falcon Pendant

Standing outside of the Met for the first time, I wondered what lay ahead.  Despite the construction near the steps, the museum still appeared majestic.  The large scale of the pale sandy colored building reminded me of many of the museums I have been to in Washington, D.C., of which if I had never visited before, the Met may have appeared like a castle to me.  Of course, the inside of the museum was even more beautiful.  The high ceilings and the Greek columns gave the museum an open and airy feeling, and the lighting, which overall was bright but not harsh imbued the impression of a place not to be missed.  My friends and I even noted the elegance of the staircases, which were simple and sleek, and I haven’t even gotten started on the Met’s art. [Read more →]

December 16, 2008   Comments Off on Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium B.C.

Art and Love in the Italian Renaissance


The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the most beautiful structures in New York City. Every time I go there I am amazed at the amount of ancient works of art and objects this museum holds. Besides the permanent exhibits, the museum often houses special exhibits for a brief period of time. On Friday I went to see the traveling exhibit called, “Art and Love in Renaissance Italy”.

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December 16, 2008   1 Comment

Rennaisance Italy: Art for Love and a Love for Art

Love, betrothal, and childbirth were extremely important in renaissance Italy. For men, the taking of a wife was most often an affair predetermined by familial obligation or societal convenience. For woman, marriage was a coming of age (at a very young age,) and one’s inauguration as a caretaker and child bearer. This ritualistic matrimony, often void of sexual attraction, was inculcated by the Catholic Church and considered to be the most important event in a woman’s life. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new exhibit Art and Love in Renaissance Italy is a paradox in a sense; the historic marriage of man and woman, loveless and obligatory in nature, was the topic of some of the most handsome works of art in history. [Read more →]

December 16, 2008   Comments Off on Rennaisance Italy: Art for Love and a Love for Art