With this ambitious exhibition the Scuderie del Quirinale sets out to offer the Italian museum-going public its very first opportunity to enjoy a sweeping retrospective of the art of Hans Memling, an artist who rose to become the most important painter in Bruges – the financial hub of Flanders and one of the most advanced centres of artistic output in the region – following after the death of his master Rogier van der Weyden in the second half of the 15th century.
This monographic exhibition, a first in Italy, highlights all of the outstanding features that characterize the art of this absolute master of the Flemish Renaissance, exploring every aspect of his career and work from his monumental altarpieces to his small portable triptychs, in addition to his famous portraits, a genre in which he perfected the style that sets the sitter against a landscape backdrop – a style which was to have a major influence on numerous early 16th century Italian artists.
The exhibition also focuses on the aspect of patronage, which played such a crucial role in forging the artist’s career. Memling was to become the favourite painter of the powerful Italian community of merchants and businessmen in Bruges, outshining all others and becoming the true heir to an earlier generation of much-admired Flemish painters such as Jan Van Eyck and Rogier Van der Weyden. From the very start of his independent career as a panel painter, Memling managed to forge a synthesis of the remarkable achievements of both those earlier masters already held in the highest esteem by the Italian aristocracy and urban elites, who had adopted them as their benchmarks in the field of art.
In addition to masterpieces of religious art from some of the most important museums in the world, including diptychs and triptychs brought together again for the first time in this exhibition such as the Pagagnotti Triptych (currently divided between the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and the National Gallery in London), the Jan Crabbe Triptych (currently divided between the Museo Civico in Vicenza, the Morgan Library and Museum in New York and the Groeningemuseum in Bruges) or the monumental Moreel Triptych (from the Groeningemuseum in Bruges) the spectacular backdrop to the show, the exhibition will also host a magnificent series of portraits including the Portrait of a Young Man from the Accademia Gallery in Venice, the Portrait of a Man from the Royal Collection in London (an exceptional loan, courtesy of H, M. Queen Elizabeth II), the celebrated Portrait of a Man from the Frick Collection in New York, and the magnificent Portrait of a Man with a Roman Coin from the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten in Antwerp.