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BELLINI / MANTEGNA. Two Masterpieces Compared: 21 March – 1 July 2018
BELLINI / MANTEGNA. Two Masterpieces Compared
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BELLINI / MANTEGNA. Two Masterpieces Compared
From 21 March to 01 July 2018

It is fascinating for a layman to look for the differences between the two Presentation at the Temple works hanging side by side in this elegant exhibition at the Fondazione Querini Stampalia in Venice. These are two absolute masterpieces in the history of art: one by Giovanni Bellini, the other by Andrea Mantegna.

Exhibition curated by Brigit Blass-Simmen, Neville Rowley, Giovanni Carlo Federico Villa.

At first glance they look completely alike, and yet you understand that the two mirror-works have “completely different personalities”. But who came up with the marvellous composition?

Bellini, the Venetian, and Mantegna, from the Padua region, definitely knew each other given that the latter was married to Bellini’s stepsister. "But – as the exhibition co-curator Giovanni Carlo Federico Villa explains it would be wrong to think of them standing next to each other as they painted the same subject. Undoubtedly the cartoon, whose creation required great artistic virtuosity, “bewitched both of them, but a considerable arc of time – about a decade – separates the two masterpieces.”

That this was a competition at the highest level, albeit at a distance, is evinced by the sheer quality of the two works. This is perhaps a unique opportunity for us to admire them side by side for the first time in the history of art.

Marigusta Lazzari, the director of the Querini Stampalia, states: “It is the result of one of those alchemies that happen every now and then in history. In our case, the impossible has become possible after our complex negotiations came to a happy conclusion, leading us to loan our Bellini for the major Andrea Mantegna and Giovanni Bellini exhibition, which opens at the National Gallery in London on 1 October 2018 before transferring to the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin on 1 March 2019. The comparison between the two Presentation at the Temple paintings is one of the cardinal points of these exhibitions. The Berlin institute has reciprocated our loan with one of its own and thus we are thrilled to finally present the two masterpieces side by side at the Querini to an Italian and international public before the London exhibition.

The Querini Stampalia has called on the services of architect Mario Botta for the exhibition installation and he is mounting an innovative lighting system.

And that is not all: other works from the same period belonging to the Venetian museum collection will also be displayed at the Querini alongside these two unrivalled “stars”.

Visitors will also be invited to discover – or rediscover – the infinite treasures of the Querini Stampalia, one of the most important house-museums in the world, all with the same entrance ticket. Visitors will have the thrill of entering the world of one of the most powerful and illustrious Venetian families through room after room in the historic palace: they can admire the famous works of art, the sumptuous furnishings and the riches of the family which were bestowed to the foundation just under 150 years ago in 1869. A world of history, culture and marvel awaits visitors to the Querini, in an atmosphere as unique as Venice’s own.  

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