Renaissance

In the room devoted to the art of the Renaissance representative items from the collections of furniture, textile, painting, glass, ceramics and metalwork created in Mediterranean and central European countries as well as in Croatia between the 15th and the 17th centuries are on show. In this period, when opulent noblemen became the most important clients for and patrons of the arts and crafts, the construction and furnishing of palaces helped the carpenter’s trade to flourish.

The MUO furniture collection contains a much larger number of items belonging to the Renaissance and the Mannerist styles than to the Gothic. These objects have various places of origin; the majority were made in Italy, wellspring of the Renaissance, i.e. in its regions, which had their own specific forms and decorative motifs. The exhibited chair and armchair, typical types of furniture for seating, only hint at the richness of formal variants characteristic of this period. Along with the table, which was no longer of the folding version, and the chest, they comprised the basic equipment of an interior.

The remainder of Europe, which accepted the new style only from the 16th century, developed a specific stylistic and formal vocabulary that was already in possession of all the features of Mannerism. The dresser, or dressoir, was a characteristic type of furniture that appeared in the Late Gothic period in France, Flanders and along the Rhine and around Cologne (it was called the Stollenschrank). The specimen on show, completely covered with Mannerist style luxuriant carved decoration represents the production of Burgundy in the second half of the 16th century. In this period, new types of furniture arose – the studiolo cabinet and the cabinet, which flourished in the 17th century. The Vargueño on show, the original type of the cabinet, was created in Catalonia in the 16th century.

An outstandingly high quality completely inlaid cabinet of German origins is decorated with motifs characteristic of the Mannerist style and idiom. It belongs to the cultural sphere of southern Germany and the Tyrol that centred on Augsburg and was made around 1600. A high-class bed with canopy once lay in Bosiljevo Castle, part of the estates of the noble Frankopan family. Although it shows a similarity with south German furniture, there is nevertheless a chance that it was made in Croatia. Basically the bed is articulated on the Renaissance principle, but the structural elements, characteristic of the early Baroque period, suggest a later date, the middle of the 17th century.

A tapestry made in Flanders in the first half of the 16th century shows an allegory of Justice and Wisdom. It is assumed that the male figures with royal insignia show Emperor Friedrich III (1440-1493) and his son and heir Maximilian (1493-1519).

The glass objects on show illustrate the diversity of form, workmanship and lavish decorative manners characteristic of this age of the flowering of glassmaking. The leading production centre was Venice, and Murano island with its centuries-long glassmaking tradition was for almost three centuries the model for other glass centres. The supremacy of Venice during the 15th century ensured the perfection of new technologies, treatment and manner of ornamentation. In the Venetian workshops, the production of a special kind of transparent and colourless glass developed: that of cristallo, and of soft soda glass suitable for three-dimensional working. One of the trademarks of Venetian glass of the 16th century is what is called filigree glass (vetro a reticello and vetro a retorti) which was made of interwoven filaments of milky or coloured glass inserted into a colourless and transparent glass mass. In line with the new lifestyle, use and decorative glass objects became musts in the design of opulent interiors.

Most of the objects on show from the metalworking collection were created in the lands of Central Europe, primarily in the German region, and date to the end of the 16th century. The leading centres of the goldsmithing and silversmithing crafts were Nürnberg and Augsburg, after which came centres in other European countries, endeavouring to keep up with their technical achievements – the perfection of workmanship, of embossing, chasing and engraving. A particular form of Renaissance art can be seen in medal making, particularly in Italy, where princes and other worthies ordered portrait medals of themselves. The medal by Sperandio Savelli with a portrait of Giovanni Bentivoglio can be dated to Savelli’s Bologna period, 1478 to 1490. A second medal on show shows Filippo Strozzi the Elder, banker, statesman and patron of the arts, who commissioned some of the most important works of the Florentine Renaissance.

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