Centuries of social and cultural stagnation followed the fall of the Roman Empire, the period of almost a thousand years which historian William Manchester describes as “a world lit only by fire.”
As the Middle Ages slowly opened to new ideas due to advances in literacy, science, and government, the world witnessed a revival of art, language and culture that began to take hold in Italy starting in 1280. That gradual reawakening of ancient culture, led to the Renaissance and its spirit of humanism that captivated the 15th and 16th centuries, reaching its height with the works of masters such as Michelangelo and Leonardo di Vinci.
Following that era of rediscovery, the Baroque Period (1600-1750) was an age of expansion. Where the Renaissance was a reverent revival of artforms from classical Greek and Roman antiquity in settings that were relatively static, Baroque art was dynamic, characterized by its deep colors, depictions of great drama and emotion, and intense lighting and shadowing.
Both of these periods are represented in the 29 paintings in European Splendors: Old Master Paintings from the Kress Collection, which was on view Aug 26-Dec 23, 2021 in the Haley Gallery of the Albany Museum of Art. The exhibition is organized by the Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina, with support from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York. Its exhibition at the AMA was made possible by the Walter and Frances Bunzl Family Foundation.
It is a rare opportunity for residents of South Georgia to see masterworks from the Renaissance and Baroque eras.
“The AMA is deeply honored to host these rare examples of Renaissance and Baroque painting from the Columbia Museum of Art and its incomparable Kress Collection,” AMA Executive Director Andrew J. Wulf, Ph.D., said. “This partnership is a symbol of what great alliances can accomplish as we share these cultural treasures with all our communities in Southwest Georgia.”