Monday, March 23, 2009

The Merchants of Venice Art

No one sold the world on modernism like Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese.

Frederick Ilchman, a curator at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, believes it was the Venetian artist Titian and a couple of rival painters, Tintoretto and Veronese, who—about 450 years ago—really invented modern painting.

That is, Ilchman says, if your definition is his: "oil on canvas, not done for any specific site, and with the artist, not the patron, choosing the subject matter."

Ilchman offers proof in the 56 paintings that make up one of the most breathtaking old-master exhibitions you'll ever see, "Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice," which is up through Aug. 16 before it travels to a second and final stop at the Louvre in Paris.

The Italian largesse comes from the MFA's 2006 voluntary return of 13 antiquities, including a Roman statue of Sabina and a 2,500-year-old Greek bowl.

(Does anyone want to go see this with me at the Museum of Fine Arts?)