Renaissance Masterpieces by Donatello to Make Rare New York Appearance

Donatello, Lo Zuccone (1423–25), marble state of the profet Habakkuk from the cathedral in Florence that will travel to New York next year.

Donatello isn’t represented in the permanent collection of any of New York City’s museums, but next year the Museum of Biblical Art (MoBiA) will play host to a number of sculptures by the Renaissance master that are traveling to America for the very first time, reports the New York Times.

The small museum, which celebrates its 10th anniversary next year, highlights the under-appreciated devotional and educational utility of Medieval and Renaissance art, which is now mainly appreciated for its considerable aesthetic charms. “Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces From Florence Cathedral” (Feb. 20–June 14, 2015) will showcase masterpieces from the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo while it is closed for renovations (see artnet News report on a planned restoration of Florence’s Piazza del Duomo).

The 23-piece exhibition will include several Donatello statues that originally adorned the outside of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, but have since been moved inside to protect them from the elements. The master’s life-size marble of the prophet Habakkuk, nicknamed Lo Zuccone, and dynamic sculpture of the sacrifice of Isaac will be accompanied by Brunelleschi‘s wooden model of the cathedral’s dome (an engineering marvel) and Luca della Robbia‘s relief sculptures of child musicians, created for the church’s organ loft.

Originally, the rarely circulated artworks were scheduled to make a world tour, but the Opera museum made the decision to expedite work in order to be open in time for a visit from Pope Francis in the fall of 2015. On short notice, several museums were unable to find a schedule that worked, leaving the lucky MoBiA as the traveling show’s sole venue.

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