Ave Eva - A Rediscovered Major Work by Renaissance Master Guillaume de Marcillat
The large painting 'Dispute of Church Scholars over the Immaculate Conception' is the only 'easel work' by the famous French glass painter Guillaume de Marcillat (ca. 1470-1528). The work was acquired in 1821 and went on display for a short time only, in the early 1930s. For years it was mistakenly attributed to Girolamo Genga; only in 1987 was the art historian Nicole Dacos able to confirm its attribution as a work by Marcillat.
All but locked away after World War II and considerably damaged, the painting today looks like a stunning new acquisition thanks to the lengthy restoration it has undergone. Today's exhibition takes a closer look at two core aspects surrounding the work: the traditional iconography of the Immaculate Conception and the iconography specific to the 'Disputa'. In addition to Marcillat's work, the exhibition also features other paintings from the Gemäldegalerie collection, works on paper from the Kupferstichkabinett, and sculpture from the Skulpturensammlung. The exhibition also includes art-historical commentaries and interpretations of the works.
Both the display and the richly illustrated catalogue that accompanies it explore the life and art of an artist who worked on Raphael's Logge in the Vatican and, after his work on Arezzo Cathedral, enjoyed a degree of fame as a fresco painter. Marcillat is also known as having been Giorgio Vasari's first teacher.
In addition to Marcillat's huge panel (which will end up on display in the Bode-Museum once the current exhibition is over), the special display also features a drawing by the master, an etching from Vasari's 'Lives of the Artists', and a stucco relief by the workshop of Ghiberti. Two small predella scenes bear similarities with the paintings in Arezzo, dating from the early 16th century. The same dispute as depicted in Marcillat's painting is also the subject of a large panel by Battista Dossi from Ferrara. This work too now goes on show for the first time in decades. The technical analysis of Marcillat's virtually unknown painting and the elaborate conservation treatments accomplished in the conservation studio at the Gemäldegalerie are also documented in the exhibition in detail.
And beyond the exhibition itself, further paintings on show in the museum's galleries depicting the Immaculate Conception are specially marked for visitors to watch out for. Such works include masterpieces by Tintoretto, Juan de Roelas, and Paolo de Matteis.
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