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The Met in Berlin

Thomas P. Campbell
August 30, 2011

«I am just back from Berlin, where my colleagues and I participated in the opening celebrations for a beautiful exhibition of fifteenth-century Renaissance portraits from Italy at the Bode-Museum. The show is the result of a remarkable four-year collaboration between the Met's curators and their German counterparts and represents the sort of international exchange that is the core of the Met's mission as a global resource for scholarship. The exhibition will be on view at the Bode-Museum until November 20 and at the Met from December 21, 2011, to March 18, 2012.»

The individual portrait in fifteenth-century Italy was a distinct art form, shaped by specific ideals and conventions about identity and posterity, social order, and immortality. One of my particular favorites is the Portrait of an Old Man and a Boy by Ghirlandaio (shown above), now in the collection of the Louvre. Though the identity of the sitters is the subject of much debate, the carefully observed exchange between the old man with the misshapen nose and the beautiful young boy makes for a timeless portrayal of tenderness and the pathos of the human condition.

It is always fascinating to see an exhibition installed at multiple venues; different buildings and exhibition spaces yield strikingly different results. I hope you will visit the Bode-Museum if you find yourself in Berlin during the next few months, and that you return to the Met to see the exhibition when it opens here in December. You will not be disappointed.

Above: Domenico Ghirlandaio (Florence, 1449–1494). Old Man with a Young Boy, ca. 1490. Tempera on wood. Musée du Louvre. Acquired 1880. R.F. 266. Image © Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Paris

Thomas Campbell

Thomas P. Campbell was formerly the director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.