Exhibition | The Hours of Night and Day: Bronze Reliefs

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on September 27, 2014

From the MIA:

The Hours of Night and Day: A Rediscovered Cycle of Bronze
Reliefs by Giovanni Casini and Pietro Cipriani

Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 13 September 2014 — 4 January 2015


Giovanni Casini and Pietro Cipriani, Apollo Descending (Evening), ca. 1720, bronze, 11 x 15 inches (on loan to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts)

The rediscovery of six bronze reliefs allegorically representing the Hours of Night and Day by Giovanni Casini and Pietro Cipriani is the largest and most important ensemble of Florentine bronze sculpture to come to light in a century. This unusual ensemble refers to Michelangelo’s cycle in the New Sacristy of San Lorenzo, and to several other painted and sculpted masterworks of the Baroque period. It demonstrates that Florentine bronze sculpture did not end with Giovanni Battista Foggini, Massimiliano Soldani Benzi, and Antonio Montauti. It reveals Pietro Cipriano as the last master of European rank and influence active in this field. The six reliefs were celebrated at the time of their creation, as attested, for instance, by copies in Doccia porcelain.

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From ACC Distribution:

Eike D. Schmidt, David Ekserdjian, Rita Balleri, and Monica Rumsey. The Hours of Night and Day: A Rediscovered Cycle of Bronze Reliefs by Giovanni Casini and Pietro Cipriani (Minneapolis: Books & Projects and th Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2014), 208 pages, ISBN: 978-0989371858, $40.

22195In this book’s breathtaking images, extensive documentation, and incisive analysis, a cycle of six highly important bronze reliefs representing The Hours of Night and Day is being published for the first time. Made in Florence at the beginning of the eighteenth century, these bronzes epitomize pre-modern notions about time, which are visualized through an elaborate array of mythological and allegorical components. In describing and deciphering the meanings and traditions of the scenes represented in these bronzes, the authors unveil a multi-faceted concept of time that is based upon the human perception of the Hours, while also pointing toward their otherworldly, magical dimension.

The Hours of Night and Day, a celebrated masterwork in its own time, is the result of a fortuitous collaboration between the painter and modeler Giovanni Casini and the bronze sculptor Pietro Cipriani. With the discovery of these long-forgotten bronzes, and of bronze versions after Greco-Roman statuary—most notably the Venus de’ Medici and the Dancing Faun now at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles—it becomes apparent that Cipriani was one of the foremost bronze sculptors of his age. Finally, this book documents the legacy of these bronze reliefs in derivative works created for subsequent generations. As further testimony to the enduring appeal of Casini and Cipriani’s extraordinary creation, variations of the reliefs from The Hours of Night and Day became popular as decorations on vases and as porcelain reliefs throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and on to the present day.

Eike D. Schmidt is the James Ford Bell Curator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture, and Head of the Department of Decorative Arts, Textiles, and Sculpture at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. He is the author of numerous books and articles on Renaissance, Baroque, and Neoclassical sculpture. David Ekserdjian is Professor of Art History and the Head of the Department of the History of Art and Film at the University of Leicester, England. He has published extensively on bronze sculpture, the history of collecting, and Renaissance painting, prints, and drawings, with a particular specialisation in the artists Correggio and Parmigianino. Rita Balleri is a research associate at the University of Florence. She has published several articles and catalogue entries on Doccia porcelain and has collaborated with the Doccia Museum in Florence on various research projects and exhibitions. Her doctoral dissertation on the models for Doccia porcelain (2011) was the basis for her recent monograph, Modelli della Manifattura Ginori di Doccia: Settecento e gusto antiquario (2014).


• Eike D. Schmidt, “Sparkles in the Twilight of the Medici: Allegories of the Hours of Night and Day by Giovanni Casini and Pietro Cipriani”
• David Ekserdjan, “Pietro Cipriani’s Venus de’ Medici and Dancing Faun and the Classical Tradition”
• Rita Balleri, “Bronze into Porcelain: The Enduring Legacy of Giovanni Casini’s Reliefs in the Manifattura Ginori di Doccia”

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