When most people think about the Renaissance era of art, they think of artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. Very few will think about Verrochio, a man who significantly shaped the period through his influence on his students and other artists they influenced. Verrochio is less known for his works and more recognized for being the teacher of da Vinci. While many focus on the art and achievements of his students, little attention is paid to his works. This is about to change.
The National Gallery of Art in Washington is gearing up to highlight Verrachio’s technical prowess and inventiveness when they exhibit his works. This exhibition follows the major two-venue Andrea del Verrocchio exhibition in Florence earlier in the year. The latter focused mainly on Verrocchio’s impact on his famous pupil, Leonardo da Vinci. Meanwhile, the former is focused solely on the master artist, teacher, sculptor, and painter, who influenced Renaissance art greatly.
Verrocchio’s exhibition is the first monographic in the U.S. It will allow viewers to see Andrew Butterfield,the exhibition curator, captured the collection’s essence by stating that “there will be a masterpiece wherever you look.” He expressed his desire for the world to see Verrocchio in a new light and for people to grasp how the artist’s workshop was “the lab in which the High Renaissance was fomented.”
The influence of Verrocchio on Renaissance art goes beyond his direct tutelage of da Vinci. Other notable artists of the period, like Michelangelo and Raphael, were trained by artists who spent some time in Verrocchio’s studio. Since students adapt their styles from their teachers, it is not surprising that Verrocchio’s style can be seen in artists who did not even meet him throughout their lives.
The exhibition, being organized by the National Gallery of Art, draws on new research to trace Verrocchio’s artistic lineage back to Lorenzo Ghiberti’s workshop. The displayed paintings will show a developmental trajectory from Verrocchio’s master Fra Filippo Lippi to himself and then his pupil, Leonardo. When these works are placed side by side, viewers can observe the influence each master had on his pupil and how their styles are preserved through their student’s works. Leonardo da Vinci is famous for his sculptural approach to painting and excessive attention to naturalistic details—attributes from his master, Verracchio.
The exhibition is the first of its kind, and there are so many reasons for art enthusiasts to look forward to it. In addition to Verrocchio’s paintings, many first-time US loans will also be displayed. These include sculptural works from the gallery’s collection, like the terracotta bust of Giuliano de Medici and many other sculptural masterpieces. The focus will be on Verrocchio’s works, though. There will be a technical aspect to the catalog, with an essay on bronze casting and Verrocchio’s innovative methods of the art. The Bank of America sponsors the exhibition.