Antoine de Lonhy's European Renaissance on display between Turin and Susa

An exhibition spread over two venues, Palazzo Madama and the Diocesan Museum in Susa, presents the figure of the multifaceted artist Antoine de Lonhy.

Palazzo Madama (October 7, 2021 to January 9, 2022) and the Diocesan Museum of Susa (until October 10, 2021) present the exhibition The European Renaissance of Antoine de Lonhy.

Curated by Simone Baiocco and Simonetta Castronovo for the Turin section and by Vittorio Natale for the Susa section, the exhibition aims to recompose the figure of Antoine de Lonhy, a multifaceted artist who played an important role in the renewal of the figurative landscape of the territory of present-day Piedmont in the second half of the 15th century. Lonhy was a painter, miniaturist, stained glass master, sculptor, and author of designs for embroidery. Coming into contact with Flemish, Mediterranean, and Savoyard culture, he was the bearer of a European conception of the Renaissance, characterized by the ability to synthesize different figurative languages.

During his lifetime, the artist lived and worked in three different countries: originally from Autun, in Burgundy, he was trained in the texts of Flemish painting, among Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden. Before 1450 he was already in contact with one of the most extraordinary patrons of all time, the chancellor of the Duke of Burgundy Nicolas Rolin, and executed historiated stained glass windows for him, now lost.

He then traveled through Europe: in Toulouse he executed at least one cycle of frescoes and decorated liturgical codices and city statutes; in Barcelona the large stained-glass window for the church of Santa Maria del Mar can still be admired today; and finally in the duchy of Savoy he worked for the court and for numerous churches and monasteries in the area. Here he died probably before the end of the century. Lonhy’s move from Spain to Avigliana, where he is documented from 1462, was due to several factors, such as the presence in this center of a castle of the dukes of Savoy and the proximity to the abbeys of Novalesa and Ranverso, located on the Via Francigena.

Spread over two venues, the exhibition aims to highlight the travels, movements and itinerant career across Europe of an artist who brought together elements and influences from Burgundy, Provence, Catalonia and Savoy in his works.

The one in Turin will be a true anthology of the artist’s production, in painting and miniature, with references to Franco-Flemish culture at the base of his path; in Susa, on the other hand, his works will be set against a regional fabric, between the Susa Valley and the Aosta Valley, to present his great influence on the art of his contemporaries.

The Turin exhibition kicks off by recounting the gradual discovery of Antoine de Lonhy. For a long time, scholars had collected a number of paintings under the conventional name “Master of the Trinity of Turin,” taking their cue from one of his greatest masterpieces, which is preserved in Turin’s civic collections. As part of the study of the illuminated manuscripts, he had been identified instead as “Master of the Hours of Saluzzo,” based on the manuscript that constitutes one of the most important loans granted for the exhibition by the British Library in London. It was later realized that there was a single personality behind these conventional names, whose real name was revealed through the study of the documents.

The exhibition then describes the artist’s activity at the stages of his itinerary: a youthful illuminated codex owned by the Turin collections is an example of production in the duchy of Burgundy, while for his activity in Toulouse the fresco fragments from the church of Notre-Dame de la Dalbade, dated 1454, are significant. Also important is the loan of the polyptych destined for the Domus Dei monastery in Miralles, near Barcelona, displayed together with two other panels, originally part of the same complex.

The larger section analyzes the artist’s activity during the years of his stay in the Duchy of Savoy. Documents speak of him in Avigliana, and among the earliest works is a fragmentary panel found in a hamlet of Avigliana: a Saint Francis now in the Galleria Sabauda in Turin. Interesting novelties have emerged in the course of the research carried out for the exhibition, which allow a better understanding of Lonhy’s innovative impact in relation to the ducal court, but also with respect to the territory: for example, we now know of one of his works destined for Chieri.

The reconstruction of Lonhy’s Piedmontese catalog of painted plates and illuminated manuscripts is now thorough, and the exhibition, which makes use of prestigious national and international loans from important public and private collections, is able to offer it in its entirety, including some works that have never been exhibited to the public.

The fascination of the paintings collected on this occasion had already won over some private collectors in the past, whose stories are fascinating. Such as the case of Senator Leone Fontana, who in the 19th century purchased the aforementioned Trinity and included it in his very rich collection of Piedmontese works, later donated to the museum in Turin; or that of Bob Jones Jr. who in the mid-20th century chose the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple to expand the picture gallery of the private university founded by his father in Greenville, South Carolina. The exhibition is also an opportunity to bring together elements of a polyptych sold in 1885 that had at its center the Adoration of the Child, which later belonged to Dutch collector Fritz Mayer van den Bergh and is now housed in the museum that bears his name in Antwerp.

The project was created as part of the Réseau européen des musées d’art médiéval.

For info:

Image: Antoine de Lonhy, Polyptych of the Virgin, Saint Augustine and Saint Nicholas of Tolentino (c. 1461-1462; tempera, oil and gold ground on panel). Main body of the altar of the Virgin, Saint Augustine, and Saint Nicholas of Tolentino (Barcelona, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, MNAC); Death of Saint Monica (Museu del Castell de Peralada, Girona); Miracles at the Tomb of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino (Museu del Castell de Peralada, Girona)

Antoine de Lonhy's European Renaissance on display between Turin and Susa
Antoine de Lonhy's European Renaissance on display between Turin and Susa

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