The Renaissance in the 20th century: exhibition on Federigo Angeli in Florence

A Renaissance painter in early 20th-century Florence: an exhibition dedicated to Federigo Angeli, an artist active in the early 20th century and the author of 15th-century-inspired paintings, is on view at Palazzo Medici Riccardi in the Tuscan capital from Oct. 7, 2023 to Jan. 7, 2024.

From Oct. 7, 2023 to Jan. 7, 2024, Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence is hosting, in the Fabiani Rooms, the exhibition Federigo Angeli. The Florentine Renaissance in the 20th Century. The exhibition project, curated by Francesca Baldry and Daniela Magnetti, originates and develops around two large pendant paintings by Federigo Angeli (Castelfiorentino, 1891 - Florence, 1952), executed in 1931 in tempera grassa on canvas, entitled Dama a cavallo con corte o cavalleresco and Signore a cavallo con corteo cavalleresco (in the photo), belonging to the collection of Sella Sgr on which the Thierry Radelet workshop in Turin carried out a major restoration work. Thanks to the collaboration with various art historians and the synergy with public and private institutions, the research made it possible to arrive at a correct attribution of the works; moreover, through the precious documentary evidence preserved at the Associazione Il Palmerino aps, it was possible to reconstruct the journey of the two paintings, rewriting a page of art history otherwise unknown.

The canvases can be directly traced back to the cycle of frescoes painted by Benozzo Gozzoli for the Chapel of the Magi in the Medici Riccardi Palace between about 1459 and 1464, both in terms of the overall setting of the scene and of precise literal quotations: the steed in step and the rampant steed, the liveried grooms, the rocky backdrop on which turreted cities stand out, the treatment of vegetation. If, however, in the richly decorated walls of the Medici Riccardi Palace chapel female figures are either totally absent or relegated to the margins of the scene, in the two canvases signed Angeli women appear as protagonists of the procession. Inspired by Ghirlandaio (1448-1494) in the Tornabuoni Chapel in the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, the woman on horseback echoes the profile of Giovanna Tornabuoni in the Birth of Mary, while the dogwoman holding the rabbit is a quotation from the Birth of St. John the Baptist. Alongside the two large canvases, the exhibition places other evidence of thewide and varied artistic production of the Bottega Angeli, with the display of sketches, paintings and richly decorated furnishings that can tell the story of the family of artists’ inexhaustible search around the sources of Renaissance inspiration.

Federigo Angeli, a native of Castelfiorentino and the first of four children, began his apprenticeship at a very young age with his father, painter and decorator Angiolo Angeli. In Florence, at the Academy of Fine Arts, he attended the Free School of Nude and the studio of American painter Julius Rolshoven. His artistic abilities and talent as a draughtsman were soon recognized and it was not long before awards and certificates of merit arrived: he won first prize for two consecutive years in the Pio Istituto De’ Bardi School for ornamental and figure drawing. Together with his brothers Alberto and Achille, Federigo transformed his father’s Bottega into a successful enterprise that contributed to the spread of Florentine taste throughout the world, exporting its style and reproductions of major Renaissance artworks. In addition works in the neo-Renaissance style cultivates his more personal work that will be represented in the exhibition with some portrait works and a still life.

The exhibition is also meant to be an opportunity to learn more about the artist and the context in which his workshop operated. In Florence, in the period between the 19th and 20th centuries, a real cult for Renaissance art developed, thanks also to the stable presence in the city of numerous Anglo-American tourists, and it was in this social context that the workshop of Federigo (1891), Alberto (1897) and Achille (1899) Angeli took on the dimension of a great artistic forge capable of satisfying the ambitious extravagances of the patrons: from the restoration of paintings to copies from antiquity, from coffers to tempera paintings, to the fresco decoration of entire villas in the United States, the French Riviera and Monte Carlo, helping to take the taste for 14th- and 15th-century painting beyond national borders.

The scientific committee entrusted with the catalog insights and curatorship sees the collaboration of a group of professionals and art historians from public and private institutions, consisting of Cristina Acidini, Francesca Baldry, Daniela Magnetti, Roberta Masucci, Marco Moretti, Federica Parretti, Filippo Timo and Valentina Zucchi. A number of special events are scheduled during the exhibition’s opening period: on Sunday, Nov. 19, Sunday, Dec. 17 and Sunday, Jan. 7, at 10:30 a.m. families with children aged 7 to 11 can take part in painting workshops inspired by the techniques of the Angeli workshop, while at 12 noon young people and adults can follow thematic guided tours, which will interweave the vision of the exhibition with that of the Chapel of the Magi frescoed by Benozzo Gozzoli. Reservations are required ( 055-2760552), and participation includes the purchase of an admission ticket (€10 full; €7 reduced 18-25 years and university students, free under 18, disabled and accompanying persons, tour guides, accredited journalists, ICOM, ICOMOS and ICCROM members) and cultural activities (€2 residents Metropolitan City of Florence; €4 nonresidents Metropolitan City of Florence); 2x1 reduction Unicoop Firenze members. Again, on Thursday, Nov. 30 at 5.00 it will be possible to attend the viewing of the documentary film Federigo and the Workshop of Angels, from the Oltrarno to a New World made by the Cultural Association Il Palmerino and AWA with the contribution of the City of Florence, the Fondazione CR Firenze and the patronage of the American Consulate in Florence and the British Institute in Florence: participation is free (access to the exhibition is not included), reservation is always required: 055-2760552. Thanks to the collaboration with the students of New York University, in the halls it will also be possible to take advantage of support for visiting the exhibition in English on Oct. 10, 17, 24, 31 and on Nov. 7, 14, 21, 28 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

At Villa Il Palmerino (Via del Palmerino, 6 Florence), home of the painter, additional complementary activities are planned by the Cultural Association il Palmerino ( On Saturdays Oct. 14, Nov. 18 and Dec. 9 at 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. the villa will be open for guided tours of the 20th-century collection: visits are free and open to groups of up to 20 people. On Nov. 2 at 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. it will also be possible to take part in art workshops with the stencil technique for families with children ages 6 to 10. Participation is free, reservations are required: for information and reservations

The Renaissance in the 20th century: exhibition on Federigo Angeli in Florence
The Renaissance in the 20th century: exhibition on Federigo Angeli in Florence

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