Florence and the Low Countries

From June to October in Florence two important exhibitions will open a window to figurative art from the Netherlands. The exhibition, which will continue until October 20th, offers a choice of sacred painting and portraiture masterpieces which the great Dutch and Flemish masters from Jan van Eyck to Lucas van Leyden executed for,or where bought by,their Florentine clientele, and illustrates through an overview of these works which were present in Florence between 1430 and 1530 the fundamental role-model played by these artists in terms of style, iconography and pictorial technique for the Florentine masters and their workshops. For the first time in centuries it will be possible to see the recomposed Pagagnotti triptychs of the great Hans Memling and the Master of the Legend of Saint Orsola;the panels are currently dispersed between the museums of Cherbourg, Fiesole, Florence, London and New York. The direct comparison of the masterpieces of the pictorial schools of Florence and the Netherlands of the period in question, which for several centuries produced the highest expression of European painting, aims at two purposes: to verify the actual impact of their mutual influence, but also the substantial stylistic autonomy of the two schools and to emphasise the amicable understanding between the two cultures. The cultural contacts between Florence and Bruges were due to the strong economic relations. Europe was a dynamic economic space with free movement of business, capital, goods and workers. Bruges was one of the most important cities and the Medici, the powerful bankers from Florence, established branches in Flemish cities. (today banks still choose for the most important cities). The Medici were not only interested in business, but had a passion for arts. The Medici bought paintings from the Flemish masters and brought them to their palaces. The influence of the Flemish painters was significant and some even claim that Michelangelo, Rafael and Da Vince and the renaissance art owe the Flemish painters. Without a strong and open economy, however, the renaissance should not have been possible or different