Soprintendenza Speciale per il Patrimonio Storico, Artistico ed Etnoantropologico e per il Polo Museale della città di Firenze

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The Renaissance Dream - Palatine Gallery

RÊVER À LA RENAISSANCE -  Paris, Musée du Luxembourg - 7 Oct. 2013 - 26 Jan 2014

05-21-2013 | 09-15-2013

This exhibition will offer visitors a chance to explore, for the very first time, a theme as absorbing and as fascinating as the Renaissance Dream, shedding light on its richness and variety.  The theme of the dream was considered to be of particular importance in ancient mythology and in the culture of the Renaissance, as shown by its widespread popularity in the figurative arts, particularly in works of religious art or in connection with the rediscovery of Classical mythology.

Whether prophetic or premonitory, illustrated with famous stories from the Old Testament (Joseph explaining the dreams of Pharoah, Jacob's dream and so forth) or from visionary hagiography (the dreams of Constantine, St. Francis, St. Ursula and so on), the dream presents itself first and foremost as a manifestation and a revelation of a different world.  It also displays, in a secular sense, the speculative and inductive potential that it offers the human mind; it transfigures daily life and reveals its erotic dimension; it plays a valuable role in the theory and practice of art, which focus just as much on dreams as they do on literature, philosophy and medicine.

The exhibition is divided into several sections, the first of which will define and illustrate the context in which dreams occur:  at night, during sleep.  Night, the first section, is illustrated in the full complexity of its symbology and, in particular, through some of its many representations in painting and sculpture based on or inspired by the statue of Night which Michelangelo sculpted for the funeral monument of Giuliano de' Medici in the Sagrestia Nuova in San Lorenzo.  The next section, entitled Journey of the Spirit, is introduced by a series of works of art connected with dreams, but then goes on to display others relating to Classical myths, such as Bertoldo's Frieze from the Medici Villa at Poggio a Caiano, and also works of literature such as Francesco Colonna's celebratedHypnerotomachia Poliphili, in which the dream plays a crucial role.  These are set alongside paintings and engravings of mythological and allegorical subjects, some of which, like Raphael's Vision of a Knight from the National Gallery in London or Correggio's Venus and Cupid with a Satyr from the Louvre, will be on display in Florence for the very first time.

Visions of the Beyond addresses the theme of the dream in the biblical and religious tradition with examples of drawings and paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries, including Jacob's DreamJoseph Interpreting Dreams, and the Dreams and Visions of such figures as St. Helen, St. Ursula, St. Catherine of Alexandria, St. Augustine and St. Jerome.


The section entitled Enigmatic Dreams and Nightmare Visions contains works of a dreamlike, visionary or fantastic nature such as the celebrated engraving by Giorgio Ghisi known as The Dream of Raphael, or nightmares translated into painting such as Jan Mandijn'sTemptations of St. Anthony or Heironymus Bosch's Hermit Saints from the Doge's Palace in Venice.

The crucially important section entitled Life Is a Dream takes its cue from the exceptional iconographical popularity of Michelangelo's drawing of The Dream of Human Life as borne out by the large number of copies or versions of it that have been produced over time, including those of Giulio Clovio, Francesco Brina, Battista Franco and many more.

The penultimate section, entitled The Dreaming Prince, is devoted to the personality of Francesco de' Medici and to his particularly fertile rapport with dreams, of which several instances have come down to us, often imbued with a fantastically theatrical quality (such as Naldini's The Allegory of Dreams in the Studiolo) and thus pointing symbolically to the extent to which the cultural debate focused on dreams in the late Renaissance.  In that connection, the section contains drawings, documents and paintings including Alessandro Allori'sPortrait of Bianca Cappello with the iconography of the famous Dream of Michelangelo on the back, and another rare work of Allori's, aBedhead decorated with dream-related motifs, from the Museo Nazionale del Bargello.

The exhibition ends with a celebration of the Dawn, which the Renaissance held to be the space and time of real dreams (represented by a painting by Battista Dossi), and of the Awakening (with Dosso Dossi's Venus Waking from the Unicredit Banca Collection in Bologna) as the expression of a paradigmatic and complementary cyclicity.


Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali
Direzione Regionale per i Beni Culturali e Paesaggistici della Toscana
Soprintendenza Speciale per il Patrimonio Storico, Artistico ed Etnoantropologico
e per il Polo Museale della città di Firenze
Galleria Palatina
Firenze Musei

Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze

Mostra organizzata dalla Soprintendenza Speciale per il Patrimonio Storico, Artistico ed Etnoantropologico
e per il Polo Museale della città di Firenze
e dalla RMN Grand Palais di Parig

Curated by

Chiara Rabbi Bernard
Alessandro Cecchi
Yves Hersant

Exhibition Management

Alessandro Cecchi




Cristina Gabbrielli
Silvia Cresti per Opera Laboratori Fiorentini - Civita Group
Freya Budini Gattai

Ticket prices

Full Price: € 13,00
Reduced: € 6,50


Tuesday to Sunday: 8.15-18.50
Closed Mondays.