As per tradition, I start the year looking for the best upcoming temporary exhibitions in Florence, Tuscany, and all of Italy. I unabashedly prefer the Renaissance over any other artistic period, so this year I’ve expanded my horizons to the whole country in search of the best Renaissance shows that will be worth traveling within Italy to see. Five have made the cut.

What does the year ahead bring? In Florence, we’re still awaiting the full 2020 lineup from the Uffizi Galleries, so no news is available beyond the Spring for the Uffizi, Pitti and Accademia, and the Bargello hasn’t announced any major exhibitions either. Palazzo Strozzi, which used to alternate modern and early modern art, seems to have added a contemporary rotation and left the Renaissance by the wayside, dedicating the main floor this season to Tomás Saraceno (b. 1973, Argentina) – until July 19, 2020, with no further information available about their Fall show.

2020 marks the 500th anniversary of the death of Raphael, who takes over the centenary celebration focus from Leonardo (2019). However, not many works are available for loan, making it difficult for every major Italian city to make a contribution. In fact, celebrations kicked off with a minor show in Urbino (closing soon) and one of those “immersive digital experiences” in Milan. A large show will open in Rome in March, while in London, the V&A will focus on their tapestry cartoons, and the National Gallery, which owns 11 works by Raphael, claims that they will “present one of the first-ever exhibitions to explore Raphael’s complete career” from October 3, 2020 to January 24, 2021.

Slim pickings, then, for those of us who like a good geeky Renaissance art exhibition. Here’s what I’ve been able to find.

Torino: Rinascimento Italiano, Andrea Mantegna

Palazzo Madama, December 12 2019 to May 4 2020

Andrea Mantegna: Ecce homo (1500-1502), Musée Jacquemart-André, Parigi
Mantegna, Andrea (1431-1506): Ecce Homo. Paris, Musee Jacquemart-Andre’

The show “Andrea Mantegna, Rivivere l’antico, costruire il moderno” presents Mantegna’s career through six chronological sections that examine his main artistic interests. The curators are Sandrina Bandera and Howard Burns. The show isn’t monographical, but includes some 100 works of artists who came into contact with Mantegna. It will be interesting to see how the works displayed, curatorship and story differ from the fantastic Mantegna and Bellini show that I saw in Berlin.

Rome: Raffaello

Scuderie del Quirinale, March 5 to June 2, 2020

La Velata, Raphael, Uffizi
La Velata, Raphael, Uffizi

The title – just “RAPHAEL” – makes this monographic exhibition that marks the 500th anniversary of Raphael’s death at just 37 years old sound rather definitive. It claims to be the largest gathering of works by the artist ever seen: more than 100 paintings and drawings, with prestigious loans from around the world. The exhibition is in collaboration with the Uffizi, which is lending 50 works, 40 by Raphael (assumedly many of these are drawings). The list of curators is also impressive: Nicholas Penny, Barbara Jatta, Dominique Cordellier, Achim Gnann and Alessandro Nova. No further information has been released as to the focus of the exhibition or its structure, but I’m marking this for a trip to Rome. The show will be interesting to compare to the one slated for the Fall in London.

Genova: Michelangelo, Divino artista

Palazzo Ducale, March 26-July 19 2020

Genova seems an unlikely location for a show on Michelangelo, yet Cristina Acidini – an art historian for whom I have the utmost respect – has curated an exhibition dedicated to him here. The focus is on the many “exceptional encounters” that take place in the artist’s biography: he served six popes, had direct rapport with Lorenzo il Magnifico and the kings of France. Works by Michelangelo are sure to be few (drawings for sure, and it appears that the Cristo Redentore from Bassano Romano, Viterbo will be loaned), but there will be works by his direct collaborators. I trust Acidini to make this interesting.

Milan: L’anima e il corpo

Castello Sforzesco, September 25 2020 to January 13 2021

Milan’s Castello Sforzesco is collaborating with the Louvre for a major exhibition on Renaissance sculpture from Donatello to Michelangelo (1460-1520 circa) that will open first at the Louvre in Spring 2020. The show will put sculpture in dialogue with other art forms and explore the principle themes that preoccupied artists in the second half of the Quattrocento. Further information, including the curators’ names and other loan institutions, hasn’t yet been made available, but this sounds like the kind of show for which I’d plan a weekend in Milan.

Venice: Vittore Carpaccio, Dipinti e Disegni

Palazzo Ducale, October 10 2020 to January 24 2021

Carpaccio, Sant’Agostino in his Study

This monographic show dedicated to Vittore Carpaccio (1460/66 – 1525/26) is organized in collaboration with the National Gallery of Washington, so if you’re planning travel from the USA, you might see it there (from March to June 2021). The last monographic show on this artist took place in the same location in 1963, so a revisitation is surely in order. The chronological and thematic exploration of the artist’s work will examine both paintings and drawings to reveal new (hopefully) information about his techniques, interest in nature, perspective and treatment of light, while delight us with his representations of the grandeur of Renaissance Venice through sacred and profane life.

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