Old Master Paintings
Renaissance HallOnline tickets
The Renaissance Hall evokes sixteenth-century Italian architecture: its semi-circular arcades, classical columns, balustraded parapet and grotesque frescos – imitating ancient Roman murals – are intended to recall the courtyard of a Renaissance palace. The hall now hosts two of the museum’s special collections: Italian frescos and Venetian wellheads.
The Collection of Renaissance Frescos
The collection of Renaissance frescos is a true rarity, the largest of its kind outside Italy. Numbering 85 pieces, the collection was assembled between 1893 and 1895 by the art historian Károly Pulszky, director of the National Picture Gallery (predecessor to the Museum of Fine Arts), through various acquisitions on the Italian art market.
The frescos originally formed parts of larger cycles decorating the walls of churches and palaces in Northern and Central Italy. In the nineteenth century, as the buildings decayed or changed their function, the frescos were removed and converted into portable artworks. The highlights of the collection are arranged chronologically, grouped according to origin, on both levels of the Renaissance Hall. Starting downstairs with Late Gothic and Early Renaissance works (from the late fourteenth century to the fifteenth century), the exhibition concludes in the upstairs gallery with pieces from the High and Late Renaissance period (sixteenth century).
The Collection of Venetian Wellheads
The likewise internationally significant collection of Venetian wellheads is displayed in the centre of the Renaissance Hall. Until the mid-nineteenth century, when the drinking water network was built, Venetians drew their water from wells. The wellheads, made of ornately carved stone or bronze, were often produced in the workshops of Venice’s best-known sculptors. Though the wellheads no longer served a purpose, the more elaborate ones still attracted tourists, and collectors soon began to take an interest in them. Aristocrats often installed Venetian wellheads to decorate the courtyards of their chateaus and palaces. Part of the museum’s collection once adorned noble country gardens, while the rest were bought by Károly Pulszky in Venice between 1894 and 1895. The exhibition presents the six finest pieces from the Late Middle Ages to the Renaissance (fourteenth–sixteenth century).
The wellheads are joined by other Italian Renaissance stone carvings and sculptures. The outstanding Early Renaissance relief of The Death of the Virgin by Michele da Firenze, an associate of Lorenzo Ghiberti, is going on display after years of careful restoration.