Andrew Butterfield is President of Andrew Butterfield Fine Arts. He is the author of The Sculptures of Andrea del Verrocchio, among other books. (May 2016)


Botticelli: Love, Wisdom, Terror

Sandro Botticelli: Primavera, 1477–1482

Botticelli and Treasures from the Hamilton Collection

an exhibition at the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin, October 16, 2015–January 24, 2016; and the Courtauld Gallery, London, February 18–May 15, 2016

Botticelli Reimagined

an exhibition at the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, September 24, 2015–January 24, 2016; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, March 5–July 3, 2016
Sometime around 1490 Sandro Botticelli set out to make a book unlike any ever seen before: the first fully illustrated edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Almost since the poem was completed around 1321, painters had decorated manuscripts of it with illuminations of selected scenes. But the very qualities that drew so many readers to the poem were all far beyond the skills of earlier painters to convey. Botticelli was determined to be the first painter to do justice to the great poem.

The Magic of Donatello

‘Prophet’ (possibly Habakkuk), known as the ‘Zuccone’; marble sculpture by Donatello, 1427–1436

Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces from Florence Cathedral

an exhibition at the Museum of Biblical Art, New York City, February 20–June 14, 2015
The Museum of Biblical Art, lodged in a relatively small space on Broadway near Lincoln Center, is now showing nine sculptures by Donatello, one of the greatest of all Renaissance artists. Never before have so many of his best works been shown together in the United States. Among the works …

Prodigious Veronese

Paolo Veronese: The Family of Darius before Alexander, 1565-1567

Veronese: Magnificence in Renaissance Venice

an exhibition at the National Gallery, London, March 19–June 15, 2014
Long regarded as among the greatest Venetian paintings, Paolo Veronese’s The Family of Darius before Alexander has attracted the intense admiration of many writers, including Goethe, Hazlitt, and Ruskin, as well as James. Its acquisition by the National Gallery in 1857 was considered a triumph; Queen Victoria even made a special visit to the museum just to view the picture. It is now one of the high points in the magnificent show about Veronese on view at the National Gallery, the first comprehensive exhibition of the painter in over twenty-five years.

Sad and Supreme

Albrecht Dürer: ‘Mein Agnes,’ 1494

Albrecht Dürer: Master Drawings, Watercolors, and Prints from the Albertina

an exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., March 24–June 9, 2013
In the summer of 1494, soon after his engagement, Albrecht Dürer made a startlingly intimate drawing of his fiancée, Agnes Frey. One might have expected a twenty-three-year-old to depict his betrothed as a source of love, or comfort, or well-being, all the more since her substantial dowry would soon launch …


Statues of Wrath and Serenity

Statue of the Wisdom King Fudō Myōō by Kaikei, Kamakura period, early thirteenth century

Every age is one of anxiety. But few have responded with art more deeply serene than that of the Kamakura Period in Japan (1185-1333). A show of Kamakura sculpture, “Kamakura: Realism and Spirituality in the Sculpture of Japan,” has just opened at the Asia Society in New York, the first American exhibition on the subject in more than thirty years.

He Brought Stone to Life

Donatello: Habakkuk, 1427-1436

Among the works on view at the Museum of Biblical Art’s new show, “Sculpture in the Age of Donatello,” is the artist’s large sculpture of the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk, carved for the Campanile of the Florence Cathedral, likely between 1427 and 1436. “Speak, damn you, speak!” Donatello, we are told, repeatedly shouted at the statue while carving it. The dream of a statue that can speak or breathe or move is a fantasy shared by many cultures throughout time, and the story may be apocryphal. Still, it points to the fundamental appeal of Donatello’s sculptures: by some strange magic they seem to capture the phantom of life.

Rembrandt in the Depths

Rembrandt van Rijn: Lucretia, 1666

“Rembrandt: The Late Works,” an exhibition now on view at London’s National Gallery, will linger long in the mind of anyone who has the pleasure to see it. Bringing together approximately ninety paintings, prints, and drawings Rembrandt made at the end of his life, it reveals a great artist working with unprecedented technical command and emotional power, even as the world closes in around him.

‘Majesty, Vehemence, Splendor’

Paolo Veronese: The Family of Darius before Alexander, 1565–1567 (detail), click to enlarge

Paolo Veronese’s prodigious facility, love of magnificence, and untroubled service to the dreams of wealthy clients were all counted against him for much of the twentieth century. Few great artists have seemed less radical or rebellious. But this reaction overlooks his own ambitions as a painter as revealed in The Family of Darius before Alexander. He worked with breathtaking dispatch and unerring certainty, and was able to create almost any effect.