Leonardo: Discoveries From Verrocchio’s Studio
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., through Oct. 7
That Andrea del Verrocchio will always be known as Leonardo da Vinci’s master is “one of history’s cruel jokes,” said Susan Dunne in The Hartford Courant. But genius needs to start somewhere, and Leonardo did study under Verrocchio (1435–1488) “and was, presumably, influenced by him.” Verrocchio, as was typical in quattrocento Florence, was credited for work created by his assistants, and Yale curator Laurence Kanter has made a two-decade-long mission of identifying Leonardo’s hand in works credited to his less talented teacher. “Discerning which artists created what parts of a painting is often difficult,” but Kanter has made some solid cases for adding to Leonardo’s known body of work, which currently comprises about 20 paintings. Thanks to his scholarship, the Louvre has tentatively reattributed The Annunciation, a 1475–79 miniature, to the Renaissance polymath.
That loaner, “a small showstopper,” is the undeniable highlight of Yale’s current Leonardo show, said Lee Rosenbaum in ArtsJournal.com. Another two, A Miracle of Saint Donatus of Arezzo and The Triumph of Aemilius Paulus, are collaborative works that reveal evidence of Leonardo’s hand. But then comes the sucker punch: Of the remaining 18 works in the Yale exhibition, 10 are works by Verrocchio or other artists in his workshop, and the rest are photographic reproductions. Every small museum has difficulty trying to borrow fragile masterworks from European museums, of course, but the reproductions don’t reward close study. Still, “this is a brave show to mount,” said Cammy Brothers in The Wall Street Journal. By providing wall texts that detail what he and other authenticators look for, Kanter has “lifted the veil” on how such judgments are made. And the Verrocchios aren’t bad. In fact, his full-length Virgin and Child, from about 1465, is “the breakout star of the show.”