Bowdoin College Museum of Art
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Bowdoin College Museum of Art
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Transformative Gestures: Paintings of the Renaissance
March 12, 2013 - June 2, 2013
Becker Gallery
Jacopo da Carrucci (called Pontormo), Italian, 1494–1557. Apollo and Daphne, 1513, oil on canvas. Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, 1961.100.9
European paintings of the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries tell stories of love, transgression, sacrifice, and redemption that are often based on biblical or mythological narratives, and on the legends of the Christian saints. While the paintings are silent, they speak to the viewer through their figures' expressive hand movements. It is within the power of those gestures to transform a man into a god, a sinner into a believer, a nymph into a bay laurel tree.

Since antiquity, the meaning of many gestures was strictly defined. Renaissance painters, like actors and orators, could draw on a long tradition of Chironomia, the artful use of gesticulation. This selection of paintings from the Bowdoin collection invites viewers to explore the effective use of hands from the days of Giotto to Pontormo and Calvaert