Wings, Speed, and Cosmic Dominion in Renaissance Italy
September 3 – December 8, 2013
Peter Flötner, Mars as a Sign of the Zodiac, c. 1540, Cast gilt bronze plaquette. Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, Purchase, The Cochrane-Woods Collection, 1977.115.
Wings are prevalent in a wide range of Renaissance representations, from figures (angels, winged cherubs, and mythological gods) to animals (eagles, griffins, and winged horses).
The multiple iconographies of wings during this period drew on allegorical, cosmological, and religious symbols inherited from both Christian and ancient Near Eastern mythologies.
Drawing on the Smart Museum’s permanent collection, with selected loans from the University of Chicago’s Library and the Oriental Institute, this intimate exhibition examines the Renaissance fascination with wings as symbols of speed and power through the influential histories of flight derived from the bird cult of Horus in ancient Egypt to the circulation of winged creatures in prints by Albrecht Dürer and others.