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Wednesday, 9 January, 2002, 14:28 GMT
V&A launch terracotta first
Giovanni Bologna's work goes on show at V&A
Giovanni Bologna's work goes on show at V&A
Precious terracotta from four centuries of Italian sculpture are to go on show at London's Victoria and Albert Museum.

The exhibition, which opens in March, will showcase for the first time fragile works from the likes of Ghiberti, Giambologna, Donatello, Verrocchio, Bernini and Canova.

More than eighty items are coming from 38 lenders in eight countries in a project which has taken six years to organise.

For many pieces it is the first time they have left their countries.

The museum said in a statement: "A masterful control of material and a superb sense of artistry make Italian terracotta one of the most alluring and expressive art forms in history.

"The exhibition's great attraction lies in comparing models with finished works, demonstrating that the modelling of clay is at the heart of the creative processes of sculpture."

Curator Bruce Boucher admitted the fragility of the terracotta was a "nightmare" logistically to deal with.

He told BBC News Online: "We had to go round museums and look at exhibits and decide what we thought could travel."


Canova's dry clay version of Penitent Magdalen was deemed unfit to travel.

A Venice museum had agreed to loan the piece, which depicts Mary Magdalen and is one of his few religious works, but the V&A decided not to risk it.

Mr Boucher said: "Dry clay is more fragile than fired clay and even with the wonders of modern technology, the V&A decided to turn it down."

The London museum has been given the terracotta version, loaned from St Petersburg.

Mr Boucher said the exhibition was a unique event because it features not just terracotta work, but drawings and sketches also.

The exhibition starts on 14 March and carries on until 7 July.

See also:

19 Nov 01 | Arts
V&A treasure trove set to open
07 Mar 01 | Budget 2001
Museums and galleries will be free
01 Apr 01 | Wales
Museums launch free entry
03 Apr 00 | UK
Museum visits for 1
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