Curator Frederick Ilchman ’90's latest work at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, "Rivals in Renaissance Venice," has been described in terms normally applied to summer blockbuster movies: "hot" (The New York Times), "breathtaking" (Newsweek), and "too good to miss" (The Boston Globe).

The MFA exhibition, which runs through Aug. 16, highlights Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese, three legendary artists from the 16th century who were rivals in the densely-populated and artistically vibrant city of Venice. They often embedded critiques of each other's work in their paintings, including some of the period's best-known works.

The remarkable quality of the exhibition is one draw -- Ilchman, who majored in art and archaeology at Princeton, has drawn praise for convincing major museums in Europe and the United States to loan their masterpieces. But art critics and visitors also seem captivated by the underlying story told through the paintings. Seeing the interplay of the three rivals brings to life an often forgotten element of art history, Ilchman explains in an online audio introduction to the exhibition: "We should remember that Italian Renaissance artists at one point were contemporary artists and this material was, at one time, the cutting edge."

(Photo courtesy Frederick Ilchman ’90)

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