It’s a busy summer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where in addition to its permanent collections, new exhibitions are worthy lures. A show titled “Painters of Reality: The Legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio in Lombardy” makes an impression exploring naturalism of various artists in Northern Italy. Some 80 paintings and drawings reflect this school of work that proved to be influential.

To be sure, there are paintings by Leonardo and Caravaggio, but the other artists represented include Lorenzo Lotto, Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo, Giacomo Ceruti, Moretto da Brescia, and women artrists Sofonisba Anguissola and Fede Galizia. As for Caravaggio, one of the most impressive on display is his “The Toothpuller.” Leonardo da Vinci is represented by such drawings as “Studies of a Bear Wallking” and “Study of Two Plants.” I especially like Ceruti’s painting “The Dwarf,” for example, Lotto’s “Christ Carrying the Cross” and Brescia’s “The Drunkenness of Noah.”

This exhibit, which adds importantly to perceptions about the artists and their various time periods, continues through August 15, 2004.

The Metropolitan recently acquired a gift of more than 100 works from the Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Foundation and selections are being showcased in installments through June 26, 2005. Pierre Matisse, a New York art dealer, was the younger son of Henri Matisse, some of whose works are included, as might be expected. But the broad collection also includes works by Balthus, Chagall, Derain, Dubuffet, Giacometti, Magritte, Miró and Tanguy. This is an especially rich exhibit with the opportunity to enjoy a pleasing variety.

Photography is meshed with the history of Germany in unusual exhibition of pictures taken by August Sander (1876-1964), who prided himself in chronicling life in Germany over a substantial time span. He turned his lens on people from different walks of life and economic strata. There are portraits of working class folk, farmers, the rich and also of victims of persecution under the Nazis under the exhibit titled of “People of the Twentieth Century” There are about 150 photos in the show, which continues through September 19, 2004. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street. Phone: 212-535-7710.

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