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from 05 October 2014 to 31 January 2015
Prato, Museo di Palazzo Pretorio

Tuscan And Venetian Masters From The Collection Of The Banca Popolare Di Vicenza

Press Release

From October 5, 2014 to January 6, 2015, in the prestigious rooms of the Museo di Palazzo Pretorio in Prato, a rare sequence of masterpieces by  Filippo Lippi, Bellini, Caravaggio, Tiepolo, Tintoretto, and Jacopo Bassano provides a unique opportunity to see alongside each other the most important works of art from the collection of the Banca Popolare di Vicenza, several of which never before exhibited for the public at large: a broad overview of art from Tuscany and the Veneto between the fifteenth and the eighteenth century.

Curated by Professor Fernando Rigon, under the patronage of the President of the Italian Republic, and with the patronage of the Region of Tuscany, the exhibition is promoted and organized by the Banca Popolare di Vicenza and the Municipality of Prato. A testimonial to the artistic patronage that the bank deploys through the restoration of masterpieces of Italian art, the exhibition is part of the policy of cultural enhancement that the Banca Popolare di Vicenza has always pursued in the areas where it does business, as well as of the Municipality of Prato’s project of making the Museo di Palazzo Pretorio – a year after the great inaugural exhibition “From Donatello to Lippi. The Prato Workshop” – a vital and dynamic place within Tuscany and an acknowledged venue for exhibitions with a high scholarly profile.

Brought together and arranged in the four sections of the exhibition, 86 panels and canvases are juxtaposed according to their subjects, thus highlighting affinities and references and facilitating the comparison of paintings from different schools, eras, and origins in terms of their iconographic interpretation.

The first section of the exhibition, entitled “Imago Magistra”, revolves around the subjects of paintings with a religious theme. Beginning with the most widespread one in the history of painting, the “Virgin with the Child”, this section presents representations of the symbols of the Virtues, as well as subjects inspired by the Gospels and the Old Testament. Here visitors can admire absolute masterpieces of the history of art, such as Giovanni Bellini’s “Crucifixion”, Caravaggio’s “Coronation with Thorns”, Jacopo Bassano’s “Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist”, and Filippo Lippi’s “Madonna and Child”. The relationship between Mother and Son, together with the metaphor of the Flower and the Fruit, characterizes the transition – in a continuous interplay of cross-references – to the portrayal of the Virtues, in particular Charity and Goodwill, which are represented in the exhibition by two fundamental works of Carlo Dolci and Pietro Dandini.

Entitled “Ideal Image”, the second section displays works whose subjects are rooted in the cultural heritage of the Greek and Roman world. Sources of inspiration are the mythologies and the gods of Olympus, the heroes and famous figures of classical Antiquity, and works of literature, in particular chivalric poems. In this section, visitors can admire paintings that are formally extremely elegant, such as Cesare Dandini’s “Apollo” and Gaspare Diziani’s “Alexander the Great Entering Babylon”, as well as caricatural and grotesque works like Piero della Vecchia’s “Allegory of Bacchus”, which depicts a kind of orgiastic ritual with incomparable skill.

The third section, “The Face of the Idea: the Portrait”, provides a global approach to the subject of portraits. Special emphasis is given to the interpretation of dress, the habitus, which is important not only because it shows the way the persons portrayed choose to have themselves represented, but also because they present themselves to us as the social and psychological history of past eras. Surveying Tuscan and Venetian portraiture, especially of the Renaissance, with two in-depth analyses dedicated to official portraits in Venice and edifying ones of saints, this section allows visitors to admire several of the most eminent masters of the genre, from Santi di Tito with his “Portrait of Ferdinando de’ Medici” to  Tintoretto’s “Portrait of Doge Nicolò da Ponte”.

The fourth and last section of the exhibition, entitled “Beautiful Nature”, presents an anthology of works regarding the representation of nature in the form of landscapes and still lifes, with paintings by Zuccarelli, Zais, Chimenti, and Scacciati, enabling visitors to reflect on what is “fake” and what is “true” when nature is transposed into painting.

From the Renaissance to the French Revolution, the exhibition at the Museo di Palazzo Pretorio presents the most common subjects of painting over the centuries through an approach that fosters a reflection on the constants of the history of art. Here masterpieces by Bellini, Filippo Lippi, Tiepolo, and Caravaggio – meeting and engaging one another – manage to reveal new aspects of themselves.