Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Room XVI - Portraits

Vault: “Triumph of Divine Wisdom” surrounded by nine figures personifications of her virtuous attributes: Eternity, Sweetness, Divinity, Justice, Fortitude, Charity, Holiness, Purity, Beauty and Insight 1629/33 masterpiece by Andrea Sacchi (1599/1661) for Prince Taddeo Barberini
The small stars represent the positon of the sky on the very night of the election of Urban VIII, August 6, 1623
The position of the sun on the breast of the Divine Wisdom in the center of the composition and of the great globe decentralized and almost handled by the scepter in the hands of the allegorical figure seem to leave no doubt about the awareness by Sacchi of the recent heliocentric theories of Copernicus and Galileo
“Unlike Pietro da Cortona, who conceived the allegorical fresco like a historical epic, with a main subject and many episodes, and therefore animated by groups of figures, Sacchi proposed compositions with fewer figures comparing the painting to tragedy of which structural foundations are unity and simplicity. Privileging compositions with fewer figures Sacchi followed the classical theory that considered the historical painting as a representation of human emotions, gestures, expressions: in fact, only focusing on the essential characters the artist would have a better chance of making them come alive” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
“The Parnassus by Raphael was his model. He gave up illusionism and painted the scenes as if they were framed pictures, an easel painting. But he did not return to the position of Bolognese classicism, because his painting has no frame and the whole ceiling is its background. As the affinity with Domenichino cannot be neglected, his free running touch is much closer to Lanfranco's” (Rudolf Wittkower)
“Portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam” 1517 by the Flemish artist Quentin Massys (about 1466/1530)
His style in portraits explores the psychology of the characters much more than Albrecht Dürer or Hans Holbein did, who were anyway an inspiration for his art
The psychological research is alive in this stunning portrait of his friend Erasmus of Rotterdam as he is translating the letter of St. Paul to the Romans
“Henry VIII” 1540 by Hans Holbein (about 1497/1543)
“In the portrait, which espouses the physiognomy, however, there is no place for the psychological insight of the monarch, represented as a living icon of power” (Official website of the Barberini Gallery -
“Portrait of Stephen IV Colonna” about 1546 by Agnolo di Cosimo Tori aka Bronzino (1503/72)
“With the same selective rigor that inspires the haughty reserve of the characters he portrays, Bronzino lets filter in a formal and very accurate sieve distillation only the more terse colors, the most polished linear ductus, the most crystalline light. His painting is at the same time clearly allusive and anti-naturalistic, because it uses a subtly metaphoric stylistic formula. He doesn't mimic reality as it happens but a version already ennobled by artifice of an exquisite technique and the subtle evocation of rare and shiny materials. As in poetry of Pietro Bembo, the metaphor has a subliminal purpose: it locks the image in the stillness of a world perpetually pristine, it takes it away from the corrosion of time and from promiscuity with the banal mediocrity of everyday life, sealing it under the glass bell of a very high exercise in style” (Antonio Pinelli)
“An isolated figure, with that sharp look that distinguishes it from all others, observed and reproduced pictorially with rare poignancy, speaks to the audience with unprecedented strength and immediacy” (Hermann Voss)
“Portrait of Cardinal Giovanni Ricci” about 1574 by Scipione Pulzone (about 1550/98)
“Portrait of a Lady maybe Clelia Farnese” maybe by Jacopo Zucchi (about 1542/96)
Clelia Farnese was the daughter of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese and the mistress of Cardinal Ferdinando de' Medici
“Portrait of Francesco II Colonna” by Girolamo Siciolante da Sermoneta (1521/80)
“Portrait of a Gentleman” about 1512 by Bartolomeo Veneto (active 1502/30)
It is an exceptional portrait of a character remaining mysterious but perhaps linked to the Gonzaga court for the motto on the medal
“Portrait of young twenty year old” by Niccolò dell'Abate (about 1510/71)
“One of the most brilliant representatives of the Emilian Mannerism, he was educated looking at the art of Dossi, Correggio and Parmigianino. With personal and refined language and vivid sense of color, he tackled themes from literature and from reality, favoring love and landscape genres” (Enciclopedia Treccani)
“Portrait of Cesare Cavalcabò” beginning of 1600s by Giovanni Ambrogio Figino (1553/1608) a painter who was a big influence for Caravaggio
“Portrait of a Gentleman” by Federico Zuccari (about 1542/1609)
“Portrait of Sulpizia Petrucci” by Andrea del Brescianino (about 1485/1525)
“Portrait of a Gentleman” by Girolamo da Carpi (1501/56)

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