Monday, February 29, 2016


Room XXXI - Painting in Naples in the 1700s

“Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple” by Francesco Solimena (1657/1747) the best pupil of Luca Giordano
“Preparatory version for the fresco painted on the Counter façade of the Neapolitan Church of Gesù in 1725. The scene, theatrical and complex, reveals the great skills of Solimena painting a grand composition, in which monumental architecture is the background to the interweaving of characters with many different poses and expressions. The artist represents perfectly darting movements that emphasize the vibrancy of light” (Official website of the Barberini Gallery -
“Wedding contract” about 1752 and “Portrait of Father Giovannezio di Molina” by Gaspare Traversi (1722/70)
“Among the most interesting personalities of the eighteenth century in Naples. Pupil of Francesco Solimena, he was in Rome since 1752. His paintings show interest in nature and in Carracci's style and are aimed at a rigorous and sensitive rendering of reality, through which there is a vein of irony featured in scenes of everyday life” (Enciclopedia Treccani)
“Portrait of a lady” by Giuseppe Bonito (1707/89)
“A pupil of Francesco Solimena, Bonito is part of a generation of artists who determined the cultural climate of the Neapolitan eighteenth century with strong points of contact with the Spanish painting. In 1751 he was officially invested the office of House Painter of the King (...). He became also academic of St. Luke in 1752” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)
“Sebastiano Conca studied in Naples at the school of Francesco Solimena, but his career unfolded in Rome, where he assimilated the lessons of Carlo Maratta, who, with his school, had a hegemony over Roman painting, and yet he managed to blend it with his Neapolitan training rich of echoes of Luca Giordano, laying the foundations of the Roman Rococo” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)
“The Martyrdom of St. Denis” by Corrado Giaquinto (1703/66)
Denis was the first bishop of Lutetia, today Paris
Tradition has it that, during the persecution of Decius in about 250, after he had been beheaded on the hill which, following this event, took the name of Montmartre (mountain of the martyr), stood up, picked his head up and walked for 10 km (6.2 miles) continuing preaching as if nothing had happened
“Within the last Roman activity of the painter, in the period between 1949 and 1951, numerous sketches are known, characterized by immediacy of execution and density of material and color” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)
Corvi Room - Characters of Myth and History
On the walls, life-size figures in niches to imitate ancient sculptures:
Ciro, Sofonisba, Zenobia, Achilles, Silla, Tuzia, Scipio, Lucrezia, Tullia, Faustina, Dido, Cleopatra, Alexander the Great
Decorations around the room with elegant friezes that evoke the inventions of older artworks by Piranesi
The room was painted in 1770 by Domenico Corvi (1721/1803) from Viterbo for Princess Costanza Barberini Colonna di Sciarra

Friday, February 26, 2016


Room XXX - Landscapes and Views

He was a Dutch painter naturalized Italian, known also as Gaspare Vanvitelli or Gaspare degli occhiali (Caspar with glasses)
He moved to Italy when he was twenty and he became an unbeatable landscape artist who also liked to use technical devices such as the optical box
He was the father of the great painter and architect Luigi Vanvitelli (1700/73)
“The setting of the view doesn't focus on the reproduction of the monuments, but amazingly they are equated with the image of the city's daily life. The sharpness of the image, made more transparent by the technique of tempera on parchment, with a natural perspective, focuses on the reproduction of aspects of the city in the life of the inhabitants, without research for monumentality or for picturesque” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)
Four splendid views of Venice: “Piazza S. Marco and the Procuratie” about 1730, “Canal Grande” about 1737, “Rialto Bridge” about 1735 and “Small square with the Library of St. Mark” about 1737 by Giovanni Antonio Canal aka Canaletto (1697/1768)
“From his first work signed and dated, which is of 1723, the technique of Canaletto develops more and more towards a sharp clarity that sees the use, for the accuracy of perspective effects, of the system of the optical chamber, which was used to obtain the drawing of the contours of the view through the projection of the image. In the Rialto Bridge the bridge itself is not at the center of the scene and the protagonist is not the monument. It rather prevails a vivid description of daily life in Venice” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)
“View of imperial castle of Schlossof” about 1762 and “View of the Market Square in Dresden” about 1748 by Bernardo Bellotto (1721/80) who had his uncle Canaletto as master
He lived in Dresden, Vienna and Warsaw and he documented those cities almost photographically
“He began as a figure painter, and soon emerged with a production characterized by the interpretation of landscapes according to a sense closer to the atmospheric rendering. His views are not defined by the sharp lines of perspective of Canaletto, of whom, however, he used the engravings for his paintings, and Bellotto, but rather the city's image is filtered by the light and atmosphere of the lagoon” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)
“Landscape with figures” by the Flemish who settled in Rome Jan Frans Van Bloemen aka Orizzonte (1662/1749)
“Jan Frans, also known as Orizzonte (Horizon) to distinguish him from his older brother Pieter, also a painter and known as Stendardo (Banner), arrived in Rome in 1688 (...). The Arcadian vision of the landscape in Van Bloemen goes with the serenity of the Lazio region landscape while not forgetting the examples of the grandeur of Claude Lorrain (1600/82) and of the classical Gaspard Dughet (1615/75) his masters in Rome” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)
“Landscape with ruins and figures” by the Roman Andrea Locatelli (1693/1741)
“His painting harmonizes the elements taken from Gaspard Dughet, Claude Lorrain and Jan Frans van Bloemen aka Orizzonte in the Arcadian ideal of the eighteenth century through the careful rendering of the true and the use of a deep brightness” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)
“His creative originality was accompanied by a style maturation that moved from Benedetto Luti and Sebastiano Conca, with a gradual lightening of the palette and the achievement of a taste perfectly collimating with the French, as evidenced by the clear debts against him of famous painters such as Hubert Robert and Emile Jean Horace Vernet” (Giancarlo Sestieri)
“View of the Alban Hills and Ariccia” and “Waterfall of the Aniene River at Tivoli” 1769 by the German Jacob Philipp Hackert (1737/1807)
“For the French, in the wake of Pannini and of the landscape with ruins paintings, landscape has an essentially evocative meaning and does not represent a line of independent research with a direct focus on natural reality. Hackert's work has an Enlightenment dimension which shines in its technique, in the subtle signs with which he circumscribes areas, to enhance the sharpness of the natural effects” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Room XXIX - The Second Half of the 1700s in Rome: Towards Neoclassicism

“Young Girl as a Bacchante” by the Swiss-Austrian Angelica Kauffmann (1741/1807)
“Angelica begins her career very young, showing a child prodigy talent. Her father, a painter, although of poor fortune, was her first teacher and also the architect of her success. He accompanied her in Florence, (...) in Rome and also spent brief periods in Naples and Bologna. She got assignments in London at the court of George III and had a great success. (...) The girl depicted with the attributes that one would commonly refer to Bacchae seems to express the 'natural grace', that for Winckelmann is the 'nice according to reason' (...), far away from the gallant grace, sensual and frivolous of rococo painting, while still making an image of studied sensuality, in which the attribute of the cuff on the upper arm takes us back to the classical iconography of Venus” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)
“Portrait of sir Henry Peirse” 1775, “Madonna with child and S. Filippo Neri” and the incredibly beautiful “Hagar and the Angel” 1776 by Pompeo Batoni (1708/87)
“This painting depicts the apparition to Hagar, banished to the desert with her son Ishmael, of an angel, who indicates a source of water (Genesis, xxi, 8-21). It is one of the most refined and elegant productions of Batoni's late activity, during which his work differs from the prevailing neoclassical structure in the landscape, which builds on models of the previous century” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)
“In the Madonna and Child with S. Filippo Neri Batoni had as a model the work of Guido Reni the Virgin Mary with St. Philip at the Vallicella, and for the features of the saint, the study of the death mask (...). In this work the relationship between Batoni's painting and the great Roman classical school of the seventeenth century is perfected, filtered through a new accuracy and clarity of form already neoclassical” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)
Extraordinary “Back of naked woman” about 1740 by the Frenchman Pierre Subleyras (1699/1749)
“He painted one of the first female nudes from life ever, perhaps his wife, the miniaturist Maria Felice Tibaldi. The representation is intimate and spontaneous, the smooth curves of the body are made ​​from soft brushed with various shades, with a technique very forerunner and modern” (Official website of the Barberini Gallery -
“Portrait of Mrs. Carducci” and “Jupiter Kisses Ganymede” about 1759 by Anton Raphael Mengs (1728/79)
Jupiter kisses Ganymede is the famous ancient false which made Winckelmann so excited that he described it as “the most beautiful painting so far extant from antiquity”
Anton Raphael Mengs himself, only at the point of death, begged her sister to make the false public
“The portrait of Mrs. Carducci was executed by Mengs in a virtuoso and quick manner, managing anyway to render the expressiveness of the face of the portrayed, a certain air of melancholy and the depth of her look” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)
“The Portrait of Lady was attributed to Anton Raphael Mengs, teacher and brother-in-law of Von Maron (Von Maron had married Mengs' sister) and painter who was contending to Pompeo Batoni the first place as a painter of portraits immediately after the mid-century. This kind of portraiture, particularly in the way of making the expression of intent on the face of the lady in her official character, belongs to the ways of Mengs. Nevertheless, even if the two painters worked together for a long time, because of their close relationship, and Von Maron followed the pattern of Mengs in portraiture, inheriting also his customers, the two fundamental elements that would attribute the painting to the hand of Von Maron are the color of the skin, looking pale and porcelain-like, and the dating of the lady's hairdressing “(Steffi Röttgen)
“Portrait of Cardinal Francesco Landi” by Ludovico Stern (1709/77) son of Ignazio Stern (1679/1748)
“Ludovico was a versatile artist, a beautiful hand, extensive and updated artistic culture and full academic training. Oddly, compared to the customs of the Roman painting of the eighteenth century, he refused any specialism, competing with equal commitment and results just as brilliant in all types and genres of painting: from altarpieces to frescos, from history paintings to portraits, from still life to paintings of animals. His career, it seems, took place entirely in Rome and in fact his painting reveals a detailed knowledge of the Roman paintings of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. His constant reference points were, on one hand, the works of Guido Reni, of whom was often a copyist, on the other hand the so-called masters of the Baroque period, as Baciccio, Ludovico Gimignani, Borgognone, Carlo Maratta, Benedetto Luti” (Francesco Petrucci -
“Portrait of the painter Filippo Agricola” by Émile Jean Horace Vernet (1789/1863) one of the greatest French painters of the nineteenth century
“Filippo Agricola (1795/1857) was a well-known artist in Rome in the first half of the nineteenth century, a pupil of Gaspare Landi and Vincenzo Camuccini, he painted, among other things, the cartoons for the mosaics on the façade of the Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls. Agricola (...) was a painter essentially tied to traditional models and neoclassical forms. (...) Vernet, the artist who would describe in passionate tones the Napoleonic epic period and the exoticism of the Orient, shows in this painting, painted 'dal vero' (from life), as stated in the autograph, all characters of the romantic portrait” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)
“Birth of Venus” by Gaetano Lapis (1706/76)
“Pupil in Rome of Sebastiano Conca, Lapis was distinguished for an attitude toward a moderate classicism inspired by the painters from Bologna, which earned him the nickname of 'Carraccetto' (little Carracci). This painting is a sketch for a fresco located on the ground floor of the city palace of Princes Borghese in Campo Marzio, a work that Lanzi considers the masterpiece of this artist from Cagli, near Urbino. (...) The mythological theme is unusual: instead of Venus rising from the water, she is presented as a child on a shell to her father Jupiter flanked by Juno and Minerva. This is one of the very few secular subjects in the production of Lapis, which is underlined in the accentuation of a taste closer to neoclassicism, based on the recovery of antiquity, even if interpreted with balanced moderation by the old painter” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)
“Apollo and Daphne” by Pietro Angeletti (about 1737/98) sketch for the ceiling of the Room of Apollo and Daphne in the Borghese Gallery which houses the eponymous sculpture by Gian Lorenzo Bernini
Sketch “Test of the True Cross” by Giuseppe Cades (1750/99)

Monday, February 22, 2016


Room XXVIII - Painting in Rome in the Early 1700s

“Luti painted scenes of great miracles, as was then customary, but he underlined the nicely narrative tone, almost a historical document. The monumentality of the scene is scaled down by the soft and clear paint, typical of the rococo grace” (Official Web Site Barberini Gallery -
Four paintings “Allegory of the four parts of the world: Europe, Asia, Africa and America“ about 1709
Models for the mosaics in the spandrels of the vestibule of the Baptistry Chapel in the Basilica of St. Peter eventually executed only in the years 1724/26
The presence in the Baptistry Chapel of the representation of the four continents known at the time is symbolic of the desire on the part of the Catholic Church to spread throughout the world the saving power of the Sacrament of Baptism
“The Venetian Pietro Ottoboni (1667/1740) was a patron of artists, musicians and writers. (...) Despite the wealth of his office, his munificence was such to find himself burdened with debts incurred for his patronage. (...) He was also the chief patron and client of Trevisani, so much so that in 1698 he gave him accommodation in the Palace of the Chancellery and appointed him as his Primo Pittore (First Painter)” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)
Beautiful and sensual “Mary Magdalene” about 1725, represented here with almost theatrical flamboyance by Francesco Trevisani (1656/1746) from Istria
“Strong charge of monumentality, enhanced by the quite unusual framing, almost three quarters, which sheds light on both the face and the nude and sensual body of the saint, emerging from the shadows of the rocky background. (...) Pathetic yearning of theatrical taste, much appreciated by Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, Trevisani patron and protector of the Arcadia” (Anna Lo Bianco)
“The large portrait of the Quarantotti family, signed and dated 1756 on the pillar on the left, celebrated their son preacher in distant lands, surrounded by family members dressed in exotic way, in an atmosphere eccentric and suspended. The picture, in addition to expressing the spreading of passion for the Orient, is a polished piece of realism, anticipating Goya. But it's good to know that it was Goya himself, in his sojourn in Rome in 1770, to copy a Benefial work in his notebook, the Expulsion from Garden of Eden - shown here - clearly aware of the innovative power of the paintings by this artist” (Official website of the Barberini Gallery -
“The stories of Hercules and Omphale and of Pyramus and Thisbe are united by a reference to love as a passion that goes beyond human reason. They depict, in fact, Hercules ranking as a maid and giving his club, a symbol of virility, to the queen Omphale of Lydia, enslaved by love, and Thisbe who kills herself in front of the body of the beloved Pyramus, who, in turn, committed suicide believing that she had been torn by a wild beast” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)
Sketch for “St. Margaret of Cortona finds the corpse of her lover” in the Church of S. Maria in Aracoeli, all works by the great Roman painter Marco Benefial (1684/1764)
“The freshness of the sketch summarizes in a more immediate way than the finished painting the scene of the discovery (...) with the contrast between the pathetic attitude of the saint, the humorous note of the dog and the raw description of the corpse, boldly foreshortened and placed in foreground, featuring a detailed study of the nude, which in the final canvas will be hidden by the branches and not so obvious. The figures placed in relief with the use of light testify, among the numerous sources used by Benefial, even a study of the Caravaggio's followers” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)
“Miracle of St. Joseph of Copertino” by Placido Costanzi (1702/59)
In this curious scene the patron saint of test takers, accustomed to levitate during his ecstasies, heals the young nobleman Baldassarre Rossi who had gone crazy all of a sudden, grabbing him by the hair and lifting him off the ground with him
The philological accuracy in representing the clothes of the previous century is remarkable
“The sketch shows a remarkable fluidity and virtuosity of touch as evidence of a development process of the finished work, leading Mancini to give precedence to formal discipline over the urgency of pictorial expression, in a work of mental construction of the work that is to be found in other cases, of which the most famous is Canova, in the proto-neoclassical and neoclassical culture” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)
“Madonna reading” by the Frenchman Pierre Subleyras (1699/1749)
“Intimately engaged in the widespread movement of return to nature and antiquity, his noble but lively classicism was undoubtedly the most worthy of that label. Alien to the exaggerated gestures of Baroque characters, or to the excessive affectation of late Maratta taste, he was all aimed at a balanced composition and a conciseness of volumes, favoring the opposition of masses of color, always based on a few essential tones, with a predominance of large and picturesque expanses of white” (Giancarlo Sestieri)
Sketches for the oval commissioned by Pope Clement XI Albani (1700/21) in 1718 for the central nave of the Basilica of St. John Lateran
He commissioned eleven more ovals, all with prophets, to the leading painters in Rome at that time. Sebastiano Conca chose the version with the angel points to the cross
“Portrait of Sir Robert Clive, Baron of Plassey” 1766 by Anton von Maron (1733/1808)
“It wants to be a celebration of the high position of the English nobleman, governor of Bengal from 1757 to 1760, and is set in the tradition of the courtly portrait, but it also becomes a representation, of outstanding effect and unique in its kind, of British power in the colonies. The subjugation of the indigenous with turban, caught while the Governor is issuing rules, wants to allude to the civilizing role of the colonial power, while the curtains in the background hint at the military role of the governor. (...) He had a bitter fate: after his return to England he was subjected to a parliamentary inquiry into his conduct in the colonies. He managed to be acquitted of the charge of corruption, but he took his own life in 1774 for a depression caused by his opium's vice” (Lorenza Mochi Onori)
“Portrait of Count Niccolò Soderini” by the great Pompeo Batoni from Lucca (1708/87)
Count Soderini was the Tuscan consul in Rome and the dedicated patron of the Roman painter Marco Benefial

Thursday, February 18, 2016


Room XXVI - Baroque in Rome from Bernini to Maratta

“Transfiguration” and “Crucifixion” by Giovanni Lanfranco (1582/1647)
“Loth and his daughters” by Giacinto Brandi (1621/91)
“The Guardian Angel” 1656 and “Portrait of a man” by Pietro Berrettini aka Pietro da Cortona (1597/1669)
“Portrait of Maria Maddalena Rospigliosi” and large painting with full figure “St. John Evangelist” by Carlo Maratta (1625/1713)
“David with the Head of Goliath” about 1625 and “Urban VIII Barberini (1623/44)” about 1632 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598/1680)
“Bernini's paintings have tones far removed from those of officialdom: the liveliness of the gaze of the pontiff and the familiar tone of the portrait reveal the intimate relationship of confidence between the two great personalities. The David, inspired by the great sculpture of the Galleria Borghese, is considered to be a youthful self-portrait of the artist” (Official website of the Barberini Gallery -
“Pietà” 1667, “Portrait of Pope Clement IX Rospigliosi (1667/69)” and “Portrait of Gian Lorenzo Bernini” about 1673 by G.B. Gaulli said Baciccio (1639/1709)
Room XXVII - Plurality of languages between 1600s and 1700s: Tuscan, Genoese and Venetian painters

“Allegory of Fortune” about 1665 by Bernardino Mei (1612/76) from Siena
“Allegory of Fortune” 1664 by Giacinto Gimignani (1606/81)
“It alludes to the unequal fortune enjoyed by the ignorant, represented by the girl embraced the donkey, which refers to the culture Hercules, the symbol of virtue, restrained Envy, his head crowned with serpents” (Official website of the Barberini Gallery -
“Charity of St. Lawrence” about 1617 by the Genoese Bernardo Strozzi (1581/1644)
“Portrait of Tommaso Raggi and his son Ferdinando” by the Flemish artist Jan Roos aka Giovanni Rosa (1591/1638)
He moved to Genoa when he was twenty-three and remained there for the rest of his short life
“Portrait of Monsignor Ottaviano Prati” about 1650 by G.B. Salvi aka Sassoferrato (1609/85) from the Marche region

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Oval Room
Designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598/1680)
Prime example of a room designed for civilian use with elliptical transversal plan
In the four niches ancient sculptures “Palémon”, “Igeia”, “Hour” and “Athlete”
The busts in the upper part are of uncertain identification
“This room is peculiar expression of the climate of Neoplatonic speculation to which Cardinal Francesco Barberini adhered. He organized in this very hall meetings with distinguished scholars. From here, guests, exiting through the large doorway on the opposite side to the Hall of Pietro da Cortona, could enjoy the beauty of the private gardens” (Official website of the Barberini Gallery -
Room XXV - Painters in Naples from Ribera to Luca Giordano
“St. James” by Jusepe de Ribera aka Spagnoletto (1591/1652)
“Portrait of his wife Lucretia” about 1657, “Poetry” and “Music” by Salvator Rosa (1615/73)
“Having abandoned the sense of clarity and balanced tone of the first works, he later invented the genre of the fantastic view: landscapes with ruins with dark scenes of magic or alchemy. Inspired from iconographic and stylistic experiences of the Flemish and the Germans, the artist proposes unconventional subjects, polemic against the official culture and painting and expresses a taste of horror that alludes to a world in crisis” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
“Pietà” by Massimo Stanzione (1585/1656)
“His Caravaggio influence is more allied to that of Simon Vouet, Carlo Saraceni and Artemisia Gentileschi than that of G.B. Caracciolo and Ribera. In his best works that belong to the decade 1635/45, he exhibits a sharp sense for the refined chromatic values, melodic lines, figures built with grace as well as gentle and lyrical expressions. Stanzione became known as the Neapolitan Guido Reni” (Rudolf Wittkower)
“St. Peter and the centurion Cornelius” about 1647 and “Departure of Tobias” by Bernardo Cavallino (1616/about 1656)
“A pupil of Massimo Stanzione strongly influenced by Caravaggio and Artemisia Gentileschi, Cavallino made his best paintings in small format. His work is in a class by itself; great colorist, his tenderness, elegance, grace and finesse are unparalleled at this time” (Rudolf Wittkower)
“Aeneas and Anchises” about 1635, “The Dinner of the Rich Glutton” and “Resurrection of Lazarus” about 1655 by Mattia Preti (1613/99)
“With Enea and Anchises Preti shows to have gone beyond subjects suggested by the 'Manfredi methodus' i.e. interior scenes with players and musicians, where the Caravaggio matrix is evident (...) and chose a historical dimension of broad influence influenced by Poussin and by Vouet (Vodret 1999). The emergence of the group in diagonal from the shadows into the light (...) is as a powerful dramatic effect, stressing the ultimate meaning of history: the escape from a world in ruins towards a new destiny of salvation and glory” (Angela Negro)
“St. Onuphrius” by G.B. Caracciolo aka Battistello (1570/1637)
“He learned first the lesson of Caravaggio and initiated a renewal of the local language that gave birth to a new figurative school. He enriched his draughtsmanship culture of research in the use of light offering a personal capacity of reading Caravaggio's experience. If for Caravaggio light was the main component of the things themselves, for Battistello is a formal means to give vision to clear and statuesque forms” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
“Hermit follower of S. Bruno” by Aniello Falcone (1607/56)
“The Philosopher Crates” about 1559, “Self Portrait” and “Foreman” by Luca Giordano (1634/1705)