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Velazquez and Bernini: self-portraits on display at the Ancient Seat of the Money Changers’ Guild

Giugno 22, 2017 8:00 am - Ottobre 22, 2017 5:00 pm

In Perugia, at the National Gallery of Umbria, there is a remarkable collection of art that Valentino Martinelli donated to the Municipality of Perugia in 1999, the famous Roman scholar who held the chair of Mediaeval and Modern Art History at the University of Perugia from 1962 to 1975.

Included in this collection, entirely dedicated to Baroque art (a field of study widely cultivated by Martinelli), there are three portraits, interesting variations of Velazquez’s Self-portrait in the Capitoline Art Gallery of Rome, but at the same time re-proposes Bernini’s pictorial taste. To pay homage to the figure of Martinelli and reopen one of the many issues that have fascinated (starting with Martinelli himself) and still fascinate Bernini’s critics, the Money Changers’ Guild will bring together nine works that have in common a logical and coherent thread.

Of the three works housed in the National Gallery of Umbria, the first, considered by the same Martinelli by Carlo Pellegrini from Carera, a pupil of Gianlorenzo Bernini who died in 1649, has a decidedly high quality and demonstrates the good fortune that Velazquez’s Self-portrait in the Capitoline Art Gallery met in Bernini’s cycle.

The second by an anonymous Roman painter from the mid-seventeenth century, confirms the fortune and diffusion of Velazquez’s model, in this case reproduced with extreme fidelity. The third is a beautiful reinterpretation of the Capitoline painting of 1876 by the Venetian painter Luigi Quarena. The three works from the Martinelli Collection will be displayed alongside Velazquez’s Self-portrait in the Capitoline Art Gallery.

This is a way to relaunch the debate on the relationships and reciprocal influences between Bernini and Velazquez who may have met (and frequented) on the Spanish master’s first journey to Italy, in 1629-1630 (Velazquez’s second journey to Italy was in 1650).

Regarding this Tomaso Montanari writes (2007): “It is not easy to establish on which side the balance of giving and receiving in the relationship between these two artists lies, peers and equally great. It is without doubt at this stage how Velazquez still has to learn, from the stylistic point of view, from his Italian colleague. It is probably the knowledge of Bernini’s portraits that leads the Spaniard towards a vital and present cut of the half-figures (a problem that Bernini has already brilliantly solved in the marble busts)…

But at the same time, Bernini understands, thanks to Velazquez, how to turn his self-portraits from an exterior representation of life and movement, to an acute and melancholy meditation upon his own interiority. The Italian, who observed his model in movement and activity to steal his physical individuality, now finds himself learning from the Spaniard, who forced his model to exhausting hours of pose in which to fathom his psychological essence. It will be a lesson that modifies Bernini’s portraiture forever, and soon a shadow of melancholy will cloud the portraits of Urban VIII, as already those of Phillip IV”.

To thoroughly evaluate Velazquez’s influence over Bernini (it was Martinelli himself who wrote “it is the knowledge of Velazquez’s portraits that allowed Bernini to overcome the Venetian chromaticism of a Sacchi and the compromises of a Poussin, and to solve those problems of volume and light that Lanfranco and Guercino had already proposed him”), alongside the “Martinelli triptych” and the Capitoline prototype, Bernini’s half-length self-portrait and Velazquez’s Self-portrait will also be exhibited at the Uffizi Gallery.

As evidence of the great success of Bernini’s prototypes (inspired in turn by Velazquezian dictation) The Self-portrait from the Prado Museum will also be included (that Tomaso Montanari considers to be by an anonymous follower of Bernini – according to Martinelli an “unfinished” piece by Gianlorenzo) and the Self-portrait of Musée Fabre of Montpellier (also considered by Montanari to be by an anonymous follower of Bernini – according to Martinelli “perhaps by Bernini”).

Also on display will be the beautiful Self-portrait of Gian Lorenzo Bernini while drawing, from the Koelliker Collection in Milan.


Giugno 22, 2017 8:00 am
Ottobre 22, 2017 5:00 pm
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