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Italy through the eyes of the artists

creato da Elena Guarneri ultima modifica 20/06/2008 15:14

An important exhibition in the heart of Genoa takes us through five centuries of travelling through Italy.

RubensAn important exhibition at Genoa's Palazzo Ducale traces five centuries of travel through Italy. The show, aptly named Journey through Italy includes paintings, manuscripts, letters, statues as well as the personal effects of the many writers, poets and artists who forged a deep bond with our country, telling stories of the countryside, from the courts, of love and life itself.
Journey through Italy is much more than an exhibition, it's a kaleidoscope of history, art and poetry that dates back to the opulent Renaissance courts, to great dynasties such as the Este, Gonzaga and Medici families, who come to life in the brushstrokes of masters such as Titian, Tintoretto, Raphael, and Michelangelo, or through the verses of wordsmiths the like of Machiavelli, Ariosto and Tasso. And this is merely the beginning. . .

The Genoa of yesteryear
The dark walls of the Palazzo Ducale are a perfect backdrop to the intense colours of the paintings. Red is the predominant colour, the red of the Flemish School of painting which lived some of its finest hours here, in Genoa. Genoa -the Haughty as it's also known - that welcomed Rubens, who, after his period in Mantua, was engaged in the service of the Spinola family. Rubens depicted the Lantern City (another of Genoa's many names) through his portraits of its eminent citizens (Nicolò Pallavicino, Giovanni Carlo Doria and Ambrogio Spinola, to name a few) as well as his studies of its finest buildings.
We are thrown back into the vibrant life of the 16th and 17th centuries through the magnificent collection of paintings of the then city centre (look out for Sebastian Vranckx's oil painting of 'Piazza Banchi'), the dry docks, and merchant life as well as the watercolour engravings of Genoa's Fortress and Jesuit Church without forgetting Velazquez's magnificent oils.

A roomful of Italy
They're all here - from Rubens to Van Dyck, and Montesquieu's recollections of his journeys to Turin, Milan and Bologna to Guido Reni's wonderful rendition of Saint Sebastian.
Be warned. A visit to this exhibition could reduce you to the state of Stendhal, who was so overwhelmed by the magnificence of Florence that he was unable to walk for faintness. There's barely time for the visitor to acknowledge the Marquis De Sade's homage to Florence, or Winckelmann's perception of Rome, or Goethe's Naples, with its soul "teeming with joy, freedom and life…". Then there's Vanvitelli's landscapes and Vincenzo Cammarano's Pulcinella (Punch) lest we forget that Italy "is a country of players" (Charles de Brosses).
On we go towards Segesta's temple and Syracuse's magnificent Greek theatre, hung beside Jakob Philipp Hackert's more restrained visions of Sicily. It's time to cross through centuries and borders until we reach the Naples of Stendhal, and the opening of the opera season in Teatro San Carlo - and further north to Rome where Canova's plaster casts reproduce the beauty of Paolina Borghese. Shelley brings us back to Liguria ("Shelley's funeral was held on Viareggio's beach", Louis-Edouard Fournier), and to Genoa herself with two other illustrious Englishmen: William Turner and Charles Dickens. Dickens said of his stay: "During the summer evenings the Genoese like to cool down wherever there's a little space. They buzz around the narrow backstreets, up and down steps, just as a bee does if left to himself."

But now, unfortunately we must leave the past behind and throw ourselves into the Genoa of today, losing ourselves in its winding alleys and unchartered streets.

Journey through Italy - - All you need to know about the exhibition

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