Lecture by Claudio Strinati at Palazzo Collicola

Giving continuity to the dialogues on art held at Palazzo Collicola during 2019, and after those dedicated to Leoncillo, Nagasawa and Michelangelo Pistoletto, Friday October 25 at 5.30 pm it is the turn of art historian Claudio Strinati to animate the constant exchange between ancient art and modernity.

This time the lens are on a 17th-century still life that is preserved at Palazzo Collicola’s Noble Apartment.

It is a painting that is mostly attributed to Maestro di Hartford, the first mysterious Still Lifes painter in Rome at the time of Caravaggio, identified by some scholars with Caravaggio himself (but this thesis is now considered groundless); the painting is undoubtedly the work by an artist who must have been very close to Caravaggio and who absorbed his very principle of powerful Light-Shadow contrasts.

The intent is to tell the story of light and shadow in Caravaggio’s painting, starting from this painting, which will be brought to the Conference room and properly lit.

It all starts with an episode in 1606.

Following a tax inspection, the Court of Rome condemns the famous painter and trader of paintings Giuseppe Cesari, a.k.a. Cavalier d ‘Arpino, to a very heavy fine and to the seizure of the shop in which he worked.

In the shop there were both his paintings and paintings that he kept for sale, paintings for the most part by his students and also by students of other shops that were affiliated with his. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was also one of these students at the Cavalier d ‘Arpino workshop. Thus, when the tax inspector went into the studio-shop and proceeded to seize all the works contained (which were then handed over to the cardinal Secretary of State Scipione Borghese, nephew of the reigning Pope Paul V who kept them and made it the nucleus of that which is the Borghese Gallery today), also seized a series of paintings by Merisi.

Among these paintings there were several whose authors Cavalier of Arpino did not disclose. Therefore, the tax inspector registered various Still Lifes by describing them briefly, without mentioning author names. One of them ended up at the Borghese Gallery and is an amazing masterpiece of flowers and fruit already based on the idea of the contrast between the light that shapes the images and the darkness in which the environment where the images are placed is immersed.

Another one, with the representation of flowers, fruits and two carafes of water and wine, was purchased at the beginning of the 20th century by the Museum of Hartford in America and the hand that painted the two paintings (Galleria Borghese and Hartford) for many scholars is the same. The mysterious painter, akin to Caravaggio, was thus named by art historians Maestro di Hartford.

The lecture reconstructs this historical, artistic “case” through a reconnaissance that ranges from readings of the time (excerpts from Mancini, from Baglione, and from Giustiniani), musical listening (a passage from Rappresentazione di anima e di corpo by Emilio de’ Cavalieri performed in Rome in 1600, two months before the burning of Giordano Bruno, that Caravaggio witnessed), and comparisons in a series of numerous images of works by Caravaggio and his innumerable followers, all compared with the Still Life of Spoleto.

The story begins with the Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper and ends with the activity of Artemisia Gentileschi, a Still Life devotee who followed the teaching of Maestro di Hartford, whom in the end we’ll try to identify with a precise painter.

The event, curated by Claudio Strinati, is organised with the collaboration of Federico Strinati.

Claudio Strinati was born in 1948 in Rome where he graduated in Literature with a specialization in art history in 1970. He would later complete all the grades of his career as an art historian at the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, ending his service in 2013 (after being Special Superintendent for the Roman Museum Pole and then General Manager between 2001 and 2009). He is one of the greatest connoisseurs of Italian 17th-century art and has dealt with almost all the greatest artists of that time, from Caravaggio, Guido Reni, Domenichino, Lanfranco, Sacchi, Pietro da Cortona, Borromini, Bernini, Mattia Preti, Luca Giordano, Baciccio, Pozzo. He conceived the exhibition on Caravaggio at the Scuderie del Quirinale in 2010, that enjoyed huge critical acclaim and was one of the most popular exhibitions ever in our country with over 580,000 visitors. For his book The Craft of the Artist (Sellerio 2014) he was awarded the Premio Capalbio 2014. He also published a large monograph on Raffaello, published by Scripta Maneant, Bologna 2016, translated into French and English.

He is currently serving at the administration board of the National Galleries of Ancient Art in Rome. For his activity as organizer of important exhibitions in France (the most recent being Les Borgia et leur temps at the Maillol Museum in Paris 2014-15) he obtained the Legion d’Honor. He is Academic Cultor of the National Academy of San Luca, Scientific Director of the Fondazione Sorgente Group for art and culture, collaborator of the Theatre of Rome in the activities dedicated to art, collaborator of the Auditorium-Parco della Musica in Rome, of Radio Rai 3 and Rai5 and is part of the Scientific Committee of the magazine Art & Dossier. He is currently President of the Dialogues Society, founded with Federico Strinati in 2015.

Dialogues – Telling the Art is a company founded by Claudio and Federico Strinati and dedicated to cultural dissemination. It deals with the production and co-production of art exhibitions, designing cultural events, museum exhibits, curating and writing editorial works and creating thematic audiovisuals for television and cinema. Active since 2015, it features collaborations with the most important actors from the world of art in Italy and abroad. Among the most recent once we remember the writing of the films “Caravaggio, the soul and the blood” and “Michelangelo infinite” realized with Sky Cinema, the realization of the corporate-movie and the curating of the Exhibition “Il Mito di Ercole” with the Venaria Reale of Turin, the executive production of the exhibition “Caravaggio, Manara” at the Contemporary Art Gallery of Arezzo.

Info on www.dialoguesarte.com and www.facebook.com/dialoguesarte

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