«I am in love with Murillo's Virgin in the Corsini Gallery.
Her head follows me everywhere and her eyes keep appearing in front of me like dancing lanterns»
Gustave Flaubert, May 4, 1851
The Gallerie Nazionali di Arte Antica, in Palazzo Barberini, present to the public the Madonna del latte (the nursing Madonna), the masterpiece by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, displayed for the first time after a careful restoration.
Defined, in 1892, the "Gypsy Madonna" by the German historian Carl Justi, the Spanish painter's work, stylistically datable around 1670-1675, is one of the most admired in the Corsini Gallery. Cardinal Neri Maria Corsini (1685-1770), amazed by the visual impact of the painting, included it in his private collection. He placed the artwork in the Alcove Room - just in front of his bed - an intimate and private place in his apartment.
Thanks to the expressive power of the two protagonists and Murillo's ability to make his subjects modern and "alive", the work had a strong impact on the 19th-century imagination. The famous Gustave Flaubert, so fascinated by the figure of the Virgin, in a letter describes her eyes as "dancing lanterns".
The restoration operations brought to light the splendour of the work, revealing its hidden history, secrets, details. Minute and precious details have been rediscovered, among them the small buds of the plant behind Maria and the delicate chromatic transitions of the clothing and the sky. Scientific investigations have made it possible to deepen the painter's technique and the pigments he used - such as the blue of Maria's mantle, bright in the areas in lapis lazuli and definitively changed in the ones in enamel. Besides, for the first time, a complete radiograph of the painting was realised, now on display. It made it possible to identify a kneeling St. Francis in a landscape below the current pictorial layer. This first draft, carried out to an advanced state of finishing touches, was then abandoned by the artist. He reused the canvas by painting over the saint without further preparation and even reusing some parts of it.
The restoration was realised thanks to the earnings of the sale of Civitas Wine, promoted by the Civita Association in collaboration with Tenuta Caparzo di Montalcino. It was executed by the Restoration Laboratory of Gallerie Nazionali di Arte Antica - directed by Chiara Merucci - and was carried out by Alessandra Percoco (canvas) and Vega Santodonato (frame), with the scientific direction of Alessandro Cosma.
Dal 19 maggio al 11 luglio 2021
Dal martedì alla domenica ore 10.00 – 18.00; ultimo ingresso ore 17.00
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