The Borghese Gallery presents a suggestive exhibition dedicated to the invention of painting on stone, inspired by Sebastiano del Piombo. The great Venetian painter began to paint on more resistant supports than the canvas following the loss of numerous works of art during the Sack of Rome in 1527.
Over 60 works from Italian and foreign museums and remarkable private collections are on display. The exhibition focuses on the ambition for the eternity of works of art, the comparison between sculpture and painting, ancient materials and their passage from mines to artists' workshops, up to the splendid collections of palaces and villas.
Curated by Francesca Cappelletti and Patrizia Cavazzini, the exhibition path winds through eight sections, starting from The painted stone and its inventor. It includes works such as the Portrait of Filippo Strozzi (1550 c.) by Francesco Salviati, on African marble; that of Cosimo de Medici (c. 1560) attributed to Bronzino, on red porphyry, and the Portrait of Pope Clement VII with a Beard (c. 1531) by Sebastiano del Piombo.
In the section A Devotion Eternal as Marble we can admire works dedicated to images to which a magical protective power was attributed. Among them are the Adoration of the Magi (1600 - 1620) on alabaster by Antonio Tempesta; the Madonna with the Child and St. Francis (1605 c.) by Antonio Carracci on copper and paintings on alabaster, slate and marble by Carlo Saraceni, Orazio Gentileschi, Cavalier d'Arpino. Next is a small part dedicated to Venus and her Heroines. Here are three images of Hebe, Lucretia and Cleopatra (two of which are on slate) from the first half of the 16th century by the Tuscan painter Leonardo Grazia.
In Ancient and Allegory, we find works on marble, slate and touchstone dedicated to poetry, such as the Andromeda by Cavalier d’Arpino and Inferno with mythological episodes by Vincenzo Mannozzi. A Night as Black as Stone includes paintings on dark stones - touchstone, slate or Belgian marble - on which the golden finishes stand out. Painting with stone/Landscapes and Architectures and Precious and Coloured Stones sections show how the backdrops of the paesina stone and precious supports (such as lapis lazuli) "eternalize" the work of art. These materials enhance the painting numerous nuances by the hand of the artists, often of Florentine training like Antonio Tempesta.
The presence of coloured stones in the Roman aristocratic collections is testified by objects - small altars, cabinets and clocks - with complex shapes and decorated with small sculptures, reliefs and paintings. On display are also Borghese collection artworks, such as the Roman semiprecious stone table in Room XIV and the Tabernacle in the Chapel. The path is enriched by the Gallery splendid statues with polychrome inserts, compared with the ancient coloured marbles, already a concept of the collection of the cardinal and his court.
Image: Antonio Tempesta, La presa di Gerusalemme, oil on paesina stone, 24 x 37 cm, Galleria Borghese, Roma - Galleria Borghese Official Website
From 25 October 2022 to 29 January 2023
from Tuesday to Sunday from 9 to 19
closed on Mondays, January 1st and December 25th