“The smartest brain the art of painting ever had.” This was the pretty assertive definition of Tintoretto given by Italy’s first art historian, Giorgio Vasari. And it’s already a good reason to see what his canvases were like in the exhibit at Scuderie del Quirinale running until June 10.
Jacopo Robusti also known as Tintoretto, one the key figures of Italian painting in the 16th century, mostly lived and worked in Venice and this is where most of his works come from: venetian churches and museums. And that’s why it took three quartes of a century to set up a monographic exhibit of his works out of Venice!
His style was innovative, bold and realistic, very different from the classic and definite order represented by Renaissance art. He made a great use of light and his characters were anguished and feverish. The structure of his works is like that of a movie set or a theatre stage, with many unprecedented cuts and perspectives. His paint brushes are quick as much as the colours are extreme.
He was such a big talent that his master, Titian, was so afraid of him that he had to kick him off of his school/workshop!
The showing, by Italy’s most controversial art critic Vittorio Sgarbi, will display his best portraits, the mythology-inspired works and the religious ones, the three main themes of his artistic production.
Rome is now also hosting another painting exhibit of a big Northern Italian painter. It’s the 17th century and the artist is Guercino, from Cento, a city not far from Bologna. And this is where many of the works on display originate from, as well as Rome, where he spent a very important part of his life at the service of Pope Gregory XV.
Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, aka Guercino, one of the major Italian painters of his time, is famous for his blue skyes and the way he represented rainstorms.
The exhibit, running until April 29, sets out very clearly the three different stages of his career: the start, his stint in Rome, his return to Cento.
He was more affected by the Carracci classicist school, and its strong link with Raphael and Michelangelo, than by Caravaggio’s revolution.
However we love Caravaggio, this showing will help you understand that Italy’s 17th century painting is not only Michelangelo Merisi!
This exhibit is also a good occasion to visit the recently renovated National Gallery of Ancient Art which showcases (mostly Italian) paintings from the middle age to the 18th century. But there is more than just canvases: you also have Borromini’s architectural wonder of the helicodial staircase.
Tintoretto and Guercino, two original choices if you think that Italian painting of their respective times was more than Titian and Caravaggio….