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Italian Old Masters from Bergamo, Bologna & Florence – Three Current Exhibitions in New York

May 24, 2012

Installation shot of “Seicento Fiorentino: Sacred and Profane Allegories” – (left to right): Rinaldo Restraining Armida by Simone Pignoni and Nativity by Jacopo Vignali.

Within a handful of blocks on New York’s Upper East Side there’s several centuries of Italian art to be explored and enjoyed.

On East 80th, Moretti are showing an assortment of Seicento Florentine paintings and one sculpture, a mixed bag for this viewer, though Simone Pignoni’s Rinaldo Restraining Armida is well worth the trip; but hurry the exhibition closes Friday, May 25. Other highlights include Ottavio Vaninni’s Susannah at her Bath with Handmaidens and Carlo Dolci’s The Guardian Angel.

Installation shot of “Seicento Fiorentino: Sacred and Profane Allegories” – (left to right): Hercules and the Centaur by Giovan Battista Foggini; Susanna at her Bath with Handmaidens by Ottavio Vaninni; and, The Prank of Piovano Arlotto by Jacopo Vignali.

The Guardian Angel by Carlo Dolci.

A block away at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a roomful of pictures on loan from the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo.  The Accademia was founded in 1780 by Count Giacomo Carrara and houses an exceptional collection of works, so it must have been very difficult to narrow down the selection to fifteen paintings.  One strong suit of the Accademia’s collection is a series of portraits by Giovanni Battista Moroni, represented in the Met exhibition by the striking Portrait of a Twenty-Nine-Year-Old Man from 1567. Also arresting is Giovanni Cariani’s portrait of Giovanni Benedetto Caravaggi from 1517-1520. Strongly Venetian in style, the painting captures the sitter in a serenely contemplative moment.  The talented and idiosyncratic Lorenzo Lotto, who created several altar paintings in Bergamo, is represented by four works, including three predella panels from his first major work in the city.  Below is The Stoning of Saint Stephen, a startling contrast of violence and casual relaxation.  Figures at right pummel the Saint with stones, while two guards (left) lounge like models taking a break from a photo shoot.  Bergognone (Ambrogio di Stefano da Fossano), is represented by two very different and very intriguing paintings – a Madonna and Child (that could easily have inspired many a 19th century pre-Raphaelite), and a splendid predella panel depicting Saint Ambrose refusing to allow Emperor Theodosius entrance to a church unless he repents for earlier acts of violence.  The static composition, a row of eight figures is animated by subtle glances and gestures, and richly detailed attire.

Giovanni Battista Moroni (Italian, Albino, no later than 1524–1578 Albino), Portrait of a Twenty-Nine-Year-Old Man (1567), oil on canvas: 22 3/8 x 17 1/2 in. (56.9 x 44.4 cm). Accademia Carrara, Bergamo, Guglielmo Lochis Collection, 1866

Giovanni Cariani (Giovanni Busi) (Italian, San Giovanni Bianco ca. 1485–after 1547 Venice), Giovanni Benedetto Caravaggi (1517-1520), oil on canvas: 32 5/16 x 32 5/16 in. (82 x 82 cm). Accademia Carrara, Bergamo. Guglielmo Lochis Collection, 1866.

Lorenzo Lotto (Italian, Venice ca. 1480–1556 Loreto), The Stoning of Saint Stephen (1513–16), Oil on wood: 20 3/16 x 38 1/4 in. (51.2 x 97.1 cm). Accademia Carrara, Bergamo. Acquired from the Church of San Bartolomeo, Bergamo, 1893.

Bergognone (Ambrogio di Stefano da Fossano) (Italian, Milan ca. 1453–1523 Milan), Madonna and Child (Madonna del Latte) (c.1485). Oil and tempera on wood: 18 1/8 x 11 7/16 in. (46 x 29 cm). Accademia Carrara, Bergamo, Guglielmo Lochis Collection, 1866.

Finally, Paris’ Galerie Canesso has installed a group of 16th and 17th century Bolognese paintings at Didier Aaron‘s second floor galleries on East 67th Street.  Among the more unusual is the Giovanni Andrea Donducci, called Il Mastelletta, painting ‘Fete Champetre’ by a Riverbank, that looks like a Dosso Dossi whose paint has begun to run.  The more heroically scaled works include Aureliano Milani’s The Combat of Aeneas and Turnus and Simone Peterzano’s Angelica and Medoro. The notable new discovery is Guido Reni’s Saint Jerome, while the strangest work is Bernardino Campi’s campy Venus, Eros and Anteros.

Giovanni Andrea Donducci, called Il Mastelletta (1575 Bologna 1655) ‘Fete champetre’ by a Riverbank. Oil on canvas, 39 x 471⁄16 in. (99 x 120.5 cm).

Aureliano Milani (1675 Bologna 1749), The Combat of Aeneas and Turnus. Oil on canvas, 67 x 52 in. (171.5 x 133.3 cm). Signed and dated at center right on temple pediment “aureliano milani. m.dccviii”

Simone Peterzano (Bergamo 1535 – Milan 1599 ), Angelica and Medoro, Oil on canvas, 61 x 76 3/8 In.

Guido Reni (1575 Bologna 1642), Saint Jerome. Oil on canvas, 25-5⁄8 x 19-3⁄4 in. (65 x 50 cm).

Bernardino Campi (Reggio Emilia, 1522 – 1591), Venus, Eros and Anteros. Oil on wood panel, 9 7/8 x 7 7/8 in (25 x 20 cm)

Installation shot of “A Selection of 16th and 17th Century Bolognese Paintings from Galerie Canesso, Paris” – (left to right): Aureliano Milani, The Combat of Aeneas and Turnus and Guido Reni, Saint Jerome.

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