The exhibition presents the great names in Italian painting, from the 14th to the 17th century, rediscovered by one of the major figures in the history of Italian art, Roberto Longhi (1889/1890-1970). Giotto, Masaccio, Masolino, Piero della Francesca, Ribera, and Caravaggio are among the leading artists highlighting the exhibition. Alongside the works from the Roberto Longhi Foundation, presented for the first time in France, will be works loaned by the biggest French and Italian museums. This exhibition is an unprecedented dialogue between a great connoisseur and his artistic passions.
The exhibition commences with a section devoted to the works of Caravaggio including the celebrated Boy bitten by a lizard from the Roberto Longhi Foundation. An emblematic artist and the main subject of Roberto Longhi’s studies, Caravaggio revolutionised 17th century Italian painting with his powerful and naturalistic paintings, marked by pronounced effects of chiaroscuro (light and shade). Two other works by Caravaggio are exceptionally reunited with the Boy bitten by a lizard: The Crowning with thorns from the Collezione Banca Popolare di Vicenza, and The sleeping Cupid from the Galleria Palatina.
In keeping with Roberto Longhi’s approach, the exhibition will compare the works of Caravaggio and those of his imitators, showing the influence of this artist’s themes and style on his contemporaries, first in Italy and then throughout Europe. The figures of Christ painted by his immediate successors are followed by the biblical scenes of Carlo Saraceni (circa 1579-1620), Mattia Preti and Matthias Stomer, and by the striking apostles of Jusepe Ribera.
Several masterpieces of Italian primitive art also recall the way in which Roberto Longhi was able to offer a fresh look at these masters of the Renaissance avant-garde: the exhibition will bring together four major paintings by Giotto, Masolino, Masaccio and Piero della Francesca, artists who are rarely on display in France.
This is an intense journey that reveals some of the key moments of Italian art thanks to the insight provided by Roberto Longhi. A scholarly and passionate man, he was the personification of Erwin Panofsky’s definition of a "connoisseur".