Thirty years after the great monographic exhibition in 1989, Palazzo Te again celebrates the genius of Giulio Romano with the exhibition Giulio Romano: Art and Desire, from 6 October 2019 to 6 January 2020.
The exhibition, curated by Barbara Furlotti, Guido Rebecchini and Linda Wolk-Simon, is an integral part of the program of exhibitions and events Giulio Romano is Palazzo Te (September 2019 – June 2020), promoted by the Fondazione Palazzo Te and the Municipality of Mantua, organized and produced with Electa publishing house.
The exhibition explores the relationship between the erotic images from the classical world and figurative inventions produced in the first half of the 16th century in Italy. Focusing on Giulio Romano's output, the exhibition itinerary highlights the widespread dissemination of an immense repertoire of erotic images in 16th-century artistic culture and reveals the influences existing between high culture and low culture in the production of such images.
Workshop of Willem de Pannemaker: Aglauros's Vision of the Bridal Chamber of Herse, c. 1540
Tapestry in wool and silk, mm. 4369 x 5410, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, bequest of George Blumenthal, © Archivio Scala Group, Antella / © 2019. Image copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Art Resource / Scala, Firenze
The exquisite objects on display come from twenty institutions in Italy and abroad, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Hermitage in San Petersburg, the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the British Museum in London, the Rjiksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Galleria Borghese in Rome, and the Galleria degli Uffizi and Museo del Bargello in Florence. They bring out the playful, inventive and at times subversive character of these artistic inventions and reveal the flexibility of the erotic theme in works ranging from drawings to paintings, sculptures, engravings, maiolica and tapestries.
The theme of the exhibition, enabling the public to explore a relatively little-known aspect of Renaissance art, is closely entwined with the setting. Erotic subjects and love stories are recurrent in the rooms of Palazzo Te, Giulio Romano's undisputed artistic masterpiece.
The exhibition layout opens with the theatrical presentation of the figure of Venus in an ancient marble, formerly owned by Giulio Romano, which he presented to Federico Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua.
The work exhibited reveals that ancient sculpture had a fundamental influence on the imagination of artists active in 16th-century Rome, in particular Raphael and Giulio Romano, and stimulated them to create new works with an overtly sensuous character.
The first section illustrates Giulio's youthful output at the time when he was active in Raphael's workshop, and in particular his contribution to the decoration of Cardinal Bibbiena's stufetta in the Vatican Palace (1515-1516), and the Loggia of Psyche in Villa Farnesina, Rome.
The second section is dedicated to I Modi, a set of 16 pornographic images, probably inspired by ancient sources, which were drawn by Giulio Romano, engraved by Marcantonio Raimondi and accompanied by licentious sonnets composed by Pietro Aretino.
The section entitled Art and Seduction presents an ancient and particularly faithful copy of Raphael's Fornarina, probably painted by Raffaellino del Colle, a collaborator of Giulio Romano, and Giulio's own portrait of A courtesan, again inspired by Raphael’s celebrated erotic portrait.
There follows the room devoted to the loves of the gods. With drawings and engravings, it shows the great success with collectors enjoyed by erotic subjects in the 16th century, when they were presented in the more acceptable guise of mythological tales and justified as translations into images of literary and poetic inventions.
The fifth section is the heart of the exhibition. It features the monumental painting by Giulio Romano entitled The Two Lovers, now in the Hermitage, which may have been painted shortly before the artist's arrival in Mantua, in 1524, and brought to the city of the Gonzagas as a gift for the Marquis Federico. The painting is flanked by two works of exceptional artistic importance, related to The Two Lovers by subject and chronology: a tapestry – spectacular by its size and the preciousness of the materials – of Mercury and Herse, inspired by a painting by Raphael for Villa Farnesina, on loan from Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) and a refined cartoon of large dimensions from the Louvre depicting Jupiter and Danae, by Perino del Vaga (another collaborator of Raphael), which must have served as a model for a tapestry (now lost) made on commission for Andrea Doria, from a series devoted to the secret loves of Jupiter.
The theme of the secret loves of Jupiter returns in the last room of the exhibition. Here a large cartoon depicting the love of Jupiter and Leda, inspired by an invention by Michelangelo, and the sensuous Danae by Correggio, commissioned by Federico Gonzaga in 1530-1532, show how 16th-century artists experimented with erotic subjects in competition with the school of Raphael.
The exhibition design will be by Lissoni Associati.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue published by Electa.
Closed on 25 December
Ticket sales end one hour before closing
Besides the exhibition's ticket office, tickets can be purchased also online at VivaTicketbuy ticket
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Mantua: City of Giulio Romano
September 2019 - June 2020
Copyright © 2019 - Mondadori Electa. All Rights Reserved
Giulio Romano Mantova.
01 Settembre 2019 al 30 Giugno 2020.