Self-portrait of Frans Floris and William Key with Tito, Caio and Vitellius
Frans Floris; William Key
Oil on the table
Frans Floris' work is among the most enigmatic in the Valsecchi collection. The panel is painted on both sides: on the side that was intended to be seen, the Flemish painter self-portrayed himself together with William Key, a fellow student of the Académie Lombard in Liège and three Roman emperors: Titus, Caio and Vitellius. However, the five men are also "connoisseurs" of antiquity: they open a box containing fragments of Roman sculptures, such as the Medici Venus or the Horse's Head. A mechanism still existing in the frame allowed to turn the table and see the back: here a Battle of the elderly seems inspired by the prints taken from the frescoes by Rosso Fiorentino in Fontainebleau. Floris had been in Rome in 1535 and in Liège, under the leadership of Lambert Lombard, he was the most promising of the Flemish 'young rebels' who believed in a renewal of painting on the basis of exchanges with the ancient. This remote dialogue with the Roman world, in which ancient and contemporary happily overlap, is now exhibited in the library of Palazzo Butera, in an installation designed by Giovanni Cappelletti that allows you to see both sides of the work.