Curated by: Mariastella Margozzi, Laura Salerno, Michele Occhioni
For about a year, Castel Sant'Angelo has undergone extraordinary maintenance work necessary to restore decor and luster to one of the most significant monuments of Rome, with a view to making its variegated and complex environments, its variegated and complex environments more concrete, visible and enjoyable. precious sixteenth-century decoration and the collections of paintings, furnishings and historical weapons, mostly in the deposits until now. The Sala Paolina and the so-called Library, already usable with the new suggestive lighting, have recently been affected by a new lighting project. Soon the so-called "Lower Armory" will also be, where the iconographic history of the Castle will be told permanently, and the other "Farnese" rooms next to the Pauline (Perseus and Cupid and Psyche) and next to the Library (Adrianeo and Festoni, Cagliostra), where renovations are underway, made necessary to improve the museum offer.
While waiting to rearrange the works of the collections of the National Museum of Castel Sant'Angelo (established in 1925) in the rooms originally intended for them, it was therefore decided to create a temporary exhibition, which would propose them to the public according to a new exhibition perspective and which makes them understand the extraordinary variety.
The exhibition, curated by Mariastella Margozzi, Laura Salerno and Michele Occhioni, aims to enhance and give new light to little-known works, despite their indisputable value, hidden from the attention they deserve and removed from viewing because they are largely kept in the deposits. of the Castle. Many of the exhibited pieces are not connected to the history of Castel Sant'Angelo which at the time of the establishment of the Museum was found mostly devoid of ornamental furniture and picture galleries, also considering the different functions that took place previously, such as that of prison and barracks.
The collection of paintings and furnishings that we admire today is the result of the synthesis of two distinct donations, that of the Roman collector and art dealer Mario Menotti in 1916 and that of the Florentine family Contini Bonacossi in 1928, favored by the will of General Mariano Borgatti, then director of the Castle, who deserves credit (in addition to having planned, programmed and carried out a significant restoration campaign extended to a large part of the monument) for having wanted to transform it into a container of historical and artistic content. The various origins and the full-bodied miscellany of collected material, which reflects the taste of the donors, but also of the art market of the period, is reflected in the chronological succession of the works on display. In this sense, for example, the overabundance of works from the Venetian school is evident, a geographical area to which Mario Menotti's taste particularly referred. Alessandro Contini Bonacossi, on the other hand, an art dealer as well as a collector, availing himself of the advice of the then young art historian Roberto Longhi, had bought together with his wife Vittoria many works in Italy, some of which were donated to the Castel Museum. Sant'Angelo to counteract his reputation as a seller of Italian works of art abroad and by acquiring that of an enlightened patron. For this donation the Contini Bonacossi spouses obtained the noble title of counts. Another donation was made by Alessandro Contini Bonacossi in 1939 in favor of the Uffizi Museum in Florence.