Curated by: Maria Cristina Terzaghi
The National Galleries of Ancient Art present the exhibition Caravaggio and Artemisia: the challenge of Judith from 26 November 2021 to 27 March 2022. Violence and seduction in painting between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, curated by Maria Cristina Terzaghi.
The exhibition, hosted in the exhibition space of Palazzo Barberini, turns the spotlight on the famous painting by Caravaggio seventy years after its rediscovery and fifty years after its acquisition by the Italian State.
Two anniversaries that “it is very important to celebrate”, underlines Flaminia Gennari Santori, director of the National Galleries, who continues: “this exhibition corresponds perfectly to my vision of a museum in continuous polyphonic narration, comparison and exchange between collections and temporary exhibitions. A constantly evolving story with the aim of offering our visitors always different interpretations ".
Among the most famous and acclaimed works of Merisi, thanks to the power of representation and the strength emanating from the three protagonists, the Judith was rediscovered in 1951 by Pico Cellini, one of the greatest restorers of the twentieth century.
After visiting the first major exhibition dedicated to Caravaggio and the Caravaggesque painters, set up in the Palazzo Reale in Milan by Roberto Longhi, the restorer recalled that as a boy he had seen a canvas depicting Judith and Holofernes attributed to Orazio Gentileschi in a Roman palace, reconnecting it now in the style of Caravaggio.
Cellini was able to find the painting from the owner Vincenzo Coppi, photograph it and show it to Longhi, who instantly asked for and obtained an extension of the exhibition in order to include it.
The canvas, painted in 1599 by Caravaggio for the Ligurian banker Ottavio Costa, who died in 1639, was never alienated, remaining in Rome until the mid-nineteenth century, when it became the property of Coppi's ancestors, before joining, in 1971, of the heritage of the National Galleries of Ancient Art. Extremely jealous of the work, Costa prohibited not only its alienation, but also its reproduction, which is why there are no faithful seventeenth-century copies of it, a rare thing in Caravaggio's catalog. Despite the owner's caution, the revolutionary composition devised by Merisi nevertheless managed to circulate.