CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Anton Van Dyck: riflessi italiani

Anthonie van Dyck: Italian reflections Exhibition: 19 February - 4 July 2004



Maria Grazia Bernardini

From the website

Thirty-four masterpieces brought together in the fascinating Sala delle Cariatidi and, for the first time, installation will be designed by Luca Ronconi, director of the Piccolo Teatro in Milan. From February 19th until June 20th Palazzo Reale in Milan will host an important exhibition focusing on the influence of Italian art in Anton van Dyck’s paintings.

The exhibition, promoted by the City of Milan with the Soprintendenza Speciale per il Polo Museale Romano and by MondoMostre, is curated by Maria Grazia Bernardini. Its origins are to be found between 1998 and 2003 when the Soprintendenza Speciale per il Polo Museale Romano and the Nucleo Tutela del Patrimonio Culturale dell’Arma dei Carabinieri jointly operated to confiscate a masterpiece by Anton van Dyck, a Compianto su Cristo, which was illegally exported by its private owner and acquire the painting to the State Collections . The artwork, painted around 1630, is obviously influenced by Italian art, particularly by such artists as Tiziano, Correggio, Paolo Veronese and the emiliani, and shows that aspect of Van Dyck’s art that most focuses on Italian figurative culture.

Anton van Dyck was one of the key Flemish artists of the early Seicento, a painter cherished by aristocratic families all around Europe and particularly by the English Court, for his ability as a portraitist. Van Dyck stands out in his own time for the refinement, the grace, the delicacy of his brushes. He was Rubens’ best apprenti, and Rubens will forever influence his art, however the extreme elegance of his art sets him apart from his master. In his portraits he paints elegant aristocrats in the sumptuous dresses of that time. In historic compositions he looks for a strong naturalism, never too loud. In religious pieces he seeks the more intimate feelings.

During his Italian period, between 1621 and 1627, he visited a number of cities, including Genova, Venezia, Torino, Roma, Palermo and was fascinated by Venetian art and in particular Tiziano. During these years he executed an impressive number of portraits and the exhibition will feature his masterpiece Cardinale Guido Bentivoglio (Gallerie Palatine, Firenze) that his own contemporaries described as “a marvel of art”. He also received religious commissions, he most important of which is the great Madonna del Rosario for the Oratorio del Rosario in Palermo.

The exhibition will feature thirty-four large masterpieces from twenty nine different lenders, museums such as the Metropolitan museum, the National Galleries in Washington, London and Dublin, Prado, Gemaldegalerie in Berlin, Antwerp, Strasburg, Brussells, the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, Palazzo Corsini, the Pinacoteca Capitolina, the Galleria Sabauda, Palazzo Bianco and Palazzo Rosso in Genova, the Pinacoteca di Brera, the Galleria Sabauda and for the first time for a Van Dyck exhibition, the Galleria Palatina has lent its masterpiece.

The exhibition goal is to show visitors how Van Dyck studied, researched and absorbed Italian art in one of the key phases of his artistic production: it is during this period that he painted some of the masterpieces of his art. As the painter returned to Antwerp, and he moved to the English court, he will progressively lose his dominant Italian brush but will not forget this period as is shown in masterpieces such as the Compianto sul Cristo featured here.

The installation design will be designed by Luca Ronconi, Artistic Director of the Piccolo Teatro in Milano. The great director will face the installation of an exhibition for the first time, a design that will seek to instil life in Van Dyck’s portraits as if to pay a debt to Van Dyck’s influence in theatre without overlooking the grace of the religious painter.