Palazzo Ducale in Genoa hosts, from 6 October 2022 to 22 January 2023, an exhibition that tells the story of the greatness of Peter Paul Rubens and his relationship with the city.
The exhibition is produced by the City of Genoa with Palazzo Ducale Fondazione per la Cultura and Electa, and was created on the occasion of the fourth centenary of the publication in Antwerp of Peter Paul Rubens’ celebrated volume, Palazzi di Genova (1622). The exhibition is is curated by Nils Büttner, lecturer at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart as well as Chairman of the Centrum Rubenianum in Antwerp, and Anna Orlando, a Genoese independent scholar and co-curator of the exhibition The Age of Rubens held at the Palazzo Ducale in 2004.
Rubens in Genoa
Rubens stayed in Genoa on several occasions between 1600 and 1607, visiting it also in the company of the Duke of Mantua, Vincenzo I Gonzaga, with whom he held the position of court painter. He thus had the opportunity to entertain direct and in some cases very close relations with the richest and most influential aristocrats of the city’s oligarchy.
The exhibition highlights more than twenty paintings by Rubens from European and Italian museums and collections, which, added to those already in the city, reach a number such as there had not been in Genoa since the end of the eighteenth century; that is, since the crisis of the aristocracy with the repercussions of the French Revolution initiated an inexorable diaspora of masterpieces to the collections of the world.
Beginning with the Rubensian nucleus, the narrative of the cultural and artistic context of the city in the era of its greatest splendor is told by paintings from artists which Rubens for certain saw and studied (Tintoretto and Luca Cambiaso); whom he met in Italy and particularly in Genoa during his stay (Frans Pourbus the Younger, Sofonisba Anguissola, Bernardo Castello and Aurelio Lomi, presented in the exhibition with a painting from the Doria Pamphilj Collection), or with whom he collaborated (Jan Wildens and Frans Snyders).
Through the work of Rubens, the story of the Republic of Genoa is told. In the early seventeenth century, at the height of its power, it experienced a period of singular vivacity, not only economic and financial, but also cultural and artistic.
Among the works returning to Genoa, created by Rubens on commission from the wealthiest and most powerful Genoese of the time, are: the Portrait of Violante Maria Spinola Serra from the Faringdon Collection Trust, a previously unnamed lady who, thanks to studies in preparation for the exhibition, can now identified. The Saint Sebastian, from a private European collection and never exhibited in Italy, which, thanks to an important documentary find, is now related to the famous condottiere Ambrogio Spinola. Also on display for the first time in Italy is the youthful Self-Portrait, painted when Rubens roughly 27 years old, which a private collector offered as a long-term loan to the Rubenshuis in Antwerp and which exceptionally returns to the country where it was executed, around 1604.