CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Gallerie Nazionali di Palazzo Spinola


Galleria Nazionale di Palazzo Spinola and Galleria Nazionale della Liguria, set up in 1958 thanks to the donation of the family palazzo by Franco and Paolo Spinola, house an important collection of Flemish art.

For centuries, the strong commercial ties between Genoa and Flanders gave Genoese aristocrats a great opportunity to acquire important works of art to decorate their homes or local churches. In addition, Genoa had a flourishing colony of northern artists, in particular painters and silversmiths, from the end of the sixteenth century.

The museum offers three routes to discover Flemish art:  portraiture, collecting and silver. The first collection includes the effigies of various Genoese figures, masterly crafted by artists such as Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Joos van Cleve and Guilliam van Deynum. Other paintings, such as The Virgin Mary Praying by Van Cleve, the Four Evangelists attributed to the circle of Van Dyck, Portrait of a Young Man by Willem Key and the Madonna of the Basket attributed to a follower of Rubens, are evidence of the interest in important Flemish masters taken by Genoese nobility in the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Of particular importance is the collection of seventeenth-century Flemish silverwork which includes a plate depicting a pleasure barge on the sea of Genoa, probably commissioned by the House of Doria, as well as two silver pitchers, transformed into vases at the end of the eighteenth century and a plate showing scenes featuring Christopher Columbus, which were commissioned as a set by Agostino Pallavicino from silversmiths Matthias Melijn and Gio Gio Aelbosca Belga.

Gianluca Zanelli, Director (April 2022)

Related CODART publications

Farida Simonetti, “Flemish silver in the Galleria Nazionale di Palazzo Spinola in Genoa”, CODARTfeatures, October 2013.