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Genoa at the Hermitage
Paintings and Drawings of the 16th-18th Centuries from Genoese Collections and the Hermitage

12 November, 2002 - 20 January, 2003

The exhibition opened in Rooms 28-32 of the Winter Palace represents the art of Genoa at its acme. It features 25 paintings from Genoese collections and 15 canvases from the Hermitage alongside 29 drawings from the Hermitage and the Cabinet of Drawings and Engravings of Palazzo Rosso.

This epoch was inaugurated by an outstanding personality, Admiral Andrea Doria. After his advent to Genoa in 1528 a large-scale construction of palaces, churches and public buildings and planning of streets and palaces commenced. To decorate Doria's palaces, the famous artist Perino del Vaga, disciple of Rafael, was invited from Rome. Thereupon Genoese aristocracy began to erect splendid edifices decorated with marbles and frescoes along Strada Nuova.
The Genoese school of art was founded in the second half of the 16th century by the outstanding painter and graphic artist Luca Cambiaso who taught such gifted artists as Lazzaro Tavarone and Bernardo Castello and exerted a creative influence on Giovanni Battista Paggi.

Genoa attracted many masters from various areas of Italy and Flanders. It was visited by Peter Paul Rubens and Antony van Dyck. An entire Flemish colony arose in Genoa around the studio of brothers Lucas and Cornelis de Wael. The art of Andrea Ansaldo combined Baroque compositions in the style of Rubens with Venetian colors.

In the first half of the 17th century Genoa occupied a place of honor in the art of Italy giving the world many talented artists including Bernardo Strozzi. The art of Rubens, Caravaggio and Tuscan and Lombard masters was laid into the foundation of the individual style of this artist. Still-life in Genoese art was represented by Gioacchino Assereto whose creations are characterized by dramatic light effects.
Another outstanding painter Domenico Fiasella at the start of his career spent some years in Rome. Assimilating Caravaggio'a chiaroscuro and naturalism of Northern masters, under the influence of Bologna and Tuscany, he built these into the Genoese tradition. Fiasella created a big studio in Genoa where he taught excellent Baroque masters. Small-size canvases of Sinibaldo Scorza with landscapes and animals were immensely popular. One of the leading Italian graphic artists and engravers Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione worked in the same vein.

Many representatives of the Genoese school worked far from their native city, like Giovanni Langetti in Rome and Venice or Giovanni Agostino Cassana in Venice and Florence. The name of the mysterious Peirano Genovese shows that he was born in Genoa but left this city. Two of the four known flower compositions of this master are preserved at the Hermitage.

Baroque conquered Genoa since the 1640s. Its characteristic features are inherent in the complicated, dramatic and tense compositions of Valerio Castello.
The most famous studio in Genoa during the second half of the 17th century was owned by Domenico Piola. Together with his son-in-law Gregorio De Ferrari, the most significant and original artist at the turn of the 18th century, and his son Paolo Gerolamo he executed the mural paintings in Palazzo Rosso (which is now one of the two famous Genoese museums, along with Palazzo Bianco). One of the peaks of Baroque art were the frescoes of Giovanni Battista Gaulli in the church Il Gesu.

The brilliant epoch in the art of Genoa is closed by Alessandro Magnasco. Original in everything, from brushstrokes to themes, he worked a lot in Milan and Florence returning in his later years to Genoa where he created some of his best works.

All Genoese painters were also outstanding graphic artists. Their original styles are represented by the drawings showed in the exhibition. Sketches of compositions or their fragments and studies of figures and objects present a variety of techniques and methods.

Studies for the Allegory of Force, Fresco on the Vault of a Room in Palazzo Bianca Doria in Genoa
Bernardo Strozzi
Larger view

Venus and Adonis
Luca Cambiaso
Larger view

Healing of Tobias
Bernardo Strozzi
Larger view

Miracle of St. Zita
Valerio Castello
Larger view

Halt of Brigands
Alessandro Magniasco
Larger view

Adoration of the Magi
Luca Cambiaso
Larger view

Adoration of the Shepherds
Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione
Larger view

Baptism of Christ
Domenico Piola

Larger view


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